The production of Hope Bridge is now entering the home stretch with only seven days left. Wow! It’s hard to believe that it’s going to be over soon. It feels like we just started yesterday. When you’re having fun, time does fly.
Today featured more interiors at the Spencer House in Lawrenceburg, KY. In our movie, this is the home of our lead character, Jackson, and his family. The one thing that struck me today is the enormous focus an actor must have in order to achieve a great performance. Usually when we watch movies, we don’t think about the fact that there are probably dozens of people watching on set.
In the case of Hope Bridge, there were 20 people watching a scene that took place between Jackson (BooBoo Steward) and Robin (Sam Sorbo). The scene occur in the kitchen as the crew watch from the dining room. In the living room, there were probably 15 interns working on their PCs. I can see how it can be very distracting for an actor. It does require focus, no question about it. Somehow you have to shut everything out, stay in character, and remain focused on the task at hand. I think good actors are capable of transcending what is obviously not real and turning it into a something that becomes in their minds a reality.
You may not realize this, but the typical Hollywood feature has an average budget of over $100 million. Our budget for Hope Bridge is nowhere near that figure. We’re not even in the same universe. Today, I had a chance to talk to Joshua Overbay, Director of Hope Bridge. I asked him about the challenges of shooting a low-budget independent feature.
Josh said that one of his biggest concerns is the schedule. Trying to shoot a 90 page script in 18 days is practically impossible. Although he is pleased with the results so far, the only way it’s been possible is because of a lot of hard work and dedication of the crew.
One factor that helped meet the demands of the schedule is Josh’s relationship with Thomas Green, the film’s gaffer, and Isaac Pletcher, the Director of Photography. The three of them went to film school together at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va. The three have worked together on multiple projects and have a good working relationship. In fact, Joshua and Isaac formed their own production company and plan on making feature movies together. It’s because they know each other so well that they can accomplish the impossible and make the schedule work.
Joshua says they are averaging over 26 setups per day. In “film speak”, the term is used any time you have to physically move the camera, which usually means that you have to re-light the scene, which burns up valuable time. Because they anticipate each other’s moves perfectly, Hope Bridge, thus far, has achieved solid production values. And this is really the key for low-budget films.
Although we may not have the money the big boys have, we want our film to look just as good. Trust me. It can be done, but it does require a certain level of sacrifice and commitment. For example, the department heads for departments such as camera, production design, wardrobe, and electric and grip have their own budgets. They have to find a way to make their dollars do more, so they must become creative. In the case of the Art Department, they often found their props at yard sales, Craig’s List, or E-bay.
And, sometimes, you just have to become a deal maker and offer people a piece of the movie. Location Manager, Daniel Bowman, had to find locations where property or business owners were willing to take less money than would be normally expected. It’s all about stretching a dollar as far as it will go.
A few years ago, I’m not sure we could have made this movie—certainly not at this budget level. We’re shooting Hope Bridge on a Canon C-300, which is a cinematic digital camera. Today, even Hollywood films are being shot in the digital format. Compared to shooting on 35mm film, the costs saving with a digital camera are astounding. One of the other advantages with Canon C-300 is the fact that it produces outstanding images in low light, which translates into using less lights and setup time.
And, finally, where would we be without Asbury University? Until recently, there were only a few good film schools in the country. Now, film programs have exploded. So there’s a whole lot more people who know film and are good at it. That includes Asbury University which has an excellent program. The production assistant and the crew working on our film are proof of that.
When you put it all together, Hope Bridge, as a low-budget, independent feature, has an opportunity to compete with, I believe, films that have budgets in the tens of millions of dollars.
More to come.