DIY FILMMAKERS: TOM HOSLER'S "DR. BENDERFAX" Image

[ WHAT’S YOUR STORY? ] ^ It was a year after I graduated from college that I finally finished my first and only feature script worthy of production, a twisted sci-fi comedy entitled, “DR. BENDERFAX”. Six moths later, “DR. BENDERFAX” went into production. Working with extremely talented actors on my own film and watching my creation come to life before my eyes was an incredible experience, and the best part is that at the end of the day, when a scene was shot, it was shot for good. It was in-the-can. My work was done. If it sucked a bit, I could fix it in post, hopefully. Post production is agonizing, mind wrenching and sometimes demoralizing work that never seems properly finished, at least in my case. The post of “DR. BENDERFAX” involved pouring over hours of pictures, sound, and music for months, then years, to conform thousands of tiny bits into one cohesive and entertaining piece that hopes to hold the attention of a teenage viewer for over 85 minutes! Oh, the humanity! ^
[THE TITLE MEANS…? ] ^ (Some say it sounds like Dr. Bend-the-facts. Some don’t.) Synopsis: Dr. Benderfax is a highly esteemed medical researcher who will do “whatever” it takes to reach a scientific goal. Unfortunately, the doctor’s experiments often result in the termination of his subjects, so he and his partner, Nurse Clench, acquire a psychiatric hospital and use the resident mental patients for their enigmatic research. As the formidable duo near the pinnacle of their scientific careers, the discovery of an elusive psychic phenomenon called the telefaximial field, a do-good young doctor named Andrew March stumbles upon the truth about the Benderfax Institute and threatens to expose the deadly operation. ^
[ BUDGET AND SCHEDULE? ] ^ “DR. BENDERFAX” went into production December of 1992, financed by personal savings and credit cards and took five months, shooting only on weekends, to complete. My co-producer, Kata Jacobson and I prepared props, sets and costumes, etc. on the weekdays, then spent the weekends shooting. “DR. BENDERFAX” was put in-the-can for around $20,000, all labor costs deferred. ^
[ DID YOU SACRIFICE ANYTHING BECAUSE OF THE BUDGET? ] ^ We were quite clever about getting our money’s worth on the screen, but we did cut some regrettable corners to save money. We used older film stock we got on sale at half the price of the new Kodak EXR stocks that were coming out at the time. Our film looks good, but the EXR film would have looked noticeably less grainy. We could have used more lighting and grip equipment, too. With more and brighter lights we could have shot “DR. BENDERFAX” at T4 instead of T2.8, which would have dramatically improved the sharpness of our lenses. Oh, well. Next time we’ll do it better! ^
[ WHY DID YOU DO IT? ] ^ Even as a teenager, shooting blood (catsup) drenched super-8 shorts with my friends, I had ambitions of someday making a feature. After high school, I was influenced by my well meaning parents to give up my film making dream as “too expensive and just not practical.” Many years later, I started taking film classes in college. There, I made a few decent short films and got inspired once again to make a no-budget feature film, this time in 16mm. ^
[ CURRENT STATUS OF THE FILM? ] ^ “DR. BENDERFAX” has been rejected by all the biggest U.S. Studios, distributors and film festivals, yet it did win the “Silver Cindy” in the Independent Feature Film category of the 38th annual International Cinema in Industry Awards. I’ve personally sold around 75 tapes to hip independent video stores around the USA and Canada. ^
[ ADVICE OR PEARLS OF WISDOM? ] ^ The script is everything! Persistence is everything! Money is everything! Some other things I can’t recall are also everything! ^
[ WAS IT WORTH IT? ] ^ Well, my parents were correct to say that making films is too expensive and not very practical, but if Ed Wood felt that way, “Glen or Glenda” would never have been made! “DR. BENDERFAX” is a film that needed to be made. I did it, and I’d do it again! ^
[ WHAT’S NEXT? ] ^ Currently, I’m working on a feature script, SVENGALI, about a scientist who trains monkeys to perform experiments on humans. I will make the film as soon as I locate several very daring investors and 150 extremely talented monkeys.
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