Story behind the Filmmaker

Story behind the Filmmaker

by Rebecca Redshaw
A five-dollar bill might get you into a matinee screening today but you better sneak in your own soda and popcorn if you want a snack.

But the award-winning short, “The $5 Movie,” written and directed by Devin Scott, isn’t about the price of a ticket but about the original cost of a roll of film for a fledgling pre-teen filmmaker.

This fifteen-minute mini-feature takes a tongue in cheek approach to the irony of the filmmaking process and will no doubt strike a familiar chord for anyone in “The Biz.”

Scott said, “I’ve had a dozen film directors come up to me after screenings at festivals and say, “Thanks for telling my story.”

The film has been entered in more than fifty festivals and already been screened at seven. Awards garnered to date are “Best Comedy” at the Hardacre Festival in Iowa, “Best Story” at the Newport Beach Festival, and “Bronze-Original Comedy” at WorldFest Houston.

“It’s surprising how many wonderful short films are out there. I’ve been to Palm Springs and they have a lot of films [this year more than 1000 entries].” Scott is philosophical about the process. “You see beautifully made films. There are hundreds of thousands of talented filmmakers that will never get a chance. Not everybody can mortgage their house and make a film.”

Luckily, Scott works in the commercial film field in partnership with his wife Jeanne Scott, whose forte, in addition to producing, is budgeting. Over the past ten years their company, American Dream Cinema based in San Diego, has produced EMMY award winning documentaries, commercials, and marketing videos.

With more than ten short films to their credit, Jeanne is candid about the realities of “The $5 Movie.”

“This short was the hardest, most complicated, most frustrating, and rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

With a limited crew and only three days to shoot, she refused to let stumbling blocks like inclement weather and availability of talent slow production.

Jeanne said, “It was raining like crazy and I couldn’t get hold of talent or they weren’t returning my email ’cause they didn’t want to come out on a Sunday night but all the equipment was lined up, so I figured if I have to beg them, I will. If I have to go over to their house and cry, I will.”

All but one of the crew worked gratis and only a few of the actors, who happened to be members of the Screen Actors Guild, were compensated. For the most part everyone involved worked for the love of the project and a videocassette of the completed movie.

The shoot took three days. The sometimes tedious and always costly process of post-production lasted nine months. With support from Executive Producer Wally Schlotter, the Scotts final product has the professional look of a multi-million dollar feature.

The cost of making this picture is something Jeanne is not comfortable discussing but suffice it to say that shorts like this one can cost tens of thousands of dollars and the monetary return is negligible.

Devin Scott is realistic in his expectations of the screening of his film at festivals. “I’ve gotten over the idea that this is a calling card. It’s like tossing a thousand calling cards into a fishbowl and hoping somebody will pick yours. You take what you can get and the pleasure of watching an audience react to your films is pleasure for you.”

Jeanne agrees. “Festival submissions aren’t cheap and then, if you get accepted, you have plane fares. The reality is you don’t get any personal feedback unless you’re there and just to have a few people enjoy and laugh at a couple of the scenes or the message created is worth the trip. It’s like when a baby cries and you’re up all night but then it smiles at you in the morning — it’s so rewarding.”

The Scotts are already planning ahead. The next ten months will be spent screening “The $5 Movie” at various festivals but the creative juices continue to flow. Jeanne is an independent producer at KPBS as well as other venues and recently completed working on a two-hour program. Producing a feature film with a huge, experienced staff and a budget is something she’d love to tackle.

She may be in luck. Devin recently completed a feature length script. “We have a project ready just in case someone comes across with an offer.”