Alex Ferrari, Filmmaker, indie film, Rachel Grant, red princess blues, Richard Tyson, robert forster, short film

Deconstructing the Short Film: Red Princess Blues

After many requests from the Indie Film Hustle Tribe, I’ve decided to release my short films on my Youtube Channel. They’re already available on Amazon Prime and in my course Filmmaking Hacks but YouTube is the Tribe’s request so I have conceded.

I realized that this could be a learn experience for not only you guys but for me as well. I have things I love and cringe in ALL the short films in this series. So instead of only posting the videos up, I decided to ask some tough and honest questions about why I made them in the first place. Did I achieve the goals I set out for the film? What would I do different if given the chance? What lesson did I learn by making the films?

I try to tackle these questions in an honest, truthful and somewhat painful (for me) way. I hope you not only enjoy the films for the entertainment value but also learn from my mistakes.

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First up is by far my favorites and most expensive of the bunch, Red Princess Blues. For more on How NOT to shoot a $50,000 Short Film click here.

Red Princess Blues is based on a feature film screenplay I wrote. Here a bit about the short film:

ZOE, a young teenage girl, is lured into an after hours carnival tent by the sleazy rock n roll carnie RIMO, and gets more then she bargained for. It’s up to the mysterious PRINCESS, star of the new knife show, to pull her out of the wolf’s den.

The film stars Richard Tyson, Rachel Grant, and Oscar® Nominee Robert Forster. This was the first time I was working with legendary and known actors. It was an experience, to say the least, a $50,000 experience to be more precise. Watch the short film below and then let’s answer some questions:

What was the aim of the film?

I decided to make Red Princess Blues for five main reasons.

  1. To use it as a calling card to find financing for the feature film version
  2. To show off my ability to be able to work with high caliber actors
  3. To show I can shoot an action sequence that wasn’t just gun play
  4. To show I could direct a larger scale narrative film
  5. I wanted to dip my toe in “world building”

With my first film BROKEN, one of the main critiques of the film was a few of the actor’s performances were lack luster, so I wanted to prove I could pull a compelling performance. I also wanted to create a unique world that I hadn’t seen on screen before.

I was blessed to have an amazing crew on Red Princess Blues. My production designer Carlos Osorio (24, Homeland), and stunt coordinator Jeff Cadiente (24, Hawaii 5.0, Jurassic World) were remarkable. It was the first time I was working with really high-end professionals in those departments. The teams they put together were top notch!

Also working with Richard Tyson, Rachel Grant and Robert Forster was amazing. It’s easy to pull great performances when you are working with such experienced and professional actors. As they say:

“90% of directing is casting.”

What did the film achieve?

Red Princess Blues was received very well by the film festival circuit. The film played in over 150 international film festivals around the world and won countless awards. I was contacted by multiple studios, producers, and agents after the release of Red Princess Blues.

I did the “water bottle” tour around Hollywood and met with a lot of interested people. I had multiple deals on the table for the feature film version but at the time having a female lead in an action film was a tough sell. I must have been ahead of my time. I was close a few time but alas they fell through.

RPB did land me a bunch of high profile directing gigs. A commercial campaign for Comedy Central and two Music Videos for the Grammy Award Winning band Ozomatli and Comedian Gabriel Iglesias (see the videos here).

I also got a ton of post production jobs directly off of Red Princess Blues so it wasn’t a complete loss.

What would I’ve done different?

If I would have the same money today I would never shoot a short film. I would shoot a feature film for sure. Short films are fun and you can experiment but they tend to lead nowhere. If you are starting out it’s OK to make some low budget short films to learn but in today’s day and age you can as easily shoot a feature film for the same money. Trust me I speak from experience.

I’ve had my short films in over 600 film festivals and met with every major studio and agency in town off of them. If your goal is to make feature films then MAKE FEATURE FILMS. If your goal is to create content for Youtube, Amazon or a web series then short films might be a plan. Just my 2¢.

What lessons were learned?

  • Never make such and expensive short film
  • Always have at least two -three projects ready to show people once the short gets you a meeting
  • Ambition is great but be smart about it
  • Don’t roll the dice and bet the farm that a short film with get you to the promise land
  • Hire your team carefully
  • Fight for your ideas and make them happen on set

I hope this deconstruction of Red Princess Blues helped you in some way or at the very least entertained you. Next up in this series will be Red Princess Blues: Genesis, the Japanese animated prequel to the live action short film. I know it crazy!

Filmmaking Resources:

If you liked: Deconstructing a Short Film: Red Princess Blues
Also check out: How to Make a Feature Film for $1000 with Mark Duplass

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