When it Comes to Filmmaking, Don’t Ask For Permission. Ask For Help… by Paul J. Porter of Oktoberfest Movie

PAUL J. PORTER WRITER/PRODUCER/DIRECTOR – ‘Oktoberfest Movie’

Film Courage:  Where did you grow up? What was life like at home?

Paul J. Porter:  I was born in Iola, Kansas and my parents divorced shortly after so I spent my young years bouncing between weekdays with my mom and weekends with my dad.  It was rough to be torn between my parents, especially when my mom remarried and moved to Pennsylvania.  I lived there for a few years before returning home to finish middle and high school, but I was always kind of an outsider after that.  I liked to draw and be alone mostly as a kid and I wish I could have appreciated the 80’s back then as much as I do now!

Film Courage:   Which of your parents do you resemble most?

Paul:  Definitely my dad, and I got all of my major interests from him.  He was only 20 when I was born, so I think we almost kind of grew up together a little bit- which is something I didn’t realize at the time.  Right now I’m the age he was when I was going into high school and that’s completely terrifying because I wouldn’t know what to do with a kid, especially one that was only a few years away from graduating high school and close being an adult.

Film Courage:   Did your parents lend support toward creativity or encourage another type of career/focus?

Paul:  They did lend support and like I said, I got a lot of my interests from my dad.  He drew, built models, read comic books, went walking in the woods, etc… so those are things we could do together and it set me on the path to a creative career decades later.  My parents never really encouraged a particular career, only to do well in school, which is something I took for granted once I got into high school and was way too busy trying to be one of the cool kids and get back that acceptance I had before I moved to Pennsylvania with my mom.  But I was in the ‘gifted’ program for most of elementary school, which was great until I realized that was another thing that differentiated me from most of my friends and quit.  But in that program I was exposed to a lot of things that I wouldn’t normally have been like my dad coming in as a special guest to teach us German, playing chess and logic games, creative writing, building robots, and reading books that weren’t part of a normal elementary curriculum.

Film Courage:   What were your plans after high school?

Paul:  I didn’t have any plans at all and by the time I’d been in high school a few years I knew I didn’t want to go to college right away because I was sick of school and working hard.  So I joined the Marines!  I’d played with G.I. Joes a bunch when I was little and watched lots of war movies with my dad, so I guess the prospect of adventure (and the recruiter) lured me in.  I joined up and all creative endeavors were put on hold for nearly a decade as I went through various training schools and deployed around the world to Japan, Australia, and Iraq (twice).

Film Courage:   Did you go to film school?

Paul:  I did.  On the last day of my second tour in Iraq just before we got on the C-130 to do evasive maneuvers out of Baghdad to avoid rocket fire, I got word that I was accepted to the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program (MECEP).  MECEP is a highly competitive program for enlisted Marines to stay on active duty and complete their undergrad degrees, which I did at the University of New Mexico.  I literally went through about eight majors before I drifted back to a creative area and started taking art classes again.  The drawing and design courses led to media arts and photoshop, which led to video editing, which led to the film department.  As soon as I started taking film classes, I knew I was in the right place.  I get bored easily and would go nuts working in a boring job doing the same thing over and over every day, but you’ll never have that with a film career.  I graduated from UNM and finished my contract with the Marines, then moved to L.A. with my wife and used my G.I. Bill to get my Master’s in Producing from the New York Film Academy.

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Film Courage:   How would you describe your perfect day?

Paul:  Getting up early for a run in a rural area with nice scenery, coffee and breakfast on the patio with Hayley, being productive by building or creating something with my hands while listening to great music, then maybe some craft beer and hanging out with a small group of friends that share our interests in the evening (watching the new episode of ‘Game of Thrones’ if it’s a Sunday- it’s the only TV show I watch).  That’s pretty boring I guess, but I don’t think there really is a perfect day- rather many experiences and things I want to do, but the one I described is my favorite at the moment.

Film Courage:   What inspired the story for OKTOBERFEST?

Paul:  The real life experience of attending the Alpine Village Oktoberfest every night for two years straight.  Hayley started working there in 2013 for the Oktoberfest (I was there every night) then she was brought on full time at Alpine the next year and because I was at Oktoberfest every night anyway, they hired me to do photography and video.  So just seeing everything that went into putting on the event and the joy that people get from it naturally got the wheels in my head turning and I thought it was a great setting for a movie.

