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Film & DVD

Short film 'Charlie' to begin filming in April

Local filmmakers seek local support for short movie about a kid with autism

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Despite the good will and about $1,300 generated by the fundraiser, it should be noted that none of the profits – if there are any, which is rare for a film like this – will go to charity.

“In asking the community to support the fundraiser, we again let folks know what the film was about and created an event that gave something back to them for their support,” says Ryan Cimino. “[But] we did not reach out to organizations in the community that support autism. Most of them have their hands and schedules full, not to mention that they campaign for support in a different way.” 

With or without the support of such organizations, can Cimino really produce this film for just $2,500? Maybe, says Tim Anderson, local filmmaker and programming director of FilmSlam, but only because Cimino isn’t paying for actors, technicians and equipment.

“Their budget is basically covering craft services and whatever incidentals they might need,” Anderson speculates. “You still have to have insurance on your shoot, so that’s probably about $400 a day. … You can still do it for $2,500.”

Shooting on private property is best, Anderson says, as is keeping the locations to a minimum. And Charlie is certainly doing that, since a football field, a house and a hospital will be the only sets.

Tuscani has secured an Arri Alexa digital camera and related equipment, similar to the ones used on Skyfall and Hugo, for free, which he says will save $6,000-$8,000. That’s admittedly a great accomplishment, but it’s no safeguard against what Anderson describes as the greatest potential pitfall.

“The biggest problem with a short film, if you can get all the technical fundamentals down … is bad acting and bad line delivery,” Anderson says. “There’s no reason whatsoever in the digital age to capture a bad performance. … You should be able to shoot until they get it right. It doesn’t cost. We’re not

Stanley Kubrick-ing, like, a million feet of film.”

Tuscani agrees that films, short or feature-length, are fraught with difficulties. “It looks so easy and seamless when you go and watch a film, but it is extremely difficult,” he says. “There are so many challenges along the way, be it locations, be it insurance, be it the proper talent, be it the music.”

New filmmakers could learn a lot from Charlie: Keep your budget small by seeking donations, find talented people who will work for little or no money, and pick a topic that might gain support within the community. And be prepared for the process to last longer than you expect. In the case of Charlie, that will likely be at least a year, once post-production is done and this unique project is finally ready for submission to film festivals.

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