Indie Filmmaking Today: Are You Crazy?

Posted in Uncategorized on November 14, 2012 by Ben Andrews

So, you want to make a movie? Are you sure? You’d better be. Filmmaking is an epic quest filled with adventure, pain and madness. Whether you like it or not, your life will change. You’ll make significant discoveries. You’ll be challenged, and exposed to public criticism. Whether your film turns out to be good, bad, or ugly; brace yourself for impact. This ride’s a life changer. 

Here’s the good news! Have you ever pulled out your smart phone and recorded anything? If you upload that footage to your PC, edit it, and post it to YouTube—guess what! You’re a filmmaker. Yes, it’s that simple. The industry has evolved so quickly that making movies is accessible to everyone. You can easily attain affordable equipment, from digital cameras comparable to 35 mm film quality, to user friendly editing software. The beginning filmmaker of today can do anything. And believe it or not, do it well.

Okay, so you’re pumped for the challenge. You have access to some badass equipment. What next? Most indie filmmaking starts with an idea. You might have a story that’s been stuck with you since childhood. Maybe you had a deep, impactful experience that taught you an appreciation of life. Perhaps a perspective of the world that is unique, revolutionary and will reach people’s hearts. Better yet, that day you witnessed a legion of two-headed leprechauns and must warn the world of their imminent invasion. Whatever your reason, the stronger it resonates within, the more motivation you’ll have to complete this epic endeavor. Trust me, you’ll need it.

You now have your idea and your resolve. Hopefully you’ve stocked up on plenty of pharmaceuticals. It’s time to enter the realm of what film professionals call Development. It doesn’t matter how good your idea is, if your film doesn’t have an audience, it won’t be successful. Who is your audience? Will there be a demand for your film? Development gives you the opportunity to determine the magnitude of your project. Is this something you’re going to try and market yourself? Will you be pitching to film studios or contacting a film distributor? Can you attract named talent? You have many questions to answer before your next step. The answers will define the expectations of your upcoming adventure. If this film is anything more than a pet project, defining market strategy and target audience are musts.

Okay, let’s peek deeper into the rabbit hole. At this point, the filmmaking process is usually broken into three major categories: Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production. For now, let’s assume Development is done. The idea has been written into a script. You’ve either mortgaged your home or your friend’s home. If you were fortunate or business-minded, you leveraged the blood, sweat, and tears of the gods and actually got financing. Either way, this probably involved goat blood, a strange pentagram drawn on your kitchen floor, some matches, and perhaps a strange mixture of chemicals. For the sake of this article, we’ll bypass that slippery slope, and assume you secured money.

Now you’re ready to dive into pre-production. It’s vital that you do the right work in this stage. The list is extensive: drawing up budget, hiring crew, casting actors, storyboarding, lighting design, and more. Picking the right crew can be just as important, if not more, than picking the right cast. These people will practically be family for months. Many hours are spent with the creative team, planning the look and feel of each moment within your film. Every piece of planning has impact. Does the wardrobe bring out the metaphors contained within the script? Do the camera framing, lens choices, and movement capture the psychological impact? Are your locations unique and fitting to the setting? Do the set and props add to the feel of your images? The creative team must understand the overall vision, so that their choices accentuate and complement each other. Volumes are written on how visual and audible choices impact your film. This kind of preparation involves hours and hours of work. Be prepared to put on your big boy/girl pants and act like an adult. It sucks, I know.

It’s been a tough road already. Your spouse is getting ready to leave you, but hey, you’ve done your work. You planned out all those hundreds of details down to how Sally’s hair will represent her internal turmoil. You’ve sat with your cinematographer for hours. You’ve determined the emotionally distant Dave will never have the camera in an extreme close up, so that the audience will never see deep into his eyes. You’re still alive, right? Good because the fun’s just beginning.

