Thursday, March 16, 2017

Brent Kado on "A Short History of Drugs in the Valley"

What was your filmmaking background before making A Short History of Drugs in the Valley?

BRENT: This is my fourth feature film. I have done many commercials, some music videos, web series and shorts. 

Where did the idea come from and what was the process for writing the script and getting the script ready to shoot?

BRENT: The idea came from growing up in a small town and the stories that you hear or are told growing up. People love to idealize how peaceful and joyous small town life is, but often it's as unpredictable a place as anywhere else. 

I wrote the film. It was a combination of two scripts I had. I decided to combine and refine the two stories, which is a total independent film thing to do. My wife and I collaborate on many of our projects and we had decided to do another feature (this is now my fourth) after she had just completed a personal short film that I produced. So we agreed to do this film that I had wanted to do. 

Combining the two screenplays and adding some more scenes was the bulk of my writing which I did over a three month period. Knowing that I am shooting it with actors who I've worked with before and producing it ourselves, the screenplay is definitely not a completed project. Plenty of room to work in setting the scenes and tweaking dialogue. It wouldn't win any screenwriting contests, that's for sure.  

What was your casting process and did you change the script to match your final cast?

BRENT: Casting was all hand selected. We did not audition anyone. We'd worked with many of them in other projects before. The rest came out of my wife's improv classes or local community theater actors I'd seen perform.

We only made minor changes. The biggest change was that my wife, who is a successful commercial and theatrical actor, was also producing the film with me (we work in tandem on many projects) decided to reduce her role and we cut it down in the script considerably to make the story flow better and add extra shooting time for the remainder of the script. 

What type of camera did you use and what did you love (and hate) about it?

BRENT: A Canon 6D and a few scenes with a Canon 5D Mark III. The cinematographers did all the shooting, so I just trusted their comfortablility and vision. 

Did the movie change much in the editing, and if so, why did you make the changes?

BRENT: The editor (Lee Bacak) gave me two cuts after his first pass. One was close to what I had in the script and the other was his ideal version. We went with his version because it was very concise, clear and only about 5 to 6 minutes shorter. Turned out to be a good choice. 

Can you talk about your distribution plan for recouping costs?

BRENT: Our initial plan was pretty undetermined. I work in the YouTube ecosystem in various capacities and I hoped that with the recognition of the musicians involved that getting it up on our YouTube would give us some nice views and maybe a bit of ad dollars. But getting released on Amazon changed all that of course. 

What impact did the length of the movie (around 50 minutes) have on getting a distributor interested?

BRENT: When the editor and I settled on the final cut, the Youtube route (and possibly using the film as a "pilot" for a sequel or series) seemed like the obvious direction we were going to go.

I had another film in The Rhode Island International Film Festival and met an Amazon Video representative there and they said they'd look at it. Getting a micro-budget film of this length up on Amazon is just a testament to the changing world of independent film. 

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

BRENT: Smartest- There are so many. Haha. I have to list two. One, casting actors I trusted and giving them the space to do what they are best at. Two, scheduling in extra half-days of shooting as buffers even though it was hard to make that happen. We shot in two time blocks: six days, then a week off and then six more days. I needed the extra half day during the first time block. We did not need it in the second and it just became a time to experiment in the final scene of the day and give everyone a couple extra hours to relax and sleep. 

Dumbest- There are so many! Again I'll have to list two. One, not confirming my shoot with a local State Park that I had gotten a permit for. The ranger on duty had no clue what was happening and shut us down. That is when we had to use one of those buffer half-days and shoot at a local farm instead. Two, not keeping up with all the dailies and confirming I got everything I wanted/needed. 

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

BRENT: Going with your instinct on length, structure and approach concerning the final product. With the changing landscape there are viable homes on quality platforms for all types of projects.


avant/chicago said...

Thanks for the interview! Here is the link to the film on Amazon-

avant/chicago said...

Thanks for the interview! Here is the link to the film on Amazon-