Indie Filmmaking for Screenwriters: Part I The Beginning

I’m making a movie.  It’s called Masters of Romance.  Filmmakers like to tell you how hard it is to get a movie made and it can be; I’ve experienced it.  But let me tell you, this movie-making experience has far exceeded any I have ever had in that it just is all falling nicely into place.  I had no money, no plan, not even any attachment to what I was doing.  We shoot in 10 days.

It is so far the best thing I have ever done.

I haven’t written a post in sometime and that is because I felt I had nothing to share.  I wanted to be certain this film was actually going to get made before I mentioned it to you.  Now that I know it is, I can proudly tell you all about it!

This film has been in the making for a year or for a lifetime, depending on how you look at it.  When does an idea start?  A project start?  A passion begin?  The idea for this film came to me in a simple form at first a year ago.  I wanted to write a simple two-hander that could be shot anywhere on a shoestring.  I had this idea of two former high school sweethearts reuniting but they couldn’t be together despite wanting to.  All summer I let the idea simmer until one day after TIFF I was telling another filmmaker about my idea and I heard myself explain why I hadn’t written it yet.  Essentially, I had made it into a bigger deal than it was.

That night I went home and started writing.  I wrote twenty pages in the first sitting.  Six days later (not consecutive) the first draft was finished and I liked it!  But I had the idea that this was going to be a simple ACTRA co-op film I was going to produce Edward Burns style and so I contacted a couple of actor friends of mine to offer them parts.

The story involved just four actors.  I added another female to meet the Bechdel test requirements and I added another male to balance out the relationships.  One of my actors pointed out a flaw in my story and it helped me see how it could be improved.  In fact, a friend read it and suggested multiple endings and that led me to think, “what if the multiple endings were spread out through the story instead of all at the end?”  The result was a fun, original approach to a romantic comedy that could still be shot on a shoestring.

It took about six months to get the cast in place and so I gave it two months to produce.  I had a cinematographer attached and a couple of people on the marketing side, but that was it.  I didn’t think it was going to be such a grand production, but that’s because I had originally expected to be able to finance the film myself.  The budget went up and then it went down as we made drastic cuts.  But the best thing I ever did was decide to open the film up to the community.

I brought on a team of close to twenty people to help with promotion, fundraising, partners and crew to help produce and promote the film.  We quickly secured locations and everyone we have spoken with has been incredibly supportive and generous.  The main purpose for producing this film is to help attract and build the film industry in my hometown Oshawa, Ontario.  The film takes place in downtown Oshawa and the region is actively building the film industry here so that certainly helps.

The main thing that has helped keep this project going is my detachment from it.  In previous projects I was so attached emotionally that I couldn’t let go of how I wanted it to be made.  With this project, I still have a clear vision, but I have no hard timeline, no hard decisions and if someone isn’t right for the project, they fade away and we find someone who is.  It honestly has been the easiest, most fun thing I have ever done.

Stay tuned and I will update you on the progress of my film, Masters of Romance as we enter into production.  Next time I will write about the pre-production phase.

For more information on my film you can visit www.mastersofromancemovie.com or find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  If you would like to show your support, I would be overjoyed at your contribution.  www.gofundme.com/mastersofromance

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