16 July 2009

words. words. words.

This is a few days old, but here's an interview with me about my #2wkfilm, Blanc de Blanc. Enjoy.

Original Link

Why did you decide to do #2wkfilm?

I remember when you first suggested it to Amir, thinking it was the craziest fucking thing I'd ever heard of. But then, after I thought about it for a little while, it began to make sense in a strange way. Eventually I realized I had nothing to lose. Worst case scenario I make a terrible film under impossible circumstances and I shake it off as a learning experience. But, if the film is actually any good. Well, then that's all upside.

What are the things you learned by doing #2wkfilm?

I learned that after a point, maybe on hour 30 in two days, your brain sort of shuts off, and if you don't have storyboards, you're in trouble.

Seriously, though, I think I learned how to trust actors. There's a big difference between letting actors do their thing and knowing when to let them do their thing and when to rein them in. Part of my approach here was to give the actors a great deal of free reign in building their characters and performance (80% of the dialogue was improvised, after all). Considering the time constraints, it felt like the only way to get solid performances was to bring the actors into the process from the very beginning and let them help come up with the story, to effectively help write it. Most of the time that worked, but there are scenes where I had to take that control back, and scenes where I should have done it more. It's a tricky thing to figure out when you're moving that fast, but I think I'm better at it than I was when we started.

Of course, the actors may not agree with that...

What would you do differently?

I'd be better organized. Specifically, I'd have gotten someone to start editing as we were shooting. Editing in the evenings after work made it hard to get into a groove. Having someone to get everything sorted out in the early days would have been a great deal of help. Also, I probably would have taken a couple weeks off work.

What would you expand on?

The two weeks?

I would have pushed to get more connective tissue. I think the biggest problem with the film is that it lacks the footage to connect the scenes, and that can tend to give it a kind of choppy feel. I'm not entirely sure where we would have found the time to do that, but I wish we had.

Also, I would have added a couple of weeks of pre-production. That would have been vital.

What are you going to do about the release and distribution of the film?

I'm not sure. I'm famously skeptical of a method that jumps right into streaming the film for free online. I just don't think it's as effective as we all hope it could be, at least not yet. So, I'll send it to some critics and at very least the festivals that screened gravida (to try and capitalize on any existing audience I have there). After that, I'm leaning toward setting up screenings in non-traditional places to see if we can't make some of the budget back and get the cast and crew some money in their pockets, even if it's not a lot.

Would you do #2wkfilm again?

I'm not sure. I'm not a fan of making films just for the sake of making films, as I think if you're going to spend that much time and energy on a film, it should be in pursuit of a story you really want to tell. Otherwise, what's the point?

So, if I did #2wkfilm again, it'd be because I found a story that'd benefit from the treatment, which is certainly possible.

Has #2wkfilm changed the way you approach filmmaking?

Yeah, I think it's shown me that you don't have to always have all your pieces in place to make a film, that you can wing it a little and it won't all go horribly wrong. Plus, it was pretty liberating to tell a potential actor that we can't reschedule for the next weekend because they had to do a play, that we were going to make the film on these dates, whether they could help or not.

Did the cast and crew like the #2wkfilm process?

Probably everything but the last 3 hours of the day. For the most part they found it exciting to be flying blind, but man were they exhausted by the end.

Would the cast and crew do another #2wkfilm?

They very well might, but I don't think they'd do more than one a year. We kind of swung for the fences where maybe we should have just tried to hit a double.

What has been the response to your film so far?

So far I've been keeping it under wraps until I can figure out what to do with it, but the couple of people who've seen it seem to like it a fair amount. As for everyone else, well, we shall see.

What else would you like to say about film and filmmaking?

I think the real value of something like this is that it allows you to shake off the cobwebs, to get out of the eternal cycle of trying to get a project off the ground. It's a fantastic change of pace. And while I don't know if the approach would be ideal for every filmmaker, but I think every filmmaker should do something like this at least once.

If nothing else, it's gotten me moving a little faster than before and introduced me to other filmmakers around the world, and for that it's been so very valuable.