I'm always on the lookout for inspiring films produced on tiny budgets. I'm also always on the hunt for films with original visions that really speak to me. When I heard about Miles to Go, a coming-of-age comedy-drama about a thirtysomething, tattooed, Jewish writer in Los Angeles with commitment issues, I knew it was something I needed to see. As that more or less describes me (sigh), I instantly connected with the incredibly personal and nuanced material. I had the chance to catch up with writer-director-producer-star Quincy Rose (godson of Woody Allen!) and ask him a handful of questions about his excellent microbudget indie -- now available on VOD, iTunes and more.
1) What inspired you to tell this story?
This specific story was created out of necessity to fit the parameters of the budget I was stuck with, which was very little. I was clawing to do my first feature and trying to get financing for a script I had which required a slightly bigger budget than the funds I had in hand, and, after banging my head against the wall in an attempt to get said funds, I thought to myself, what can I make for the money I do have? And that is when I began to think of the stories I could tell, that I would find interesting, for the budget I had. But, as to what made me write Miles to Go specifically, I would have to say that I was going through a period in my life where I was struggling with making any romantic relationships last, and starting to feel that perhaps, for me, they just weren't possible. And I thought that maybe this was a universal issue, at least generationally speaking, since so many people I knew have had relationships and/or marriages fail over time. So I decided to write just that; A story about a guy who doesn't believe that relationships can last for him, so they don't. Almost a self-fulfilling prophecy, if you will. Once I had fleshed out who Miles was, then I began to consider what exact story to tell and what other characters to include to make the story whole and fully explore this guy's life.
2) What are your goals as a filmmaker?
On any given project, my goals are always the same: I want to tell an interesting and compelling story, usually something founded in some type of reality, even if it is an outlandish comedy. And, I want the film I am currently working on to be better than the film I worked on previously...not "better" meaning as a judgment on the story itself, but as a filmmaker working on a craft. I want to grow and improve. As for my over all goal as a filmmaker, it is to continue to create opportunities to tell the stories I want to tell, and to make as many films as possible, so long as I feel compelled to make them.
3) Which writers/directors have influenced you and why?
A lot of filmmakers have influenced me over time. But if I had to narrow it down to 4 or 5 filmmakers, I would have to say, Woody Allen, Francois Truffaut, John Cassavetes and Noah Baumbach.
I remember as a very young child watching, Francois Truffaut's, l'argent de poche, over and over again. It's actually one of my earliest film memories. I have to believe that that played a big part in shaping the types of stories I would most enjoy telling later on in life. As I got older and became more and more interested in film, I became a huge fan of many of Truffaut's films and his specific style, his beats, pacing and timing, always seeking a level of verisimilitude, unmatched by most other filmmakers. This was a very attractive quality to me.
John Cassavetes' films have a similar quality and grittiness to them. A very European sensibility. Cassavetes was not only having a conversation with his audience, he seemed to always be exploring deep thoughts and ideas. Almost as if each time he made a film he was seeking to exorcise a demon he was battling at that time. As I got older, the French New Wave filmmakers and the 70's American auteur filmmakers were who spoke to me the most.
Woody Allen is my biggest influence as a writer/director. And studying his films over and over again were my film school. One of the reasons he was so personally influential to me, was that I grew up with him as "Uncle Woody." So of course I was impressed by this really funny and witty and successful filmmaker, with whom I had a personal connection to. Also, since my father, Mickey Rose, and he were originally partners, they both influenced me, especially in comedy, pacing and style. I, too, focus on themes I'm working through in real life...dealing with the struggle of living and fighting depression, meaninglessness, relationships, sibling rivalry, sex and love, cheating, etc. With dialogue being the most important element in any of my stories, I almost always write from conversation and character as opposed to plot.
Noah Baumbach has been my greatest contemporary influence. The way Woody's films speak to me stylistically, Baumbach's films speak to me directly, in a way that I can completely relate to what he is talking about and what his characters are going through. I feel like we are almost cut from the same cloth...or at least a similar piece. Perhaps I was cut from the scraps that were collected after cutting him.
4) Describe the production process...
Miles to Go came together very quickly, once I had decided to make a film for what I had. I wrote the script in March 2012, we cast it in April and shot in May over 13 days. That includes the 2 days off we had to take when I woke up with laryngitis on day 3, with absolutely no voice, and in every single frame of this dialogue heavy script, which meant no shooting around me. My entire on-set crew consisted of 11 people, myself included in that. We each had multiple roles to fill. We used very little equipment, minimal lighting (a couple kinos and a China ball) and we shot on the RED Scarlet. We had a monitor playback issue, so I could watch the playback, and I could hear the playback, but i could not watch the playback with sound... Essentially I would have to watch for composure and see if I believe the acting visually, then close my eyes and listen to the take that matched the video I had just seen, and decide whether I felt it sounded authentic enough to move on. Eventually, with time being an issue, I strictly relied on my 1st AD Alex Rinks for ears and my DP Amza Moglan for eyes. We shot about 10 pages of dialogue a day on average. One day we shot 23 pages of dialogue and worked for 23 straight hours, in two separate locations. The shoot was intense, we had no permits and stole locations. When shooting on a private property, we had the full crew present. But when we needed exterior shots, we would roll out with a stripped down crew, essential crew only, rush into an area (a park, Melrose, wherever...) and just shoot the scene we needed. Everything very commonly necessary on a micro-budget indie feature.
5) What's next?
What's officially next is Friends Effing Friends Effing Friends, A post-modern romantic comedy about sex amongst friends, missed opportunities, unrequited love and how the grass always appears to be greener on the other side... This is the film I was trying to get money for when I couldn't and ended up making Miles to Go. This film is done, in the can so to speak and awaiting entry into several festivals. As for what is after that? I have a play I wrote, which I am hoping to stage in NY at some point within the next year, a TV pilot I would love to see taken to the next phase and I am always writing new things, re-working old things, etc... I have my scripts that require bigger budgets, which I will need to wait for real financing before I can make them; and the scripts I write specifically to be able to shoot on a shoestring budget. I may delve into one of those projects in the end of the year. While I would love to do a bigger film, and be afforded the freedom of letting go of some hats I have been required to wear to make my films thus far, I always want to be working on the craft and challenging myself as a filmmaker, and making a low budget film is always a challenge.
Visit the official Miles to Go site and check out the film today!