Film Making – The Independent Way

The great thing about this job (the writing lark) is that you get very often to write about and research things you know very little about, this article falls smack, bang into this category. I had a vague knowledge of film making on the web, but admit I have never once watched anything made and produced for the viewing online, so I was pretty excited when this article landed on my desk to write!

I spoke to Miriam Pultro, an actress, writer and producer living in Brooklyn, NY in the US.

The Ivy League, is a collaboration of up and coming independent film makers, whose first project is a webseries called Mythos.

The Ivy League  came into being during pre-production on Mythos (all pictures in this article are from Mythos, either screen shots or promo). The name seems rather apt as the The Ivy League guys seem to have it all, four talented individuals who had all been working independently, but knew if they pooled their resources and presented themselves as a team they would appear more “legit,” and also would be able to use the Mythos experience to rely on each other for future projects. The Ivy League is:

  • Miriam Pultro – writer/director/actor – (IMDb listing);
  • Adam Henry Garcia – writer/director/editor/actor – (IMDb listing);
  • Tom O'Brien is a writer/producer (and in Miriam's words a 'all-around amazingly handy guy') – (IMDb listing); and
  • Richard Cline who has been almost single-handedly been making short films for years, who stepped into the breach at the last moment, becoming an invaluable member of the team – (IMDb listing)

Miriam told me 'we all know what it takes to get an indie film project done, and we are all willing to fill any role necessary to finish it and make it good. We also happen to complement each other’s skills, as Tom loves producing, Richard focuses on cinematography, Adam, on editing and acting, and myself, on writing and acting'.

Miriam wrote Mythos some time ago, initially as a feature film, with no real intention of producing it any time soon. She says 'it was just a cool idea so I had to get it out. With another project of mine in limbo, I needed something to work on in the interim, and I knew that putting whatever it was on the web would allow me control over distribution, and would be the most immediate way to show what I could do as a filmmaker. I was trying to decide which of my scripts to produce, and kept coming back to Mythos. So I reworked it into episodes and voila!' the rest, as they say is hopefully going to be history.

Film making is not a cheap business, we all hear about the vast budgets of mainstream blockbusters, the money involved being eye watering. I asked Miriam how hard is it to finance independent film making, when there does seem to be so much web and digital media vying for the public interest; she told me; 'It’s difficult to say as I don’t have much experience in this arena yet. My impressions are that ANY kind of “name” attachment goes a long way toward assisting an indie project (i.e. I Am I, Husbands, etc.). Beyond that, having some kind of pre-existing content (a season one, a trailer, an older project) is super-helpful in terms of getting people’s attention. It’s true there are a glut of projects both on the web AND trying to fund raise on the web these days, but I don’t think they’re necessarily competing for the same funds or backers. I think it boils down to setting a realistic goal, releasing quality content, and being consistent in your promotion. It’s not easy, it takes smarts and a willingness to learn from mistakes, but as evidenced by a ton of recent projects, it’s very possible!'

As I said at the start, I personally have very little knowledge of film making on the web, so I was keen to understand how filmmakers go about getting their work seen, moving away from the more traditional routes of hawking them around to studios and film festivals. Miriam was very gracious in her reply, telling me 'the web is an amazing tool. It allows the budding filmmaker to get his work seen and evaluated immediately and without having to spend money, but the responsibility of finding the audience also falls to you. I think there’s a place for both web and festival content (film festivals are popular for a reason – the audience is provided for you), but the web is absolutely a great place to start'.

I am sure a lot of our readers would love to know how they could go about being involved in film making or beingan actor, so I asked Miriam for just a few helpful pointers on where to start!!

'Take acting classes, read the trade papers, and start auditioning for your local film and theatre scene! You need a good (but not necessarily expensive!) headshot and a resume (CV) that tells the truth about your experience. I think the main thing is to just start doing it. Lots of people talk about wanting something but don’t necessarily go after it; acting in particular requires a thick skin and an unbelievable amount of perseverance. Being a smart actor in a sea of wannabe starlets goes a long way, so read as much as you can, and use common sense – if it sounds too good to be true, it likely is. Starting small is great, it gives you the opportunity to build a resume and better your craft. But the main thing is to START!'

I finished off my time with Miriam by asking – where to next? – The next big project for The Ivy League? She was unsurprisingly tight lipped in her answer!

'I think we need to release Mythos before we begin discussing that in public! But I already know which of my scripts I want to produce next; Richard and Adam also both have stuff in the works. Tom and I have been discussing a script he wrote. We’re looking ahead to the future, but we are definitely focused on Mythos till it’s finished.'

 

Mythos is due for release on 10 November 2012 – click here to view the trailer, I myself am genuinely looking forward to the finished article, I feel like I have stumbled upon a whole new side of film making, full of new and interesting talented, people who decided to do it themselves rather than wait and hope!

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And of course we just had to finish on some fun questions for no reason other than its what we do!

If you were a cartoon character what or who would you be?

Lisa Simpson comes to mind. I WISH I could be Faye Valentine, though. 

Who is your favourite actor?

I think my favourite actresses are the ones whose “types” I see in myself – Sigourney Weaver, Lena Headey, Cate Blanchett, Eva Green. Strong, intense, sometimes offbeat women who are usually the lead role but aren’t girly-girl ingénues. I’ll watch Christian Bale in almost anything, the man is friggin dedicated. And I have a massive talent-crush on Benedict Cumberbatch at present.

If you could where would you most like to visit in the world?

Hawaii, India, Tokyo, Cambodia, Ireland. But Disney World is still at the top; I’m going in January for my birthday. 

Who would be your favourite author?

Tad Williams! He’s my friend on Facebook and I harbor this hope that one day we’ll form an epic artist friendship like Neil Gaiman and Tori Amos.

 

If you would like to support The Ivy League in this truly worthwhile project then pop along to http://www.indiegogo.com/mythosseries

 

USEFUL LINKS 

Mythos – http://www.indiegogo.com/mythosseries

The Ivy League –  theivyleague.net / twitter.com/TILeague

Miriam – miriampultro.com

Tom – martiniproductionsnyc.com

Richard – richardcline.com / seanmalloyproductions.com