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Monthly Archives: July 2009

Kicking The Dog

Kicking The Dog
Picture copyright respected holders.

Interview With The Director Of Kicking The Dog Scoot Lammey By Chris 15/7/09

Kicking The Dog is a great indie comedy, a great cast and a great script made this film really enjoyable. It’s a film worth renting so go check it out.

So read on.

Kicking The Dog Website

1) How did the film come about? 

1. I saw the movie “Dazed and Confused” and discovered that filmmaker Richard Linklater got his big break because of a low budget movie he made called “Slacker”. I then watched the movie “Clerks”. These movies made me realize it was possible to make a film that could compete with Hollywood films, so I began writing a movie about my experiences that I felt could be made on a low budget, but still maintain all of the elements that would allow it to get international distribution. I also realized that to compete with bigger budget films, I would need to work on a wide range of films – from low budget to large budget – to gain as much knowledge as possible, and to meet people who could help me achieve my goal.

2. Movies like “American Graffiti”, “Dazed and Confused” and “Clerks” were my inspiration for making the film, as well as anything by John Hughes. The story within “Kicking The Dog” was inspired by my college experiences and everything I did and said that made my life interesting and fun at that time. I wrote what I knew about – boobs and drinking.

3) How long did it take to film?

3. The movie was shot in 20 days over the course of 4 weeks. The nude scenes were added later and shot in a single day.

4) What was casting like?

4. Choosing the actors was stressful and fun. Stressful because I needed to find 12 very good actors, and I had to travel nearly 3 hours to New York City for casting sessions, and I had to make the trip numerous times. It was fun when I found the actors that brought my characters and script to life and gave them personalities.

5) Was it hard to edit the film?

5. Editing was difficult at first because I had no editing experience. Daniel Watchulonis, the Director of Photography, convinced me to edit the movie myself because it’s a comedy and timing is the most important element in comedy. I had to buy a computer, software and all of the other components necessary to edit a movie, and then learn how to edit. I actually taught myself how to edit while piecing together this movie. The other difficult aspect was realizing that some scenes, or parts of scenes, hurt the flow of the movie and needed to be removed. It’s not always easy to be critical of yourself, or have the ability to step back and realize that although part of the scene may be funny, it hurts the movie overall. The first cut of the movie was almost 20 minutes longer.

6) Has the film had much international sales yet?

6. I won’t receive sales figures until August. It did play opening night of the Drake Film Festival in Bagnoli, Italy, although this has nothing to do with sales.

7) What was it like making the movie in your folks house?

7. It was tough and easy. Easy because I could control everything and we were in one location for almost the entire shoot, so we didn’t lose time loading and unloading equipment every day, which allowed us to have shorter days, but film for a normal amount of time. It was tough for my parents because they couldn’t be in their house except to sleep, and they could barely walk from room to room due to the amount of equipment in the house. My mom also repainted the entire interior of the house to provide a better backdrop, and she repainted it afterwards to hide the damage

8) Was I happy with how it turned out?

8. I was very happy with the way the film turned out. Almost every distributor told me that a low budget comedy with no name actors to put on the box cover could never make it into Blockbuster or get international distribution. I proved them wrong. I never wanted a “B” movie actor in the movie, because if you use a “B” movie actor, you made a “B” movie that will never be taken seriously – whether the budget is $50k or $10 million – it’s a B movie. But if you use all up-and-coming actors, you have the chance to make the next great indie cult film. 

9) Was it hard to make low budget?

9. More difficult than I could ever explain. I borrowed the money and now I have a mortgage payment every month. I basically mortgaged my future, knowing there would be a chance I could never own anything in my life because I wouldn’t be able to take out another large loan. I drive an old, junky car that I’ve had since I was 17. I rent a small old house. It hurt my relationship with my family and friends and put stress on my life that is, at times, almost unbearable. 

10) Responses to the film.

10. College kids seem to love the movie. I sent copies to some fraternities across the country and I began receiving e-mails from the students telling me how much they love the movie, or that they show it for brotherhood events or they ask permission to show it on campus movie night. Non-english speaking countries haven’t seemed to enjoy it as much, as they probably don’t understand the terms, slang or comedy. I doubt the humor translates well – and I’m sure most of the slang terms used in the movie don’t translate at all. Basically, people under 35 seem to really enjoy the movie and see the humor. It’s a very unique film in dealing with college conversations and hanging out.

11) Was it hard to finance?

