Jeremy Gardner is an American actor, writer, and director known for his work in the independent horror film “The Battery.” He wrote, directed, and starred in the movie, which was released in 2012.
“The Battery” is a post-apocalyptic zombie film that gained critical acclaim for its character-driven approach and low-budget yet effective storytelling. Since then, Jeremy Gardner has continued to work in the film industry, both in front of and behind the camera.
Alex Ferrari 0:06
Enjoy today's episode with guest host Jason Buff.
Jason Buff 1:36
On this episode, I'm talking with Jeremy Gardener and Christian Stella about their films, the battery and text Montana will survive. We'll talk about all the stuff that went into making the battery the difficulties of making a really, really low budget independent film the cold hard reality of being an indie filmmaker today, as well as the new way they've approached distribution for their newest feature. So get comfortable, you might want a nice cold beverage or some tea, you know, maybe some aroma in the room, maybe some lavender some some Jakar and lar and enjoy this episode, because I had a good time talking with these guys to record the show. Yeah, just a few episodes.
Jeremy Gardner 2:17
Yeah, I've been subscribed for a while. But then I went on a tangent and subscribe to every podcast ever. And now I can't remember what I'm supposed to listen to.
Jason Buff 2:25
I used to like my favorite way to learn filmmaking, aside from DVD commentaries was listening to podcasts, you know, because you can sit there for a good hour and a half listening to a filmmaker and you'd never get that access on just like interviews and stuff.
Jeremy Gardner 2:40
That's literally how Yeah, that was one of my big tools. When I was deciding I wanted to make the battery was podcasts. Oh, really? Oh, yeah, absolutely. I started back with creative screenwriting, Jeff Goldsmith's podcast. Yeah. And I listen to a ton of those. And then I just went, what else is there and downloading everything?
Jason Buff 2:59
What are the ones did you listen to my my big one, because I was trying to make a film in 2012. That didn't end up happening. But I would listen to one called film method all the time. And it was to two women that were like, they had already made their own film. And they were just interviewing people that had worked on it and talked about it, but they stopped recording it in 2012. So it was like, all of a sudden just came to an end, but it's the void now, well, that's kind of what I based mine off of was just the idea that I want to learn stuff and people want to you know, they want to hear what actually goes into filmmaking, you know, instead of like these kind of generic conversations, you know, I like to go into, you know, the nuts and bolts, money issues, technical, you know, the cameras that were used and stuff like that. So
Jeremy Gardner 3:41
No, absolutely. I mean, it's that's the important stuff. And that's, that's why I listen to watch every behind the scenes extra on every DVD I had for years. And I listened to director's notes for a long time. I don't know if you know that podcast that was Yeah. Gosh, there was another one.
Kristian Stella 3:57
I'm a I'm like a big YouTube and Vimeo guy. Like, I've watched a lot of a lot of the camera geeks on there, you know, and all those camera reviews and tests. Like I love Philip Bloom. Uh huh. Yeah. Whom is like my hero.
Jason Buff 4:11
Yeah, he's, there's a lot I think most of this stuff, because I also do. I'm an amateur cinematographer, you know, so I just sit there and watch everything about lighting tutorials, and everything about lenses and whatever, you know, I don't think it's like you don't even need to go to school anymore. If you've got an internet connection. Oh, absolutely. Get on it. You know,
Kristian Stella 4:30
I mean, that's I mean, everything that we everything that I did technically for the battery, and now takes Montana has been through tutorials is insane. Like, I mean, I was just telling Jeremy the other day, I was like, Well, I'm trying to fix a couple shots and text Montana color wise. So I'm like, I have time to watch another 20 hour DaVinci Resolve tutorial.
Jeremy Gardner 4:52
Yeah, I spend most of my time listening to screenwriter interviews and stuff too, because back when I didn't think I could actually make a movie. I just wanted to be able to Write a script. And just just to hear different processes is amazing, because no one does it the same way. And so you'll start to think that your, your writing routine is weird. And then you'll listen to 20 Different people say that there's 20 different variations on some same thing. So it doesn't matter. It's just getting, it's just putting the work in.
Jason Buff 5:19
I mean, that's one of the things that I just recently put up a blog post about the creative process. And there's a bunch of videos, about screenwriters only talking about the creative end, you know, and how they schedule out their day and how they actually write, you know, and it's it. It was nice to hear almost all of them say, Well, I spend most of the morning procrastinating. And then when I start hating myself, kind of sit down, and I'll start writing, you know, so you realize that everybody that has this drive to write screenplays, or to write anything, they're all kind of fighting with themselves, you know?
Jeremy Gardner 5:52
Yeah, I mean, that's, it's a daily grind. And but you know, the thing that I've unfortunately, the thing I've taken away from every single interview I've, I've heard is that the, you know, the successful writers are the ones who treat it like a day job. They know that they have going to put in a certain amount of hours every day in the seat, but in seat and just writing and, boy, just getting your butt in the seat is the hardest part for me, because I will find everything else to do
Jason Buff 6:16
when you started screenwriting, what were the resources that you found were the most helpful,
Jeremy Gardner 6:23
you know, it's funny, I started probably very similar to a lot of people I found a Syd field, you know, screenplay book from God knows when it was all yellowed and old, for like 25 cents in a used bookstore. And, you know, people kind of laugh off those those manuals, but that really helped me understand the structure, and the formatting. And then once you get that down, it's just about reading other screens. I just read as many screenplays as I could and you start to see how you go, Okay, well, this is the structure but I can tweak it to make it you read a certain way that I want to read and I like to write mine with absolutely zero camera interaction at all I really like almost write like a prose story where it just flows.
Kristian Stella 7:08
Yeah, they say Jeremy Jeremy screenplays sometimes read like novels. It's kind of,
Jeremy Gardner 7:12
But he's gorgeous, but sparse novel, they're not like dense. Like I have a rule, I refuse to have any action beat go over four sentences, I will not do it. Because I know people skim. So I have little rules for myself. And I don't like to, I don't like to break up sequences with like interiors, and exteriors, I kind of like to try to let them flow into each other and just just drop maybe while he walks into. And then the next line the bathroom, there's no like, interior the bathroom. Because you want to just keep a pace and the kind of momentum going I'm really about readability. Because when it's so hard for me to read some screenplays, they're just so dense, and just so much stuff on the page.
Jason Buff 7:50
Yeah, I think that a lot of people think that you have to follow very strict codes, you know, and what I've learned from talking to other screenwriters is that, you know, as long as you're telling the story, and as long as you're bringing people into the movie that you can kind of do whatever you want to, you know, you have to have a certain amount of structure. But there's a lot of leeway with that.
Jeremy Gardner 8:07
No, there really is, there's no like I said, That's what I like about John August and Craig Mason, you know, they'll they'll talk to you about the nuts and bolts on their podcasts all the time. But for the most part, every rule that someone tells you that you can't break, they will just say no, that's not true. If that were the case, we wouldn't have this movie or that movie, or this movie or whatever. So you can break whatever rule you want. If you're writing a good story,
Jason Buff 8:26
So what what would your typical day be? You know, talking about screenwriting? Like do you have to set like a date that you're going to finish by? Or do you just sit like sit down? Do you do you do a bunch of writing out notes and blueprints what what kind of is the
Jeremy Gardner 8:39
I'm so weird when it comes to writing it's well, you know, unfortunately, I have not had to write on a deadline yet, I have not, you know, taken a job where it needs to be in by this time. So it's very hard for me to manufacture my own my own deadlines. So typically, I will just start writing, I will just start writing and then I'll write I'll do what's like a beat sheet, where I will write down just slug lines of the scenes that I know are going to happen up until a point where I don't know anymore. And then I'll go and I'll start writing that. And then the net, I was telling someone the other day, I think I was telling your wife, Christian, that I if you look through my notebooks, you will see the same beat sheet written over and over and over again. And I don't know why I do it. I will go back after writing like 10 or 15 pages. And I will write again, the same beat sheet of the scenes. And I'll maybe add a little bit in between or I'll reorganize them. But for the most part, I think it's just me re familiarizing myself with where I'm at. And then hopefully something will spring up and I'll add another beat to the end of that thing. And then I'll go back and start writing again. And I'll take walks and lots of showers and just i i ruminate on it a lot. I think I think you get a lot more writing done when you're not writing than you actually think. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 9:54
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Kristian Stella 10:03
Lots of Starbucks trips, oh, yeah,
Jeremy Gardner 10:06
I have a weird thing about being able to write in the place I live. There's something about being there as often as I am there. It's just like I can't, I can't disconnect myself from just the routine of living in the home. So I need to try to get out of it as much as possible.
Jason Buff 10:22
Yeah, I think that's, that's a lot of people have told me. I mean, I'm the same way too. I cannot. I'm here in my office right now. I've tried to write here. And it just doesn't happen. You know. So I'll go off to Starbucks. And I'll sit there. And when you don't have all the distraction, that's when you say, okay, I can sit here and actually do the hard part, which is, you know, the word focusing on it. Yeah,
Jeremy Gardner 10:42
Yeah, there's something about the chatter of being in a public place. I like that kind of white noise of people talking and just the mumbling in the in the ruckus of just people moving around, that helps to other than silence. Another problem I have with writing, which people should not do is, I wake up every day when I sit down to write and I go back and tinker with everything I've already written. So I will kill an hour or two hours just perfecting what's already written. So you know, in a good way, when the script is finally done, it's been it's been polished in a way that it's like it's a second or third draft, but it takes so long to get to that final draft because I just go back and move commas and moving commas is not writing.
Jason Buff 11:24
Do you do one like, you know, as they say, vomit draft? Do you try to get like one first draft down? And then go back?
Jeremy Gardner 11:30
No, no, that's what I wish I could do. I really wish I could just move just barrel ahead and not worry about what happened before. But I cannot I keep going back, and tinkering and tweaking. And then And then hopefully, by the time like when if I wake up and I tinker with the pages I wrote the day before. Hopefully, by the time I get to the end of those, I've kind of pushed myself into the process a little bit.
Jason Buff 11:53
So how did you guys meet? You guys have been friends for a while. Right? And where are you from?
Kristian Stella 11:57
We're both we're both from Central Florida. You know, we're like, right outside Disney World. But we met when we were kids, basically. I mean, I was definitely a kid. I was like 13 or something. And we started making movies back then. And that was kind of our film school, which was it was also a regular school because we dropped out of school.
Jeremy Gardner 12:15
We started education system.
Kristian Stella 12:17
Yeah, yeah. So I mean, that's like staying in school in Florida. But yeah, we just started making movies back then like with like a $500 Sony Handycam and what year are we talking here?
Jason Buff 12:27
Just so I know.
Jeremy Gardner 12:29
Let me think about this. We shot the bags in 2000.
Kristian Stella 12:32
Okay, okay. So this is pre HD. Yes, definitely. It was like almost pre computer editing. Like, I still remember buying a hard drive for like $500 for like a like a 40 gigabyte hard drive.
Jeremy Gardner 12:46
I mean, we were cutting out when we cut in our shorts before we did the bags on like, like VHS to VHS like,
Kristian Stella 12:51
Oh, you're on a VCR. We were we were editing VCR to VCR when like in 1996 or seven or something. But yeah, so we just did that we we made some features with my sister, and got gotten into some film festivals. And then we became adults and we had to get jobs. That was Yeah, so that was like a just like an entire decade where we just, you know, waited tables and so on.
Jeremy Gardner 13:20
Yeah, we didn't do much for 10 years, and then we kind of moved apart and then I was trying to Well, I'm gonna go pound the pavement as an actor. And then that got really demoralizing really quickly and I had spent a lot of time like we were talking about watching those DVD extras and reading those interviews and listening to those podcasts and thinking you know what, I think it's about time to get the band back together the technology had finally caught up and I started to believe that there was a way to make a movie that could stand you know, against real quote unquote real movies now so I felt like we should jump back in it because that was the thing about our early movies even though they were fun and you know, we played festival I remember the director that Sarasota Film Festival telling us you know, I'm going to put your movie in this festival but because it's clear that you guys made a real movie but it's also very clear that you have absolutely no money because you it's just the quality was so
Kristian Stella 14:08
He said it was the first movie they had ever played that wasn't shot on film. So okay, it was crazy.
