My first feature film was shot in 1998 while between jobs. It was now or never, and my wife and I agreed it was time. As they say put up or shut-up. I had placed an add in Backstage for actors, and got a ton of responses. Culling down all the responses to people I wanted to invite to audition seemed Herculean, but some how I managed to get some actors in for audition. I rented an audition place in NYC and set a date. I videotaped everyone who came and was not surprised at the talent that should up. I finally arrived at who I wanted and contacted them. What was next was to set a date for the beginning of filming. One of the hardest things I had to do. I needed to hire the rest of the crew, and solidify a date to the beginning of filming.
It is one of the most important things you can do. Set the date. Make it real. Make reservations on where cast and crew were staying, contact SAG, and set up a payroll account for all. After all it’s show business, and filmmaking is a business, so that’s how I went about it. This is pre-internet days. Now things are at your finger tips, but back then you had to call people, and get the wheels in motion. This is where I learned about the business of making a films. Insurance, permits, catering, lodging, and travel all had to be done. I know you’re thinking this doesn’t sound like guerrilla filmmaking, and you would be right. I knew what not to do, and that was try and short shift the talent. The guys and gals in my cast and crew were paid, and I received a limited low budget agreement from SAG, so I could do a limited theatrical which included film festivals.
I shot for 11 days with a very minimal crew. I kind of over reached, and should have found others to help, but money dictates all, and hence it was the only way I could go.
Working with the actors was a joy, and my crew went the extra mile. How did I do this? I got professionals. I paid what I could, feed them and housed them. Simple as that. My pet peeve in the entertainment industry is the under-cutting of salaries from the crew to the cast. You get what you pay for, and in this case I got a great bunch of talent for very little.
The downside was that I over-extended myself. It took me awhile to cut the film together, and do the soundtracks. By 2003 I had a finished film, and a DVD. I never got it into festivals, and soon ran out of money to continue to do so. I was content to distribute it myself through a company that has since folded. It sold several units, but I still have several units leftover. I did get offered a tentative distribution deal from dubious distributor, but that did not happen because the terms were ridiculous. I was not going to relinquish my world wide rights in perpetuity for a film I sweated and toiled over for so long. No regrets though. It was a great experience, and one I hope to do again. This time smarter and wiser.
The good thing is that I filmed “Deadly Obsessions” in film. Though 16mm I can still go into the negative and rescan it for HD. Maybe someday, or perhaps someone may offer to do that for me for a piece of the pie. Right now I’m looking at digital downloads on such places as i-tunes, and or Amazon. It takes money to make money, and right now I’m perfectly fine telling everyone I am a feature film director and producer, and I can point to “Deadly Obsessions” and say we did our best and we are all proud of it.