Snooty. Snooty? Snotty. Snotty? Snob. Straight up, indie filmmakers get enough flack from the rest of the world for their career choice. They shouldn’t have to get it from fellow indie filmmakers. Bottom line. Hands down.
When someone decides that they’re going to take on the venture of making an independent film it’s pretty much like deciding to build an ark. There’s no “easy” way to go about it. The process has many pitfalls and problems that the team will have to face with the production process. However, the one problem that indie filmmakers shouldn’t have to put up with is fellow indie filmmakers not supporting them along the way.
Having made my first feature, which took two-and-a-half years to complete, it has become apparent to me that an already “established” (in their own minds, at the very least) group of American indie filmmakers seem to only want to pay attention to the stuff that they and their friends work on, or what some people call “faux-indie” — projects with way bigger budgets, that are outside of major studios. These are the folks who have worked on or made a few films, and have somehow been able to corner the American Internet niche on indie film-making. They’re the ones who run all of the most popular indie film websites, who seem to have all this expert, formulaic advice on how to make an indie flick. These folks are the people who cover all of the “indie film” news and reviews (except yours, because you’re not friends).
There is a problem here. The problem a lot of truly independent filmmakers face is getting their stuff out to the public. And the problem is that if they don’t have a huge marketing budget, if they’ve (let’s say) made a flick for ten grand and have nothing leftover to actually show people there’s a film someone may want to watch, then the only way they can do that is to use these “indie film” sites. Sure there’s the festival circuit, and word-of-mouth, but those two things don’t guarantee you getting your film out there en masse. But, there’s a catch. These sites will only watch your film if you PAY THEM to, and even then you’re not guaranteed they’ll even mention it anywhere. Are these people actually filmmakers, or are they just out to bamboozle you out of your money so they can keep up their profiles as “supposed” experts in the field?
Here’s a question: Why can’t these people be both filmmakers and Internet entrepreneurs? Kevin Smith does it. Granted he’s not really in charge of writing reviews for others’ films, but you get the point.
The solution comes to me as this:
It is imperative, as artists, to be supportive of other artists — especially when working in the same medium. Someone may be well versed, and book-smart, in film theory, but they may have never made a fucking film in their lives. They have no practical experience. Those people? They need to shut their fucking mouths.
Those of you who run large “independent” film sites? Loosen the fuck up. We understand you’re probably making your living from selling advertisements and charging people just to watch their film, but if you are really “indie” filmmakers then you’d make time for the guy that just shot a black and white feature in a week for two grand. People have to start somewhere. And, please remember that YOU DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING. I don’t. Nobody does.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I CAN SAY TO INDIE FILMMAKERS IS THIS: Don’t be a snob. We’re in this thing together. Introduce yourselves. Help promote each other’s work. Work for free because you love it (if it isn’t what you’re trying to make a career of). Hold a light or a boom. Talk to each other online and over coffee.
Too often we think of ourselves as “better” than someone who is trying to accomplish the same things we are — to make a film that is meaningful to people. If you’re not in it for that reason, you’re not in it for the right ones.
One Fish films has launched its latest project on Hatchfund for funding. ‘Circle, Michigan’, an hour-long television pilot, is looking to raise $2500 for its initial production costs.
The follow up to Croyle’s feature film, ‘Potential Inertia’, ‘Circle, Michigan’ will also shoot in Venango County, Pennsylvania.
All contributions are tax deductible. For more information, or to make a pledge, please visit: http://www.hatchfund.org/project/circle_michigan_one_hour_tv_pilot
(OIL CITY, PA) – With the worldwide release of Matt Croyle’s first feature film, his production company, One Fish Films, has released the shooting script version of the original screenplay for the film. People are now able to download and read the screenplay for free.
The screenplay is located here: PotentialInertia-ShootingScriptPDF
The film is available worldwide at: http://potentialinertia.vhx.tv and http://www.indiereign.com/videos/potential-inertia
With 99.95% of my first feature shot, I thought I would give some personal tips on how to actually get believable performances from your actors. And while this may sound like a pretty simple task — “Just say the lines.” or “Give me a bit more sadness behind it.” — it definitely is not a simple thing at all. I will explain why it isn’t so simple, and then I will give you some tricks I, myself, was able to use on my feature, ‘Potential Inertia’.
