American Breakdown: A Film About Country Bands, Diminished Expectations, One Raging Identity Crisis and a Pig by Paul Schattel

PAUL SCHATTEL
FILMMAKER

What do you do when you’ve made several movies that have caught the eye (but maybe not the wallet) of various well-known production companies? And when you’ve gotten international distribution deal, but the money’s not exactly pouring in? And what about when you’ve gotten a script optioned by another well-known production company, and even attracted Oscar and Emmy–winning talent to be in your movie – but financing is dreadfully slow in coming?

Well, you keep on keeping on – you forget about all of that and you make more movies. That’s what Paul Schattel has done. Despite coming within a groundhog’s hair of getting several larger indie projects funded, the Asheville, NC-based filmmaker has embarked on yet another, smaller-budgeted passion project: American Breakdown.
.

.
American Breakdown is about a struggling musician whose van breaks down in an isolated redneck town, and the way he has to come to terms with both the town’s somewhat eccentric residents and his own rebelling psyche. It shares a kind of tragicomic DNA with Martin Scorsese’s After Hours and the Coen Bro’s Inside Llewyn Davis, but filtered through a contemporary rural Southern sensibility.

“I think filmmakers need to keep busy,” Schattel says.

 
.
“I think filmmakers need to keep busy,” Schattel says. “Several of my projects have been optioned by wonderful and well-run production companies, but the projects have gotten delayed for one reason or another. They’re great and we’ve worked hard to put them together, so I’m not about to walk away from them. But on the other hand, I’m a filmmaker, not a film-planner. So it’s time for me to make another movie. They’re like pimples — they happen when they happen."

Henry Rojas

.


“Also – and this is very important – Kickstarter allows you to have full creative control. I’ve learned that when you deal with a company or financier, they have opinions. Sometimes those opinions may not jibe with your own. But in a crowdfunding situation, the only opinions that really matter are, for better or worse, your own.”

.

To put American Breakdown together, Schattel reached out to some of the region’s finest actors. Many of them he’d worked with before in other projects, but one of them, Henry Rojas – a Mexican drag performer – had never acted before.

“I got to know Henry when I was working on a documentary about a Latino Drag Beauty Pageant. With his natural intelligence and charisma, Henry caught the eye of the whole team, and we knew right away that he was the ‘main character’ of the piece. But when the doc went south (a certain famous NC-based actress was co-producing it, and then decided to kill it when she got jitters that the edgy subject matter may negatively impact her career), I knew I wanted to work with Henry in another capacity. So I asked him to come aboard American Breakdown and literally wrote him a part.”

Schattel reluctantly turned to Kickstarter – “I hate self-promotion, I hate being in front of the camera, and I’m very shy in general,” he says – but it seemed like it could work. Schattel has had years to build up a good reputation in the industry, has several award-winning features to his name, and knows how to “be a public figure.”

“Crowdfunding is a terrific tool if you know how to go about it,” Schattel explains. “Obviously it’s work. Sometimes it feels like it’s easier to actually make the money yourself than to go out and crowdfund it. But the thing I like best about it is that it allows you to directly interact with your audience. There’s no filter. That’s a valuable thing.
 
“Also – and this is very important – Kickstarter allows you to have full creative control. I’ve learned that when you deal with a company or financier, they have opinions. Sometimes those opinions may not jibe with your own. But in a crowdfunding situation, the only opinions that really matter are, for better or worse, your own.”

Check out American Breakdown, currently raising its budget here.

Check out Paul’s blog at: PaulSchattel.com.

 



.
ABOUT PAUL SCHATTEL:

.
The award-winning creator of the feature films, “Sinkhole,” “Alison,” and "Quiet River," as well as countless commercials and music videos, Paul is a two-time participant in New York City’s influential Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP). He has taught Screenwriting and Directing at the university level, as well as Acting For Film at the One On One Academy in NYC.

Originally trained as a writer and journalist, Paul and his production company Harrow Beauty Motion Pictures have won an array of awards – from “Best Narrative Feature” (Indie Memphis) and “Best Director” to “Best Screenplay” (most recently at the Los Angeles International Film Festival) – and seen their movies sold and played across the US and around the world.

Paul has had his scripts optioned by industry leading production companies, and had Emmy and Oscar-winning talent attached to his projects. He is a vegetarian, like animals, beer and Mexican food. Maybe a little too much.

 

CONNECT WITH PAUL SCHATTEL

Kickstarter
Twitter
IMDB
PaulSchattel.com

Read Paul’s prior Film Courage post:

Alison: On A Tightrope