Thursday, July 26, 2012

Travis Hamilton on "More Than Frybread"

What was your filmmaking background before setting out to make More Than Frybread?

TRAVIS: This is my fourth feature film written and directed by myself, so three films prior. I still feel like I'm learning how to be a filmmaker. I feel like I need 12 features under my belt before I know what I'm really doing. I'm trying different genres out to see what I like better then the other.

I did have some documentary background prior to getting into the feature world. I shot 100+ hours of footage with my National Guard unit that was deployed to Iraq in 2003. That is where I wrote my first film Turquoise Rose.

What was the genesis for the script for More Than Frybread and what was the writing process like?

TRAVIS: I've visited many reservations around the country and up into Canada. Everyone claims their frybread is the best or their grandmother's is the best. I know everyone can't have the same frybread, so I thought we could end the long debated question! I also have a friend who is part Hualapai and Navajo and one day I asked her what side had the better frybread. She had to say her Hualapai side due to the fact that all her friends around us at the time were Hualapai!

The writing process was great, first draft was done in 2008. Was rather smooth until I had to figure out how to end the story, who to pick to win the competition. I was worried that my Navajo friends would be upset if I didn't choose the Navajo character and that was tough, trying to end the piece.

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

TRAVIS: Had a few investors come in that were on our previous films. We are distributing ourselves, our fourth rodeo so to speak. We've learned a few tricks to distribution, but still have a lot to learn. Looking forward to the day when a big Distributor will come in and sweep us off our feet. :)
What are the key elements of your marketing plan and why?

TRAVIS: I'm not sure if we really have a marketing plan other then getting the film out to the people who it was made for. We are taking it around to every reservation in the United States and the reserves into Canada. At least we hope to hit most of them!! We've shown on about 20 reservations so far and played in seven traditional theatres at this point. We opened film 3 Feb on the Gila River Rez.

What camera did you use and what did you love and hate about it?

TRAVIS: Film led to shooting on the old school Panasonic P2. It gets a nice picture and worked great for our low budget and fast mockumentary. Don't get a lot of depth with it, but the story allows for that.

What are the advantages (and disadvantages) of wearing so many hats (writer, director, DP, producer) on a feature?
TRAVIS: Advantages are you don't have to have many debates and loose time trying to play the chain of command. We can make changes quick and happen quick because there isn't anyone to have to get approval from.

Disadvantage is things fall through the cracks when wearing so many hats and sometimes that synergy isn't there when you are bouncing ideas off of yourself. But I have a great crew and cast who I worked with and they all stepped up into areas where we still were able to talk and find a new way or a better way to make a scene or line of dialogue happen.

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

TRAVIS: Smartest: I shot about 1/3 of the film by myself with only the actor and one or two other people in the community at times, so the budget was basically my lunch, actor fee and gas money to get to the location. We also shot on five reservations which was great to do and a great opportunity to meet new friends.

Dumbest: Trying to make a movie for very cheap and fast. We shot it in 12 days. (Our third film we shot in 6 days, so very fast!) :) But what other options do you have sometimes?

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

TRAVIS: I'm still learning from the film and waiting to get on the next project! I see how a film that was shot with 1 person crew to up to 30+ crew members can be intercut together and no one in the audience can tell the difference. I really liked that aspect of film making.
I liked not being rushed and able to get what we needed by myself and then at the same time, really loved working with a huge crew, at least in my world a huge crew, and then seeing how the footage came together so least with our budget issues. :)

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