Thursday, November 3, 2016

Dimitri Glavas and Ray Fonseca on "Lights"

What was the genesis of Lights and how did you get involved?  

RAY: Lights was created while on vacation in the desert. We were staying at a friends home for the weekend and one night we were out in the back yard with all the lights off looking up at the stars. I saw a shooting star and for a second I wanted it to be a UFO. I have always believed in their existence and it got my wheels turning.

I turned to Dimitri and asked if he thought they would let us a shoot a movie in the house we were staying at. Two weeks later we had our first draft of the script that would become Lights.

What was your role as Producer and what did you find challenging about it?

DIMITRI: Being executive producer and producer meant I had a lot of roles.  The executive part focused on raising money, setting up LLC's, bank accounts contracts, deal memos and things of that nature.  Producing a low budget film isn't easy work.  You're involved in and oversee everything!  

What was the casting process like and was the script adjusted at all to fit the cast?

RAY: The casting process was a great deal of fun. We were going to be shooting two stories that would be happening at the same time, but one year apart. So everyone on the found footage side was all one big group of friends who had worked on a pilot together. I saw the pilot, being friends with many of those people already and their chemistry together was so good, I wanted to use them all for the film.

The only Member of the found footage group that was new to the group was Evan Weinstein and I think that worked for his character, having to be THAT guy in every group that is the insensitive jerk.

Hank Ostendorf who plays Thomas I knew from an acting class Nicole Marie Johnson (who plays Ashley) and I took together years ago. I wrote the Thomas character with him in mind the entire time and he was everything we could've hope for and more.

Sara Radle is a true pro, she came in to her first audition and nailed it right from the very first moment. I remember her leaving the room and Dimitri and me looking at each other like well we found our leading lady today. C.J. Baker and Caleb Neet were very much the same way in that their call backs were more of a formality. They all nailed their auditions. They are terrific actors and we are already trying to find ways to work with all of them again in the future.

Can you talk about your distribution plan for recouping costs?

DIMITRI: We currently have North American distribution with a company called Candy Factory.  We're released digitally on most online platforms.  Still planning on international distribution but we're handling that separately.  Check us out on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vudu, Comcast, DirecTV and Dish Network!  

What type of camera was employed and what was great (and not great) about it?

RAY: Some of the found footage material was shot on an actual camcorder which was fun to run around with and allowed the actors to go off on their own when hiking and we were able to let them create scenes beyond what was planned in the script. And they did a great job of that I want to add.

On the conventional side we used a Red scarlet. It's a great camera and the results our DP John Woodside was able to get the film are absolutely terrific.

There's not much downside to using one of those, outside of the cost perhaps. But I have to give credit to Kirill Yusim, one of our Producers, for making sure we had everything we needed. He and Dimitri  got us the best of everything we could get our hands on while staying within our modest budget.

Did the movie change much in the editing, and if so, why were those changes made?

RAY:  When you make an indie film you're always running out of something it feels like. Whether it's time or it's money, a lot can go wrong and a lot can go right. Sometime you get enough coverage of everything and sometimes you don't.

For the most part we got what we needed, but there were a few times in the editing room, when it's too late to go back to a set a reshoot, that you may have to reshape of few scenes here and there. Luckily for us the things we reshaped ultimately worked towards making it the best film it possibly could be.

What was the smartest thing your team did during production? The dumbest?

DIMITRI: The smartest thing we did was get the best group of people together to help make this movie the best we could.  From the director to the actors and all of the crew, they all did an amazing job! John Woodside, our DP, did an amazing job with this movie.

The dumbest thing, not sure.  Maybe taking too much time to compete the project.  Since it was our first film we took our time.  We should have just followed our guts and pushed through it.  Always follow your gut!

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

DIMITRI: Everything!  Lol.  Again, this was our first project and for me my first endeavor in entertainment period.  I will take everything I learned to other projects.   This was my film school.  I was learning on the spot and doing research as we went.  Honestly, in my opinions that's one of the best ways to do something.  Just do it!  

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