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Q + A | How to Make a Feature Film

It’s not everyday that you get the chance to have a conversation with two feature-length filmmakers. Especially when those two filmmakers decided to buck the trend, ditch the industry standards and make their movie the way they want to do it.

While this is a little bit of a departure from our regular content on The Basic Goods, Kate and Daryl inspired me to get outside of my comfort zone and shake things up a little. After all, this blog is dedicated to telling stories of a life well lived and these two devoted filmmakers and hardworking creatives truly embody what it means to make things happen — no matter what.

So, without further ado, here’s my conversation with Kate Forsatz and Daryl Ferrara, filmmakers and producers of the upcoming feature film, Thre3bound!

Check out their website to learn more about Thre3bound, here.

3B NYC

KO: So, making a feature-length film in 11 days is a pretty big undertaking. What was that experience like for both of you?

KF: Yes, I think more than a few people questioned our sanity.  The average mainstream film shoot is about 45-60 days, Indie films are usually 18-21days—Thre3bound (3B) was shot in 11 days. It was an easy decision for us to make because it was either 11 days or never.  We chose to make the film in 11 days.

Being our first feature film, we knew it was going to be challenging from the start.  In addition, our film had over 20 different locations throughout 3 NYC boroughs, a total cast and crew of 60+ and a modest production budget with which to get it all done. We knew going in to production that we had to hit approximately 10 pages per day to make each day.  Some days we succeeded, some days we did not.  In order to make Thre3bound, we had to know exactly when to hold tight to our conviction and when to let go of it.  

Having such constraints teaches you to be adaptable and creative in the moment, which is why Thre3bound is such a magical and genuine film. As a director, you have to trust the process and trust your team.  We did not have fancy trailers or ‘celebrities’, but we had tremendous talent on our team, operating at their very highest most creative levels—this was exactly the dynamic we wanted to create.  For many of us, we’d been working on 3B for 5 years, so there was already a shorthand among much of our team and the new additions to our Thre3bound family quickly caught up and brought even more dimension to our film, as a whole.

I wouldn’t change one bit of our journey.  It’s made us who we are.  There’s a richness to Thre3bound, a magical grittiness and authenticity which lives in the soul of our film and it’s because of our challenges and successes along the way. I’m tremendously grateful for our team, our supporters and our journey.  Not everyone gets to make a feature film and I feel pretty damn lucky that I had this opportunity.

DF: F#$K…was it ever! It was surreal. It was organic. It didn’t take long to shift into a very systematic autopilot. By that I mean, your focus is just so in tune with what needs to be accomplished for Day 1, each day individually and as a whole, for the 11 days.

Kate and I are blessed to one up that shorthand (she spoke of) that served us well during production. We have worked so closely with one another over the last few years, that often we communicate telepathically and finish each other’s….I bet you she is thinking “sentences” right now. Point made.  😉

Seriously though, it was hands down the most liberating, difficult and humbling experience we could go through as a small indie production company. It strengthened our family bond tenfold and we aren’t slowing down. In the most sincere and tooting our own horn kind of way — no shame here — we will earn our reputation and change the landscape of the industry.

3B - Kate and Daryl

 

KO: What I love so much about your story is that you had a vision and decided just to make it happen—no holds barred. What were some of the biggest obstacles you had to overcome?

KF: Funding, Funding and Funding.  Funding was the biggest obstacle for us. You can have the most amazing script, team and passion, but without funding and the right connections in that area, it’s impossible to make a film. There are people out there right now who will smugly say, “but you can make a film on your phone, these days,” which is true, you can, but as producers Daryl and I felt very strongly that we had to take care of our team the best way that we could with what we had. It was our duty which we embraced whole heartedly.  We wanted people to operate at their highest level of creativity and feel that they are an appreciated, important part of our team—to achieve this:  YOU NEED FUNDING.

After 4 years of working on the script to ensure it was as tight and streamlined as possible, we knew it was time to start fundraising.  We did our due diligence and applied for grants, to no avail.  We reached out to people and sent them our business plan/pitch packet; again, to no avail.  People are always very quick to offer advice, but to step up and take a real risk by believing in someone’s vision is a rare occurrence—especially when you are as new as we were.

We were pretty frustrated playing by the ‘rules of how things are done in the business’; we took a step back in the Spring of 2016 and thought, “Well this isn’t working. So, what are we good at?”  Daryl and I quickly came to the conclusion that we have a talent for collecting good people.  We looked at the team we’d built and their excellence in their disciplines, but more importantly the excellence of their character.  Our team emanates excellence and we knew that was our angle; THAT was how we were going to get Thre3bound made.

We decided to start collecting people, specifically locations.  We had absolutely no concrete shoot dates, no funds to promise, we didn’t even have a name actor in 3B to mention and hopefully win people over.  The first location we collected was Connolly’s Pub in Times Square.  We had a loose connection which helped us secure a meeting, but didn’t really know anyone there.  Daryl and I met with one of the managers and presented our pitch packet, painting a clear picture of our film.  They then asked, “Well, what’s in it for us?”  

I was like, “F#$K!!! What IS in it for them?”  Luckily, without skipping a beat, I replied, “I won’t BS you, it’s far better for us than it is for you,” and proceeded to talk about our social media interactions/ mentions and how they will be a part of our 3B Family. We then met with the owner, who was gracious and lovely.  They gave their permission to include Connolly’s as a location for Thre3bound. That victory was really what set our momentum.  We’re great at collecting good people and that was the beginning of the next level for us.