Jeremy Gardner 14:14
I mean, he was even talking about like maybe having a micro budget Features section in following festivals because we he just didn't know what to do with us. So that by the time the the technology caught up was like okay, well we can make something that you could literally play in a theater and people wouldn't be like oh, well was it shot on my face?
Jason Buff 14:37
Yeah, I mean that I definitely know that feeling because I mean, I think I'm a little older than you guys but you know, when I was in film school, it was like that was the only option we could only we could shoot on 16 millimeter and like spend everything we had you know, and like spend 30 It was easy to spend like 30,000 bucks on a little crappy 16 millimeter film because you had to send it off to to the lab, or the other option was to shoot on VHS. So there's a lot of people, you know, now that are coming back to it after it's like, everybody realized, Okay, now the technology is caught up all these people that couldn't make films when they were, you know, college age are coming back to it, you know?
Jeremy Gardner 15:16
Yeah, absolutely. It's such a it's such a democratic process. Now. It's it was like the art that no one was allowed to get in unless you had permission or money. And now that's not the case.
Jason Buff 15:26
Right! Okay, so you went to where did you go? You went to New York area, or where were you at?
Jeremy Gardner 15:32
Yeah, actually, Christian's dad got a show on the Food Network, and moved up to New England, Connecticut area to shoot the show. And he was like, you know, he's like a second father to me. So he's like, Hey, I know, you want to be an actor. We're gonna go live, like 40 minutes away from New York City, if you want to come live with us. So I, like hugged my family, goodbye and moved. Moved up there for 12 years
Kristian Stella 15:56
He moved up there with me. And then within like, six months of me living up there, I was like, I want to move back to Florida, and then left him with my parents.
Jeremy Gardner 16:04
And then their entire family ended up moving back to Florida and I stayed I was there just until this last until this last October, but I can't I gotta get out of Florida. I can't, I can't take it.
Jason Buff 16:19
So you were like, what on the couch or something for up in there? And
Jeremy Gardner 16:22
Oh, no, there. No, I had a, they had a room for me. They had I mean, it was like I was their second their third child. So it was a great living situation. And then I ended up you know, I got a job and I got my own place. And I moved in with a girl. And you know, I settled in up there when they all left, I need seasons, I was just talking about how I can't, I can't deal with this warm winter down here. It's creeping me out. I'm a very seasonally, you know, creative person, if if it's nice out all the time, all I want to do is do fun stuff. I kind of need those dark, cold winter months to get a little, you know, to turn my thoughts inward and helps to create and read and
Jason Buff 17:04
focus maybe snow every once in a while.
Jeremy Gardner 17:07
It's so nice. I just,
Kristian Stella 17:08
I just want to be able to drive to the store without like driving my car off a sheet of ice. That just flipped me out. I stopped driving for like four years when I lived up there. Because I mean, I only lived up there for two years, but I just refuse to drive on the snow. And then I got scared of driving in general, because I was like I haven't driven it for months.
Jason Buff 17:27
Alright, so let's let's focus on filmmaking wind. When was the I mean, what was the kind of seed that got you guys started with the battery? What Where did that kind of begin? Well, there was this
Jeremy Gardner 17:37
online, kind of they were going to, there was a site called massify, that was going to make a movie completely through the community. So they were taking pitches for scripts, and then they were taking director videos. And then they were casting all through this website. So I sent in I was I made an audition video. And I wanted to make it kind of like a short film. So it stood out. So I made this little two minute short about a guy and his friend who kind of document their day to day life in a zombie apocalypse world, this little two minute nothing video, and nothing ever came of that site or that movie, I believe it became Perkins 14, one of the eight films to die for in that series, or whatever it was. But um, but I couldn't shake the idea of this, like just two guys wandering around in the woods, in a post apocalyptic situation. And so then I started thinking about, well, the way you if you're going to make a no budget movie, it's the way you should do it is you should, you should tailor it to what you have. And in my mind, that is right. But after a word from story, you could write a creative story around any situation. So now back to the shop, no money. What's the what's the way to do that? Well, okay, we'll just shoot it in the woods, right? And then if there are zombie, there are people trying to avoid zombies? Well, if they're smart, they're going to avoid cities. So there'll be in the woods and that way we could get around all that stuff. And it just kind of came became a way for me to take the zombie genre and turn it inward and focus on how two different minds would would be affected by that rather than do this big, grand, you know, macro scale, the whole world is dying. Yeah. And
Kristian Stella 19:11
at the same time that like he's thinking about getting back into film. I had I had become a food photographer, and the best food photography camera was the five d. So I had a five d mark, too. So I already had the camera that was like changing the the indie filmmaking world. I just so happened to have to have that for my job. So it was like the kind of perfect storm is as he was thinking about this movie. I had the equipment to make a movie, sort of when I had the camera waste.
Alex Ferrari 19:50
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Jeremy Gardner 19:59
you So that's basically where it started just just just tailoring a story to what I knew would be cheap. And you know, there was a long time where I could not convince anybody that you could make a movie for the kind of money I was talking about. I just couldn't I remember I was introduced to some, like rich guy at a bar. And he started talking to me like a big wig. And as soon as I mentioned $6,000, he just laughed and walked away.
Jason Buff 20:27
So that was, yeah, that happens a lot.
Jeremy Gardner 20:29
Well, it doesn't happen as much anymore. You know, it's people are coming around to the fact that movies can be made for nothing.
Jason Buff 20:35
Well, you know, the funny thing that I run into is, so many people think that they need, you know, 100,000 or $200,000, to make, you know, a little indie movie. And it's ridiculous,
Jeremy Gardner 20:45
it frustrates me to no end, I've seen so many people just waste money, they just waste money. And I don't understand, like, the whole my whole concept going into this was, look, I believe we can do this. But if we can't, if it doesn't work, and I get the money, I got the money from like, 10 different people. So it'd be like little chunks of $600. So nobody was going to be broke. No one's gonna lose their house. And no one's gonna hate me. That was it's just like, just, you know, hedge your bets, right? Something that you believe in that you could do for an incredibly small amount, and then don't don't break anybody don't lose any friends over it. Had you been acting before? Yeah, I've always been like more of a writer and an actor I did. I did a bunch of plays when I went up there up to the north. And, you know, I was always the actor in our movies, when we were making them younger. I was in all the plays in high school. So I wanted to be an actor, or a writer. And it wasn't until I got the confidence from listening to all these interviews with other filmmakers and watching movies and starting to understand them more that I was like, Well, you know, I can I can, I'm just going to direct this thing. I'm just going to do this thing straight through, it's gonna be my little, my little creature. But it was really it took a long time for me to say, I'm directing this because I had never been in those shoes before.
Jason Buff 21:54
Sorry, Christian, you were gonna say something? Oh, I
Kristian Stella 21:56
was just gonna say the other thing about budgets is that I think it's hard thing for people to wrap their head around that equipment can be rented, you know. And like, in fact, it always is rented in large budgets even. So like, that was one of the things that people come up and they're like, you know, you guys couldn't have made that movie for $6,000. It's like, it cost more for the equipment. I'm like, I mean, I used a Zeiss lens, but it was $150 to rent it for the whole shoot. So there's always so the only thing I owned was the camera. And even that would have been $250 to rent. Right? So you know, I think that even that seems to be a barrier of entry for people. But it shouldn't be. It's not.
Jason Buff 22:34
Yeah, it's funny because I you know, I've shot a couple of shorts down here, my cameras, I've only got a 60 D. And I've got a couple of friends who I've got one friend who has a five d Mart three, and has never used it. Like it was a gift from her husband. Oh, and so I'm just like, hey, do you mind if we borrow your camera for this shoot, and you know, whatever. And she's like, Yeah, sure, whatever, I don't care. I've never even I don't even know how to turn it on. So it's just like the equipment now has there's no barrier, you know?
Kristian Stella 23:03
I mean, I'm shooting on a Canon C 100. Now, and I let my friend borrow it all the time. And he's another filmmaker. Yet. Meanwhile, he went and shot a feature on an iPhone. And I was like, why don't you just borrow my camera? And he's like, I was afraid to ask. So now he borrows it all the time.
Jason Buff 23:21
Yeah, I know that he knows. Yeah, I
Jeremy Gardner 23:23
think that just I think people also, I mean, one of the hardest things for me to do is ask for favors. I'm really bad at asking for favors, but you'd be amazed the amount of things that you can get just asking. I mean, even just you know, you know, a couple of weeks ago, we were shooting something new for to add into tax Montana. And we we'd like put a budget aside for okay, if these people want money, here's what we're willing to spend. And then we go there and then we introduce ourselves, we tell them what we're doing. And then they just let us do it for free. And it's just it's amazing. Like how how often you can find, you know, the things that you need, just from through people's generosity, everyone just balloons up in their, in their mind what these budgets have to be and they just they really don't have to be that big, especially for your first one.
Jason Buff 24:11
Now, can you guys talk a little bit about the filmmaking process. I know you've talked a lot about the making of the battery. But can you just talk you know for indie filmmakers, can you talk about the process that you went through to create that the production maybe a little bit of pre production and the production process?
Kristian Stella 24:29
Well, yeah, we allowed to curse. Yeah, go ahead. I was a bit of a shit show.
Jeremy Gardner 24:36
But it was a lot of shit. Yeah, well, that okay. Well, that's the one thing that should be should be very much noted is that we, you know, for the longest time because Christian was down in Florida and I was up in up in Connecticut, kind of on my own trying to get this thing going. And I'm not a producer. Like I said, I'm very bad at asking for people for things from people. And I finally had to set an arbitrary date I said, you know all Just first we're doing this thing. That's it. August 1 is the date. And, you know, I got location squared away. But you know, between casting zombies and getting all the props together and trying to work out a schedule, which I'd never worked out a movie schedule before, these things were just like, beyond my grasp a little bit. And so that really, really hurt us in the actual production was that we just, we had about three full days of pre production. Once Christian got up there, we had three days to buy all the props, get all the zombies, like in order, get the crew, you know, our small crew shot list shot lists up to where we were shooting. So if there's anything to be learned is plan as much as you can before you get to set because everything will go wrong when you get to set. And if you if you plan for the things that you can, that you can fix, then when everything else goes to shit, you'll be ahead of the game. Meanwhile,
Kristian Stella 25:57
meanwhile, I only ever shot like two silent four minute short films. Before I got up there. I was still reading how to how to use the camera when I got up there because I was like, I mean, I know how to do photography, but I did not know cinematography at all, I
Jason Buff 26:12
saw the clip of I haven't seen the full documentary behind the scenes. But I saw the you're looking at that book Master master shot master shot. And I thought that was kind of a joke. But was that were you like actually not
Kristian Stella 26:23
a genre. And those books are awesome to master shots. Yeah, great.
Jeremy Gardner 26:28
But that's the thing too, is like, you have to just there has to be kind of a blind, youthful confidence when you go into something like this. Because if you think about all the ways in which you can fail, you just won't do it. You know, and it's like, I know, Christian is talented in a way that I'm not I know he's, he's going to solve any technical problem that we run into. And I I have faith in my acting and my writing and understanding of what I want the story to look like. And it's like, at some point, you're gonna run into stuff you don't really know. But as long as you keep it to a manageable budget, like I said, if you screw up, whatever, you know what, no one's no one's gonna die. So you just have to have this kind of blind confidence and just go in and do it, I think is learn as much as you can from all the free information that's out there. And then just do it. Because, man, if you really think about all the ways you could screw it up, just you might as well just wait tables.
