Why Make Small Movies?
Over the last year I’ve been asked again and again why I put my time and effort into creating three films (two shorts and a mini-feature) with little money or time at my disposal? After all, the films did not feature any well-known actors, had tiny budgets and were shot in a combined total of seven days. As I think about these questions, I too see the difficulty in understanding the logic of such endeavors.
However, the whole process of creating these films was to explore the potential of filmmaking in a completely new way. If this process proved successful, Breadline would use it as a blueprint for future, larger projects. They were also the perfect projects to build a bridge between Breadline Productions and its actor training program (PAI Training). The three films used the skills of over a dozen professional actors from the training program. These actors possess talent, technique and passion, but lacked the chance to test their craft on an actual shoot.
When the time came, each actor gave everything to the process. There were no actor conflicts, egos, or insecurities on the set. The trust they had for one another was extended to everyone working behind the cameras. They understood the larger, common purpose and did whatever necessary to better the artists working around them. Ultimately, they are now able to bring the joy of our harmonious process to every film and TV set on which they work.
I collaborated with Juri Film and Director of Photography, Rene Júng on all three films. By circumstance and necessity, we had to create a clear, concise Director/DP language during the shooting process that allowed us to compensate for lack of time. Because of the extreme limitations of the shooting days, we learned how to “create” together with heightened pressures all around us.
As the saying goes, a film is made in editing, so it was crucial to develop the right personal and professional synergy with an editor. Through unplanned events, I ended up working with two different editors on these projects. One editor I’d already worked with on a previous feature, and the other was on recommendation. This experience provided a fantastic revelation about my personal expectations in the cutting process. I learned how essential it is to have the same synergy in the cutting room as I had on the set.
These projects also provided me the chance to work more in depth with film composer, Chris Cash. Chris had composed music for Breadline Theatre Group back in Chicago, and also was the composer for the feature film I directed, Brothers Three. However, we knew there would be a lot more to learn about one another through collaborating on three additional projects.
These endeavors not only solidified my opinion of Chris’ talent but also helped us find an even deeper level of communication. By the third project, the temporary music he sent was a near perfect fit for the final cut without Chris ever seeing one frame of any rough edits.
In the journey of these three films, I was attempting to answer, for myself, why I should make small movies? Ultimately, the answers became self-evident every step of the process. With the advantage of familiarity and common experience, lack of time cannot break the rhythm and focus of a filmmaking team. As time is saved, the overall budget is reduced. With a lowered budget, there is less risk for an investor and more potential of creative and financial success for everyone.
With a cohesive team firmly in place and battle tested, Breadline Productions is ready to apply this model to projects of all sizes. Of course there will be many others that join the process going forward, yet it excites me that they’ll be additions to the solid foundation now under Breadline Productions.