Thursday, December 30, 2010

Jon Favreau on "Swingers"

After you'd written Swingers, why did you decide to try to make the film and not just sell the script?

JON FAVREAU: By keeping the script, you maintain control over every aspect of the movie.

Creativity, you're giving up final cut usually right off the bat. When you're making it yourself, it's up to you and only you what ends up in the movie and what compromises you want to make creatively. So, for some nominal fee, they're really getting a lot of leverage over you, both creatively and financially.

A lot of changes were asked of me: changing certain characters to women, making the characters more likeable, changing things that interfered of what my vision for the piece was.

In defense of those people, they're used to developing scripts, they're looking for clues in the material, they don't know what the overall vision of the piece is, so the best thing to do is to not take any of that upfront money.

Was Swingers based on your life?

JON FAVREAU: It wasn't a true story, but it was definitely based on people and places and inspired by events that I had experienced.

When you write from that, you're incorporating a lot of things that are very real and well understood by you. And the script inherits a certain sincerity and a certain subconscious vision that you might not even be aware of when you're doing your first script, if it's a personal one. It becomes much more difficult later on to do that.

But if you stick to things that you know and understand and people that you know, it allows a very true voice and you tend to come off as a better writer than really are, because you're incorporating so much of reality into your piece.

Did you write it for you and Vince Vaughn?

JON FAVREAU: I wrote things that I knew that they could do well. But at that time, Vince had not really played a character like the persona that was presented in Swingers, even though it was based very closely on him. The characters that he had played never really played into his rapid-fire delivery or his sense of humor. He was always playing it much more straight as an actor. I don't think he saw himself as a comic actor as much as a good-looking, leading man type.

So I was tapping into something I knew he could do, from knowing him so well, but I didn't really know whether or not he could deliver, because he hadn't done it before. It's good to have those touchstones.

What really got us there was that we had done so many staged readings of it, to try and raise money, that it served as almost a rehearsal period. So that by the time we got to the set, where we didn't have a lot of time and we were shooting a lot of pages a day, we had already gone through the material so much and had chemistry from our relationship in our personal life, and that certainly made things easier. There was no learning curve in the relationship by two actors that are cast opposite each other. Everybody already had a level of familiarity that helped to keep the process a little more streamlined.

When did you realize how much fun audiences would have with the phone message scene?

JON FAVREAU: Not on the set. The crew was not very entertained by it. We shot all the apartment stuff in a day and a half, so about a quarter of the movie was shot in a day and a half on paper. So that was one of those things that was crammed into a very crowded day at that location.

And there were concerns. Doug Liman (the director) was concerned that it was too many messages. But I felt pretty strongly about it, having read it in front of audiences live, at staged readings.

It wasn't until the whole movie was cut together and the significance of that moment, where it fell in the story, it was definitely a pivotal point in the film. And because you were so emotionally involved in that moment in the movie, the audience was engaged with the film. And had they not been engaged with the character, that scene would not have been as funny or as poignant. It was because of the work that had been done by everybody involved up until then that it was funny.

Now I think people enjoy it alone, because they remember the movie. But had that just been done as a sketch, it might have been a clever thing, but I don't think it would have had the impact that it does in the context of the film.

It all goes to emotion. If you're emotionally engaged, everything is going to be funnier, more satisfying, scarier, everything. It's that emotional connection that you feel with these guys. And the reason you feel that is because the story was so personal and sincere, and that's a very hard thing to maintain as you do bigger and bigger movies.

It's the one thing that you really have going for you in a small movie, that you're doing something that's so really and usually so personal that you have a level of emotional engagement that you will not get in a high-budget, high-concept movie.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sathish Kalathil on "Jalachhayam"

Jalachayam is the first Malayalam digital movie shot exclusively on a Mobile phone.

What was your filmmaking background before making Jalachhayam?

SATHISH: Earlier, I filmed a documentary named Veena Vaadanam about the origin- growth-and the evolution of painting, with a Nokia N70 mobile phone in 2006-2007.

This documentary had been released on in 2008 at Thrissur and it had been screened in 16mm, successfully. Until now, this documentary has been screened in various film festivals and is renowned as the first mobile phone film in India, which has received the certificate of Central Board of Film Certification in 2008.

The success of Veena Vaadanam instilled in this team the confidence to make a feature film. That is Jalachhayam.

Why did you decide to produce it on a mobile phone?

SATHISH: Less production cost and a novel method of movie making.

What were the best and worst things about shooting it on a mobile phone?

SATHISH: The best thing was the ease of use of the instrument. It was an easy way for people who are interested in movies -- even a rural people -- can experience their own interests in movies. It’s also an easy way to fight against social evils -- even for a single person. The worst things are lighting control and capturing wide shots.

How did you handle editing and post-production?

SATHISH: The same way as in the film industry.

And, finally, what did you learn from making the movie that you can take to other projects?

SATHISH: I have learned how to direct and prepare a movie whole.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Stephanie Argy and Alec Boehm on "The Red Machine"

What was your filmmaking background before making The Red Machine?

ALEC and STEPH: We both started out by working for others -- Alec in camera, and Steph in post-production and then as a journalist writing about the art and craft of filmmaking. At the same time, we were writing and directing our own short films, as well as commercials, videos, documentaries and short experimental projects.

The big turning point for us was when we made an 11-minute mock newsreel called Gandhi at the Bat (http://www.gandhiatthebat.com/), which ended up playing and winning awards all over the world -- including an award for Filmmaking Excellence at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Like The Red Machine, it's set in the 1930s, and it showed us the incredible range of what's possible, even at a very low budget. After that, we knew it was time to make our first feature.



Where did the idea come from and what was the writing process like?

ALEC and STEPH: In a used bookstore in New Orleans, we had found a book about the U.S. efforts to break Japanese codes during World War II, and in this book there was one tiny little mention -- just a half a sentence -- about how the U.S. Navy intelligence division had used a professional safecracker to help them steal a copy of Japan's naval code in 1920. We love capers and heist movies and had always wanted to make one, and this seemed like the basis for a great caper: U.S. Navy spies? And a thief? Could there be anything better? But we didn't do anything with the story for a while, just let it simmer. Then when we directed Gandhi at the Bat, we met the actors Lee Perkins and Donal Thoms-Cappello, and we realized, "Ah...that's our spy and our thief," and the story caught fire for us.

