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Producing An Independent Film From The Grassroots Up

Lesson 13 of 18

Locations with Casey Coleman


Producing An Independent Film From The Grassroots Up

Lesson 13 of 18

Locations with Casey Coleman


Lesson Info

Locations with Casey Coleman

Now I'd love to transition into like the role that you took on when we were closer and got into preproduction and production and how that how locations was similar dissimilar from what we're doing on on in the casting room um well, I think you're on speedy transition, errol, because I had I had them a lot of experience and documentaries in louisiana and other small productions that had spent a lot of time in a lot of rural areas in the state of new south louisiana pretty well and was comfortable with just the geography and going into these rural places, so that was sort of why it was naturally a fit for me to do it, but it was very different to the cast a kn in that the cool thing about the really cool thing relegations on that film and that I don't know if I'll ever get to replicate again was it was very collaborative look bad so bad and I would talk through the script he would I would go out for a couple of weeks and look for these things and then I would come back and would say like...

, this doesn't exist here in this part of the world and so he would change the script, you know, but what I'm doing that doesn't exist, but this does this is a crazy thing, but I found he'd be like, well, that's cool they will replace these underground pipes with this huge structure. So it was a lot of, like balancing what actually exists in us learning about the geography and geology, I suppose of south louisiana and then him incorporating that into the film because that also is part of the narrative. You know, it was like that the way that the landscape works here is there's actually a part of that itself. And then once we got into the actual film making, a lot of my job was just managing I was actually became or of it was more of, like a political and diplomatic sort of role of, like keeping all of the neighbors happy and because we were imposing quite a bit on people, so in places that were not accustomed to have having such a thing happen. So a lot of my job was just, like kind of, yeah, choosing and making sure that everything was going ok for everyone, which is a, which is a part of producing is making sure everybody's comfortable or right. So it sounds like the first part was sort of scouting, which is a more creative endeavor with the director figure out what's working for what he's looking for and what's not, and then the second part is making sure brokering basically the actual relationships on said, once you are using somebody space does anyone have any questions for casey's starting here? I guess in terms of finding those specific locations did you have a lot of resource is on the run or people that were kind of guiding to you ahead of time or you just driving around and hoping you would come upon them the latter I think almost entirely I mean I had some connections from doing other film working something and several areas but yeah I mean we had to keep our search I mean it's a little bit complicated talking about because the geography of of south louisiana very south louisiana's it's weird in that there's only like five roads once you get down actually down by you because there's no hard ground so there are a lot of places you could look for stuff so we were really limited so I was just driving on old roads and looking for stuff and that was a big part of it was just like coming back and being like this you know, this is all that exists here but it was also really easy to make we're late to develop relationships in those places so do we have people who have a question? We have a question I got a couple of votes here but you were talking about the process of casting especially when you're casting children and the question is how did you know when you had finally found your perfect hush puppy and that your search was over was there a moment when you really found that you you had the right choice oh my goal do what can I say when I say that michael dunn michael well I mean, you know you did you get that we didn't really know amazing because she was really there wasn't like a eureka moment for us but she was definitely very skeptical of us so she had she really looked like her she was so small I think was a big part of it and and and she was also like how did like a very inherent just like strangeness and imagination but her first audition was not great but she got a call back and then I think then sort of have a eureka moment what there then on this first call back? Great yeah, yeah right where we're right where she was improving but there was a process of like, you know, there it wasn't clear I think she was clearly the best, but there were three of you know, there was definitely like a winnowing process and there were two or three other girls that were up for it right to the end? Yeah, for sure I mean, we first saw hurt me case he saw her in august and we didn't like I don't think we agreed for sure that we didn't say for sure that she was hush puppy until like december january yes, she had to go through a couple rounds of call backs and you know, we still had a couple other nominees, but ben definitely responded to something in her that we didn't immediately see but she was extremely imaginative, you know, he was immediately like cases saying pretty particular person. Yes, she did. This goes robot. Yeah, yeah, she did. And we asked her what she liked to do. And most kids say, like, you know, I like to play and that's all they say we like to play or I like to write bikes are like, tio, you know, do sports or something, and we ask daisy which we like their convention in what you like to do and she that pick flowers? Um, yeah, ok. Well, cool. That's ok, see, I had a question for you what's what's your favorite location that we didn't get to use and beasts wait didn't get used. Remember that you remember that barge that was going to be a lesion? Fields oh, I like that place is horrible. It was like an abandoned offshore oil workers like floating dormitories. Yeah, that it was just awful. Yeah, yeah, yeah, that it was we used I mean, the one that we did get a visa, monetary stores like the great right so the question here keeping me along with casting I'm currently trying to cast non professional actors out in san antonio I'm not there on the ground I'm gonna be there like a week and a half on dh I've been you know, using craigslist and calling town talent agencies asking them to put our casting calls out and telling them we don't really have a budget we want people that want to participate and kind of volunteer their time cover gas and expenses but I'm at this point where I'm asking a lot of people that are non professional actors that probably haven't been on set before to come out and work with us on a very tight schedule um and you know what kind of advice do you have in terms of auditioning them from afar and, you know, trying to have other people maybe out spread the word that are in the community to get these people that are non professional actors and just find people in the community and waving in the audition process like how I can ask them the right questions or, you know, there's, no speaking role so it's not like there's lines but just ways to ensure that I can communicate to them their ex vacations and also make sure that I'm getting the best possible performance without being on the ground currently I mean, my god