It was just a short film man! Jeez.... This term has been thrown around a ton lately regarding a short film we produced called 'DENOUEMENT'. The past 6 months has been an eye opening experience for us and in turn corroded away some parts of us that were indefensible. In essence though, these experiences have blossomed a new wealth of knowledge and seemingly an experience you can't pay for. In order to achieve what we have achieved so far, you need to see what we saw. Our path in the beginning was inevitably as futile as the expectations we set ourselves when we began the venture in the first place. The misconception we all have about what we set out to achieve can never be won by simply saying to yourself you can do it. It takes a greater desire and a greater devotion to a whole conceptual idea, and the choice you make in following through to achieving your goal is what is most remarkable. Otherwise, what's the point spending your energy and losing your friends on it. That in itself is a futile act.
In order for a positive move ahead and begin to create what we are determined to create, you first must decide...no...Wait, you first must try to acknowledge your devotion to the project. If you cannot prove to yourself that you are truly devoted and passionate about your venture in which you are about to set your teeth into, then you are wasting your time and the time of those around you.
Here is a bit of an insight as to how we ended up doing what we are doing. Towards the end of 2008 we were struggling to come to terms with the fact that there was really not a lot of work out there for actors. Elliott's agent was a doting idiot there was no "Jerry Maguire" style to them at all and particularly no balls. It was as though no one actually cared. Annalisa was really in the same boat looking for an agent. Now, in order to get out there, you really have to change your tactics and start over. Yes you can put together a list of agents to call up about representation. Yes you can do student films for as long as it takes and yes you can wait around for an answer from all those agents you door knocked only to get the same response from all of them..."We are not taking any more actors on. Our books are closed."
At this point I would like to say clearly, there are clearly more actors than there is decent work here in Australia let alone enough work for a small portion of them. You can't usually get into castings without an agent. The decent casting directors do not like unrepresented actors either (Hearsay? Ok, it's true!) And a vicious cycle I know! Anyway, the fact that working actors making just enough to get by is quite like telling someone your favourite joke with no punch line. So, what happens? Actors just think because of the ailing industry, you are better off chasing your dream in Los Angeles, broke and with 50 times more potential work than chasing your dream in Australia, broke and vying for one of the only jobs around. The truth still remains whether you like it or not, the stakes in Los Angeles are bigger as you are dealing with a thousand times more actors chasing the same dream. There is more at stake too. It is the city of where dreams are made but is dwarfed by the TRUTH about all the broken dreams. Yes it is different there. Yes you are at least putting your head on the biggest chopping block in the world but is it right and are you ready for it? Today, you're getting a mass exit of actors going overseas chasing the dream and searching for stardom. This is not right. There are too many opinions and factors to consider here.
Anyway, back on point. With all this in mind, our thoughts headed in multiple directions as to where we would be heading. We had to give something a shot and it was the little voice in the back of our heads we tuned into. "You can't expect someone else to get it done for you or even care a little bit about your dreams. If you want something, you have to do it yourself!!!" So, we did exactly that. Without hesitation! Without any experience, nor professional guidance, we threw ourselves into the hurricane and let it all go. We put everything on the line for it, financially, socially, mentally, physically and emotionally. The list goes on. We went with it and created a film. We did not know where it was going to end up but we knew we had to give it everything we had. So, in 2008, we made a decision on a venture. Some friends of ours in the building we lived in had their own film company and offered to put the production together for us. Elliott and Annalisa played the lead roles of course. In January we were signing paperwork and by mid March we were filming. Here was born, DENOUEMENT, a short film running approximately 17 minutes. It tells a despicable story of deceit, distrust and murder. But where there is evil, there is good lurking right around the corner in its own way.
Denouement was filmed using 35mm Vista Vision Film Stock. I must admit, that in order for us to save a little money on production, we used film stock that was sent back from other big productions being filmed at the time. The first night of filming was on a green screen, inside a professional filming studio in northern NSW using a full crew. The feeling of our first night, even sitting here now brings back memories I had locked away. The feeling was crazy, like we had been doing this our whole lives for some strange reason. There were still butterflies, but being involved in a production in this way felt like we had done it a million times. The whole film shoot went smoothly and before we knew it, filming was over and then came a sort of silence……
Anxiety was creeping in. We had sand bagged ourselves in and we needed to continue on. Post production needed to play its part and we needed to get our job done by paying bills and starting to get the films marketing done. From designing posters and websites to submitting the completed film to festivals, we took care of it ALL. The upkeep was a full-time task in itself. And in all this we needed to run the film like a company. So, before filming we registered a business to keep the film on the clean running track. Make it something big. Make it important and make sure that the money we were spending on the film, we were able and legally allowed to claim back expenses for it.
Once a final cut of the film was ready to go, Denouement was screened to industry people and close friends and family. We were able to fill out 2 theatres. Was it a success? Yes, definitely. But this wasn't the end. The film started getting selected to film festivals, in Los Angeles including the 2009 West Hollywood International Film Festival (WHIFF) and the 2009 Southern California Film Festival (SoCal). Both festivals played about a month or so apart. We attended WHIFF in Los Angeles in 2009 where we made some incredible friends but were unable to attend SoCal's festival. SoCal's festival director asked us if he could open the festival with our film. Of course we obliged, and receiving some pretty good feedback and applaud. Having said that, Denouement won awards at both festivals. This was an incredible feeling! WOW!!! Unexpected!! We garnered 'BEST DRAMA', 'BEST SOUNDTRACK', an 'HONORARY AWARD for ACHIEVEMENT' and 'BEST INTERNATIONAL FILM ACHIEVEMENT'. This was a crazy feeling that just kept on getting crazier.
Part 2 of this article coming soon.