11. Very difficult. I tried everything I could think of before finally being accepted for a loan.

12) What did I learn?

12. Editing the movie, after having written and directed it, taught me a lot about filmmaking. It’s a great way to see the mistakes you made in writing. It teaches you how to transition from scene to scene and also the importance of pacing and making everything shorter and quicker.

Another aspect I learned is that people generally don’t care about low budget films any more. With the numerous video sharing sites in the internet, many people have made “movies”, and somehow I get lumped in with those movies, even though Kicking The Dog is at Blockbuster, Netflix, Amazon, etc. It’s ridiculous ad frustrating that people don’t realize how difficult and nearly impossible it is to get shelf space at a store.

13) Had the internet played a part in sales?

13. The internet is highly important – from posting on myspace, facebook, twitter and youtube, to even purchasing advertisements on those sites that are directed towards my specific demographic. The internet also allows fans to share information about the movie, or post info or the trailer on those sites 

14) What was the editing process like for the film?

14. From a technical aspect, the editing process was fairly easy once I learned how everything worked. I worked slow, and still do, since I’m self taught and never learned the shortcuts. From a creative aspect, it was much more difficult. The first cut was nearly 20 minutes longer than the final version, so I had to be willing to eliminate a lot of material that I wrote and really liked. I had to learn that sometimes there is addition by subtraction. I had to be very critical of myself, my writing, my editing and the acting. At times, the scenes don’t work the way you had hoped, but you have to figure out a way to make them work to get the point across, because not everything can be simply eliminated.
15) Anything I wouldn’t do next time.

15. I would never borrow money to make another movie.

16) What’s next?

16. I have no idea. I’m trying to write a few other scripts in case a studio is interested in my work. I’d like to get a meeting with a studio to pitch a few ideas and scripts. Otherwise I’ll probably just play wiffleball and drink beer. 

17) Did the actors stay on script?

17. Most actors stayed to the script, but a few did some improvisation. Improv was allowed, and at times encouraged. Sometime it’s tough to improve when there are 8 people in a scene all talking and reacting to each other – and that’s most of the movie. 

18) Any major problems making the film?

18. I think it had to be one of the smoothest running low budget films ever produced.

19) Is it hard to make an indie film?

19. Making a film isn’t difficult. Making a very good film with the elements of a major film is tough.

20) What advice would I give someone wanting to make an indie?

20. Work on as many films as possible. Work on ultra-low budget garbage as well as million dollar budget films. You will learn proper professionalism and protocol from the big budgets, and you will learn how to not make a movie from the low budget films. You will meet people on all films that may be able to help you. Making a movie with no experience gets you nowhere – you have to get experience by working on real productions. Most new filmmakers simply want to make movies – and they do – and they look like crap. And they possess none of the elements that would allow them to compete with a Hollywood production, but all those people think the same thing, “I just want someone to think “if he could make that movie for $1,500, imagine what he could do on a real budget”. But that never happens because their movies looks like shit – generally the writing is bad, the acting is really bad, the sound is below average, the camera work is bad, and it all combines for a bad movie and nobody is ever going to be impressed. People generally don’t want to work on other projects. They don’t’ want to put in the time. They aren’t dedicated – they think – but their not – because true dedication would mean they quit their job to work on other people’s projects so they could learn and meet people who could help them be successful.

Also, don’t think you’re going to make a movie for $3k that anybody outside of your family actually cares about. It’s going to be bad. It’s not possible to make quality for that price. Go bust your ass for someone else, get the money and make a real movie.


Cold Play

Cold Play
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Interview With The Co Director Of Cold Play D. David Morin By Chris 2/7/09

Cold Play is one of those Indie movies that really well shot, that looks a million bucks that isn’t, add a great story line and a amazing cast. You have a winner of a movie. So I Interviewed the director of the movie to find out more.

So read on and it’s available to rent from netflix and also available to purchase from amazon and most major retailers in america.

Cold Play The Movie Website

1. How did the film come about?

my creative partner, geno andrews (genoandrews.com) and i just decided it was time to make out first feature. we had both made short films independently of the other and we worked side by side for years producing the weekly Malibu Vineyard Video Announcements. we we’re both hungry wanna-be directors and filmmakers and i guess we just put our mind to it, and the inertia of the two of us behind it somehow got it done. we wrote the film in April, shot it in August, and it was done by december. 

