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Making a truly Independent Film in the 21st Century AMA

Black House Pictures
Nov 12, 2017

Award-winning filmmakers Kate Tuck and Jonathan Reid-Edwards have just shot their first feature film, The Good Neighbour. A big cast, stunts, effects and more, it was made for just under £35,000, but you wouldn't believe it to look at it. Take a look at our work and ask us how we make a micro-budget seem anything but. In return? We need your help to finish it with one last push through our IndieGoGo page: https://igg.me/at/thegoodneighbour 

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Do you have a team or make this project alone?

Nov 12, 7:19AM EST0

Black House Pictures consists solely of myself and Kate Tuck. When one of us is writing and directing, the other produces. During production we tend to wear most other hats too- line producers, production managers, accommodation, accounts... the list goes on but that's the nature of the low budget beast. On short films I usually am DoP, but on the feature it was great to have an old collaborator take that position who understood my style and visual rhythm implicitly. We also had a great AD on the feature in the shape of Gareth Tandy and a roster of production assistants who we use regularly on projects, but some new faces too. We also had a lot of enw things to deal with which meant new faces on set- prosthetics, fight rehearsals, a great new costume designer working with us for the second time. Post-production wise, I edit and grade and do full surround sound design myself. VFX is outsourced to couple of friends in the VFX world here in London. Score for The Good Neighbour though is through our new regular collaborater Stefan Melzak. Also, in terms of release and securing a distributor, there's the other team in my life: my agents here and in the US. I cannot wait for the day when we have a big enough budget to just wear the one hat: writer-director.

Last edited @ Nov 12, 8:08AM EST.
Nov 12, 7:31AM EST0

Where are you from?

Nov 11, 7:42PM EST0

We're both born and based in London, England,

Nov 12, 6:28AM EST0

How long do you think it would take for this crowdfunding campaign to attain the goals you have?

Nov 11, 3:16PM EST0

In an answer to an earlier question, when running a campaign you set yourself different budgetary goals for the crowdfunding: what you would do if you only received a, b, or c amounts of money. Our campaign has been very successul and already we have surpassed the b and c budgetary goals. We've been bowled over by the response to the campaign so far, within the first week we were over the moon. Right now, with a matter of days to go we're on course for our dream target which will mean a tremendous amount of freedom to do the story justice.

Nov 11, 3:22PM EST0

What inspires you to do films?

Nov 11, 10:15AM EST0

I love photography. I love drawing. I love writing. Film combines all of these and the magic of music into something truly unique. Like live music, it's a communal experience like no other. Not only that, and i'm paraphrasing someone far cleverer than me- stories are truths that haven't happened. That's a potent thought to mull over, and shows just how much weight they can carry.

Nov 11, 1:23PM EST0

Did you go to school for this?

Nov 11, 6:58AM EST0

No and yes. I went to Drama Centre London when I was 22 and graduated with honours in Directing after three years with my film Hadley TK-421 (at www.blackhousepics.com). Before that i'd worked for years making short films, music videos, and working on sets (whilst having regular dayjobs). Drama Centre is famous for it's acting work (Tom Hardy, Michael Fassbender, Colin Firth, Gwendoline Christie, Emilia Clarke etc...) and for me was six twelve hour days a week with actors- I was already a filmmaker before Drama Centre, but it honed my craft into something intuitive, and made me open to the fact that I am and always will be learning. I'm of the view that the only way to truly learn about filmmaking is to do it. Then watch. Then do. And repeat until you stop. Nothing beats that.

Last edited @ Nov 12, 7:45AM EST.
Nov 11, 1:17PM EST0

How long did it take you to make this film?

Nov 11, 3:44AM EST0

The first draft of the script was around June of 2016, and by the start of principal photography it was on draft four. Principal photography was on location from September 4th to October 4th with a few days of pick ups just after. The first two weeks were day shoots with the last two weeks night shoots. Once the Indiegogo campaign is over editing will begin full time, but as of typing this there are already ten solid minutes of assembly already put together. In that time we were working on other projects- at least two new feature scripts and three whole short films from inception to completion. Not to mention our regular day jobs...

Last edited @ Nov 12, 7:46AM EST.
Nov 11, 1:12PM EST0

You've already made a film?