SUBJECTIVITY & PERCEPTION
As a director, you have to ask yourself: “What is believable and what isn’t?” The answer is: It’s subjective. I think one has to truly grasp what kind of film they are actually making. Is it a comedy? Is it a drama? All types of films require all types of acting — “styles” if you will. However, regardless of genre, even if it’s an “over-the-top” comedy, all performances must be believable to an audience if the audience is going to be willing to come along with you for a ride.
What is “real” actually starts with the writer. It is how the writer writes the characters themselves. What is real in the world of the character may not necessarily be real to the audience.
For example: In ‘Dumb and Dumber’, Harry and Lloyd are not very realistic characters to an audience. They’re portrayed as cartoonish embellishments of what low intelligence would be — brilliant comedic acting by Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels, but they seem not very plausible in real-life. However, every other character in the film is just like you and me. These are not only choices by the writer, for writing such fantastic lines, but also the direction that has been given to every actor on set. The normality of the supporting characters embellishes, even more, the absurdity in the direction that was given to Carrey and Daniels — and we’re willing to “believe” them as being “real” because the reality is subjective to the characters themselves.
The actor must make choices — or have those choices made for them — that would best interpret how that character would physically react or vocalize given a specific situation(s). The director’s job is to make sure their vision of said situation(s) translates to an audience in the most realistic way possible. If the audience can’t connect, or buy into the reality of what they are seeing, then it’s ultimately the director’s fault.
THE EXPERIENCE FACTOR
So, how exactly does one go about getting their actors to pull off this remarkable feat of morphing themselves into what you want and need from them? How do you get your actors to be “real”? How do you get your actors to be “believable”?
Every actor is a different monster, and I say ‘Monster’ in a very loving way. I’m also an actor, so I know what it feels like to be molded, scorned, twisted, praised, rewarded, and the plethora of feelings that come with the job. But, as a director I must realize that each person I’m directing is different. Each has different experience. Each has a different process they use to get into character.
In my first feature film, ‘Potential Inertia’, the experience of my actors runs the gamut. I have had to direct people who have been leads in previous independent features, people who have been background and supporting roles in major Hollywood movies, and people who have had no acting experience in their entire lives.
My actors with experience on stage, screen, or both, all have their own processes. For those folks, it was imperative that I made clear what kind of film this was to be — the tone, the level of intensity or urgency for each scene, and the fact that I didn’t want their lines to sound inelastic. And with those experienced folks I was able to allow a level of trust that veteran actors deserve, because they are the ones that can understand the structure of a scene. They are the one’s who you really need to mentor those lacking the time spent in front of an audience. Regardless, each of those actors have individual processes, and as a director it is my responsibility, again, to understand each process by itself, be able to explain what I want to coincide with each process, and be able to find a cohesive way to mesh each actor together with another.
It can be extremely fun or totally frustrating to direct an actor who has never been in front of a camera before. They are extremely aware of the camera itself. They are not sure of themselves, or what to expect from a more experienced actor they have to do a scene with. It is a real test to put someone on screen who hasn’t the slightest clue of what they are doing.
I have knack at “seeing” people. I mean, really seeing who they are. Not all extroverts make good actors. Not all introverts can’t be actors. However, all “passionate” people can. I believe putting someone who is a passionate person in front of the camera for their first role will be a better idea than putting someone there who isn’t one.
The following notes are a bit of advice I have for those directors trying to get believable performances from their actors. These notes are a direct result of trying to make my first feature film as conversationally believable as possible using both veteran and rookie actors. I hope you all find them useful.
- Always remember that every actor has a different process, especially those veterans you have in your cast.
- Let the words in the script work for you, and not against you. If you need to give an actor a line reading, especially the rookies, do not be afraid to do so in the most polite manner possible. Let your actors play, but if they’re not giving you the delivery you want, make sure you show them what you need.