The script came together relatively easily and was shaped a lot during long bicycle rides. We live near the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles, and almost every day, we ride up and over Griffith Park, near the Observatory and the Hollywood sign -- very slowly and with considerable pain. But it gives us a lot of time to talk about stories.

It helped to know that we were writing for Lee and Donal, because it let us shape their characters to them. The story and the world coalesced around their characters.

Even though the alleged event that sparked our curiosity happened in 1920, we decided to set the story 15 years later, in 1935, because at that point, the state-of-the-art technology was code machines, which were used to encipher secret messages -- and a code machine seemed like a great thing for our heroes to steal.

How did you fund the film?

ALEC and STEPH: By working on other people's projects, we had saved up a certain amount of money. Friends and relatives were encouraging us to buy a house with that, but we decided to use it to make a movie instead. In retrospect, we're very glad we did.

What sort of camera did you use for production and what were the best and worst things about it?

ALEC and STEPH: We used the Panasonic HVX200. Before we shot, we did a lot of camera tests, and we decided that the HVX200 was the best camera for the story we wanted to tell and the way we wanted to tell it. Its basic look was very close to the aesthetic that we wanted for the movie, and shooting digitally meant that we could afford to do more takes, and therefore give the actors more chances to try things -- which was important to us, because we wanted to do whatever we could to help them give the best possible performances.

We also did quite a few effects shots in the movie, and it was really nice that we could just drop the camera's files right into Adobe After Effects and get going with that part of the work. In a few cases, there were takes that we wanted to use for performance, but that had technical problems -- for example, a boom shadow, or a fly buzzing through the frame -- and we were able to fix those technical problems so that we could use exactly the performance takes we wanted.

The worst thing about the HVX200 was that the image is really 'thin' and doesn't give you much to work with during color correction. A friend of ours who's done a lot of color correction said that grading HVX200 footage is like working with wet tissue paper, so we did bump up against that a little -- especially because we challenged the camera with a lot of very low-light scenes, including some that were lit only with a single candle. (At a candle store in Culver City, we did find "triple-wick candles," which were much brighter than regular candles, but it was still a lot to ask from the camera.)


What were the biggest challenges of doing a period film for little money?

ALEC and STEPH: No matter what film you're making, it always feels as though you have too little money. (We read how even on a movie as big as 'Titanic,' they could only afford to build one side of the boat...)

But we did come across a lot of little tricks that helped:

• The most important -- have a wickedly brilliant production designer. Ours was Mel Horan, and he created an amazing array of props and set dressing. There's an ongoing motif of documents all through the movie -- government forms, newspapers, sheets of code, maps, menus, charts, everything is paper-based -- and Mel designed all those, then found ways to print them up big and cheap. (Note for low-budget filmmakers: you can make really huge black-and-white copies for very little money, and those cover a lot of wall space and keep the walls from being bare and skimpy-looking.)

• Find very resourceful costume designers. We had two -- Annemarie von Firley of Revamp Vintage (http://www.revampvintage.com/) custom-tailored all the women's costumes for our actresses using patterns from the 1930s, while Kathy Pillsbury found all the men's costumes and uniforms and did a lot of work to customize those.

• Look for the telling detail. Mel was great about finding one or two key props for each setting that would guide the eye and signal the audience that they're in a different era. It helps a lot if your key props are very familiar and widely used now, but looked different back in the movie's era -- a phone, for example, or a typewriter, as opposed to a computer.

• Write to your limitations. Knowing that it would be easiest to control indoor sets, we wrote the movie to take place mostly in day interiors.

• It really helps to be able to do effects work, so that when you do go outdoors, you can create digital matte paintings and set extensions. (We mostly made our own -- though we did have one gorgeous shot, the exterior of the Office of Naval Intelligence, that was done for us by a renowned matte painter named Mark Sullivan.)

• Find a location that has a lot of set dressing and props. Our main location was a 92-acre former home for juvenile delinquents, now owned by the state of California and used exclusively for movie shoots. All over the facility, we'd find great old period furniture, which Mel and the art department would drag from building to building, so we didn't have to rent any of that.

Honestly, though, it didn't seem that much harder to make a period movie than a contemporary one -- no matter what movie you're making, you have to think about and control everything that's in the frame, so with a period movie, you just have to be a little bit more careful about what you choose to show.

What was the smartest thing you did during production? The dumbest?

ALEC and STEPH: The smartest thing we did was casting really good actors. Eleven of them, including Lee and Donal, we had worked with before; others came to us through our producer Ken Cortland and our casting director Sam Christensen (who cast the TV show M*A*S*H for many years). The actors' skill and commitment really helped the world seem plausible -- they live in that world so convincingly that it makes it much easier for the audience to enter into it, too.

And the dumbest thing...maybe it was not realizing how much of our lives would be consumed by the movie. You keep thinking you've reached some kind of finish line -- the end of pre-production, the end of shooting, the end of post, the first film festival -- but then you realize that there's way more ahead of you. But the great part of that is that you do keep learning all through; honestly, we learned about 100 times as much in post as we did in production, then learned about 100 times as much traveling with the movie as we did in post.

You do get impatient to move along to the next project, and it's tempting to succumb to that and walk away from movies that may still have enormous life left in them. But there are rewards to helping a movie go as far as possible, and while the journey has been longer and much more difficult that we ever imagined, it's also much more wonderful, and the movie keeps surprising us with new adventures.

And, finally, what did you learn from making the film that you can take to other projects?

ALEC and STEPH: Oh, boy, where do you start?

• It seems as though almost any problems we encountered were fundamentally problems with communication, so it's important to make it very clear to people what you expect from them, what they're doing that fits into your vision for the movie, and what doesn't -- and to bring up problems right away, because they never fix themselves.

• It's very easy to get buried in small details, so you have to remind yourself to pick up your head and look around to see the whole world.

• Put aside a lot of money for promotion, film festivals and marketing -- we continue to be stunned at how much we've been traveling with the movie. And our actors have been phenomenally supportive -- they joined us at so many festivals and really made those screenings special for the audiences -- but we would have liked to have been able to pay for all their travels, too.

• The movie is everything, but it isn't the only thing.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tina Mabry on “Mississippi Damned”

What was your filmmaking background before making Mississippi Damned?