Kristian Stella 27:20
Yeah, and I mean, no one's no one's come back, and like called me on the shots that are out of focus, or the shots, they're overexposed, and all this other stuff that I can see in that like paying me, nobody calls you on that as long as the movie is a good story, and is competent, most of the time, you know, like, as long as you're telling the story, and it's, it looks competent, um, you can get away with a little bit of that, at least at first. I mean, at least specially if you're making it yourself. And I think
Jeremy Gardner 27:50
I think passionately told to is a big thing too. It's like, you can tell when you're watching something, if it's if it's somebody just trying to cash in trying to grab a quick book, somebody just just doing an homage to some splatter thing that they've seen, or if someone just really genuinely is putting themselves out there. And I will give anything a pass if I can see the
Jason Buff 28:11
passion in it, that it was there a lot of ad lib on the set. You know, it's
Jeremy Gardner 28:15
funny, I get that a lot and the script is so we cast we cast Adam Adam was the theatrically trained actor, so it was a little bit harder to get him to come out of his shell. So basically, what you see in every scene is almost completely as scripted. But then I as the director being in the scene would let the let the scenes run longer. And I would start trying to throw him off at the end. So most of the ad libs will come from tags at the end of the scenes as written. Because once we would get once I would know in my mind that we were reaching the end of the scripted portion that Adam knew I would kind of throw in a curveball and see if he would follow me. So there are definitely definitely some ad libs in there and some goofy kind of asides, but for the most part that is a that is a written as a written movie. I'm just so naturally you can even tell ya know, it's mind blowing you know all the little weird things like fuck you sir. Fuck you to death at the end. You know, the see that that's a tag. There's a scene where we're, we're playing catch, and I just do a weird dancing like, boop, boop, boop. That was a whole dialogue scene about like, we'll start our own like place and we'll we'll let people in there and we'll decide who gets to. And it just was coming off really stilted because we were playing catch up. And so I just, I just said, Screw it. I'm just gonna do a weird song and dance. And then that was what we used instead. One of
Jason Buff 29:37
the things that I think syncs films and one of the things that you guys do really well is everything's very, it feels very natural. And one of the problems that I have with a lot of the things that are coming out now is the acting just you know, that's like the first thing you notice is just people reading lines. You don't really feel like a scene as is actually taking place. Well, I
Jeremy Gardner 29:54
mean, it obviously all starts with casting. I mean, you gotta get somebody who can do it. Right off the bat you got to know They can do it.
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Jeremy Gardner 30:11
But it's also about letting the actors you know, feel out there feel their way through the scene, you know, I didn't get to do that much of it on this because it was our first time and, and, you know, and I was in the scenes, but there's a part about it, that's if you put an actor in a box, and you tell them that they can't go here, here or here. And it has to be like this, this or that, then they're going to you're going to stifle they're their instrument, their one thing that they have, which is trying to feel confident enough to fail, not be embarrassed to try something crazy. And you know, there's something about kind of going through the scene before you shoot and letting the the actor go where they naturally would want to be. And then framing your shot around that is an easier way to get them to feel comfortable doing something that they would naturally do.
Kristian Stella 31:01
Yeah, I would say that like, the the wide shots in the battery, were extremely helpful to the fact that like they, they had a ton of room to move around. And then on top of that, like there's just something for me personally, um, when you when you look at like the digital video, because even like the five d it's great, but it's still video superduper close ups of people just feel soap opera ish. So like, even just just shooting wider like that makes it feel more cinematic, which in turn actually helps your performance. Like there's just something about, like those, those ultra macro close ups where you can see every pore on their face, that makes it feel more like you're watching a movie and that like like you can see the acting because it's your right up in the face.
Jeremy Gardner 31:53
I mean, those are necessary for a certain if you're going for a certain style. But I would also say that even though I said the script is you know, this movie's pretty scripted, I made very clear from the get go that it I'm not precious about my words. That's another way to that that's that's a surefire way to get a stilted performance is if an actor doesn't, can't feel the line, the way it feels natural coming out of their mouth. And yet they feel like they're, they're tied to that, that verbatim. So just whatever we feel, I mean, I was literally reading a script last night for a role I'm going to do and as I was reading it, I was changing words in the moment, and then writing those words down on the script. Because the way it's written didn't sound natural, I couldn't quite make it flow in a natural way. But if I just tweaked this word, change that word, then suddenly it starts to come out more naturally, you know, in the way that I've analyzed that chair. So
Kristian Stella 32:43
weren't, you weren't like precious about actions at all, either. So it's like that, that'd be the other thing. Like, we didn't really we weren't precious about locations or actions, we'd be like, hey, you know what this location is not working out, let's, let's move over to this location. And let's, hey, maybe they're playing catch in this scene where they weren't playing catch. Or maybe they're doing this in this scene? Yeah, it certainly
Jeremy Gardner 33:05
works for a certain kind of movie, the more I think, just the more freedom you can give an actor to feel like they can move about find the character, find the characters gate and rhythm, and and feel their way through the set. Then you're just gonna get it's just gonna get better, the more the more they feel natural and lived in in the moment, the more natural performance you're gonna get.
Jason Buff 33:26
You know, it reminded me a lot of gym Jeremy rush. I don't know if you guys have ever Absolutely. Well, thank you
Jeremy Gardner 33:32
very much. That's, that's a good compliment. Yeah, I just just lived in is what I always go for. I mean, I always say that, I will tweak the dialogue until it until I can read it, where it doesn't feel like it's being read anymore. And then I'll say throw it all out. If it doesn't work for you just just get, you know, the point of the scene, right? You know, the, the intent of the scene, and then just get there any way that feels right. And if you have actors who are quick on their feet, if one actor goes a certain way to try to get to the same point in a different way, then the other actor will follow and let them follow. And then
Kristian Stella 34:06
if that doesn't work in the editing room, throw it out. Because we did a lot of that too. Right?
Jason Buff 34:12
Were you working with a lot of non actors? I mean, I assume most of the zombies were just friends, right?
Jeremy Gardner 34:17
Yeah, all the zombies were non actors. Unfortunately, that's, you know, they're not only were they non actors, but they were young. We get that a lot that well, all the zombies in this movie are the same age as the Yeah, I get it. Yeah, we should have cast a more diverse set of extra money. But like I said, we didn't do good enough pre production. So that goes back to that.
Jason Buff 34:38
Well, talking about for a second about the technical aspects. I want to talk to Christian for a second about you know, in terms of the way you approach this, I assume most of its natural light. Can you talk about kind of the what you were using? I know you're with the five d mark two and you said a Carl Zeiss lens. Can you talk a little bit about how you approach that?
Kristian Stella 34:58
The craziest thing about But the movie was that we knew that the last third of it takes place in the back of a station wagon. So we needed a super wide lens. So I ended up renting a Zeiss 21 millimeter that on the full frame five d m, that ended up kind of creating the whole look for the movie because it was such a better lens than any that I had, that I tried to use it as often as possible. So then, you know, we already knew we wanted to shoot super wide, but then shooting with the 21 millimeter, just really, really opened it up even further. So much. So in fact that we, we actually we didn't shoot with the intention of having the movie be to 35 one we actually cropped it in post as an afterthought, like it was just that we realized, wow, these The shots are so wide and they looked much better cropped. And it once again, like helped with the film look that we were trying to achieve. So ya know, as far as lighting, I just had, like a $50 LED light that was battery operated because we were in the woods, we had no power. It was only using a couple scenes. And then the I mean obviously the most important thing I had was one of those variable ND filters because so much of it was shot outside in sunlight. And that's the one thing that I noticed whenever I get sent something now someone's like, Hey, can you review this Can you review this, their shutter speed is all like It's first time filmmaker, the shutter speed is all over the place. And if you get that Saving Private Ryan look from shooting at a high shutter speed. So other than that, we I didn't really have much equipment. I didn't even have a fluid video head on on the battery. I mean, it was crazy. I had an $80 shoulder rig from optika Oh yeah, that was that was that was it I had a plastic tripod that I bought at BestBuy. So, ya know, I was unprepared. But, you know, we wanted most of the shots to be static. So, you know, I didn't think I needed a fluid video head and all those other things. And we didn't quite have the budget. So
Jason Buff 37:20
yeah. So what what were the major things that if you could go back in time, you think would have made things a lot easier for you
Kristian Stella 37:29
a steadicam? Because we had discussed it, everything's going to be stationary. But then you know, you start making the movie and it's like, oh, well just, you know, follow along. We're gonna walk down this hill over these rocks and, you know, just walk behind us and that kind of stuff. I mean, my I might ask was saved in post by premieres warp stabiliser. And that's, this is just not something you want to rely on. Especially like, you know, it has artifacts and so on that I can see. But we had to do it because we didn't have a steadicam. Although like on the last day of the shoot, one of the producers was like, I got a Steadicam in my trunk. I wanted to stab him. I absolutely wanted to stab him.
Jeremy Gardner 38:15
And I would say just, you know, there are certain things about the fact that we didn't get to, we didn't really know how to plan, a shoot schedule. So there are some, there were some days where we were just overloaded with things we had to get. I mean, when we had the only other two actors in the movie, Alana O'Brien and Niels Bala, they we had them scheduled on the same day, because they're both coming from New York. And that's 14 pages of dialogue, you know, and then it's raining. And then it's, you know, the night is approaching. And it's just one of those things where you start to feel, you don't want to feel like you're losing control, you're set when you have actors there. And once the elements get involved, it's just like, we should never have scheduled both of those actors on the same day that many pages in one day, but we just had no idea how to schedule the film. And we had such a little amount of time to do it. So
Kristian Stella 39:03
a backup audio recorder would have helped on that day, because our audio recorder fried. And we had no other option to record audio. And we waited two hours to get one and then finally gave up and recorded using the mono mic on the SLR. So yeah, that would have I mean, we would have not just saved the audio quality of that scene. But we would have saved the two hours while we were waiting for someone with a video camera to come that had XLR inputs.
Jason Buff 39:33
Right. But it's another thing that you guys did that, you know, a lot of indie filmmakers forget about is you hired a guy to be your 100% sound guy, you know, and that makes a big difference.
Jeremy Gardner 39:45
Absolutely. Absolutely. That was you know, that's the, you know, I think throughout our little weird troupe of filmmakers since you know since we've been kids.
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Jeremy Gardner 40:06
We've all kind of had our own specialty, but none of us have ever been sound guys, do you know that that is a very specialized area to go into. So when I was the one thing I did do, right in pre production was, I put an ad out and I for a sound guy, and I said, Look, I got a little bit scratched to give you and I can give you a little back end in the movie. But you've got to stay with us the entire time. You can't go home, I can't be wondering where you are, you know, every day when when it's time for call. You just got to be a part of the crew, and you're going to be there. And this guy responded. He was like, that sounds cool. So I met this guy for a couple pints. And we ended up arguing over the merits of baseball and hockey for about two and a half hours. And you know, he's a sound guy now. But he used to be like a roadie. So he's used to like living in a van with musicians and stuff. So he just, I mean, day one, he was there. He was sleeping on the couch in the cabins with us, you know, beers at night, he was, you know, doing everything that a grip would do that a PA would do. He was doing sound. So he was invaluable. So if you can get yourself, you know, and especially in a small crew of people are gonna have to wear many hats. So get a guy who can do sound and blackout windows if he needs to.
Jason Buff 41:19
So what would you say was the hardest assignment? Well, let me ask you about the scheduling. What if you could go back? And possibly what you did for techs? We'll talk about that in a second. But what when you're scheduling and everything, what are the is there a specific tool that you're using now that you didn't have then or something that you're doing now to schedule things out?
