Mairtin De Barra is a North Dublin based writer, director and sometimes producer. His body of work includes music videos, promos, short films and broadcast TV, but now he’s taking on a new venture with ‘Films with Heart’. This is a new innovative international collaboration which he talks about in the first of a series of blogs and a ‘Film Ireland’ Web Exclusive.
Tribulations of making films with heart.
When no budget is just not enough…
By Mairtin de Barra
I need money to make a film. Who wants to give me some? Pretty please?
I’ve made a lot of no budget projects, mainly music videos, the occasional short, while waiting for funding on other projects. I’ve been lucky, I’ve won a few awards, got Filmbase/RTÉ funding for my short film Tart, and all of this has inspired me to leap into the quagmire of getting something else made. Something…gasp…longer!
And herein lies the problem. I have a number of features in development, where they will no doubt stay for a number of years. I think I read somewhere that the average script to screen time for an Irish feature is 5 years and 6 drafts. That’s a long time when you’re burning to make something.
So I investigated other options. The world is open. New social media makes the world a community, so the theory goes… After a lot of investigation I signed up with Marty Shea and Ian Bonner at www.collabfeature.com – a truly exciting global feature film shooting in segments across 16 countries. I was very excited, I wrote my segment, they loved it, and the shoot date was set: the first week in July. Collabfeature is unfunded; it’s testing a theory. Taking award-winning filmmakers from across the globe and developing scripts, shooting on a shoestring and seeing what we get. It’s fresh. It takes the waiting out of the game. It lets me work on honing my skills, both writing and directing.
Then I noticed the first problem. I can’t shoot my segment for no money. It came to life. I began having costume, location, equipment requirements I couldn’t afford. And this time, I don’t want to compromise. So what could I do?
Well, it’s time for another experiment. After wasting time with kickstarter (who only allow people with American bank accounts) I finally found indiegogo – a fundraising site for people like me who have something they want to say and no money to say it with! It’s a straightforward process, they take paypal, people can pay by credit card too. It has a nice design. You register, answer their questions, upload images. They host your site and give you the tools to market it via twitter, facebook, widgets. It’s remarkable. I got excited as I designed the page. Easy. Urm… then I checked out the other irish films on the site; of the five I found, I think they managed to raise $80 between them. It’s not promising.
I don’t think they did it right. There seemed to be very little interaction – no updates, no video, no stills, no casting news et cetera. I’m aiming to keep the information flowing, I hope to capture people’s imagination. So I’m going to give it a try. I want people to care about my film, and even if they can’t donate, if they can spread the word and get it profile it can only help. I need to raise what is, by film standards, a very small amount. €2000. It will make all the difference though. The major obstacle I can see is getting my message to the people who might help – who, to be fair, are probably not my filmmaking peers. We’re all scraping together budgets. So how do I hit the people who might find it novel and interesting? I’ll let you know how I get on in the next instalment.
I have no idea where this will go, if anywhere.
ABOUT THE FILM
My segment is called Heart Shaped –
It’s the story of two young brothers whose parents are in the midst of a break-up. They’re sure they can fix their parents’ relationship, and do their utmost to bring them happiness. It’s a bittersweet story of parcels, cake and brotherly love.
I’ve taken a risk with it – I’ve cast my own two sons in the film, as I know they have the talent to make it heart-warming, and, in theory, if anyone can get it out of them it’s me. There’s a lot of theories floating about…
If anyone would like to donate please go to www.indiegogo.com/filmswithheart
There are a number of different options available, from DVD to walk on to producer credit to a business sponsorship.