Once upon a time I almost made it to the “big time” in the film industry. It was 2007 and I had just finished a post-graduate program at the Canadian Film Centre. And even more, I had managed to get a feature screenplay into the hands of an Oscar nominated, extremely prolific producer who loved my script. In my head I was already spending the six-figure script fee. I daydreamed meetings in LA with A-list agents. For me this was extra-exciting because, prior to getting into the CFC, I was entirely self-taught. I never went to film school. And, yet, here I was, on the brink of the big time.
My first short film, we rented a lighting kit “out of the back of a truck” – literally. A very, very sketchy dude named Scott and his rude girlfriend came by with a van load. He showed up 12 hours late (yes, 12) and almost pooched the shoot. At the end he showed up late to pick up his gear and tried to squeeze more money out of us. His gear was beat up and included (if I remember correctly) maybe 5 or 6 lights of various sorts. We had to build our own softboxes. We paid him $500 for the weekend.
Maybe I’m just a shop-a-holic and haven’t quite come to accept and admit it. But I think that – besides the advances in camera gear and the potential for internet distribution and marketing – e-commerce and e-shopping are disruptive elements in microbudget indie filmmaking.
I've shot two microbudget feature films plus a few no budget short films as well. Based on this experience I’ve decided that the one constant you can count on when shooting a microbudget film is endless surprises and endless improvisation. Let’s list some of them from the first week of shooting Fucking My Way Back Home (FMWBH) in 2015.
Having a full crew meeting on a microbudget film is absolutely key as the place to get the plan out to everyone, allow people to meet all together for the first time (they're about to embark on a really intense couple of weeks together - better to meet first in a moment of calm). It's also important as the place to clear up any questions or confusion. It's also an important learning experience for the filmmakers. Here's what we learned from our crew meeting days prior to our first feature.
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