Jeremy Gardner 41:41
Do we still have not scheduled a movie tradition? Or
Jason Buff 41:44
you would like to in the future? Yeah, well, I
Jeremy Gardner 41:47
would love to just get a good line producer and do it, they can do it themselves. No, it's just one of those areas that I just had, we haven't had to I mean, text, as you will see was not very well planned in itself, either. So we didn't learn a lot from our first effort. But uh, no, but there's little things that are obvious. Like when you look back, like, Okay, you can't have 40 or 50 extras standing outside for 12 hours a day, two days back to back, you got to feed them, you've got to keep them occupied. And there's a way to break that up. But then you realize that you can only have the certain location where those extras can be for one or two days, then you start running into issues that we just didn't really concern ourselves with. I mean, there's a moment in the movie where we're Mickey puts blankets all over the windows in the car, because he doesn't want to see the zombies faces anymore. And luckily, you know, story wise, you can, you can justify that because Mickey just can't deal with the situation. But in reality, we realized after that first day of shooting with all those extras that if we have these extra staring in the windows for the entire 35 minute third act that these these characters are in the car, you're going to start to see them get bored, you're going to start to see the zombies looking at the camera, you're going to you're going to you're going to you're going to invite the audience to start looking at the zombies rather than focusing on the characters. But it was in fact, just because we couldn't we couldn't afford to have them out there all that time. So we went back after the first day, brainstorm, just came up with that blanket idea and then move the car into a garage into a controlled setting, put a sunlamp out the window and had one person shake it and then just added the zombie sounds at the end. And that worked fine. That's one of those creative decisions I'm really proud of. But it was one that we might not have had to run into if we had, you know, knew how to schedule a movie.
Jason Buff 43:44
What was the hardest day on the set?
Kristian Stella 43:48
Yeah, it was. It was the day where the sound broke. I mean, that was the day I quit the movie before the sound broke.
Jason Buff 43:55
Okay, well, I didn't know about that.
Kristian Stella 43:58
I quit on text to I think I quit the movie. Yeah.
Jason Buff 44:02
It's kind of a tradition at this. You're not doing it
Jeremy Gardner 44:05
right. If someone doesn't quit. Yeah, that means it's not hard. That means you're not struggling.
Kristian Stella 44:09
We were trying to make a squib and it was failing. And it was an it was a design.
Jeremy Gardner 44:14
That was the day that we had the two actors come in from out of town. There's this get shot in the legs. We were trying to make a squib out of nothing and a blood and a condom and like a firecracker. It was raining. You're running out of time. You know, tensions were high, the sound broke, we ran out a light, it was just the most everything that could go wrong. went wrong. I mean, if you watch the documentary, you'll see it's just once that day is mentioned it everyone sighs It was a rough day.
Jason Buff 44:46
But I think it's helpful for other filmmakers to realize, you know that it is such a difficult process because I mean, you know, I think everybody who makes an indie film that doesn't have much of a budget has probably gone through the same thing and a lot of people quit. You know, a lot of people never make their film.
Jeremy Gardner 45:02
Ya know, that's unfortunate too, because it's the most rewarding and most fun I've ever had. And it's also, you know, the most stressful and crazy, but those two things go hand in hand. And there's nothing like, you know, sitting down with other filmmakers and chewing the fat and listening to them talk about their nightmare moments on set because you then you can relate Oh, yeah, gosh, that's just like, when the wasp nest was stuck in the car door, and the lawn mowing. People came on the same day on the first day of shooting, I was just like, what is happening here? It's but it's but that's kind of one of those badges of honor You were after you made a you know, an indie movie on your own.
Jason Buff 45:40
In terms of the music, can we talk for a second about that and how you were able to get such a great soundtrack?
Jeremy Gardner 45:48
Absolutely. And thank you. Um, no, you know, it started as I'm a huge fan of rock Plaza Central, this band rock Plaza Central, I've loved them for years, I used to be a big fan, I would go to all their shows. And when we cut together a location scouting video, before we'd ever, ever made the movie, we used one of their songs, and we kind of put it up on Twitter for people to see what we were going to do. And the lead singer of the band contacted us and said, Hey, that looks cool. You guys gonna use our music in the movie as well, which had never even occurred to us that that would be a possibility. And then he was really kind and put us in touch with his label. And they were super mean, they gave us the rights of the songs for literally nothing like I think it was like 500 bucks forever, worldwide. That is great. And even better than that. It's like he put us in touch with the band, the parlor who has a couple songs in the movie, and they just gave us free rein of all their songs for nothing. And the same thing happened with you know, wise blood he does the electronica in the movie electronic songs in the movie, he Adam kind of knew him from college. So he gave us his music, son hotel, and El Canadore were some Florida bands that Christian knew from the local scene down here. He talked to them, and they let us use their music. You know, here, a lot of people I mean, one of the most amazing things is no matter where I've gone with this movie all over the world, whatever language people always, always ask about the music. And that's so rewarding, because there's something that's to be said about, you know, artists helping other artists out and it was such a beautiful thing for them to do to let us use their music. And what's been lovely is how often those bands have contacted us and said, hey, you know, once the movie came out, we saw a huge uptick in downloads and sales on our music and stuff. So it's just, uh, it's one of those things where, you know, look, we can't give you much up front. But you know, if our movie does well, you'll do well, it's, you know, it's a symbiotic relationship. And that was amazing. And now we're like, great friends with Chris Eaton from Rob Platt presses Plaza Central. And that's it's such a weird thing to go from being a fan of somebody and like, I shook his hand one time at a show to now he'll like, call me up and say, Hey, I got this idea for a novel like, what do you think about this and just talk to him about it, you're like, is so crazy? You know, it's so crazy to go from fan to peer and collaborator,
Jason Buff 48:04
but you haven't told him that you are like that. And he's not like, oh, I want to shake my hand again.
Jeremy Gardner 48:08
I told him, I mean, there was literally a show where I was so into it, I was having such a good time that they like, handed the microphone to me in the crowd to like, hold up to the trombone player, because I just wouldn't stop and then another show, they were like, Hey, man, we saw you out there, like dancing up a storm, like a crazy person, like just thanks. So it's cool that you're like getting into the musical. And I was just like, they talked to me. Now it's like, go to their house. And like, you know, having barbecue with their kids and stuff. It's so wild.
Jason Buff 48:39
As far as the DVDs and stuff like that, and reproduction of their songs do you guys have to have like contracts and things like that, that were worked out? Just can you give me an idea of how that all kind of worked out. So
Kristian Stella 48:49
most of the bands, most of the bands is we're off label and they gave they gave us like the rights to do anything with their music in the movie. Including I mean, rock Plaza central gave us those rights. And then but then they were like, Oh, we forgot we're in Canada. No, we have a label in the US. So we did have to get in contact with their label. But their label basically gave us the rights to use the songs.
Jeremy Gardner 49:18
Yeah, you definitely have to get you know releases signed, you have to get all the bands to sign up. But once you do once you get into deliverables if you if you have a distribution deal. You've got to get all the the contracts squared away with those artists. But I mean, I can remember I think one of the bands from Florida was planning to be playing in New York City. And Adam, you know, who plays Mickey, our producer, one of our producers, he was like, what they're in the city right now. And he just like hooked it down to where they were playing a show and like confronted them to say, Hey, can you sign this release for that song? It's in our movie, it's just like, you just gotta you gotta get it all squared away. Deliverables is a is an annoying, annoying part of what should be one of the most amazing parts of the process, which is, hey, we're gonna distribute your movie.
Alex Ferrari 49:59
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Jeremy Gardner 50:09
Cool. What do we need to give you? Oh, everything that's ever been made in the world? We have to God no.
Kristian Stella 50:16
But I mean, yeah, in general, I mean, I mean, we didn't really have to pay for the songs. I mean, we, I think even the record label differed the payment until after the battery was like bringing in money from the distribution. So it was it was pretty, pretty awesome, actually.
Jason Buff 50:34
Now, can you talk a little bit about your post production process, I just want to give people a full view of the whole thing and kind of how you went from taking all, you know, even the minutiae of taking the card out of the camera? And did you do backups? Did you you know, how did post production work? Can you talk about that
Kristian Stella 50:54
I could talk about on the battery. We had, I'll tell you, we had two hard drives on set, they, I would take the cards out every day, when we got back to we have these little cabins that we were staying in, I would take the card out, put it off onto the to hard drives, then I would move one of the hard drives into one the other cabin just in case one of the cabins got broken into because we had all this film, camera equipment coming in and out. So or it burned down. Who knows, you know, so I, we had, we had two separate hard drives every day. Um, and then after that, post production kind of took like two whole years. I mean, it was often off. I mean, it was we never
Jeremy Gardner 51:39
just like jumped into it all at once. Because we didn't have time because we had day jobs.
Kristian Stella 51:44
By day. I mean, me, my sister, and Michael Katzman, edited the movie. And then after that, our friend Ryan Winford did the score. But everything else then after that was done by me. Um, so like, I did the sound design and the score mixing and the color grading and then, you know, like the final kind of tweaking to the Edit, and all that stuff, the deliverables. And that that just was like, it's just never done, we would play a film festival and I'd come back and be like, I gotta fix that color. In that scene, I gotta fix the sound in that scene.
Jeremy Gardner 52:24
But like I said, I mean, we are, we are lucky in that you really are lucky if you have people who can wear many hats, because it's, you know, our editors are, you know, they they put together a rough cut for us. And then until I could come down, and we could really sit there and hone the edit. And then but then they also just went off on their own and did like hundreds of Foley Foley sounds for the movie, which we didn't even you know, think of how we're going to get to fully they just went off and did that. Christians, you know, going into his garage and like, recording himself slapping the car like a million different times. So we can create that soundscape for all the zombies like slapping their hands up against the windows. So it's like everybody's doing, you know, jobs. I don't know. I remember. One thing Christian wanted was somebody to do sound design. And I met a guy and Christian flew to New York, he flies to New York to meet this guy. And the guy like who's basically like an intern somewhere. And he thinks he's a hotshot tells us that the movie can't be can't be done in the state. It's him.
Kristian Stella 53:26
He said, he said, we didn't have enough Foley, we had 1000 pieces of Foley in the movie. And he said we needed more full, which means he didn't even notice it was fully which is good. Yeah. And it was I'm like, we're a $6,000 movie. We have 1000 pieces of Foley in here. And he's saying I can't mix it until there's more Foley.
Jeremy Gardner 53:42
And so Christian goes out Christian goes outside for a cigarette. I walk outside and I'm like, Hey, man, what's going on? And he's like, Fuck it I learned to do it myself. And then you went home and just watched online tutorials and and did the sound design himself. So hopefully, from here on out what we're hoping is it Christian doesn't have to wear as many hats because I could see him dying his hairs graying because I'm the writer, director, actor guy who gets to do all the fun stuff. And he's just like, I'm coloring the same scene for a year.
Kristian Stella 54:17
Because we added we added editor like we will, Jeremy and I co edited the new movie. And but I also did the sound recording on the new movie on set. So like, I was just adding jobs like and this
Jason Buff 54:31
one it might be she just saved the things that you didn't do in the credit. Yeah, exactly. This
Kristian Stella 54:35
went I mean, not in tax, Montana. All the tech was done by me the only the only thing that wasn't was the score was done by Ryan again. But I recorded the score with him. So you know, like, it's just nuts.
Jason Buff 54:49
Now, was there any when you were learning how to do that? Were you just going on YouTube or was there any just for people who might want to take on something like that? Yeah, I'd help them.
Kristian Stella 54:59
I mean any thing. Like, because I mean, even my my other job I do photography and design. There's a site called lynda.com l y n. Oh, yeah, definitely. Yeah, that site. I've learned how to do a million things on that site. And it's pretty great because you could just sign up for $20 like crunch for a whole month and then cancel your subscription with it sign up again, when you need a refresher.
Jason Buff 55:26
Yeah, that's sad. Because that's I've done that before. Yeah, like, oh, I want to take this class. But I don't want to, I don't want to get a membership. So you can do a two week free trial too. Yeah. But did you take Deke McClelland class? Ah, I think Deke is kind of the Guru over there because I teach Photoshop, but I'm also a graphic designer. But um, you know, it's, it's funny because I learned Deke was the guy that basically taught me Photoshop back in, like 98 or something like that. But it came the it used to lynda.com used to also be I think, total training, I think they merged or something, ah, and total training used, you would get like 20 VHS cassettes of how to learn Photoshop, but I remember that arriving one day, and I was just like, so excited to get the total training series anyway. Sorry. Off topic, right. It's
Kristian Stella 56:15
totally, you know, like, I'm sure Mike Deke, I would I would probably recognize him or something like, oh, yeah, well, I've seen that guy a million times. Now because I mean, I've watched all every Adobe program I've watched on there because I use pretty much every Adobe program and different jobs.