Now you step into the trenches. It’s production time baby. Filming starts on Monday. Crew is scheduled to arrive at 6:00 a.m., cast at 7:00. You’re ready to hear the word “action” at 7:30, and then something much different happens. Several unexpected adjustments change the morning plan. The crew is learning to communicate with each other. Then, of course, the cast needs a few blocking rehearsals or “takes” to get comfortable. You look at the clock. Wow, where’s the time gone?  It’s 11:00 A.M. But wait! We only have two setups in the can. We were scheduled to have six. And crap, reality steps in–first day over schedule by three hours. Then the second day comes, and the third. Due to budget, we’re shooting six days a week for a month. It’s time to test your mettle, my friend, and that flask of Jameson that’s been hiding in your coat. This is where the importance of hiring for more than just talent comes in. Endurance is a vital quality on set. If your crew is amazing but lacks endurance, this will be a long ride. By the second week of filming, everyone becomes zombies. If you’re lucky– or more importantly, have hired the right people–they will be productive, non-flesh-eating zombies.

If you survive this and it can be a big if, you’ll reach Post-Production (Post.) Post makes me want to eat my own vomit. In Production, you have the advantage in that everyone relies on each other to get their job done and get every shot “in the can.” It’s a collaborative and motivating energy that pushes everyone through the exhaustion. In Post, you lose that motivating energy. Your Post engineers are stuck in rooms, often by themselves, with no team energy to motivate and inspire. As a creator/director, this is where you sometimes choose between calling your editor for the fifteenth time or putting one bullet in a gun and spinning the chamber. Good luck, my friends!

Let’s talk about a less depressing subject–releasing your film to the world. Okay, you got me. This is still another soul-draining adventure. Educating yourself on all the aspects of movie distribution can be time-intensive and actually wasteful. The traditional distribution models are changing, collapsing, and evolving. Distribution is in a transitional world. No one knows the landscape of the future. Traditional models are in flux. The rules and assumptions of how you get your work seen are breaking down. The gatekeepers are leaving their gates. The old ways are crumbling. What’s this mean? It means you make it up as you go! Understanding the principles, instead of the rules will help you forge this new world to your will.

I’ve vented long enough, my friends, but we’ve only basic aspects of the filmmaking process. It’s about as high level as I can make it. What are the takeaways? Make sure you have realistic expectations. No one wins an Oscar on their first film. Okay, so maybe a couple win Oscars on their first go. Making beautiful movies is the same as learning a trade. It takes years to become a master carpenter, welder, or sculptor. The Assistant Director of the first film I worked on told me, “Making a film is like going to war.” Those words always stuck. Even though I was only an actor, I witnessed so many moving pieces. It was intimidating. Recognize that it will take years to become a master visual storyteller. It’s only your first battle.  Don’t blow your load.

It’s an exciting time to be a new filmmaker. You have an undiscovered country before you. You’re the next generation of filmmakers and the creators of the new rules.

What you can learn about yourself in this process is incredible. You will be exhausted, broke, at your wits end. Your limits will be tested. And if you remain true to yourself, you’ll become stronger, faster, better. Your next film will be significantly different. You’ll have learned when and where you can cut corners. More importantly, you’ll learn if you truly have the desire to be a filmmaker. Do you still love the medium? Would you do it again if you had to go through the same experiences? You sold your soul on the first film. Are you willing to sell someone else’s to do it again? If you can answer these questions with a ‘yes’ then you’re obviously off your rocker.

I like you already.

A Breakthrough

Posted in Uncategorized on May 24, 2012 by Ben Andrews

This review is from:

I felt a little stuck on the problem. I knew the next steps were entirely psychological, so I looked for a book not necessarily on technique, but more oriented toward inspiration and understanding. Reaching out to my artist community, this book sat atop the pile of suggestions. Here’s what I discovered?

