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 Best Part Of My Day filmmaker interview with director Benjamin Dewhurst

 

Best Part Of My Day is a great little short film best described as
“experimental, mostly-silent, short romantic comedy”. It looks like an awesome short film worthy of exposure. The director kindly answer my questions. Now I’ve finally put it up. Read on a go check out the film when it comes near you. 

bestpartofmyday.info website

Inteview by Chris 10/5/10

1. How did the film come about?

1. + 2.)  The film’s inspiration is part chance encounter, part
experimental storytelling.  I had the chance encounter that Al had, and
though it didn’t have the same outcome as Al, I always thought ‘what
if’.  The experimental storytelling idea came from the pre-visualization
of the film – literally standing in the courtyard and saying ‘this
could be done in one shot… and SHOULD be!’  Sort of an epiphany
moment.  It’s the marriage of a classic tale and an entirely unique
storytelling method.

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

3.)  15 hours day 1, 12 hours day 2, 5 hours on a
light reshoot.

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

4.)  I knew Adam through mutual contacts in SETV (somethingelsetv.com),
and knew
Destiny from a previous film.  Always loved their work, always.  Alex
was a new contact through Adam, and I auditioned him using previous
work.  He blew me away.  Wanita was in another film I was a fan of, and I
was lucky enough to nab her 3 days prior to the filming.

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

5.) 
Editing wasn’t hard in a cut-to-time sense, but was a challenge in a
creative sense.  There were so many effective takes to go through, and
an enormous sheer number of cuts to make.

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

6.)  The feedback was
outstanding at Heartland.  I love the people in Indy, they were awesome,
as were my friends and family.  It was an epic experience.  I look
forward to the Cleveland International Film Festival, and any other
fests we make, with the same zeal.  I plan to attend all as a sort of
treat for completing the film.  It’s exhilarating to hear the audience
laugh, gasp, etc in person.  It makes what we do art.

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

7.) 
I’m ecstatic with how it turned out.  It’s easily the best film I’ve
created.  People just get it, and in experimental film there’s always a
huge risk they won’t.  We had a mission, and we accomplished that
mission.

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

8.)  Great responses.  Everyone’s into it.

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

9.)  Well, my
film is a short, and it confirmed that I want to do features
eventually.  Not yet, though.  Shorts are just so rewarding, so little
commitment for so much gain, and they’re so accepted now with the advent
of internet video and the popularity of sites like Hulu and Youtube.

10.  Has the internet played a good part in
promoting the film?

10.) 
We get insane views on bestpartofmyday.info, and I do believe it’s enticing
fests to feature our film.  At least I hope so anyway.  It’s extremely
difficult to programme for a film fest, so I hope it gives our film that
extra edge.  Eventually the film will live on bestpartofmyday.info.

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

11.)  I wouldn’t try to
produce something on so large a scale so quickly.  I’d bring in another
producing staff entirely.  I was partially naive in what I thought the
scope would be.  The film’s scope grew by about $5k in one hour at one
point.  And obviously I’m going to need more funding for my next film.

12. What next for yourself?

12.) 
I’m working on another short experimental for this year, and I plan to
make a run for an Academy Award in the Short Film > Experimental
category.  Quite serious about that.

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

13.)  My advice is make as much
as possible.  Just make.  If you don’t have a crew, do stop motion or
motion graphics or something.  And learn.  Learn as much as possible. 
Just do what you are passionate about.

Interview about "Finding Sky" with Emily Sandifer

 


I interview Emily Sandifer a few months back and like what she was doing, thought she had a lot of talent. Not only does she take photos & act. She has a directed a film called Finding Sky which will no doubt get her name out there and get her some awesome work. I for one can’t wait to see the film. So read on what she has to say about, the making of this film.

"Finding Sky" is a feature length independent film shot in Los Angeles and Southeast Idaho. It follows the story of an aspiring actress Sky Hamilton (played by Sandifer), a small-town country girl from Idaho, who moves to Los Angeles with big dreams but is disappointed when her career is quickly going nowhere. She returns to her familyís ranch for a vacation, only to question where she really belongs. She has an instant connection with her familyís ranch-hand Sam De La Cruz, but just as she thinks sheís found her place, an unexpected turn of events in her career takes her back to Los Angeles. Sky is left to do some soul-searching, and must decide which of her two worlds completes her most.

1) How did the film come about?
In April 2009, I started writing a short screenplay based on a short story I wrote in college a few years ago at Boise State in Idaho. It was somewhat autobiographical, loosely based rather, but started from what my mom said should be called "The Girl in the Red Mustang" – a story about all the strange boyfriends and experiences I’d had in my short 20-something years.

I moved to California in 2008 with big dreams and unrealistic goals. I soon realized that if I wanted an acting career in Los Angeles, I’d have to create my own characters, my own stories, and my own films. So, I started writing "Finding Sky" solely to have footage for my reel.†

We filmed the short in the summer and fall of 2009, had one or two scenes left to film, but put out some teaser trailers on Facebook and YouTube. The trailers got positive response and we were encouraged by fans to turn it into a feature length film. So, I rewrote the screenplay and turned it into a feature length. ìWeî refers to my production partner Sergio Z. Bernal, a graduate of Los Angles Film School, who is the cinematographer for "Finding Sky" as well as the actor playing Sam De La Cruz opposite of myself. We’ve worked on several short films together. Most of the production has been just the two of us.

2) What was the inspiration behind the story?
My family’s ranch was the inspiration for the story. It’s very near to my heart and I wanted a piece of work that documented it, something I could show my children and look back on when I’m too old to remember the ranch when I was a certain age. There aren’t too many places left like our ranch; ití’s truly an unexplainable beauty. You don’t know the power of it until you’ve been there. 