Jeremy Gardner 56:31
And I would say my advice for all that is to get yourself a Christian. Because because I just want to go right, I don't want to do that shit.
Jason Buff 56:40
We're gonna give Christians email address and home address at the end of this so everybody can get in touch with them.
Jeremy Gardner 56:47
I said, get yourself a Christian, not
Unknown Speaker 56:51
another Jeremy. Everyone needs another Christian, but no one needs another Jeremy. Yeah.
Jason Buff 56:58
Okay, so. And color grading? Can you talk about that for a second? Because I mean, yeah, we're doing that
Jeremy Gardner 57:05
in here and defer to Christian
Kristian Stella 57:08
Yeah, you don't know anything about that. I'm actually this is crazy. Now, on the battery, I, I was using just the built in color corrector stuff in Premiere. I didn't switch to resolve until text Montana. And that's why I'm still learning resolved. Because it's, it's kind of a whole mindfuck for me. But, ya know, the battery was done with, like, the Fast Color Corrector and all these other premier tools. And then I think, towards the end Colorista which, but that was already when I was like, like, after we had premiered the movie, I was going back and fixing some things. But then the the major thing I did on the battery was Besides, I've just I was color grading it to be really low contrast, I was always bringing up the blacks. Because I felt like when you have these crushed blacks and these super, super whites, basically, it's stuff that really you can only do with video. And film didn't really have that because even you know film film in a theater had this light going through it. So to me, I was like, I'm not going to I'm not going to ever have true black in the battery. So it was always kind of raised up to like around, even like 10 ire. Um, but anyway, I know. But the most important thing I did on the battery was I got I bought this film grain loop from a company called guerilla grain. And it was like $50 for a real scan of film grain. And I put it over top of that because of over the battery because not only did it make it look more like film, but it also helped with I had been doing a lot of noise reduction from shooting high ISO at night. So that you know, when you use I was using neat video for noise reduction. And when you do that things start to look plasticky and fake and the film grain really kind of gets rid of that plastic look. But now that I shoot with the C 100 I'm using DaVinci Resolve because there's just so much more color information there. Alright, so shooting progress. Yeah, I'm shooting into the progress ninja animus ninja to recorder. Okay, and it's so it's so much more. I mean, it's like night and day from the battery. So say like Texas, Montana will survive is a found footage movie.
Alex Ferrari 59:55
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Kristian Stella 1:00:05
Yet on a technical level, it's way, way more. It's way better looking than the battery is.
Jason Buff 1:00:13
Okay? I don't want to put Jeremy to sleep over there. So let's talk about are you
Jeremy Gardner 1:00:18
kidding me? I have I have recordings of Christian talking tech, and I just listened to it as my lullaby. Yeah, I've just heard it 1000 times, but people do need to know this
Jason Buff 1:00:27
shit. As you were making the film. Are you thinking about distribution? Were you concerned with trying to build up social awareness of the, you know, what was your idea towards the marketing?
Jeremy Gardner 1:00:40
You know, we didn't really have one. Honestly, I think that a lot of times Speaking of things that could derail your, your your production, putting the cart before the horse is one of the the main issues today. I mean, I don't, I had people, you'll still spend a month making a poster for a movie, they haven't even considered getting out there and actually making so it was really just about one thing at a time, right? Let's let's make a movie. First, let's see if we've got a movie first. And then Okay, one, let's see how we can get people to see it. And then it became, you know, the festival circuit trying to get into festivals. And then, you know, getting a trailer cut together, that's, that's interesting enough to where you might get some people, there's a little bit of buzz about it, get it to some websites, that traffic in those things, and just start to build an awareness. But it really wasn't until the festival, the festival circuit kind of kicked up that we started building an online presence. And then going to those festivals and glad handing and meeting people and talking to them is really the only way you're gonna get get noticed in, you know, because there's so many people making movies. Now the only way you're going to rise to the top is is to get into festivals, get seen, be there, meet as many people as possible, be nice, be humble, have drinks with them. Make yourself available.
Jason Buff 1:01:55
What were some of the more important festivals for the film in terms of like, what you guys connections and things like that, or what were the most fun ones?
Jeremy Gardner 1:02:03
The fun ones, or there's so many fun ones. I mean, the first, the first one we got into was the Telluride horror show, Colorado, which was amazing. And that was our world premiere. And we were super excited about that. And then after that we didn't get into anything for months. I mean, it got really demoralizing you start throwing $50 a pop at these festivals and not hearing anything. And it's like you're chucking money into a hole, and you've no idea what's going on. And then out of the blue, we got an email from imagine in Amsterdam, which is a big genre festival, it's been going on out there for about 25 years. And we got into that. And then because they are a part of kind of a genre, you're like an international genre, like coalition know, most of film festivals, other film festivals that were in that same Union started asking for the movie. So there's this weird thing that happens where at first, you're spending a lot of money to get to submit to festivals and not hearing anything, then you get into one and then suddenly other festivals know that that's happening. And then they start saying they're going to waive their submission fee. And then at some point, not only do they waive the submission fee, they just invite you to screen their period. And then at some point, they start flying you out, and they start paying you screening fees to show your movie. So it's this really weird process where if you're lucky enough to start to catch a little bit of fire on the festival circuit, you can go from spending money to making money and getting to see the world. So imagine definitely was what kick started that. And then from there, we went to we won the Audience Award there which has been won by like Silence of the Lambs. And you know, the raid and Donnie Darko and from dusk till dawn all these like great big genre movies. And we won that award somehow. And I know that's just because we were there. We were there for a week we were having beers with people we were shaking hands, we do lively q&a is and we you know, and it's it's part of the politics of of building an audience and hoping that they'll follow you to your next project is just saying, I know I'm living in a dream right now. And I want to be respectful and humble of the entire process. So it's, that was really fun. And we went to dead by dawn in Scotland and won the Audience Award there. And then we went to Brazil and Mexico City. Fantasia was sold out crowd even though we were already released in the United States, which was kind of a hang up there weren't sure if they could play it. They decided to take a chance on us anyway. And it was completely sold out there was still a line outside when they shut the doors we ended up giving up our own seats. So some more people could squeeze in just just a really amazing process to go all over the world go down to Brazil and and you know, we were the opening night film at macabre Mexico city like 500 people in the theater like red carpet and flashbulbs and but these things really like they help you build traction and and now to see on this Kickstarter campaign, how many of those people from all over the world have kicked in that we don't even know? is incredible. And that's that's just for I'm from not taking your audience for granted. And it's, of course it helps that, you know, the thing I said at the beginning of this whole process was, if we do at least come close to what I'm what I'm trying to do here, which is make this interesting, you know, artsy, character driven zombie movie, the gatekeepers of the indie horror world will respond to it. And then you know, to get people like, Ain't It Cool News and bloody disgusting and Fangoria and dread central all these people to write really positive things about the movie just really helped to help push it along.
Jason Buff 1:05:34
Were you doing anything? Or was it just like, once you got the first festival? What was it? Imagine?
Jeremy Gardner 1:05:38
Jason Buff 1:05:39
once you got that all these things just started happening without a whole lot of effort from you guys. Or were you still, like out there, pushing it and promoting it.
Jeremy Gardner 1:05:48
I mean, we were always pushing it in our way, you know, through Twitter, and you send a couple emails here and here and there. But it's amazing how many people find it on their own. You can you can try morning, noon and night to get pressed for something and never hear a word. And then as soon as something happens, it just you can't stop it, it just takes off on its own. It really is crazy. It's like the catch 22 about you know, getting an agent, like, you can't get an agent, unless an agent comes looking for you. And by then you need an agent. It's just one of those weird things where it's just you're not gonna get press until the press hears about you until they can't ignore you anymore.
Jason Buff 1:06:26
Right. Yeah, I mean, that's one of the things we talked about with our marketing the film marketing program is the idea that you need to be, you know, if you go to some, you need to be the person that's already kind of in front of like horror fans, or zombie fans, you know, so if you're getting on Bloody disgusting or Fangoria, or whatever. There's no way you're gonna you could do that on your own. You know, those people already have this that fan base, right?
Jeremy Gardner 1:06:50
Well, there's another Well, there are little things too, right. So even though we want this movie to stand on its own as a film, it definitely helped that we were able to every time we were talking about it at a q&a or whatever to say that we made it for $6,000 because it was the truth. But it's also it's a it's a clear marketing hook. Right. But people are going to write about that. So it was one of those things we actually talked about, like do we really want to talk about the budget for this movie? Or do we want to just let it have let it exist on its own merits. But at some point, it was just like, You know what, it's too it's too good of a marketing hook.
Kristian Stella 1:07:22
And the Walking Dead helped as well. Which the movie? I mean, the movie was conceived before the Walking Dead premiered. But I mean, that was Major.
Jeremy Gardner 1:07:32
Yeah, there's little things like that. And what was I just going to say? I don't know. I'm glad for you. Thanks. Thanks, Chris. Thanks for popping in there and talking to me.
Kristian Stella 1:07:44
Well, I'm saying that zombies zombies don't hurt. But we didn't we were not planning on that at all. In fact, they might have actually like stunted the movie if if zombies were as big as they are now.
Jeremy Gardner 1:07:55
Oh, no. Well, I mean, even even when it came out, I you know, I heard zombie fatigue, zombie fatigue all over the place. And it was like, oh, boy, here we go. I mean, it got to the point where when I told people I made a movie, I would say, oh, yeah, I made this little like, artsy horror movie. I wouldn't say the zombie word unless I was pressed, because it's just you hear so many people just completely shut down when they hear zombie. And that's just annoying. That always annoys me. I always said like, nothing is worn out if someone makes a good one. I mean, you can make 500 vampire movies and be sick of the mob. As soon as someone makes a good one. It's like, oh, with the return of the vampire film, it's no, it's just because someone made a good one again,
Jason Buff 1:08:30
it really is. You know, when you're making a zombie film, it's never about the zombies. It's always about the human. You know, I mean, Walking Dead is not about zombies at all. It's so yeah,
Jeremy Gardner 1:08:41
absolutely. No, and that's the way it should be. Right? I mean, it got to the point where I was even considering very briefly, when it was, you know, was difficult for us to try to get, you know, make up for the movie. I was like, You know what, let's just put all of the zombies in T shirts with a Z on it. And then don't even don't even don't even deal with this zombie makeup. Just to prove that this is more about the characters than the zombies they'll just that'll really piss people off and be weird, but it was a little maybe a little too esoteric.
Jason Buff 1:09:08
So okay, let's talk about distribution. No, that's the distribution aspect of the battery
Unknown Speaker 1:09:18
Jeremy Gardner 1:09:22
okay, no no, it's well so you know after we got to that first festival tell you right or we were approached by a film buff about the digital rights
Jason Buff 1:09:34
the world relation the worldwide digital rights
Jeremy Gardner 1:09:37
and and you know, like I said between Telluride and imagine we didn't have a lot going on and didn't see they felt like okay, that was it. That was our we're winding down now. So let's let's do this. Let's let's get on this train. And you know, of course, then the movie takes off.
Alex Ferrari 1:09:58
We'll be right back after a word from Mr. sponsor. And now back to the show.