Nov 11, 1:25AM EST0

I've made many short films, most of which are at our website www.blackhousepics.com and also www.vimeo.com/jredwards. I've also done a lot of small-form freelance documentary work, and also produced Kate Tuck's films for Black House Pictures. The Good Neighbour is my first feature film, and I also have numerous feature scripts in development.

Nov 11, 1:09PM EST0

Why will someone choose to collaborate on a project?

Nov 10, 8:22PM EST0

It depends on the type of collaboration. But the rule is always the same: is what you want to do something that would benefit from working with this particular person, and them with you? Whatever serves the story best. Don't let ego get in the way of good work.

Last edited @ Nov 11, 3:26PM EST.
Nov 11, 1:05PM EST0

What do I want from a partner?

Nov 10, 7:51PM EST0

It very much depends on you- they don't have to be opposite to you but have complimentary creative qualities. They have to be candid. They have to be agile of thought and willing to fight for what they think is right. Collaboration is a constant discussion, always changing, always adapting to what the story wants.

Last edited @ Nov 11, 3:25PM EST.
Nov 11, 12:43PM EST0

Would you say that perhaps people need to see your idea from a new or different perspective?

Nov 10, 2:30PM EST0

I'm really sorry, not sure what you mean exactly. Do you mean is it omportant to get a second pair of eyes on an idea? If so, then absolutely. Always. Get as many points of view on a script as possible before it goes before cameras. Even if they're people who you usually disagree with you can re-calibrate your own thoughts on an idea once you've digested theirs. That's why I feel so lucky to work with Kate- every draft I make of a script counts as two as I have another brain to breakdown and re-work any ideas and problems.

Last edited @ Nov 11, 3:24PM EST.
Nov 11, 12:56PM EST0
Show all 3 replies

What's harder for a film maker: Getting started or being able to keep going?

Nov 10, 11:49AM EST0

Oh good one! I think that they're actually the same thing in a way- you're always looking for some kind of validation when you're at your lowest (who isn't?!) and whenever you make a big step (awards! agents! feature film!) the next thing always seems more what you want to do. Also watching other films, reading, listening to music, always click something in you that says "I want to do something like...". And if that hunger stops, don't be sad, embrace it. I've seen so many people stop acting or directing because they simply wanted to live their lives. And that sounds great! Also -even if you don't get to do it how you wanted to, making films is a privilege, having an audience is a privilege. People should never forget that when they work on a film.

Last edited @ Nov 10, 12:05PM EST.
Nov 10, 12:00PM EST0

How do you know when your story is finished?

Nov 10, 11:35AM EST0

The story will tell you. And if you still don't know, your audience (be it a reader or someone paying for the aisle seat) will definitely tell you.

Nov 10, 11:45AM EST0

How do I determine if someone is truly worth collaborating with?

Nov 10, 10:55AM EST0

Great, great, question. Basically, treat it like you would a romantic relationship. You need to see that when working together, however easy or painful it is, whether what you do together results in something you want more of or something you never want to see again. Also- trust your gut and be candid with yourself and the other person. Know when you're letting yourself get in the way of a great idea, and be open to new ideas. The foundations of the work will be so much stronger with true collaboration. And no one ever learnt anything by talking: listen.

Last edited @ Nov 10, 11:51AM EST.
Nov 10, 11:44AM EST0

How long have you been making movies?

Nov 10, 9:33AM EST0

I'd say since I was 19, so 13 years or so? I say 19 as it was the first time I completed something (I won a Pearl Jam music video contest, my entry was abysmal but well-intentioned), and people took notice. Since then i've been a runner for production companies, various set jobs whilst doing my own short form work, then three years at Drama Centre London as a Director when I graduated with Hadley TK-421  and things took off from there both here and in LA. Soon after I met Kate Tuck who is my partner in life and in all things movies, and we set up Black House Pictures together, where we both write, direct and produce our individual films. Kate originally studied acting at Guildford School of Acting, then went into writing and directing, winning Best British Horror with Dans Le NoirFor the record though: we still work regular dayjobs, there is no way we could do this and live in London without them.

Last edited @ Nov 10, 12:10PM EST.
Nov 10, 11:42AM EST0

What do you feel the biggest benefits of Crowdfunding are?

