Tag Archives: film production

WILDLIKE: Interview with Writer, Director, Producer Frank Hall Green

WildLike Production Stills

Wildlike is a thrilling coming-of-age adventure! A troubled teen must face the dangers of the Alaskan wild, as well as her own past, in order to find her way home. We had an opportunity to speak with writer, director and producer Frank Hall Green to discuss his feature film’s public release. Wildlike, which stars Ella Purnell and Bruce Greenwood, screened to acclaim at the DC Independent FIlm Festival in March 2015.

Be sure to catch Wildlike in theaters starting Friday, September 25th!

Where did you find inspiration for to make Wildlike?

GREEN: The origin of Wildlike came from several aspects of my life and interests. The social issue in the film had become important to me over time and I became dedicated to presenting the events of Mackenzie’s assault in a truthful and effective way. As an issue, it’s under-represented and too easily discarded as a plot device in film and television storytelling, especially when you consider the scope of how many girls and women are affected and the grave damage done to a person in all related circumstances. I had an inherent desire to tell a story about a person on a trajectory into the outdoors of the out-of-doors. I realized I really wanted the landscapes to speak to this, and Alaska popped into my mind and stuck. So over time I married the idea of adventure, being lost in Alaska and healing in nature with the social issue of the film, which in turn would be the cause of Mackenzie running away, allowing me to explore deeper characters and present issues important to me in the movie.

What challenges did you face at different stages of production?

GREEN: Two distinct difficulties with Wildlike were developing the story and writing the script. As I wove the images, characters and environments together into a story, I then had to translate a very full head of what I thought I understood down onto the page, where suddenly it was a mess with little structure and many holes. So when I began to write each moment and realize I need moments in between, suddenly I needed to know what an action of a character means, what decisions will be made, how will the character develop, what exactly will they say or not say, and then I was stumped. I especially had to take frequent breaks and spoke to a close confidant on a daily basis while writing the Uncle’s part. Brian Geraghty had a similar difficulty in playing Uncle, and we shared that, and I commend him for stepping up and portraying Uncle with vigor.

WildLike Production Stills

What was your favorite aspect of making this film in particular?

GREEN: For me there is something precious and singular about accomplishing one’s first feature narrative film. Naturally, one would do the best one could with a feature, but I think there is a perspective of humility, care, awareness and perfection that is crucial. In relation to this, the film has to be worth it, which to me means different, fresh, original and with meaning. Directing and completing a feature is a beautiful thing for a writer/director because you are forced to rework the screenplay all the way through into the editing room. You realize a final product that was once a kernel of an idea or image. This is a tremendous benefit for a director who is also a writer, and who counts himself or herself as a practicing and learning filmmaker.

Do you have any advice regarding independent film distribution?

GREEN: Recently, several filmmakers have asked about our festival strategy and distribution.  To be fair, I did not have a plan for distribution different than the typical ‘go to big festival, sell the movie,’ but I was diligent and that has paid off. My advice would be to begin building a network of audience and collaborators. Every aspect of the filmmaking process should be to gather people into the fold of those who know your film and will support it.  This starts with family, crew, crew’s family and friends, all who helped on the production and and in post.  Add social media to that, during pre-production, and keep it going.  Then that circle can grow at film festivals, screenings, special events and anyone you meet in the meantime.  A distributor may or may not be willing to take on your film for any number of reasons, but you can prepare for the distribution conversation and offer by telling them you have been working on outreach and you’re ready to continue. They can distribute your film, but no one can market it grassroots-fashion like yourself.  For better or for worse, that is what indie films need.

What’s next for you? Any projects in the works?

GREEN: I have a development and production company with producer Tom Heller: Catch & Release Films. Tom and I have several books and materials that we have acquired for adaptation, so those are underway on the producing front.  For writing and directing, where does one go after Alaska? The pressure! No, seriously, I have several scripts, but I have not determined which is #2 yet. Rest assured the location will play a role. I hope I can arrange a great journey, physical and emotional, with poignant characters and restraint. I look forward to starting the independent film process over again!

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Guest blog: The pros and cons of producing in Los Angeles

LA-based independent film director, writer and producer Jane Clark joins us this week as a guest blogger. Last year, Jane premiered her film, Meth Head at DCIFF and it is continuing to make the festival rounds. She just completed her second feature, Crazy Bitches, and is writing a book on making short films. In this week’s post, Jane describes the positive and negative aspects of independent film production in Los Angeles:

As an independent filmmaker working on tight budgets, I have, by necessity, considered many different production options inside and outside of Los Angeles. It is tempting to take the show on the road to cheaper states considering California’s minimum $1 million spending for tax credit eligibility. But for budgets like mine, the costs associated with travel outside the city sometimes outweigh the rebates. Though I chose to keep my productions in LA, making seven shorts and three features, it’s important to consider the pros and cons to know whether the city is the right match for you.

LA location shoot for “Meth Head”

The Pros:

  • There’s a benefit to consistency. With every film I make, my database of production and crew personnel grows. There’s safety in knowing the people you hire. It also helps build relationships with service providers and equipment rental houses for easier deals and increased productivity in the future.
  • Los Angeles provides a large talent pool, both cast and crew, with experience on smaller and bigger budget productions. Actors are one of the biggest pros. The SAG Indie contracts make it affordable to work with SAG actors at any budget level. If the script is good, even name actors are willing to come in for a few days at low-budget scale. They live here after all, so for very little time and effort they will join a project they like or that challenges them.
  • Union crews are also willing to work well below union rates if they are available and the shoot is short. Keep in mind; they are also building their databases, too. Developing a working relationship with an emerging producer or director is part of how they move up the ladder.

The Cons:

  • Locations are the main “con” with LA. We have over 180 sunny days every year so inclement weather or season changes should ideally be shot elsewhere. If you would like to shoot in the city, I suggest checking out the Cinema Scout, where locations are broken down based on type of structure, environment and searchable within the 30 mile studio zone – a requirement if you don’t want to find yourself responsible for housing and/or travel costs for crew and cast.
  • While these tools can be helpful, I usually rely on my contacts to help me find locations. If not, it can be difficult to find a good deal. Locals businesses are hip to big studio location fees and will try to charge you the same price. Keep trying though; there are definitely people willing to cut you a break.
  • The other “con” to bear in mind is permit fees, which in some locations can be extremely costly. When scouting locations, I always consider which permit office I will need to work with on the project. I would highly recommend Film LA, the LA-area film office. Their staff is knowledgeable and they have the most film-friendly permit costs.
  • It may seem counter-intuitive, but there seems to be low tolerance when a film crew comes into LA neighborhoods. In the past, I’ve experienced people continuously blaring their car radios, another who purposely put out their barking dog until we paid them a fee to take the dog back inside, and even had my own neighbors report me to the permit office. (Luckily, I did have my permits. Otherwise, I would have been shut down until I submitted and paid for them).

Personally, the pros of producing in LA outweigh the cons by far. But I also live here. If you are making films with smaller budgets, your hometown or nearby city might be the best place for you to produce and shoot your film. You can always rely on friends, family, working relationships and helpful neighbors to help make your vision a reality.

MH Day 1

Interior shots on the set of “Meth Head”