Monday, September 16, 2013

Kickstarting a One Day Feature Film Shoot

Kickstarting a One Day Feature Film Shoot

The question of how long does it take to shoot a feature film has come up many times during the last year or so at this blog. Today I would like to introduce you to a project that is to be shot in one day.

The name of the film is The Movie Zombie. (The Movie Zombie is a found footage comedy project where two filmmakers strike out with a hundred dollars in their pockets and shoot a feature... in one day. Part horror film, part mockumentary, The Movie Zombie defies the conventional wisdom that you need big bucks to make a feature. Leaving production value at the door and focusing just on pure entertainment, The Movie Zombie is one found footage film that will be so terrible it will be hilariously good times. )

Reading that description led to me asking for and to get an interview with the film maker
Michael T. Snyder. Michael is full time video production specialist and photographer for a
Pittsburgh based consumer electronics company. You can visit his blog Machinations into Madness by clicking here.   Or his personal blog by clicking here.

Okay let’s get to the interview.

The first question is of course what is The Movie Zombie about?

-The story behind The Movie Zombie is pretty basic. It plays on a lot of cliches found behind zombie and found footage films. The movie opens with four people driving down the road where their car breaks down, they find shelter in a cabin in the woods, then they are slowly picked off as the zombie element introduces itself. However we also introduce the behind the scenes right along with the film's narrative. So this film offers many layers to it. The zombie angle, the film making angle along with the filmmakers who are trying to complete this film in one day, because well they think they are awesome enough to do it. We take liberties with breaking the immersion behind the plot. In the beginning the filmmakers say "what you're about to watch is absolutely true", you know, like what every other found footage film out there says. However throughout the film the audience sees the crew. -

The movie inside a movie thing has been done, but rarely as a comedy and I do not believe that it has ever been done in the found footage genre. What is the inspiration for this project?

-To really appreciate and understand why we are producing the Movie Zombie, it's important to know who I am and the journey as a filmmaker I've taken. In all of the productions I produced myself, I always had a stern eye towards the best possible looking film. I mean, who wouldn't want their finished product looking the best it could? However the trade off to that is it's expensive not to mention exhausting. I always wanted to produce my own feature. I think as a filmmaker, that is something we all want to do. I've never done it so far as I knew I couldn't quite pull off the sort of film I would be proud of. However that all changed when me and my film school buddy Donnie Kenney thought of the "Movie Zombie". This project really is about going back to basics. I have many great memories in film school and just taking a camera and going on a shoot. of course those videos were terrible, but it didn't matter. We were having fun and creating something we wanted to laugh at. The Movie Zombie allows us to do that. We leave production value at the door for sake of just pure fun while making the film. In a way, we poke fun at ourselves as filmmakers. -

During the past four months I have being using my free time to work on an ebook about making found footage films. This means that I have seen over a hundred of these films this year alone. I made the mistake of watch Rec and Rec 2 first (great little horror films) and then it was quickly down hill from there, Apollo 18 anyone heard of it? Do you go into this genre with a love of genre or a wish that someday something will come along new and original?

-As a general rule of thumb, I hate found footage films. I hate how they are presented as true, but clearly they are fake. I watched Paranormal Activity with a friend of mine. He kept asking me "is this real?" Over and over I told him "no, it's not real". There are only a few found footage films that I've actually enjoyed; Chronicle for the multi-camera angles they use throughout the film, and the Quarantine movies. Apollo 18 was OK, but I don't really remember anything from it. So that must say something about how I enjoyed it.-

-I feel sorry you've had to subject yourself to so many found footage films. Hopefully the Movie Zombie isn't the one that does you in.-

Two film makers, one hundred dollars and one day; it will be that way on film, but are you going to actually attempt a shooting schedule that insane?

-Yes, we really are going to shoot the whole thing in one day. From sun up till midnight - that is our filming schedule.-

Again, for everyone reading this. You are going to make this happen in one shooting day? This will be feature length?

-Our shooting schedule is one day. That's it. You could say it's our gimmick to try and get people to watch our abomination. But really, it's just a fun day of shooting film. Since this is a comedy, we can get away with low production values. We will be shooting only in one take per scene, then moving on to the next scene. It's sort of like an orchestrated play. -

Many look at comedy and think that it can be made up as you go along, but it is usually as scripted in the same way as action sequences. What percentage is going to be scripted and how much is going to be improv?

