What was your filmmaking background before making Nowhere Nevada?
DAVID: I was going to film school at the time and hadn't really done much filmmaking. I had produced 4 rock and roll documentaries of Nick's benefit concert Marianarchy. These involved shooting two days of concert footage (ranging from 20-30 bands) along with band interviews. I compiled all the footage into a two-hour documentary for the following year’s event to help promote what is, in my opinion, a fabulous humanitarian effort. These were hectic and long days of shooting (averaging 10 to 14 hrs days). I did all of the editing and production on these films and learned a lot.
Tyler and I shot a music video prior to starting Nowhere just to work together a bit and learn each others ways. I knew going in that taking on a feature length film would be a huge step but I felt I was ready for it and figured I would learn a lot. I would joke with people when they asked me if I might be in over my head. My answer to them was, "Yeah most likely."
How did you get connected with Marianne Psota's script and what was the process for getting it ready to shoot?
DAVID: While I was going to film school, Nick and I were chatting at our watering hole and I told Nick I was ready to do a feature film. He mentioned Marianne's script and if I had read it. I hadn't, so he gave it to me to check out. After reading it I knew instantly this was the project for me.
While her script was very rough and needed development, the story and the characters were solid. The music aspect of the script appealed to me right away. I said to myself, with some rewrites and development this could make an amazing rock and roll cult film. I called it a rock and roll fantasia. My past, the people and friends around me, Nick's local musical knowledge, all of it crystalized immediately. I knew we had all the pieces locally to make a great film. One reading and I could damn well see the finished film in my head. I knew this was the project. From there I went after funding, Tyler Bourns, actors, tech folk and others. I just started to sell it to everyone around me and began rewrites. Thus the journey began.
Can you talk about how you raised your budget and your financial plan for recouping your costs?
DAVID: Hudson Flanigan was the one and only person I really knew that I felt might be able to help us out financially. I came up with a number and picked up the phone to pitch him the film and ask for funding. Man, I was nervous doing that call. I knew Hudson casually over a number of years but was nowhere near as close to him as Nick and some other folk in our circle. Hudson had been part of the Reno music scene years before and had since moved to Portland.
I had no idea where any other funds would come from. I just knew we could start with the amount asked. It was a calculated risk. I figured if I could tell folks we had something to start with it would be easier to get them involved. Hudson said yes a few days after the pitch and one piece of the puzzle was set.
How did you cast the film and did the script change at all based on the casting?
DAVID: Casting the film came in two parts. As I was doing the rewrites I had a number of local actors in mind for certain existing roles, along with some characters added in rewrites. Most of those actors ended up in the film, though some not in the roles I first envisioned.
The leads and a few supporting roles came through auditioning at Nevada casting working with Juli Green. She was a huge help, specifically with finding the leads. We auditioned from LA and SF, but ended up casting two local actors. Juli ended up becoming another producer on the film and was instrumental in the films success.
One interesting casting was a native American role. We were not able to find an actor for it. One of the actors, a long time Reno veteran Tom Plunkett, took the role. Now Tom is very much Caucasian so I simply added one line to the script. One of the leads asks him his name and he answers, " Sam the Indian." "Sam the Indian?" replies TJ. Sam replies, "Ten percent." It became a good joke in the script and Tom was amazing as usual.
What kind of camera did you use to shoot the movie -- and what did you love about it and hate about it?
DAVID: We shot on a Red camera. Tyler already owned most of the equipment we needed and was willing to use it for the project. If I remember right, the Red was pretty new and I think he wanted to put it through its paces.
Tyler was huge to this production. Knowledge, talent, equipment. Without him this film would not have happened. I loved having a Red to shoot with. As far as good and bad things you would have to ask Tyler, I only had the thing in my hands once or twice.
What was the smartest thing you did during production? The dumbest?
DAVID: Boy the smartest thing done during production? Tyler and I did a lot of scouting for locations. I really knew what I wanted. We got lucky and found perfect places such as Middlegate NV and Hazen NV. Having our locations set helped out a lot.
The dumbest thing I think would be not doing dailies at the end of each shoot day. Of course you have to understand the initial 10 days of principal shooting were on an average of 17 to 26 hours. Sleep was necessary. But dailies would have helped with continuity issues. We had a few of those.
And, finally, what did you learn from making the film that you have taken to other projects?
DAVID: My partner Scott Dundas and I have started a little production company and we have shot 3 short films since. They average about 18 min or so.
Doing those films I have used many lessons learned from Nowhere. Each film has it's own challenges ya know. I find every film I do has it's own lessons to teach.