Rick Schmidt, veteran indie filmmaker, director of 25 features, author of "Feature Filmmaking At Used Car Prices", is coming back to NYC after a 12 year absence to show his new movie Tears of Bankers at NewFilmmakers/Anthology Film Archives on 9/4/12. Here is an interview with Schmidt about indie film, Tears of Bankers, and several related items. He's got a lot of interesting things to say:
Sujewa: Rick, how do you feel about returning to NYC to show your new movie Tears of Bankers? And when was the last time that you screened a movie in NYC? Share any interesting information about that event.
Rick: Well, for starters it's been...um...since 2000 that I've had a show in NYC – when IFFM at Angelica showed my collaborative Chetzemoka's Curse (Dogme No. 10) at the market. And that was one of those irritating experiences where buyers, filmmakers, and fest people duck in and out all through a screening, which is pretty unpleasant. Even though I got a good plug in Variety it didn't help get the feature placed somewhere that time. But it's always the same hill to climb. You've got to worry about the quality of the image, and sound levels, audience showing up. and people liking the movie. I wrote in my 'Used-Car' filmmaking book how the person I was staying with in a Bowery loft in the mid-1970s had gotten herself repeatedly more drunk as I dropped off prints of my first feature (A Man, a Woman, and a Killer, co-directed with my then roommate Wayne Wang), and reported back the rejections, because she was sure that I wouldn't ever get a NY premiere! When I informed her about the week run I'd been offered at the Bleecker St. Cinema she was dumbfounded. So here I am again, against the odds I guess! I'm excited to go at it again in NY!
Sujewa: Tell us a little about your new movie Tears of Bankers? Why did you pick the theme?
Sujewa: What was the production process like on ToB?
TEARS took place in a B&B where I'd been housed by the Rome Intl. Film Festival during a screening of my workshop feature, "Rick's Canoe." I love old houses and the grace and charm of the Claremont House there stuck with me. So when Barry Norman approached me to produce a feature, my mind returned to that amazing mansion and in particular, the room I'd inhabited. For starters, I imagined the owner and his wife living there, on the 2nd floor. But, of course, when I arrived there was NO actor to play the wife. All leads had fallen away. I was literally begging the cast, crew, (anyone) to help us get a wife character, and it was already Day-2 out of a five day shoot! When the stills photographer, Derek Bell, showed up on the set with friend Brittany Hannah, she immediately got the part (and he became drawn in as an actor as well...). Of course I should mention she was great in the part and hope all agree. At any rate, being off-kilter like this is a pretty humbling process. You have to keep a flow of events going, moulding ideas and notions into scenes that then build off themselves. These delicate threads of logic play out during the day, and tend to surprise anew during the morning shower (at least water helps me!). In Rome, Derek's brother Allen was friends with several of the town's bankers, so we fortunately had access to them as characters. I like to say that if I could script their 'banker talk' (like we have in TEARS), and could direct actors to be THAT convincing as bankers, I'd be a multi-millionaire film director with a few houses in Malibu.
Anyway, the answer to your question, I think, is that I jumped in with no actors (well, Barry Norman...), no story beyond a premise, no script, no dialogue, no plot points, no time (a 5-day shoot for a feature...), no location beyond the Claremont House B&B, no cinematographer or sound man I'd even talked to before arriving (thanks DP Ron McLellen and K.L. Powers!). If curious, you can see the results at NewFilmmakers in NYC, at the Courthouse theatre, Anthology Film Archive, Sept. 4th at 9:15PM. I'll be there that evening, to answer any additional questions about this crazy improv process!
Sujewa: What are your thoughts on the overall independent filmmaking and distribution landscape at this point?
All I can add is...THE ONLY PROTECTION we artist/filmmakers have is to keep producing our new works and not waste too much time pitching movies/product to the business sector. They can still reject our movies for their distribution outlets, but nowadays, with
cheap-yet-HD-quality-means-of-production, we can't be stopped from doing our art.
Thanks Rick! Good luck in NYC on 9/4!
SEE TEARS OF BANKERS TRAILER HERE
New blogs for projects by NYC artist Katheryn McGaffigan:
Blog 10 (no blog 9, numbered wrong)
- NYC artist; actor, musician, writer
- performed in Gogol Bordello
- Harvard graduate