Zack Scott, an independent filmmaker, is no stranger to the intricate workings of an industry that requires much fortitude. His most recent film, The 28th Day: The Wrath of Steph, is currently being prepared for DVD distribution in November. But all filmmakers become restless, ready for their next project to come to fruition. For Zack Scott, that means getting an earnest start on his next film, Little Magdeline.
I was fortunate to catch Zack in the middle of his hectic schedule for a brief discussion of his new film, his current Kickstarter plan to help fund it, and a few other things. With just a little over a few weeks left, his Kickstarter campaign is moving along.
As movie-goers, we’re invested in certain actors, directors, and studios releasing films. It seems that familiarity creates a calming sense of confidence when we go to see a film. Otherwise, there is that brand of movie-going fans that are heavy on helping exciting new actors, directors, writers, etc to become known to masses that might otherwise not pay too close attention. What kind of press or excitement has been built by your previous works?
Our last feature film, The 28th Day: The Wrath of Steph, was self-released last year. In order to get people to know about that film, I approached numerous film review sites to take a look at the film and review it. After that Kate Nichols and I started doing interviews about the film and our careers. As we did more and more interviews and we started getting more positive reviews for The 28th Day, we eventually got distribution through Cinema Epoch where it will have a full DVD and VOD release starting in November. It was a lot of hard work and determination and a true grass roots campaign, but we did it.
There are many aspects that contribute to a successful film because film is a collaborative medium. Many critics like to assign authorship to a film by placing all responsibility on the director. This really isn’t the case. There are many people involved in making a film. What makes a film a success is the fact that everyone who works on the film are doing their jobs the best that they can. Meaning that the casting was just right. The photography was right. The music hits at just the right moment. The makeup doesn't look like makeup. Everything that is up there on the screen is 100% believable. And that statement can go for every type of film that has been released.
What made you like a certain film? For example, why is Evil Dead 2 better than a film like Mega Piranha? They are both very similar films — far-fetched horror. Well, it’s because you buy what’s going on the screen more with Evil Dead 2 than with Mega Piranha. Why? Because the filmmakers on Evil Dead 2 believed in what they were doing where the filmmakers on Mega Piranha felt that it was just another paycheck. When everyone, and I mean EVERYONE—from the craft services person all the way up to the actors on the screen—believe in what they are doing, then I feel that the audience can see that on the screen and that creates a successful film.
Can you tell us a little bit about your past works, including their post-premiere successes?
I made my first feature film The 28th Day in 2001 and it wasn't released on DVD until 2006 through Create Space. I then made a few short films in 2011, including a follow-up film to The 28th Day called "The 28th Day: Liz Lucky and the Amulet of Zasulground." That film got reviewed in Fangoria which was a nice little surprise. The success of that film led me to make my next feature film, The 28th Day: The Wrath of Steph, which was a true sequel to The 28th Day but was fashioned so that you didn’t need to see the first film to get the new film. The Wrath of Steph was picked up for worldwide distribution by Cinema Epoch and will be released in November.
How were they funded?
Everything was self-funded. The 28th Day: The Wrath of Steph only cost $2,000. Of course that meant that actors were donating their time and I would later pay them once we started showing revenue from the sale of the film. Also I wore a lot of hats where I was a casting director, a camera operator, editor, I did the special effects, I even did a little bit of the makeup on a couple of days.
You have a new film being readied for production. What are you willing to tell us about it?
Our next film is called Little Magdeline. It’s a romantic drama about a man who meets his six-year-old daughter for the very first time. Because of this he reevaluates his life, his relationships, and how he loves. It a screenplay that I have had on the shelf since 2008. After we finished The 28th Day: The Wrath of Steph, Kate Nichols turned to me and asked, "What’s next?" I then told her the story of Little Magdeline and she instantly fell in love with it. We then took the next six months working on the screenplay with my friend Thomas D. Butler.
As soon as we got the screenplay just right, we decided to start production. The neat thing about this screenplay is that we are actually telling two stories at the same time. Think of it like the story structure of The Godfather Part 2. Our main story is about the father meeting and connecting with his daughter but also we’re telling the story of how the mother and father met, got together and eventually how they broke up. It’s an exciting concept and something that hasn’t been done that often in romantic dramas.
What processes have you already undergone to get the film moving in the direction it should be?
We have already hired our key crew members. Our director of photography is Laura Beth Love who is probably one of the best and most hard-working cinematographers in the business. She has worked on a lot of films from The Asylum including Asteroids vs. Earth, Jailbait, Bachelor Night, and The Horde. I've worked with her before on a short film and I really love the way that she and her crew work.
Our editor is Ludmil Kazakov. He just won the best editor award from the San Francisco Global Movie Fest for his work on the upcoming Eddie Griffith film Last Supper. We also have our production manager, Lachelle Hunt, our makeup supervisor, Crystal Rodriguez-Leal, and a music supervisor, Derek War. We have already cast two roles, Kate Nichols in the lead role of Desi and Jodie Grundin in the role of Cassidy, Desi’s best friend. We also are casting all the rest of the roles as we speak and should have a casting announcement for more roles soon.
Many people have gone the way of Kickstarter to help fund projects that might not get the time of day in their respective fields. Why do you choose to use Kickstarter rather than the usual avenues of investors that have been conventional to the movie business for so long?
Number one, we don’t have a track record yet. Trust me, I went to my acquisition executive from my distributor to see if they would be interested in the next film and since The 28th Day: The Wrath of Steph has not been released yet, the company will not fund my next film unless my previous film is a financial success.
Also, look at what’s being funded right now in Hollywood. It’s nothing but remakes, reboots, and sequels. And the films that are original are from name directors like Tarantino, Fincher, and Nolan. I would love to be able to go up to Megan Ellison from Annapura Productions and ask her to fund my film but again, no track record. And with the fact that we are working with children and have a bigger, experienced crew in this film, I can’t just have a $2,000 budget and make the film like I did with The 28th Day: The Wrath of Steph. So we decided to go to Kickstarter and just pitch the idea to the general public.
Do you feel that Kickstarter is a new realm of financing for artists who elude the conventional methods of getting a project off the ground?
Absolutely! Getting financing is hard, no matter what avenue you choose. Would we have the Veronica Mars movie without Kickstarter? I really don’t think so. The new Zach Braff film? No! The new Ben Folds Five CD? Absolutely not! It a great way for artists to reach out to their audience and connect to them, saying, “I got this idea, I think it a pretty good one and I want to do this for my next project. Would you help me?”
What can backers expect if they invest in your new project?
As a production company, we have always connected with our audience. When we made The 28th Day: The Wrath of Steph, we made daily production diaries documenting the day-to-day production as well as posting behind-the-scenes photos of the day's shooting on our Facebook page. We will do the same with Little Magdeline. Also we have some great perks which you can see on our Kickstarter page with include autographed DVDs, posters, and an opportunity to visit the set or even the premiere in Hollywood!
If you're interested in contributing to Zack Scott's next film, take this opportunity to scoot on over to the film's Kickstarter page. We wish him the best of luck!