2. What was the inspiration behind the story?

well, we knew we had to raise all the money for it so it needed to be low budget and action films aren’t cheap, so, we decided on the whodunnit/thriller genre where we could get away with a small cast, fewer locations, and a smaller film.

3. How long did it take to film the movie?

16 and 1/2 days. 

4. How was the process of choosing the actors for the film like?

we put the cast roles out on Breakdown services and we hired casting director liz lang to do the film. she was highly recommended, she was casting The Ghost Whisperer over at Universal Studios, and she liked the script and was within our budget (she also did a wonderful job as the betrayed woman on the bench in the first act). we hardly read/auditioned anyone for the film. she sent us headshots and acting demo reels and we made offers. we did read a few gals for the lead role of Indigo, but we ultimately met with vanessa branch and offered it to her. geno and i both were used to reading everybody for every role, so this was totally different. but under the SAG Ultra Low Budget guidelines, we were only paying our actors $100 a day, so if you had a name that liked the project, you offered the part! the end! we were lucky to get such great actors. but studs like carlo rota jumped at the chance to play Nigel and to do something strong and different. he flew in from Toronto and we shot him out in one day! he was amazing! and kinda steals the film! 

5. Was it hard to edit the film to make the story flow?
geno cut the film in our office on our own edit bay with a mac g5 and final cut. he’s a great editor, and we did a couple of test screenings. i highly recommend that. we changed our cut radically after the screenings, much for the better. no one was buying the romantic tryst between indigo and angus so we cut it out. a half dozen scenes we lit and shot gone just like that. they didn’t work. luckily we tested it before our trusted inner circle of family and friends. 

6. Has the film had much international sales yet?

Vanguard just released it last quarter, and we haven’t scene the numbers yet.

7. How did vanguard cinema get involved with the film?

we actually hired some producer reps, circus road films, and they found Vanguard for us. 

8.  Were you happy the way the film turned out?

ecstatic. it looks like a million dollar low budge studio film. and our audiences were really enjoying it. 

9. Was it hard to make the film with a very little budget?

finding OPM, Other People’s Money, is always hard. i ended up financing quite a bit of it myself, plus all the overages. 

10. What have been the responses so far to the film been like?

we won the Fairhope Film Festival in Alabama, and got into numerous others. people like the film. it’s just letting people know that the film is out there. studios have millions for P&A, prints and advertising, to let folks know the picture is coming out. we don’t have that luxury for publicity, so thanks for interviewing me! (readers: visit www.coldplaythemovie.com)

11. Was it hard to get finance for the film?

geno had a sugar daddy who came in for half, i raised a little and put in a lot.

12. What did you learn from the making of this film that you can use for future features?

wow, chris, so much. you learn by doing, especially when it comes to filmmaking. maybe we could have gotten by with a smaller crew. maybe we should cast “names” instead of ourselves, maybe we should have sold it differently. it’s hard to know.

13.  Has the internet played a good part in promoting the film and generating sales?

i wish we were better at it!! hopefully this will help!

14. What was the editing process like for the film?

geno would cut a bunch of scenes together, and then i would watch it and give him my thoughts. we also had to score it, so we hired the amazing michael patti and he did a great job. he and geno really worked well together. and we ended up with a great score. and then even frankfurt did our sound design. so the process was, geno would do a rough cut, i make notes and fixes, then we did temp music and test screenings before we locked picture, did the score, our sound design, and color correction.

15.  Is their anything you wouldn’t do next time that you did this time in regards to making of the film?

it’s hard acting and directing in the same movie. and it’s hard co-directing. 

16. What next for yourself?

i just shot a co-star for the Showtime show, Dexter, playing an ER doctor. and i’m in the mix to direct a film for Pureflix. i don’t have the job yet. it shoots later this year, relatively soon. they’ll decide soon i’m sure.

17. Did the actors stay pretty much to the script or was improv allowed?

some improv was allowed. but they stayed pretty much on script. editing can be a nightmare if you let people wander too far!

18. Were their any major problems when making the film?

we had a few bugaboo locations that were hard to lock down, but in the end we had some happy accidents, or divine intervention, that actually made the film better. locations are huge. we also lost our Indigo here and there due to meetings and had to shoot around her. again, it ultimately worked to our advantage.

19. Is it hard to make an independent film in this day and age?

depends on your own standards and expectations. geno and i wanted a studio looking film shot on 35mm film. instead, we shot on a panasonic HVX 200 and had a great DP in nick rivera, and with a good DFT package, (Digital Film Tools) we were able to give the film a great look.