Los Angeles was also inspiration. And primarily, the contrast between the two landscapes: the wilderness of the Idaho ranch and the sprawling cityscape of Los Angeles. And the contrast between a girl who co-exists in both landscapes.

3) How long did it take to film the movie?
We started filming in August 2009 and just finished during Labor Day weekend of 2010. We took two different trips to Idaho and also did filming as our schedule allowed in Los Angeles, so it was a long process.

4) How was the process of choosing the actors for the film like?
I wanted to use actors I knew so I could give them experience and work with people I enjoyed being around. So, after writing the script, I cast from fellow actors in my acting class I thought were right for each part. Some characters were inspired from the actors themselves, even if the characters are nothing like the real actors. A few of the extras were found via casting notices; we had to match a very specific look. So I met some new actors as well through that process.

5) Was it hard to make the film with a very low budget?
I used about every possible resource I had, so it kept the budget really small; in fact, ridiculously inexpensive as far as feature films go. The budget came solely from my own pocket until this summer when I raised about $600 on IndieGoGo.com to cover film festival entries and other expenses. Every location we used, we didn’t have to pay for permits, which saved a lot. We used my apartment, my photography studio, my familyís ranch, and also guerilla-filmed the outdoor locations in Los Angeles. Sergio already owned a camera, a Panasonic HVX 200A, and I also own a Canon 5D Mark II. We used the photography studio’s equipment and lighting, so we didnít have to spend money on renting equipment. All actors were generous enough to donate their time to the project and we also had a few crew members help out on various days free of charge as well. The only thing I really had to spend money on was traveling expenses to Idaho, craft services, a shotgun mic, and a few props. We were very lucky to have so many resources. Obviously, we probably could have done a lot more with a bigger budget, but we think weíve been very successful at giving ìFinding Skyî a bigger-budget feel than it actually is. I think the entire project is under $1,500 so far. The biggest expense will be marketing and film festival entries. Hopefully we can pay back some of our actorsí time as well. 

6. Was it hard to get financing for the film?
We didnít get financing. I just paid for it all. The funds we raised on IndieGoGo, however, were more than we expected. I posted the project on Facebook and within a week or so, we had a lot of amazing supporters donate money. And we appreciate every donation since all of it is going to marketing and festivals in order to get the film out there to the public.

7. What did you learn from making of this film that you can use for
future features? Is there anything you would or wouldn’t do next time that you did this time in regards to the making of the film?
I can’t wait to start the next project ñ but I will go about it much differently. I did "Finding Sky" a little unorthodox just because it started out as such a small project and grew to something I didn’t expect. Next time, I’ll write the entire feature first, get contracts through SAG before filming, and also get funding before filming. And will hopefully never have to ask people to donate their time again, but actually pay them as professional actors and crew! So, in the future, I think I’ll have everything much more organized and it’ll be a faster process. 

Also, I think Iíll have someone else cast it. I am so thankful for all my actors, although I know there were a few fellow actors that were hurt they weren’t included. That’s a bit of drama not needed, especially when youíre trying to write, direct, produce, and act in a film. 

8. †Has the internet played a good part in promoting the film and generating sales?
Definitely! It’s played the only part in promoting the film! I can’t afford print marketing, so the internet is an economical way of getting the word out there about it. Especially Facebook, where friends of friends learn about the film, so your audience keeps growing. But, you can only status-blast people a certain amount, so once we get the film in a festival or two, I think weíll be able to promote it in other ways, get distribution, and have the audience expand even more. IMDB has also been a great help; it just adds to the legitimacy of the film and has gotten a few distribution companies interested in "Finding Sky".

10. What’s next for yourself?
I’m working on some ideas for webisodes and script ideas, so we’ll see what gets developed first. Right now, I’m concentrating on my craft. I learned so much from "Finding Sky". I kept seeing a change throughout the filming process, so I can’t wait for the challenges to come with future projects. Basically, I just hope that bigger and better things are in store for everyone involved. Time will tell. 

11. Did the actors stay pretty much to the script or was improv allowed?
A little bit of both. I wanted the dialogue and behavior to be as organic and natural as possible, so I gave the actors freedom to change a few words here and there. We didn’t have much rehearsal time, especially since most of my actors are from the San Diego area and we were filming in Los Angeles. One scene was completely improvised, with just an outline of what we needed to accomplish with the dialogue, so that was really fun. But for the most part, everyone stuck to the script as close as possible, which I really appreciated as the writer. It’s so fun to see your words come alive. 

12. Were there any major problems when making the film?
We were very blessed with no major problems. I think the biggest problem was a light fell over during set-up and we had to repair some damage. Also, although not really a problem, but more of a process, was recasting a few characters during the re-write. Courtnie Long, who plays my character’s best friend Trish Ryan, was originally cast as a production assistant in the last scene of the short film. So when I recast Courtnie as the best friend, we had to reshoot the production assistant scene with a different actress, now played by Unnur Fridriksdottir. Same thing happened with Taniel Pogharian, who was originally our talk show host in the short film version, later to be recast as my character’s ex-husband Alex Braden. So, we also had to reshoot the talk show scene with a new actor, Mark C. Hanson. So, just a little reshooting due to script expansion. 

13. Is it hard to make an independent film in this day and age?
I don’t have much experience with film making yet. So, I don’t really have anything to compare it to. I think it’s much easier to make a low-budget independent film now, especially since there are so many great digital cameras out on the market today at affordable prices. But I think itís also tougher competition. Everyone is trying their hand at filmmaking; everyone is posting videos on YouTube and Vimeo. And even festivals like Sundance, which used to be the prime place for newcomers and no-namers to get their films discovered, is now much harder to get noticed in. You’re competing against independent films that still have huge budgets and huge stars, just not financed through a major studio. Sometimes it’s a little disheartening, but I’m very proud of my film and how far it’s come along. 

