by Jason Whyte
MOVING ON - At #wff15
"With so many things today being outsourced to professionals, why not your breakup? Meet the movers you hire to dump your significant other, move them out of your home and out of your life for good. Hey, it's nicer than dumping them by text."
"See MOVING ON and see for yourself!"
-- Maria Fields and Mike Spear, respectively, on their new short film MOVING ON which screens as a part of the short film selections called SHORTWORK TWO.
I am excited to have you as part of the 15th Anniversary at Whistler! Is this your first Whistler Film Festival experience?
Mike: This is the first project we have ever made, so it's definitely our first Whistler Film Festival. What stinks is that we won't be able to be there. But we spent all our money making the thing!
Marcia: Getting to interact with the audience during the Q&A sessions has been one of our favorite things about the festival experience, so we really are crushed. But, if you are reading this and plan on going to the screening, we have a CONTACT US tab on our website and will personally answer questions anyone may have after seeing the film. We would also just love to hear what you thought!
Talk to me a bit about how you got your start and your previous movies.
Mike: We have been working in TV development and production, both together and apart, in both scripted and unscripted for over a decade now.
Marcia: Yeah, we met working on ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT. I was the writers' assistant and Mike worked in the production office.
Mike: Nothing more romantic than the smell of copy machine toner and stale coffee, right? Our first date was me driving around the Fox lot in a golf cart, delivering scripts at 5:00 AM with her keeping me company.
Marcia: That's obviously why we are still together. He started my romance expectations really low.
So how did MOVING ON come about from your perspective?
Mike: Well, you work on so many other peoples' projects that you reach a point where you realize that it's time to make something of your own.
Marcia: And by realize, he means where someone pushes you to do it! We were working on a show in New York City and the showrunner was this really encouraging guy named Ian Gelfand. He obviously liked what we were doing on the show and said, "Why aren't you making your own stuff?"
Mike: We really didn't have a good answer for him. Why weren't we?
Marcia: Sometimes I think it takes someone else believing in you for you to believe in yourself, you know?
Mike: We started writing MOVING ON on the train ride home and the rest is history.
What kept you going while making MOVING ON? What was the drive?
Mike: What drove us was the number of people willing to help out. And when you are paying for something out of your own not-so-deep pockets, that often means people working really hard for very little money. Who am I kidding...for no money!
Marcia: They do it because they love the project, or love you, or both!
Mike: If you don't finish what you start, you are letting them down. We wanted their faith in us, in MOVING ON, not to be misplaced. We wanted them to be proud that their names were on it.
Marcia: Food is a pretty great motivator, too. Always feed your crew! No, but beyond that, like Mike said, we had been working our butts off on other peoples' projects our whole careers. When you are actually doing something of your own, something you're passionate about, you don't need anything else to keep you going.
All projects are challenging in many ways, some more than others. What was your biggest challenge with making this movie, and the moment where you knew you had something?
Mike: Money! Or the lack thereof. It's a huge hurdle to overcome because it affects every decision you make.
Marcia: Yeah, the old adage is that the tips of the production triangle are "Good," "Fast" and "Cheap." Getting all three is impossible, so pick two. We wanted cheap and, of course, good! Which means we didn't get fast. So no money meant that after an uber-fast two week pre-production and a two day, weekend shoot, post took seven months! When people are volunteering their services, or highly discounting them, you do it on their schedules and you don't complain.
Mike: But the biggest challenge to production was that one of our three leads, the incredibly talented Robin Taylor, was cast as the Penguin in Fox's GOTHAM right when we cast him and on the day before shooting he called and broke the news that he wasn't going to be able to give us the whole day on Saturday because they needed him to get a plaster mold of his head. He's in every scene but one!
Marcia: He was so sweet about it and felt so bad, but he was the role and there was no way we were replacing him, so it was scramble mode. We ended up have to switch Saturday and Sunday's schedule.
Mike: Because of that, we lost a location, had to rewrite a scene, and lost an actor in a small role. But thanks to our amazing crew, we were able to not only make it work, but ultimately ended up glad it happened!
Marcia: As for the moment we knew we had something. I'd say it was when we saw how quick people responded to the script. You're saying to someone, "Hey, how would you like to work from sun up to sun down for no money? Oh, and it's on a weekend." That's not a question you expect to hear a quick yes to! But after they read the script, that's what happened.
Mike: The guy who played Mason, Ryan Farrell; I remember when we saw his reel and definitely wanted him, so we emailed him the script. He was like "Okay, I'll get to it and let you know." Within an hour, he got back to us and was in. It was pretty much the same all around. That's a confidence builder!
Marcia: And once we started shooting and saw how quick the three guys started gelling; like they had been in rehearsal for two weeks, when in reality they had met only once before. It felt like they had time to live in the characters, but they so didn't. That's when we knew it was all coming together.
