«The machine is incredible!» «Pure, unfiltered truth.» Ready to remember all of your memories? Lionsgate has debuted the official trailer for an indie sci-fi film titled Rememory, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. This is one of a few subtle indie sci-fi films that played at the festival, along with Marjorie Prime and The Discovery. The gimmick in this is a device that can extract, record and play a person’s memories. The inventor is found dead, and his wife retreats into her home until a mysterious man shows up and begins investigating what exactly happened. Peter Dinklage stars, with Julia Ormond, Martin Donovan, Evelyne Brochu, Henry Ian Cusick, and the late Anton Yelchin. The film received pretty bad reviews out of Sundance, and while I am somewhat intrigued, this trailer doesn’t really grab me. ›››
«You are so thoughtful — as if you’d have any idea what a ‘keeper’ was.» Vertical Entertainment has debuted the first official trailer for an indie comedy titled The Wilde Wedding, about a wedding that gets a bit crazy (if the title wasn’t already an indication of that). The two people getting hitched are played by Glenn Close and Patrick Stewart, a retired film star marrying a renowned English writer. The rest of the «wild» ensemble cast of great actors includes John Malkovich, Minnie Driver, Jack Davenport, Yael Stone, Peter Facinelli, Noah Emmerich, and Grace Van Patten. I’m not sure where this came from, as I’ve never heard of the film before, but it looks entertaining in an awkward dysfunctional comedy way. There’s tons of sexual tension being built up and released in this trailer, so make sure you wear a condom. Have fun. ›››
«I’ve been drifting for so long, I don’t even remember where I want to go…» This might hit a little close to home for any up-and-coming filmmakers out there who have done this kind of work and felt this way. Sundowners is an indie comedy about two struggling videographers who decide to take a job filming a wedding down in Mexico. But, of course, they run into all kinds of problems after they discover their boss is playing fast and loose. The main cast includes Phil Hanley, Luke Lalonde, Tim Heidecker, Cara Gee, Nick Flanagan, Chris Locke, James Hartnett, and Leah Fay Goldstein. This looks amusing, and a bit depressing, but maybe it’s surprisingly quite good. There’s some impressive match cuts and sleek editing in this trailer. Perhaps it’s some kind of indie gem just waiting to be discovered. Who knows? Take a look. ›››
Continue reading Trailer for Indie Comedy ‘Sundowners’ About Wedding Videographers
«You really have to drive your own train and you have to keep it running.» Yes indeed. Meet Jim Strouse. Also known as James C. Strouse. Jim is a filmmaker originally from Indiana, who now lives in New York City. If you don’t recognize his name, hopefully you will recognize his films — Grace Is Gone (in 2007), The Winning Season (in 2009), People Places Things (in 2015), and now this year he has brought us The Incredible Jessica James. Jessica James stars the talented Jessica Williams as Jessica James in an optimistic, engaging story of a struggling playwright in New York. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, like every film Jim has made, and is being released by Netflix — it’s available to watch now. I caught up with Jim at the Sundance Film Festival this year for a chat, and I’m happy to finally present our interview in full. I love his films and I’m glad I had the chance to talk with him out there. ›››
Continue reading Interview: NY Filmmaker Jim Strouse on Making Uplifting Indie Films
«I’m just like anybody else…» FilmRise has debuted an official trailer for a creepy new indie thriller titled My Friend Dahmer, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year. The film is based on an acclaimed graphic novel and tells the story of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who murdered 17 men and boys in the Midwest United States between 1978 and 1991 before being captured by police. Before he became that killer, though, he was a shy, alcoholic teen who never quite fit in. This is the true, haunting «story before that story» of Dahmer in high school. Ross Lynch plays Dahmer, and the cast includes Anne Heche, Alex Wolff, Dallas Roberts, Vincent Kartheiser, Miles Robbins. This is just a teaser, but but damn does it have some unsettling moments in it, which is the whole point of the film. Lynch’s performance looks superb. ›››
«There’s no such thing as evil, son. There’s just people doing good and bad to each other.» The Orchard has debuted a trailer for indie drama In the Radiant City, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival last year. The film is the feature directorial debut of Kentucky native Rachel Lambert, and it’s set in Kentucky, about a man who returns home only to find his family is still haunted by the stigma of a murder his brother committed years ago. The cast includes Michael Abbott Jr in the lead role, along with Marin Ireland, Madisen Beaty, Celia Weston, Jon Michael Hill, Deirdre O’Connell, and Paul Sparks. This film is produced by fellow filmmaker Jeff Nichols, and it also has one of the best posters this year (as seen below). ›››