Film Courage:   How long was the idea floating around in your head before you started writing OKTOBERFEST?

Paul:  Only a few months.  I got the initial spark during Oktoberfest and brainstormed a really loose story structure that sat for a while.

 

Indie comedy based on Alpine Village Oktoberfest; Film shaped by crowdcasting, crowdfunding and online contests
Film Courage:   How long did it take you to write the first draft?  What about rewrites?

Paul:  We really like to do extensive outlining and structure work before even thinking about typing the actual script and follow a combination of Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat! Method and Syd Field’s structure in Screenplay, so in between all the development, marketing, and planning of the project plus full time jobs and other normal life events, we finished the first actual draft in early May.  Rewrites commenced immediately and we just now finished a good third draft that is pretty close to what we’ll shoot.  But rewrites are never finished and we’ll keep adapting and adjusting the script as we start our logistical planning, cast the movie, and work with whatever else comes up.

Film Courage:   How many people did you share the script with during the writing process?

Paul:  We have four producers on the project that have contributed creatively on everything from the overall structure down to individual jokes but Hayley and I are the main story writers.  She’s written most of the actual script and now we switch off on revisions to keep polishing the script up.  We still have meetings with our other producers and I’ve requested notes from a few trusted friends and those are both great because it gets us out of our own heads and brings up issues and ideas that we never would have caught ourselves because we’re so close to it.

Film Courage:   How long have you been planning the film?  What went into the pre-planning?

Paul:  After I had researched our potential audience of Oktoberfest lovers and confirmed there was huge potential for a movie like this, the first step was making sure we could get permission from Alpine Village to shoot there.  We presented our plan to the board of directors in late February and they denied permission.  At that point Hayley and I actually started planning to move on and get ready to shoot another project we have planned to shoot in Kansas, but then at the end of March the board came back and said we could shoot the movie at Alpine.  Then we kicked it into high gear and really started planning the project and the script.
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Film Courage:   Is OKTOBERFEST the first movie that you’ve made (or will make)?

Paul:  No and no.  Our first feature film was a few years ago – ‘Rabid Love,’ which we shot in western Kansas.  The goal of RL was to complete a feature and get distribution, which we did.  It was an awesome experience and the reason we want to shoot the rest of our movies in my home state.  I once vowed never to shoot a major project in L.A. but the opportunity of being able to shoot a project at the Alpine Village alleviates most of the headaches that go into a normal production in the area, so I guess the Oktoberfest Movie will be my only feature shot in L.A.  We have a whole slate of projects planned for the future, some are already written, some still in development, some horror, some sci-fi, but all of them are fun!

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Film Courage:   For OKTOBERFEST, did you come up with a film budget first (based on your resources available) before coming up with idea?  Or was it the other way around of having the idea first?

Paul:  The idea is always first, but this particular idea came from the resources we had available- the Alpine Village and Oktoberfest.  Budget is never a factor for us because we’re going to make movies whether we have $0 or $10 million, so we adapt the projects to what’s available.  Our experience with timed filmmaking competitions like the 48 Hour Film Project have made us very efficient and we prioritize our resources to craft the story, rather than coming up with an idea and then trying to find all the stuff we need to make it happen.

Film Courage:   How did you calculate what the budget was going to be?

Paul:  For this project I created about six different scenarios for different budget levels because we had no idea what we were going to be able to raise on crowdfunding and through investors.  But two of the key numbers are our comfortable ideal budget and the absolute minimum budget.  It’s pretty ridiculous to come up with a budget and say something like ‘This is what it costs to make this movie’ because again, we’re going to make movies despite the funds available and we’ll adapt as necessary.

Film Courage:   How much does your Kickstarter Campaign mean to this production?

Paul:  Right now it means everything and if we’re not successful, the project could either A) be postponed a year, or B) be completely scrapped and we move on to something else.  Our KS goal is my bare minimum budget number and if we don’t hit that, then we don’t want to go through the trauma and shame of begging people for help and I refuse to make another feature film where we have people working for free like we did on RL (but RL was still awesome and it was a shared experience among the cast and crew, who were mostly newcomers trying to get experience- producers included).

Film Courage:   How much preparation went into your Kickstarter Campaign? 

