Five years ago, I shot a short called Exubia. It was an idea that came to me as a pill that would make you happy forever; if such a pill existed, would you take it? I was really excited to make this film, and I was fortunate enough to get a producer to help me put it together.
Setting the stage.
When I was finally ready to shoot this film, a lot was going on in my life personally. I had no real income and I’d lost my apartment. Well, I probably shouldn’t say “lost it” because it’s still there today—they just wouldn’t let me live there because I wasn’t paying them the agreed-upon rent.
I got an internship at the Atlanta Film Festival—which I loved working. I was walking 45 minutes to the train errday to get to work, then had to take an additional one hour train ride. My phone was disconnected so I was using a Google Voice number; if you were lucky enough to call me when I was near WiFi you could talk to me but there was a three-second delay. It was like talking to a reporter during a war, but I wasn’t in Afghanistan, I was in Lawrenceville, GA. Fun times.
So when did I decide to shoot my film? A week before the festival, because I’m an idiot and I love stress.
This film was made with love. I couldn’t pay anyone—everyone did it because they wanted to help me make this film happen. Even though no one was being paid, I did have to feed people. A week prior to the shoot I didn’t have enough money to get food and the money I was expecting fell through. Two days prior to the shoot I told one of our lead actors in the film, Antrone, I was going to have to cancel the shoot. I wasn’t going to have people working 8 hours and not have food for them. But the indie film gods were watching over us and I got a check with back pay from the film festival. We were ready to shoot and we did. Did everything work perfectly? No, we had a day where we shot for 24 hours straight! It was crazy. No one was being paid but they stayed and I am so grateful for the cast and crew I had. Exubia isn’t a perfect film but I am proud of what we were able to produce. My producer Lynette White-Pierce was able to get an awesome crew of people to dedicate their time to make this film.
So now I’m putting together another crew, I’m excited because I will be making some short films, three to be exact. They will be back stories to the characters in my feature film.
Making films is f#@king fun! Please let me know what you think of the film, good or bad. I would love the feedback.
WHAT I LEARNED
• Rewrites, I should’ve kept rewriting the script. Some of the writing is too on the nose.
• Be with the actors. I had a great crew and instead of letting them handle moving equipment around I should have been sitting with actors in between shots.
• Control what’s in front of the camera. There’s a behind the scenes video of me motioning to an actor about something but I never said cut. I was too afraid of imposing myself on people. Kinda silly for a director to say that huh?
Indie Film Hustle: This podcast is great for indie filmmakers, I mean real indie filmmakers, not the ones that shoot $2.5 million films. It’s for filmmakers shooting under $100K. Alex Ferrari has educational and inspirational shit on his site. Everything a growing filmmaker needs to perfect their craft.
Just Shoot It Podcast: This podcast is great because it features two directors Matt Enlow and Oren Kaplan. They both work in Hollywood shooting television shows and commercials. They interview people in different parts of the film industry. They also give you some insight on what it is to be a director in Hollywood.
Don’t @ Me: Justin Simien is probably the rawest filmmaker on my list. He’s very direct and isn’t afraid to piss people off. You can probably see that in his Netflix show Dear White People, the spin-off from the movie with the same title. He interviews people like Ava (no last name needed) and Oscar Award-winning Director Berry Jenkins.
DGA Podcast: The big one! The Directors Guild of America interviews some of the best directors in Hollywood. This podcast is good for learning what feature film directors go through on their shoots.
No Film School: One of my favorite podcasts because they have so much information, festival submission dates, new technology updates, and interviews. Also, Ryan Koo did a case study on how he shot his first feature. It’s very informative for all of us trying to make films.
The Producers Guide: Film producer, Todd Garner hosts this podcast where he interviews producers and share stories on working in Hollywood.
WGA 3rd and Fairfax: The Writers Guild of America West produces this podcast and they interview showrunners, writers, and directors. I love this podcast because it features all kinds of writers, from indie to big budget films.
Please let me know what filmmaking podcasts you listen to in the comments below.