Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Road to Sundance: The Arm, directed by Brie Larson, Sarah Ramos & Jessie Ennis

Tell us about your film. What inspired you to make it? "The Arm" will be showing the Narrative Short Competition at the Sundance Film Festival. The idea started as something very simple. I walked into Sarah's house and she asked me if I thought text messaging was funny. I said yes. We then spent the next few hours coming up with a story depicting the aloofness of this new type of communication and how easy it is for things to be misconstrued. Jessie was added to the team a few months after and was very present in the re-write.

How long did it take you to make your film?We wrote in on the 3 hour Greyhound bus ride from Dallas to Austin. It took a month of pre-production, three days of shooting, followed by another month of post.

How did you finance your film? Sarah and I covered the minimal $800 it cost to shoot. We were fortunate enough to find people who were willing to work for free, most being close friends and family. Our Cinematographer, Blake McClure owned a 5D and I had a lighting kit. Funnily enough, our only big cost was breakfast burritos, and the many 5 hour energies I downed throughout filming.

What was the most challenging part of the filmmaking process and how did you overcome it? Tacking down a frozen yogurt shop was by far the most difficult. Our first choice was the yogurt shop that inspired the short - they fell through a few weeks before filming. Our second had a manager that yanked us around quite a bit. Weeks of unreturned phone calls and hoops made impossible to jump through. We gave up on them a mere 3 days before filming. The shop we eventually shot in, The Chill saved the day. We always had this panning reveal at the beginning and that could have never been accomplished without bar seats. The Chill had them perfectly - plus their topping selection was by far the grandest. Mini cheesecake bites?! Hello?!

Tell us about your experience getting into Sundance. Are there any pointers for filmmakers for getting accepted?
It was never our intention to submit to festivals - we just wanted to make something. Jessie, Sarah, and myself all love and have watched so many films, good and bad; it's easy to complain about boring, repetitive, bad movies instead of making your own. Discovering weird, out-of-the-box filmmakers like Todd Solondz inspired us to make riskier choices because we found them amusing and assumed if it genuinely made us laugh and care, it might do the same for other people!

If you had to make the film all over again, would you do anything different? I'd love to do it all over again, just to re-live the experience. But not because I feel there is anything to change. We are very proud of what we made.

What’s next for your film? Do you have distribution? If so, when and how can people see it and if not, what are your hopes for the film?
We've submitted to a few other festivals; just playing the waiting game at this point. As of now it will be screening a few times at Sundance and then directly after at the Santa Barbara Film festival. Distribution would be very exciting, but getting into Sundance has already exceeded our expectations.

Can you provide any advice to other filmmakers who dream of getting their films made and into Sundance?
Entertain yourself. Don't make it for Sundance, or anyone. Make something for yourself, it's the most rewarding. And then if other people like it, you'll feel even greater. But if they don't, you followed your instincts, you're figuring out your voice, and who cares what anyone else thinks? Haters gonna hate.

For More Information:
Download of The Arm Trailer

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