TINA: While I always had an interest in filmmaking, I didn’t actually gain any experience until I got into the University of Southern California’s graduate film program. In my final year at USC, I started working on my thesis film, Brooklyn’s Bridge to Jordan. At USC we make quite a few short films, but they are done on a small scale and on a “what’s currently in your pocket” type of budget. This was the first time I had to think about fundraising and gathering a semi-large crew. It was only a six day shoot, but it felt like an eternity because I was wearing more than just the writer/director hats, but also producer, editor, location manager, UPM, etc.

Once I finished the film, I put it on the festival circuit and it got into over 50 film festivals worldwide. It even made it on Showtime, LOGO, and BET, which made the rough production days worth it. While I was working on Brooklyn’s Bridge to Jordan, an opportunity came up to write a comedic feature for Jamie Babbit. I was a big fan of her work and I had a deep interest in the project. After around a year of writing the script, Itty Bitty Titty Committee, was ready and they went into production. Subsequently, the film premiered at Berlin in 2007 and won Best Feature at SXSW.

Where did the idea for Mississippi Damned come from? What was the writing process like?

TINA: Mississippi Damned is based on my family and I’ve always had an interest in telling it. I really wanted to explore the destructive cycles that pass on from generation to generation and more importantly, why those cycles continue.

At times it’s difficult to write your life story because you have to step outside of yourself and take an honest look at yourself (in my case, family included) seeing both the good and the bad. The producer/editor of Mississippi Damned, Morgan Stiff, knows my family and me intimately; therefore, she was able make sure I was on track when telling the story. Morgan has a background in dramaturgy, so she’s very skilled at providing proper notes on my scripts.

I took some time off from writing Mississippi Damned when my mother passed away. It was too painful to write about my family during this time, so I stepped away for a few months. After a close friend suggested I start back writing as a way of healing, I sat back down and went to work. All in all it took anywhere from 6 to 8 months to finish the script.

How did you fund the film?

TINA: Funding any film is usually the main difficulty and we found similar hurdles. We had an investor who was willing to put a considerable amount of funds into the project, but we wanted to make the film for a larger budget. Morgan participated in Film Independent’s Producers Lab with the script and it was there that she got the advice to make the film with the money we had in hand. This was the best advice we could’ve received because we would still be out there trying to raise our initial budget.

Morgan and her producing partner, Lee Stiff, were very creative when figuring out how to make a 109-page period piece script with 34 characters on our budget. When you have creative producers who are emotionally invested in the project, you’ve caught lightning in a bottle.

Did the story change much in the editing process?

TINA: The film takes place in 1986 and then in 1998. The 1986 portion of the story is pretty much scene for scene. The editor, Morgan Stiff, had to do a bit of switching of scenes and deleting of scenes in the 1998 segment of the story.

When reading the script pages, there were certain scenes that needed to be there to progress the story, but once we shot them they were superfluous. An actor’s look, the visual setting, sound design, etc. can cover in two seconds what I wrote two pages for and that’s the beautiful thing about filmmaking.

Overall, the story didn’t drastically differ from the final cut, but Morgan’s changes and Lee’s notes took the film to a new level.

What was the smartest thing you did during production? The dumbest?

TINA: The smartest thing I did during production was to just be a writer/director. With superb producers and a talented crew, I was able to solely focus on doing those two jobs, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Shooting Mississippi Damned was a vastly different experience from my thesis film and it made me actually look forward to going to set everyday; I was excited about the material we were capturing.

I suppose the dumbest thing I did during production was doing 10 takes on one shot. During the entire shoot, we only had maybe a max of 5 takes on any given shot; we usually got what we needed in 2 takes because the performances were so good. However for this scene, we designed it to take place in one shot. Needless to say, the shot was not working so instead of going in for coverage I proceeded to do 10 takes of the thing until we got it right.

I run a very open set where people can feel free to come to me with ideas because making a film is a group effort, so from time to time a key crewmember might whisper something to me. But this time, not one word was said. It wasn’t until I was in the hotel room that night that it hit me. When Morgan started editing, she looked at the scene and smiled at me. She said, “You didn’t think to go in for coverage, did you?” All I could do was shake my head.

And, finally, what did you learn from making the film that you can take to other projects?

We shot Mississippi Damned on a tight budget and we had six-day shoots, which start to take a toll after a few weeks. The one thing I learned is that having a five-day shooting week would be the ideal production situation. I also learned about adapting to the given circumstances. Often times, you find yourself slightly behind schedule and you have to know what to cut and what to keep. Thankfully, we had a wonderful crew to working on the project who were able to throw in valuable suggestions.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sudhish Kamath on "Good Night Good Morning"

What was your filmmaking background before making Good Night Good Morning?

SUDHISH: I made my first film, That Four Letter Word, twice before I wrote Good Night Good Morning. That Four Letter Word was the regular first film filmmakers in their early twenties choose to do semi-autobiographical coming of age film about four friends, one of them who wants to make a movie.

The first version, shot in the Digi Beta format in 2002, cost us about $24,000, but I had to shelve it with just two scenes to shoot because of assorted reasons - technical and personal - but mostly, because I did not like what I had shot.

The second time around, in 2005, I scaled the film down and shot on a MiniDV camera and a budget of $6000 and we managed to get a limited theatrical release in India in two cities - Mumbai and Chennai in 2007. But guess what, the second time didn't help either. I still didn't like it. Movies need money. When you cut corners, it reflects on the end product. People don't care that you don't have money. They want to see a good film.

So once I barely recovered cost of production through theatrical release and a stray release on video on demand, I decided to just put it up online for free downloads and streaming. Thankfully, I have a day job as a film critic for The Hindu, which is India's second largest circulated English newspaper and I've been writing for them for the last 11 years. So there was really no pressure on me to keep making films. I would work only if the idea truly motivated me.

Where did the idea come from? What was the writing process like?

SUDHISH: A friend of mine, Krishna, bought this HD camera on my advice. I had told him to get one that can shoot 24 frames and in progressive mode and he did just that. Once he bought it, he said, "Let's make a movie." And I told him, "With no money and just a camera, you can only make a film with two people talking on the phone." I said that as a joke but the more we spoke about it, it seemed like a good challenge considering that there have been conversation films like Before Sunrise and its sequel Before Sunset that have gone on to become cult films. And I've always wanted to make a film about a phone call ever since I saw Phone Booth.

And there have been quite a few films where we see the guy and the girl share an immensely romantic all night phone call... from When Harry Met Sally to Elizabethtown. Cameron Crowe has been like the single most significant cinematic influence in my life and so I decided to write a film as a tribute. And all the experience of talking to my girlfriend late into the night as we were getting to know each other helped quite a bit. In fact, I wrote the film with her. My friend Krishna and me would sit all night and work out the structure.