20. What advice can you give to some one wanting to make an independent film?

story story story!!!!!!!!!!!! it’s all about the story! after that, surround yourself with the best people you can get, and let them do their job!!!!!!!!!!
all the best,

ddm

you can follow me on twitter at ddmdowntown


In My Pocket

In My Pocket
Picture copyright respected holders.

Interview With The Director Of In My Pocket David Lisle Johnson By Chris 2/7/09

In My Pocket is a film that going to be a must see movie, with great cast with such actors as Brendan Sexton III,Kayle Defer & Glen Morshower, add a great storyline.
You got a winner of a movie and I for one, can’t wait to see it

So read on.

In My Pocket Website

1. How did the film come about?

In My Pocket was a script that I wrote a few years back before I started my production company Linear Pictures with my two partners Christopher Kemp Fredie and Saeid Esmaeilian. We raised the finances to start our company and shoot this as our first feature length film, through private venture capital in early 2008. We had a few scripts completed but felt that In My Pocket would be a good debut film for us being a moderately budgeted project and a subject that would play on the emotions of a culture deeply affected by the drug epidemic.

2. What was the inspiration behind the story?

The idea for this story lays a bit in truth. About 7 years ago, a neighbor of mine bought a pair of jeans from a high-end thrift store on Melrose Ave in Los Angeles, CA for their boyfriend as a Valentineís Day gift and when they went to try them on, they found a small bag of cocaine in the small change pocket. I started thinking, what if those pants got into the hands of a recovering addict? A seemingly innocent gift could end up becoming someoneís undoing. I took that one circumstance and based a short story around it, that short story later became a feature length script. A detail of the main character that we wanted to portray in the story was that of a functioning addict, a young professional who is hiding his addictions from his family and the world around him. Our aim was to show that the drug epidemic isnít limited to the dregs of society type that is often portrayed in mainstream media but the working class as well.

3. How long did it take to film the movie?

The entire production process took about 6 months. 3 weeks of pre-production, 5 weeks of principle photography and roughly 4 months of post-production. We wouldíve liked to have a bit more time with the pre-production process however.

4. How was the process of choosing the actors for the film like?

Casting was an interesting process having never done so on such a scale before. One of our first moves was to hire a local casting agent by the name of Ricki Maslar who put together a fantastic cast for us. We had many talented actors and actresses audition for us, making many of our decisions difficult ones.

5. Was it hard to edit the film to make the story flow?

The film actually went through 3 entirely different cuts throughout the 4 months of post-production. Our first cut was very linear and true to the original flow of the script but seemed to make the lead character a bit unlikable. Test audiences werenít connecting with ìsome rich kid and his so-called problemsî so we went back into the editing room and restructured the film in a way where our hero became a more relatable and sympathetic character. This second cut utilized flashbacks to give the back-story and succeeded in the attempt to make the hero relatable, but presented a new problem. The flashbacks seemed to take some of the weight and impression of the last half of the film away. Third time was indeed the charm and weíre left with the non-linear version that stands as the final cut today.

6. Has the film had much international sales yet?

Weíve actually just hired Circus Road Pictures on as our domestic sales representatives and are pushing forward with them in hopes of landing a domestic distribution deal, which in turn should make international distribution a much better possibility. Our aim is for the film to gain as large an audience as possible, as we believe deeply in its message and that itís a great film overall worthy of an audience.

7. What was it like having Brendan Sexton III, Kaylee Defer & Glenn Morshower in the picture?

I feel fortunate to have worked with the cast that we had. So much young talent as well as many underappreciated character actors. Often made me wish that I had expanded on their respective characters.

8. What did they bring to the roles they played?

Brendan was great to have on set, very funny guy adept at making people around him very comfortable. Heís a terrific actor and I look forward to working with him again.

From the moment I met Kaylee, I knew she was prefect for the part. She had such a strong hold on the character and what I had envisioned for her that I knew she was the one.

Glenn was great to work with, one of the most professional actors Iíve ever met. We were blessed to have such a talented actor in one of our smaller supporting roles and heís been so supportive with the film ever since.