In the War of Art, Pressfield breaks his subject into three books: Resistance, Combating Resistance, and Beyond Resistance. Book One presents and personifies the concept of resistance as an unseen force that prevents the artist from moving forward. He firmly lays out the difference between how the professional and the amateur deal with this force called resistance. The final section talks about spiritual forces, “angels and muses”, which use humanity as vessels for art.

The book is written pragmatically enough to allow your own labeling of this force called “resistance”. Pressfield definitely feels this is an antagonistic entity and that we must take action to combat it. Let me share an excerpt that clearly defines Pressfield’s feelings: “Resistance’s goal is not to wound or disable. Resistance aims to kill. Its target is the epicenter of our being: our genius, our soul, the unique and priceless gift we were put on earth to give and that no one else has but us. Resistance means business. When we fight it, we are in a war to the death.” Anyone who is trying to tap into the inspiration they sense burning somewhere inside – to create any kind of art – will benefit from this read. It’s not a simple self-help or how-to book. It’s an examination of the human mind and the quest for fulfillment that we all feel.

The powerful message that I took out of Pressfield’s book was that of viewing yourself as a pro. You have the right, the privilege, and the ability to accomplish what you dream of; so stop giving yourself excuses. His point is that once you change how you view yourself, the universe will open doors to what you are truly meant to do. And this, my friends, is something that I truly believe. Reading this book helped me realize that was exactly what I was doing. I wasn’t allowing myself to feel legitimate. Once I altered that thought process, my whole universe started changing. Soon I discovered that along with it came the confidence I was lacking. Seven thumbs up from me!

Stop Requested – Ramblings of a Mad Director

Posted in Uncategorized on June 26, 2011 by Ben Andrews

It’s been a couple of weeks since our first four shooting days of Stop Requested and I wanted the dust to settle a bit before a small recap. Silly of me to think that the dust would actually settle. As it has from the beginning , Stop Requested continues to evolve. A film we clearly have no control of anymore.

Those close to the project know that for an indie film, an incredible amount of pre-production went into this product. We spent months with script revisions, casting, securing perfect locations, and pretty much planning out every logistical detail.

Some intriguing things happened about two weeks before the shoot. What have since come to be called our ‘Stop Requested Moments’. All the months of pre-production could not prepare us for the universe changing it’s mind at the last minute. We had key personnel withdraw, locations fall through, equipment challenges, and much more. The universe wanted things a certain way and it definitely got what it wanted. The strange part was that with each thing that fell through, it’s replacement or solution ended up being that much better for the film.

I tried to keep open minded about all the changes, especially when I was able to put conscious reasoning to it. Stop Requested messes with a lot of universal taboos. It was only to be expected. The universe wants us to prove we are worthy to make this film. For me it manifested in the energy of the people involved. Everyone learns an incredible amount on a film set. As a director I think it applies a hundredfold. You surround yourself with the most talented people you can find and simply absorb their brilliance. The major difference for me on SR was the energy. There was magic in the air. A synergistic and hard working electricity. The way we all dreamed it could be when we started making films. For this gift to me, I want to make sure that everyone understood what they meant to this project.

Lorraine Montez (Executive Producer, Writer, Cast/Jess, Jedi, and more) – What can you say about Lorraine? She is just a badass in everything she does. It takes so much pressure off, knowing you have a team member that can handle everything, and who can breach any gap. Creative or production side, Lorraine is an amazing mentor and I learn from her every day.

Ben James (Writer, Producer, and Friend) – This man supports me in so many ways. Don’t be fooled by his cavalier and goofy exterior. Behind that mask is an evil genius and one day I will be there to tell you I told you so.

Rodrigo DeMedeiros (Cast/Benjamin) – Who doesn’t love Roddy? The man is magical, talented, and loyal. I look forward to working with him for the rest of my days.

Lisa Roeser (Producer) – This woman is simply another badass. Look out Seattle, she is going to take film by storm. If you’re smart you will get her involved in your project.

