Pretty Cheapy - Part One

[youtube=] Things are progressing nicely on all fronts. I took a break from writing/meetings/blogging for a few days to spend time with family and enjoy some copious amounts of snow.  As always, I'm happy to be back at it.

As I mentioned in an early post, a large part of this feature was spawned from my short film, Pretty Happy.  That film serves as a springboard to my upcoming feature, both in  a literary sense as well as a production model. Over the next couple posts, I'll walk through that process to give a feel for exactly how "independent" a film can be. At the end, I'll try to go through what worked and what didn't work and why.

Pretty Happy began as a short scene between two characters and quickly developed into a simple, small story arc.  I had already done a few short films before this and at larger budgets. The cost of those films ranged from $3,000 to $9,000. As many of you know, short films rarely earn any meaningful distribution or revenue, so this just ends up being an investment in production value. Some of my shorts were really good and some of them were really bad, but the audience never cared how much I spent on them. In fact, the most expensive one was a real dud. My own private Waterworld (or The Watchmen). For these reasons, I decided I would use Pretty Happy as a bit of a test for myself to see how cheaply I could make a short film. If it turned out to be a good movie, great. If it turned out to be crap, then I wasn't in the hole for much money, and hopefully I learned something.

I decided on a budget of $1500. Most of that money went to renting a Red One camera but it also got me a sound recordist, catering, props,  and a few high watt light bulbs. The only real "paid" person on set was the sound guy, otherwise I called in favors from friends.  My producer/friend, Ryan Young, and I wore multiple hats. I was the Cinematographer and Ryan made sure I was on schedule and people were fed.

We planned very thoroughly and storyboarded everything. Ultimately, we shot over 12 pages in less than two days. We got every shot we wanted, and even added a few along the way once we discovered a furniture dolly in the hallway that we could use for tracking shots.

We got it in the can for a about $1450. The next step was to learn how to edit.

To be continued...