What was your filmmaking background before making 3 References?
JAMES: 3 References is the 9th feature film we went into production on. After I graduated from film school at the University of Texas, my business partners and I formed Twitchy Dolphin Flix to focus on true indie, micro budget films. So we started with a movie called Funny Books and have worked steady since.
Most of our films have some form of distribution and all of them have had pretty good festival runs. 3 References was fun because it was the first of our films to crack a top ten festival with the Austin Film Festival.
Where did the idea come from and what was the writing process like?
JAMES: The idea wasn't mine. My partner sorta of jokingly gave me an idea for a rom com. "Hey, you should do a movie about a guy who has to get 3 letters of recommendation from exes." So it started there.
As I wrote it, it kind of turned into this story about this guy who THOUGHT he was a nice guy, but really had left a path of broken hearts along the way. I think all scripts should have some kind of underlying message. And this one is about how we treat people. And how messages are sent, but might be received differently.
Can you talk about how you raised your budget and your financial plan for recouping your costs?
JAMES: We've had a lot of success on indiegogo. And everyone works deferred, so it makes getting the movie made easier. And Austin is a very film friendly town. A lot of businesses are willing to open up their place to let us shoot. So recouping becomes that much easier. So we have the film heavy into its festival run in 2014 and are looking at different distribution possibilities.
What was your process for capturing sound while shooting and how did you do your final mix?
JAMES: Now, this will sound crazy, but we decided to ADR 80% of the movie. Basically, the hard thing about true indie films and sound is, anytime you shoot in public its hard to control the sound. I can't shoot in a guy’s bar and ask him to shut everything down to get good sound. But I also don't have the expertise to blend production and some ADR as well as we need too. So I felt like the thing to do was take it all out and ADR.
Honestly, all the flexibility it gave us in post is a reason we're likely to take that route again.
What was the smartest thing you did during production? The dumbest?
JAMES: The smartest thing was the casting. We had some new blood on set and it mixed well with our regulars. And the dumbest was the casting. We were caught short by a cast member who pulled out very last minute. It led to Harper Graham in the role and I honestly couldn't have been happier with that, but it led to me to take another look at how I cast a film.
And, finally, what did you learn from making the film that you have taken to other projects?
JAMES: We always try to a very honest after action review of how our productions went. So besides the casting, we looked at some other things to make things just run smoother. We applied a lot of those concepts, including scheduling, to the Quad X Saga, a couple of mockumentaries shot concurrently poking fun at the adult film industry and our reaction to it.