I am about to get "technical", but I would love to know about the the visual design of the movie, your relationship to the director of photography and how the movie was photographed.
Marcia: There would be no film without our DP, Bianca Butti.
Mike: As first time directors, we really needed a strong DP. We were coming into this with the wrong frame of mind. With the mind of writers. If we had directed before, we would know that 17 pages in 2 days was insane.
Marcia: But Bianca is... there's nothing she can't do. And she is fast. We told her what shots we wanted, what we needed, and were just in constant communication, all on the same page, and it all got done. She's just the best at what she does. I almost hate giving out her name because I don't want other people to steal her! But it's only a matter of time before she gets the recognition she so richly deserves and then we won't be able to afford her anyway.
Mike: And with the visual design, we just wanted it to feel real. Not cartoony. From the lighting to the performances, to the shots themselves, we wanted it to look and feel like our version of cinema verite. And Bianca, along with our camera guys, Pedro and Fredde delivered on that and more.
After the film screens in Whistler, where is the film going to show next? Anywhere you would like it to show?
Mike: In December, we will be screening the day after we screen at Whistler in Alaska at the Anchorage International Film Festival and then in Chicago at the Chicago International REEL Shorts Film Fest.
Marcia: Then in January at the inaugural Coronado Island Film Festival with legendary critic Leonard Maltin as head juror.
If you could show this movie in any cinema in the world, which one would you choose and why?
Mike: I would choose everywhere we have already shown. And we have shown all over the world. I know that's not a fun answer, but it's true. Because to us, it's not about the theater, it's about the audience that shows up.
Marcia: I agree. We have watched the short a million times. We don't watch it at screenings. We watch the audience. It's so much more fun to watch their reactions.
Mike: You just never can tell who is going to laugh where. Every place is different. We never would have predicted that. I remember a line we were so disappointed people didn't laugh at festival after festival, then it absolutely killed at the Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis.
What would you say or do to someone who was being disruptive at a screening you were attending?
Marcia: Tough one! I would probably say nothing. We are usually wearing Filmmaker Badges with our names and the short's title on it and every vote counts for audience awards, so we wouldn't want them to know who we are!
Mike: I know, we would hire MOVING ON to come in, pack them up and kick them out.
What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business as a piece of advice?
Mike: I would say two things. One, start working in the field. If you want to be a director, don't become an accountant. Get a job as a PA on a film or on a TV show. No job is too small. Learn hands on. That's where you soak it all up. You see what to do and, most importantly, what NOT to do. Learn the world. That way, when you get your shot, you're ready. Second, in your off time, work at it some more. If it's writing you want to do, write scripts. If it's directing, find a writer and have them write you a short or a sketch to direct. These days, with so much editing software available for free and cell phones that shoot in 4K, and YouTube to teach you some tricks, there's no excuse not to.
Marcia: Couldn't agree more. I so wish we had started making our own stuff earlier.
And finally, what is your all time favorite movie?
Marcia: Too hard! All time favorite? Impossible. Favorites, plural, I can do. We are all about compelling characters. So the child of the 80s in me says GOONIES and PRINCESS BRIDE. But then I think about the move that, if I see it happens to be on TV, I'm compelled to watch. That's THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION.
Mike: What about FIELD OF DREAMS--
Marcia: BULL DURHAM.
Mike: Anything John Hughes ever made. Or Mel Brooks.
Marcia: Or anything with Cary Grant. But especially THE PHILADELPHIA STORY and HIS GIRL FRIDAY.
Mike: AIRPLANE. TOOTSIE. BROADCAST NEWS. ROCKY.
Marcia: No one writes characters like Elmore Leonard. OUT OF SIGHT is the best of the movie adaptations.
Mike: PUMP UP THE VOLUME. And I love what Bobcat Goldthwait is doing as a director now. WORLDS GREATEST DAD sticks with me. He melds misery and comedy so seamlessly.
Marcia: If I don't stop us here, you're going to need to up the site's bandwidth to hold all our "favorites".
MOVING ON screens as part of SHORTWORK TWO taking place on Friday, December 4th at Millennium Place beginning at 12:00 noon.
Be sure to follow the progress of MOVING ON at the official website, on Facebook and on Twitter at @movingonshort!
This is one of the many films playing at the 2015 Whistler Film Festival. For show information, tickets and for other general information on films and events, point your browser to the official website HERE!
Be sure to follow instant happenings of Whistler Film Festival on my Twitter account @jasonwhyte, including mini-reviews of films, comments on festival action and even a photo or two. You can also follow the festival on my Instagram at jason.whyte!
Jason Whyte, efilmcritic.com
link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=3862
originally posted: 11/29/15 06:39:14
last updated: 11/29/15 06:55:48