Make The Movie Or Make Excuses by R.L. Scott

Film Courage: What is the most broke you’ve been in your life? And can you tell us a story about?

R.L. Scott, Filmmaker:  Hhhmmm, most broke? In regards to filmmaking?

Film Courage: Sure. Just a time in your life, we’ve been gathering stories.

R.L.: Probably when I made my first movie (my first feature film). I actually produced my first movie for 500 bucks, shot it in 3 weeks between my house and my neighbor’s house and a friend’s house that was around the corner (between a one block radius).

And the way it happened is sort of like…this is actually interesting. I prepped to do my first movie. It was a totally different idea than what I ended up going with. I had done preproduction for maybe two months and it was all going to take place in this really big building. And the day before we were going to start shooting the investor pulled out. He was like “Oh something came up…I can’t do it.”

We had prepped the cast, everybody, we’d done all this prep for two months. We had put a deposit on the location that we were going to use and we couldn’t get the deposit back. 

I think that happened on a Saturday (we were supposed to start shooting on Sunday). I get the news on Saturday. I call up the cast between Saturday and Sunday and I spoke to everybody. I said Look this is what happened and now we don’t have a budget. Everything we prepped for is pretty much at square one now. Everybody was ready to shoot. People had taken off day and took off time to shoot a film. I said “Look, we’re going to shoot a movie. Give me a day and I will get back to you.”

We couldn’t shoot Sunday. Just give me a day. Come Monday we’re going to start shooting. The way I started shooting my first feature was I would write the scenes that we were going to shoot that day in the morning. The cast would show up that day, get the scenes, we would go through the scenes and basically the same day they got the scenes we shot them.

There were action scenes in the film. I would have to choreograph the fights the day of and teach it to the actors the day we shot them. So we basically shot the film that way every single day. I would shoot that day and then do the work that night to prep coming into the morning. So we shot the whole movie that way.

Most of the actors had no martial arts training. And this is also very interesting, I’ve developed a way of choreographing fight scenes over the years and getting actors to look like they know how to fight. And I use sort of this chain link method where you take three or four techniques (you call it an exchange). So one exchange would be three or four techniques. You teach those three or four techniques to the actors. It’s sort of a short burst of energy versus just shooting a fight full on and people getting tired and then that’s how accidents happen. 

But you can get a short burst of energy out of them for three or four takes. And in the edit you use the last technique of that exchange, you would use that to cut into the first technique of the next exchange. And I actually learned that method from looking at when I was young, you know the barrel of monkeys? Where they have the hands that connect and you pull them out of the barrel of monkeys. That’s how I learned to choreograph and then cut. The way I would cut is use the last part of that exchange as the first move. 

Even though you are shooting these tiny little bursts of action, when you cut them together they seem seamless because you always use the material from the last punch. 

I guess to simplify that if I have an exchange and the last technique of that exchange is a straight punch right? The next technique in the new exchange is that same straight punch so you’re able to carry that over…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).




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