Thursday, January 10, 2013

Stephen Dest on “My Brother Jack”


What was your filmmaking background before setting out to make My Brother Jack?

STEPHEN: Before making My Brother Jack, my film background was peppered into a successful theatre career (actor/director) during which I did some documentary work and narrative shorts. My short film Blind went on to screen at many film festivals around the world; including the Cannes Film Festival (2008) and was subsequently sold to Movieola (a Canadian based film distributor). My Brother Jack is my first attempt at a feature-length film.

What was the genesis of the project and what was the writing process like? 

STEPHEN: The genesis came from a painting by the artist Larry Morelli. The painting had a real tragic sense of loss, seen through the eyes of the model used for the piece, who had a very maternal quality about her as well.

The first draft of the script was done as a spec deal with a film production company based in New York; the project sat for a few years and then I retained the rights back. I took the main characters (the two brothers) and started rewriting the script with the image of Larry's painting as a visual stimulant and that's when things really started to take shape. The aforementioned painting can be seen in the film....circle of life!

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

STEPHEN: I raised the budget for the film via Kickstarter. We did three campaigns for the film and were successful on two of three. I also had a private investor invest the majority of the production budget and a lot of in-kind contributions. 

The plan for recouping will hopefully come from a strong showing in the film festival market (where we hope to acquire a distributor) and through self-promoted screenings. I spent my teen years in the rock and roll scene, where self-promotion was the way of life, where a heavy duty stapler (for fliers) was more important then the guitar you played and I wouldn't want it any other way!


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

STEPHEN: Canon 5D. Loved everything about it.

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

STEPHEN: The end result is incredibly close to the original vision...it takes time to get it there but eventually what brought you to the editing room in the first place was the script and if you trust it (the script) it will be there for you when you need it the most. Often what happens once you get into the editing room is a need to tell the story with the best footage possible but if it's not what is right for the story you have to let it go, which is never easy but always necessary.


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

STEPHEN: The smartest thing I did on production was I listen to the talented group of people around me (cast and crew); even if I disagreed with them it helped me see another option and ultimately help in making decisions faster and more effectively, because on an indie, time is everything! 

The dumbest was that I didn't eat enough.


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

STEPHEN: What I learned was that your instincts are your best friend but patience is your lover and without her you’re lost. The art of making a film takes time and preparation. I will make sure I have plenty of both on the next project.

My Brother Jack - Official Trailer from My Brother Jack on Vimeo.

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