Filmmakers, Ben Woollen and Scott Granville talk to IndieReign about their films; Pride of Caldwell and Lily White as well as sharing some great tips for other filmmakers including their camera of choice to make top indie films.
Ben and Scott are dear friends of the IndieReign team and I can honestly say that these are a couple of top directors that have some invaluable advice to share with other filmmakers in our interview. Take a look at what the lads had to say about their experiences making films, filmmakers and films they find inspiring plus heaps more – take note people!
What were some challenges that you faced when making these films and how did you overcome them?
Funding is always a major obstacle when beginning any new project but the most constructive way to get around this obstacle is to work with people who are willing to actively participate in our films. As any no-budget filmmaker can attest to, it is important to surround yourself with like-minded hardworking people. They often give their valuable time for little more than a hot meal, a beer and couch to crash on. We hope that in the near future we will be able to offer these same people paid opportunities for their skills and expertise.
What was it that fed your passion for film?
It’s the same old story, loved movies as a child and wanted to be Han Solo… well truthfully I was young so I really wanted to be Luke Skywalker. Then came the teenage years and I discovered horror movies. It wasn’t so much the movie I was fascinated with; it was how they made it. I loved the work of John Carl Buechler (check out his IMDb, some amazing 80′s flicks in that list) and really got into effects makeup. It’s amazing how many times you can get out of class with a little bit of fake blood and latex. Then came University and David Lynch, and the effectiveness of story, and character, and depth and EVERYTHING.
You have to love it and really dedicate yourself to making films on a regular basis, and to keep making them for a long time. There’s nothing quite like being on set and creating something with other people.
What is your camera of choice for making low budget films, and why?
I love the Alexia, but it’s expensive, far too expensive for us at this point in time. The RED cameras are also great. We used the RED ONE on Lily White and the RED Scarlett on our latest short film, and a feature film I DP’d at the end of last year for a friend of mine, Joe Hitchcock (who’s film The North Pole Deception is on IndieReign). We used the Canon 5D for Pride of Caldwell, our new addition to the IndieReign catalogue. I use a Canon 60D a lot for smaller projects, usually with a Pentax SMC 50mm 1.4 – best cheap prime on the market in my opinion. It’s different cameras for different jobs really. For the look, I would love to shoot with the Arri Alexa, for ease of use and affordability; we use a RED and/or DSLR’s.
Based on your experience, what are three bits of advice you would give to new filmmakers wanting to make their own movies?
1. A good friend of mine said, and I take this as gospel, “you can have all the gear in the world but it’s all for nothing if the story is rubbish”. The story is so important, so spend some time on it, rework it, let someone you don’t know read it and rework it again. Don’t go to the grave with it though, you have got to have a cutoff to begin pre- production. I know so many people that sit on scripts that will never see the light of day. If you can’t write, see if you can make someone else’s script – the writer will more often than not be stoked that you’re interested in his or her work.
2. Get a good crew and don’t try and do everything yourself. As a director it’s a given that you will have to know all the elements of the production process, but don’t be an asshole about it. Let people do their role. It’s a creative process and way more enlightening and fun (and less stressful) as a collaboration – it’ll be a hard road getting people to work with you on the next dozen projects if you micro-manage them.
3. Read, practice, write, learn what light can do, watch movies, copy other filmmakers’ styles, and become original.
Maybe in the end this can sum it up…
Follow the rules as it’s all been done before, but be original – simply making films is the only way to find what defines you as a filmmaker (I’m still a long way off).
How did making these films help you to grow and develop as filmmakers?
Just doing it is a huge step forward. There are so many variables to deal with in every aspect of making a film and the best way to grow and develop is to get amongst it. The main thing that sticks in my head from Pride of Caldwell is the scene where Darryl Kitchen pokes his head in the lounge room and his mother is knitting in the chair. They have a conversation, he crosses off a day on the calendar and leaves. A simple scene, but I lost my train of thought and everything became a bit confusing – it can happen easier than you think. The DP quietly mentioned to me that maybe everyone should take a quick break so we could set up a different shot. Once we cleared the room, everything came back and it was good for the rest of the day. It’s the simplest thing to think of but I will never forget it. I will always take a five minute break to myself a few times a day during a shoot to just stop everything and do nothing. Works wonders.
What films/filmmakers have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?
- Coen Brothers – Amazingly deep substance to their work. Great writers, great dialogue, and stunning looking films – you can put that down to Roger Deakins (the way that man controls light and color is insanely good).
- David Lynch – Quite possibly my favorite filmmaker of all time. I think I was introduced to him at the right time in my life and just cannot let him go. I have watched Mulholland Drive about 30 times.
- I’m going to say Dazed and Confused was the one film that I watched and thought, “I can make that!” Until I tried to make my first film and I was like “how the f”k did he create that”. It feels so real when I watch it! Similar to Almost Famous from Cameron Crow. It’s a skill man, and once you can make a film feel absolutely real to someone, especially someone who makes films, then that’s all there is to it. I think I have watched that film more than any other film – which says a lot about my teenage years.
How are you going to leverage off your previous films to get new films off the ground?
Bonus Question! If you could have dinner with anyone dead or alive who would it be and why?
Ben – I would love to say Stanley Kubrick but I have a feeling he would be way too intense and there are a hundred other people I can think of too. Maybe, Laurel Canyon in the late 60’s to mid 70’s, with Neil Young… Laurel Canyon man, it would have been something to be there during that period in time.
Scott – F. Scott Fitzgerald – literary hero who also enjoys a couple of drinks so should make for an interesting night.
Thanks guys! Check out Ben and Scott’s films Pride of Caldwell and Lily White that are now on IndieReign for you to watch:
Take a look at the trailer for Pride of Caldwell…
Click here to watch Pride of Caldwell for $1.00.
If you liked that, you may also want to check out the trailer for Lily White…
Click here to watch Lily White for $1.00.