14. What advice can you give to some one wanting to make an independent film?
Just do it. Don’t wait, don’t procrastinate. Just apply yourself, do what you need to do, and make it happen. It’s very simple, broad advice, but really, I think a huge part of the process. And have fun and be patient. 

Become a fan of "Finding Sky" and get updates on screenings, clips, and more at:
www.facebook.com/findingsky

Like it on IMDB:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1659203/

Eastern College Filmmaker Interview

Eastern College
Picture copyright respected holders.

Interview With director James Francis Flynn By Chris 22/9/09

Eastern College is another great indie college comedy with great acting, good directing and great writing. I wanted to know so I did.

Eastern College Website

1. How did the film come about?

In the summer of 2006, I worked on my friend AJ Rickert-Epstein’s movie, “Fingerman”. It was an action/comedy movie about a young man who suddenly discovers the ability to shoot invisible bullets from his fingers. AJ and I wrote the screenplay together based on a short film he’d done several years prior. I had written several screenplays before then, but this one was the first one that had gotten produced. It was also the first time I had written anything comedic.

I had a small bit part in “Fingerman” and was around the set quite a bit. The thing that I discovered is that making a low-budget comedy is a lot of fun. It was more fun, I imagined, than making a low-budget drama. With that in mind, I went back home to Chicago after spending the summer shooting “Fingerman” in Ohio and wrote a comedy about college.

There were three main reasons for this: 1) I knew I could go back to my hometown, a small college town in Ohio, and shoot the movie cheaply; 2) the interdisciplinary degree I got from my university was being phased out, and I wanted to address some of the emotions I had about that; 3) and finally, I had enjoyed my time in college quit a bit and I knew there were many stories from my journals that I could mine for laughs.

2. What was the inspiration behind the story?

The above pretty well addresses this question.

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

Almost exactly a month. We started in Chicago in late June 2007 and shot all of July.

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

Most of the actors were folks I knew either from growing up or from college, and I wrote several of the characters specifically for those actors. The character Nathan was played by Jonathan Dominic, who I remembered from seeing on stage at Miami University. Chris Cowan was the lead in “Fingerman”, and I wanted to cast him in a completely different role from his nerdy character in that film. Noah Applebaum is someone I grew up with and have known since kindergarten; I wrote that part for him; Brandon Lea is another childhood friend who has done lots of theatre and short films.

Lauren Parkinson was another Miami University actresses; Jonathan Dominic recommended her after a Chicago actress I knew had to drop out. Laure-Lyne Zbinden was someone I found on Craigslist; she had no prior acting experience. Hannah Phelps is a friend from Chicago. Christina Napier had been in “Fingerman”, as had Darren Bailey. “Low Ride” was played by Nicole Bailey, who is Darren’s wife. And finally, Elizabeth Laidlaw, who plays the bad guy in the movie, is a Chicago actress who I worked with on a short film at Chicago Filmmakers, a local co-op.

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

No, the editing was fun. AJ and I sweated in out in his small apartment in the San Fernando Valley in September of 2007. We stuck pretty closely to the screenplay, and the flow wasn’t hard to maintain because of the small amount of coverage we shot.

What was difficult was keeping the length of the film down. There was quite a bit of improvisation on set that was hard to cut, and, being this was my first film, I did the typical rookie mistake wherein I wrote too much story for what the movie needed to be. It took several more months of tweaking the film to get the cut down to a reasonable length, because it is really hard to kill your babies.

6. Has the film had much international sales yet?

We’re in negotiations right now.

7. How have americans taken to the film?

I’ve had some minor success on the film festival circuit. I premiered in my hometown, where we shot the film. The town is Oxford, Ohio, where Miami University is located. The film one the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature, and then went on to play festivals in Los Angeles, New York, and Iowa. We’ve picked up a few awards here and there, had several other screenings of the film not affiliated with film festivals, and got the film picked up by a distributor for worldwide distribution. For such a low-budget film with no stars, I consider this a success.

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

That’s a difficult question to answer. I’m proud of the film and I’m happy that I made it, and I think it is a good stepping-stone. That said, I believe I can make much better films than this, and I intend to.

9. Was it hard to make the film with the budget you had?

Not especially. We designed the film, both in the writing and in the prep, to be shot for a very small amount. I mainly wish that we had had more money just to pay the cast and crew.

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

Generally, I think peope find the movie funny. If so, mission accomplished.

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

There were two small investors, and considering they were family, they were not difficult to get. The rest of the money came from me, which was also not hard to get!

I’m working on financing my next movie independently. This is proving to be trickier.

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

Too many things to mention.

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

Yes. Between Facebook groups, having the movie on Amazon.com for pre-order, having an email list to notify cast and crew of screenings, and many more things, the internet hs been invaluable to the making and promoting of this film.

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

I answered this partially above, but to go into more detail, I slept on part of a sectional couch in a small apartment in North Hollywood for a month. AJ and I would wake up every day in the late morning, make breakfast, and cut for about 12 hours a day. Then we’d play video games and drink beer. Then we’d do it all again the next day.


We did an assembly while we did the main edit. In other words, we’d usually go chronogically through the story, and I’d pick the takes and the direct the shape of the scenes, and AJ would put it all together and make it look professional.

