We here at Screen Invasion like to shine a light on the smaller entertainment projects that most other sites miss in their wide array of coverage for the blockbuster flicks. That’s why we’ve highlighted select fundraising projects in our Kickstart This column and why when we got the chance to interview Mark Banks for his IndieGoGo project for Pictures of Lily, we couldn’t pass it up!
Watch the trailer for Pictures of Lily here:
What was the inspiration behind Pictures of Lily?
I think my first inspiration was the character of Lily herself. I wanted her to reflect the kind of women/girls that I had fallen for in the past: somebody ostensibly tougher, smarter and more interesting than myself who seemed to promise all kinds of new possibilities and adventures. It seemed to me that the majority of female characters in film were there to enable the man to tell his story. I didn’t want that, so I also created a conceit whereby Lily does not allow the man to reveal any personal information – This gave me the challenge of creating a mysterious man who we had to care about without knowing any specific details of his past.
After that, Brighton (a seaside town on the south coast of England) seemed the perfect choice as the stage and backdrop for their story: being a place full of strangers, travellers, creatives and possessing interesting and photogenic landmarks.
I started meeting with and auditioning actors quite early on as I needed to know that the characters I created could be found. I put out adverts online – as well as physical posters – and trawled through casting websites. After that, I was in dire need of some organisational structure, so I hunted down a producer who helped me find the rest of the cast and crew, get the funding in place and organise a shooting schedule.
We are very much a team on this project and people got involved because they believed in the story and its potential to reach a wide audience (meaning… mostly they worked for expenses only and a percentage of future profits). We were very lucky that we could meet our own high standards with those involved. Everyone worked very long hours, was very committed and I think the results show this.
I started writing the script in early 2011. We started filming by end of August that year and we are editing right now (literally). We hope to have a rough cut ready in a few weeks with the final edit by the end of summer.
So the short answer, I guess, would be about 18 months….all being well.
I’m tempted to talk about structure, planning and organisation as the importance of this is something I’ve had to learn the hard way. However, even more important – to me, is that you tell your own story, not someone else’s. Copycat and unoriginal works can still make money (especially in certain genres) but every decent film has at least one original idea, preferably more, within it. Too many films are made with both eyes on the prize when at least one should be on quality. If we say that, in Britain, 100 independent films will get distribution by the end of 2012: I’d guess that the majority of UK film fans will hear of about a dozen, maybe watch a handful but only 1 or 2 will linger fondly in the memory. What was the point of the other 98? To make money? There are easier, safer and more effective ways of doing this. I’m tired of movies being treated solely as an industry. It’s now possible to make a feature film with high production values for very little cash – so the excuse of needing to turn a huge profit is diminished. With low budget comes low responsibility. So make a great film instead – one you can be proud of and will build a career and a reputation rather than get a quick return. Simple. I don’t mean to be preachy (and taste is, obviously, subjective) but film is still an art form and should be treated as such – especially by those of us that don’t need to sell $200m dollars’ worth of popcorn to break even. Okay. Rant over.
For us this was a no-brainer. Kickstarter obviously has a huge reputation and following, but IndieGoGo allows you to keep your funds even if you don’t reach your goal. This was important to us as we have already shot the film (with the help of private investors) and every penny helps when it comes to editing, entering festivals, promotion etc. And we knew that we might not have as much time, to expand our social network and promote the campaign, as would be needed to get the full amount we were after.
One of the great things about these sites is that they encourage you to be creative with the rewards. So my producer came up with the idea to name them after props and locations that feature in the film and then we based the rewards themselves on those names and themes inherent to the story – such as music – and tried to make them as tempting and appealing as possible.
Well, we will be applying to festivals around the world in the coming months (from Cannes, Sundance and Raindance to lesser known but equally exciting events). That should, fairly quickly, give us a measure of how the film will be received. After that, it is a case of finding distribution. I would like to see ‘Lily’ get a limited theatrical release at least in the UK – but I’ll be reaching for further afield too – before the inevitable DVD (packed with extras), online and televisual releases. Sky’s the limit, but the feet will stay on the ground.
I have several movies in the pipeline. One of which is almost ‘good to go’. I have this idea of turning Twisted Kiss Pictures into a mini-studio a la Roger Corman (with more story and less exploitation) by way of Mumblecore (with less self-indulgence) … where we fund and co-produce micro budget projects with an emphasis on quality and turnaround speed.
Ultimately, I want to tell stories using film that give people goose-bumps and tingles and linger in the mind rather than go straight for the emotional jugular – where the blood and tears spilled get thrown away with the unfinished popcorn. Bit of a romantic and silly notion, but then so is filming make-believe.
There’s less than two days left on this project and while it’s unlikely they’ll hit their lofty goal of $20,000, with IndieGoGo they get to keep anything they raise. Support this project before it closes funding!