«If you want to survive this fantasy world, think outside the boxes.» Holy mackerel, this looks amazing!! Gravitas has unveiled an official trailer for an indie comedy titled Dave Made a Maze, about an artist who builds a huge fort in his living room out of cardboard. The clever concept here is that as soon as you enter the maze, it turns into something much bigger. Dave builds the maze out of pure frustration, only to end up trapped by the «fantastical pitfalls, booby traps, and critters of his own creation.» This stars Nick Thune, Meera Rohit Kumbhani, James Urbaniak, Stephanie Allynne, Kirsten Vangsness, plus Scott Krinsky. Ohh it looks like it’s going to be so, so much fun, kind of like Michel Gondry meets the Duplass Brothers, or something like that. This really does seem like a certified instant cult classic. I’m ready to enter. ›››
«Look around, this isn’t what we planned.» A full-length trailer has debuted for a horror thriller premiering at the Los Angeles Film Festival this month, titled Midnighters, from director Julius Ramsay. Ramsay is making his feature directorial debut after working as an editor on TV shows like «Battlestar Galactica» and «Flashforward». The film is set around New Year’s Eve following a couple that accidentally kills someone on their way home. But there’s a twist when they realize this might have been a setup, while other mysterious things start to happen. Starring Alex Essoe, Perla Haney-Jardine & Ward Horton. It’s described as a «taught noir thriller in the vein of Blood Simple, Shallow Grave, and Blue Ruin.» Looks like it could be good. ›››
The budget is one of the most important and one of the most difficult components in filmmaking. Many have struggled on working within the limitations of the budget they have and in result, have produced poor films by being overly ambitious and unwilling to compromise. The fact of the matter is that not every production is going to get the equipment or location of their dreams but that’s okay. A film does not have to suffer because it doesn’t have the financial backing that Lord of the Rings had. A successful film is one that embraces constraints and makes them work in the film’s favour. Cutting costs does not lower the value of the film. The goal of this blog post is to prove that films can be successful with little to no budget and provide advice that independent filmmakers have used themselves on prosperous films.
Clerks (Directed by Kevin Smith with a budget of $ 27,575)
Clerks was the debut feature film for director, Kevin Smith. Before there was Chasing Amy or Dogma, there was Clerks. It has the lowest budget that Kevin Smith has had to work around and yet it launched Smith’s career and won the “Award of the Youth” and Mercedes-Benz Award in 1994 at Cannes Film Festival.
Kevin Smith was able to achieve great success with extremely low funding which proves that big budgets do not make a film great. Filmmakers can do something just as good as big budget features do but with nothing at all. The trick is to embrace your limitations and make them work for you rather than against you.
Use what you have available
Location wise, Kevin Smith’s entire film is based in a convenient store in New Jersey and it’s video rental shop next to it. These spaces are actually places Kevin Smith was working at in the time of production and was given permission to use them during their closing hours. Which is exactly what happened; Kevin Smith and his cast stayed in the convenient store overnight in the span of approximately 21 days to film Clerks. Because the shop was closed while filming, Smith worked it into the script that some kids broke the blinds outside and that’s why they wouldn’t open (when in reality, it was locked from the shop being closed). Throughout the film, there is a large sheet that says “I assure you, we’re open”. The lesson here is to take advantage of the options you have to save money and make it work into the plot. Scripts can be rewritten and made better but budgets hardly ever have that flexibility.
Shoot in Black & White
Shooting in Black & White is a lot easier than shooting in colour because, to put it simply, it’s less colours. The colour grading in post will be a lot cheaper since every frame will look the same because it’s varying shades of black and white. This also makes lighting a lot easier and in the case of Clerks, you can trick the audience into thinking a scene that’s being filmed at night, is a daytime scene.
