Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Stray, Interview Part 1


Film maker Tom Ford (not that Tom Ford) has responded to my interview request. Keep in mind that this project is nearing the end of a crowdfunding campaign so if you can please take a moment to visit their indiegogo page and donate what you can. Remember at Indiegogo your film get what ever is donated toward the goal. While at Kickstarter it is usually an all or you get nothing proposition.

First, Tom Ford on the writing of the film.
I'll start with the obvious (you've heard it 100 times) "it's all
about the story"... because it's true.

Start there. If you're past that point already and have a so - so story,
go back to step 1. Story. 50,000 features made each year, most of those
don't have a great story. If you start with a great story that people will
want to watch, you move to the head of that pack and your chances for
success get a lot better. And THAT'S the way to begin.

You also have a very good chance of gathering a better team, better actors
and crew, that will actually show-up when you need them, because they believe
in the project too. Did I just refer to a great story again, I think I did.
I wrote The Stray. I like horror films but always felt they needed
to be more. I believe The Stray is. It is more appropriately a psychological
Horror and it has a real love story woven within the complicated layers.
Great characters that we follow through generations in the reincarnate
drams, with great suspense and action. Only thing missing is Zombies
and I want to make it clear, I have nothing against the dead walking
around and making movies it is simply that I wanted something different
and they are already in every other movie!

On Making the Movie.

We are making The Stray for less than most features spend on Craft Services, and it is challenging but that is where Crowd-Funding and Indie become so powerful together. Indie Film Making has always been a crowd funded model because it is customary for everyone to put so much of themselves and their own resources into the project. It's because they really believe in what they are doing, love the work (endless hours) and they keep their eyes focused on the potential of the finished product. They certainly are not in it for the money.

On paying the Cast and Crew:

Those who will work for free…

Pay them something. Be open and honest about what you have and then pay them at least a token, even if it hurts, especially if it hurts. Pay out with the right attitude and I believe it will all come back to you. Karma, pay it forward, whatever. Believe and others will believe. And make it very clear that you know it's not even close to what they deserve, but at least pay for their gas.

This will go along way.

It's about respect. Respect yourself, the project and the team and it will be appreciated in ways that you can actually see. They want this too, it's a stepping stone for everyone involved. Keep that in mind, remind your cast and crew of this and treat your project like you believe it. Do a good
job. Every scene either increases in value from the previous scene or is
compromised by it. Every scene counts. Scenes that don't count don't
belong in (you've got it) a great story.

On Preparation:


Lack of money requires more preparation on your part for everything you
do. Ducks in a row cost a lot less than mayhem. Don't count on good luck
but rather, prepare for Murphy's law. Preparation. Think through and
prepare for as much as possible and then, be flexible enough to go where
the situations you encounter take you. It's digital media. If everything
goes wrong shoot that too. You may get something extraordinary.
Don't lose sight of the story and maybe you have to write-off a "bad day" but at
least you don't have to pay for film and processing. Se what you got, use
what you can, be true to the story, yourself and the team and move on.

You are what you do.

The day is made by what you do. Nothing is realized by what you say or
could have done. Bad days are the perfect blue-print for what not to do the
next day. That's suddenly a very valuable tool.

Good effort inspires good people.

You are the inspiration for the team. They will, in turn, rise to the occasion and become your inspiration. So, keep your eyes and mind open to them. None of us can be great all the time. But the beauty of making a great film is that it takes more than you. It takes a team. If you've got a good team and you stay alert and open to their flashes of genius, welcome that into the production. If you shut everyone else out of "your vision" then all your moments of "less than genius" have nothing to cover them. Combine all the great, creative, cooperative efforts of the team and everyone suddenly looks better and the production will benefit substantially.

Valuable Tools:

I did interviews with cast and crew members once they became familiar with the story. Then I edited these and they became a valuable tool for attracting Investors (fund-raising) and they also strengthen the confidence of your cast and crew. But most of all, they really helped me. I learned from "their" take on everything. I learned a lot. You can watch my cast and crew interviews on the Indiegogo page for The Stray (near the bottom) here:

Trailers and teasers, today, are a cart before the horse scenario. We make
them first, before we film the actual movie because we need them to help
attract financing. THEY are a valuable tool, treat them like it as you create
them. They are also a story, make it a good one. I don't like to give
away the feature's story in a trailer but I want to convey the feel of the
story. I write my trailers to say the same or similar thing in a different
way. Write out your trailer stories and make certain they are what you
want. Trailers that "just happen" look like it.

I kill two birds with one stone sometimes. When I think I have the right
actor for any role, I like to shoot a screen test. The proof, after all,
is in the doing. So I choose a scene that I will want for a trailer. I
prepare and ask and expect my actors to prepare and learn their parts
(Their preparation speaks volumes about how they will work for you in the production.)
Then I shoot it as best I can, understanding the limitations. I find out who can actually
do the part and, if I've done a good job, I have a scene for my trailer.

No money for sets, make-up or crew? Think it through. Extract the best
parts of what you want to shoot. Move in, because a closer shot requires
less set design. Cull the best parts and concentrate on those. Trailers
are commonly clips of very short duration in rapid succession and you can
use that to your advantage.

Edit, edit, edit. Cut the trailer well. It is going to speak for you on and make that "First Impression" you don't get a second chance on. And they need to address every level to people who know nothing about you. The story your Trailer tells about your ability to bring a production together is an unforgiving one. Never underestimate the trailer. Make it great on its own because that is the way it will be seen and considered.

Okay that I it for part one of this two part interview. Part Two will be posted tomorrow. Please take a moment to share this post with a friend and to stumble us on Stumbleupon.
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