I was lucky enough to be on a film panel at the Write Stuff Writers Presents Across The Arts at the Palladium in Carmel, IN. It was a great time and I loved the questions for our moderator and also the crowd.
One of the questions from our moderator, Kelly Vaughn, was about how much money it takes to make a film.
Well my first “for real” film that I wrote and directed and used as a launching pad for my company Karmic Courage, was Laundry Day. I cast my husband and then four-year-old daughter – because they were available and I’d entice them with candy.
I wanted to do everything myself to find out what I was still good at (yes, I had made films before in school and at a TV studio) and find out what I sucked at. This way on my next film I know who’d I need to hire and how skilled they needed to be.
I leaned quickly how much I suck at lighting. Many shots I had to scrap and re-film because the light was in the shot or it was too lit and my husband look orange or I couldn’t see my daughter face.
I also learned that even though I was an editor at the TV studio, I really hated the process. I knew I could do it but it was grueling and I would walk away and try to find excuses not to come back.
What I loved was setting the shot and working with my “actors.” I tried to make it fun (even though I had a meltdown or two) and tell the story visually with interesting shots and angles.
There was also something very important about making this film. I was told since age 10 that I would never be a director. “it’s for 40-50 year old men,” they said. At age 18 I knew they all had to be wrong so I moved to Los Angeles where I found out they were right – kinda.
When my daughter was born my father was there and he was holding her and whispered “I wonder what she’ll become?”
Without thinking I said, “She’ll become what ever she wants in this world.”
That was my wake up call. That was what it took for me to step up and see if I really could write/direct a film. To prove not only to myself, but to show my daughter that a dream is worth fighting for.
I didn’t have much money so I wrote a story with the resources I had.
I made Laundry Day for $23 buying only a lighting kit from Lowes.
I really didn’t think much of the film except for an exercise and moved onto making another film this one with a cast and crew of 32 people and a budget of $200.
Then an amazing thing happened. A film festival called the Indy Awards was looking for submissions and I sent them Laundry Day. They accepted the film and a real audience of people I didn’t know and wasn’t related to came to see my film. They laughed, they awed, it’s was amazing!!
We lost the audience choice award by one vote. Not only did I get into my first film festival and almost win but something else, no one came up to me and said “you can’t because you’re a woman.”
Since Laundry Day I’ve make 13 more films and I’m working on another. The budgets have gotten bigger but i still work within my resources and my husband and daughter still sometimes make an appearance.