You also see this sort of technique in Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It. In that film, Spike Lee could only afford so little colourful filming that he used it to indicate a hyper-realism, sort of dream sequence that appears like a fantasy in comparison to all the black & white scenes. This is an example of, again, using your limitations in a smart way and making it go in your favour as opposed to sloppy and cheap.
Instead of paying the fees for extras, Kevin Smith cast himself and friend, Jason Mewes as the two men who hang around outside the store. Kevin Smith’s character, Silent Bob has no speaking parts so the characters are relatively small and don’t necessarily carry the plot anywhere, they serve as another comedy element so instead of paying someone to play the small parts, he assigned the roles to him and Jason. This is a good way to save money; typically for extras, people without any acting experience can do just well enough.
Slacker (Directed by Richard Linklater with a budget of $ 23,000)
Before Boyhood, Linklater was known for bringing attention to a subculture society in Austin, Texas. Slacker was made in 1991 before the young adult bohemian lifestyle was really given any exposure. The film has no plot really; it revolves around short snippets of the people and their conversations throughout the day. The film never stays on one particular person for too long, it constantly moves throughout the city of Austin. The film shows that filmmakers can make it on the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress alongside Citizen Kane and The Godfather while having less than half of their budget.
The use of the sun as your primary light source is one of the easiest ways to cut down how much you spend on your film. Most of Slacker is filmed in the day which of course makes it much easier to limit the use of artificial light and therefore the budget. More than half of the film is filmed outside and the scenes that are filmed inside are contained in rooms with lots of windows that the actors or a particular object can get the most light from what is outside.
Slacker was filmed on a 16mm Arriflex camera. The 16mm film is a common film type used in most low budget films. It has also been the known film within most home movie making cameras. Sacrificing the quality of film will definitely lower the costs of production without lowering the quality of the finished film as clearly demonstrated by Slacker. Slacker also features a Fisher Price Pixel Vision camcorder in which they used to film the bar scene. The Fisher Price camera is literally a toy camera that Linklater used, with great difficulty, due to its cheap price and to give the scene a gritty texture. Slacker proves that you do not need the best quality equipment to make an important film.
Blair Witch Project (Directed by Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez with a budget of $ 60,000)
Blair Witch Project, which made its UK debut at Raindance Film Festival, is a “found footage” horror film surrounding a local Maryland legend, The Blair Witch. The film has been largely influential in the horror community as one of the first first-person mockumentaries that some people are convinced was based on a true story. It is known as one of the most profitable films of all time, grossing around $ 248 million with an original budget of $ 60,000.
Just like Slacker, Blair Witch Project has embraced their access to cheap cameras by buying dinky consumer cameras in which they equipped the actors with. Because it was a “found footage” film, the audience can excuse the poorer quality (compared to more modern and professional cameras) because it’s supposed to come off as “real footage”. One can excuse the shakiness and grain that comes with a lot of inexperienced filmmaking since it’s supposed to come from a “home movie” type of camcorder. After the filming was completed, on Halloween after the span of 8 days, the producers took the cameras back and managed to get a slight refund which made the budget go even further.
The marketing of the Blair Witch Project can attribute to a lot of the film’s success. They decided to promote the film as if the Blair Witch was real, which many locals do believe. Promotion of the film consisted of fake police reports and interviews in order to create a sense of curiosity to draw in audiences. The team even made fake Missing Person flyers for the actors featured in the film in order to attract people to see the film for the actors “last known whereabouts”. It is referred to as one of the most “terrifying and successful” campaigns in film history.
The post Make a Small Budget Go A Long Way – Advice From 3 Indie Films appeared first on Raindance.
«You need to start thinking about your future, honey.» The Orchard has debuted an official trailer for an indie drama titled AWOL, which played at tons of film festivals throughout 2016 and is hitting limited theaters and VOD later this month. As anyone in the military knows, AWOL stands for «Absent Without (Official) Leave», which is part of the story in this film adapted from the director’s own short film. It’s about a young woman who is about to join the army but decides to run off with another woman she meets and falls in love with in a small town. Lola Kirke and Breeda Wool star, along with Dale Soules, Bill Sage, and Ted Welch. This seems to be heavily influenced by director Deb Shoval’s own experiences growing up in a small Pennsylvania coal town, and it looks like it tells a very honest story of love and family. Take a look. ›››