Getting started

The first time I tried to shoot a film after film school was…. Well… A complete and total disaster and every time I look back at it, I wonder what the hell I was thinking. I had written this crazy sci-fi movie and made pretty much every mistake you could make. I had no crew, no money, and no equipment really. I pretty much ignored every rule of Production. The only good thing to come from the experience was meeting my good friend Erin (the composer of Devil May Care). Other than that, just… wow.

I had been taught better than that. So I sat down and wrote a new script, keeping in mind the limitations I knew I would be facing. It was a story that I had been playing with in my mind for a while. That idea eventually turned into Devil May Care. A bloated, 45 page short. Yeah, that’s right, 45 pages.  A story about Lucifer begging his family to let him back into Heaven, a demon trying to seduce him back to Hell and…  A Matrix style gunfight. Don’t ask me why, but I for a moment forgot what kind of movie I was trying to make.

But then life got in the way, as things usually do. Jobs, friends, and family were just more important. Excuses, really. Procrastination, probably, but it is what I’m sticking with. My co-writer, Greg Metro, and I would constantly be playing with the script. Adding and subtracting, retooling, editing. But it wasn’t getting filmed and it didn’t look like it was going to get filmed any time soon. There was a brief push to get a Kickstarter campaign going, and even shot a test scene with some friends of mine. But that just led me to believe that the script wasn’t ready yet, and I had to take another crack at it.

That’s where Justine Gendron comes in. I had gotten the script down to 22 pages (yes, the gunfight ended up getting cut) and I was ready to start playing with the idea of financing the film myself. Justine asked to read the script and immediately offered to Associate Produce the film, and then told me to cut the thing down to 15 pages. Five seconds into our partnership, and we’re already arguing! She was right, though I hate to admit it, and we’ve been off to the races ever since. We met Mikel Wisler, a really talented Director of Photography, and pretty much stole his entire shooting crew. And we started casting.

Casting was interesting. Having no money set aside yet for the project, they all had to be done in my apartment. Not exactly the professional atmosphere, especially when you’re a guy casting a female role. The internet is a scary place, and there were a few actresses who were uncomfortable with the idea of coming to some random guys apartment. I really don’t blame them, at all. That’s how we cast Diana as Death! She wasn’t ok with coming to my apartment, which again, makes sense to me. I wouldn’t go to some creepy dude making a movie about the devil’s apartment. But she really liked the story idea, so we arranged to meet up at the Library.

That small extra step was absolutely worth it, because Diana turned out to be PERFECT for this part. Nat (Lucifer) Chris (Gabriel) and Jay (Michael) all came more naturally during auditions. In fact, if there is one thing I feel like I CAN do as a filmmaker is cast. This is a perfect cast, and the chemistry between everyone is perfect. I’ve been telling everyone that I won’t have to do a whole hell of a lot of directing, because these actors have an understanding of their characters and a natural talent that they are going to make me look really good. A directing teacher once told me that “There is no such thing as bad actors, only bad directors.” Well I don’t know how good of a director I am, but these are some top notch talented actors.

The same can be said with the crew. Like I said, I pretty much stole a core crew of people who have worked together often, with the help of my DP Mikel Wisler and my Production Manager, Raz Cunningham. I had the opportunity to help out on Mikel’s own film. Playing with Ice, a few weeks ago and watch the crew work, and they are incredible at their jobs. To have a crew that works this well with each other on what is essentially your first film out of film school is pretty amazing

My next blog (oh God, I just realized I’m blogging) will be about the adventures of Location scouting!

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