We spent about a month doing this, at which point we had a 2:15 cut. A month later, AJ came to Chicago and we cut 12 more minutes out of the movie. We cut another 15 minutes out of the film before our world premire, and then another 6 minutes out by the time the film was released on DVD. These subsequent cuts were mostly from reactions of friends who had seen the movie, audience reactions from film festival screenings, and just sitting with the movie for many months and getting a sense of what worked and what didn’t.

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

Again, there are many things that I learned, but they are too lengthy to get into in depth. The point of making this movie was just to hop in head-long and give myself a filmmaking bootcamp — to go from the academic, intellectual idea of what making a film is, to the practical, nitty-gritty of what it is actually like. The pressure of being on set, of answering myriad questions that the cast and crew have, making split decisions, creatively collaborating. When you do that, you’re going to learn a lot, and I did.

16. What next for yourself?

I’m prepping a new feature, “The Stick-Up Kid”, to shoot in Chicago this autumn. The movie is about Montgomery Greene, a mugger in Chicago who is trying to give up the criminal life and return to his first love: playing saxophone in a Motown-style R&B/soul band. The plan is to have a cut done in the winter, premiere the film at a festival, and then immediately start touring the film with a live band accompanying the action on-screen.

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

It depended on the scene. I actually sometime write in the script a description of scene but no dialogue, forcing them to improvise. There were several scenes with Noah Applebaum where I did this, because he’s very good at improv and whatever he did would be funnier than anything I could write. But sometimes, the actors would improv, and I would gently lead them back to the written lines.

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

There were several things: the original main house location fell through and we had to find a new one; we didn’t prep the movie enough so we were stressed during the shooting, and there was constant hair-pulling about getting the movie cut down to a proper length.

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

I think it is easier to make a film than it has ever been.

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

I have conflicting advice here: if you want to make a film, go out and make one! That’s the best way to do it.


At the same time, there are too many films being made right now; the market is flooded with bad movies. So, I also think you need to really know what you’re doing before you do it. Take the time to learn your craft — go to film school, work as a PA on other people’s work, watch a LOT of films, read a lot of books, study acting and screenplay and story structure (this is key), write and write and rewrite and rewrite again, study the independent film market and where your movie fits into it, go to film festivals and meet other filmmakers and learn about the business, and make short films before you make features. Do not hop right into features — you aren’t ready.

Like David Foster Wallace said, “I wish you way more than luck.”

Director John Putch Interview

John Putch at work with Dana Delany
Picture copyright respected holders.

Interview With director John Putch By Chris 21/9/09

John Putch has directors some great movies including one of my favorites Bachelorman, I intervewed him about his newest movies Rout 30 and Mojave Phone Booth both worth checking out so read on.

John Website Website

1. How did the film come about?

I was sick of being back seat directed by companies. watch this short for more info. http://mojavephonebooth.net/MPB_BTS_MOVIE.html

2. What was the inspiration behind the story?

MPB: fight back and make a thought provoking film that had no ties to sales or making money.
RT30: go back out there and have more fun and make it even lighter than MPB. plus i had some personal stuff i wanted to get off my chest.

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

MPB: 15 day shoot, 9 months to finish.
RT30: 18 day shoot, 9 months to finish

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

I cast both films out of my phone book. all actors in both films I’ve either worked with before or are friends with.

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

i love editing. the more films you make the more you realize you can do just about anything in editorial later if you have an open mind. I’m a big fan of chopping the fat out right away. I do not linger on anything that I don’t think will hold anyone’s interest. some might say to a fault.

6. Has the film had much international sales yet?

MPB’s foreign sales are lackluster. dark dramas are not in favor apparently. RT30 however shows greater promise because it is labeled as a comedy. HBO central europe has bought it for a 2 year run starting this summer.

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

I love how RT30 turned out. when i show it, it touches and pleases everyone. they leave the theater feeling good, warm. MPB is a darker horse. I find it has a more limited appeal. but that is not a bad thing. I did not set out to make these films for someone else. Like a painting or a sculpture, these little movies are gems that were not made for hire.

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

yes and no. but in the end no. i find that the less you have, the easier it is because decisions are automatically made for you because everything is based on ‘what you can accomplish’ with what little you have. it also focuses the story automatically for you. if there are too many choices or ways to skin a cat, then you end up not committing to any one way. this equals vanilla to me. so the less you have, the easier it is. logistially, these micro budget movies are only hard if you are not an organized person. you have to be hyper organized, and you have to get off on being that way.

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

MPB: 51 festivals and 15 awards
RT30 45 festivals and 16 awards

I find the response i most receive is astonishment that they cost so little and look and sound so great. with professional actors, director and screenplay, your movie does not have to cost several million bucks to be valid or viable. The big secret about the movie and TV biz is everyone is ripping each other off with what things cost and how much we get paid. I’ve often thought if there was a salary cap instituted in show business, and folks actually had to toil a bit more for their pay, 75% of the riff raff would drop off. all that would be left are the people who love to make movies and tell stories.

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

MPB was financed by me. I put up 40K, but in the end the movie really cost around 50-52 with all the expenses that occurred after shooting.

RT30 to date is weighing in around 65K. In this case, i offered my distributor from MPB a share in the participation pool for half the start up. which was 25K. I have financed the rest. My finance partner is now a shareholder and has the exclusive right to distribute the picture. This makes sense for me since I do not have to search for a distributor now. and it behooves him to sell the movie so he can get his share back plus profits.

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

smaller the better. less professional more fun. find a way to keep doing it. don’t let anyone infect your mind about who should be in your film and why it won’t sell if you don’t make it this or that.

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

good lord yes! the internet is all we have. the more festivals you can place your film in, the more hits the title will generate on a search engine. this is the backbone of internet awareness. its also so easy to get a review now. before you had to beg a news paper to run a story or a review on your film when it played at a fest. now its easy.

