What was your filmmaking background before you made Teenage Dirtbag?
REGINA: Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Bubkus. Take your pick of any of those. I have been writing in some form or fashion (TV, commercials, my diary) since as long as I can remember, but Teenage Dirtbag is my first script, and the first time I have directed anything.
I have been enthralled with the magic of movies since I was a little girl, specifically when my parents took me to see any of Steven Speilberg's masterpieces. Those are the first films I remember that really registered. Now I frequently dream in movie format. Sometimes I think in my dream, "this movie is awful" and wake myself up.
Where did you get the idea for the film?
REGINA: It is inspired by my experiences in high school, which for most of us wasn't a glorious time at all. Life in general can feel like such a battlefield, and we all have our war stories. Teenage Dirtbag is about what we do with our past, and how the smallest actions in life really matter.
How did you script the film and how did that script change during the shooting?
REGINA: That's a great question that I don't often get asked. It changed in all the right ways, because it helps to have both the writer and director housed in one brain. When lines would feel unnatural or forced, I would quickly change them on the fly. Sometimes I would throw them out all together and replace them with an action or an expression. Sure, I argued with myself on set, but I always worked it out before it came to fisticuffs.
What technology did you employ to shoot the film and what did you like about it?REGINA: We shot in HD, but used film lenses. It provided me the essential technology I needed, with the film look and feel I wanted. We couldn't afford film anyway, so I was lucky the technology was there.
How did you fund the film?
REGINA: I was offered financing for the script right out of the gate by a foreign company. After about six months, I started having serious reservations. I backed out with them and decided I'd rather do it myself on a shoestring, than have it get ruined by having too many chefs in the kitchen. Along with my own investment, a close circle of investors funded the film. It was a lean and mean production.
What was the smartest thing you did during pre-production or production? The dumbest?
REGINA: I had written the script in a very A,B,C,D order, and it read nicely. Then, the producers and I hired a director (I hadn't originally planned on directing the film) who explained that even if script that reads well, it doesn't always come across as interesting on film. As a novice, I figured other people knew more than I did, so I complied.
He worked with me for months scrambling the scenes around, trying to create an interesting "weave" of story lines and make it more "cinematic." In the end, my editor, Andrea Trillo, told me it was too confusing, and she unknowingly put everything in order almost exactly how it was first written. It's important to try and learn from those around you, but it is also important to trust your instincts. The smartest decisions I made every step of the way, were usually the opposite of what someone was pushing me to do.
And, finally, what did you learn from making the film that you can take to other projects?
REGINA: Here’s my Top Ten.
1. Less is more.
2. Never, ever skimp on sound during filming.
3. Give your editor the creative freedom to make changes. You can always change it back.
4. Go ahead and get drunk with your crew.
5. Post-production will cost twice as much as you think it will and take four-times as long.
6. Be appreciative.
7. Don't be afraid to hold your actors' feet to the fire. Make sure you're getting what you need, even if that means giving line-readings.
8. Remember who you are making the movie for.
9. Fight for what you want.
10. Trust your gut
10. Trust your gut