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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Interview with Driftwood director Pete Middleton

A couple of days ago I heard that the UK based filmmaker Pete Middleton made a feature called Driftwood for $200. I checked out the trailer for the film, it looked good. So I contacted Pete and asked him a few questions about his super-ultra low budget movie & related matters. First, here's the Driftwood trailer:




And now, The Interview:

Sujewa: Hi Pete, thanks for taking the time out for this interview. First, why did you decide to make Driftwood for such a low budget?

Pete: Hi Sujewa. I don't think it was a matter of deciding to do this project for a low budget, I didn't have any other option! It would have been a lot easier for me if we had had a few thousand to throw at it and I guess I wouldn't have overslept so many times risking my proper job! We had no other alternative but to do it for this amount.

Sujewa: It is awesome that now filmmakers can make movies for such low budgets, whereas ten years ago a low budget for a good/well made indie feature was around $20,000 at least. I think the increased accessibility to filmmaking is a good thing, but some people in the indie film industry here in the US complain (specially on the distribution side) about there being too many movies, too many movies clogging up the distribution networks, etc. What do you think about that? Is it a good thing that now pretty much anyone who is committed to making a feature can afford to get it made sooner or later?

Pete: I say if you have the resources to achieve a film, go for it. I can't really see an argument with too many movies clogging up distribution networks. Getting a feature film made is one thing, but getting it distributed is an entirely different matter. I suppose it's like putting money on the lottery. The chances of my film getting taken on board by a distribution company is slim and we may not get past this stage. All we can do is post it out to as many places as possible and keep our fingers crossed. Still, it's nice to pass comment that you've made a film. That's good enough for me!

Sujewa: How did you become a filmmaker? What other film or creative projects, if any, have you done or worked on prior to Driftwood?

Pete: I've always been interested in film from the earliest age. I have a photograph of myself, aged 3 operating a 16mm projector and as far back as I can remember films have been a passion to me. My Dad has a small private 25 seater cinema in his garden that's equipped to show all formats including 35mm and Blu-ray - I'm usually down there. I then began thinking one day how easy it would be to actually make a film. After making one or two music videos for songs that I had written myself, I produced my first feature film in 2002 called 'The Guests Of June' - This was bad but I gained a little experience from it. I corrected where I was going wrong and gave this 'Driftwood' a go.

Sujewa: A lot of innovative and independent film friendly/inspiring filmmakers & movements have come from Europe (French New Wave, Dogme 95, Michael Winterbottom's career, "28 Days Later", etc.). Do you think that Hollywood, the super gigantic film production & distribution entity of the western world, not being there pushes European filmmakers to become more innovative & experimental in getting their work made?

Pete: I personally worship American film-makers myself. Whenever I see a big film, I often say to myself - what's the point in trying to finish this rubbish? Everything I know about making film is self taught but fortunately I've had a lot of experience in watching thousands of commercial films and by seeing our other film-makers handle their work, you can pick up one or two handy tips.

Sujewa: What are some films & filmmakers that you like? What kind of projects do you want to make in the future?

Pete: I have so many favorite films, far too many to mention - but I did list some of them on my YouTube profile. I guess I would like to concentrate on a various range of projects in the future. I've always wanted to make a thriller and I've already got a screenplay here for a love story that I was looking at also. Who knows?

Sujewa: Can you talk a little about any production challenges that you encountered when making Driftwood? How were you able to solve them given the extreme limitations that may have been imposed on you by your virtually non-existent budget?

Pete: Where do I start? I think the most severe problem that I encountered and were taught a very important lesson was to get everybody on board to sign a contract. I know it's awkward asking somebody to sign when already they have offered to work for free but things happen and attitudes change. Some guy we met offered to do the majority of our props for free and after the film had been completed he began demanding money from us. I was forced to re-film 75% of the film again using our own props. This caused the production to drag on for 3 years in total.

Sujewa: How about distribution? Are you taking Driftwood to festivals? Are you selling DVDs with the help of the web or retail stores? How about VOD (internet video-on-demand) type distribution? Cable or other television?

Pete: At the moment I'm just posting various ads on the internet and trying to get the film noticed. I do intend on sending the DVD to various film festivals but haven't really planned for that yet.

Thanks Pete! Congratulations on getting Driftwood made!

- Sujewa

3 comments:

Jerry Lentz said...

Sujewa and Pete, That trailer looks awesome! I can't wait to see the whole scary deal!

Nicole said...

Sujewa, thanks for doing this interview. I can sympathize with Pete on the topic about people changing attitudes during a production. It can be really aggravating and cause all sorts of challenges when it comes to completing a project and then having it go into some sort of distribution or exhibition stage if that is at all possible.

Now that you have highlighted a feature film made for $200, that makes me feel the pressure of really having to get off of my bum and make the feature that I have been wanting to produce for a long time.

Locations are the main obstacle for me.

MJ Dixon said...

I definetly agree, DRIFTWOOD should give all us filmamkers who haven'y madea feature yet a good old kick up the arse. I know it can be hard I have started two feature films in the last two years and they have nboth been left unfinsihed because of people working for free quickly changing their attitudes. Actually you can view the trailer for my unfinshed feature film Shaolin Shakedown at my site http://mycho.co.uk.

I am actually in nthe process of trying to get a new feature on the good and Pete Middleton has inspired me to no end. I actually feel an excitment about filmmaking just for knowing someone has achieved what many of us have been trying to do for years.

If anyone is interested they can find my adventures in Indie film at my blog at mychopictures.blogspot.com

It good to know that there are people out there who are supporting indie film.

Mycho

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