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

supremely enjoyable. i sit here in my home office with my macpro and firewire hard drives and happily cut away.

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

i will try to avoid car driving interiors. even on little movies with little cameras, they are a pain i the ass. I want to try all driving, day or night using green screen. it will be fun to test the limits of that. 5 years ago before HD a low buget movie could never attempt GS because you needed to hire an FX company to composite the shots. today, i can do this here on my mac using motion, or after effects or even FcP in a pinch. its fantastic.

16. What next for yourself?

I’ve decided i’m not done with South central Pennsylvania yet and will make ROUTE 30 a trilogy. the 2nd script is already written and cast. I just need to find some cash to get it shot. on the job front, i just completed directing Universal’s popular franchise AMERICAN PIE: book of love (7). and i’m back to Ugly Betty and Scrubs in the fall.

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

improve is allowed, but not encouraged. if someone comes up with a great line or thing to do, then by all means i want them to do it. but i do not want to deviate from the script too much. coming from a theater background, the script ruled and should be respected.

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

RT30: we had a drought and had to have water trucked in to one of the residences where we were shooting and staying.

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

Not if you have the right attitude. most people need to get over themselves and just concentrate on the story. but i’ve found that the mystery, power and allure of filmmaking turns normal people into monsters. and i can spot them a mile away. how do i know this? I used to be one of those idiots. don’t get me started on new film makers who think their shit don’t smell. they all learn the lesson at the hand of humiliation soon enough.

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

stop finding ways to convince yourself that your film is not valid or viable. don’t judge yourself. get a camera, some actors and go off and shoot some stuff. you can practice anytime with a cheap HD camera and completely post it in FCP.

also- decide why you are making the film. are you a whore who wants to be famous? are you an artist who wants to express something? are you doing it for money? you need to decide who you are and why you are needing to do it. I find that most people think they want to make movies cause they’ve watched them all their lives and the glamour is too powerful to ignore. then when they get into it, they see its not so glamourous and they lose interest. by that time, money and time has been wasted. if you are not from the creative arts world, then making a film will probably be a disappointing endeavor for you. most folks don’t realize you need talent for this, and if they discover they do not have the talent, become frustrated and depressed. but i guess that last comment could be applied to any profession.

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
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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.

La Blues

LA Blues
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Interview With The Director Of LA Blues Ian Gurvitz By Chris 18/5/09

LA Blues is a great indie film with real characters,real people, great dialog and a film that was financed by the director himself. The blurb of the film got my attention, so an interview was needed.

So read on.

La Blues Website

1) How did the film come about? 

I had just written a pilot for one of the networks that wasn’t picked up, meaning they commissioned
a script but decided not to shoot it. It was about a group of guys who hung out together and bitched
at each other while talking about the shit going on in their lives. The network thought it was too dark, so
instead of lightening it up, I made it darker and expanded it into a feature, setting it in the bar.

2) See #1.

3) How long did it take to film?

The shoot lasted 15 days. Twelve days in a studio and three days on location.

4) What was casting like?

I shot the movie in June of 2006. I began casting a year earlier, with a casting
director. We tried to go after name talent and giving ourselves a year I thought
would be enough lead time. The way it works is that if you can rope in one name
that will entice others, at least in theory. We weren’t paying much at all so if someone
signed on, it would have to be because they loved the part. 

After 6 months of submissions, and waiting for agents to return calls and for clients
to read the script, we came up empty handed. Many good reactions but no one ready
to sign. So, we decided a couple months into the new year to open casting offices and begin traditional
casting: having readings and meetings with those actors who are too big to read.

That began a process that took a few months and we made our last deal about a week
before shooting.

5) Was it hard to edit the film?

The editor I worked with had an office in his house about 45 minutes away from me. And
he had a day job. He worked on his cut at night, sent me dvds, I emailed him back notes,
and eventually after we had a rough cut, we began working together on the weekends. There’s
not much action in the movie. It’s mostly dialogue and it’s divided into about 6 segments, so
each one had to be its own little movie — beginning, middle, and end. Plus we had to weave
story lines for each character throughout.

6) Int’l sales.

It’s been on the market for a couple years and some sales have been made though not as
many as I would have liked. It’s a dialogue-heavy movie which doesn’t naturally translate to
the foreign audience, which is used to more traditional American genre movies. Horror. Crime.
Violence. Naked women.

7) Actors.

The entire cast was very professional. They had a lot of dialogue to learn, on a very tight
schedule, with no room for many mistakes. They all came ready to go. Dave Foley was
great. As was Anthony Michael Hall. All of them. 

8) Was I happy with how it turned out?

Mostly. Looking back there were changes I should have made. Cuts I could have made
to pace it up a bit. The idea for the music was there but it didn’t completely play as I
had envisioned it, with a dynamic house band punctuating some of the scenes. I loved
the music I put in but if I’d met the musician whose songs I bought before I shot, I would
have had his band in the movie. 

9) Was it hard to make low budget?

Yes and no. Much of it is in the bar so once we accepted that, we tried to make it as
interesting as possible. A fifteen-day shoot for a feature is pretty lean so we had to
work quickly and efficiently. Most of us came from the TV world and had worked together
so that came naturally. I would have liked to incorporate a more stylish feel to some of the
scenes but it became a matter of getting the lines and performances so some of the looser
passes we had mapped out had to get scrapped. We needed the words, the moments, with
the right coverage. 

10) Responses to the film.

Mostly good, I think. It’s not a typical movie so I think some of the younger audience didn’t
respond. Oddly, I assumed it would strike a chord with men — a guy movie — yet many positive
responses came from women, who enjoyed the “fly on the wall” aspect to male conversation, as
well as some of the more emotional stories.

