A few years ago, after making some short films and music videos, I had the crazy idea of writing, directing, producing and acting in my first feature film. And believe me, it was a crazy idea.
DEVILS IN DISGUISE was shot dead in Los Angeles for $ 5,000 in 11 days with a crew of 3 (including myself). We had our premiere at the Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard, press all over the world, and the film has been seen online more than 27 million times.
Here is my survival advice:
Really be sure that you want to make a feature film
Many directors romanticize the direction of their first film for the first time. And I understand it. There's nothing we'd rather be doing. But making a movie is hard work. It's hard with $ 200 million, 1,000 people, 2 years in production, and it's hard work with $ 5,000, 11 days, and a crew of 3 too. Make sure you really want to jump into this adventure. And when you do this, jump in, it's amazing.
KISS (just keep it stupid)
Of course, you want to write a space saga with crazy special effects. But the last time I checked Amazon, spaceships are way too expensive for your first movie. But you can look around and make lists. What do i own? (probably not much) What do my friends own? Make lists of props to access, cars, locations, and friends who could help your cast and crew. You will find that you have so many resources and so many people are interested in helping you on your insane adventure. And always remember that a great movie doesn't need lasers in space or a guy in red and blue pajamas. Sometimes all you need is a couple of places, great dialogue, and a concept. Check out 12 Angry Men, Reservoir Dogs, Primer, Clerks, and Rear Window.
Choose the best actors
It sounds obvious, but it isn't. Many first-time directors pass roles on to all of their friends. And maybe your friends are perfect for the role. But anyway, do a casting session with them and invite actors. You can easily do this for free and attract great actors who would work for free if they liked your project. Of course, it's easier in Los Angeles, New York, Paris and London, but even in the middle of nowhere, say Montana, if you check out university theater programs or hang up flyers, you will find people with a certain level of sensitivity that you need. On DEVILS IN DISGUISE, I chose Magen Mattox to lead, Leila, because she was perfect for it, even if we wanted to kill each other on the shoot, but that will be for another article. I told you filmmaking is crazy! I was casting the second female role, Sandy. It was completely free and I saw so many extraordinary talent and I ended up choosing Montana Leigh which did an amazing job. They both did such a good job that we didn't do more than 2 takes per scene. That was golden for editing (including my job) and allowed us to shoot in just 11 days.
Prepare, prepare, prepare
The preparation is free. Preparation is king. Once you start shooting, you literally have no more downtime. You will forget to eat and even take a shower (I am French). Make sure you have all of your props and equipment on time. Check everything twice, three times. Rehearse with your actors. Let them try things. You have to trust them. You will find things that you never thought of yourself. I did the whole shoot for DEVILS IN DISGUISE as a storyboard and I'm a terrible drawer, but it helped me a lot. Also, do a lookbook to make your vision of lights, costumes, locations, sound, recordings, etc. really clear. I had thousands of pictures in mine and it's a great thing to show investors. If you prepare well enough, you will come to the shoot with a completely free mind.
Let the magic happen
You are all prepared, everything is set. Perfect, but flexible, very flexible. If something doesn't go as planned, don't call CUT! directly. An actor misses his line, improvises, a dog arrives in the picture, your actors are no longer in the picture, let it happen, these accidents could turn into magical moments. I never call CUT! Right after the scene is supposed to end, I let it roll for a few seconds, maybe my actor is improvising the dialogue or his eyes are telling a story …
Remember, your actors now know their characters better than you do. The words that you put so much time and heart into writing no longer matter. Let the magic happen!
Send 1000 emails a day
Be your own PR company. I hired a PR for the world premiere of DEVILS IN DISGUISE. If you have enough money, this is a great investment. Still, send 1000 emails a day. To sales agents, producers, agents, distributors, film festivals, actors, press, blogs, TV channels, your mother. Everyone should hear your name.
The cavalry is not coming
As Mark Duplass famously said, the cavalry is not coming. You've made your first movie, sent thousands of emails, attended film festivals … you will probably still have to be hectic to get your next project off the ground. Over and over. Until you no longer need the cavalry. You are the cavalry.
In summary, it's hard to make your first movie, very hard, very damn hard, the hardest thing you are going to do until you make your second feature film. I speak from experience. My second feature film, IF I AM ALONE WITH YOU, which was shot with my whole family in southern France and shot together with Vedrana Egon, is in post-production.
But you, we have no choice. We have to get these movies out of our brains! Nothing is better.
Not even sex.
Check out DEVILS IN DISGUISE pendant and the whole movie Here.
And follow my crazy adventures Here.
About Guillaume Campanacci
Guillaume Campanacci was born and raised in Cannes, France. Shortly after completing his master's degree in industrial and mechanical engineering at the renowned "Arts et Metiers" engineering school in Aix en Provence and Paris, Guillaume traveled the world as a model: Athens, Paris, Singapore, Hong Kong, Barcelona, Buenos Aires, Miami, New York , but modeling wasn't fulfilling his life. A cinema enthusiast, inspired by a variety of basic films from the past, he began to devote his time to his true passions: writing, directing, and acting. He began to study Meisner technique at the William Esper Studio in New York and later with Anthony Abeson. In a short time, Guillaume worked under the direction of Oscar winner Emmanuel "Chivo" Lubezki and David Fincher, performed under well-known names such as Eva Longoria and Jane Fonda, and worked twice with the David Lynch Foundation, even receiving compliments from David Lynch himself : "Guillaume, you are a great actor". This refreshingly interesting, funny and charming writer, reminiscent of a young Alain Delon, wrote, directed, produced and acted after making several music videos and short films and writing several scripts (one of which was commissioned by Francis Ford Coppola himself) Devils in Disguise, his first feature film, in the spirit of a true Renaissance man. It had its world premiere in the Chinese theater in Hollywood, where journalists compared it to Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch and Jean Luc Godard. Devils in Disguise has been viewed online 27 million times since then. Guillaume is now in post-production of his second feature film WHEN I'M ALONE WITH YOU. He is co-director of Vedrana Egon and was shot with his whole family in the south of France.