The biggest lesson on this entire 3B journey has been, if Plan A doesn’t work, re-imagine for the next plan—and the one after that.  As indie filmmakers, we have to be nimble with our creative problem-solving ideas, constantly considering…what’s next.

DF: Yes, I absolutely agree with funding being our biggest obstacle, so I won’t add to that (yet) because Kate explained it so perfectly. I would say, during all the re-imagining, Plan A, B, C, D, etc. not working, to not let morale go down. It would have been very easy for us to sulk in flat out rejection, vague responses or “non-sponses”(you’ll need to see the film). After the spring of 2016, we weren’t going to let “NO’s” get the better of us anymore. Our conviction individually and more so as a cohesive unit (which cannot be broken) was set to the task at hand AND even with the lack of funding is what got this film made. So while funding was and continues to be the biggest obstacle, we will find new and creative ways to deliver our little magical film to its audience.

3B - BTS

KO: From an outsider’s perspective, the film industry seems pretty harsh and unforgiving. Yet, there’s so much creativity and teamwork that goes into making a film. Did you feel like you had to compromise any of the film’s heart and soul or were you ready just to stick to your guns? 

KF: The beautiful thing about 3B is that the heart and soul was the foundation upon which we shot the film.  Because it had been 4 ½ years, it was already in the bones of the film, as far as the team was concerned.  The blessing and the curse of our journey was that we had 100% creative control of our project.  This made our budget much smaller, but our creative control that much greater.  That being said, the constraints were still present and every day we had to consider, “Do we push to get that shot/ moment/ location or do we get creative and think about other ways of communicating this behavior/moment/experience.”  

Our last day of shooting, we had three locations we were planning on using: Hunter College,  Upper East Side, Michelle’s Apartment, Harlem and a Health Food Store, Times Square.  A full company move to all of these locations in one day wasn’t going to happen—we had to cut something and get creative.  As we were meandering around Hunter, we found the perfect location to shoot Michelle’s Apartment Scene—it added great nuance to the scene. It was meant to be; one of those magical creative gifts you are granted by the universe.

At the end of the day, as a director, you must be strong in your conviction, but adaptable enough to serve the team and the film.  Trust is your greatest asset. Trust in yourself and others. If your team knows you trust them, they will rise up and exceed your expectations time and time again—but it is entirely up to you to set this precedent.

DF: Our heart is the heart that is beating today. The one that blended, molded, shifted. It is what defined our soul.

3B - Kate Forsatz

KO: One of the core ideologies of The Basic Goods is to find awe and wonder in the mundane. You guys wrote a rom-com, which some people might assume is a “been-there, done-that” kind of thing—but your story is so unique! Did this idea ever cross your mind? 

KF: It’s so funny to me how any story that has to do with love, is put into a category and marginalized/ belittled.  Last year, I was at a PGA event speaking with a fellow producer, exchanging pitches for the projects that we were working on.  She was working on this dramatic, gritty documentary. I shared a quick pitch of Thre3bound, at which she politely (not politely) scoffed, “A Rom Com?”  I continued sharing how it dealt with rebound relationships…she then chimed in, almost on cue “Oh rebounds!! I have this guy friend who always calls me right when he’s broken up with someone…” and proceeded to share her dating woes with me.

As humans we spend most of our lives thinking about, wishing for, agonizing over love.  It’s at the core of the human experience.  I never understood why a story having to do with love was ever regarded differently. Love is powerful and makes for a great story. On the flip side, I think there are some formulaic, less than appealing Rom Coms that are pumped out by studios (this can also be said about any genre of film Comic Book, Action, Buddy Cop Movie, Edgy Drama etc.)  Celebrity A + Celebrity B + $30M Budget doesn’t always equal a great film. I think as artists, it’s our job to find awe and wonder in everything.  If you lose that or become jaded; it’s time to find another profession.

DF: We are human, so yes, it absolutely crossed our mind. Going back to my response to the second question, we couldn’t get down on ourselves. We had invested way too much time, passion, heart, hours into Thre3bound to not press on. We figured out a way to press on, unique and authentic to us, while learning how to play by the rules and break some along the way. Part of the human condition is to like and dislike. We can’t please everyone BUT we can honor ourselves and keep fighting for our beliefs and OUR core ideologies.

KO: It’s truly inspiring to see people do things the hard way and take the long way round in order to achieve a goal. How are you feeling now and what are you most excited for with Thre3bound? 

3B - HUG

KF: In the words of Jimmy Dugan, of director Penny Marshall’s 1992 classic A League of Their Own, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard … is what makes it great.”

This was the only journey for Thre3bound.  It made us who we are and enabled us to tell this exact story.  Any other journey would have shaped our film differently. Of course, it’s easy to say this now that our film is picture locked. There were days where we would have gladly taken a nice, fat, easy check, but in hindsight, I am grateful for our journey.

Thre3bound is about potential; turning a less than ideal situation on it’s head, playing by your own rules and never losing that sense of wonder…anything is possible.  I can’t wait to share that with our team, our audience and beyond.  I think our first screening, wherever that may be, will be an absolute blast.

DF: You know Kat, we feel REALLY good. We set out to make a feature film and we did it. WE DID IT. And nobody can ever take that away from us. Sure, it may have been ‘Plan Z’ that will deliver for us in the end but think of the crazy stories we will get to share, beginning right here!

To support Thre3bound’s post production journey, please visit:https://fiscal.ifp.org/project.cfm/789/thre3bound/  

Your contribution is tax deductible through IFP.

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