Drew Rillera (Producer) – Drew is a one man machine. I recruited Drew from my day job because he is the guy that does everything. I’m not sure where he finds the time. Drew was born to produce and look out world, he’s got the bug.

Sean Avichouser (Assistant Director) – It was a blessing to have Sean on this project. He stepped in when our previous AD was unable to commit. He brought several years of commercial film set experience combined with a great personality that were the perfect fit. Avi is the type of team member that I will never release from my evil grip.

Tony Doupe (Cast/Bill) – The embodiment of this character. Tony has been around the block and is an example of the talent that we have in this town. Having him on the project elevates the status of the project, but when you see his performance you truly understand how incredible of an actor he is. Tony was also my first acting coach. Thank you Tony for being awesome!

Julianne Christie (Cast/Miriam) – How is it possible to not love this woman? Her talent, energy, and presence are off the charts. Thanks Jules, you will always be in my heart.

Evelyn Nicole Bruce (Cast/Eva) – Evelyn’s natural talent is a beauty to watch. This woman feels through her eyes in very compelling ways. I can’t wait until she is unleashed in the Seattle acting community. And I can say, I cast her first!

Katie Yeager (Cast/Lilah) – What a trip! I don’t think I have ever met someone like Katie. Her energy is amazing. She was a blast to work with and I can recommend her to everyone.

Charissa Adams (Cast/Young Jess) – Another beautiful and talented actress. We only had one day with her, but it was amazing. She is kind, gentle, and absorbs the moments around her. Thanks Charissa!

Connor Hair ( D.P.) – I had heard a lot of amazing things about Connor, but talk about exceeding all expectations. This young kid creates beauty and is fun to work with. Keep your eyes on Connor, dude’s going places.

Rory Emmons (Gaffer) – Rory is a savior I gotta tell you. Talk about a guy who just gets it done. My original gaffer had to drop two days before the shoot. I called Rory and he filled the gap. He worked with Connor one day for pre-production and the final lighting product is definitely Hollywood. Besides that Rory is one of the calmest people you with meet. Thank you my friend

Danny Tostada (Craft Services) – First time on a film set and he did a great job. The funny thing about craft services is it’s not just a place to refuel. Cast and crew use it as the watering hole, gossip, get it off your chest place. Danny is the perfect man to handle that station. He’s a bartender for God sake.

Ryan Ricks (2nd AD) – We got lucky with this one. Another recruit from Sean Avichouser and boy was it a great one. Ryan came onboard and did some amazing work. He is definitely a paperwork ninja. Can’t wait to work with this guy again.

Anthony Tackett (AC) – You want hard work, fun, entertainment, and a great personality on your camera team. Tackett is your man! Thank you for coming out and making this a better product my friend. You know I love you baby!

Stephanie Hilbert (Grandma) – A dream to have on any project. Stephanie’s screen presence is simply off the charts. You can’t take your eyes off of her. Thank you again Stephanie, for breaching the gap. You were and are amazing.

Jessica Welker (Art Dept.) – Saved us on many fronts. This young woman has an eye for efficiency and details and is a go getter. Thank you Jessica for breaching a difficult gap!

Tellier Killaby (Producer) – We lost Tellier half way through pre-production to LA. Damn that city! But it’s where her heart is and it’s a place where her talents will only grow. Stop Requested owes much to Tellier!

Alice Engelhardt (Composition) – Even before shooting began Alice set the creepy tone for the music of Stop Requested. Her self-performed compostition, “Eva’s Hymn” is a character in it’s own right in the film. Creepy!

Jason Alberts (Sound Guy) – Best in Seattle. This is the type of guy that no one has anything bad to say about. He does everything professionally, has fun, and makes sure that the product will be as best as it possibly can be.

Nick Stamulis (Producer) – A recruit from my personal friends. He was foolish enough to tell me, “If you ever need any help on your film projects let me know.” Lol! Regretting that one yet Nick? Again, what can I say? Some people are just good at everything. Nick is one of them. Thank you my friend. You’re worth your weight in gold.

