10 questions with Ever director, Josh Beck at the half-way mark.
Saturday, January 30th, 2016
1Ever is such a beautiful film. What was the initial seed that made you want to make this film? I think the idea started in 2011. The concept of making a low budget film that was actually watchable was VERY new to me, but once I started seeing films getting made for under $20,000 and getting into big festivals, I got inspired. My friend Colin and I sat down and brainstormed on ideas for a few days. The goal was to write a script using locations I already had access to, and to create a character for my friend Wendy McColm to play.
I knew I wanted to do a love story and I knew I wanted to tackle depression (something I dealt with), but I didn't want to make a film I had already seen. I have an ex girlfriend who started to date women after her and I broke up, and that always kind of stuck with me. I wanted to explore the feelings that a young woman might go though in that situation, and what a new relationship of that kind might look like.
2Your lead actresses (Wendy McColm and Christina Elizabeth Smith) are incredible. How did you find them and what was it like working with them? I met Wendy about 7 years ago on the set of a TV show while we were both extras. It's funny because I had already heard about her by reputation in the extras community as this funny, energetic, likable girl with a weird YouTube channel. We became friends and I've learned a lot from her over the years about how to persevere within the industry. She works really hard.
Christina was a friend of a friend. I had only met her briefly once before and all I really knew is that she had the look I wanted. I met with her for lunch to talk about the role just a week or two before we were set to shoot and I really got to know her personality in that meeting. She had this warm, sweet, welcoming way about her, which was really important for the character because her love interest would be in such a delicate state when they'd meet. There was no audition process, I sort of took a risk, but casting Christina was one of the best decisions I made for the film.
3Your cinematographer (Micah Van Hove) also shot and directed another film on our site called Menthol. What was it like working with him? Micah is really fun to work with because he has two sides to him. He can be very fun and goofy and has the ability to lift the spirits of the crew when needed, and then he'll flip a switch and go into business mode when we're trying to get a difficult shot, or when time/money is running out, or when he sees that I really need his focus. We've become good friends.
I've worked with him on several paid jobs since EVER, and I collaborated with him on the latest short film I directed as well. I like the fact that he is able to shoot quickly and rely on his instincts. That kind of approach makes it easy to shoot on a limited budget. Some of the best compliments I've gotten on my films have been about the cinematography, so thank you Micah.
4How big was your entire cast/crew and how many days did you have to shoot this? The crew was literally just Micah on camera, our friend Nate Kamiya line producing and holding a boom, me directing and mixing sound, and then the actors. It was like that for 90% of the shoot and it seems pretty insane looking back on it now. We shot for 21 days spread out over a couple months. There weren't really any deadlines since I did all of the post production myself.
5What was the most difficult scene to shoot? The party scene. It was basically the first real scene we shot so we were all still figuring everything out. It was complete chaos because of all the extras, various actors, the live band, etc. and we ended up having to improvise and shoot out of order to accommodate people's schedules and because of rain. I was doing so much mental juggling, but I also felt super WIRED and ALIVE. It was fun because it was also my birthday. That's actually how I was able to get so many extras to come for free, I tricked my friends into coming to my "birthday party."
6The music is also great in this film. At what stage do you start thinking about the music? I come from a musical background. I played in bands and even composed music for some short films way back in the day, so music in film is very important to me. I had some of those music cues embedded in the first draft of the script, but of course things change. In fact, the entire tone of the film changed by the time we shot it. It wasn't until I was editing that I realized I wanted the film to be all diegetic sound, which basically just means there's no score or mood music, only songs playing from sound sources within the scenes. Also, a lot of the bands and artists that made it into the film are friends of mine so I like that it feels personal to me.
7What's the film that made you want to become a filmmaker? I'm glad someone finally asked me this question because I actually have a specific answer for it!
In 2003 I saw an indie film on HBO called Manic, starring a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Zooey Deschanel, Don Cheadle, and Michael Bacall. It blew me away because it was the first time I had ever seen a film that looked low budget where the acting was flawless. It felt so real and raw to me at the time. And the low-fi score was beautiful. I couldn't tell you how many times I watched that film, and I think it still holds up today.
8Why did you decide to do the sound mixing and and how did it work out? The short answer is "budgetary reasons." The first 2 days of filming were also the 2 most complicated scenes in the film and so I hired people to do sound for those days. Afterward, I started doing the math and realized I was going to run out of money if I had to keep hiring them, so I just did it myself for the rest of the shoot.
The great thing about it, though, is when you're making a film and you can't afford any video village equipment, the sound mixer is the only one who can really hear the acting performances in some cases. Especially during really wide shots, or if a location was kind of noisy, it was critical that I be the one wearing the headphones.
I do not, however, recommend any other filmmaker use this approach. Find a way to save room in your budget for the proper crew and equipment and you'll save yourself so much headache!
9How does it feel to be the first film ever on Fandependent Films? This film was a lot of "firsts" for me so it seems fitting! I'm glad to be making films in the age of Alternate Distribution Methods, and I applaud anyone who is helping filmmakers get their art seen, and helping audiences to find good films. Thanks for the opportunity.
10What's next? I directed a short film called Petro, so hopefully that will be available to watch in the next couple months. I have another feature script that I'm looking to direct, and I'm even working on a business plan to potentially launch my own production company as well, because I'm very interested in film development and helping new talented directors find funding for their projects. In the mean time, I hope people are still enjoying EVER!
About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
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