Thursday, 27 June 2013

Framing Film - Two Guys and A Film - Interview - Part 1

Hey dear readers - don't say we don't spoil you for jumping onto our bandwagon early. As you know from our interview with Dave Vescio, Framing Film is a series that attempts to focus on understanding film making and adding to the discussion. We try, as any interviewer within the movie industry, to look at the process that goes into each film. Why? Because each process is relatively unique, special and possibly entertaining.

However, unlike other outlets, we don't specifically focus on A-listers, big budget films or legendary directors (but those will all hopefully fall into this interview series at some point during it's tenure!). We focus on as much variety in our interviews as possible. As interesting at is to read how the studios make films with $200 million, it is also equally important to see how features with access to less resources still end up being so great.

For this interview series, which much like any global mega studio approaching any new project, it will come in two parts. It features the two talented, and upcoming filmmakers over at 2GuysandaFilm. The '2 Guys' in the film are Canyon Prince and James Thomas (and their informative/entertaining Twitter feeds can be found here and here respectively!). The two guys have recently attended the LA Film Festival and are hard at work shooting their directive feature film debuts, "Hard Sun" and "Get Away".

Now these guys aren't just in the industry for themselves - which is what really caught our interest. Not only do they share constant behind the scenes photos, but they also engage with many of their fans/would be collaborators quite frequently - are genuinely two great guys - and on top of that, they also share first time filmmaker tips that may provide insight for novices. Which is exactly why you should 'Like' their Facebook!

Without further ado -


FI: So, could you tell us a little bit about yourselves and how 'Two Films and a Guy' came into being? Backgrounds, any peculiar stories or life changing moments where you had an inkling/knew this is what you wanted to do?
J: Two Guys and a Film was really born out of a passion both Canyon and I share for filmmaking. Canyon and I had worked on a couple of music videos, a webseries, and a show open for a TV pilot and really became friends from that. And so I took Canyon out to sushi for his birthday, I think it was in December of 2011, and told him that I’d been kicking around the idea of doing a feature film and immediately he was like “I’ve been thinking the same.” So we came up with this idea to shoot two features, one he would direct and one I would direct, and we would shoot them back-to-back. By January 3rd we had scripts written and were location scouting for the films. The rest is history!

FI:  Out of interest - how did you guys come up with the name "Two Guys and a Film"? Obviously quite straightforward, but is there a story behind it at all?
J:  We wanted something funny but simple. So we got together to think of a name, and we threw out tons of names all of which sucked. Then after sitting and starring at the wall, finally Canyon was like “What about Two Guys and a Film?” And I was like “That’s funny and simple. I like it.”
C: We were so over names by the end I just said sarcastically “Why don’t we just call it Two Guys and a Film”  And then it stuck.

FI: Before we start talking companies and directing, what inspirations did you have when you set out - and what goals are you hoping to achieve? Obviously you both have directorial debuts coming up - which we'll talk about in a bit - but how where do you hope to take Two Guys and a Film?
J: We had to have crazy tunnel vision with these projects and really keep our eye on the goal of getting these two films in the can. It really wasn’t until we finished Get Away until we thought more about the broader goals of the company. Since the films, we’ve expanded into television with the pilot “Faculty Lounge” that we’ve just acquired and are in the process of packaging.
C: Yeah.  It really was just about the two films in the beginning.  But once we finished production I really started feeling like there were bigger things on the horizon.  So lately, it’s been about finishing what we’ve already done and looking forward to all the other things we want to do within the company.  It’s an exciting time.

FI: Can you guys talk a bit about 'Broken Home' - one of the shorts listed on your company page?
J: Broken Home was really just a quick action scene that we shot for our IndieGoGo pitch. It was also a test shoot for Get Away.

FI: I've been keeping up with your pictures - you guys use a 5D on set? Georgia is a photographer, so she would know more about this - but other than the color grading test you've uploaded to your blog - what differences do you find between shooting on a more 'conventional' camera like the Red series and on cameras like the 5D?

J: Yeah, we used the 5D and the 60D with Zeiss CP.2s. Red cams are still great cameras however they are slower and require a lot more man power and time to shoot with than we knew we would have on these films. And since the graded footage looked so similar we went with the cost effective Canons.

FI: Equipment wise, what set up do you guys have? Do you loan out equipment like tracks, dollies, booms, etc? Or do you have a stock currently?
J: The cameras we owned but most everything else was given, lent, or rented.
C: Yeah, I used to have a lot of gear, but recently have gotten rid of most of it.  We just rent the equipment we need or lots of times the people we hire come with a bunch of their own equipment.

FI: For software - do you guys use all of your own stuff? Can you break down your post-production process for us a bit and your workflow?
J: We shot on SD cards so ingesting footage was simple. We cut the films in Avid, which was the biggest switch for us because we’d previously only cut in Final Cut. From there we would go to Davinci for color and finish in After Effects for the vfx work that needed done. We’ve had an amazing team working on the sound design lead by Sean Hines.
C: AVID and Davinci Resolve have been the two newest additions to the arsenal.  They’re both amazing and I won’t work on anything else.

