TYLER: Before The Only Oly I had only acted in films. I started acting in the fall of 2008 with the lead roll in an indie film titled Find Me. I continued to act in independent films throughout the area for a few years before I decided I wanted to try to shoot my own short film. I did a couple shorts and eventually decided to try a full length.
Where did the idea come from and what was the writing process like?
TYLER: The idea for The Only Oly was a collaboration between me and my good friend Mattlock London (who also plays our main character). Matt contacted me about possibly doing something together, he was wanting to get into filmmaking, saw that I had been doing it for a little while and he contacted me.
We both had already had our own scripts for feature films and I was just about ready to start pre-production on mine, but we decided to start from scratch and write a brand new story together. We tailored the story around the resources we had rather than trying to come up with more funds later.
What was your casting process like?
TYLER: For several roles I had actors in mind that I had worked with in the past whom I knew would be perfect for certain roles; for others we had a local casting call. Several really talented actors auditioned for parts, it was odd for me because I'm usually the one auditioning. Coming from an actor’s point of view, I tried my best to make my talent comfortable at all times, starting with auditions.
TYLER: So, this was practically a "no budget" film. Myself, Mattlock and our 1st AD Julie Roberds (my mother) paid for food on the set along with some other crew, and almost everything else was donated or volunteered including our amazing cast. Later we did an indiegogo crowd funding for promotional items and copies of the film as well as some funds we need to finish post-production.
What kind of camera did you use to shoot the movie -- and what did you love about it and hate about it?
TYLER: We shot the entire movie with my personal camera and two video lights (that I bought from amazon). Ha, I say that to give the folks at home and idea of what we were working with. The camera was a Canon Rebel t3i DSLR. So most of the time we were filming, people around town didn't notice because it's just a small still camera that also does HD video.
What I loved was how small our crew and set-up was. The camera was so small it was quick and painless going from location to location, and working with a DSLR makes it easy to put the camera practically anywhere and the ability to use multiple lenses.
What I hated about it were simply ALL the technical limits that DSLRs have. Shooting a feature film on a stills camera comes with MANY work-arounds. Any indie moviemaker reading this will know all too well what I'm talking about. Simply put, it's just not the type of quality we could have achieved with a cinema camera.
You wore a lot of hats on this production (director, producer, writer, DP, editor). What's the upside (and downside) of biting off so much?
TYLER: Well, it was (and still is) a LOT to chew.
The upside to "wearing multiple" hats on a large creative project like this is being able to have an idea in my head from the very beginning, getting on set, setting the shot, lighting the shot, directing the action, and then taking it all the way to cutting it like I want in the final edit...
Unfortunately the down side is pretty much the same. Getting on set, setting the shot, lighting the shot, setting the actors actions, directing the flow of the scene and then doing it all over again, and again, and again. THEN the daunting task of sifting throughout months of footage and audio to assemble a million piece puzzle in a way that tells a good story and looks as good as possible.
One of the main things that I hated the most was knowing that I had a bad shot on set, and knowing at the same time I simply I didn't have time to re-work the shot because we had two more ext. locations before the sun sets...
TYLER: The smartest thing we probably did was to utilize my family’s property for our main locations. My sister and brother-in-law let us use their home for the main character’s house, so I knew we could get back in if we needed to for reshoots (and we did). The main character's bedroom was a room above my parent’s garage; it was great because we knew no one would touch it and it could stay dressed for as long and we needed.
I have a list of dumb things we did during production. The main thing for me would have been able to cater more to our amazing cast and crew for all the hard work they did to make this movie happen.
And, finally, what did you learn from making the film that you have taken to other projects?
TYLER: You know, I knew (on paper) what we needed to do to make a feature film happen, but you don't ever really know how to do anything until you do it.
There are a lot of things that I learned that I'll be taking with me on future projects. Even though I did most the legwork on this project, I think the main thing I learned personally is being able to collaborate with other professionals to get the job done. Moviemaking is not at all like painting a picture or sculpting a piece of art. You HAVE to work creatively with a large team over a long period of time in many different areas doing many different things to eventually (hopefully) create one big cohesive collaborative piece of art.