When we started this whole adventure as filmmakers and storytellers, our goal was to find a way to make our own movies. We ended up at UCLA's film school, which lead us to believe we would be handed multi-million dollar projects along with our diplomas. That was not the case.
Instead, after graduating we were two dudes with few connections, no money, and no careers. The film industry had one thing to offer us: a P.A. job at a production company, getting coffee and taking phone calls. In the industry, it's called "paying your dues," like sitting in the dugout, hoping to get called onto the field by someone higher up the food chain. Instead, we decided to bum rush the field. Here is how we did it:
We scrapped together 20k from friends and family. Then, we wrote a script we could shoot for 20k.
Cast = Friends and Family
Locations = Parent's House
Film Stock = Panasonic DVX100
Post Production = PowerMac with FCP
There we go; our budget. People now ask us, "What do we have to do to get into the industry?" We respond, "If you have a camera and editing software, you're already in it." Jump and build your wings on the way down. That was, and still is, our motto.
A lot of people in LA thought we were crazy to make our own feature with very little money, a high risk of failure, and no promise of success. Friends of ours who had gone on to find jobs in the industry were moving up the corporate ladder, changing titles from assistant executive associates to associate executive assistants. But they were making money and thought we were pissing away the opportunity to become involved with "viable" projects by joining the Tunt force. Sometimes we thought they were right.
But rather than bite the big one and put on suits, we started writing a script about what might happen to us if we did in fact bite the big one and put on suits. The result of our efforts was the screenplay for Visioneers, which is why the story is so personal to us.
In Visioneers, George Washington Winsterhammerman works at the Jeffers Corp, the greatest corporation in the history of mankind, where he spends his days as a Level Three Tunt trying to be as productive as possible. George and other Tunts become terrified when stressed-out people begin exploding. Then George begins to have dreams of a different life. Unfortunately, dreaming is a major symptom of explosion. Rather than ignore his dreams though, George begins to listen to himself and from there the story gets interesting.
Our story also got interesting once the script was finished. We sent the script to everyone we knew asking if they could help, which is not an easy task for pensive guys like ourselves. The conversations we often had went like this:
Them: I like it. But it's unique and strange and would never get made.
Us: Well, we are making it.
The fact that the story was unique and strange, but good, was all the more reason to make it. It meant we had something that would stand out in a world of repetition. As filmmakers, that is what we believe we can offer -- a new way of looking at life's issues.
Is wasn't until the script made its way to Jory Weitz from Napoleon Dynamite that the project jumped from our 20k backyard movie to a legitimate film. We met him in a private cigar club in Beverly Hills, after slogging away at local Starbucks. Despite his success though, Jory was as down to earth as they come. After Jory came on board, we were able to target more serious investors. "Just think of the billboard: 'From the Executive Producer of Napoleon Dynamite'." Those words were magic. Jory also found our main actors, and before long we were shooting Zach and Judy on 35mm in our parent's backyard and yes ... sigh ... the dream was coming true.
Like George at the end of Visioneers, we are looking at our future with our own eyes, and that feels pretty damn good. We have worked very hard to be where we are today as filmmakers and continue to work hard at living our dream. We love what we do. We are passionate. We are thankful. We love the film. We are proud of it. We are excited to show it in Seattle and Las Vegas and hope that Tunts around the world see it and laugh and feel encouraged to strike off on their own adventures, following their dreams wherever they may lead, whatever they may be.
Our film is premiering this week at the Seattle Film Festival and will be playing at CineVegas next week.
Or check out our website for more information: http://www.visioneersthemovie.com/