Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ryan Smith on "After"

What was your filmmaking background before setting out to make "After"?

 RYAN: I had made a couple of shorts and a handful of music videos. I co-founded a production company called Seabourne Pictures in 2004 with the intent of developing feature film content. It took us six years to get to After.

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

 RYAN: We pitched the project to a number of investors -- mostly personal contacts. My partner at Seabourne, Brandon Gregory, suggested we talk to some longtime friends of his who are in the shipping logistics business. They ended up partnering with a third investor and founding an LLC for the purpose of investing in the film.

In terms of recouping our costs, After will be in theaters on September 14th in limited release. Brandon's background is in exhibition, so he came to Seabourne with established relationships with film buyers at every major theater circuit. These days, a lot of independent films are distributed direct to video, day-and-date VOD, etc.

Brandon and I are both strong supporters of the communal movie-going experience, and we made After to be seen on the big screen. We were very fortunate to have the support from exhibition to make this a reality. We're also working with Jinga Films in the UK, who are negotiating sales to foreign territories.

What was your working process with your co-writer, Jason Parish?

 RYAN: Jason and I met regularly to discuss the story -- mostly over lunch -- and I would go away and write scenes. I love the collaborative process, but prefer to lock myself in my office for the actual writing.

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

RYAN: We shot on the Red One with the MX sensor. Because of the intensive VFX in After, film wasn't an option with our budget. We shot with an older set of anamorphic lenses, which probably gave us more trouble than the camera ever did.

Did the movie change much in the editing process, and if so, how?

RYAN: There were a number of scenes that we shuffled around, and a couple that we cut. In the script the opening is different. It worked on the page, but when we started cutting the film, we realized that it affected the pacing in a negative way. Most of that scene is still in the film, in the form of flashbacks scattered throughout. You're constantly rewriting, all the way through to the end.

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

RYAN: The smartest decision I made was trusting my friends Laray Mayfield and Sabyn Mayfield when they recommended that I meet with Steven Strait for the part of Freddy. Laray is a casting director who had met with Steven several times for different projects. She was adamant that he would be a perfect fit for Freddy, and it turned out that she was absolutely right.

The dumbest decision I made was attempting to make this film in the first place. With the budget we had, it was insanity to think we could pull it off. If it hadn't been for Magnetic Dreams, who did our VFX, we would have been sunk. So my dumbest decision ended up working out okay in the end.

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

RYAN: This was my first feature, so the knowledge I took from it was invaluable. I think you learn more from your failures than your successes. It's the sense of a missed opportunity in a scene that inspires you to do better next time.

I haven't had a chance to work on any other projects yet, but I'm developing something now that I'm pretty excited about.

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