PAUL: This is really my first film.
I have a YouTube Channel that I have run for almost 3 years and it has a healthy following. The more I learned, I realized I started getting more creative in my productions for that channel.
Finally I did a review on a car and was told it looked almost professional. That was when I realized it was finally possible to complete a dream I've had since I was a kid. Be a filmmaker.
Where did the idea come from and what was the process for writing the script and getting the script ready to shoot?
PAUL: It was a discussion I had with my wife over dinner one night. I wanted to shoot something creative where lighting was a factor, music and camera work. It was originally intended to be a short. simple concept, one location and have about three actors.
It took me a weekend to write the original script, which ultimately when through 6 revisions. The process for writing in those stages was the original treatment was done and once I secured the Holman House in Pittsburg, Texas, I re-envisioned the script to fit the location.
I repeated those steps to add elements of the history of the house to the story, because this was a 103-year-old haunted house we were filming in.
What was your casting process and did you change the script to match your final cast?
PAUL: We had most of the cast in place prior to the audition, however I needed to cast my main two leads so we held an audition at the Reserve in Longview. We had about 100 people come out to the audition and were able to fill the remaining parts for the film which had grown to 11 actors.
After we did that, I had them over to my home to do a read through on the script. because we were working with mostly amateur actors and I wanted to give them the best chance to succeed. I got to know their personalities, we went back through the script and localized it to the cast.
What was your approach to special effects -- did you write to existing resources?
PAUL: I have worked in After Effects for a couple years. I had always planned on handling my ghost effects and makeup in post. This was a way to get my skills out there for others to see.
What type of camera did you use and what did you love (and hate) about it?
PAUL: We shot the entire film on a Canon T6i. There were a couple pickups shot on a 70D but the T6i was our workhorse.
The upside is this camera is a good film camera for young up coming filmmakers to cut their teeth with.
The downside is it is not a good low light camera. Our solution was to pair with Rokinon Cine lenses which were very fast and great in low light. So that helped.
Did the movie change much in the editing, and if so, why did you make the changes?
PAUL: No, we did a pretty extensive pre-production plan and stuck to it through the edit. There were some effects that got left out because of time constraints on the release, but they didn't take away from the film at all.
Can you talk about your distribution plan for recouping costs?
PAUL: My production company is a full service production company, as in we handle all aspects of a films production from beginning to end. We also realize that there seems to be a trend within the indie film community to do a circuit of showings combined with DVD sales to get things to VOD. They usually don't sell tickets to the initial premiere but show it for free. We took a different approach.
We promoted the film all year long, providing unheard of access to behind the scenes activities. We even live streamed the final day of filming to the fans. Then we promoted the premiere well in advance and sold tickets to the event.
The idea was to recoup most of the costs for the film within the first 30 days of release. This would also allow us to get the money needed for VOD.
That plan is in place and working very well for us. The key to this plan is capitalizing on the momentum of a film while it is hot to pay for it.
What's the upside to wearing so many hats on a project (writer, director, DP, editor, producer)?
PAUL: You learn so much about every aspect of the film process. You understand the different roles and I think every filmmaker needs to understand these roles to be good at what they do.
Moving forward I will have others fill these roles, but my experience will prove essential in their success.
What was the smartest thing you did during production? The dumbest?
PAUL: Smartest thing was bringing in great actors out of the gate along with my AD Pete Luman. I found I couldn't have done this film without him.
Dumbest thing I did was try and shoot with a steady cam vest and stabilizer using prime lenses lol. every time we swapped a lens I had to re-balance the stabilizer.
And, finally, what did you learn from making this feature that you will take to other projects?
PAUL: Preparation is everything. Too many indie filmmakers rush through all of the prep and planning because they just want to get to the filming part.
The more you are prepared, the better result you will get and less work you will have to do in post-production.