-My film buddy Donnie Kenney and myself went to a McDonalds a few weeks ago. There we spent five hours developing the outline for the feature on note cards. We don't have a script. We really don't know what to expect on shoot day. For instance, we don't know how many actors will show up. So we will need to be flexible enough to shoot on the fly, just like back in our film school days. So really, most of this movie will be improved. Our pitch video was completely improved along with a lot of comedy that we've done in the past. We just outline the scene, then let Hell break loose.-

Being the director of the film and the star of the film has been done as far back as Buster Keaton, but rarely in this genre. Will this be your first time acting and who will be playing the other film maker in the film?

-I love to act, but I'm terrible at it. When you watch our pitch video for the Movie Zombie, I'm "Silent Screws". I've acted a lot in previous film projects, mostly all from college. Biggest challenge I have with acting is that I feel that everyone is judging me, so that makes me nervous. I've gotten better at it, but I certainly don't submit to casting calls. The actor playing the other filmmaker is Donnie Kenney. Unlike me, he IS an actor, so he'll feel right at home in front of the camera. He knows about film production so he will be right up there with me producing this monster. -

Dslr cameras have their place in the film making world, but for an one day feature film shoot I would think camcorder based upon battery life and ease of use. What camera are you going to be using to shoot this film?

-I will be using a Canon 60D mounted on a shoulder rig. I have a pistol grip with a AA battery adapter so I'm not concerned with battery life. I also got lots of SD cards so I'm not worried about memory. Really, we are going to moving pretty quickly through this thing, so there's no time for nature shots. I really love shooting with DSLRs. They are a pretty cheap means of capturing a scene and their colors are typically amazing. If we had the budget, I would really love to look into the Black Magic Cinema camera. From what I've seen from that camera, it's pretty sexy. -

How many other films have you worked on?

-I've been working on film for the past six years. In that time I have worked over 15 shorts films, either my own or someone elses. I've also worked on four features including "Unstoppable" with Denzel Washington, "Dark Knight Rises" with Christian Bale, "Out of the Furnace" with Christian Bale, and the indie movie "Enter the Zombie".-

I understand that you went to film school. Can you learn to be a quality film maker without it? Also did you learn more in school or working on a film set?

-I realized halfway through school that I was merely putting in time to get a piece of paper saying I graduated. I thought about quitting, but to be honest, if someone is looking for a full time job in production, most companies want that piece of paper. Now most of what I learned, I learned on set. Theory is all fine and all or even school projects, but when your on a legit set and you find yourself an hour behind schedule, you learn to think on your feet. Since a lot of these usually work with the director, or I'm the director myself, there is one thing that no director should ever say on set... "I don't know". There was only ever one time I thought about walking off set. That was when the director had no idea what they were doing and was just shooting every idea that came to them "for coverage". -

-I see film school as a means for people to go to school to pay for professional grade classes to learn a new hobby.-

Since I am interviewing a director I have to ask who is your favorite director? Also is there a director that you find yourself learning new things from every time you see there work?

-I really like Quinton Tarantino's style. Tarantino really is the only director that I ever went to the movies to see what he was doing. I'm bit of a introverted indie filmmaker. I do what I like, versus trying to mimic what other people have done. -

Bonus question coming. You were working on a post apocalyptic film at one time. This is a genre that needs to be revitalized. I hope that it will be next year with the release of the new Mad Max film. Do you have a must see movie in that genre? I have two, Damnation Alley and Metalstorm The Destruction of Jared-Syn (I saw it in 3d, in a 600 seat theater with 3 other people on its second day in theaters.) I forgot the anime Highschool of the Dead.

-I love post apocalyptic movies. My top three must sees would be "Mad Max", "Book of Eli", and "the Road". Post apocalyptic films really let a filmmaker tell a story set in a alternate modern time. As you mentioned, I was working on a post apocalyptic film. I really felt that we were onto something there. At some point down the road, I really want to revisit that broken United States in my dreams. Perhaps on screen, perhaps in a graphic novel. I feel it's a story worth telling and sharing with others. -

Thank you Michael for taking the time to do this interview. If anyone would like to get involved there is still time to contribute to the crowdfunding campaign by clicking here clicking here and visiting the Kickstarter page or by sharing the link.

That will be it for today. I am still looking for trailers for my trailers page so if anyone out there has a good one or has seen a good one let me know by leaving a comment.  

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