9. How has the feedback from the film been at festival like?

So far In My Pocket has been accepted into two film festivals, one of which we had to bow out of due to a scheduling conflict. The festival that we did attend was the Palm Beach International Film Festival in Palm Beach, Florida. We were not part of the jury competition but managed to win the very prestigious Audience Favorite Award for Best Feature Film. Weíre looking forward to more festival success now that we have the support of Circus Road Films in our corner to help with the lobbying process.

10. Were you happy the way the film turned out?

As a first time feature film director I didnít know what to expect, but I’m very pleased with the end result. Iím happy to have completed it and itís a pleasure to be able to sit back and watch the hard work of so many individuals come to life on screen.

11. Was it hard to make the film with a very little budget?

The budget of the film did have its hindrances, as we were limited in many of our resources such as background actors, certain equipment as well as time in general. The old adage of time is money is never truer than in the entertainment world. On the flipside, being an indie production company, we shot our film in a time when not too many other films were in production. The impending SAG strike was forcing Studios to hold on all their major productions leaving us in a position of being able to barter with many of our resources. This in turn gave us the opportunity to forge several important business relationships that we may not have been able to, had the situation been different.

12. What have been the responses so far to the film been like?

So far the responses to the film have been positive as well as responses to the trailer which is viewable on the film’s website www.inmypocketthefilm.com

13. Was it hard to get finance for the film?

Financing a film from the ground up is never an easy thing, however we were extremely fortunate to have been able to do so in a short period of time. As a production company we couldnít have asked for a better group of investors to come on board. From day 1 they believed in the project and in our passion for bringing it to life and have been nothing but supportive from then that day on.

14. What did you learn from making of this film that you can use for future features?

This film was an amazing experience in its entirety, not only were we left with a great film in the end, but so many valuable lessons in the film making process. If I had to say one and only one thing, that would be never devalue the importance of pre-production, itís the single most important aspect of production that sets the tone for everything to follow. The mistakes made and the steps skipped in pre-production will surely come back to haunt you throughout the rest of the film.

15. Has the internet played a good part in promoting the film and generating sales?

It’s somewhat difficult to properly gauge the impact that the Internet has had and will have on this film as we are still in the early stages of promoting it. I can say that weíve been receiving emails with requests to see the film and asking for general information about it, as well as the opportunity to do this interview that we would not have had without it. Still early to say, but Iím sure it will have itís fair impact on the success of the film.

16. What was the editing process like for the film?

As I spoke of before, the editing process took quite some time with 3 different cuts of the film, but the time was well worth it. We shot the film on the RED Camera, which made the editing process interesting as it was very new technology at the time and still is to this point.

17. Is their anything you wouldn’t do next time that you did this time in regards to making of the film?

Settle for anything less than the shots that I want.

18. What next for yourself?

Linear Pictures, the company that I started with my other business partners Saeid Esmaeilian and Christopher Fredie, is in the middle of fund raising for itís next two films to be shot in tandem this year. Iíve got a psychological thriller that I put together and will be directing. The other is a tragic comedy, which will be directed by one of my other business partners Christopher Fredie.

19. Did the actors stay pretty much to the script or was improv allowed?

For the most part they stayed true to the script, but I allowed them to improv a bit in certain scenes. For instance between the hero and his best friend, felt like it added to their chemistry.

20. Were their any major problems when making the film?

Where to start you know it would take too long to list. When I tell people stories, they tell me that first time directorís usually run into problems but not this many. Iíll give you one. In order to shoot a film in LA for a decent budget, you have to deal with the unions. Whether you like it or not, theyíll push their way in. We tried to shoot this film non-union because every dollar that we had as a production was stretched to the maximum, the Union stepped in. They sent representatives on set to offer all of our non-union crewmembers a chance to join the union and get benefits. In exchange they had to strike against us until we became a union production. We were on a tight schedule to finish the film but werenít about to fold to the union canít get blood from a stone. Our crew struck and we spent the whole night hiring a new crew to come in and shoot the next day. Stayed on schedule. Not gonna go down that easy though, turns out the location we were at had an out clause in the contract and didnít appreciate the picketing crew outside their gates. They came down on us forcing us to make a deal with the union. We settled and had to rehire the crew that had just struck against us days before. Awkward set the next day to say the least. Got through that and many more obstacles.

21. Is it hard to make an independent film in this day and age?

I think itís hard to make a successful independent film at this time. We were fortunate in many ways on this film, I guess Iíll have a better answer after this next one.

22. What advice can you give to some one wanting to make a independent film?

Make sure you get what you want and donít settle for less, otherwise you might as well let someone else do it.