Tuesday, October 18, 2011

DIY Movies

Sometimes my friends amaze me. You see, I might sew a bag or knit a dinosaur, or perhaps grow a bucket of potatoes. But some of my friends--Tara Miele, in particular--make movies. Granted, there are probably some indie movies that were made in the same amount of time that it has taken me to knit some sweaters. But when I'm done with a sweater, I don't then take it around to festivals and win prizes, nor do I mass-produce it and sell it on Amazon, which is, incidentally, what is happening with Tara's movie The Lake Effect.

Here is what I love about the making of this movie--it has DIY roots. The producer of the movie, Jennifer Westin, sent out an email to some friends and colleagues that went something like this:

Subject: Want to make a feature this summer?
Dear friends,
I’m making a movie. It’s going to be ultra-low budget, shot in southwest Michigan this summer.
I’m looking for a writer and a director.
This is a creative experiment—what can we do with what we have?
Production plan: Director, DP and I travel to Michigan, live at my family’s house while we prep
for a few weeks. Bring in 2 actors to play the leads. HD, minimal lighting, minimal crew, short
-No explosions or car crashes
-Has to be contemporary
-Action should be mostly contained to my family’s house and the surrounding beach and woods
Additional resources:
-1994 Ford Ranger, plum colored
-Dog, cute, not really trained

Tara received this email through a friend of a friend. Four months pregnant at the time, she dusted off a pet project that mainstream Hollywood had deemed too "indie" and sent it off to Jennifer. Who loved it. And so they got to work, filming this full-length feature over 15 days just a few months later, and having Tara fly back to California just 3 days before Tara would be 37 weeks (literally too pregnant to fly).

And now, the movie is not just created, it is OUT THERE IN THE WORLD. Just this week, in fact, the movie won "best screenplay" at the Jacksonville Film Festival. And before that, they won "best feature" and "best director" at the Moondance Film Festival. And "best ensemble acting" and "best screenplay" in the Phoenix Film Festival. They are tearing it up!

But best of all, now any of us can watch this movie--it is now available for purchase at Amazon and you can rent it through Netflix. I, for one, already have it cued up and am so excited that it is now cleared to ship!

But the moral of the story is this: DIY can happen in many different ways, my friends. It doesn't have to involve glue or fabric or knitting needles. Seek out opportunities and don't be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get creative when funds are lacking. Budget schmudget, is what I say. And so does my friend Tara, who made a movie.


  1. Added to Netflix! I think I might have to wait for you to watch it before I get my turn...

    I seriously love all the different ways people can be creative. You knit dinosaurs and sweaters, I write crappy novels and make snowglobes that look like urine samples. It's a wonderful world!

  2. Thanks Liana!
    Erin, the urine snowglobes sound fabulous.

    Liana, I am always impressed by HOW MANY great things you get to make. It took me YEARS to make one movie - you've made a bazillion things in that time... btw, going to buy a turbin this year. I swear it!!!