Hey. I’m Jackson Gary, a writer, director, and producer from Atlanta Georgia, and I’ve just completed my debut feature film. We’re in talks with some small distributors now, and are looking to release soon. I’ll take you through the process of how a group of high-schoolers got their micro-budget movie done.
Towards the end of 2016, I was thinking about resolutions; for the ending year as well as the upcoming year. My main filmmaking-related resolution had been to “MAKE 5 SHORT FILMS.” I’d made 6. They weren’t very good, but hey… That had nothing to do with the resolution. Anyway, for a little while, making a feature was going to be my resolution. But then I thought; I can’t get funded. I’m basically a kid. I literally have nothing to show for. But because I’m stubborn and to be honest, quite bored, making a feature film became a 2017 resolution.
I’d been working on the script since 2015, but after having a sudden burst of I HAVE TO DO THIS IT’LL BE AMAZING, I was able to finish the script in January 2017. I slowly worked on building up a small team, which started with just my friends. We picked up momentum in April, when we made our short film “Joy.” It was easily the best of our “careers,” and people really liked it. I started to shop around our script, titled “Welcome to the End,” and despite a whole lot of “no’s,” we got some “yes’.” That was awesome, but… It didn’t cut it. The film was a sci-fi, which is a pain to produce as your debut feature, when you’ve only got 1 short to back you up. We were never able to raise the $65,000 we believed that we needed. That… well, that sucked.
It was rough, for a while. In July of 2017, I had to tell people that the film was off. That was the hardest part. Telling the few people loyal enough to stand beside me that it was all for nothing. After a few weeks, it just faded from existence. I started to focus more on writing – because no one can crush that dream. And then an idea came to me. It was a comeback story, in which the character never really comes back. It was sweet, and more importantly: Something that I thought our team could pull off.
Listen… You can’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Yes, people told us we couldn’t make Welcome to the End. And we listened, which was rough. But for this new idea [We Can do Anything], no one could tell us. This project was all ours. By September, pre-production had started. There was a team of about 5 people, with a few others who would help along the way. In October, we slowly started shooting, and in January, 2018, we wrapped. Those few months… man, that was amazing. We shot for about 15 days, and some days went really fast.
We shot a chunk of the film at Joseph’s house, who plays Miller and was also a producer. Ryan (who plays Nick, and did most of the cinematography) and I had about 2 days of roof scenes to film, and we averaged 8 pages each day. I think after knowing him for so long, it just became simple and fast for the two of us to work together. And to be honest, the whole production went well, without problems.
There’s not much to say about editing. Because we shot for months, I mostly edited it as we went along, and it was complete in February. After that – I took to Reddit. The film had strange colors, bad sound, and absolutely no music. None of us really knew what we were doing in those fields. With the help of some Reddit communities, we were able to add some more members to the team, who ultimately reshaped the film in post-production.
On June 6, 2018, we all sat down to watch our movie. Was it perfect? Absolutely not. Were we proud? Totally. And that’s what mattered. We made something we were proud of. We didn’t take no for an answer. And we had a great time doing it. I can’t wait to make something else with them.
I wrote this article alone, a month after finishing the film. But I din’t make the film alone, which never could’ve happened anyway, so I need to mention these people. They are awesome, and they made the film as much as I did. Brooke Gary, Joseph Saleh, Ryan Stamper, George Fashho, Roger Shehadeh, Fadi Nino, Ben Thatcher, Max Smith, and Patrick Fripp. These people are freaking amazing.
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