Thursday, March 15, 2012

Koran Dunbar on “Greencastle”

What was your filmmaking background before making Greencastle?

KORAN: I started off as one of those weird kids in the neighborhood that would borrow my friend’s dad’s camera and shoot my own movies. Believe it or not, that was a critical part as it helped me learn to become creative and work with what I had. That was key to my start.

I later became involved in TV in my school’s Television Productions class, which no one really watched until I started writing and acting in my own skits. After graduating high school, I studied communications and media at Penn State. I got into stand-up comedy, which introduced me to the circuit and eventually the production world working with MTV and making an appearance on NBC’s Conan O Brien.

There is no really right way to start you just need to roll your sleeves up and make mistakes. So many people with college degrees do nothing because they think work should be handed to them. It doesn’t work that way and you need to go after work or create it your self.

Where did the idea come from and what was the writing process like?

KORAN: Honestly the idea came to me from a daydream I had before going to work. The idea started to grow…and you know what they say, you write what you know. My experiences growing up in a rural area and raising a child by my self began to influence my writing and it just took off from there.

Can you talk about how you raised your budget and your plan for recouping your costs?

KORAN: I had money saved up from when I was in college and every time I earned a bit of side cash, I would put it into a business account. The primary funding was taking a loan out on my 401-K. A combination of funds from and a local screening of the film should help to repay some or all of the loan (depending on ticket sales!). After that it’s all in God's hands…

What kind of camera did you use to shoot the movie -- and what did you love about it and hate about it?

KORAN: I was always in love with Canon, which was my first real video camera (Canon XL1), so I was sold on it. When I hired my DP he shot his last project in Africa on the Sony EX1 so that is the camera that we purchased for Greencastle. I loved the camera in every aspect. The only downside was you could not change the lenses out. That was available on the next model up, the EX3.

You wore a lot of hats on the production -- acting, writing, directing. What's the upside and downside of doing that?

KORAN: It was once said that when you are the artist and the entrepreneur it’s like being superman. But lets face the reality. You are never going to have a movie shot unless you do it yourself, especially the first time. And let’s be even more honest…roles for African Americans are not in high demand. So the only real way to put something out there that you are proud of is by doing it yourself.

Of course the down side is you tend to work extra hard and spread yourself too thin. I fell in love with directing, writing is a challenge and something I would like to get better at, but acting is my true passion.

What was the smartest thing you did during production? The dumbest?

KORAN: Hiring my production manager and working with Dave Vanderveer. We work very well together and in fact he and I get along the best when it comes to meeting deadlines. He pushed me to be a better me. At the end of the day God placed this guy in my life and it was the best thing that could of happened.

As for the dumbest thing I don’t really think there was anything dumb I did at least not to me. The mistakes I made were necessary mistakes that are made as a first time filmmaker. If anything I would of just purchased the camera rather than renting it because I ended up purchasing it in the end.

And, finally, what did you learn from making the film that you have taken to other projects?

KORAN: I learned a lot about myself, and my family and friends. I learned that at the end of the day, sweat equity and having the right people around you cast and crew are imperative. This is key: you can do a lot with no or little money. I have learned how strong I am and also how fragile I am. At the end of the day, I learned that without God, my project would never have happened.

And all of this I will take to my next projects.

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