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Interview With Tony Hickman the Director Of Broken Windows By Chris 5/4/09
Independent movies are where it’s at, with mainstream movies becoming more action comic book orientated, it’s where the Independent movies are thriving with quality dramas and telling stories worth watching. Broken Windows is one of those and with a cast such as Michael Gross, Larisa Oleynik and Sarah Thompson it’s a must see. I interviewed the director of the film and well he gave some sold answers about how he made the film on a little budget. Read on and go and support this film by buying it.
Broken Windows Website
1. How did the film come about?
A lot of time, effort, luck and hard work. I met Tommy, the producer of the movie, in film school. We worked together on a lot of projects and our goal was to make a feature film together. We met Christophe Jouin on a short film set; he loved the script for “Broken Windows”. He ended up as one of our executive producers. After he came on board he got Rick Kornfeld involved as another executive producer, and everything came together after that.
2. What was the inspiration behind the story?
A few years ago I did a short film, “Here I Dreamt” that was kind of like a play where five different women talked to the camera and told their stories. I fell in love with the characters and felt there was more to do with them. My producer, Tommy Rasera, had the idea of turning it into a feature script. So I got writing and about 18 months later we were in production.
3. How long did it take to film the movie?
The actual shooting was 21 days. We shot half in LA and half in San Diego. The idea was to get all of our exteriors in San Diego, specifically Oceanside. I have always loved that area.
4. How was the process of chosing the actors for the film like?
We had an awesome casting director, Bonnie Gillespie, who made things very easy on all of us. I worked closely with her to find the best actor for each role. We did a lot of casting and saw a ton of very talented actors. In the end we found not only amazing actors, but actors perfect for each role. That was probably my favorite part of pre-production.
5. Was it hard to edit the film to make the story flow?
My answer would be mostly no, but a little yes. No in the sense that we edited fairly closely to the script, yes in the sense that we faced a few pacing challenges that Mathew Jones, our editor, had to work hard to overcome. Added to that there are four storylines in the film, and to tell 4 stories in 97 minutes can be challenging. Mathew did a great job.
6. Has the film had much international sales yet?
As of answering you at this moment, no. The reason is that our distributors are just now starting to look into the foreign market. I am hopeful and confident we will get the film out internationally. I can’t wait for that.
7. What was like working with actors such as Larisa Oleynik & Sarah Thompson?
Amazing. I was big fans of both of theirs going in. Since I had written the script, I had the characters in my head for almost two years before we started shooting. The way I write is to really get to know the characters. They almost become my friends. So when we started shooting and they “became” those characters it was very thrilling and satisfying. Not to mention they are both really great people as well as talented.
8. What did they bring to the film in terms of performance?
Passion, energy, realness. I would say that about each and every actor in the film. They all cared a great deal about the story and their characters. We got really lucky with all of them.
9. How did Michael Gross get involved with the film?
He was on a very short list that Tommy and I had of actors we wanted as the patriarch of the film. We knew Teddy had to be played by someone that was extremely likeable, but also with a little bit of an edge. Bonnie sent Michael a script; he read it and saw something in the character he liked. He and I met at a cool little diner in La Canada and talked for hours about the character. I actually changed the ending a little bit concerning the Amy/Teddy storyline after that meeting, because he has so many great ideas about his characters arc.
10. Was it hard to make the film with a very little budget?
Working with a smaller budget has its challenges for sure. I used every favor with family and friends possible. My sister, a very talented production designer, worked for deferred pay, my dad was driving trucks, my brother was working in the art department when his day job would give him time off, my mom was cleaning bathrooms and taking out trash, and I kind of told myself the next film I can’t put my family through this. On the other hand the entire cast and crew became a family. We were all working towards this goal of making a great movie and helping each other out, and that was really cool.
11. How has the feedback from the film been at festival like?
We premiered at the San Diego Film Festival and it was incredible. San Diego is my hometown so we had a lot of support out there. We sold out our screening. It was kind of surreal to walk up to the theatre and see a line formed outside of the theatre for people to see our movie. We then won a best feature award at the Cinema City Intentional Film Festival in Los Angles. We’ll be playing at the Las Vegas Film Festival next month and we are all excited about going to that one.
