Monday, December 20, 2010

Blood, Sweat & Tears aka Funding Your Film With Your Own $$$

My first film was Love Song, part 2 of the Love 10 to 1 trilogy. I wrote, produced and directed Love Song and co-produced the other two stories in the trilogy. IT WAS HARD WORK. That film took everything I had to give and I am happy with the results. We are still not done with it; there are some technical issues with the first story. We are trying to fix them because that’s the first story our audience will see.

We finished shooting that film in the summer of 2008. Production started in October 2007. Due to our lack of financing we had to shoot the first two in October/November and my piece in the summer of 2008. We set out to make an indie version of Love Actually on a micro budget. We funded the film with our own money. All the money I’ve put in to that film would be enough to put a small down payment on a small house in Los Angeles. I don’t expect to make that money back any time soon or at all. That film is supposed to be my calling card, instead, it became my film school.

I learned so much from the three shoots and because of those experiences I was able to do The Big Deal with more knowledge and less stress.  It still wasn’t easy but not as hard as before. My sister, Onahoua Rodriguez plays the role of Michele and she also co-produced the film with me. She got the cast, favors here, favors there and the location came through Catalina (her connection). I got the crew, I got the money (my own).  

The closer we were to shooting, the costs kept piling and the stress kept building.  Fear, doubt and self loathing started creeping in. Was I crazy to be funding my film in this volatile economy? What happens if I do a horrible job? Michele is one of my best friends and I would hate to lose a friendship over this. What about her fans, people like me, who loved the book, what if they hate it? What about the actors? What if they think I’m a shitty director and have no right to be doing this? I started driving myself crazy and I almost called the whole thing off.

Once  I started rehearsing with Ona & Catalina things started to change. Everything I had worked for was paying off. The workshops with Judith Weston helped me find my voice and my vision. The story I’ve had in my head for so many years was finally unfolding before me. I was feeling better about the creative aspects but I was sick to my stomach by how much money the film was going to cost. I was still contemplating calling it off. I’m glad I didn’t and I have to thank my husband and my sister for supporting and encouraging me to get it done. It meant a lot to me when I was feeling like a total failure to have my sister point out all the hard work I had done and how this was all happening because of my  tenacity.

At one point I said screw it, here I go again tapping into my bank account. I am grateful that my husband was behind this decision. Once I made up my mind to not care about the money things started falling into place and kicking into a very accelerated gear.
The biggest expenses were the location and the insurance. No matter how small your crew, how little locations you have (one) it seems that the median cost to make an indie film these days is between 3k-4k per day. While that is a lot of money, it’s peanuts even in indiewood. I got a lot of favors and the cost would have been about 7k per day if  I didn't use my resources. I was lucky to have an amazing crew behind me working for a lot less than their going rate. I can’t say enough about them, these men all have my back. I know that Brian Sorbo and my sound guys (Jared Simmons and Ian Rudd) turned down work that paid them a lot more than I could afford because they wanted to work with me.  

We used an amazing camera, the Arri Alexa. My cinematographer Matt Boyd has a great relationship with Jeff Blauvelt of HD Cinema in West LA. Jeff was kind enough to give us a gigantic discount. We were the first to use the camera because a big time producer requested it but ended up not using it that weekend so Matt Boyd got lucky and our production value increased greatly. Our film is one of the first to shoot with that awesome camera. I am glad the camera angels were smiling brightly on me.

We got the lights from Brian Sorbo’s company Flickersound. Brian gave me a great deal on the equipment and he even transported it for me at no extra cost.

I found an editor and she starts cutting the first week of January. I am hoping to be done with post by the first week of February. Post production will be about 1/3 of the budget. One thing I learned from Love 10 to 1 is not to cheap out on post, that’s why almost 3 years later we have an unfinished film.

I am using the Holidays to focus on my next project. I feel I have enough experience to ask people to help fund my next film. I am researching crowdfunding  options because I can’t afford to fund another film by late 2011.

Thanks for reading and following the blog. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday.



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