THE INDEPENDENT FILM EXPERIENCE:
INTERVIEWS WITH PRODUCERS AND DIRECTORS
THE INDENDENT FILM EXPERIENCE: INTERVIEWS WITH DIRECTORS AND PRODUCERS, available now from McFarland Publishers.
>> Place an order for the book
Interviewees included are:
Mark Borchardt [ interview ]
Bruce G. Hallenback
Ted V. Mikels
Dave Sterling [ interview ]
Mike Strain, Jr.
Independent filmmaking more often than not means doing without. There
have been many times that I have recounted the story about how pioneer black
filmmaker Oscar Micheaux was holding up a cue card for one of his budding
actresses who was having trouble with her lines, only to hear her spout, "No,
She had just read the screen direction as well as the line and it went
into the film that way -- he couldn't afford a retake.
Herschel Gordon Lewis, while making LUCKY PIERRE, knew that his 35mm
feature had to be at least 7200 ft long and only bought 8000 feet of film.
Just enough to cut off the slates and splice the remaining film together.
Nothing could be wasted.
Since most of the film was shot silent he gave his directions as the
cameras rolled. He told one nubile young starlet-in-training to "stretch"
like she was just waking up. She thought he said "scratch" and she started
scratching her sides like a chimpanzee.
It went in the film that way -- he couldn't afford a retake.
The bottom line is that sometimes you just have to do your best with what
you've got -- sometimes you just have to do without.
There was a time way back in 1977 when I was trying to shoot my first
color 16mm feature THE ALIEN DEAD out in the swamp country of Oviedo, Florida
and after driving all the way out there we discovered that the producer had
forgotten to bring the tape stock for the Nagra sound recorder. It was a
sixty-minute round-trip back to Orlando so off he went.
Becoming frustrated by the delay I decided to do what I thought was a
fairly drastic maneuver. I went into a guy's car and pulled out his
eight-track tape of Elvis hits and busted open the cassette, spooled Elvis
onto an empty reel and started shooting, using the eight-track tape (which
was 1/4 inch) as my recording stock. It worked.
Today things aren't so primitive and eight-tracks have been replaced by
compact disks. It's no longer necessary to drag around carloads of equipment
in order to record an image with sound.
Digital video is at the fingertips of anyone with a desire to create.
More and more consumer grade cameras are rendering professional quality video
and computers now make it possible to edit, title and mix complex sound works
-- all from your desktop.
With this sea of this technology accessible to the average Joe there
seems to be only a few things left to address -- mostly, how to actually make
a good project that people will enjoy watching -- even when they don't have
Now that the old saying "time is money" has been antiquated considerably
it is time to start thinking of the quality of what is being recorded.
It is time to start working out the use of over-the-shoulder shots, hand
inserts, close-ups, matching lens to distance for reverses. Explore lighting.
Just because you have an image in your viewfinder doesn't mean you've lit it
properly -- or creatively. Work on writing better scripts, use editing as
tool -- just as important a tool as scripting and shooting.
And read this book from cover to cover.
I've always said that if the independent video makers spent as much time
on what was ON THE TAPE as they did on creating the video box it comes in --
then they might really end up with something worthwhile.
Don't be so quick to want to be a star. The box can look great, but when
the program in it looks like hell, who cares. Take your time. Be your best.
And read this book from cover to cover.
FRED OLEN RAY - Director/Producer
"this is an invaluable reference source for fans of these low-rent auteurs, as well as anyone who's thinking about making a movie and wants a heads-up on the hell that awaits them." - FANGORIA
>> Ordering Information
>> Back to Books