12. Were you happy the way the film turned out?
Incredibly happy for so many reasons. Because of a grant from Panavision we were able to shoot on film. Our DP, Jason Cochard, is as talented a person as you can find, and the film looks beautiful. The performances are moving and real. Our Executive Producers were really great. The all were really involved in the shooting and the editing, but at the end of the day they allowed me to make the movie I set out to make.
13. How did Vanguard Cinema become involved with releasing the film on DVD?
Pretty simply, our producer reps gave them a screener, and Vanguard wanted to release it. We met them and it seemed like a perfect fit for us.
14. What have been the responses so far to the film been like?
Great. This isn’t an action or horror film, so the audience isn’t as built in as some low budget films might have. What we do have is a great fanbase of people who really love the film. Although the film focuses on four female storylines, this movie is in no way a chick flick. It’s a drama about people trying to find a way to be happy, and that is something that I have found people really respond to.
15. Was it hard to get finance for the film?
16. What did you learn from making of this film that you can use for
It has to be everything in your life. I spent almost two years getting the script ready, casting, location scouting, and raising money. You also have to have a great and dedicated crew around you. I am lucky to have a producer who I have been friends with since film school who was with me every step of the way. Not to mention a wife who allowed me to take time away from the real world and get to make a movie.
17. Has the internet played a good part in promoting the film and
We are so early in the release I’m not sure about sales. You’ll have to ask me that in 6 months. As far as myspace, facebook and some other fan sites we have for sure used those as a place to give information about our film and hopefully get people excited and interested.
18. What was the editing process like for the film?
I said earlier that casting was my favorite part of pre-production. I would say that editing was my favorite part of post-production. Our editor Mathew and I would get together maybe twice a week and watch scenes, talk about story, pacing, emotional levels and structure. It was great.
19. Is their anything you wouldn’t do next time that you did this
time in regards to making of the film?
That’s a difficult one to answer. There were a few tough parts of making the film that would be great to maybe come at from another angle, but overall things went as planned and the film is the one I wanted to make.
20. What next for yourself?
Tommy and I are working on producing a feature that Devon Gummersall from “Broken Windows” will be writing and directing. We are in the very early stages of that process. I have also written a pilot that I am very excited about. I’m going to start looking for a company to produce that shortly. And of course I am working on my next feature script. It’s a little different than my last film; it’s about 4 random people on a road trip from Vegas to Washougal, Washington. It has the same theme though, people searching for something in this world to make them happy.
21. Did the actors stay pretty much to the script or was improv allowed?
I like to think I encourage improv on set, but the truth is we didn’t have a lot of extra time when shooting to go too far from script. To me, more important than thinking about the “lines” is to have actors that know their characters inside and out so they can add little moments, expressions and movements. Each of the actors became their character and that adds to the realness.
22. Were their any major problems when making the film?
Not when shooting. Most of the issues came up before. We were shooting at a house in La Canada (a great little community near LA) and we find out pretty close to filming that we couldn’t park on the street. So we found a little church that let us park there and then shuttle the crew the mile and a half up the road. I guess I wouldn’t call that a major problem, but there are always lots of little obstacles that you have to find solutions to. Scheduling was also tricky with so many cast members, but again not a major problem, more of a challenge for Tad, our AD.
23. Is it hard to make an independent film in this day and age?
As far as financing yes. Luckily we shot right before the economy dropped. If I was trying to raise money today for an indi film I don’t think I could. Hopefully things will turn around soon. On the other hand there are talented actors and crew out there that are willing to work hard on something they believe in. So if you can get the financing, you will be able to find talent.
24. What advice can you give to some one wanting to make an independent film?
I’ve been asked that a lot. The biggest thing I could say is to have making the film your only option in life. Don’t allow for it not to happen. There are going to be road blocks and times you think there is no way your film will ever get made. But there is always a way. And when you do get your film made there is no better feeling. When I saw the line outside the theatre at our premier, or when I saw my movie on the video store shelves at Hollywood Video, it made all the struggles worth it.