is that that sounds really traveling to not be having my first answer is to be there into, like mason, whose off camera here but he's organizing are a lot of our casting at the moment and it's, just manpower, just man hours. I mean, it's, just like he's, just on the road, flyer ing and meeting people. And you know how much I ve got, like, five hundred google voice mails last week or something? I mean, but for I don't know my way you should. Can you speak to the remote stuff? Sure, yeah, I mean, I think it's about I mean case, and maybe this is a good time to bring up my car, so it's not like this is exactly what he did, but like finding somebody who, like case was talking about, like the the default mayor of the town, like finding somebody on the ground there, who's as excited about the film as you are, who might you might not know exactly what to ask in an audition or whatever, but it could at least get them on tape and is excited about the prospect of putting his or her community like into your film, like that person should be empowered as much as possible to do to film at any and all times with people just get them in the door the most what you want is just them on camera just saying who they are and talking a little bit about themselves that should be the first step, and if you can get that, which doesn't require a lot of skill on the other person's and just told the cameron conducted conversation, I think that's really valuable, you know? Yeah, I think also kind of go back to a previous the previous question, too, about relationships and was I kind of flying blind in retrospect, developing quickly, we got lucky, I think part of it, but we quickly develop relationships with some people of that were very well respected, sort of in those communities, but that knew a lot of people and having those people be able to vouch for us when they were vouching for us, like these guys have made movies we're gonna make, they were bouncing first away, that was like, these guys, they're coming around and they're cool and they're friendly, and they seem like they're making a cool thing that opened up so many doors, and we wouldn't will make the film without those relations with me. Matt, my spittle was the entire film was built on the backs of those relationships absolutely like mike mike, we first met mike in coming to an audition on the ground in like montague uh, and he was you know he was a real personality but it didn't quite he didn't quite clicked with are auditioning process but he eventually became the guy that we turn to for a lot of local knowledge about locations he was the guy you know along with nathan working with nathan and eli on boats I pointed him out earlier is the long haired guy um I mean he was essential to the making of the movie I don't know what we would have done to them and claude as well I mean way running our headquarters from this guy was going abandoned gas station so we kind of by happenstance got a relationship with him but she you know he was so respected in the community and people were willing to deal with us in a way because we were associated with him so right yeah I would say like trying to establish relationships even if it is remotely getting people's trust and then like michael said just you know I don't know what the script is like but not so much you know even doing line ready to stuff it's just like getting people on camera and just giving a sense for who they are yeah that would be my advice way have time for one more question here and you have a question for you and you touched on this a little bit but you know I'm I can imagine that coming into a community where people's experiences you know aren't necessarily representative of you know, people who are more traditionally involved in in in making films or you know that people who are professional actors I could imagine running into a fair amount of a fair amount of skepticism um and you mentioned you know, establishing you know, connections or making relationships with kind of some key people who are respected in that community and kind of give you some some cultural credibility that way but did you did you I have problems with sort of being perceived as sort of you know, kind of outside force or I mean for lack of a better term being kind of like, you know, artsy fartsy you know, filmmakers in a community that maybe didn't necessarily you know understand what you were doing or how did you sort never get that territory yeah I like this question I think a couple of things one louisiana as you need and it's very very friendly and we were doing such a crazy thing that people thought we were insane but people were also like like and we did stuff like we threw a big party and just flyers all of these towns and we just like head kegs and a band and and just like we're like we're so we made it clear that yes, we're crazy but we're also kind of like down for whatever and then also when personally I can't speak for other people but when I did run into people who are resistant or you know, we just weren't getting out or whatever it was just sort of the path of least resistance I think for me it was just like I just gravitated towards the people that did get the project or were excited to help or whatever and if people were negative or just not feeling it, I just I just didn't I just didn't go back on dh we just didn't have time to like fight with that stuff so for us I think it was just like one just showing up and like letting people know that um that we were easy to get along with even though we were definitely we looked and behaved differently than the people in the community and then to just like just grabbed it and towards people who wanted to help thank you, casey that's I think that's it his name is nathan in the background it is president seo so nathan is nathan is running the casting operation that me in case you were running ah ah a few years ago he's running for the new one so he's he's dealing with all the stuff that we were just talking about but using the same exact methods and and uh I heard you had five hundred voicemails last week fourth males and females yeah, we are bold so in a most of the parishes going to you know I'll get like thirty or forty calls every time I put out something but I went back to terrible perish which is where we made beasts and uh all having normally like visit schools and things like that but just for like a little blurb in the paper and the response has just been like completely overwhelming and I'm just like what am I gonna do with all these people? Because moving but also figure town with its home all right yeah so you like a town of thirty thousand people inside the house? Um cool we'll see you guys soon. All right, thank you. Thank you for taking the time. Uh, cool. So that was that and let's see here so locations in the independent film world can be more grassroots and casting that because what casey didn't get into is like a lot of times beyond the scouting element of it he had to just go door to door and just be like, we're just cold roll up to somebody and say, I uh you know, we're making this movie love your house or your property or it's perfect for what we have in mind do you mind doing that that's just a door to door thing something I talk a lot about going into cast going into schools but in certain neighborhoods I mean certain parts of louisiana bent that air really real. Backwoods like that, then wanted to get to school. Just wasn't even an option. So that's, when I would have to literally just park my car and go door to door like I would, and in ohio or pennsylvania for for obama.