Jeremy Gardner 1:10:07
And you start to wonder, Oh boy. And we got approached by a lot of people saying, well, you've already given away your, your worldwide digital rights are you crazy. And you know, that's a lesson you got to learn is that you gotta, I mean, it's a hard lesson to learn, if you've never done it, the business side is so difficult to navigate. If you're just coming into it, I think far more difficult to navigate than actually making a movie. Because every time you do something, someone tells you, you made the wrong decision. But through having that, at some point, we were able to get our international rights back from them. Because we we realized that they weren't really interested in selling the international rights, they were really more focused on getting the movie out in America. And excuse me, we met a woman named Anik mannered who saw the film at at a festival in France. And she has been just an incredible champion of this movie. From the moment she saw it, she actually flew to Germany while we were there, and had brunch with us. And it's just been working tirelessly to get us into festivals. And she works with Raven banner in Canada, there's an international sales agent, and got them to take the movie on and they were able to go out and sell it to territories across the world. And then speaking of getting a champion, you know, AJ Bowen, the actor, he, when he saw the movie, he didn't stop talking about it at all. And he would go on podcasts and mention it. And you had mentioned it to the point where the host of those podcasts started are like, alright, we got to watch this movie, this guy won't shut up about the battery. And then they watched it, and then they wouldn't stop talking about it. And it just so happened that they had frequent guests on who run Scream Factory shout factory. And because they talked about so much finally, Scream Factory was like, Alright, let's see what this movie that these guys won't shut up about is, and then we were able to get a DVD and Blu Ray Deal from Scream Factory, which is just, I mean, that was I think we grew two feet tall our heads can fit through the doors. I mean, it's just amazing because you're told right off the bat that you're not gonna be able to get a physical, a physical distribution deal if you've given away your digital rights. But you know, what those guys are make just makes it beautiful, physical, you know, things in a digital world now that luckily, they were able to just take a flyer on us. And we got to put this amazing blu ray out with this documentary, which covers all the ground you're making us cover right now. I'm kidding. But it isn't a fantastic documentary, you should really I encourage everybody to, to check it out if they can, because we basically made that exactly what we were talking about earlier, which is my film school was watching DVD extras and listening to podcasts. And so we made a 90 minute feature length documentary that goes from those stupid short films we were making in high school all the way to the festival circuit on the battery. And it goes through every step of the process. So we really wanted it to be where somebody sees this. And they're like, on the cusp of thinking, Can I make a movie or not, then this would push them over and say just go do it. Because it's going to be hard, but it's going to be amazing.
Jason Buff 1:13:10
Now, the documentary is only available with the DVD and the blu ray. Is that right? Or is it
Kristian Stella 1:13:15
Yeah, for now, for now it is it's only on the North American blu ray DVD released by Scream Factory. But we're looking into whether or not we can put it up online for free. Because I think it's promotion for the DVD and blu ray. And it's like, like we're saying it's a really really wonderful kind of thing for filmmakers.
Jeremy Gardner 1:13:42
But I'm almost more proud of it than I am the battery just because if I you know, it seems something so thorough, and you know, so so naked about the, you know, the ups and downs of the process, I would have been like, that's it, we're doing this thing and that's that's what we were hoping and oh god
Kristian Stella 1:13:57
I worked on that documentary for like six months.
Jeremy Gardner 1:14:02
But it's like 1010 bucks for the DVD or something on Amazon, you and you get that that and the end the movie and the commentaries and the outtakes and stuff like that. So there's a and we really tried to pack it with as much if you want to make a movie, watch this stuff as you can. I don't even know where we started with that question. What was the distribution? Distribution?
Kristian Stella 1:14:22
But yeah, I think that I think what he was getting it was just that you know, first time movie, or our first movie, um, there's just there's a lot of like legal stuff and lawyers and expenses and so on that happen in distribution. So you know, and on the battery we had like 10 investors. So not a lot of that money trickles down to us in the end. But like just due to the system like the whole the whole system in general. It's not like it's not like screen factory didn't pay well they paid great
Jeremy Gardner 1:15:01
It's just one of those things where you have to do it's I wish there were, I wish I could create a like a list of things you need to do once you start to enter the distribution process of making a movie, but it is literally so dense, and there are so many possibilities. You, I almost feel like, you just kind of have to read as much as you can and then weighed in and then make a decision. Because the amount of of options that we had that we didn't know we were going to have when we made one decision that suddenly another avenue opened up later, if we hadn't done this, we could have done that. It's just, there's just no way to navigate it. And we try as hard as we can. We've had you know, filmmakers, email us and contact us and ask us about particular, you know, distribution companies or deals and it's just like, man, if it feels right, do it, there's just no, you'll you're gonna learn from the process is the only way to only way to really go about it. I mean, I'm sure someone out there who can elucidate much more, you know, with much better clarity than I can on this part of the process. But it was easily the most difficult part of the entire process for us to navigate was the business side. And the distribution side, I think you just kind of got to learn as you go.
Jason Buff 1:16:16
The thing that's interesting, you know, listening to that is when you say it's a $6,000 movie, I've heard people that work in independent film, talk about just the deliverables costing more than that.
Kristian Stella 1:16:28
Well, I mean, when it comes to distribution, a lot of the deliverable stuff was just like, written off of our payment. So you know, that's, like, I think, like, maybe the entire first year of the release, I mean, like, it just everything went to expenses. So we yeah, we didn't have to pay for a lot of things up front. But, um, yeah, we had. But I always say that the $6,000 is the production budget. That's what it costs us to get to the premiere and tell you right horror show. And then we did have some business related expenses after that, but we already had deals on the table that we were ready to sign. So, you know, I know, one for a fact was what's called errors and omissions insurance, you know, yeah. And that was like, that was like $4,000 that we had to pay. And I think Adam got a personal loan from his father or something, and he and you know, and then he got paid back eventually. But we, you know, we had deals on the table at that time, we would have never paid for that. If we didn't.
Jeremy Gardner 1:17:40
I mean, there are certain things you can do to make it make it easier to navigate, like, just make sure you've got all your, your performance releases, signed by your actors, make sure that you've got a chain of title, you know, in order, there are things that you're going to just look up a list of the typical deliverables. And then there are certain, you know, there's certain ones that you can check off before you even make the movie or while you're in pre production that we just didn't even think about until we were done. But I'm pretty sure
Kristian Stella 1:18:05
that as far as like the business expenses of the battery, maybe had I think that plus creating an LLC for like $2,000, I think those might have been the only ones that we paid upfront. And then the rest were deducted later on through distribution companies and so on. And not to say that that wasn't a lot. It was a lot. It was just, we didn't have to pay it up front.
Jeremy Gardner 1:18:31
Yeah, when you get your first report of your residuals and you see that gigantic chunk that goes to expenses, you just go. That was like three months rent. or more.
Jason Buff 1:18:42
So yeah, I just wanted I kind of wanted to go into the things that Jeremy discussed in his article on Movie Maker. Because I, you know, I it really is something that I think a lot of filmmakers don't talk about, and people don't want to, you know, first of all people don't ever want to talk about pirating, you know, and what a big deal it is now, and how easy it is for people just to download anything they want for free. And how much that affects you guys in on the distribution side? And, you know, and can we talk about how that's affected the way that you you know, your your newest project?
Kristian Stella 1:19:21
Yeah, I mean, I'll say because there's something I don't think he put in the article was that when the day our movie was released, the piracy was, I mean, within three hours of the iTunes release, the piracy was just insane. But even like a year later, there was a day where some piracy group released a version of our movie and it was like the 30th torrent of our movie. And there was 100,000 downloads of that torrent in 24 hours. In that same 24 hours, we were selling the movie DRM free on our website for $5.
Alex Ferrari 1:19:59
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Kristian Stella 1:20:09
That saved 24 hours, we sold two copies, we made $10. And all of our other digital sales had kind of just slowed to a halt at that point. So was like, there were 100,000 stolen in one day a year after release, we make $10. That day. It's, it's it's the ratio, that's insane. You know, like piracy is kind of a way of life at this point, I get it. But the ratio should be far, far less like I would say there's got to be anywhere from 20 to 80 Illegal downloads per every one real rental. That's just way too high.
Jeremy Gardner 1:20:50
Yeah, and those those those, those are never going to translate one to one, you know, for everybody who pirated it, bought it and said, Well, that's never gonna happen. That's just not the way it works. I think it I did touch on in the article that it is easy to vilify the piracy community, because, yes, they're they're causing a lot of issues in the movie business. I mean, where a $5 million dollar budget five years ago, you know, you could you could wrangle with, you know, companies who fund those movies now are really, really hemming and hawing over a quarter million dollar budget, because they know that the second that movie is released on demand, it's going to be pirated. And so all the risks go go way higher. And so the budgets are driven way down, less movies are made, which means less crew jobs, there's so many things that it affects that people don't know. And I think you're never I think people tiptoe around the the piracy issue, because you're never going to get the pirates. The people who torrent on your side are the ones who believe that everything should be free, and information is free, and screw you and I don't care, you're never going to get those guys. But there is an interesting contingent of the piracy population, who number one would download it, if they could, if it were available in their territory. And there is something to be said about the fact that, you know, the way that movies are distributed nowadays is not taking into account the fact that the world is completely connected, everybody knows what's going on, in the movie world, everywhere in the world. And so, you know, I can remember even myself, you know, years ago, hearing all about the loved ones was an Australian horror movie, right? And it's just like, you hear so many great things about it. And you never know, when is this coming out here, and you just need you keep hearing people talk about and you're like, Am I ever gonna get to see it. And I actually ended up getting dumped in the US like four years later. But it's one of those things where it just seems crazy not not to hit on, you know, hit on the audience when they're ready for it when they want it. So that's one part of the of the piracy thing that needs to be taken care of another one is that I just genuinely feel that there is a certain amount of people out there, especially a certain age group, who absolutely have no idea, the devastation it causes throughout the industry, they just, movies are not what they used to be when I was a kid, you know, I would, you know, I begged to be taken down to the video store. And I would stay in there for two hours, they were things that I knew were made, they were big, and then you had to go and get them and you had to pay for them. And sometimes you didn't like them. And that's part of the process. You gamble a little bit with your money. And maybe you see the greatest thing you've ever seen. And maybe you see a turn, but that's part of the process. Now there's a generation that just simply thinks of them as little tiny thumbnail posters that you click on. And then they play and that's it. And there's, there's no heft to the the process and the amount of people and time that goes into making these movies anymore. And I think that is that's just a reeducation that needs to happen. Or it might not, might not even be able to happen. I just don't know if you can convince a generation that gets it for free. Why they shouldn't get it for free anymore. It's a real, sticky, prickly issue to bring up.
Jason Buff 1:24:04
I think that another huge thing is just the fact that people aren't going to theaters anymore, too. And it's like, everything's become just digital files now. And we've gotten so far from the days when you had to go to a theater and watch a film. And then many, many months later, you would be able to rent a copy at your local video club. And sometimes they would be they wouldn't have it. You know, that whole culture is disappeared. Oh, it's completely
Jeremy Gardner 1:24:28
gone. And I love I miss it. And yeah, I mean, even you know, the movie that changed my life that made me like super aware of that movies were made was Jurassic Park. That sounds might sound crazy, but that was the first time I started thinking about dressing. Well, it's one of I remember someone telling me hey, the dinosaurs are made with computers in my brain. My like little 12 year old brain just went like what? Like, that's not possible. What do you mean they're made with computers? And suddenly I started thinking about the behind the scenes process of me Making a movie. And I cut my first lawn, much to my father's chagrin because he'd been trying to get me to mow the lawn for years I mowed my first lawn to get money to go see Jurassic Park because I saw it seven times in theater. And then we didn't come out on VHS for over a year after I was in the theater, you know, it's just like waiting for this thing to come out. You can have it and and those that's just gone now, you know, the movie comes out, people go see it, opening night opening weekend kind of fizzles out, and then 90 days later or less, you can download it or steal it or rent it online. You know,
Jason Buff 1:25:34
a lot of times, you know, here, it's like you'll see the movie will come out in like a torrent or something, even before it comes to a theater. It's ridiculous. You know, and I've been trying to I've been making an effort to try and see everything in the theater now. And it's so different, you know, the concentration that you have in the way that you're affected by the movies. I mean, even watching it on a great big HDTV. It's just not the same.
Jeremy Gardner 1:25:57
No, it's not. It's a whole different experience. And what's crazy is you're right, it's this communal thing that I love it and more people should engage with. I was actually my mother, you know, she's not a huge, like, cinema person. But I'm down in Florida. And I get to see her for the first time in a while. And she'll always tell me, she tried to watch this movie. And she couldn't get into it. Because I know she's just sitting there distracted. She's got her phone, she's got Facebook, she's and I took her to the movies for the first time in like 20 years. We saw a couple of movies in the last couple weeks, and to watch her sit there and fully focus on the movie and like, follow it and be engaged with it. Because she knows she can't pick her phone up or leave is just like, oh, yeah, that's why you go to the theater. You go to the theater to commit to the experience of letting a story wash over you. Not not with your phone and not with going to the bathroom and getting up and going to the kitchen. It's just you're there you're in it.