I wanted the phone call to capture all eight stages of romance - the Icebreaker, the Honeymoon, the Reality Check, the Break Up, the Patch Up, the Confiding, the Great Friendship and the Killing confusion before you give in and accept you are truly, madly, deeply in love. So I knew I had to take my characters through this journey of these eight stages that just made up with for the sake of structure and my girlfriend Shilpa and me would write out the lines.

A lot of my stray thoughts from my blogging days (I used to do quite a bit of that when I was single) provided the material for some interesting conversation and the more we wrote, the more we were convinced that this film needed to be scaled up a little. If it was going to be New Year's eve, we agreed it had to be mounted against the backdrop of New York City since no other place in the world captures the excitement of a New Year and a fresh start than the revelry at Times Square. We also decided to invest in quality actors - Manu Narayan and Seema Rahmani and their improvisation added quite a bit to make the conversation seem real, like it really happened.

How did you find funding for the film?

SUDHISH: I used credit cards, took a personal loan for furnishing my house, borrowed money from friends, put all my savings into it and also ended up using a part of my housing loan. Again, good thing I have a day job or I would have never got all these loans.


What were the technical challenges you faced shooting the phone conversations?

SUDHISH: We had decided earlier on that the characters needed to be talking on mobile phones to reflect our times. So it wouldn't have made sense to have both of them at home. And since I wanted them to be moving away from each other as they were getting intimate and closer over the phone, I decided that one of them had to be in transit in New York with a flight to catch and the other was driving back home to Philadelphia away from New York.

I wanted the phone call to happen in the most inconvenient of situations and for a guy, there could be no bigger nightmare than his best friends in the car eavesdropping into the conversation, especially if one of them is high and talking nonsense and if the other is the designated driver who is in no mood to listen to love talk.

Ideally, I would have liked to shoot the conversation live with a two-camera set-up. One in the girl's hotel room and one in the moving car but it seemed like a logistical nightmare for an indie production. You know the size of hotel rooms in New York... they are so small. Also imagine even trying to shoot on a highway. We would be insane to even try.

So we did the next best thing: Decided to shoot in a hotel room in India with all the props from the American hotel, including the day's newspaper - we just wanted to make sure it looked authentic - and we shot the girl's side of the phone call with the other actor giving her his lines... through a phone call, of course. So it would be his rehearsal, but for her, that was the shot being canned. We shot all her scenes in 3 days.

And then spent three days to edit the whole call and then shot in an air conditioned floor with a static car and reverse projection by feeding him her lines - the edited version - so that he now had to respond to her talking non-stop. And there would be perfect sync. It just put a lot more pressure on the actor but that's where working with an experienced theatre actor from Broadway really helps.

What type of camera did you use to shoot the film and what did you like about it .... and hate about it?

SUDHISH: We ended up using the same camera my friend bought - the Sony HVR - V1U which can shoot 1080p (progressive mode) in 24 frames. It's a very good camera to shoot with because it leaves you the option to simply print to film without any complicated processing or additional post-production. It was the ideal camera to shoot with in 2008 when we wrote the film and shot the New Year's Eve portions in New York. But two years later, there were better cameras in the market.

It took us another 18 months after the first schedule to get started again because of my loans and debts, by which time my friend also bought a Canon Mark II, 5D camera. We were tempted to shoot with it but decided not to mix formats since we were told that we would have a tough time in post production trying to make visuals from the second schedule look like a part of the film from the first schedule, both visually and technically from the editing platform point of view.

Shooting with 1080p meant our editing options were limited. We either had to use a basic Sony Vegas or Final Cut Pro that had the Apple Pro Res codec since AVID did not have a codec for 1080p back then (now it does). But if I were to shoot today, I would use the Mark II, 5D for the whole film.

What was the smartest thing you did during production? The dumbest?

SUDHISH: The smartest thing I did was to decide to shoot in black and white so that the reverse projection seemed integral to the theme of the film - we thought it would make the film look like a 1950s talkie set in today's world as a throwback to the old-world romance films because hey, romance hasn't changed but how we communicate has.

The dumbest thing we did was to cram the schedule with loads to shoot in a single day. We shot all of the guy's side of the phone call in nine hours! We didn't have a choice since one of the actors was leaving the country and we had wasted two days trying to figure out how to make a right hand drive car in India look like a left hand drive on camera since the rare left hand drive camera we finally procured had shitty interiors.

We considered flipping the image for the whole film (using the mirror image), make the actors wear a watch on the wrong hand etc but figured we were just going to make life difficult for us. So finally we spent about $12 and bought a steering wheel from a mechanic down the street and told the actor who was supposed to be driving to keep holding it throughout the film and pretend to drive. It worked!


And, finally, what did you learn from making the film that you can take to other projects?

SUDHISH: My biggest learning from this film is to invest in quality actors and work hard on the writing because it really paid off big time for us, more than I had ever imagined.

Most of the time, great actors and quality writing can distract people from the technical aspects of the film and make them forgive the production constraints. Stories are about people in a conflict. If the people come across as real when they take on the conflict, you can be assured that your storytelling is effective. People relate to people.

With all these cameras today, films have become easier to shoot but whether I have the money or not, I will always make sure I have good actors because they will ensure I have a decent film if I have a decent story to tell.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Todd Sklar on “Box Elder”

What was your filmmaking background before making Box Elder?

TODD: I grew up watching lots of movies; didn't get into film school, but made a lot of bad short films in college and started watching even more movies (about two per day for a while), and also starred in an independent feature that was made expertly as far as low budget production was concerned; all of which led to the notion that I could potentially make a feature.

That said, we re-shot 80% of the film after wrapping the first leg of production, so to be honest, the first round of shooting is what prepared me the most for making the final product.

Where did the idea come from? What was the writing process like?

TODD: Part of it was the desire to make a college comedy that was honest and more relatable than an American Pie movie. Something that felt more like Dazed and Confused or Swingers. I felt like I wasn't seeing that movie anymore, and felt like I had a good grasp on that type of story based on my own college experience.

Part of it also had to do with wanting to make a film that I knew I could do for a limited budget and with elements that were accessible to me at the time (good comedic actors, campus locations, etc). The last piece, and potentially the most important one, was wanting to make something that I knew I could get to its audience, and thus the first tour was born.

