04.23.2014 | Harrison Glaser
In anticipation of next week’s Austin Premieres screening of For Serious, we sat down with Writer/Director John Sheehan to get a sneak peek of the film. Join us Wednesday, April 30th for the Austin Premiere at the Galaxy Highland theatre at 7:00pm. Click here for tickets.
AFF: What are some advantages of shooting a film in a place like Austin?
John Sheehan: The biggest resource would be the local film community. As a first-time filmmaker, I had many questions and little practical knowledge when I began. Through the various existing organizations, I met so many people who were friendly, knowledgeable, and extremely giving. Without the advice, insight, and support of various other filmmakers who’d been through it before, the movie simply would not have happened.
AFF: In building your crew, how much did you pull from the local Austin film community?
JS: Our crew was entirely from the Austin community. I met fellow producer/assistant director Zack Parker in improv classes at Coldtowne Theater (sidebar – Austin’s standup/improv community is another extraordinary resource for filmmakers). Zack in turn brought in our DP, Robert Calder, with whom he had worked on another film project. I met our sound guy Ryan Mozek through the Austin Film Meet Up organization. Other members of the crew I met through the filmmaker collaborative Arts + Labor or through referrals from other filmmaker friends.
AFF: How did you balance your vision with your budget? Did you write the film around resources you knew you had access to?
JS: The film, which plays with the ideas of no-budget filmmaking, was always intended to be made for very little money. As much as possible, I wrote the script around locations and things that I knew I would have access to. In those rare instances where I didn’t, those ideas usually ended up not being filmed (i.e., a fire-dancing sequence, which would have been visually stunning if we could have found a fire dancer). In retropsect, there were ways the script could have been tweaked to better accomodate our budget (i.e. cut down locations).
AFF: What’s the most important lesson about low-budget independent filmmaking that you learned from this experience?
JS: Film is an intensely collaborative medium. When you’re working in the realm of no- to low-budget, most people are either not getting paid, or paid very little. Accordingly, people show up because they are personally invested and passionate about the project. That should be valued and respected at all times.
AFF: What part of For Serious are you most proud of?
JS: I would say the performances. Our actors took the words on the page and brought wrinkles and shades to the characters that I didn’t necessarily see while writing them. I felt very fortunate to get such a good cast of mostly Austin-based actors.
AFF: Who do you look to for filmmaking inspiration?
JS: A wide variety of sources. For this movie’s tone, Office Space and Bottle Rocket were big inspirations, while its subject matter plays off some of the mumblecore films of the mid-to-late ’00s. Oddly, in preparing to make the movie, I was greatly inspired by two documentaries on the Z-grade filmmakers Ray Dennis Steckler and Don Dohler. I would not describe myself as a fan of either of their works, but I admired their unflagging passion to make movies, despite all evidence suggesting they should probably not be making movies.
AFF: What are you working on now?
JS: I shifted gears pretty dramatically and wrote a big budget sci-fi movie, “Detroit Nuke City.” Not sure how we can film that. I’m hoping to get back into the saddle with a short film soon. In the meantime, I’m focusing on family a bit as my wife and I recently had our first child.
Join us Wednesday April 30th for this special screening of For Serious! Click here to get your tickets.