FOOD COMMUNITY AND ENDURANCE ARE CRITICAL FOR MICRO-BUDGET FIRST FEATURES
How do you keep going, with limited resources, for a first feature film? That was the question posed to three Maritime film teams who recently completed first features, during a panel discussion, presented by Telefilm, at the Charlottetown Film Festival, Oct. 17th. All participants agreed that the production of a first feature is a real test of endurance. Harmony Wagner, director of Kooperman, (financed through Telefilm’s micro-budget program) stressed that you have to really believe in your story. Elaine Shannon and Danny Thebeau, producer and director of Owl River Runners, shot their film in 14 days, mostly at night, and had to raise $10,000 as part of the IndieCan 10k Challenge. The script for the New Brunswick film was one of six scripts selected for the inaugural filmmaking challenge. They used their production van to offer advertising to N.B. firms, received payment in gas cards and made these available to their cast and crew. They also used their creativity to get donations and offer both products and experiences (including mug shots for most wanted posters) - as part of their successful Indiegogo campaign.
“Food is really important; you have to feed people well.” says Elaine Shannon, who described her role as craft services/producer. Harmony Wagner and her partner, producer Jason Rogerson provided hot meals to their Kooperman crew every day after shooting was compete; they considered it important to sustain the team. Community support was also crucial for all three productions. Kevin Kincaid, producer for North Mountain, filmed in Nova Scotia, told of a flat tire generously and mysteriously replaced in a small community, homeowners willing to trust that their shovels would be returned and local authorities happy to help with burning down an abandoned shack. Lessons learned? Kevin Kincaid, having benefitted enormously from his editor’s work, would in future bring in an editor early in the creative process. Elaine Shannon, who came to film-making late in her career: “Follow your passion.” Danny Thebeau, who hired a script editor from LA: “Sometimes you need a fresh pair of eyes. “ Bretten Hannam, director of North Mountain: ‘Find the right creative people and be flexible and adaptive.”