Nov 10, 9:07AM EST0

When you make films, you never really know whether you're doing a good job. People close to you who know what you do, how hard you work, will be candid but still... you never know 100% whether it's sugarcoated or just a jaded opinion. You have to run on your own steam or you'll run out of track pretty fast. With crowdfunding, there is a definite sense of connecting with your audience- we've been truly touched by the response of complete strangers and the messages we've been getting. Why? Well, complete strangers are who your audiences truly are, and that's the best bit of storytelling: watching people as they are told the story, the change story can induce in the viewer.

Nov 10, 11:35AM EST0

What are your back-up plans if your crowdfunding campaign fails?

Nov 10, 8:15AM EST0

There's always a Plan B. When you do business plans and proposals for your films it's always wise to have different versions for different possible budgets, so come that all important general meeting, you've got the next pitch already running. With crowdfunding, you should always have an idea of how you can do it with a, b, and c amounts of money. We're already set for what we need to simply finish the film, what's happening toward the current goal is magical and means we can really get out there and sell the hell out of it. Cannot wait to show you all!

Last edited @ Nov 10, 12:09PM EST.
Nov 10, 11:33AM EST0

When inspiration in waning, when you feel creatively sapped,what do you do? How do you stay fresh?

Nov 10, 8:12AM EST0

Rest. Get out. Get away. Short term fix personally is going for a run, a walk, a swim, lose yourself in music, head to a museum, gallery, meet someone who has absolutely nothing to do with that part of your life.... Long term? You'll find it's the thing that makes you money, your dayjob that's the problem. If like us you still have rent and bills to pay, make sure you don't do it with a sidelined version of your passion- save your passion for you passion. There's a reason why waiting tables and working in bookshops are people trying to break in various arts industries- your creative mind is free, your hours flexible and more importantly it is miles away from what you're passion is- you're not wasting fuel. Money's short but... are you happy not doing what you want to do with that time you have? Also- particularly with writing, dont be afraid to have two projects on the go at the same time, you can dip out of one and into another.  That's how the Coen's wrote Barton Fink, they hit a brick wall on another script. Billy Wilder used to say something like: when he was sad he'd write comedy, when he was happy he'd write something hardboiled.

Last edited @ Nov 10, 12:12PM EST.
Nov 10, 11:30AM EST0

Also- I worked freelance on sweet corporate gigs for a long time, travelling around the world, Paris one day, Italy the next week, New York after that... and I didn't write a single word. I had loads of ideas, treatments but... no scripts. Soon as I made the choice to do grunt work again, I wrote one of my favourite scripts within a month or so of quitting. Save the passion for the passion.

Nov 10, 11:47AM EST0

How much do you have to compromise as a filmmaker because of financial restriction or business?

Nov 10, 7:37AM EST0

I guess I want to know what you mean by business. For me, I find that the only obstacle is yourself. Any story can be told for next to nothing, it's just how it's told that gets hit hardest by financial restrictions (don't get me wrong I cannot wait to get my mits on a tentpole budget!). But the more you look at the cinematic greats, you realise all the best deicisions usually stemmed from "we didn't have enough money to do what we wanted, so we did this". My own personal rule regarding compromise is that it isn't really a compromise until it lessens the story. Then you're screwed. Story first. There's always a way to tell it.If by business you mean the more conventional side of moveimaking (as in US and to some extents UK), I can't really comment- i'm an indie filmmaker with big guns representation at Independent in the UK and Paradigm in the US, so when it comes to the business, i'm happily handing over to more experienced parties who I trust implicitly.

Nov 10, 11:26AM EST0

Are you aware of the potential risks crowdfunding presents, if you believe there are any?

Nov 10, 6:57AM EST0

The actual raising of money through crowdfunding only represents risks if mismanaged- poorly thought out perks that end up costing you more of your creative time and that all important money.Personally, I've found that I was initially very reticent for asking for funds through crowdfunding, and I realised one thing: it was my pride. I didn't want to be seen to be asking, but when you see the response (if the work deserves it, because it's all about the work at the end of the day) you realise it's just another, more direct form of pitching. And remember- crowdfunding means it's still your film until it comes to selling, that kind of creative control isn't easy to find.  I've waffled and after all that waffling I realise it boils down to what all funding boils down to: you don't ask you don't get.

Nov 10, 11:22AM EST0
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