Jason Buff 1:26:46
Well, it depends on where you got it to. Because I see I mean, it drives me nuts, but people that just bring up their cell phone in the middle of the movie. I mean, I had to like yell at a guy the other day because you're just sitting there checking his Facebook in the middle of something I don't remember what our Star Wars
Jeremy Gardner 1:27:01
it's just it's It boggles my mind that that with the amount of it I mean, it's it's clear at this point that it is a serious social faux pas and people still do it.
Jason Buff 1:27:11
Yeah. You know, it's funny because I was listening to your interview on the the critics what was called the the review podcast is facing the criticism, the critics and your comments about well, let me put it this way. One of the greatest experiences I've ever had in a theater was watching Dances with Wolves. And I really loved the fact that you were saying that how good that movie was and how people have kind of forgotten about it, because I watched it recently. And I didn't realize I was watching the the director's cut just like 12 hours long. Because I was supposed to go to a friend's house later. And I was like, Yeah, I'm sitting here watching Dances with Wolves, but it's not it's not ending here. been on for the last four hours, and we're still not to the midpoint. But it's such an amazing movie, and I don't ever see you having that kind of experience. Again. I don't know, movies just aren't made like that anymore.
Jeremy Gardner 1:28:05
No, they're not. And you know, that's the thing. That's another thing that people don't understand about what piracy has done. Right? You want to know where those movies I mean, dances will didn't cost that much money, but you will know where those middle those mid range budget movies have gotten those adult movies, those grown up movies. I mean, when I was in, you know, in high school, I saw every single movie that came out. I can remember going and seeing Return to Paradise. Did you ever see that movie? That's, that's a drama. Yeah. Joaquin Phoenix, Vince Vaughn and haitch it's a movie that time has completely forgotten. And yeah, it was a movie that came out on a Friday and I went and saw it. You know, I loved it. And it could it could never be released. No one would ever make that like $30 million. You know, drama, about like, should they go back and take a guy out of a Malaysian prison. And it
Jason Buff 1:28:53
was such a downer was really rough. But it's like, what's the budget of
Kristian Stella 1:28:57
bone tomahawk? Like? 1.2? Or one point? Exactly. That movie like, just like 15 years ago would have been like a 15 $25 million movie. Yeah. And in theaters like everywhere.
Jeremy Gardner 1:29:09
Yeah, it is strange. But you know, but that's the thing is like so now because of that, because they need to milk every single dollar out of that opening weekend. That's why you get in so many giant superhero movies. That's why you're getting sequels. That's why you get because they have to curb every possible risk. They can't take a risk on some of these small moves. I mean, luckily, there's, you know, people like Megan Ellison and Annapurna pictures, like putting movie putting money into these like art tours, movies, but for the most part, the movies that filled the bulk of the year, you know, 10 years ago, they just aren't being made anymore, because you got to get that four quadrant picture out. So you're either talking about movies being made under a million or over 100 million, and it's just a weird, weird thing. That little giant
Kristian Stella 1:29:49
like giant movies like with Jerry Maguire be made today.
Alex Ferrari 1:29:54
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Jeremy Gardner 1:30:04
Like it was a huge hit and like would somebody Greenlight Jerry Maguire probably not
Jason Buff 1:30:09
gonna get a movie, just I mean, like, look at David O Russell and guys like that, you know, Wes Anderson and PT Anderson and those guys, I mean, they can get stuff made, but it's because they have the brand name, you know, they know there's going to be an audience for that. But even
Jeremy Gardner 1:30:22
even that, I mean, you're talking about again, that's Megan, Megan Ellison. You know, she's a billionaires daughter who's decided to take her money and give it to directors who aren't getting the master you know, she's done. She's She's funded a ton of those movies at the David David O. Russell movies, too. She decided to put her money behind artists, where the studios are afraid to sometimes I mean, even look at like Spielberg was saying he was having trouble getting money for Lincoln, it was gonna be a TV movie, because he couldn't get the money to make it as a theatrical movie. There's it's just crazy. How afraid Hollywood is have taken chances anymore. And a lot of that is because those movies are swallowed up by by torrents,
Jason Buff 1:31:02
well, I want to make sure we have enough time to talk about tax Montana will survive. Can we do a segue into that and talk about how you've approached that, and especially this kind of unique way that you guys are using Kickstarter to fund it, or it's not being funded. But it's a way to control the distribution process.
Kristian Stella 1:31:18
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, textbooks handle survivors movie, we shot it two years ago, but then our day jobs took hold again. But we're trying to use Kickstarter to basically buy them, like we want the internet to buy the movie off of us the way that someone would go to Sundance and buy a movie, for a million dollars off of filmmakers, we want the internet to do that we want to it's a finished film. And we want if we hit our goal, we're just going to give the movie to the internet via Creative Commons. So that way, torrenting will be completely allowed and encouraged, will have DVDs that you can burn with artwork that you could print and and we'll have it on YouTube and Vimeo. So this was kind of our reaction to piracy, which is that like, rather than vilify the torrents, like let's use them as a distribution method. So yeah, I mean, hopefully it works.
Jeremy Gardner 1:32:16
Yeah, the days are ticking down. But what you know, it's a way to to try and get a hold of those people who did torrent the movie who would have paid for it as well, you know, these are their, you know, we got, we put up a comment on some of our Torrance on some of these torrent sites. You're a couple years ago, just saying, Look, we're not passing judgment. But we're, you know, we're dayjob filmmakers, you know, we're barely getting by, we made this movie for six grand if you like, what you see, you considered kicking in, and we had, a lot of people donate money through that. And so those are the kinds of people who use torrents that we're hoping that we can get ahead of time, rather than slowly letting the movie rollout traditionally, like the battery did. And having people in Australia go well, I don't know when it's going to be in Australia. So I'm just going to download it now. So if we can just get it all upfront, then maybe we'll have the cushion to take time off work and make a movie and then everybody everywhere in the world can see it at the same time if they want to.
Jason Buff 1:33:16
So does that mean that you don't have a mean? When you do creative commons, does that mean that you no longer have ownership of it? Or how does that work?
Kristian Stella 1:33:26
That particular creative, there's a there's a couple of Creative Commons licenses, but the one we're going to be using basically means that you have to give us credit for the movie. And that you can you can't profit off of the movie itself. Um, as in the audience can't profit off the movie, but the audience will be allowed to like, remix it or so on. Like, if they they wanted to take audio from it and use it in something that they make they they can make profit off of that. So you're kind of allowed to mess with the movie. Um, but other than that, you're totally allowed to share it and do everything else. So the only thing is that we we still have to get credit and
Jeremy Gardner 1:34:08
basically, you can't just put it in your own box and sell it as is in a store but you can use it to remake art, right? It's artists saying, you know, here here's a piece of art if you want to make a different piece of art from our art, by all means do it. Yeah.
Kristian Stella 1:34:24
If you want to sample it and put it into a dance mix, you can and you can make money off that dance mix. We're not you know, like that's that's the kind of license that it is.
Jason Buff 1:34:32
I think the bare bone Bongo scene would be great as a rave
Kristian Stella 1:34:36
art my friend already did this though the composer already did that.
Jeremy Gardner 1:34:41
I'm sure someone else could do it out there too that I would love to be in like Prague and you're like baby bourbon but that would be amazing.
Kristian Stella 1:34:49
You watch it becomes like this huge hit the guys like like a millionaire like oh, just sighs number
Jeremy Gardner 1:34:54
one dance number one dance song in the world is Baby bear bones by like script And we're over here going, why did we do this?
Jason Buff 1:35:04
So, go ahead. Sorry.
Jeremy Gardner 1:35:06
No, I was well, I was just gonna Yeah, go ahead. No, you go ahead.
Jason Buff 1:35:09
Okay, thank you. So I mean, I think one of the things that I liked about your article too, was just your kind of honesty about how difficult it is to make a living as an indie filmmaker. And since we're all about indie filmmaking, you know, Can you can you talk a little bit about that, that the idea of being able to make a living as a filmmaker and what you guys do, which is more like you have day jobs, and you make indie films? I mean, is there a goal to move everything to being like 100% filmmakers? What is your view on that kind of thing?
Jeremy Gardner 1:35:44
Yeah, I mean, that's my goal. That's, that's 100% My goal is I just want to make movies for a living. And I'm not talking about you know, making movies, it'd be like a multi multi millionaire, even though that would be nice. I would just love to make a comfortable living and make movies as a job, you know, and it doesn't seem like it should be that difficult. I mean, when you see the money that you that can that can come in from a small budget movie. I mean, this is sustainable. If if you could start getting enough, you know, time to make movies and put more movies out in the world, it kind of snowballs. I mean, I know, Joe Swanberg famously said that too, you know, he's like, you know, once you get three or four movies out in the world, every time you make another one, then everyone, you get another press push, everyone talks about your other movies, you get a kick up on the rentals are the sales of those previous movies, and it just kind of snowballs every time. And so he's made a career out of just making like a million movies and just kind of kind of living that way. But I do believe there's a way to build an audience slowly, and get and get enough of a return. So that you can keep equity in your own movie The next time you make it, and then make a little bit more money the next time you release another movie, and suddenly, you're sustaining yourself by telling stories and making art I do. I do believe it's possible. I don't know. I'm getting old. I'm gonna die. So probably not, it's gonna happen sooner, I'm definitely going to be managing a bar somewhere.
Jason Buff 1:37:09
Yeah, I mean, I've talked to a couple of filmmakers who are full time not necessarily making their own projects, but their directors for hire whatever those are. And they say that sorry, I say those are
Kristian Stella 1:37:19
Jeremy Gardner 1:37:20
unicorns, are the people making films for a living? But no, he's saying directors for hire not making their own thing.
Jason Buff 1:37:26
Well, I mean, the thing that they've said is that they it's not like before, where you'd like make a film every three years, it's like, these people are making two, three films a year, you know, and there's just this mass production.
Jeremy Gardner 1:37:37
Yeah, it's crazy. I mean, that's what we've been saying forever, we need to generate content to me is you look at the people making a ton of money on YouTube, because they're putting up content every week, everyone wants more stuff, you know, if we could get to the point where we were shooting a movie, you know, in finishing, or finishing all post production within you know, 910 months and then starting work on another movie at the end of the same year, then you know, that's, that's the goal is to be able to, like, maybe start working on two movies a year, one of the ones everything, Jeremy always talks about that, and like, what I'm doing all the post production, but that's the whole point to is to make enough money to where he doesn't have to do that anymore. And luckily, and that's another thing that you'll realize, you know, once you start doing this is it, you build a network. And you know, now we've met people who, who will do those jobs for us so we can hire who we trust to do those jobs. And it could fit within the budget that we're talking about. So the Christian doesn't have to do everything. I mean, eventually, you'll meet people who who can help you in this process. I mean, the network of filmmakers that we've met, since we toured the battery is has been invaluable,
Kristian Stella 1:38:34
but it's always hard. It's always hard to to even think about, like scaling up like that and being like, Can you can you keep the quality up two times a year? You know, that's scary. I mean, like, just in three years, you have six movies, and it's like, Man, I can't even imagine three years from now having six movies out there. Right. And having them all be quality. So that's that's scary, too. Yeah, that's
Jeremy Gardner 1:38:57
another thing. I mean, well, especially with the way I write it'll never happen. I can't Yeah. That's another that's another thing too, is like I have been I've thought about a lot that I wish I could just pull my standards down a little bit. You know, it's like, maybe my standards don't seem high to everybody else. But I have serious quality standards with what I write and what I feel like it's worth making the same way Christian as ridiculous standards about what you know, you know, when he does technically with the camera and color and sound, everything like that, like he will, he will futz with something for weeks. And I'll just be like, I'll let it go. But I'll be the same way with the scene. I'll tweak a scene while I'm writing it forever. And it's just one of those things where you're never gonna get enough done, you know, to create this kind of content generator, like we're talking about if we, if we have such high standards, but I don't know there's got to be a middle ground somewhere. It seems
Jason Buff 1:39:50
like you know, with the following that you guys have been building.