Class Description

Producing an independent film takes an enormous commitment of time, money, and energy – but there are steps you can follow to make the whole undertaking more productive and less overwhelming. Producing An Independent Film From The Grassroots, Up is your guide to reducing friction during every stage of independent feature film production.

In this class, Michael Gottwald, a producer on the OSCAR®-nominated, Beasts of the Southern Wild, will detail the process his team used to bring this sleeper hit to life. By exploring the independent film production process through the lens of Beasts of the Southern Wild you’ll learn how to generate your own independent film success. 

Michael will teach you how to:

  • Find optimal material to produce
  • Engage private and social fundraising resources
  • Craft a production plan suited to your existing resources
  • Distribute and market a finished film

Whether or not you have industry connections, or live in traditional “media centers” (such as New York or Los Angeles), you can still give life to a project that will impact the film industry and artform. You don’t have to blindly navigate the rocky terrain of grassroots film production alone. Michael will offer the insights you need to tackle common challenges during every stage of the producing process.

Producing An Independent Film From The Grassroots, Up will show you how to create films that, if positioned properly, rise above the current indie film marketplace "noise."


a Creativelive Student

A top-notch presentation on indie film making. I learned a lot from this course which I hope to soon put into practice as I'm about to embark on my first indie film - as a screen writer for the first time out, but eventually I hope to write, direct, and produce my own film. Very easy to follow the presentations in this course, and the handouts I received when I purchased the course are quite useful.


Such a great course! Being an indie "Grassroots" filmmaker in the middle of three projects, I found what Michael shared to be very valuable. The way that he described the different aspects of producing and illustrated with examples was very clear and fresh. The course really opens you up to examine your own processes, what works / what doesn't and stirs up some new ideas on how to move forward. Thanks CreativeLive team for making the class happen!


This is a tremendous introduction to grassroots filmmaking. Michael takes you step by step through the various elements of film production and offers those so inclined a cursory understanding of what is required. Because filmmaking is a creative pursuit, the direction the individual filmmaker takes from there is entirely up to each. I would highly recommend this course to any one starting out in filmmaking. Well worth the cost. David W. King, Michigan Movie Magazine