Clay Liford is an established cinematographer and award-winning filmmaker, who’s had a short play the Sundance Film Festival and a recent feature film travel the festival circuit the world over. His latest film, WUSS, is looking for some finishing funds via Kickstarter, and we’ve decided to make it this week’s Certified Film Threat in Progress…
What is WUSS? What is it about?
WUSS is about a high school English teacher who is forced to disciple a rough student, after which said student beats the living crap out of him in the school parking lot. The teacher then teams up with another of his students to hatch an “elaborate” revenge plot.
Where did the idea for WUSS come from?
I wanted to make another film with (actor) Nate Rubin after we went to Sundance with our short, MY MOM SMOKES WEED. Nate is a somewhat little guy for his age, and I’m not a very creative writer. So I wrote a film about a little guy getting beat up. I thought it would be funny to figure out how he’d react to that. Not wanting the cops involved, and too embarrassed to tell his friends and co-workers, he’d naturally have to team up with another beleaguered student.
Plus I really wanted to make a film about the town I grew up in. It’s sort of my swan song for Garland, Texas. I shot a big part of my previous feature, EARTHLING, at the same high school.
Who is in the cast? Anyone we’re familiar with?
Well, hopefully a good amount of people recognize Nate Rubin’s face now (aside from my film, he has a small role in James Gunn’s SUPER, amongst other things).
Beyond that, we have a few major supporting roles cast with familiar faces. Most recognizable is probably Tony Hale (ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, THE INFORMANT) as the band director. Second to that, is Alex Karpovsky, a filmmaker in his own right, and also star of LOVERS OF HATE and BEESWAX.
When did you start filming? How long was the shoot?
We shot in the hot, hot month of July this year, on location in Garland, Texas. The shoot was an extremely modest fifteen days.
What format/type of camera did you use for this film? Why’d you choose the one you did?
We shot WUSS on the Canon 5D. I was very impressed with another film Alex Karpovsky was in, TINY FURNITURE. That was shot on the 7D, an older model. So I figured, if it looked that good on the 7D, it’ll look even better on the 5D. We also did extensive tests. Our previous movie was shot Panasonic, and while I was happy with the results, we had issues with how much light that camera system ate up. The 5D is amazing in low-light situations.
What problems/concerns/horror stories did you already have or still potentially foresee for the film?
Well, anytime you try to shoot a feature in fifteen days, you know you’re automatically up against the wall. Luckily, I have a stable of cast and crew that know how to work under strict time constraints, and have done so, with me, for over seven years in many cases.
We were concerned about getting extras for the high school crowd scenes. Getting kids who could play well as featured extras in the classroom scenes. Stuff like that. Thankfully, our producers shined, and we ended up with a great group of kids.
Is this your first attempt at crowdfunding?
This is pretty much my first attempt at crowdfunding. I did a half-assed campaign with EARTHLING, and failed miserably. Hopefully we’re going about it the right way this time. Our incentives are pretty cool, I think.
Why did you decide to crowdfund?
WUSS is a low budget feature. I mean really low. People say their films are low budget, and then they find out what we make ours for. It’s a shock. Anyway, we had a post-production budget. A small one, but something there. What we did not really have was a contingency budget for principal photography (ouch) and like with all other films, we went over. So we pretty much had to rob Peter to pay Paul, leaving post very very dry.
Long story short, our investors bought every share we had to offer, so we couldn’t add more shares (as this would dilute the return of the existing investors). So a donation-based system, albeit one with good incentives, was pretty much our only option. Most of us had already put in every personal dollar we had, donation-wise, already. So there you go. Lot’s of Ramen noodles being consumed around here.
Do you have other financial resources or investors in place beyond the crowdfunding?
Like I mentioned above, the photography of the film was fully funded, and at this point the only thing standing in the way of us finishing up is certain post production fees. The crowdfunding is there to take the edge off that, and to help us meet some pretty stringent festival deadlines. We pretty much outline where your donation will be utilized on our kickstarter page.
Why did you choose Kickstarter over another crowdfunding solution?
Kickstarter has an amazing reputation and has a screening process for applicants. You have to be invited to submit a project to them. You pretty much know that if you give your money to a kickstarter project, it’s legit.
Where is the crowdfunded money going?
The money would be going directly to: First, the online edit. Second, the audio mix. Third, the remaining music score. And finally to duplication and HDcam masters.
If you do not hit your financial crowdfunding goal, what then?
If we don’t hit it, I guess the better looking of us start selling our bodies. I’m not as young as I used to be, but I might be able to bring in five bucks that way. No, in actuality, we’ll just trudge forth and get it done somehow. I don’t have any incomplete films on my resume. It’s just one of those “tighten the belts” type of situations.
In a perfect scenario, where are you and your film a year from today?
In a perfect scenario, we’ll be in the middle of our film festival run, which will include screenings at all the majors we’ve sent out to. And we’ll have domestic and/or foreign distribution lined up.
Why should someone give your production money?
That’s the eight thousand dollar (in this case) question, isn’t it? Well, I’ve been a self funded filmmaker for practically ten years. My last two are the only ones that had any outside investor monies. We are truly independent and hopefully we’re making films unlike anything you’ll see at the local megaplex. Several of my films are online or in the video stores. You can watch them and decide if I’m the type of filmmaker who’s career you’d like to have a direct hand in fostering. Because that’s what this is all about. We’re not raising a lot. Well, eight thousand IS a lot of money, just not a lot for a movie. Whereas that money would have no impact on a studio film whatsoever, it literally can make the difference between sink or swim for a movie on this budget level. If you find a filmmaker who speaks to you on some level, and that filmmaker is doing crowd funding in some manner, you really can change the fate of what happens to that filmmaker and his or her project. There’s definite joy to be found in that. And we have some pretty cool swag to give away as well. 🙂
If you’d like to know more about WUSS, or we didn’t ask all the questions you’ve got, go ahead and comment below or head over to the WUSS’s Kickstarter page and comment there. Next week we’ll be back with a new project for you to check out but, until then, we hope you enjoyed this closer look at Clay Liford’s WUSS.
DISCLAIMER: Donating or investing in a film or film-related project is always a risky endeavor, so it is important to keep that in mind before deciding to get financially involved with any film project. Film Threat, FilmThreat.com and our parent company, Hamster Stampede, LLC hold no liability or responsibility regarding any of the projects showcased on our site, their content or performance or the content or performance of any of the sites linked to in this article. Our involvement with the featured project is strictly what you see here: we find a work-in-progress project that sounds interesting to us, we ask all the questions we’d like to know the answers to and then we share that information with you, the audience. This should not be considered as personalized investment advice. What happens after you read this is your decision, and, again, before parting with any money for any film, think it through and BE CAREFUL.