Paul:  Not enough.   You can never have enough, but we set a timeline and once the train leaves the station you either do what you can to keep up or let it leave you on the tracks, so we held on and kept working (still working) to do as much as possible on the campaign while still doing all the normal development, marketing, social media, and pre-production for the project.  We were thinking about the campaign for months ahead of time and had a meeting with our crowdfunding manager, Leah Cevoli, in early February before we even had a first draft of the script.  She gave us a lot of good tips but we really didn’t start prepping the campaign itself until a few weeks before we launched.  Then we had a good 10 days or so of non-stop work to get ready for the launch to work on the Kickstarter content and perks.  We shot the Kickstarter video on Aug 10 to give us plenty of time to edit and create content from it before we actually launched on Aug 27.

Film Courage:   What are you doing to prepare for the upcoming shoot on September 12th and the 19th at Alpine Village?

Paul:  We’re just bringing in a small skeleton crew to shoot some 2nd unit type footage of people in the crowd, random inserts, and a green screen booth where we’ll shoot volunteers to later composite them into some shots as a way to get more people involved in the project.  Not a whole lot of prep beyond some basic production planning of organizing the basic crew and equipment we need.

Film Courage:   Most interesting thing an Oktoberfest participant has said to you after a performance?

Paul:  I can’t think of anything that’s been said, but some of the ladies can get pretty “handsy” with a guy in lederhosen after they’ve had a few beers.

Film Courage:   What is your job at the Alpine Village Oktoberfest?

Paul:  They pay me to shoot photos and video each night.  They don’t pay me to play guitar and drink beer, but I go ahead and include those as part of my services since they’re so cool.

Film Courage:   Can you share some of the most fun and zany experiences from working at Alpine Village!

Paul:  So many…  There are two I guess- the first is the nights that I was able to play guitar with the band in front of thousands of people.  I’m not a great guitar player and I doubt I’ll ever play in front of a crowd like that ever again, so those are times I’ll always really cherish.  My favorite song was 99 Luftballoons when Hayley would take the lead vocals and we’d both be performing together.  Another great part about the Oktoberfest nights are the after-after parties.  After the tent wraps, the party moves the Alpine restaurant next door for a few hours.  After the restaurant closes, the O-Team and the German band go up to the roof and hang out.  One night we were sitting around the table and somehow got started signing Bohemian Rhapsody.  Everyone there participated and we sang the entire song start to finish with all the parts in a spontaneous moment- it was really awesome.

Film Courage:   Do you really get free beer while working?

Paul:  I can’t say.  But, yes.

Film Courage:   Which character in OKTOBERFEST is most like you and why?

Paul:  Ottobot- he was in the military but found a new home at Alpine Village.  Oh, and we’re both robots.

Film Courage:   What went into creating your fantastic pitch video?

Paul:  We looked at successful campaigns that were as close as possible to our project and got some guidance from Leah.  I actually had no idea what to do so Hayley wrote a script and what we ended up shooting was pretty much her first draft.  I think we had the script finished about a week before we were going to shoot, so I had a little bit of time to plan it out.  We wanted to keep it simple for the shoot and post-production and that’s what we did.  Vic Harris shot and colored it and it turned out great.

Film Courage:   Why do you love Oktoberfest?

Paul:  I’m a pretty socially uncomfortable person when it comes large gatherings and I can’t stand small talk or forcing conversations with people, so most parties and social situations can be extremely boring or even painful for me.  But with Oktoberfest, all the fun is automated and you don’t even have to talk!  Everyone drinks and follows whatever is happening on stage so even introverts can sing, dance, and party it up like a pro.  It’s just a great atmosphere and worry free, zero stress environment that’s all about Gemütlichkeit (you’ll have to look that up).

Film Courage:   When/where was the first time you attended an Oktoberfest celebration?

Paul:  It was 2013- I went with Hayley to check it out because she was offered a job working there.  I didn’t want her going to be around a bunch of drunk strangers alone and thought I’d totally hate it, but it was amazing and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Film Courage:   Favorite Oktoberfest beer and food?

Paul:  I’m not picky at all with the beer- any Oktoberfest style beer is fine by me.  My favorite at Alpine Village is the Warsteiner Dunkel though.  Favorite food is another beer, but if I’m starving they have a really awesome chicken sandwich on a pretzel bun.