Vincent Orduna – (Writer, Casting Director, Directing Consultant) – What can I say about Veej. The dude has a skill set that has no comparison.. He is so intense about his art that sometimes you want to say, “Veej it’s not real.” His passion, mentoring, and coaching started me on this path long ago and all I can say is “thank you my friend for your support and friendship”.

Shyn Midili (Make-up/SFX) – Another one this filled that gap last minute and exceeded ALL expectations. She dove into pre-production like she was hungry and never turned back. This is a woman who is truly passionate about her work. Everything looked amazing Shyn, thanks!!

Cindy Bradder (Hairstylist) – Cindy came on last minute and was another diamond. Our peoples looked gorgeous. Sometimes I had to make an excuse to head to hair and make-up simply because all those women (Cindy, Shyn, Teresa) were just so much fun to work with.

Jordin Mitchell (Art Direction) – Dude is talented. He can visualize and brainstorm with the best of them. I know this was a stressful project for Jordin, but he hung in there like a champ! It was a pleasure working with you my friend.

Teresa Castillo (Wardrobe) – Now here’s a fireball. Teresa’s got more talent in her pinky than I have combined. She took a hold of wardrobe and made it another character in our film. This was her first film, but I can tell you there will be many many more.

Katherine Sultan (Script Supervisor) – Always good to have Katherine on set. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind, and her courage to speak up actually adjusted several moments on screen. She is badassery incarnate.

Jansen Hillis (Everything) – What doesn’t this dude do? Not only that he leaves his ego at the door and helps people do what they do best. Thanks Jansen!!

Jess Martinez (Best Boy) – Jess is too pretty to be a boy. Sorry Jess had to say it : ) Part of Rory’s team, these guys just kicked ass and took names. I can easily recommend all of them.

Matt Bunker (Grip Dept) – This monster of a guy is actually a gentle little teddy bear. Hard working and fun another guy I will easily recommend to other productions.

Marcus Simpson (Grip/Gaff) – Again, another of the lighting department ninjas. Marcus we are going to have to figure out some time to party.

Richard Williams (Grip) – Joined us for one day. Barely got to talk to him, but didn’t much to realize he was another ninja.

Joshua Powless (DIT/Camera team) – This guy just plain rock and rolls. Very professional and knowledgeable in several areas of film, we were so fortunate to have him on board.

Alisa Tyrrill (AC) – A wonderful and beautiful young lady to work with. She was only with us for the 2nd half of the shoot, but she set an amazing impression. I ended up calling this my ninja crew and she was definitely one of the reasons.

Rose Gunson (Social Media Coordinator) – This young lady came onboard and within two days gave us a firm social media presence. She is motivated and driven. Thanks for being part of the family Rose!

Skott Young (Location Manager) – Another ninja amongst this group. The guy has helped produce, handle multiple production areas, and has even helped with some of our marketing graphics. Skott, I love you man!

Parker Cooley (PA) – I never saw this guy, because he was so busy doing stuff. What a great PA! Good attitude, hard working, and of course a ninja.

David Ayala (Behind The Scenes) – I could say a lot about David. Let’s cut to the chase and simply say he is an over achiever. We were fortunate to get him on the project and then he blew me away with his instant loyalty and dedication. I look forward to working on many films with you David.

Nels Johnson (PA/Body Double/Grip) – Lol.. SLEN I love you man. Another Stop Requested universal gift was having a PA who’s body type matched one of our leads exactly. Nels is the type that grabs life by the throat and strangles it. Dude got naked in a shower without blinking. That’s what I call a trooper.

August Williams (PA) – Another badass, friends with Katherine Sultan so should of expected it, but it was a pleasure to have her on set. Many compliments go to this young lady.

