Hi everyone. I hope that you all are having a fantastic day!!!! I just want to say before I dive into my experience, If you have a story to tell, an idea, a half finished script.... Just do it! Create it! Make no excuses and find a way to present your imagination to the world. YOU CAN DO IT!!!
Now let me jump into the process and my story of how we shot our indie film - REX PARK: Curse of the Golden Buddha Trailer ((Click trailer for link) We are still in post-production looking to wrap the film up by Early 2021). Also if you would like to come to the prescreening and live in the Atlanta Georgia area let me know!!!!
Like many of you I have a day job, where I work 40+ hours a week. A family that I take care of and tight expenses with no industry connections. I love film, but never once thought growing up, that I would become a filmmaker. One of the big driving points for me when making this film, or any film that I've written. Is the fact that in Hollywood or American cinema, there's a huge lack in opportunity and display for Asian Americans. We are either the side kick, kung fu guy, or it's a specific story about an Asian family. It's rarely a lead role that could be played by anyone, and it just so happens to be an Asian guy... Why is this? I do not know. What I do know, is that I wanted to help change that.
While at work one day I decided to write a script that I would shoot I've written scripts in the past. But knew that I had to write a story, that was comical (what I found funny and enjoy watching), original and budget friendly. With all of this in mind, I committed to a page a day. I figured hey in 90 days I would have a full script. Before I knew it, I had a completed script in 2 weeks. I did not care about it being perfect. What mattered was the story. I left out colorful words that were unnecessary to the story. I left everything as barebones as possible. If it wasn't needed I simply removed it.
Once the story was completed I instantly put out a casting call on Actors Access and Backstage. I got plenty of replies and messages that became a bit overwhelming. None the less I powered through it and had the film entirely casted within 2 weeks. Mind you when we started shooting, actors simply didn't show up (without notice) and ghosted me. Which on one end I completed understand, as we all have lives and I did not have the budget to pay anyone. Also for the majority of actors it was their first film. And I must say that every actor, that was apart of this project did an absolutely outstanding job! I am forever grateful that they committed to this project and stuck through it with me. Now we have a full, fun, unique and almost complete film!
Now that we had the film casted, I broke up each scene into location, scenes per location and props needed for that scene. Every actor wore the same outfit (like a cartoon) so we did not have to worry about continuity issues. Even though we do have some. By doing this I was able to specifically plan where and how we would shoot. I reached out to local companies to shoot at their locations. Most places rejected me. However the ones that said yes, are the only things that matter. Also the more places that you are able to shoot, the less your film feels like a super low budget production.
I already owned a camera BMPCC 6k (Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera 6k) and I got rid of all of my lenses for 1 Sigma 18-35mm setup. I also shot at a compression rate of 5:1 RAW (3:1 took up way to much space for my 1TB card) I used cheap lighting from Ebay (they suck. But you got to use what you have). I used as much natural light as possible with bounce boards. Some scenes are not perfect, but we made it work. I had my brother and now close friend Luka help assist me. They were my crew, and I must say we got it done!!!
Because I work full time, and could not pay the actors (I did feed them). We could only film on Sundays. So for 3 months we shot. Most days we shot on average of 2-6 scenes. Because we only had a limited time in each location (about 3-4 hours). We had 2-3 takes to get it done. because I knew this ahead of time, we shot scenes actors at a time. And everyone helped out when they were not in front of the camera. There were days when emergencies happened and actors couldn't show up, and we got notice that morning. On those days we altered the script and scene and made it work. When you are filming on a super low budget you have be versatile. We shot majority of the scenes on a shoulder rig. We also used a Zhiyun Weebill S for a couple scenes (I refrained from used a gimble as it took to much time to setup, and we simply did not have enough time.). We could not do any fancy swooping shots, as they were also time consuming, if I did not get the smoothness and focus just right. So for the most part I skipped these type of shots. Halfway through shooting I stopped using a boom mic, because I knew that Jake our sound designer (I met on accident and he wanted to jump on the project. Which was awesome, it saved me months of sound design. Plus he's part of an awesome band out of GA. The Gyn Soaked Gypsies) and I would redo all of the sound in post. As of this writing we are about 75% complete with ADR.
TO MY FELLOW FILMMAKERS SOUND IS EVEREYTHING!!!!
Once we wrapped up shooting. I started working on the movie cover and IMDB profiling. I knew this was important to the cast and crew. I also knew that I had to get it done at some point, so I got it out the way asap. The cover character art was illustrated by (@)Vokkart. He did a fantastic job. By chance I met a Visual artist by the name of (@)DirectorRandom, and I reached out to my long time friend Brandon Dunlap (HolyRed) to do the music score for the film. I knew that he was super talented and always wanted to do movie scores. Now at this point we had a full team of talented individuals behind the scene.
Editing is a big time consumer. So I actually edited per scene as we shot. So during those months of filming, each scene was color graded and edited accordingly. This was instrumental, because once we wrapped filming we could solely work on sound design. Editing is tough in 6K so I had to lower my timelines in Davinci Resolve to 1080P time lines. The change them when I was ready to Render out each scene. To help with degradation, because I new that I would need to render each scene again I used HDR 444 Quicktime profiles with Full data output. Then I would compile everything into one timeline like lego pieces.
Once the film is fully complete. I will submit the film into all of the top festivals in the country. I know that comedies (especially this type of, raunchy surface level comedy) typically doesn't do well. That doesn't faze me. I want to enjoy the entire process and see what happens. If we get in, awesome! If we do not and our film is not up to snuff. I will go through an aggregator, and get it up on as many platforms as possible. The goal of this film is to not only show, that anyone can do it. If they want to do it, and are willing to put the time and effort in. But to boost Asians in Hollywood. This isn't about race, but I wanted to share it. Because it was a motivating factor for me in creating this project. Because of this film I still work a full time job. But I also created a production company (Hypatude) <--- If anyone cares.
I hope this post helps some of you. I hope this motivates you. Especially if you are a movie buff, or love films. If I can do it ( a guy that grew up on the Big Island of Hawai'i) and had no help or guidance. You can do it. Whether the film does extremely well, or a few people see it. I know that I inspired those I worked with. Helped people achieve their goals, and brought a smile along the way. Remember to be kind and congratulate those who do well. Stop underestimating yourself and believe in you. Spread positivity and love. The world has enough hate. I'm not saying to be a saint. I'm just saying to be true to yourself and approach your goals with tenacity, conviction, and daily effort!
If you have any questions on your process, or you're interested in Rex Park reach out.