- Make sure your actors understand what each scene is about, and what is happening both on the surface and underneath it. Scene study with your actors can be a valuable tool when your actors are making decisions while the camera is rolling. If they don’t know why they’re saying something, if they don’t know their motivation, then there will be no focus or purpose in the delivery of their dialogue.
- Remind your actors to BREATHE. Breathing is imperative to coming across as believable. People breathe when they speak.
- Remind your actors to NOT RUSH their lines (unless rushing their lines is a character trait, or the scene calls for it).
- Let your actors veer slightly off script, perhaps to say their lines in their own way. Unless a specific line MUST be included in the story fully intact, sometimes letting your actors take a more personal approach to delivering them results in a more conversational result.
- Prepare them for the intensity or lack thereof in each scene.
I think it is important as a director to remember that each set is different, along with each script, and one must always take those two factors into consideration when looking at what is ‘real’ and ‘believable’. Please remember that your actors are an extension of you, and your vision, for what the film will ultimately be. Work WITH them, have fun WITH them, and communicate WITH them.
COPYRIGHT (C) 2014 MATT CROYLE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
As I near completion of my first feature film, I’ve learned quite a few things about what not to do while making one. If you’re considering making a movie, here are five important things you must never do.
1. DO NOT SHOOT WITHOUT A FINISHED SCRIPT
While ad-libbing scenes can be a fun and creative way to create scenes with actors, and while there have been some great flicks made by simply having a treatment or outline, this is not how you want to make your first film. Chances are the actors you can afford to cast are not the wonderfully trained ad-libbers they think they are. The more structured — your first filmmaking experience is — the better.
Also, shoot the script. Shoot what is written on the page. Anything else can be done in pickups or re-shoots. The bulk of the performances on your first film will be shaped entirely in the editing room.
2. DO NOT HIRE PEOPLE FOR YOUR FILM THAT CAN’T COMMIT THE TIME TO DO IT
When you are making your first film people will have a tendency to view it as some sort of hobby or extracurricular activity — even those folks you ask to come aboard, to be part of it. Until they see some progress, or a rough cut, most won’t see it as a serious endeavor. Do NOT bring people into your project that aren’t going to be available on days you need them. That family day at the amusement park should have to wait until you get the shots you need. The actress who can’t find a babysitter needs to find one, and show the fuck up when she’s called to set.
3. DO NOT USE ON-CAMERA AUDIO
Audio is the most important part of your first feature, because chances are it’s not going to be a cinematic masterpiece. It’s going to be a stepping stone. Clean, external, audio will make your production stand out next to the kid shooting his on the camcorder. According to one of the board members at SXSW, clean audio makes a huge difference in whether or not a film is chosen to screen there, regardless of what it looks like. In other words: Your movie can look like crap, but as long as it has clean audio, that people can hear, and isn’t distracting, your movie is already better than one that looks amazing except for the fact that people can’t hear anything.
4. DO NOT ALWAYS RELY ON EXISTING LIGHT
This is a given, especially with DSLR technology. Some cameras are great in low light, but sometimes you have to light the shit out of things in order to get that clean digital look. This can always be adjusted in post by adjusting gamma, brightness, and contrast. Light, light, light.
5. DO NOT KILL YOURSELF
Making movies is a very difficult thing to do. Your first flick should be super-fun and engaging, but do not beat yourself up over things you can’t control. Making movies is fun. And if it becomes not fun, then you should probably find something else to do with your time. Relax. Enjoy the process. Good luck.
Copyright © 2014 Matt Croyle. All Rights Reserved.
(OIL CITY, PA) – Erica L’huillier, Copy Editor of The Derrick and The News Herald, recently sat down with ‘Potential Inertia’ writer/director Matt Croyle to ask him some questions about his upcoming debut feature film. ‘Potential Inertia’, which is being shot in Venango County, is due to be available for the festival circuit this Summer.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYBW6PW694M]
EL: Why should people watch your film?
