For the Love of Film Making

Here is the trailer, edited by Daniel Derousseau, for a documentary about the love of independent film making: “Indie Film, (A Love Story).

FILM AND VIDEO MAKERS UNITE 🙂

One of the greatest joys I get from operating this video making blog is that I hear from lots of other people who enjoy making films and videos.

One such fellow, Daniel Derousseau, wrote to me some time back seeking a bit of advice on how to organize what had morphed into a massive documentary project.

His brother and some friends had produced a couple of full length independent action movies back in the 80’s, Deadly Memories I and Deadly Memories II. Now, they had gotten back together to create a third, Deadly Memories Lost & Found. Daniel was creating a documentary about their experiences.

newspaper article on indie film, deadly memories
Article on original Deadly Memories indie film.

I felt like it was such an awesome long term project, and such a perfect match for readers of this blog, I twisted the group’s arm for an interview and turned it into this blog post. 🙂

We’ll start at the beginning. Why were the original movies made and what was the experience like?

Daniel’s brother, Robby Celestin answers.

“My friends and I started to make goofy parody videos with a basic VHS video camera back in the 80’s. We focused on capturing angles and moves that would give us exciting and realistic action scenes. I was told about the possibilities of working with a public access channel and at age 16 I wrote, co-directed, and starred in an hour long action flick called Deadly Memories.

“It aired on the local Chicago land cable station and became very popular. Three years later after taking the public access course and learning a bit more from my mistakes I wrote, directed and edited an hour long sequel. Both films featured a unique hero named Jim Blade. He was not the best. He was not the fastest or the strongest. He didn’t take things too seriously. However, when trouble arose, he always found a way to come out on top and worked more from his heart than his head. He embodied the spirit of why I made films.”

independent movie making

ONE THING LEADS TO ANOTHER

“This led to a short film that eventually led to freelance work as a shooter/writer/director, a full time job as the production person for DePaul University, and my own company called Ironknee Productions. I left the industry about 6 years ago and have had success as a singer/songwriter in Chicago. No money was ever made from those first 2 pieces. However, they spawned a love for film making which led to many jobs and amazing experiences.”

Ironknee Productions ended up working for major universities and corporations. My wife and I ran it together. We interviewed Stan Lee for Variety.com, filmed for NASA, and traveled all over the US filming a series called, Beyond The Book for Copyright Clearance Center which aired on BookTV in Canada. When you work in the filmmaking industry, you begin to realise how much of a part copyright can play in video production. Copyright can potentially have some serious financial effects on your production, which is why being insured is always a great idea. Apparently, LaPlaya has the best errors and omissions insurance in the industry, so it may be worth checking them out so that you’re covered when it comes to copyright law. Anyway, when I was offered full time work as a singer it allowed me to work in music which is another field I’m passionate about. This was also very consistent work. The video production world was not.

About a year ago I had a small part in an indie film Victims of Circumstance. I was used in a quick fight scene and was immediately itching to bring Jim Blade back. This itch turned into a realistic goal after I took a walk with my youngest brother who was a fan of my old pieces. He convinced me by highlighting all of the advantages of making a Jim Blade film with today’s technology. I was sold. I wrote a short script and suddenly Jim Blade was alive again.

screen shot from action movie deadly memories
All the Deadly memories movies feature awesome martial arts choreography.

This was a chance to see where the character would be today. It’s been a labor of love and the fact that my 3 brothers are all involved in the production makes this time around extra special. My brother Paul is directing, my brother Chad (the best martial artist I know) is choreographing, and my brother Daniel is co-producing.

Bottom line, most of my instincts as a filmmaker came from those first 2 films. They were made with raw determination and love. I’ve returned to the approach that made it so much fun for that 16 year old kid. When it all comes down to it, there’s no other reason to make a flick. I can’t wait to see this character alive and onscreen one more time.” – Robby Celestin

 

Now we’ll chat with Daniel on his experiences as a novice documentary maker creating a film about the entire Deadly Memories project.

1. How long did you work on this project? Was this more or less time and work than you anticipated?

I have been working on the documentary for two months and expect it to be done in early summer. It turned into more work than I originally thought. Once I delved into the production and realized there was a bigger story that needed to be told I was open and willing to do the additional work.

2. I am assuming your friends were quite knowledgeable on video making so you learned a lot from them, but where else did you learn?

J.I.Lange Productions handled the production of the short film, Deadly Memories: Lost and Found. They are a very talented production company. I actually went to one semester of film school when I was 19 years old. I did not want to spend a small fortune on a film degree and decided to drop out. Instead, I taught myself how to edit video and watched a ridiculous amount of films from the past hundred years to learn from. From there I have been focusing my time on building an audience through YouTube. On my YouTube page (Motivated Mayhem) I have uploaded various edits from the last two years. Two of my previous edits have been ranked #1 on the trailer mash.

3. What sort of Video Production information did you find to actually be useful and what kind of information proved to be unnecessary when it really came down to the nuts and bolts of making a video?

I am more of a hands on editor/director, which is another reason I probably would not have benefited from sitting in a classroom for four years. Thanks to YouTube and different forums I was able to essentially teach myself how to edit and operate a camera. I know I am not the best editor but I have definitely developed a style which is visible throughout my edits and my audience has truly enjoyed.

4. If you had to do it over again, what would you do differently?

The hardest part of making the documentary is keeping on track with my original story. I started showing people the rough cut of the promo video and before I knew it I had twenty different voices in my head influencing the documentary. Eventually I had to keep people out of the editing room to refocus and get back to my original idea.

5. What is your advice for novice documentary video makers?

Try to edit as much as possible in your head while you’re shooting. It saves lots of valuable time in the editing room. And, only work on a project if you are truly passionate about it.

6. What do you want to do next?

action movieI would like to work on another documentary that tries to unearth why Hollywood stopped making great action movies. It would be a semi sequel to Indie Film (A Love Story). I am not sure if people make sequels to documentaries but I am going to attempt it.

7. Where are you going to show your documentary?

After post-production is completed I will be submitting the documentary to film festivals and from there the plan would be to get a distribution deal. The great thing about the documentary and the short is essentially they are publicity for each other. At the end of day we hope people will watch the documentary and seek out the short, and vice versa.

9. Anything else you wish to add?

I believe actions speak louder than words. There are too many “indie” guys out there who just talk about making a movie. I know this because I was one of them. It took me six years of talking about it before I actually picked up a camera and started my first full length project. I hope people will watch the short film and the documentary and be inspired to make a movie.

I certainly can second that idea, Daniel. Thanks for your help in creating this blog post so others can learn from and be inspired from your efforts.

Lorraine Grula

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Lorraine Grula


Lorraine Grula enjoyed a fast-paced, multifaceted career in the television and video business, producing, shooting, writing, and editing documentary-style videos in both news and corporate settings. Later, she got to teach media and video production in two high schools, which then morphed into instructional design and corporate training. Lorraine is now dedicated to sharing her vast knowledge with others who wish to learn the art of video making, with an emphasis on storytelling and creating professional-quality videos for the internet as simply, yet creatively as possible.

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