A movie-obsessed slacker and an aspiring artist stuck in a dead-end bank teller’s job conspire to pull a heist at the latter’s place of employment. From that intriguing notion comes Jason Carvey’s quirky indie comedy/thriller “A New Wave,” which has just been released on DVD from ThinkFilm.
The Connecticut-lensed “A New Wave” boasts several recognizable names: Andrew Keegan, Lacey Chabert and John Krasinski. It also presents Jason Carvey (making his feature directing debut) as a new force within indie cinema.
Film Threat caught up with Carvey at his Los Angeles home to discuss where “A New Wave” came from.
What was the inspiration for “A New Wave”?
I had insomnia at a friend’s house in London and while sorting through his DVD’s I pulled out Godard’s “Breathless.” I’d seen it many times but decided to watch it again. For some reason, my particular mindframe I guess, it thrilled me. I had been thinking about writing something that I could direct and produce on a low budget. I loved that “Breathless” was just a fun movie, shot all on location for no money. It was paying homage to all the 40’s and 50’s Hollywood movies he loved. That’s what I tried to do with “A New Wave”: make a movie that had a bit of everything in it, along the way paying homage to many of the films and filmmakers I admire, including Godard.
I also wanted the film to be personal and made Desmond an artist working a day job as a bank teller. At the time I had been working behind a desk for an insurance company, dreaming of getting out. The title was always a working title, my French new wave movie. It just stuck after awhile.
You attracted a nifty cast to “A New Wave.” What was your secret in getting such well-regarded actors to appear in this low-budget production?
Through a friend of a friend I hired a casting director out of New York. I never even conceived of getting any “name” talent in the film since we had so little money. But we made a list of leads we would like to go after that we thought we had a shot at getting.
Lacey Chabert read the script and liked it. We met when she was in New York and she agreed to do it. After that, we had some talented people willing to jump aboard. John Krasinski came in and auditioned, and as soon as I saw him I was like, “That’s Gideon.” He’s such a talented guy and it’s amusing because his character on “The Office” is more of the straight man and yet he is outrageously funny. William Sadler, Andrew Keegan and Dean Edwards all agreed as well.
We had such a limited budget that we just laid it out to everyone that this was all the money we had and our offers weren’t a bargaining tactic. Thankfully, they said yes.
Why did you shoot “A New Wave” in Connecticut? And what advantages and disadvantages did you run into shooting the film in that state?
Shooting in Connecticut was a necessity from a financial standpoint for us. It is where I’m from and allowed me to live at my parent’s house for free while I put this together. It had some major advantages from a locations stand point because my producer (Bruce Seymour) and I both had extensive local knowledge of the area. And, we were able to secure almost all of the locations free of charge, something that is unheard of in cities like Los Angeles and New York.
People in Connecticut aren’t used to movies being shot in their backyard so they welcomed us with open arms. It was something new and exciting for them. Perhaps the only negative was that we had to import and house a lot of our crew. That might change as the local film scene in Connecticut grows, but we brought in 20 crew members from New York and Boston.
In the end though, the locations savings far outweighed the housing costs.
“A New Wave” is going straight to DVD. Were you pushing for a theatrical release, and why didn’t it get into theaters?
Of course, everyone wants to see their film on the big screen. In the process of seeking distribution, I’ve learned a lot about the market and the changing demands of it. Unless you secure a deal from a major studio or their “indie” wings (Fox Searchlight, Sony Classics, etc) than it’s very difficult to get a theatrical release. It would cost us, the filmmakers, about $50,000 to get into three or four cities across the U.S., in addition to paying at least a million dollars in advertising in those cities to make it worth it.
Unless you pour that kind of money into advertising no one will know it’s around. I had a friend who’s film was released in New York and Los Angeles but the company who released it theatrically didn’t have enough money to properly market it and virtually no one came out to see it. That, coupled with the fact that studios make all of their money on DVD and television these days, it just didn’t make sense from a financial standpoint.
What are your next projects?
I’m busy writing and developing two scripts right now and will hopefully be putting the finishing touches on them in the next month or so when I am done with all the marketing stuff for “A New Wave.” Then I can start this whole process over again, hopefully paying myself to do it next time!