Film Courage:   Despite the fact you’re still in the midst of your Kickstarter campaign, what’s something you learned from crowfunding for OKTOBERFEST (and maybe didn’t execute as well as you would have liked) that will be an area of emphasis on your next project?

Paul:  I seriously doubt we’ll ever do another crowdfunding campaign because of the work, stress, and time involved.  I’d rather just save my own money for the next one rather than put myself and everyone I know through another month like this…  But if we were to do it again, we would build up our project at least 6-12 months longer and create a ton of visuals as proof of concept like storyboards, short scenes, and lots more photos/artwork.  That’s something we actually did with ‘Rabid Love’ and it worked out pretty well.  We shot a 7 minute short film version of the story that was basically our pitch video for the feature that ended up being enough to get investors to finance the project.

Paul J. Porter with wife and actress Hayley Derryberry
 

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Film Courage:   What other methods have you used outside of crowdfunding to raise money for this movie?

Paul:  A key part of any indie film is the business and marketing plan, which we’ve been working on for months and is just now ready to start presenting to potential investors- which are really our only other source of financing if you don’t count the many thousands of dollars that the producers have already contributed to get us to this point.  Ideally there would be some film incentives and tax rebates in the mix, but California in general is toxic to businesses and the film incentives are only geared towards major productions and the studios that don’t need the help like the indies do.

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Film Courage:   In regards to raising money, where have you had the most success?

Paul:  Our producer’s bank accounts.  It sucks but if the producers of a project aren’t willing to contribute, then why would they expect anyone else to?  Hopefully our Kickstarter campaign will end up being our biggest source of funds, but that only happens if we reach our goal.

Film Courage:   How did you pitch the script to your actors?

Paul:  I don’t pitch to actors; I hire them.

Film Courage:   What camera(s) will you use?   How will you know this is right camera to film this story?

Paul:  The URSA will be our main cam and we have other Black Magic models to use as B and C cams, all owned by our DP Vic Harris.  The camera is right because it comes with the DP that I trust to be able to tell the story visually.  In a perfect world I’d shoot every one of my movies on film, but it’s just not practical from a production or financial standpoint for no budget indie films anymore so we go with what’s available.  I wasn’t picky with the camera on this one and only knew that I didn’t want to shoot on a DSLR like we did with our first feature (Canon 7D).

Film Courage:   Will you film segments of the movie using real Oktoberfest footage?

Paul:  Oh yeah, the production value there is one of the main reasons we can actually do the project.  There are 16 nights of festivities where we’ll be getting b-roll, inserts, and other shots to show off the huge crowds and the stage show.

Film Courage:   When do you anticipate finishing OKTOBERFEST movie?

Paul:  The shoot will wrap sometime in November after roughly 20 shooting days, then we’re in post production for a few months.  We’ll release just prior to the Oktoberfest 2016 season, most likely in August.

Film Courage:   Do you plan on submitting it to festivals?  Are there any other plans for distribution?

Paul:  We’ve never had much luck with festivals and for our type of production they’re not really a factor.  We know who and where our audience is and don’t need festivals to gain recognition or approval.  We will submit to SXSW in the hopes of attracting Drafthouse Films as a distributor because I think they’re the only ones that I would trust to properly market and distribute the movie if we don’t.

Film Courage:   What do you want audiences to gain from watching OKTOBERFEST?

Paul:  Like all my movies, I hope it’s a fun escape from reality.  I want people to laugh and have a good time while learning a bit about German-American culture, Oktoberfest, and beer.  I also hope the word Gemütlichkeit will become a part of our audience’s vocabulary.

Film Courage:   Biggest supporter in your life and why?

Paul:  The smart, beautiful, talented, and all around amazing Hayley Derryberry.  We’re partners, best friends, co-writers, and co-producers together and she keeps me from being a total sociopath and hermit.

Film Courage:   Quote or mantra that you live by?

Paul:  ‘Don’t ask for permission; ask for help.’  My friend Colin Cunningham.  I think it’s the first real advice I ever got about working as a filmmaker and I’ve adhered to it ever since.  I see people stressing out about how to get their projects made.  Actors, writers, directors- all these creative people spinning their wheels waiting for someone to cast them, to buy their script, to hire them and it’s really sad.  If you want to be an actor, writer, director all you have to do is be a producer and make your own stuff.  Nobody can stop you, so stop looking for approval and stop giving people the power to say no, because YOU are the only one that can stop yourself.  There are a couple more I like too- ‘Producers make movies, not excuses.’ That’s mine, and ‘Do or do not, there is no try.’ That’s Yoda.

