Thursday, January 15, 2009

Industry Feedback - Mark Stolaroff, No Budget Film School

For quite some time now, I have been craving feedback to how Night Before the Wedding was shaping up. Not from friends of mine, but from someone who doesn't know me or my work and yet specializes in low-budget filmmaking. When I thought of those parameters, the person that instantly came to mind was Mark Stolaroff who is the founder of 'No Budget Film School' (

I had contacted Mark initially back in the summer of 2008 and made him aware that I was going to be shooting my first feature for under $200,000 which is right in the ballpark for the films he has studied for years, currently produces, and teaches others how to make in his classes. In my message to Mark, I shared a little bit about NBTW and how I would love to share it with him at a later date. He welcomed the invitation and said he would be glad to see it when the time was right.

Well in December, I felt it was time to send Mark a copy. Good to his word, he asked me to mail him a copy. Being away for the holidays and the beginning part of the new year, the chances were looking slim for him to view the film before leaving for the Sundance Film Festival. To my surprise, he sat down and viewed the film (all at once, in it's entirety. think about how you can be so easily distracted or simply how a movie doesn't hold your interest) two nights ago. Mark was not only generous enough to view the film and take notes. We spent close to an hour where he provided me insightful commentary and valuable feedback with how he received Night Before the Wedding.

I must admit, this is a nerve-wracking time period for me. The film is rounding the corner on the final stages of post-production. There has been a lot of time and energy put into it. It's in that state of limbo where it is almost done, but no-one has really seen it. Of course I want people to receive the film well. There is that inner doubt within me and within a lot of artists that question whether or not we can do this for a living. I am already in pre-production on my next project, yet it helps to have some sort of validation that I am on the right path. And you really do not know until you start getting your work out there to people who do not know you and do not care.

And so what did Mark have to say? Well, for one he said he hopes this is not my last film. That was great to hear. He thought the acting was solid. He was complimentary of the production value and production design. It took him a little while to figure out what the film was shot on. It didn't immediately come across that the film was shot on HD. He thought it was a well told story and was really impressed with the way the film ended. I will note that he did not think the film was perfect. Nor do I. From there he offered ideas and suggestions about moments and areas that weren't hitting on all cylinders. Overall the conversation was more on the positive side. He really reinforced some of the issues that I have with the film along with all the positives the film has such as it's authenticity. It was also great to have Mark admit that even though the film primarily takes place in one location, it was something that never really jumped out at him. He wasn't bored, or claustrophobic or anything like that. I will admit that was one of the hardest aspects of writing this film and of course shooting it. Imagine trying to keep something interesting and entertaining for the length of a feature film where it all takes place in the same space. So far there has been no negative feedback regarding the lack of locations.

Mark said he has no problem issuing us a quote on the film. It will come sometime after he returns from Sundance, though I know he is also deep into production on his latest film, Pig
I want to once again extend my gratitude to you Mark for your generosity of time and expertise. We are going to give you special thanks in the film's credits as well as on IMDB.

I am following up Mark's commentary with another screening this evening where we are inviting a few more people in to evaluate the film. I am looking to finalize editing decisions so that we can picture-lock the film and move back into sound design and color correction.

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