Thursday, March 11, 2010

Justin Hilliard on “The Other Side of Paradise”

What was your filmmaking background before you made the film?

JUSTIN: I've been telling stories and making films since I was about eight years old. As part of Striped Socks Productions, I have written, produced, and directed two feature films, Wednesday and The Other Side of Paradise.

Where did the idea come from to make The Other Side of Paradise?

JUSTIN: We had originally planned on shooting three features back to back to back; however, as it often does, funding fell through on those films. Our production creative team was put in a position to either start over and spend another year to year and half trying to raise full funding for those films, or reassess what we could make that summer on a much lower and immediately possible budget.

We decided to go forward with the recession era filmmaking. I grabbed a few loglines, several from quite a few years ago, and pitched them to my co-producers and co-writers Arianne Martin and Ryan Hartsell. We decided on one that faintly resembles the story for The Other Side of Paradise. With that, the writing process began, and Arianne and I began to infuse a lot more of our personal relationship and history into the story. This also included a lot of Arianne's childhood experiences as an outline for the lead character, Rose.

What was the process for writing the script? How did you work with your co-writers?

JUSTIN: Once we had the idea, I locked myself away for a few nights and hammered out the main outline. Then we all got together and shaped and finalized it. After that, again, I'd lock myself away and write a couple of the scenes. I'd show Arianne first, and she'd give me her notes, then I'd show both Arianne and Ryan after I did some touch-ups. I'd apply these notes and ideas and keep writing.

This continued until the script was done. It was a lot of wine and a lot of discussion. Having your wife as one of the co-writers, co-producers, and the lead actress is a great asset for immediate notes and ideas. On the other hand, it also made for some challenging discussions, which in the end only helped the final script. Arianne and Ryan each brought very different and brilliant ideas to the table. I loved the experience.

How did you fund the film?

JUSTIN: We funded the film by selling investment units. Since, we had quite a low budget, a lot of these were able to be purchased by friends and family. We also had some outside investors that had seen our work in some capacity. In addition, we've spent a lot out of our own pockets as well. We've done all of the pre-production, production, post, distribution, and publicity on our own, while still maintaining full-time jobs.

What camera did you use and what did you like or dislike about it?

JUSTIN: We shot HD on the Panasonic HVX-200 with the Redrock Microsystems 35mm simulator adapter so we could also use prime lenses. I loved the shoot, work flow, and the final product. The only issues I had with the camera was with the adapter, it made it difficult to shoot in low light settings. We would either have to blast the scene with light or remove the adapter. It's a great system though.

What are the advantages to wearing multiple hats (director, writer, editor) on the film?

JUSTIN: On a lower budget project that is a personal passion piece, I think it is very necessary to follow your vision from conception to distribution. This lets me continually plan for the next step and phase of the filmmaking process. Most importantly, it allows for the maximum amount of planning to go into the overall marketing and distribution process for the film.

What was the smartest decision you made during production? The dumbest?

JUSTIN: The smartest decision was casting my wife, Arianne Martin, as the lead and listening to all of her casting suggestions for the film. I cast several of the leads and supporting characters based on her word alone, some even without auditions. The dumbest decision was to shoot in Texas in the summer. It was hot! But it did absolutely fit the project.

What did you learn from making the film that you can take to other projects?

JUSTIN: Well, we've chronicled a lot of the process in our feature documentary still in production, called 3 Thumbs Up. With each film, new lessons, ideas, and short cuts become invaluable information for your next project.

We will take this new knowledge as we continue to learn into our next feature film, the drama/sci-fi just announced called Swallow. We're very excited about this project and will shoot in early spring.

1 comment:

James said...

I hate to type as a robot, but thanks again!