Ellen Tremiti, Fanboy Comics Contributor: Tell us about your background in filmmaking.
Will Prescott: I’ve been making stuff forever. I wrote my first “screenplay” when I was ten. It was maybe 15 pages and a complete rip off of The Goonies. I guess I didn’t really get serious about creating narrative work until I attended college at Western Washington University, where I did some theater and shot a bunch of shorts. Then, after graduating, and a failed attempt at infiltrating the Seattle film scene, I decided to get a Master’s degree in film production and moved down here to Southern Cali where I’ve been competing in the rat race ever since.
ET: How has your formal training at Chapman, as well as your time in your comedy troupe, The Greater Good, helped you hone in on your particular style as a writer, performer, and filmmaker?
WP: The formal training at Chapman was mainly good for dissecting all the ways a film can succeed and (mostly) fail on a commercial level. So, many decisions are made from the development stage onward that basically attempt to only answer one question: how do we get this out to the most people possible? Because of that, you make sacrifices in your writing, casting, and editing. It’s a political system that sucks and I don’t agree with, but if you don’t try and at least understand how it works, then you’re doomed.
The Greater Good has been a really refreshing experience for me and the other guys involved (Tom Flynn and Matt Watkins; also former Chapman students), because it’s given us a place to stretch our minds creatively without worrying about hitting any sort of commercial success. Doing stuff for the internet is cheap, it’s fast, and there’s so much out there that; unless you try super hard, no one has to ever see. We’re able to come up with the most absurd/insane concepts, execute them, and then move on to the next thing if we’re satisfied. There’s great creative freedom in that.
I’d say the reality of the industry I got at Chapman combined with the creative liberation I’ve had with The Greater Good has really helped inform my style as a storyteller. I want to experiment, I want to push boundaries, and I want to make people feel uncomfortable. But, I also want people to ultimately see my work and I want them to laugh. Because laughing is the best.
ET: Have you always been passionate about Indie Filmmaking?
WP: Yes! Well, at least as long as I’ve been aware of what indie filmmaking is. Things are changing all of the time and it’s difficult to tell an original story well. The willingness to take chances and push the envelope, in my mind, is the real reason to love independent film.
ET: What made you decide to embark on your first feature film project?
WP: Honestly, I got tired of waiting around for the right time—which seems to be the comfortable standard. I have a few filmmaking friends who I respect greatly that don’t follow this standard. They get out there and just do it. I’ve wanted to adopt that mentality for a while, but so many things can talk you out of doing it. I had a script going around town that I felt really good about and thought it was going to get made. When it didn’t, that was the tipping point I think.
ET: Was that script the one you’re making now?
WP: No. That’s a different one that I’ll hopefully be making next.
ET: How long have you been working on the script you’re going to shoot?
WP: Maybe a year and a half now. I had it completely outlined in the summer of 2010 and then a first draft done that fall. I’ve been doing rewrites and fine tuning the story pretty regularly ever since.
ET: What kind of a story are we in for?
WP: Oh, boy. You’re in for a lot. Blood, knives, guns, girl scouts, dogs. It’s quite the crazy plot with some wacky characters. But I suppose, in its most basic sense, it’s a buddy comedy. A really dark, sort of absurd, buddy comedy that forces two ex-friends to hash out some old high school drama while also trying to cover up a dead body. We have a teaser trailer you can check out that might give you an idea of what we’re looking to do.
ET: Conceptual artwork for Feeding Mr. Baldwin has had a big impact on pre-production. Can you tell us about that? What made you decide to hire a comic book artist?
WP: Obviously, I needed something visual to help sell the concept of the story. Something unique that really popped. I wanted to go with a comic book artist mainly because of the film’s tone. The world of the story is pretty absurd and not quite our own. I thought comic art could help translate that. I really loved the work I had seen of artist Connor Mooney and asked him if he’d help. Bringing him on has been one of the best decisions I’ve made thus far.
ET: Walk us through some of the artwork.
WP: Well, I was pretty loose in what I asked of Connor. Basically, I wanted to see his interpretation of the characters and then some concepts on teaser posters and logos. He also put together a few designs that could be used for fake merchandise for some of the companies/groups in the story (Clayton’s Furniture Emporium, Girl Scout Troop)
ET: Where can we find more info on Connor?
WP: Connor has a website where you can see some of his work and contact him: anticonnor.tumblr.com.
ET: You’ve been rounding out your cast. Any particular actors you are especially excited to work with? How did you get in touch with them?
WP: Anil Margsahayam, the co-star (and also one of the producers), is someone I’ve wanted to work with for years. I actually wrote the part for him specifically. Annie Sertich is another person I’m thrilled to work with. She’s a main company member of the Groundlings and has been in everything. Andrew Donnelly is also part of the cast. He’s a hilarious stand-up comic who can improv like no other. Pretty much all of the best people we’ve seen were found by our casting director, Mark Jwayad.
ET: What made you decide to do a Kickstarter campaign?
WP: It goes back to that whole “tired of waiting around” idea. Getting donations through a site like Kickstarter eliminates most of the reasons for why you wait around in the first place, especially if you hit your intended goal. Even if you aren’t raising your total budget through Kickstarter, you at least have a start. Plus, you a have a ton of donors who are now expecting to see you do something with their money. It really paints you into a corner but in a good way.
ET: How important is Kickstarter to the indie film community?
WP: It’s important because it gives you an alternative to the normal ways of obtaining funds. Originally, we were going to seek private investors. Then, we decided to do a combination of private money and donations. Finally, we all agreed on the minimum amount of money we needed to begin production and decided to just try and get that via Kickstarter.
ET: So, you finished your script, you have the conceptual artwork, you’re in the middle of casting and running a Kickstarter campaign, the next step is physically making the movie. As a filmmaker who works full-time, how have you made feature filmmaking fit into your schedule?
WP: You actually have to make your schedule fit around feature filmmaking. I have a full-time job, so most of this pre-production stuff is happening on weeknights and weekends. Fortunately, I’m able to take a few weeks off from the 9-5 when we begin principal photography. But, it’s a challenge. No doubt about it.
ET: Any parting advice for other indie filmmakers looking to start a Kickstarter campaign?
WP: Be realistic about what you can raise. Take a hard look at your network and try to do the math. Everyone loves donating, but unless there’s a great incentive, there’s no reason to donate too much. Keep that in mind and calculate accordingly. Also, do a bunch of pre-selling and promotion. Make sure you contact your strongest and closest friends and tell them what you’re doing and ask if you can count on them. This way, when you launch, you have people on stand by ready to help get the ball rolling.
ET: Thanks very much, Will, for taking the time to answer these questions!
With this kind of modern platform, supporting indie filmmaking has never been easier. So, get involved today! Will has seven days left in his Kickstarter campaign for Feeding Mr. Baldwin. If you’d like to help him spread the word and/or support his film, please do! You could receivet-shirts, mugs, or posters featuring Connor’s artwork. Visit Will’s Kickstarter for more information.