Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Framing Film - Pete Walton - Part 1

Hey guys, welcome to our next interview - this one is with Pete Walton from Indiesonar. He's a first time feature director - and as always, we've got another great independent filmmaker to give us an insight into their process. As usual, we'll do our interview in two parts. Expect the next one on Thursday this week! (Two days from now!)

We really want to thank Pete Walton for joining us - he's a brilliant sport who gave us wonderful answers. We hope you return this favour by helping support his film!

Hope you enjoy!

(Links at the end!)


Ferenc Igali: First, how about you tell us a little bit about yourself? We know a bit from your crowdfunding video (link will be found later in article), but what about your story? What inspired you to go into the business of making movies?

Pete Walton: I’d always been a huge fan of cinema, but in recent years there’ve been fewer and fewer movies come out that I’ve actually enjoyed, so I thought it was high time I stepped into the ring myself.

FI:  What made you decide on doing a first feature as opposed to a series of shorts/documentaries/etc?

PW: I didn’t really have any interest in making or watching a short. People basically like to watch features so that’s why I decided to jump straight in and make one. Plus I believe that the effort involved in preparing for a feature isn’t all that greater in comparison to what’s involved in making a short. And being able to walk away with a feature under your belt at the end of it is worth all the extra effort.

FI: So, before we get stuck into anything too technical – talk to us a little bit about Inverted, what it’s about for those that are unfamiliar with it?

PW: It’s a comedy about 2 friends on the verge of middle age who, following tragedy in their lives, decide to self-medicate by going on a journey around Europe in an attempt to discover the meaning of life, and also themselves. The comedy is heavily influenced by shows like It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, The Office and Peep Show, plus the movie This Is Spinal Tap.

FI: You’ve shot in a variety of locations – in several countries in fact – can you talk us through what that experience has been like?

PW: It’s been quite an adventure! I decided from the outside I wanted the film to an authentic international feel and felt that it was possible if I flew low cost and found most of the cast and crew at the locations.

Berlin was the easiest place as there’s a big creative community there and attracting talent was quite easy. I also used to live there so I know the place well in terms of locations I wanted to use. I slept on the couches of other people on the movie.

Maastricht was great in terms of getting around as the place we stayed in was within walking distance from the locations. I’d scouted all the locations first using Google Street View so when I got there I simply had to check them out the day before for noise etc. I found a place for the four of us stay on Couchsurfing.org. Ali, our host, was great and he and two friends of his even appeared in one scene as extras. We had one problem as it was November and the fountain in the main square had been switched off, which we needed for a scene, but with a little clever fakery we got round it – you’d never know from the finished film.

Belgrade, where I live, was good for the locations but finding actors was difficult as I didn’t know anyone in the business there. We had to abandon one location at short notice but I had a backup in mind so we didn’t lose much time. I’ll say to other filmmakers, always have a backup ready if you’re filming on location that you can get to quickly if you need to and not lose too much shooting time. The biggest headache of the Belgrade shoot was finding our car had been towed one day and having to pay the 150 euro fine!

Athens was ok too in terms of cost and getting around. I’d researched all the locations pretty heavily before deciding where to shoot in terms of cost – not just to get there but how much it would cost travelling around once we’d arrived. Athens was only 14 euros for a 7-day pass on the metro. We also stayed with couchsurfers here, who were both great and even appeared in a couple of scenes. Casting and crew were very difficult to get through. As I don’t speak Greek and had trouble finding any Greek talent on sites like Mandy.com and CastingCallPro the casting wasn’t completed until the last minute. My first host in Athens, Chrissa, had worked in the business and she took me to a party where I met a director who gave me the number of an actor. A few phone calls later and the parts I needed were cast. I have to hand it to Nikos Anagnostopoulos and Vasilis Christidis who both turned up at short notice and gave great performances – Nikos as a mugger, who after mugging the main characters apologizes for his poor English (this actually happened to someone I met in Sarajevo), and Vasilis as a shop owner who forces one of the characters, who’s desperate for the toilet, to buy a carpet before letting them use the bathroom.

