Tag Archives: Madison Wisconsin

Mediatrocities #24: Director Andrew Friend on His New Documentary “Schoolidarity”

schoolidarity-poster-4webby Legendary Lew

Over the last few years, teachers unions in Madison, WI and Chicago, IL have been under attack from political forces with a privatization drive. Wisconsin governor Scott Walker fought for a right-to-work law, which union claim would undermine the power of collective bargaining guaranteed by law. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel showed a consistent disdain for the Chicago Teachers Union from the moment he took office.

Documentary filmmaker Andrew Friend, an unapologetic supporter of teacher unions, created a new documentary recounting the struggles in Madison and Chicago over the last few years.

The film Schoolidarity is a reminder of what can be accomplished with collective action and what it means to be in a struggle for the long haul.

I interviewed Andrew via Skype for the latest installment of Mediatrocities. Give a listen and please comment and/or share with others!

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How to Make a Feature-Length Interactive Film for Less Than $200

The Underground Multiplex last year released its debut film Sisters of No Mercy 3D during a special screening at Facets Multimedia in Chicago. Clocking in at 100 minutes, many were surprised that we actually spent so little making the movie. But not only was the film no-budget, it was also interactive, meaning that during many portions of the film, actors would appear in person before the screen, interacting with characters in the film. In this manner, Sisters of No Mercy was a true 3D experience, all with a budget whose major expenses were a few costumes, props and gas money to and from Madison, WI for a film shoot. I’m certain there are many ways to make movies on the extremely cheap, but here are the major factors that helped this particular feature:

Hire your friends and family

This almost goes without saying since these folks will probably be in your film for nothing (except film credit), but there’s an additional point to be added.  I deliberately left out anyone who I would consider a prima donna, an irresponsible person, or in general anyone who I thought might be a bring-down. Also, if you are the producer and/or director overseeing the project, don’t be a jerk. Making sure that everyone is having a good time not only made things pleasant, but also guaranteed much shorter shooting times for a cast and crew who have very busy schedules.  Worried about acting abilities? Unless you are trying to make something monumental, profound and incredibly intense–all of which would probably require a higher budget anyway–the actors’ experience won’t be as important as your script. If you have a good script and ideas, people will take notice. If you have a bad script and bad idea, people will take flight.

Feed Your Friends Well

I could not imagine asking friends to give up some 7am Sunday mornings without feeding them. Get those carbs in them, as they’ll be busying burning them up with coffee and tea to wash them down. We didn’t have to get elaborate. A discount place like Aldi’s can be your best friend for your shoots.  If you shoot at your house and create your own meals for your cast/crew, all the better. (Exnay on the alcohol, though). They’ll be impressed!

Let Your Friends Loose to Do Their Things

Joe Lewis is the most brilliant filmmaker I’ve ever met. He and I have been able to craft a feature length film utilizing the talents of cast members by making the script malleable enough to include them. For instance, I know a guy who is a great dancer and whose lifelong dream is to be a choreographer. Sisters of No Mercy 3D was not originally scripted to include dancing, but he and a few others with some dance experience were gung-ho for it. We simply provided a music piece he could use and stood back to let him do his magic.  Creating scenes in this manner, I found, not only makes you double up on your imagination, it gives those in the film a true sense of investment in it.

Use the Proper Equipment with a Steady Hand

A seasoned filmmaker can use equipment like a Canon Vixia HD cam for shots and do so pretty incognito, which helps in filming at great locations all around Chicago. But if you want to have something that doesn’t look like unintentional earthquake, you’ve got to be able to do so quickly and with a steady hand.  This became important for our guerrilla filmmaking, since there were situations where time was short and using as little equipment as possible was necessary.

The Internet is Your Friend

If you haven’t begun figuring out how to incorporate some of the great stuff on youtube or sites like archive.org into your works yet, I suggest you start, especially if you want to save cash.  You can make your work an interesting mosaic of sounds and images with those sites, plus save lots of money by  properly administering the Fair Use law when editing.

So get to it! Sisters of No Mercy 3D was created while one of us was unemployed and the other had a minimum-wage job. It can be done.

Tonight’s the Night! Sisters of No Mercy Opens Facets Fright School!

Be there or be damned! Reception begins at 11pm.

Lew

Great Trailer for the Upcoming Facets Fright School Starting Sept. 30th!

Once again, Joseph Lewis does a fantastic job with this trailer for Facets Fright School running Sept. 30-Oct 29th at Facets Multimedia, 1517 W. Fullerton, Chicago IL 60614. Admission is only $5 and FREE if you’re a member. (Here’s how to become one).

We’ve got a great kick off: The Sisters of No Mercy Premiere Party in Purgatory! Be there Sept. 30th at 11pm for a goodies reception. Midnight for the lecture by me and Joe Lewis followed by the interactive fun!

Lew

Wisconsin: Keep the Good Guys in Office Today! Stop the Satanic Forces of Father Neal, Scott Walker, et al.

Wisconsin, do us proud! This is the day you keep your Democratic senators–the ones who stood up and fought for justice. Vote!

Lew

The Wisconsin Exorsisters Chase Evil Out of 2 WI Districts, Force Changes!

Though not a rout, the Wisconsin recall elections did bring about a possible forced change in state politics. If you are doubting this, check out the Democracy Now! report by John Nichols from The Nation here.  No one said chasing Satan out of the capital would be easy, but the Wisconsin ExorSisters were up to the task! Next goal, recalling Scott Walker!

 

Will The Wisconsin ExorSisters Reign Victorious Today?

Mother Superior and The Sisters of No Mercy recently exorcised Madison, WI to cast the the evil demons of Scott Walker and the Fitzwalkerstanians out of the state capital. Will the sisters succeed? Can the remnants of the evil Father Neal and his henchmen finally be whisked away? Check your web news services and stay tuned.

Vote today, Wisconsin! Do us proud!

Lew