To tell the tale of a struggling filmmaker who throws a party in the hopes of raising funds for a new production company he’s starting in his small Rhode Island hometown, Christian de Rezendes assembled 44 actors and actresses to live in real time as their respective characters for two-and-a-half consecutive hours, improvising their dialogue, while the cameras rolled. The outcome was Getting Out of Rhode Island.
We recently spoke with filmmaker Christian de Rezendes on his experience with Getting Out of Rhode Island.
What was the first film you ever made? How old were you?
I was 21, and it was called “Branches ’93″…. A rather lengthy documentary about my high school senior class….. took forever to get done, but it won a certificate at Chicago Film Fest…. Not bad for primitive craftsmanship, ay?
What made you decide to become a filmmaker?
I can’t recall for sure… so many things, and they all stem back to a very early age when I began to absorb so much tv, film, theatre, etc….
Have you made any other films beyond “Branches ’93” and “Getting Out of Rhode Island”?
Yes…”Alzira’s Story” (2000 – won numerous awards, shown on RI PBS). Working on next film now….. a darkly comic feature.
Tell me what you’re working on right now.
I cannot yet. I can only say that it’s a dark comedy that I co-wrote with two others and intend to shoot in northern RI/southern MA. Meeting with producer(s) in near future. For the record, I WAS working on a massive doc project from ’01 to this past June…. But my subject, after so much BS, pissed me off to such a degree that I said “f**k it”. Glad I did, but sad that it will never see the light of day. It was a fascinating story, but the woman whom it was about was too unpredictable and did not value my time. So right now, it’s like leaving a 2 1/2 year relationship….. and I have needed a little bit of time to get back on my feet. Moral of the story: ALWAYS keep more than one iron on the fire…. And that iron is the next film.
What other jobs have you had?
DP on 3 features, editor on another. DP on “Extra Credit”, “Larry’s Home Video” and “Ode”. Also editor on “Ode” which is getting done next week. I am proudest of “Ode” and my DP/editing collaboration with its writer/director Gary Shore.
What was the budget for “Getting Out of Rhode Island” and how long did it take you to make it?
$2,000.00 – 6 months of pre-production, 1 night to shoot (2.5 hours), 1 year (on and off) to edit.
How did you go about casting?
Most of the main characters were people I knew who were actors. Most of the party guests auditioned. Held auditions in my living room.
Party guests were given a choice of playing themselves or characters they can create within the scenario.
What do you think drew the actors to the script?
Challenge of Improvistion, a.k.a. acting without a safety net – as there was no opportunity for 2nd takes.
What format did you shoot the film in? Did you choose the format for its look, or was it budgetary?
Mini-DV…. Both. Its style was heavily inspired by the Dogme films from Denmark.
What problems did you run into during production? Horror stories?
Cops at my door asking who dialed ‘911.’ (One of my actors got a little too excited.) Fortunately, that actor had exited the movie by that point and took care of them. I never saw or witnessed any of it, and that makes us extremely lucky because it was a LIVE one-take “all or nothing” shoot. That’s pretty much all I can think of.
What are some of the scenes you had to cut?
Mainly a lot of trimming down. I shot one scene in a café the morning after with 2 of the main characters and realized it wasn’t even necessary. So I tossed it early on….. along with one of the other actors driving the next morning. But it was mostly trimming trimming trimming. A very heavy balancing act.
How did you get involved with Film Threat DVD?
Phil Hall reviewed Getting Out of Rhode Island and other past works. The review of “Getting Out of Rhode Island” was amazing, more than we expected (five stars, “masterpiece”, “best unseen film of ’02”). We had been searching for distribution possibilities, but nothing seemed to be working out. “Getting Out of Rhode Island” has no big names in it and the film itself is experimental. You either love or hate it, though most of the feedback (even from companies that couldn’t work with us) was very positive. So one day, one of my lead actors (Jeremy Banks – “Morgan”) caught this piece written by Chris Gore about the distribution plans for FT DVD. I wrote Chris, and he welcomed “Getting Out of Rhode Island” positively with open arms.
Why’d you choose to sign with Film Threat DVD?
One word: EXPOSURE!!! Reviews, comments, sales in places we never would have reached otherwise (most likely). Getting Out of Rhode Island is slowly but surely getting out there.
How did the process of developing your DVD go?
Exciting… not annoying… just long…. Because we had a ton of extras. It was a fun experience, and I’d do it again.
“Getting Out of Rhode Island: is now available on Film Threat DVD!