MC: Why? That’s a simple, but really good question that can’t be answered as simply as it’s asked. Well, there are a few reasons. Firstly, I think we have a solid, meaningful story to tell. A lot of my writing deals with loss, and this story is something that everyone can relate to since we all have to deal with it at many different junctions of our lives. I guess we tend to forget, sometimes, that we all share the human condition. Hopefully, this story, this film, can give its audience a sense that they’re all experiencing something together — both in viewing the movie, and outside of it. Secondly, I think people like movies, especially movies that are different from ones they are used to seeing. This isn’t your typical “Hollywood” film. Thirdly, I think people should watch our film because a group of very talented people all came together to make something that we all truly believe in — to tell a story we all believe in. They’ve worked very hard, and I don’t feel that their efforts should go unseen.
EL: What makes it different from what audiences are used to seeing?
MC: It’s different in a lot of ways, but in ways that are not typically noticeable on a first viewing. The obvious difference is that it’s in black and white. Not too many feature films are made in black and white today. This was a conscious choice. People are definitely going to notice that there’s a lot of dialogue, and a lot of times not too much camera movement, flashy lens flares, as things like that take away or distract the audience from dialogue whether they realize it or not. I think stripping it down, making it black and white, keeping camera movement to a minimum really helps keep the focus on what the characters are saying. I shoot a lot in closeups, as well. It gives the film a more intimate feel. I’m not saying I’ll shoot everything I do like I’m shooting this film, but it works for this particular story. One major difference between ‘Potential Inertia’ and your “typical” Hollywood script is that while it follows a conventional three-act structure, the rising and falling of action just isn’t there. I never wanted it to be. This is a story of loss, so I wanted to come on this journey with Declan as he repeatedly experiences loss in many ways. Luckily there is some comic relief in the film, otherwise someone would probably end up wanting to put a gun in their mouth by the end of it.
EL: If you could start over, would you do anything differently?
MC: That’s a very difficult question to answer. The short answer would be, “Yes.” I’m sure there are plenty of little things that we’re doing that could be streamlined. I’m sure the whole process of pre-production on my next film will be completely different. With this feature we’re kind of winging it with locations as we close in on post. I think there would be some value in having those locations locked, in taking time for rehearsals in those places. The thing with this film is that it feels “real” because it is. I’m pretty much putting my actors in those places for the first time, rolling camera, and letting them go. Each scene feels new to them. And while that’s good for this movie, it may not be good for every movie. This is a very grounded, organic film in many ways. Projects that I’m developing will need to take a different approach because they have a completely different feel to them.
EL: What has been the most challenging part of making ‘Potential Inertia’?
MC: The hardest parts of making this film have been two things: Logistics and Sound. It’s really been a logistical nightmare, and I’ve said that all along. When your actors are not getting paid, have real jobs, and real lives, and they’re trying to come from Jamestown, Pittsburgh, and these places over a hundred miles away – just to shoot for a day – it can get strenuous and time-consuming. That’s the main reason it’s taken us this long to make the film. The upside is that we’re almost finished, and they’ve dedicated themselves to making this movie happen regardless of the time frame. The other real challenge has been sound editing. I did learn lot about it shooting ‘Monster’ but it’s always tough, and so important. I’m doing everything myself, which is important on a first feature, because then I can really feel that the film is mine. Anything anyone loves, I can take credit for. Anything anyone hates, I can take the blame for and try to correct it on my next project. Plus, in doing as much as I can myself, I get a better understanding of the overall process of making a feature. I have a hand in everything, and it prepares me better for whatever projects I will work on in the future.
EL: Why ‘Potential Inertia’? Why this story?
MC: I was at a point in my life where it just seemed right that I make it. Loss is something we all share in, and it’s truly universal. It fascinates me how everyone seems to deal with it differently. The story is very much me, an internal reflection of myself. It just felt right to remind people they’re not always alone when they lose something or someone.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE VISIT POTENTIAL INERTIA ONLINE AT: http://potentialinertia.onefishfilms.com
Interview Copyright © 2014 One Fish Films. All Rights Reserved.
(OIL CITY, PA) – Today, One Fish Films announced its plans to to shoot its first episodic pilot. The previously untitled project now has a title: “Circle, Michigan”. No immediate details about the plot are available, but it will be written, directed, and star One Fish Films’ Creative Director, Matt Croyle. One Fish films released the title card for the pilot upon the announcement.