11) Was it hard to finance?

Not when you pay for it yourself, which is what I did.

12) What did I learn?

Don’t pay for your own movie. 

13) Had the internet played a part in sales?

Only to the extent of having a website, myspace page, etc. I had some
communication via myspace but it was not the main marketing tool. 

14) The editing process. See above.

15) Anything I wouldn’t do next time.

As I said, don’t self finance, unless you can spend a ridiculously small
amount of money. The marketplace for indies right now is bleak, as is the
dvd market. Getting theatrical distribution is the longest of longshots, so
you’re left with dvd sales and foreign. Given that, don’t try to give the
foreign market something it doesn’t want. 

Creatively, I wouldn’t have a firm shoot date and then back everything up 
against it. I would try to cast it first, at least with a strong lead, and then
try to build the production around that person. It’s still very dicey, but there’s
less risk. In this case, I decided I was going to make the movie, that we
were shooting starting the first week of June and that wasn’t changing. 

I also would’ve been more disciplined and more objective during editing.
I think in hindsight, I held on to some things I should have let go of.

16) What’s next?

I have another script floating around town, through traditional channels. 
I’m working on a 2nd book, having published a book about tv writing a
few years ago. Working on a variety of projects, and will follow whatever
works out. 

17) Did the actors stay on script?

Mostly, yes. There were occasional ad libs and when they fit the moment it
was great. One actress, though, came with the intent of playing with much of
her dialogue, so I was left with two choices: force her to read it as written, which
can lead to bad feeling and a stilted performance, or play it out and rewrite on the
fly. I chose the second option. The scenes were contained, with one other actor,
and he was game, so we played around. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes I asked
for lines as written. In editing, we used some of everything. I thought her attitude coming
in was a bit presumptuous, but I decided to see where it went. When I saw that they
had some chemistry together, and that she was engaging, I let it happen. 

18) Any major problems making the film?

Not really. Once we got going, we shot like mad for 15 days and finished on time and
on budget. No major disasters. Which was lucky, as one would’ve completely derailed us.

19) Is it hard to make an indie film?

No. Although we shot on Super 16 film, with digital cameras and actors dying to work, 
most anyone with money or actor friends can make a movie. The hard part is selling it. Because of 
computer editing, and the wealth of professional equipment in just about everyone’s hands, 
more movies are being made, but most never see the light of day. It’s supply and demand. 
There are hundreds, if not thousands of film festivals to show at, if you get in, but those are 
mostly for exposure and vanity. They don’t often lead to sales. 

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

Depends who they are and where they are. In the states, everything is star driven. Get a
big name actor and you can get some traction and exposure. Even for foreign sales, they
look for names. That’s all I heard during the sales process — NAMES. However, look at
films like Slumdog Millionaire, or Once. Granted, one was a studio movie, but with no stars.
The other, a quiet little indie with no names but great performances and haunting music. 

I guess the advice is follow your passion but first check out the marketplace. Get educated.
I didn’t. I jumped in blind, then figured it out later. We made distribution deals for foreign and
dvd but the money isn’t exactly rolling back in. Know the world you’re walking into. Go to
film festivals, and film markets. Talk to people. Get a sense of the business side of things
because you’ll have to deal with it eventually if you’re going it alone. 

Oh, and get someone else to pay for it.


Goodbye Baby

Goodbye Baby
Picture copyright respected holders.

Interview With The Director Of Goodbye Baby Daniel Schechter By Chris 18/5/09

Goodbye Baby is one of those great indie films, with a great storyline and a great cast. The Film
‘s Director Daniel Schechter has been getting praise for his good work. He a name to watch out for and expect a review soon on the site.

So read on.

Goodbye Baby Website

1. How did the film come about?

After my previous film, THE BIG BAD SWIM, which I wrote a produced was done, I was sorta dying to direct. Somehow, I managed to hammer out a script in 2 months or so (very fast for my speed) because I was so eager to prove I could do it. As luck would have it (and I mean LUCK) I hooked up with a buddy Tim Duff (an intern on SWIM, where we met), who became my producer and raised all the financing through an independent source.

2. What was the inspiration behind the story?

There was an Elmore Leonard novel called PAGAN BABIES I was really interested in adapting, but who am I, right? So there was a character in that novel who was a female stand up comic I was very attracted to (that was very different from my lead character, I promise). So I decided to just go with that and make the movie all about a high school graduate who couldn’t afford to go to college like her friends, so she gets a job at a comedy club in NYC and decides she wants to give it a try.

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

Not long, like 4 shooting weeks. Felt like the blink of an eye it was so much fun. I always look at finally directing a film as a reward for suffering through writing it.

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

Half auditions, half “offers” (which if you don’t know, means just cold sending a contract to an agent of someone relatively famous and praying they say yes.) Most of the people you don’t recognize in the film – Auditions… If you know them, Offers. Pretty simple. Luckily for auditions, my casting director, Stephanie Holbrook, definitely made it so I basically got to see the best NYC has to offer and I didn’t sit through too many stinkers.

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

Yes and no. We had to rush to get a cut done for a festival submission, so I never really got the chance to do the process in one smooth block of time. So then, we had to go back and cut down the movie some more and now I’m really happy with the length, flow, tone, performances, everything. I love editing and learned A LOT on BABY. I’m not particularly precious about my lines or scenes, so I suspect its easier for me than most.

