Desert Rain wins the Audience Choice Best Feature Award at the 2011 Staten Island Film Festival!!! We're hoping (and believing) the next stop for DR is back where it all started, in Albuquerque, at the 2011 Albuquerque Film Festival.
It's been forever! Since the last post, the film is kind of done (is it ever?), has premiered at the 2011 Cinequest Film Festival (we had a blast!), and will make its NY premiere this coming Thursday, June 9, at 10pm, at the 2011 Staten Island Film Festival! We're nominated for 3 awards at the SIFF, including Best Picture! Nuts! Needless to say, we're excited about our festival run and we're sure there will be more festivals to come, before DR finds its final home in the world of indie film distribution.
With that said, here's a press release we've just sent out and hoping to get picked up by a local (nyc) publication. We'll post a link if and when it happens, but consider this an exclusive!!!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Desert Rain: How to make a feature film with a 5-person crew
Brooklyn, New York, June 6, 2011 – “I will never do it again,” says first-time feature director, Steve Loff, laughingly. “There were only five of us, some days four, and it wasn’t like we eliminated ALL that goes into a feature film. We eliminated some things, but we still needed camera, sound, costumes, props, dressings, light manipulation (the filmmakers used “only one light, sporadically”), craft service, and continuity, amongst other things. You know, all those things you need when making a movie. I had to have actors slate the shots sometimes because no one was free to do it. It was exhausting and at times, just ridiculous. But we got it done.”
Desert Rain will make its New York Premiere at the 2011 Staten Island Film Festival on Thursday, June 9, at 10pm. The film tells the story of a young couple desperate to get out of their small town and chase their dreams to Los Angeles, but every decision they make takes them further from their goal. The style of shooting was “run and gun,” mostly handheld, with little to no lighting. Principal photography was completed in a brisk 10 days. “We filmed ten out of eleven days, and I think I put the camera on the tripod less than a handful of times. We were always ready to shoot. My shooting background is in documentary, so shooting handheld on a moments notice is something I’m used to, and it was definitely part of the aesthetic for DR.”
Actors would often come to set hair, makeup, and wardrobe ready. “We’d collect wardrobe items, especially for Dan and Skye, as we went. They would bring stuff to wear, and we would hold it for the duration of the shoot,” says Angelica Morrow, Producer and de facto Costume Designer. Angelica has also worked in the costume department on a number of indie features in New York. “The saving grace was Steve’s decision to shoot mostly in sequence. That made continuity on costume a little easier. Most times we’d shoot the wardrobe, then be done with it.”
Desert Rain is probably the most ambitious micro-budget film you will ever see. With a multitude of characters and locations, along with fights, crashes, hold ups, and more, it’s pretty incredible to think the film was made with 5 crew members, no permits, no insurance, and “less than $10K to get it in the can,” according to Steve Loff. “We cast Daniel Van Hart and Angelica’s sister, Alexandria Morrow, as our leads and they had a friend who would play a part, and that friend had a friend, and so on. I was willing to work with anyone, professional and non-professional alike. All I wanted was a willingness to do the work and a faith in what we were doing, and I felt like we got it from the actors each and every time.” Locations were often secured on a moments notice. “Working small leaves you flexible. We’d often cruise around, looking for a location and when we’d find something we liked, we would simply ask for permission to shoot. We had no money to offer in most cases. We paid fifty dollars for ONE location - that was our entire cost for location fees! I’m not really sure how we pulled it off most times, but we did. I guess you could say it’s the lure of the cinema. People were excited to be a part of the process and see it up close.”
Steve doesn’t think he could have pulled this off in New York City, his hometown. “Shooting in Albuquerque was so free and liberating. I just felt like we could do whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. It was wide open, and no one ever bothered us. We had a few close calls, but we made every day on schedule.”
He offered some thoughts for others looking to emulate the shooting technique. “The attitude was ‘by any means necessary.’ I HAD to make a film, so I found a way around the usual protocol. In a lot of ways, I feel like we ran into Albuquerque and stole our movie, and everyday we fed off of that energy. It was guerilla filmmaking to the core. We just had to get it done, and nothing would stop us.”
“Make sure you have a great team. Angelica and Ryan Pearson (Producer), Miles Vedder, our sound mixer, all of the actors, all of us believed in what we were doing and worked our butts off. Everyone was up for anything. And I think the hard work, along with the blind faith in the unusual process, shows up on the screen. The film is small but it has a big heart and its own style.”
The film does have heart and style, and the end product that is Desert Rain is up for 3 awards at this year’s festival, including Best Picture. The premiere is June 9th at the St. George Theatre, with an encore presentation on Friday, June 10th, also at St. George Theatre. For more info please visit the Staten Island Film Festival website at www.sifilmfestival.org.