Filming will take place this Winter, in Venango County, in western Pennsylvania. All media inquiries are to contact One Fish Films at: 814.319.5581 – or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve toyed with the idea of revisiting my web series ‘Monster‘. We’re all constantly, regardless of whether we want to admit it or not, looking inward to figure out exactly who we are – some more than others. ‘Monster’ enabled me to travel to Los Angeles in early 2012, was fun to shoot, and was such a productive and freeing way to let me share my feelings with everyone who watched. It was a very positive project for me in many ways.
As an ever-evolving person, change in my life is inevitable. The loss of my father really made me want to say something about it. ‘Monster’ seemed the most viable path to saying what I need to say – not only to myself, but to everyone else. An Epilogue episode was planned last month. I was reluctant to write, because I didn’t know exactly what, or how, to talk about what has happened to these faux-fictional characters in the past year. But, the other night, in a writing frenzy, I finished up a fifteen-page script that I hope says something to people. It felt good to write it.
We will launch the epilogue episode of ‘Monster’ this weekend. It’s entitled ‘Until I Can’t Breathe’. I hope you all enjoy it.
The episode will launch on the official ‘Monster’ Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/monsterseries
Please give the page a “like”, and thanks again for the continued support.
This is a side by side comparison of scene 26 from the upcoming feature film, POTENTIAL INERTIA, and the original draft of the script.
“It’s an interesting process when you’re both writing and directing a film. You come to realize that you could be an immense prick, and make the actors say the lines exactly as written (which in some cases wouldn’t make you a prick), or you could let your actors feel the lines out the way they want to – give them a little space to work,” said writer / director Matt Croyle.
He added, “This is a look at a rough cut of scene twenty-six along side the actual script. It’s kind of fun to watch.”
POTENTIAL INERTIA is scheduled to be released in early 2014, and is finishing up principal photography.
For more info, please visit the official site: HERE.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srFsUTPCnjA]
Some people think it’s a game, making movies. Hollywood studios make it a game – a numbers game, a money game, a popularity contest. Sometimes the independent filmmakers, the folks making flicks outside of studios, make it a game too. Which, in itself, is all “fine and dandy” to protect your product, create suspense. I get it. Don’t give your flick away before your flick is ready. However, I’ve been getting a lot of flak recently from some folks – in the industry and not – about how I’m handling my picture (my first feature film) before it’s even completed.
I’ll get questions like: “Why are you releasing so many stills?” “Why do you have so many teasers out?” “Why is there a trailer before the film is finished?”
My answer? Because I can. And, not simply because I can, but because I want to. I want to engage with my audience, those people who are helping me make this picture through funding, being on set, spreading the word – those people should share in what the picture is becoming, and they should be able to see what it is becoming. I think the more open we are about our process, the more people will be willing to open their hearts and wallets to our film – if not now, then in the long run. Nobody likes a “snooty” filmmaker, and there are plenty of them out there to go around. I’m enjoying letting people learn the process of making a feature along with me, and if that inspires and/or helps someone make their first film then that’s just awesome. That’s icing on the proverbial cake. (I’m not sure if I just used the word ‘proverbial’ correctly, but I don’t care.)
It’s a lot easier to be open as an independent filmmaker than if I was to be, say, under a studio contract. That’s a total different ballgame. Sure, the money would be awesome, but it doesn’t let me engage an audience the way I would like to, with the content I would like to.
I been asked, “What do you think other independent filmmakers think about how you’re going about this?” I haven’t really been able to answer that question until now. My answer is: “I don’t care.” I’m sure some of them think it’s annoying, or that I’m “giving too much away”, or that I’m being too self-righteous; patting myself on the back. Sure, part of this flick is about me. It’s been mine since the get-go, but it’s ultimately everyone else’s when it’s done – and that’s what’s important.
So, I’m going to continue to do my best to be open with everyone as we push toward completion, and I hope everyone stays interested. Major thanks to those who have showed us support so far. We’re getting there, and we’re right there with you.
Check out our official site.