By the time we hit London, I have to say funds were getting a bit tight – it was literally down to the penny. So much so that I had enough money to hire a taxi to transport the lights and C-stands we needed back to the hire firm, but I’d have to carry them on the Tube the other way myself. This was by far and away the toughest thing I had to do on the shoot: C-stands, I’m now convinced, were originally designed as some kind of medieval torture device – lol! The problem is not so much the weight but that they’re extremely awkward to hold and constricted my leg movements, but I somehow managed to hobble from Ealing Studios in West London across the Tube to the Docklands location in the East. I actually collapsed in exhaustion soon after leaving the hire firm. Luckily a passer-by offered to help me carry them to the station. I’m eternally grateful to them for that.
London’s expensive to get around with a crew so we made full use of the flat I’d hired on AirBnB.com and the nearby surrounding area. The flat interior and balcony, we faked as 5 different locations.

FI:   Obviously you’re a big advocate of crowdfunding – how have you found the process so far? It’s pretty much a 24/7 job, but with your stringent planning/dedicated work ethic, how has the overall experience been?
PW: Well, I have to say the campaign so far has not been good and I have to hold my hands up and saying I haven’t done a few things right on it. I’d read up a great deal on crowdfunding before the campaign and one thing kept cropping up and that was that people buy into the filmmaker rather than the project. My mistake has been to go overboard with the ‘filmmaker’ aspect in the video to the extent I’ve actually mentioned little about the movie itself. Also, technically the sound is very poor, but I’m in sort of a catch-22 on that as I need the crowdfunding to get the sound equipment. So for the video I was forced to use what I had, which was a Logitech headset suspended on a metal coat hanger just out of shot! I also didn’t have backers ready to fund on day 1 which is very important to give your campaign an early boost. Hopefully there’s still time for me to correct it, but if at first you don’t succeed..

FI:   Also – what do you think of the effect of crowdfunding on the film landscape?

PW: Very good! It’s going to give a lot of filmmakers the opportunity to make projects with their creativity unhindered by investors. If you’ve got a good idea you’re likely to get your film made a lot more quickly.

FI:  You’re very clear and concise with how you budget – any tips you can give first time filmmakers on overarching strategies to approach budgeting with?

PW: Plan what you think you’ll need, then add another 30% to cover all the things you didn’t foresee. List everything you think you’ll need, then go through each one and ask if it’ll really make an impact on screen. It’s surprising how many things you can do away with if you’re prepared to do more work yourself.

FI:   We’ve read your tips regarding buying off Ebay and Amazon – have you got any particular market searching strategies here that you found have worked really well for finding the all important pieces of equipment?

PW: In terms of buying, I check eBay first as it’s normally the cheapest, then Amazon then elsewhere. To identify the piece of equipment I read a lot of reviews on forums and Amazon.

FI:  You’ve come up with some inventive rewards, including giving away the camera that you are going to use to film the next part of the film with – how important is it to have such big/important rewards to the process of funding of a film?

PW: To be honest, I think it’s the person and the project that crowdfunders really buy into – with the rewards being a bonus. I did however try to think of something different from the norm by giving away the equipment. I just need the equipment to finish the movie so I thought why not give it away as a thank you to crowdfunders afterwards.


Link to Pete's Twitter.
Link to Pete's film's Twitter

And finally - Pete's Crowdfunding Page.

As usual guys, any shares/reads/recommends that we get, we thoroughly enjoy. Not just for us - we focus on indepedent films - it helps get the word out about great projects and filmmakers that can use a bit of help to finish their films or to gain more exposure for them. We hope you enjoy/find the interviews useful and we love our readers. We really do - we'd be nothing without you guys!

Even if you can't donate, do remember that every time you share this article with another filmmaker/fan of film - we can help gain another person a little bit more traction and exposure that gets them one step closer to realising their dream. 

It also helps us greatly obviously - and hopefully it gives a bit of insight into the trials and tribulations of first time filmmakers!

Stay tuned on Thursday for the second part! 

And remember - you didn't hear it from us!

Ferenc and Georgia

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