Can you describe the thinking behind the tour -- what you hoped to accomplish and then the reality of how it worked out?

TODD: The main goal was to get the film to its audience, and do so in a manner that enhanced the experience (i.e, we didn't want it to be just a movie screening; we wanted events and tailored marketing that fit the film and its target audience).

As far as how it worked out, the first tour was a complete success; it exceeded any and all expectations. The subsequent tours have been successful in different ways, but nothing close to what we pulled off on the first one.

How did you fund the film?

TODD: The first round came from an investment group, and the second round came from friends, family, mine and my producer's pocket, and lots of credit cards.

What sort of camera did you use for production and what were the best and worst things about it?

TODD: We shot with the Panasonic HVX and used the Brevis 35 adapter, and the best part of it was probably the P2 Workflow, and in specific, being able to watch footage immediately and edit rough cut scenes on the fly. Our editor would cut scenes overnight and we could watch 'em the next day and decide what to pick-up before that day's call time, and that was huge.

As far as the worst thing goes, there were the general hiccups that come along with using new technology, but I can't say that I can think one negative thing in specific. It was a pretty wonderful experience working with that camera setup.

Did using the Brevis 35 adapter add to your crew size or make it more difficult to "run and gun"?

TODD: Definitely not. Other than needing a really good 1st AC to handle focus pulling and what not, the Brevis was extremely lightweight, and the setup was much smaller and easier to maneuver than the Redrock or other adapters I had played with.

We had a steadicam that we used on probably 30-40% of the film and a shoulder mount unit as well and we were able to whip around pretty good.

Did the story change much in the editing process?

TODD: A ton. We cut out an entire portion of the second act and did re-shoots to fill in what is now the middle of the movie. The irony being, the storyline I had the most trouble with at the script stage ultimately was the one that got ditched in the edit room. I'm not exactly sure why I thought "shooting it" would make it any better....

What was the smartest thing you did during production? The dumbest?

TODD: The smartest thing was probably not listening to people 95% of the time, whether it was re; something we couldn't do, or shouldn't do or couldn't afford etc; and the dumbest thing was without a doubt the other 5% of the time that I didn't listen.

And, finally, what did you learn from making the film that you can take to other projects?

TODD: A big one was to work as much out in the development process as possible, because anything that doesn't get solved in the writing is only becoming a bigger problem after you shoot. And then an even bigger problem while you're editing.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Barry Poltermann on “The Life of Reilly”

What was your filmmaking background before making The Life of Reilly?

BARRY: I made an indie horror film in 1992 called Aswang, was a commercial director and edited American Movie. Here are some bio links:

Where did the idea come from to turn the show into a movie?

BARRY: In short, we were looking for something fun to do for our company Holiday Party in 2001 and a friend mentioned that Charles Nelson Reilly was doing a one-man show in town (LA). I called to book tickets, but the show had already moved on. So I set up a GOOGLE alert (probably a Yahoo alert back then) to track the show, because I thought it sounded interesting (in a campy, funny way). But as time went on and I kept getting these news alerts, all the reviews were of the "no... seriously... this show is amazing. And yes, it IS that Charles Nelson Reilly, but it's not what you expect" variety. I became kind of obsessed with seeing the show, but it never worked out.

Years later (2004) a friend of mine was attempting to get a movie off the ground that was an Evil Knevil musical. This brought to mind Charles' show, so I told him about it as a movie idea with the pitch "it will be the Stop Making Sense of comedy performances... we will do for Charles Nelson Reilly what Rick Rubin did for Johnny Cash!" and he said it was "genius" and he wanted to produce it. This was Bob Fagan (who eventually produced the film).

The next day I asked my assistant (Adrian Selkowitz) to track down CNR. He had me meeting with him for lunch within a couple of days, and then we went back to his house after lunch and watched hours and hours of raw VHS video shot over the years with Charles' doing the show. I loved it... I especially loved how unruly it was. Lots of work for an editor (which is my forte) as he never did the same show twice. It wouldn't just be filming a show, but helping to construct a narrative in editorial.... which I love to do.

What was the physical process like (number of cameras, film/video format, pre-production process)?

BARRY: We did a prep day/rehearsal shooting with two cameras, then two shows with four cameras (it was supposed to be three, but CNR got sick for the Friday performance).
We also did some pickup shots on Sunday morning (4 camera) to fill in gaps. These were mainly things that we'd seen Charles do in previous shows that he was no longer doing but we thought would help us in developing the narrative... like talking more about his Mother towards the end, and his students who died from AIDS. He didn't do these things live for us on either of the two nights, but we had seen them on tape previously and asked him to bring them back for the film.

How did you shape the story in the editing and what was that process like?

BARRY: We had outlined 'the story' and scripted it prior to the shooting. We did this by looking at ten or so hours of raw video tape of him doing the show in previous years and the pre-editing this into a video 'script' of sorts. We then transcribed this edit and it was the template for what we wanted to shoot.

Any scenes that CNR didn't do during the shoot that WERE included in this overall edit we had him re-create on Sunday. So the final version is really somewhat different than what he had performed ever before... but it included all stuff that he had performed at SOME point or another throughout the previous three years or so.

Once we had the footage shot we began a LONG process of cutting. It really took a surprisingly long time to get it to work as a story instead of just a concert/performance film. There were so many options. Yes, we had the 'script' to follow, but CNR surprised us by doing stuff we had never seen before (some of it he made up on the spot) and it was GOOD. So that threw us off. Then other things we really liked didn't work as well as it had in previous taped versions... who knows why. The whims of theater and audiences, I guess.

The other thing was that our 'script' was two hours long when cut together, so we had to trim the hell out of it to get it down to under 90 minutes. We tested the cut longer and people got very restless. Something about live theater (where it isn't boring at al to hear CNR go on for three hours or more) and a film, where audience expectations are more ADD and they really got restless after 90 minutes.

But the main obstacle was that CNR never hit marks and seldom told the same story or did the same scene in the same spot from night to night, so we had to cut together the show in such a way not to reveal that from one shot to the next he was in a completely different space. This is one of the reasons we ultimately shot hand held and did a dreamy/hand held, shallow focus kind of look. We had to mask the fact that he was stage left in the wide shot and then stage right in the close up! Quite a challenge, but I feel it really ads to the surreal/mental landscape quality of the film and hopefully sets it apart from other stage shows on film.

