A lot of this is covered in the podcast, so head over there to get the full scoop. Suffice it to say, Frank and I got hooked up and what I saw was a guy so touched by the people and small vacation town of Ludington that he wanted to make a full-length movie about it.
He had a full budget written out and I’d get seven of it to figure out how to bring it to life – with what gear. We’d have about two full weeks to shoot with at least one actor we knew would be leaving the state of Michigan immediately after Principal Photography. We also had zero other people with experience in film, let-alone production, aside from myself. All of this was explained to me over lunch at J. Alexander’s (my favorite place in metro to be treated).
I only had one question for Frank:
“Why don’t we make it a short first?”
His answer was, “No.”
I finished my string-fries and held my breath…
Technically, I was hired on as Director of Photography. The reality of low budget filming is, of course, you’ll be wearing multiple hats. The reality of THIS low budget film was, I was the only one who has ever worn any hats on any set so…I wear all of them?
A lot of this was basically me sharing everything I knew of every department on a film set and hoping the people involved could catch on and carry the torch further into the tunnel.
Because this would be my first feature in the DP position, I wanted to do it right. This meant moving up to Ludington and spending months getting to know the city, shooting B-Roll, and donating the rest of my time to the script and technical prep.
When it finally came down to Principal Photography, I had launched our website, social media, supervised all of the other marketing, helped organize the shoot days, and even found us two actors who would fill out the cast but, even better, act as support for me on set.