Trying to make a feature-length film is just slightly less complicated than landing a man on the moon, and when you're trying to do for practically no money, you might as well be wearing a blindfold. Not only are you attempting the impossible, but you're doing it in the dark. But, if you just keep fumbling around and aren't afraid of tripping over yourself, eventually (hopefully) you find your way. Even though the script for It Is What It Is was written with an ultra-low budget in mind, it still requires some money bring it to life. And trying to raise money for any movie is always an uphill battle, not matter how big or small that movie may be. The trick is to not give up and not get discouraged. It's like trying to break down a brick wall with a rubber mallet. It feels like an impossible task, but with enough patience and perseverance, eventually the wall comes tumbling down.
Going into this project, I knew that raising the funds was going to be the problem, the problem that has derailed so many other unfinished films before it. Way back when I was in college and was first thinking of making my own feature films, the tools required to shoot a movie were insanely expensive. The cost of the film stock alone could be tens of thousands of dollars. And the cameras that use that film stock aren't cheap to rent either, plus the costs of processing the film after you've shot it. So even if you're just making a film about two guys having dinner in a room, you're already hundreds of thousands of dollars in the red before you shoot a single frame. Thankfully, advances in digital technology over the last 15 years have done a lot to to level the playing field, making it possible to shoot feature-quality footage at a fraction of the cost of film. But you still have to rent cameras, lenses, lights, and microphones just like every other movie. Not to mention the props, costumes, location fees, and all the other unavoidable costs associated with making a film. And then you have to hire talented folks who know how to use all that stuff to shoot the film itself. It may be a lot cheaper to make movies now than it once was, but it's still not free. You have to pay for it somehow.
Since the rise of social networking, crowdsourcing (through sites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo) has become the go-to method for raising funds for independent films these days. And while many films have funded their productions this way, it's hardly a slam dunk. Many more fail than succeed. We fell short of our own initial crowdsourcing goal this past fall. That said, the support we did receive was truly humbling and there aren't enough words to express my gratitude and appreciation for the folks who donated to us. The show of support from friends, family, and even total strangers only makes me determined to finish this film even more. We don't quite have enough to film the entire movie yet, but we're well on our way, and the only thing to do is to just keep hammering away until we knock down the entire wall.
To help in that effort, we're holding a fundraiser on February 28 at Avondale Brewing Company to try and raise the remainder of what we need to shoot the film. There will be great food, great beer, and some amazing local music. Some insanely talented Birmingham musicians have been kind enough to lend their talents to the cause and will be performing that night. Their music will also appear in the film, which is so exciting I can't even begin to tell you how happy it makes me.
I first became familiar with Delicate Cutters through local filmmaker Chance Shirley. Not only is he a talented film director with two feature films under his belt (Hide & Creep and Interplanetary), he also plays drums in the band. Their music is a perfect blend of bluesy southern rock that just sounds like Birmingham to me. And they are incredible live. Their music plays a big role in a major scene in the film and really captures the spirit of the movie. Plus, we are going to shoot a cameo of the band performing live in the film. You can see the new music video for their song Tilt-A-Whirl right here:
Delicate Cutters - Tilt-A-Whirl
The first time I saw Gabriel Tajeu perform was at Artwalk weekend last year. He started into his set on the outdoor stage that Saturday afternoon and I stopped in my tracks. His music instantly conjured up images in my head of It Is What It Is. The song he started his set with sounded like it had been written for the movie. I was knocked out by his soulful blend of pop and R&B. I immediately tracked him down (i.e. stalked on Facebook) and somehow convinced him to contribute some of his music to the film. And not only is he a great musician, he's an even nicer person. One of his songs features during a very emotional and significant turning point in the lives of two of the main characters in the film. Here is a video of Gabriel performing live at BAAM Fest:
Gabriel Tajeau - BAAM Fest
There's a lot more in the works, and come hell or high water this movie will get made. Having talented folks like the ones above contributing to the film just makes me more confident than ever. If nothing else, this movie will have an incredible soundtrack! For more information about the Fundraiser, check out our Facebook Event right here:
It Is What It Is Fundraiser - February 28th at Avondale Brewing Company
Avondale Brewery also features prominently as a location in the film, so it wil be a great night for folks to come out and get a sense of what the movie is all about and meet some of the talented people working in front of and behind the camera. Even if you can't make it out, invite your friends and help support local filmmaking!