How did Charles react to the finished film?

BARRY: He loved it. He saw the first cut at my house one night and we drank Manhattan's and talked for hours afterwards. He truly loved it. He did wish it were longer and asked for some things to be put back, but generally he eventually agreed that it worked better for film audiences at this length. In fact, he eventually even suggested some cuts and re-arrangements. He also suggested the title slides (and even wrote some) and other ideas.

We got a fax with his notes the day after the shoot, but they were really positive. When he saw the final version we were told by Patrick that he watched it over and over, studying it and showing it to friends. He could be cantankerous at times but was really a pleasure to deal with on the edit.

What was the smartest thing you did during production? The dumbest?

BARRY: Throwing out our storyboards and shooting hand held was the smartest. We were really worried that this 'look' would seem out of step with the material, but in the end, given how unplanned the show is from a blocking sense, there would have been no way to cut the multiple nights together -- we had to get a little surreal. If we'd kept with our initial 'boarded' plan the film never would have cut and we would have ended up with a mess. And I really like the final look... it is unique and dreamy and messy in a way that seems to match CNR's monologue and the man himself.

The dumbest? Hmmm. Probably assuming that the theater crew would do what we wanted them to do without more political tact on my part. I think the confrontations we had stemmed from my assumption that we were paying the theater crew to stage the show so we could film it, and so they would take orders from our film DP without question.

In the end it worked great, and I loved the theater crew... especially David Mingrino. But in the beginning they were very protective of the show and CNR's legacy... to the point of really pushing back on our lighting and staging requests. This back and forth really resulted in some nice results though... in the end it was a better film for it. But the next time I shoot a stage play, I will definitely spend more time bringing the film DP and the stage manager and director into the planning prior to shoot.

And, finally, what did you learn from making the film that you can take to other projects?

BARRY: You learn with every film, and with this one it was really how different the film experience was from the theater experience. The music, the lighting, the pacing... all of these things are VERY different in the finished film from the original stage show. When we did test screenings, the further we went away from the theater experience and made it more focused/cinematic, the more people liked it.

And I also really like the fact that the film doesn't just seem like a series of anecdotes, but is an overall story, of a hero, forging ahead through a difficult life.

From every project I seem to learn the same thing... it is all about STORY.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Paul Cotter on “Bomber”

What was your filmmaking background before making Bomber?

PAUL: I started out with a Geography degree, worked on glaciers in Pakistan, then in my mid-twenties decided to have a career change.

I started working as a reporter/researcher for BBC radio following the indie rock scene in Manchester, England, then summoned up enough courage to try to be a filmmaker. I was rejected by all the English film schools I applied to (they said I was a social scientist and didn't have the necessary background), so I applied to American, Australian and Polish schools and ended up doing an MFA in Cinema and Photography at Southern Illinois University.

I graduated, went to Nashville, worked in a camera rental house, loaded film on country music videos, moved to Chicago, started focus pulling on indie features and finally started making short films. Bomber is my first attempt at a feature.

Where did the idea come from? What was the writing process like?

PAUL: My father was a Bomber pilot. In 2001 I spent 3 weeks in a car with him on a road trip through Europe. I wouldn’t say “stuck,” because it was actually a holiday. A holiday with my mum, dad and sister. We started in Belgium and rather recklessly ended up in Budapest. It wasn’t planned. We just ended up driving across Europe.

Two big memories stuck with me. First, how strange it was to be an adult stuck in a car with your parents for three weeks. The roles are reversed from the holidays you had as a child. You end up doing most of the driving and your parents sit in the back and ask “are we there yet?” All the while you are still their child, and what’s worse you tend to act like one. The second memory was traveling with a man who was seeing Germany for the first time in years, having bombed it 60 years before. The idea for plot came out of that.

The writing process had two stages: the first took a year where I wrote a lot of rubbish down. I had a script, but it was wandering and dull. I then took a huge step back, rewrote it as a micro-budget, imagining I had zero resources at my disposal and that's the script I shot with. This second phase took me about 12 weeks from start to finish.

How did you fund the film?

PAUL: Three separate donors, including myself. All small amounts. Filmmaker friends who just wanted me to make it. The film didn't cost very much.

What sort of camera did you use for production and what were the best and worst things about it?

PAUL: Sony EX1. The best thing was the size of the camera. That it was so small. There was no worst thing. It was pretty cool to work with.

You wore several hats on the production -- writer, director, producer. What's the upside and the downside to doing that?

PAUL: Well I should say that during the shoot itself I handed the producer reins over to Maureen Ryan, which was huge. I don't think I could have used those two sides of my brain at the same time.

The upside to wearing several hats is that you can change things very easily if the production needs it. It's very immediate. You lose a location first thing in the morning? No problem. Write a new scene, change a few details and your shot list is probably there in your head already. It's also good in that you are very intimate with everything going on. There is no mystery.

Downside? You can get overwhelmed. The fact that I did so much myself. It’s exhausting. But I surrounded myself with a really cool group of people and we did a great job, and created a film I am proud of. So you forget about all the challenges.

What was the smartest thing you did during production? The dumbest?

PAUL: Smartest? Kept the crew really small (7 people including myself and my editor). It really helped make the process an intimate affair, and that shows in the film. The film feels personal, because the way we made it was personal. I truly believe that.

Dumbest? Nothing super-dumb, but a great lesson I learned when you have a tiny crew and no lights is to shoot as much as possible in the shade. Under a tree, near a house, anything to stop you blowing out the image and getting sunburn!

And, finally, what did you learn from making the film that you can take to other projects?

PAUL: Small is beautiful.

http://eepurl.com/bdKso

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Roger Nygard on "Suckers"


What was going on with you before you started Suckers?

ROGER NYGARD: At that time I had made three movies. My first film was a one-man show, one-room comedy, written by and starring Steve Odenkirk. We made that film for about $350,000. Then my second film was a $2 million dollar action picture, for a company called Overseas Film Group. Their films are primarily foreign-sales driven.

I remember seeing that movie. There was a lot of action.

ROGER NYGARD: You've got to have five action set pieces, that's the rule for those sort of movies. That's what's expected from the foreign buyers to make their foreign sales. I know we had at least five; we might have had six. But five is the minimum requirement.

The third movie was Trekkies, my first documentary, about Star Trek fans.

