Thursday, November 12, 2015

Carley Smale on "Cold Season"

What was your filmmaking background before making Cold Season?

CARLEY: I made my first short film when I was in grade 12 in my media co-op class which was nominated at the Toronto Student Film Festival. After that I just felt a passion for filmmaking and decided to go to Film School at Humber for 4 years, specializing in screenwriting.

Where did the idea come from and what was the process of writing the script? 

CARLEY: I had been watching several low budget movies and was getting very inspired by watching my favorite directors first films. I started to think about the resources in my life that I could use in order to make my own low budget film.

Once I decided on a concept, I began writing a treatment that ended up being around 40 pages and had basic plot points spread throughout for the actors. It was not a traditional script and much of the dialogue was improvised.

At what point did you decide to make it a musical and what was the process for creating and placing the songs within the story?

CARLEY: I always knew I wanted to use my friend (and the lead character) Jill Harris' music but I thought it was more so going to be non-diegetic. But after re-listening to her music, we both realize how lyrically perfect her songs were in terms of the themes within the movie and so I decided to have her actually sing the songs. I think it added an important layer to the story that would have felt empty without it.

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

CARLEY: We raised $3000 on Indiegogo and the rest of it was put in by myself and the two producers. Our budget ended up being about $8000.

Going into it, we all knew we would probably never make our money back and that this was going to be more of an experiment to get our foot in the door. There is some talk of distribution at the moment, so that would be a dream come true for us.

How did you cast the movie and did the script change much once you had your cast in place?

CARLEY: The process was pretty basic. I asked family and friends who I thought would work well. Jon and Jill had never met one another but I had a feeling they would click and they really did. I lucked out.

I have always found the traditional casting process awkward in the past, so I decided to see what happened if I didn't use trained film actors and went with my gut instead. As far as the story went, not much changed. I let the actors be creative with their dialogue but they knew where the story had to go and were mindful of that.

What kind of camera did you use to shoot the movie -- and what did you love about it and hate about it?

CARLEY: We used the PANASONIC LUMIX GH3. It was our cinematographer, Spencer Ryerson's, personal camera. I thought it worked great. Our only issue was night shoots but I think it still turned out well.

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

CARLEY: The smartest thing I did during production was allow every crew/cast member to feel comfortable to tell me things they thought would make the film better. It was a collaboration. I was very open to hearing everyone's opinion because I am very new to this and respected everyone so much.

The dumbest thing we did was definitely not having a script supervisor. Continuity became very hard.

And, finally, what did you learn from making this feature that you will take to other projects?

CARLEY: I learned that as long as everyone is well fed and feeling supported and appreciated then it is a much smoother and more enjoyable experience. People were more willing to go above and beyond and stay late because of the respect that was given.

Having meals together was a big one. I wanted everyone to feel like a small family for those 8 days.

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