This is the story of how we made a feature film for very little money, in very little time.
In autumn 2012, we made a 2 minute film called House Cocktail. It won a few awards and even the big man upstairs, no not HIM, Harvey Weinstein called it “a fantastic, entertaining short.” We then had something of a lightbulb moment. Harvey Weinstein likes us! He doesn’t like anybody! This is a sign! We should make a feature film!
We even had an idea. But – even with a conservative estimate – it was going to cost several hundred thousand pounds to make. So what do you do? You write the script, have a few hundred meetings, try to convince people to invest all that money, and maybe – just maybe – 3 to 5 years later you have your completed first feature film. Bollocks. To. That.
Call us crazy, call us impatient, call us stubborn. On 1st January 2013 we came up with a different idea. A simple idea. SET. A. DATE.
A date where, come what may, we would press the big red record button on the first day of shooting. If that happened to be on an iPhone and we were playing all the parts ourselves in a series of bad wigs then that was our movie. That date was 26th June, 2013. Six months.
Six months to hone an idea that could be done on a shoestring, to write a script, to get some actors, some equipment, maybe even a crew crazy enough to join us.
By the end of March we had a first draft. By mid-May we had what we thought was a workable script. But, with a little over a month to go to until our self-imposed D-Day, we had no cast, no crew, and no equipment. This was a ridiculous idea. The naysayers were right – it couldn’t be done.
But we’d been telling everyone we knew that we were making a film. And I don’t like losing things, especially my face. Then, just as we were contemplating which one of us would look passable as a leading lady, a turning point.
On May 17th, we got an e-mail – we had our lead actors. The Pajama Men. And with them, we also had a little momentum. Suddenly, our rickety old train was pulling out of the station. Within 2 weeks, the rest of the cast had jumped board and we were hurtling towards day one of shooting. The bluff was starting to work. People actually believed we were doing this. And that’s what it dawned us. Shit. We are actually doing this.
The same thing soon started to happen with crew. And equipment. The shoot was just 2 and a half weeks. We weren’t asking for much time. Yes, we now needed a little money but with what we could cobble together ourselves and some generous investment from the guys at Steam Media we thought we could just about make it work. As long as nothing went wrong.
So we’d made to D-Day. June 26th, 2013. Day One of the shoot. A fantastic cast, a fancy camera, and an almost 30 strong crew. We pressed record. The shoot had begun. The hard bit was done. Wasn’t it?
But no one had told us how crazy it was to try and shoot a feature film in 16 days. For tales of bad weather, last minute pull-outs and a crew vomiting bug, tune in next time…