In doing Suckers, I was coming off of those three films, which were all very different and driving my agents crazy, because they didn't know what I was. Was I the documentary guy, am I the action guy, am I the comedy guy? So Suckers was a new thing, a sort of grisly dramatic comedy, I guess, with some action.

I had been writing that script with my co-writer, Joe Yannetty, while shooting Trekkies, because you always have to be thinking three movies ahead and have several projects percolating.

Joe had written a one-man show about his experiences selling cars. I read portions of that and he told me some of the stories, and I said, "You've got to make a movie about this. These stories are incredible." So that's where it started.

Joe and I worked together writing the script, based on his experiences, which is a process for me as a screenwriting that I have works best. I almost always work with a writing partner, and the reason is that I grew up in Minnesota, pretty average background. Went to college. Moved to California to seek my fortune in the film business. I never got a job as a CIA agent, never went into the marines, never became a fireman or a cop, didn't go on the road and get arrested or sell cars. You can't write about life experiences that you haven't personally lived, unless you research them extensively or partner up with someone who has lived those experiences.

My writing style is that I tend to write with people who have had interesting life experiences, but don't necessarily have the desire or the fortitude or the persistence to bring it to the screen.

Most screenwriters hate it when someone comes up to them and says, "My life would make a great movie," but it sounds like, depending on the person, you might sit down and talk to them.

ROGER NYGARD: That's how I operate. I think everybody has one good screenplay in them, based on their own life. And that's often the first place to start and the best place to start for a screenwriter is your own life, because that's what you know -- as long as you're willing to rip open your soul. You have to bare yourself to the world in order to write something that other people will be interested in reading and perhaps making as a movie.

It's not easy. It's hard. You've got to write things that you wouldn't even tell your shrink. Those are the screenplays that really stand out.

So when I say that everybody has one good screenplay in them, it's if they're willing to bare their soul and write about those skeletons in the closet, those experiences.

How did you come up with the idea of setting the story on four consecutive Saturdays?

ROGER NYGARD: That was because that's how the car business runs. Every Saturday there's a sales meeting. It's an inspirational meeting, a motivational meeting. It's a time for everybody to gauge where they are against everyone else, because there's always that competitive aspect. So that's how we broke it down, because the industry that we were writing about breaks itself down monthly and weekly. Every month they start over, the cycle begins again. They zero out everybody's totals and start again on Monday at the beginning of every new month. The structure suggested itself to us because the arena we were writing about was based on a monthly structure.

How nervous were you about setting the whole first act in that first sales meeting?

ROGER NYGARD: You know, we broke a lot of structural rules with Suckers. And, in hindsight, there is a lot I would do differently, having learned what I've learned since then and having seen how that experiment worked, where it worked and where it failed.

Part of the excitement of filmmaking is taking chances sometimes. Sometimes you're going to fail spectacularly. And we took a big chance structuring the first act that way. But I don't think it was the biggest chance we took.

What was the biggest chance?

ROGER NYGARD: The biggest chance in the script was doing a genre shift from the second to the third act, which many people disconcerting. Audiences are not used to -- and don't like -- when you shift from one genre to another in a movie.

Quentin Tarantino did it also in From Dusk 'Til Dawn. It starts out as kind of a crime caper/road chase, and then shifts into a monster movie, which threw a lot of people. I think that film was less successful than it might have been also, because people just don't like genre shifts. They want to know what the genre is from the beginning of the movie, what's the level of reality of the story, and then you have to stick to it.

If you don't, then you're taking a chance or doing an art film.

Did you consider other possible climaxes and endings?

ROGER NYGARD: I wish we had considered more, but as soon as we unearthed that story, it felt right to us while we were writing the script. Again, looking back, yeah, I think we could have finished the movie just as engagingly and kept it in the car sales realm, without having to go into the crime and drug-trafficking realm.

But then you would have lost the opportunity to have many of the film's character all shoot each other simultaneously in a small room.

ROGER NYGARD: Yes, and we would have lost my favorite line of the movie: "You're so beyond fucked, you couldn't catch a bus back to fucked."

You kind of fall in love with some things, but in the editing room you spend time killing your babies, that's the term for it. Sometimes you have to cut out the things you're in love with for the good of the whole.

When you did your research at the car dealership, did they know what you were up to?

ROGER NYGARD: Oh, yeah, and they were excited to talk about what they do. I rarely find people unwilling to talk, whether I'm making documentaries or researching characters for a narrative screenplay. It's harder to get them to shut up, actually, then to get them started.

I went to several dealerships with my tape recorder and talked to people and asked them to tell me stories. People love to talk about themselves.

What was the biggest lesson you took away from Suckers?

ROGER NYGARD: The biggest one we already discussed, which is not to violate the rules so dramatically, which we did with the genre shift. That was my biggest lesson.

The corollary was to keep writing, always be writing. Like ABC from Glengarry Glen Ross-- ABC, Always Be Closing. ABW -- Always Be Writing.

The script I'm working on right now is something where I hatched the idea for it about three or four years ago, but I didn't know what to do with it. And it took three or four years of gestating within my brain before it started to form into a shape. It was an idea I told to one of my writing partners and he really sparked to it, and so it moved itself to the top of the pile.

That's why you need to have a lot of ideas and a lot of projects and a lot of things going, because I think your subconscious is working on these projects at different paces. The more you've got going, the more likely one of them is going to sprout.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Zach Clark on "Modern Love is Automatic"

What was your filmmaking background before making Modern Love is Automatic?

ZACH: I went to film school in North Carolina. I made some student films and a little one hour black & white teensploitation movie about Satan-worshipping rock-n-roll juvenile delinquents.

Where did the idea for Modern Love is Automatic come from? What was the writing process like?

ZACH: I possibly subconsciously ripped it off from Paul Bartel's The Naughty Nurse. And Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. The writing process was two years long.

How did you fund the film?

ZACH: Some family members pitched in and helped with about a third of the budget. The rest was me. We shot the movie for a long time, on weekends over six months. So, I would work, save up money and then we'd shoot for a weekend and I'd spend it all. Then we'd wait a few more weeks so I could save up some more money, etc, etc.

What sort of camera did you use for production and what were the best and worst things about it?

ZACH: We used the Panasonic HVX. I like that camera a lot. The DVX, too. I kinda want to shoot another movie on a DVX. I think video looks really pretty.

You wore several hats on the production -- writer, director, producer, editor. What's the upside and the downside to doing that?