6. What was it like having Alan Ruck in the picture?

Alan was amazing. It’s really intimidating/exciting to have someone so iconic from my film-viewing life in my film. I had a lot of experiences like that on this, with Kevin Corrigan, Fred Armisen, Jerry Adler and Donnell Rawlings… and then, there’s the added excitement of them giving you the respect a director gets and wanting your approval despite their level of success… its very humbling. But all actors have a common denominator in that they love to act and want to please, for the most part. Actors get a bad rep, I think. I think they’re amazing. With Alan, especially, it was nice to see him do something so dramatic and hit it so far out of the park. I don’t think we could’ve done better.

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

No. I always say if this movie sucks, it’s my fault. Thanks to my producers, I had everything I needed. Cast, equipment, crew, you name it. And that doesn’t mean we had all the money in the world, but we just had smart people who knew how/where to spend it and it made my job so much easier.

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

Great, always great. That’s why fests are so addictive really. There’s always a very sweet elderly woman in the audience, INSISTING this movie NEEDS wider distribution and it’s quite the ego boost. I love festivals. It’s the closest films like this come to theatrical distribution nowadays. Plus, we won some awards and heck, I’ll take ’em. 

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

Yeah, I really am. It did unbelievably well for me. I won awards for both writing and directing. I got repped by a great management company and agency. I met UNBELIEVABLE actors and crew-members and it was the beginning of a great creative partnership with Tim Duff, my producer. The movie gets real laughs and tears and I’m genuinely proud to show it around (which is saying a lot for me.) Check it out, judge for yourself.

10. How did Cinevolve Studios get involved with the film?

A lot of distribution companies were interested and Cinevolve made us a pitch that was very against the mold… it was a much more personal, aggressive and creative approach to releasing the film and I’m glad we chose them. Plus, they do Blu-Ray.

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

Everyone except my mother seems to like it. But you can’t please everyone.

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

I’m embarrassed to say it wasn’t. My producer took care of business (for more details listen to audio commentary, yo).

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

More than I can explain here. Let’s see: Always go with best actor, when possible. Really ask yourself what scenes will get cut BEFORE you shoot. Shoot less master shot takes and more close ups. When avoidable, don’t yell at people, they don’t like it. Micro-manage, don’t let people tell you you’re a control freak, it’s the job — Plus, even though everyone cares about their job, you’re the one who has to watch this film a billion times, so make sure it’s your decision in the end). But also, be collaborative.

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

We’ll see. 

15. What next for yourself?

A Thriller called THE KING OF PRUSSIA starring Ryan Phillippe that we’re shooting Fall of ’09.

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

These questions seem out of order… It was 80% scripted, and some actors were very, very good with improv (Corrigan, Vincent Piazza, Kane Manera, Christine Evangelista) and I let them go.

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

One actor walked off set for no good reason and took his name off. Do the math and you can figure out who.

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

Its DEFINITELY not had to MAKE an indie. In fact, its getting quite easy. But if you can figure out how to release one and make money, let me know.

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

REALLY ask yourself if YOU should be doing this. If the answer is still yes, do it cheap.


Dog

Dog Poster
Picture copyright respected holders.

Interview With The Director Tim Gates of The Film Dog By Chris 30/4/09

Dog is gonna be one awesome horror movie, I known about it for a few years now since Michelle Page is the lead in it as Lizzie Hansen

The sneak peek of the film on their myspace page was awesome. This is gonna be a horror movie that is really something.

So read the interview below, the director tim gates gave some solid answer and he and this film and the cast are people to watch out for.

Dog Website

1. How did the film come about?

My Producer and friend Jeff Solano met a friend he had not seen for some time while surfing myspace. They talked about doing something together and his friend, James Korloch, had this idea for a story. Jeff sent me the first 20 pages and we decided to pull the trigger. We began by networking on myspace and other sites and the project began to steamroll. Before we knew it, we were talking to Harry Manfredini, Vincent Guastini, David Fine and many more. The project just took on a life of its own. We kept referring to it as a strange energy because it was.

2. What was the inspiration behind the story?

James had visited a salvage yard and got this strange feeling…what if something was watching me, there’s the entire premise for the script.

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

We shot the movie in four weeks. A true guerrilla production. We could have knocked it out sooner but we had many things slow us down. Often we didn’t have or couldn’t find props that we needed and then at the last possible moment they would just magically appear. Also, since we were on such a tight budget we didn’t want to go into overtime or have forced calls with our SAG talent. So in this respect the pace was fairly calm.

4. How did having a talented actor being Michelle Page as the lead in the film. what did it do for the movie?

I was truly blessed with an extremely talented cast. Michelle Page is awesome and very easy to work with. She listens and takes direction great but most of the time her instincts were right on so I could concentrate more on the composition and the blocking. David Fine, Anthony Hornus and Debbie Rochon were awesome as well. David brought a creepy subtext to the character and Anthony has one of the most frightening moments on screen that I have ever seen. Debbie brought an extremely visceral quality to her performance that is so thick you can walk on it. Any time you direct such fantastic talent it makes everything go faster and easier. Michelle and the others were always prepared and we could just smoke through the scenes in a few takes which would give us time to experiment.

5. How did she get involved with the film?

Actually, we had a very difficult time casting Lizzie. We looked at hundreds of resumes and head shots. We wanted Lizzie to be blonde with a red streak in her hair. Many actresses wouldn’t even consider bleaching their hair. I figured they must not be to serious about wanting a career in film. Finally, David Fine suggested Michelle and I loved her audition. She arrived on set with a red plug in her hair and ready to make a movie. If I remember correctly, Michelle was cast about a week before we began principal photography.

6. What did she bring to the part of Elizabeth ‘Lizzie’ Hansen?

Lizzie was created to be a tough girl from years of living in dysfunction with an alcoholic father. Michelle brought this but at the same time kept the feminine quality that I thought was important to the role. I didn’t want Lizzie to be as hard as cast iron, I wanted her to still have the emotional vulnerability that most women have. This way she would be a believable character that everyone could relate to. This is what Michelle brought and I think she brought it on perfectly.