Alex Ferrari 1:39:54
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Jason Buff 1:40:03
Have you ever considered approaching a production company? I mean, going in, you know, putting together a script and saying, okay, and go going for more of a traditional not so Ultra independent, but going, and have you been able to keep that following? I mean, do you have like some way to be in touch with your fans? I mean, is it primarily Twitter and Facebook and stuff like that?
Jeremy Gardner 1:40:22
Oh, yeah. Well, we didn't even touch on this. Yeah, one of the main reasons. One of the main other reasons we may text Montana is because I wrote a script that I love that, you know, I started getting a lot of a lot of attention after the battery made the rounds, I started doing the water bottle tour, I've talked to the companies, I've talked to agents, and I've gotten very close, we've gone down the whole casting route path. And we've gotten for far along the route to the traditional funding of making my new script. And then it always just kind of fizzles out in one way or another. You know, you hear that, Oh, we love your unique voice. And it's so it's so interesting. And so you, and then, you know, once you get up to like to turn $53,000, they start trying to kind of, you know, buff a little bit of that personality out of it. Well, can't we explain where the monster comes from? And can't we cast this person even though they're way too young. And it's, it just becomes like, oh, man, the the concessions you have to make for such a small amount of money is demoralizing. And after about a year and a half of that. That's why we'd say you know, let's just go out in the woods and make text Montana because we wanted to not have to get permission to make a movie again. It's so frustrating to feel like you got your foot in the door and a business that you love. And then it's just the wheels turn so slow that you just like at some point, we just like we got to go do this again. Because we're going to it's going to tear our souls apart. If we keep waiting for somebody to say, Okay, here's the money, go make your movie. So that even though and honestly, it's still happening right now, like we that script is still out there, I'm on the cusp of another, going down another avenue to get that movie made. And it's you know, I feel really good about this one. But I felt really good about some before. So I've gotten a little bit cynical about that process. And so there's a, there's a part of me that says, You know what, that's fine. Let that script do what it's going to do through the system. And let's still remind ourselves that we gotta go make our own movies, if no one ever gives us the permission. Plus, there's,
Kristian Stella 1:42:18
there's something that like, nobody ever talks about. But it's it's crazy. With all of these budgets getting smaller and smaller and smaller. If a production company comes to you, and hires you on his director for a quarter million dollar movie, your pay as director is probably around $5,000. And then you're expected to work on the movie for pretty much a solid year and then promotion and so on. And it's like, how do you how do you even make a quarter million dollar movie and live off of $5,000 for a year and a half to two years while you make and promote the movie? It's kind of insane.
Jeremy Gardner 1:42:57
And no one has been able to explain that to me. No, literally no one. I've talked to filmmakers I know, like what you've seen very successful, and no one's been able to explain, okay, you get a fee, you know, you get your your rate for actually filming the movie, but what about when it's time to go into post and it's time to you know, edit and then do sound and then Mark promote? And then like, what, how are you making a living, then no one can explain it. I still don't know, five years, in five years after making the battery. We've made another movie. You know, I've talked to people I've gotten meetings, I've talked to managers, I've talked to heads of studios, I've no idea, no idea how you're supposed to live,
Kristian Stella 1:43:35
I mean, that $5,000 would be gone before you come out of pre production, you know, you just two or three months of of rent and food and so on, you know, if you want to if you if you're making a quarter million dollar movie, you got to make a really good movie. So you really got to, like be in there, you know, doing months of pre production and months of post production and months of promotion. It's just, it seems crazy. To me. I do feel
Jeremy Gardner 1:43:56
like that's one of the pitfalls of the fact that everybody can make a movie now is that it's almost expected that just like well, that's deal with it. Like, you know, it's I remember that. I don't know why this popped into my head. But the there's a scene in A League of Their Own, where they reveal that the girl baseball players are gonna have to wear these little skirts and everyone guffaws and he goes, ladies, there are 64 women getting on a bus back home right now that will play in a bikini for if I ask them to. And you kind of get that feeling where it's like, if you can't make a movie and live for this fee, then they I got a line of kids who want this job. I got a line of filmmakers who want to be in this position. Sorry, that's just the way it is nowadays. And that's just like
Kristian Stella 1:44:35
this and in from, like, from a production standpoint, it's kind of like, Don't you want your director to not be worrying about how he's paying the rent. You know, like, that's the last thing he needs to be worrying about when he's in charge of your, you know, even half million dollar movie. So that's that's something that we can't crack it. Yeah, I
Jason Buff 1:44:55
think there's a lot of kind of ego going on there and people don't really disclose Sure. Yeah, well, I
Jeremy Gardner 1:45:00
mean, I have a friend you know who who's a filmmaker, pretty successful filmmaker. And, you know, he he decided to go around it and raise the money for his movie on his own and then just paid himself a decent salary. Like out of the budget like, I'm, this is how I'm raising the money to make this movie on this budget, there's so much I'm paying myself to do it, I wrote it, I'm going to direct it. And that's that. And I was like, well, that's, you know, that's pretty good. Pretty good way to do it if you can get around all the gatekeepers and just be your own production company. So I don't know this sounds like a demoralizing way to go out.
Jason Buff 1:45:32
So what what advice do you have in default to indie filmmakers that are out there that want to make their first film and want to kind of follow in your footsteps,
Jeremy Gardner 1:45:40
you got to have friends, you got to have friends who will help you out people who are going to be in the trenches with you in the mud splashing around in the dirt willing to do anything they can to get it done, that's you're not going to get anywhere, if you don't have, if you don't have loyal people on your side, you got to you got to plan as much as you can ahead of time, you got to write, you know your story, a good story around what you can get what you know, you have, and then you got to not freak out about the things that you think might fail, or you'll never do it.
Kristian Stella 1:46:09
And my advice would be that you got to have at least one skill that you can sell to others, you know, whether it be cinematography or sound design, or any of that, like, you know, that's where I mean, that's where your money is likely to come in the first couple films is from the work in between making your own films, just like we have friends that are editors, and so on, and they go and they get paid to edit other people's movies, and then they edit their movies for free.
Jeremy Gardner 1:46:37
Yeah, and the irony of this whole process is that I, I only wrote the battery originally, because I didn't want to go and audition for roles as an actor. And I'm, I'm about to be in my fifth feature film since the battery came out. And that's simply from meeting filmmakers on the festival circuit becoming fans of their work in them fans of my work, and then them calling me up and going, Hey, I'm about to go and make this movie, I got a great role for you in it. And just suddenly, I'm being cast without auditioning. When, you know, this whole thing was was me railing against the process of auditioning. So you end up you find a little skill and hopefully you can you can tangentially work in film.
Jason Buff 1:47:14
I actually forgot to ask you about that. What was the experience of working on spring like because that's, that's actually one of my favorite movies from the past couple of years. It's what was that marking with Justin and Aaron. It was
Jeremy Gardner 1:47:28
amazing. You know, Justin and Aaron, were actually the first filmmakers. I met on the circuit. We met them very briefly in Amsterdam, I thought they were full of themselves. Then we met them again for much longer in Brazil. And they told us that they thought we were full of ourselves when they saw us in Amsterdam, and then we became great friends, and I love them to death. We had a wonderful time. And just being on their sets. Amazing because those two guys, I mean, Justin's a really, really, really clever and creative screenwriter and director and Aaron is just, you know, he's like Justin's Christian. He's, uh, you know, he's an incredibly talented guy. And he's really technical. So to watch them kind of confer you know, with each other on set about a scene and then and then break up and then go and do their individual things is amazing to watch that set work like clockwork really helped me. You know, cache things away for the next time I'm on directing To some it's really great.
Jason Buff 1:48:24
Was there a lot of it seemed like the scenes were very loose and kind of,
Jeremy Gardner 1:48:27
yeah, well, it's funny because they, they definitely let me improv. I think that the part of that was me learning on the fly, what it's like to be on a real set, you know, because you know, things got to move, you got to make lunch, you got to make your days you got to make your time as he's walking around talking. You start to worry that if you if you goof off or follow, you know, follow a thread down some weird improv line that you're going to, you're going to throw off the entire schedule of the day. So I kind of boxed myself in a little bit. And I didn't really go as far as I'd have wanted to, but they were certainly open to my improv lines. What's interesting is you throw out an improv and then they'll either say nothing, or say, oh my god, that was really funny. Do that again, or actually, this time, don't do that thing. But I was really boxed myself in and then I get down to the set on San Diego where we're shooting in the bar, Vinny Quran, who was one of the leads in their first movie resolution, and apparently he don't give a crap about no days or schedules because he was just riffing left and right and all I could think was man, man, I should have done good Vinny did venido care Vinnie just B's Vinnie. Vinnie. Don't give a shit and he don't give a shit. So but ya know, it's such a such a blast, man. I can't wait to work with those guys. Again. They're really really good friends.
Alex Ferrari 1:49:46
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.
Jason Buff 1:49:55
So I want to make sure that you guys what what is the website to go to? For tax Montana, how can people get in touch with you guys? What's the best way to find out more, and all that great stuff,
Jeremy Gardner 1:50:06
you can go to Tex montana.com, that'll take you right to our campaign page, we are about nine days away from this thing being over, which means if we succeed, you're only about 15 to 17 days away from actually seeing this thing, because we're just going to release it. It's done. Tax montana.com You can find me on Twitter at Mr. Jeremy Gardner.
Kristian Stella 1:50:28
And I'm at Christian Stella.
Jeremy Gardner 1:50:31
I'm only Mr. Because every other permutation of Jeremy Gardner was taken. So it's not like I'm calling myself and Mr. But there was just no to that. Yeah. And then you can find us on Facebook at text Montana or the battery on Facebook. But text montana.com or Twitter, we're really active on Twitter.
Kristian Stella 1:50:48
Yeah, I mean, people can just like ask me stupid camera questions. I'll answer I didn't matter. I mean, there's no, no question too stupid. I'll just call it stupid on a podcast one day.
Jeremy Gardner 1:50:58
Yeah. Well, that's we've always been, I always used to say, like, you know, whatever you think of Kevin Smith's films, the fact that he makes himself available to so many people and so open about the process was something we wanted to ape. And we tried to do that, you know, we try not to ever let an email about a question about filmmaking go unanswered. So whatever you got thrown at us
Jason Buff 1:51:19
awesome, guys. Well, I really appreciate your time. And you know, I look forward to you know, seeing the film, how, how are you going to release it when it comes out? Are you just going to put it do you? Do you assume that things will just kind of like, explode on their own? Are you going to put it somewhere specific? Like I tend? Yeah, well,
Kristian Stella 1:51:35
basically, if we hit the goal, um, two weeks after the campaign ends, we're going to release it on YouTube and Vimeo. And the Vimeo version will have the download button unlocked. So you'll be able to download it to NADP, from Vimeo. And then there's going to be torrents of in all kinds of shapes and sizes and of DVDs and blu rays with artwork. And then, you know, takes montana.com At that point will just be kind of a repository of all the different ways you can get it. And at that point, then people can post it anywhere else. If there's places that we don't know, the only places we're not going to be doing are places like iTunes, etc. because then we'd have to charge for the movie. And that's the whole point is that after this campaign, we're not going to charge for it ever again. So that's it. I mean, if they'd be if they'd be willing to put it up for free, I put it on iTunes.
Jeremy Gardner 1:52:31
Yeah, and if we don't hit our goal, we're going to take the hard drive with the movie, and we're going to film myself smashing it with a
Jason Buff 1:52:40
Guys. I really appreciate it. Is there anything else? Are we good?
Jeremy Gardner 1:52:42
No, that's it texmontana.com Thank you so much for for the Forum. Thank you guys. It's a really fun chat.
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