ZACH: It wasn't that bad, they were pretty separate. I wrote it, then I produced it, then I directed it, then I edited it. It wasn't like I was editing or rewriting between takes or anything. It's more direct, you don't have to answer to anyone, which can be good and bad. I liked it, though I keep telling myself I'm going to do less and less producing and I keep doing more and more of it.

What was the smartest thing you did during production? The dumbest?

ZACH: I made a rule that we had to shoot in all actual locations, or change the script to suit the locations if we couldn't find what the script was calling for. Instant production design. You never have to worry whether or not the location will look right, because it is right. We only broke that rule once, and that was the day we accidentally smashed a pinball machine. Not our fault, but still.

And, finally, what did you learn from making the film that you can take to other projects?

ZACH: There's an answer for this, but it’s either too big or too small for me to articulate what it is.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Robert Bella on “Colin Fitz Lives!”

What was your filmmaking background before making Colin Fitz Lives!?

ROBERT: Prior to making Colin Fitz Lives! I had never made a feature film, a short film or even a home movie. I have never taken any film classes, but I love movies. I was then and am still now an avid filmgoer.

What attracted you to the script?

ROBERT: Tom Morrissey's writing made me laugh outloud - which is a great thing. It still makes me laugh today after all these years.

How did you fund the film?

ROBERT: I reached out to a handful of friends who had an interest in being involved with independent film. Ultimately, I wound up maxing out 20 credits cards to get the film to Sundance. So I guess you could say that Visa, Mastercard and American Express are investors too. :)


What was your Sundance experience like?

ROBERT: Sundance was an incredible whirlwind of emotions all bundled up in winter wear and wild days and nights. It was an exciting ride that I will never forget. I was and still am honored that the film was invited to be a part of it all.

You used your credit cards to finish the film -- would you recommend that approach to other filmmakers?

ROBERT: Uhm...no. OPM - Other People's Money.

Why did it take so long -- is it 13 years? -- for the film to be released?

ROBERT: So many vendors worked for little or no pay to help keep the initial costs down. The idea was that when the film sold they would be paid back. But the sales offers were never enough to cover all of the film's deferments and debt. So I had to buy the film out of hock over the last 14 ears before I could put it back out in the marketplace.

What was the smartest thing you did during the making of the film? The dumbest?

ROBERT: The smartest thing I did was surround myself with very talented and creative people and then let them do their jobs. The dumbest thing was using my own money.

And, finally, what did you learn from making the film that you can take to other projects?

ROBERT: Perseverance. Humility. Courage under fire. Respect for the contributions of others. Faith.





Follow Colin Fitz Lives! on Twitter @CFLives and on Facebook.

Available via Cable On Demand at IFC Films.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Kate Madison on “Born of Hope”

What was your filmmaking background before making Born of Hope?

KATE: When I first came up with the idea of doing Born of Hope, in about 2003, I actually didn't really have any filmmaking experience, apart from filming some stage shows. However in 2005 I got involved in a filmmaking group in Cambridge UK and made a number of short films with them, two of which I directed. When the ideas started to dry up, I decided to do a trailer shoot for Born of Hope and then never looked back.

Where did the idea come from?

KATE: Back in 2003, around the time of the Return of the King at the movies, I saw that a convention in Seattle was going to hold a fan film competition. This triggered the idea of making a Lord of the Rings fan film. However that small idea snowballed into what eventually became the feature film.

I just really wanted to have a go at making movies and the opportunity seemed to present itself. I had also really enjoyed the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and wanted to explore that world and those characters further.

What was the writing process like?

KATE: When I first had the idea back in 2003, I wrote a short script. That was changed and rewritten by a friend. That script was the one used for the test shoot in 2006.

I then got to work improving the script and ended up in contact with Paula DiSante, a script editor from the USA, plus Christopher Dane, the actor playing Arathorn, also got involved in writing. After going back and forth a number of times between the three of us, with Paula giving notes and Chris and I trying to write, I decided it would probably be better to swap roles. So all the different script drafts and versions were given to Paula to try to put together into one script and then we would bounce back and forth again with me giving notes.

We worked on the script for the whole of 2007 before we had the script we would use for filming. Even then, however, the script was a constantly evolving thing. Scenes and dialogue were changed and altered and once the editing started the structure of the film changed again and scenes were cut and new ones added. The final film script was about 45 pages long.

Did you need to deal with copyright permissions from the Tolkien estate, and if so, how was that handled?

KATE: As we were making a fan film and never planned to make any money from the project or to put it out in a commercial way, we didn't approach anyone about it. However, when we got a bit of publicity during filming I was contacted by Tolkien Enterprises who own the rights to making LOTRs movies. We came to an understanding, that I could continue to make the film as long as met with certain requests.

How did you fund the film?

KATE: The budget for the production was £25,000. There was no chance of trying to get any sort of film funding, so I started digging into my savings. When they started to run out we turned to the fans for help. People donated money to help us finished the project and in the end about 2/3 of the budget can from the fans.

What sort of camera did you use for production and what were the best and worst things about it?

KATE: We shot the film using a couple of different cameras, Panasonic MVX200 HD and Sony FX1/Z1 HDV cameras, sometimes with a 35mm adapter. About ten different people operated cameras over the production and we just used whatever equipment we could borrow. Very little was hired, unless it was really necessary. Obviously the problem with not having a DOP and working with different cameras and operators was that we had to do some work in the colour correction to get them all to match.

What was the smartest thing you did during production? The dumbest?

KATE: This is really hard to answer. There certainly were a lot of things that I could have done better and differently.

One of the smartest things was asking a pregnant friend if they would be interested in having their baby play Aragorn. She said yes and we managed to have a two-week old baby play the newborn Aragorn for the first scene we ever shot for the film. We also managed to persuade some members of the public to loan us their baby for the introduction scene, instead of having to use just a bundle of cloth.

I'd say the dumbest thing or at least something I would change for a new project would be to allow loads of time for planning and pre production, and having a team to help with that. I was wearing a lot of different hats and things often became rushed or were really close to the wire. Finalised costumes were often only seen when an actor came up to set and the wigs from China only arrived the day before and actually Gilraen's didn't arrive in time and two scenes were done with a different wig! More prep!

And, finally, what did you learn from making the film that you can take to other projects?

KATE: I learnt so much from making this film it's almost hard to pin point any one thing. I think the best way to learn is to go out and do it and the entire journey of making Born of Hope was a learning experience and despite the low points I wouldn't change a thing!