7. How did the internet play as part of the film making process?

As I mentioned earlier, Myspace played a huge role in bringing the film together. There are many other sites that we exploited as well. IMDB brought us a lot of attention because we posted a casting call on that site. Not to mention even the simple aspects of the internet such as email. Many of the business transactions and auditions were done through email or Youtube. Many of the talent that we looked at either had a Myspace page or a personal website so we could view their reel. The internet was and still is a vital part of this production and all future productions.

8. Do you think horror websites and places like IMDB and youtube will help promote the movie?

First of all, IMDB is great because many of the people involved with this project have many great and interesting projects other than DOG. So when someone looks up Michelle or Vincent they see DOG and wonder what it is. They find out and interest shoots up. Debbie Rochon has done articles in Sirens Of Cinema and Scars magazine which also brings promotion via the internet. Everyday we hear how newspapers are struggling or going out of business. It’s because more and more readers are getting their news from the internet and therefore all internet websites are absolutely essential to the promotion of just about anything, especially DOG.

9. How did people like David Fine & Larry Laverty get involved with the film ?

I believe that David Fine came to us through Myspace. David is a networking genius. He and Larry Laverty are close friends so that is how Larry became involved. We only had Larry for two days but I hope to work with him on bigger roles in the future. I can’t tell you what David brought to the project but when you see DOG you’ll know because his character is great, he and Anthony almost steal the movie.

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

Yes. I just came off a film where everyone was trying to play it like Hollywood. You can’t do that unless you have millions of dollars. Fortunately, I understand enough of the entire process that I could work around some of these things. The one mistake I made though was underestimating how much post work I was going to have. For instance, I have a decapitation scene in the beginning of the film that I had all planned out to polish in post. However, when I actually started the compositing and polishing work it took much longer than I anticipated. I think I still did okay since I’m not a hundred man post facility but an army of one.

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

We actually just finished showing the film at our first festival, BareBones, where Michelle Page won Best Actress and I won Best Editor. So, feedback is fantastic so far.

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

Yes, but I’m not going to lie to you, I want to do better. Show me a director that wouldn’t go back and change things. Filmmaking is that art of compromise right from the beginning. This project doesn’t have any A list actors involved and it wasn’t shot by Kaminski. With all that being said, if you realize how much we spent and where we spent it, combined with how we actually pulled this off…I’m very happy with the way the film turned out. People are going to really enjoy DOG.

13 Do you plan to work with Michelle Page again?

Michelle is great and I would love to work with her again. My next film is probably going to be a WWII piece so there isn’t much of a call for female talent but Michelle is definitely on the table for future roles.

14. What is next for the movie?

We are getting ready for our premiere in May.
15. Was it hard to get finance for the film?

Yes and no. We obtained our first investor rather quickly. Unfortunately, we wound up going into principal photography so quickly that we ran out of time to pursue further investment. It all worked out for the better I suppose.

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

This project taught me a lot about contracts and how to have them written. I’ll know better next time. I was also caught in a problem of back ordered equipment. Hopefully, I won’t have to deal with that the next time.

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

Editing was pretty straight forward. I was shooting this with the cuts in mind so there were not too many surprises.

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

The biggest thing that I want to change the next time is prep time. I went into this shooting from the hip. I didn’t have time to break it down properly and story board the script shot by shot. I work good under pressure and I improvise very well but I think the preparation would have only improved the project if for no other reason than reducing my stress level.

19. What next for yourself?

Forward march! We’re working on getting our next project launched. I just came off a feature that I did the lighting on and I did an infomercial right before that. So, between paying the bills and promoting DOG, it’s all about getting the script for the next one ready and bringing all the pieces together.

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

My camera stabilizer was about three weeks late so I didn’t have any time to practice with it. We were two or three days into principal photography when it arrived and I just put it on and started shooting. My learning curve was fast but I wish I would have had it earlier. We were suppose to shoot a scene that needed police cars and an ambulance. We were trying for weeks to acquire these and weren’t having any luck. Larry Laverty was here from San Francisco and Jim O’Rear was here from Nashville so we had to shoot that evening. About eleven AM James calls to tell me that he got the cars and the ambulance. It all worked out. It seems like the entire project went that way so the major problem was my blood pressure.

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

The craft itself has not changed so in this respect it’s as difficult as it has always been, you still need to know how to make a movie. On the other hand, technology is becoming more and more affordable. You can lay your hands on a hi-def camera for a few thousand and be ready to roll. It’s still out of the hands of most people but if you really want it then it’s there for the taking.

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

Start saving your money now because you’re going to need it. Making a film costs money, you better start trying to find it now. Even if you have access to all the equipment and talent you need, you still need to feed your cast and crew. Have you paid for meals for everyone lately? Even just providing craft service (snacks and drinks) to production staff cost money. You’ve heard about making feature films for the price of a used car, are you going to make your actors pack a lunch? You need to know what you’re getting into. It’s going to cost money and you need to have this figured out before you begin. Also, test your script. You may think it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread but until you hear someone read it out loud the truth may not be clear. Just because you can write it and read it in your mind doesn’t mean it’s going to simply roll off the tongue. Most importantly, network and build alliances. You may be able to make a movie by yourself but
it will take you twenty years. Build a team of like minded people that will help you form an army to go off to war in this collaborative process called filmmaking. Put on your armor, put your chin up, smile, nourish your mind and body, and give that film all the love you can possibly give. But most important of all…DON”T GIVE UP!