FI: Frequent collaborators? People who you've worked with in the past who joined you on this new venture perhaps - if any?
C: I tend to collect a few people from project to project.  I’ve kind of been building an Apatow style family for the last several years.  James and I had worked on several projects together before we decided to start the company and shoot these films.  J Michael Briggs, one of our producers and actors in Hard Sun, I’ve know for a decade and a half.  We always work together.  Tami Carey, who plays the role of Lucy in Hard Sun, is another one I work with a lot.   She’s been in basically everything I’ve directed the last few years.  My DP Stephen Snavely is another one who I’ve worked on multiple projects on.  I just love surrounding myself with talented people whom I enjoy being around.  You spend a ton of hours with people making a movie so you better like them.
J: I work very much the same. I always say if your not doing this with people you like, then why do it. The lead in GA, Dave Finn, worked with me on a webseries I directed and I brought him in for GA. Between people I’ve cast in past projects and people Canyon has cast previously we pretty much hand picked roles in GA. I’ve done this same thing with crew also. As a director, especially younger director, it can be hard to get people to believe in what you are doing. So, when I work well with someone and they can get behind the project, I keep them around.
FI: How important is networking to independent film-makers?
J: Hugely! It’s probably the most important thing you can do especially if you’re a first time filmmaker. Other people who’ve been there and done that and share solutions are the reason Canyon and I were able to tackle some of the problems that came up on set so easily. If you are trying to make a film, you need to surround yourself with people who’ve made films, it will push you to make sure you finish yours.
C: Every filmmaker should be networking.  There are so many great organizations like Film Independent out there.  Go and become a part of those communities.  And go support independent film.  Attend festivals.  Talk with people.  You can’t make a movie by yourself, and you’re not going to meet people sitting in front of your AVID all day.  Trust me, I know.

FI: Any social media tips to share with upcoming filmmakers, considering how important it is becoming in today's age?
J: Build your audience day 1. Don’t wait until after you shoot your film to build it. As soon as you either have the script or at least have an idea of what the film will be about, get online and build your audience.
C: Social media is all about engagement.  I see so many people using it incorrectly and then complaining that it doesn’t work.   You have to treat it like real life.  Like real human interaction.  You can’t just talk “at” someone all day long and expect them to help spread the word about your film or product or whatever.  You have to cultivate these relationships.  It has to be a two-way interaction.

FI: You guys mention that you shot the show opening for a new pilot - can you tell us about that, the experience and all? What was the live taping like?
J: Yeah, we shot the opener for a pilot called “The Men’s Room” in which Canyon directed and I helped produce.  
C: The live taping was just like any other.  Live audience, soundstage, the works.  James and I actually attended the taping of it and watched from the audience.  We were hired to shoot the show opener video that played at the top.  If the show gets picked up, we’ll be in charge of all the “film” content of the show.  All the pre-recorded stuff.  Kind of like SNL’s Digital Shorts.
FI: You guys obviously run a Behind the Scenes Experience - but you regularly do updates on location scouting that we follow with avid interest. Can you talk a bit about that? How hard/easy is it to find that perfect location for independent film makers who don't have access to multimillion dollar budgets? 
J: It’s not easy, and it takes a lot of work. Not only are you going all around town searching for locations that might work but also you have to work with the owners and make deals that make sense for both sides. We were fortunate enough to have amazing people donate locations or give us great deals.
C: You need to have a great sales person, a great negotiator to get your locations for you.  Someone who doesn’t understand the word “no”.

FI: We've followed your casting news/updates/photos for 'Hard Sun' and 'Get Away' - we also know you guys are still looking for funding - so could you talk about both films? Plot (like the fragile X-syndrome angle?) - casting - difficulties/triumphs on set, etc? Anything significant that your first feature directorial debuts are teaching you?
C: This is probably a whole separate interview in itself.  We’ll save this one for the sequel.


Tune in towards the end of this week to hear more about the set and leads on their new films, talk about the LA Film Fest, funding an independent film and forming your own company, their experiences directing, risk taking and of course - our standard fare of questions about favourite influences/films!

Just another set of links, incase you guys missed it the first time round - remember to go and support these guys if you enjoyed the interview/want to find out more!

Link to their IMDb page.
Link to their Facebook page.
Link to their Twitter page.

Remember guys - if you liked the interview, share it with friends. ReTweet - share it on Facebook - shout it from the mountain tops, but just share it! As always, we welcome comments and feedback - but remember, the more exposure we get, the better it gets. Not just for us - but for the filmmakers themselves. More exposure leads to more interviews and more opportunities to be entertained/informed by (potentially) hidden/rising talent. Also - the more exposure we get, the more we can help out rising stars like Canyon and James, who heartily deserve it!

(Plus, you know, more interviews means more original content for you guys to read.)

As usual, our Twitter can be found at @bydhifu!

But most importantly, just remember, you didn't hear any of this from us,

Ferenc and Georgia

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