Susan Doupe (BTS) – This wonderfully talented woman, out of the kindness that she leads with, supported us in our pre-production event. Sue is well entrenched in this town and if you’re smart you will go get some beautiful head shots from her. Thanks Sue!

Alder Sherwood (Social Media) – Needs no introductions. She is a well known figure in this town and does everything. If you’re smart you will get her involved in your project based on her positive energy alone.

Lisa Coronado (Events) – Another that needs no intro. Lisa is about as badass as you can get. You can find her and Alder creating beauty all over the place. It’s a privilege to be able to work with them.

Beth Meberg (Flash Mob) – Beth came on to help with our flash mob. She coordinated the whole event seamlessly, despite production giving her plenty of obstacles. We quickly recognized this woman’s talents and utilized her on set also. She was an amazing assistant to Benny James. I don’t care about Connor, I love you Beth : )

Alberto Lacao (Media/PR) – I have seen this dude do pretty much everything on a film set. Alberto’s love of film is evident and I always love working with him. Thanks for your amazing effort Alberto.

There are more, many more to thank. What we have built together is only the beginning.

With much love,

Ben Andrews

Director and Lord D

Stop Requested Sample Footage

Posted in Abundant Productions on June 24, 2011 by Ben Andrews

http://www.facebook.com/v/2054972144125

Wine Tasting for Stop Requested

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on March 24, 2011 by Ben Andrews
I have been absent from my blog for a long time now. As Stop Requested picks up speed in pre-production one of my goals is to get back into the blog and start talking about the importance of pre-pro. Until then, here is an advertisement.
JOIN US FOR THIS EXCLUSIVE WINE TASTING EVENT

Experience exquisite wines, scrumptious delights, a silent auction and more!

Your support makes Stop Requested, a film about a troubled woman caught up in an age-old debate between Order and Chaos that plays itself out in the lives of seemingly ordinary people, possible.

5% of net proceeds over $2,000 go People for Puget Sound.

Tickets:
$35/one person; $60/two people (RSVP by April 14)
$45/one person; $80/two people (at the door)

RSVP TO:
rsvp@abundantproductions.biz

Wednesday, April 28, 7-10 p.m. – Crack Shorts film celebration

Posted in Abundant Productions with tags on April 26, 2010 by Ben Andrews

Northwest Film Forum; 1515 12th Avenue; Seattle

This free event features several trailers and shorts spotlighting local filmmakers and talent. Nine shorts will screen and include works by directors Sam Akina, Ben Pohl, Ben Andrews, Alexander Walsh, Roger Evans, and others. Featured shorts include Prick, Sole Heir, and Dominance Webisode 1. Featured trailers include: T imetravel_0, Son of Terror and Divination, among others.

Event includes Champagne & Chocolate reception that starts promptly at 7:00 p.m., and a Q&A with the filmmakers following the screening.

Sponsored by Abundant Productions. Seating is limited – reservations are encouraged. rsvp@abundantproductions.biz

PR – Added Venue – Star Trek: Phoenix final premiere and blow out after party

Posted in Star Trek Phoenix on April 25, 2010 by Ben Andrews
The pilot, Star Trek Phoenix Cloak & Dagger, is showing at multiple venues throughout Seattle. A new venue has just been added – the Star Trek: Phoenix final premiere and blow out after party!
 
Friday, May 7, 7p.m.-2 a.m. – Party Like It’s 2422! King Cat Theater; 2130 6th Avenue, Seattle

FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC*

Encore Performance – The Future Returns and Star Trek: Phoenix is bringing the party with it

Join the cast and crew for the final, blow-out premiere and after party for Star Trek: Phoenix — all set in the year 2422. Help us complete our post production fundraising goal while enjoying the premiere, music, dancing and a free raffle for prizes, including free drink tickets for Star Trek: Phoenix specialty drinks and an EMP membership (bar; open seating).

*(Must be over 21)

All venues are free to the public; most are all ages. More information on all free venues at stphoenix.com

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