Hayley Derryberry


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Film Courage:   If you had only one day to live, how would you live it?

Paul:  That’s a pretty depressing question.  I have no idea.  I’d probably just start running and see how far I could make it before I drop.

Film Courage:   Who are your heroes and why?

Paul:  I’m not sure I have actual heroes, but Stan Lee, Rod Serling, Clint Eastwood are huge inspirations because they all started out kind of like me by serving in the military and then went on to be major influences on American culture via creative careers in entertainment.

Film Courage:   If you had a million dollars (aside from funding a movie), what would you do with it?

Paul:  Move to an isolated area of the country, brew my own beer, throw parties, make movies, and prep for the zombie apocalypse.

Film Courage:   What’s next for you creatively?

Paul:  Who knows.  I hope it’s another feature film in production by the end of 2016 but that really depends on the success of the Oktoberfest Movie.  I definitely don’t want to wait as long as we did after RL to get another project started.  It’s hard work but I just feel empty if I’m not working towards something like that.

 

BIO:

PAUL J. PORTER @PAULJPORTER

Writer  – Producer – Director

Porter is the owner of Rogue Taurus Productions, which he runs with his wife, actress Hayley Derryberry. Born in Iola, Kansas, Porter served 13 years as an active duty US Marine with two combat tours in Iraq and is currently a member of the California Air National Guard. He has a BA and MFA in Producing and Filmmaking. Porter freelances as a producer/director and posts weekly about independent filmmaking on the Rogue Filmmaker Blog. His German family heritage extends back through his Father’s side and the Bambergers that immigrated from Germany to the U.S. in the late 1800’s. Porter regularly works for the Alpine Village as their official event photographer/videographer and even plays lead guitar in the band during the annual Oktoberfest.

ABOUT THE FILM @OFESTMOVIE:

Oktoberfest Movie is a comedy about a group of colorful employees who share a love for their workplace the Alpine Village. When the village gets in trouble, they must pull together all of their strengths to put on the greatest Oktoberfest the world has ever seen. The newest member of the team is Freddie Fest, who has just inherited Alpine Village from his estranged uncle. As an outsider, he must not only learn about the company he has come to own, but also about his German heritage, the meaning of Gemütlichkeit, and a little about himself.

The movie takes place in Southern California and is about the unique experience of Oktoberfest at Alpine Village, which is enjoyed and celebrated by thousands of people from diverse backgrounds every year. As a celebration of that diversity, Oktoberfest Movie is not only made by movie producers who are fans of Oktoberfest, but it is also reaching out to fans all over the world to create a truly unique way of filmmaking. It is a movie by fans, for fans!

About Gemütlichkeit, LLC:

Our producers, two husband-and-wife couples often clad in Bavarian garb, have a combined total of 230+ Oktoberfest festival days and 770+ chicken dances. Needless to say, the team’s passion and experience shape the planning, creation, production and marketing of the Oktoberfest movie. Paul Porter and Hayley Derryberry are the driving force behind the story. With their production company Rogue Taurus, the writer/producer/director/actor/blogger duo produced their first feature film in 2014, Rabid Love. Otto and Brenda Radtke have been at the helm of planning, creating and marketing Southern California’s premier Oktoberfest at Alpine Village for the last five years. Together these couples lend their distinct perspective and knowledge to all stages of film development.
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CONNECT WITH OKTOBERFEST MOVIE:

Kickstarter
Official Site
Facebook
Twitter
Youtube
Instagram



How the audience can get involved with the movie:

·       Attending Alpine Oktoberfest September 12 and 19 for a chance to be filmed

·       Oktoberfest Story Photo contest: Winner will receive two tickets to Alpine Village and two nights stay at a nearby hotel. Photos may appear in the movie.

·       Invent a drinking game contest: Submit a drinking game to be featured in the movie and DVD bonus features

·        DesignCrowd contests launching in September for character design

·         SoundCloud contest for independent musicians to be included on the  soundtrack

·       Name or style a character on OktoberfestMovie.com

·       Support Kickstarter campaign at OktoberfestMovie.com/Kickstarter

For more information visit OktoberfestMovie.com.