SPECIAL GUEST BLOGGER: Sean Cisterna, Independent Filmmaker and President of Mythic Productions Inc.
In looking at the recent media coverage for the Toronto International Film Festival, it really makes the movie industry seem whimsical and magical. In my working experience, along with that of my colleagues, it’s just the opposite. For all that glitz and glamour we see in the press, there’s generally a small core team of self-sacrificing film artists behind the camera, sweating and stressing to make sure audiences have an enjoyable time at the movies.
When I made Moon Point, a new feature film road-trip comedy that debuts this September 19th at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts, I knew that I had to stretch every penny that we were allotted and put it up on the screen. To do this, I followed a few simple rules.
1. Write around what you know
I worked with a fantastic writer, Rob Lazar (a Thornhill scribe). Rob knew exactly what kind of production we were going for, and therefore tailored his script around locations and situations that could be brought to life without breaking the bank. Moon Point is a fun, road movie. We don’t have massive explosions and costly epic battles – but we do have a fun plot, bizarre characters, witty dialogue…and one stunt.
Rob Lazar (writer) and Matt Hopkins (who plays The Innkeeper)
2. Ask your community for help
I can’t tell you how many potentially devastating situations we ran into when filming Moon Point – from locations falling through at the last minute, to crew members simply not showing up.
Bringing a film production to a smaller community outside of Toronto – as we did in places like Richmond Hill, Oak Ridges and Orillia, for example – was incredible, because it’s still a relatively exciting thing to catch a glimpse of. You’d be surprised at how many members of your community will offer to help the production just to be involved in the filming process. We were able to use people’s trucks, generators, showers, cottages, clothes, food, even random people came by to volunteer as extras…all without asking for anything in return. Don’t be afraid to ask your community for help.
Actress Paula Brancati and a borrowed ice-cream truck from Oak Ridges
3. Work with hungry people
The Canadian indie landscape is full of hungry people. Not hungry for food hungry, but hungry for creative expression and for having a platform to showcase their talents! It’s not every day that a young actor lands a lead role in a feature film, so in assembling a strong mix of relative newcomers (including Degrassi/Being Erica’s Paula Brancati) with a few seasoned veterans (such as Canadian acting icons Art Hindle and Jayne Eastwood), we came up with the perfect Moon Point cast.
And sure you can blow your budget on an uber-experienced cinematographer with numerous film credits, but in taking a chance on a talented up-and-comer, Moon Point’s director of photography Carl Elster gave it his all and shot a really beautiful-looking film with a tiny Canon 7D.
Director of Photography Carl Elster and his Canon 7D camera
4. Look for funding in unlikely places
Face it. Toronto is full of crusty industry execs who love to say no. Trust me. I’ve met them. In trying to get Moon Point up and running, I applied for numerous filmmaking grants, met with talent agents, attended distribution meetings, and they all ended with the same two letter answer. “No”. Only it took them a full rejection letter to get the message across. Which is why I was shocked when I was given the great news that both the York Region Arts Council and the Richmond Hill Mayor’s Endowment Fund for the Arts would support my project. Who knew that if you got involved and dug deep enough, funding could be found right in your backyard? These combined funds allowed me to actually finish Moon Point – without their support, I wouldn’t be writing this blog entry.
5. Shamelessly self-promote
Sure, my core group of good friends knows what project I’m working on at any given time, but does that girl I used to sit beside in grade 10 English class? And do people in that girl’s social network know about my film? Facebook/Twitter/YouTube have been instrumental in letting people know about Moon Point. Yes, it feels gross sending out pleading messages to friends and family to come see your movie…but the journey of a thousand steps starts with the first, and your movie will fill a thousand seats only after it has filled one. It’s been said numerous times by everyone because it’s true – use social media to your advantage…but offer something – even something as simple as an autographed 8×10 poster – to those that take the time to “like” or “follow” you.
By the way, please LIKE Moon Point here: www.facebook.com/moonpointmovie
And FOLLOW US on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/moonpointmovie
TICKETS FOR THE MONDAY, SEPT 19th WORLD PREMIERE SCREENING OF MOON POINT AT THE RICHMOND HILL CENTRE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS ARE AVAILABLE HERE:
Sean Cisterna is an independent filmmaker and president of Mythic Productions Inc, a successful film and video production/post-production company. His new feature film road trip comedy, Moon Point, featuring a number of well-known Canadian stars, is currently on the festival circuit. See the trailer here: