It can take a lot of podcasting before things start falling into place. For lifetime film enthusiasts such as ourselves, we carry our own subjective thoughts about what it is we like and don’t like. Reviewing a film with the intent to learn something without throwing heavy handed opinion can be tough at times but there are four things that we should consider:
A: everybody’s tastes are different.
B: the film was written and made by people who wanted it to be made. They didn’t given up until it was complete, regardless of whether it became the film that they at first intended to have.
C: After the film was completed, it was picked up by somebody (a distributor, a studio, a producer etc) and they saw enough to want to invest in that work. They chose to use their money to release it to the world.
D: we all want to have a piece of B and C and our connection with A is no different, nor are we better or worse than anybody involved in said movie.
For small independent films such as Honeymoon and Starry Eyes, the C can be the break or no break in getting their projects not only off the ground but actually completed. Some indie films have to find more creative ways to gain the monies to get made. You can tell with many low budget films that compromise and sacrifice can play a huge part in what can often become a “movie for credit sake” production. The chance to have a place on the ladder. To build that CV with completed project material that can make or break your future. Indie film is the most fragile yet exciting area of the film-making market. To say that they work with fear is an understatement.
For the educational parts at we always hoped to find, the certain tropes, idioms and self created observational rules, we have been fortunate in finding avenues that teach us more about how we could improve our own film-making skills. It is said that the best way to learn film is to watch film. The best way to learn about film-making is to make films. For that side of things, we recognize production value. We notice where the money goes in and how we should appreciate it when films don’t have the dollars you’d expect to think beyond restrictions.
BUDGET / GROSS TAKINGS
We don’t usually look at the statistics of a film. If you look above you can see why. It really doesn’t matter what happens in the cinema when it comes to reviewing and analyzing film. Whether people go and see a movie doesn’t make it a good or a bad film. How a film is distributed, advertised is nothing to do with quality of the film. It is all to do with how filmmakers sell their product. Budget is however a curious thing, and in the eyes of our recent viewings, we are definitely taken by independent films that have a below average to nothing budget. We want to see how art thrives, not how money makes everything run smoothly. Low budget film-making contributes to the notion that the best work you can watch is made with a tremendous sense of fear. I’d rather see how somebody uses $50.000 and succeeds rather than see how somebody wastes $210.000.000 and rakes in profit just because their film’s only intention is to make money.
To know that Starry Eyes was made for $50.000 was a massive surprise to me, and to realize there were no statistics for takings was another. Did it do well? Did it even break even?
We could say that it really doesn’t matter what the film made, money wise – to us anyway. To the filmmakers it means the difference between locking in the next future passion project. If I had gone into Starry Eyes beforehand knowing that it was made for so little money would have had my mind switched into a different mode. Starry Eyes felt no different than a regular budgeted horror film – in terms of film production – but it struck a chord. It stood out from any other film that came out this year. The structure, the pacing, the journey that you take as a viewer is valuable.
Honeymoon had a million to play with – a small sum in today’s standards, but I don’t see the one million dollars value in a film that limits itself to a cabin in the woods type of story-line. If it had the budget that Starry Eyes had, I would have given the film a break and focused on the art that lay within such an arena of restriction. Honeymoon didn’t have many levels, however, it kept a hold of a sense of coherence that recent Michael Bay movies lacked. Characters were able to own the frame and let their talents show as performers. Honeymoon isn’t by any means a bad film, but it does play it safe. To see a film like Starry Eyes take such risks with such a little budget is mind-blowing.
Why can’t we see more of this? Why can’t films be made with the idea that art does thrive and enrich our lives… without breaking the bank.
Dark Skies looks and feels like a movie that was just around to make a profit. It’s not the most inventive or original film, even though the stars work their value and it’s made with the love of the craft, but it doesn’t look personal. It runs its course and then credits roll and we wonder “how much thought went into making the film something that we really wanted to see? Where could Dark Skies have gone if it worked within the fear gate of a low to no budget constraint?
“You do whatever it takes to get to where you want to be.” says Andy Lewin during the Frame by Frame podcast, and I cannot agree more. Dark Skies doesn’t inspire to make movies. It is an inspiration only for making a profit within a subject matter that is guaranteed an audience. If it means that the director Scott Stewart is able to fund a future passion project for a fraction of his most recent budget, than I’m all for it. Dark Skies isn’t that kind of obnoxious money grabbing movie that you would get with “The Michael Bay Machine”. We are all waiting for him to break away from his glossy slag mag of a pull and create something that would be considered to be artful, meaningful and maybe, at the very least, as good a film as either Starry Eyes or Honeymoon.
THE SOUNDCLOUD PODCAST
Here is the original Starry Eyes Kickstarter page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/parallacticpictures/starry-eyes-a-feature-film-of-paranoia-and-possess
The interview with Alex Essoe: