Thursday, March 12, 2009

Peter Rudy on "No Sleep 'til Madison"

How did you get interested in filmmaking?

PETER RUDY: I think it was the collaborative nature of filmmaking that first attracted me. I had just finished a two year stint at the Writers Workshop in Iowa City when my first screenwriting opportunity arose, and I was eager to work with a group of people who would hold me to a deadline. Fiction writing is a might lonely endeavor, especially when you're telling everyone you're working on a novel when you're actually spending every waking moment playing Sega hockey.

What had you worked on before No Sleep 'Til Madison?

PETER RUDY: When I moved to San Francisco, I met filmmaker Matt Leutwyler, who was a friend of my girlfriend. He was in post-production on one film, Road Kill with Jennifer Rubin, and in pre-production on his next one, This Space Between Us with Jeremy Sisto and Poppy Montgomery. Needless to say, he was exhausted.

He had decided that Road Kill needed a voiceover, but was too burned out to write it himself, so he asked if I wanted to take a crack at it. Given that I was working at B. Dalton at the time for $5.25 per hour, I said yes.

It was a great experience, and Matt and I clicked creatively, so we decided to work on the This Space Between Us screenplay together.

The lessons I learned from both those experiences helped out a lot when it came time to work on No Sleep 'til Madison.

You mentioned learning some lessons from your work on Road Kill and This Space Between Us that came in handy while working on No Sleep 'til Madison. Can you elaborate on what you learned?

PETER RUDY: I think the most important thing I took away from my experience with those two films was a better understanding of just how much of a commitment filmmaking demands.

Matt said something to me that I've never forgotten, and that was how you had to be prepared to sacrifice pretty much everything to be successful in this field. Friendships, financial security, a normal life; I watched Matt sacrifice all three in the pursuit of his career, which I don't offer as a judgment but as an observation of just how tough it is to succeed in the move-making business.

Matt's focus never wavered in the time I spent with him, and to be perfectly honest, I think my unwillingness to put so much on the line is one of the main reasons I don't make movies anymore.

What were the three key things (positive or negative) that you learned during the production (and post-production, not counting distribution) of No Sleep 'til Madison?

PETER RUDY: Three things.

ONE: When working with a tiny budget, shoot in your home town, preferably a
Midwestern one not jaded by previous film production experiences. The people and businesses of Madison were extremely accommodating to our endeavor, which helped us save a fortune in location costs, catering, and labor. Take a look at our film credits for No Sleep; it reads like an extended family reunion for the Moe, Knezevic, and Rudy families.

TWO: Don't skimp on the on-screen talent. No Sleep was blessed to have a very talented group of professional actors to take on the major roles. We tried to stretch our production budget by filling in the minor roles with amateurs and/or friends and/or ourselves. It didn't always work. You can add all the lighting and sound design and editing you want, but you can't cover up a bad performance. (Granted, the directors, all three of them, have to take a lot of the heat for that.)

THREE: Wisconsin is one of the few places in the world where you can leave several thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment on the side of a country road, and get a call within an hour from a farmer informing you that has your "missing luggage," and will keep it safe until you can come by his place to retrieve it.

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