Thursday, September 11, 2014

Noah Harald & Speak Now - Clemson, SC, Micro-budget Filmmaking Part II

The latest update from Noah Harald, screening his film Speak Now on the Southern Circuit:

As I screen our film 'Speak Now' at the next four venues in the Southern Circuit I'm going to try something interesting and share my thoughts and advice about making a micro-budget improv film as well as my travels here in the South. Next up- Clemson, SC.

'Speak Now' screened last night at Clemson State University. First I drove from Augusta to Clemson, through thick forests and small lakes. I stopped to take pictures at some abandoned buildings, it was lovely. Clemson is a town that is completely in love with it's football team, everything is emblazoned with the orange paws for their Tigers, it's really cool, feels like Friday Night Lights. My host Amy was great and I got to wander the beautiful campus. The screening was almost entirely students, which was in sharp contrast to the older audience in Augusta. I feel like the jokes landed a little better tonight, but the audiences at both venues have been equally appreciative and awesome. So far, two for two. In the morning I make the trek to Hanceville, AL to screen at Wallace Community College.

Making a micro-budget film, Part II: The Execution
This is the hardest and easiest part of the process. It's hard to pull resources together, to have everything go as planned (it never will) and to shoot a film on a micro budget. At the same time, it's never been easier to access equipment to make a film. We shot 'Speak Now' on two RED Epic cameras with Zeiss super speed prime lenses. However you can shoot a film entirely on a DSLR with available light and it can still look great these days. Our cinematographer David McGrory and myself have a great repoire and we've worked together for about a decade- he and I were able to dip into the favor bank and pull not only equipment but crew. If you don't yet have those relationships, build them by making a film. Just remember, as good as it looks to have a feature under your belt as director, that also applies to your department heads as well; cinematographers, production designers, producers etc and they will join you if they believe in the story you're telling. One of the most vital components to making one of these films is a great producer- we had two in Benjamin Friedberg and Eric Goldrich. A great producer will help organize everything, lock down crew and locations, but most importantly they will lift the burden of you having to deal with those things on set where your crew and your cast need total creative attention from you. Once you have your idea, your crew, your equipment and location- shoot the movie. Jump in and do it. Don't find the reasons not to, because there are a million (not enough money, wrong location, actors, crew, money again.) Find the one reason to do it- you want to make a movie.

Schedule efficiently, leave time to block and rehearse the scenes with your actors and make sure that everyone on set feels respected and taken care of and they will reciprocate that energy into the film. We all got into this because making movies is fun, and nearly 100% of the time the vibe on set will translate into the final product. We shot 'Speak Now' in three days with all of the dialogue improvised by the actors. We didn't have time to stress the small things and in the end I think that helped the final product. Be easy and let the movie happen, if you've put the pieces into place it will.