If you haven’t met Tim yet, you’re missing out. Tim’s got a great sense of humor and a killer feature film project called Crashing Down. I asked him about Crashing Down and here’s what he had to say:

Q. To start, can you tell us a little about yourself, Tim? Who are you? What drives you? And what is your background in filmmaking? What projects have you worked on in the past?

A. I’m a Texas boy, born and raised. Discovered my propensity for all things art at a young age, then music as a teen. Been in more bands than I can count. What really did it though was when in the 90s, I started doing motion graphics, animation, and multimedia stuff — gateway drugs for filmmaking. Now, I’m a junkie.

Q. Tim, please tell us about Crashing Down. What is the story and how did the idea come from?

A. To answer that one, we have to go back a few years. I started out doing stories that directors like Gilliam, Lynch, Kubrick or the Coen Brothers might choose to do, but then got sidetracked chasing the money that was following horror flicks. After a few years of that roller coaster ride of almost starting projects, then falling through, I finally asked myself the question everyone should ask BEFORE doing something: why? Why do ‘x’ project? Is it really worth years of your life? I don’t even really watch that many horror films anyway. So, returning to my original path (follow your bliss as Joseph Campbell would say), I wrote Crashing Down out of the previous years of frustration in one explosive session over the Christmas holidays. I wanted to adapt a classic that hadn’t been done (or done well), so I tackled Dante’s Inferno and modernized it. The main character moves back to his small hometown and has to go up against the local cowboy mafia when they threaten his family. The film follows him down this path through ‘hell’ as he schemes to destroy the crime bosses and in the process, setup his family for life. The story is linear like Dante’s Inferno, but it throws in unexpected twists and turns here and there to keep it real.

Photo by: Larry McKee

Q. Who is involved with this project?

A. The cast is still evolving. We’re shooting like it’s a series of shorts, so we’ll have a long list by the end of it. I’ll post a full list when the project is finished. (Austin Film Meet member) John Hafner has been holding the center as the main character. Larry McKee has been the primary Director of Photography. Larry is by far the most experienced of the bunch having started something like 30 years ago as a technical lighting adviser for National Geographic Magazine. Thomas Marriott is our producer, and brings his years of experience as a serial entrepreneur to the mix. My wife (and Austin Film Meet member) Angie Fant has been a huge help, learning all these little things that are so important and harder to find in the no-money indie world, like marketing, and make-up. Her very first make-up job was to make John look bruised and banged up on the head — and it looked real!

Q. Who are your lead actors and how did you find them?

A. John Hafner and Jordan Strassner. I found John by digging around online. I had a specific character in mind and when I saw some demos, I was sure he could do it. At the time, it looked to me like he hadn’t done much yet and was just getting started (I believe his resume now spans several pages), but again, there was something that said ‘yeah, he can pull it off.’ So, based on my hunch of his potential, I contacted him and went from there. Jordan and the rest have come through casting calls. This town is packed with talent!

Q. Where are you currently in the production process? What phase of production are you in and what do you still have left to do to complete the picture?

A. We’re in production. Because we have no money (other than my expendable income HA!), we shoot whenever everyone is free at the same time. We’ve shot about 20% so far.

Photo by: Larry McKee

Q. What positions are still available on the crew? What kind of help do you still need and how can people contact you?

A. Here are the ‘floating’ positions that’ll need filling with each schedule block:
– Continuity/Script super
– Audio (we have gear)
– Boom op
– Grips (lots of dolly and jib shots)
– Gaffers
– Camera Operator (D.P. currently does this, but if someone else wants experience with the RED, now’s your chance)
– Assistant Camera (focus etc)
– Production Assistants
– Behind the scenes. I have a primary guy for this, but he can’t make it every time.

I call these ‘floating’ because of our long schedule and shooting style. I understand if someone can’t dedicate themselves to the project for the duration, and can only help on a scene here and there. On the other hand, if the story stands out for you, and you’re like; “man, I want to see this made, I want this to be MY project,” then we should talk about what that means, case by case. The transient positions are unpaid, but that doesn’t mean they’re uncompensated. One of the things I love about a small community like ours is the pooling of skill sets and I look forward to reciprocating in other’s projects… that is, once I’m not consumed by the time-eater known as Crashing Down (I say that with nothing but affection, of course)! You can email me, Tim: help@crashingdown.net

Q. How large of a crew are you working this? Have you had any difficulties crewing up or with casting?

A. We’ve been keeping the crew small. The main driver for this is the cost to feed everyone. We’re currently in talks to have food donated, which means less fear of a larger crew, and the small crew we’ve been using will be much happier to have the
help. There’s a lot of people that want to help so no problems other than schedules. For me, casting is harder just because I’m looking (like any director should) for specific things to fill specific parts. Casting, done right, can make a movie shine — done wrong, and you crash and burn.

Photo by: John St. Germain

Q. What is the budget for the project and how did you determine where to spend it?

A. When I do a project like this, I do several budgets and proceed as if funding is no problem. This one has an approximate budget of 2 million on paper (and that was cutting a lot of corners in production and pushing most of the cost to initial marketing). But like I said elsewhere, we’re just shooting as resources allow. In the end, if no funding ever comes through, and we get food donated, there will still be thousands of dollars spent to get it in the can. This doesn’t count post and distribution chasing. There’s no such thing as ‘no-budget.’ That money goes into people’s tanks, props, electricity to run the laptop to make script edits, software, printing ink, locations, web space, etc, etc.

Q. If you had an extra $2000 to spend, how would you spend it?

A. Is that all I get? It would go in the bank for gas money and locations. Or, maybe buy a bunch of lottery tickets?

Q. What camera(s) are you shooting with and why did you choose that one? Have you faced any difficulties with this technology?

A. It wasn’t that long ago that I was seriously bummed about the state of the art. Back then, we had mini-DV (HD hadn’t become the norm yet) and film. If you didn’t have money, you shot on mini-DV. But it never looked right to me. So for awhile, I refused to shoot anything unless it was on film, which led me down the endless path of hunting investors. We even started thinking about designing our own HD camera, and Larry the D.P. was one of the first (actually, I think he was THE first) beta testers for Redrock Micro’s 35mm adapter. We spent a lot of time trying to come up with something affordable that maintained the quality we were looking for in the digital space. Then, word of the RED started to circulate and Larry jumped on it. I did hit some technological snags early on, but that’s no surprise to an early adopter. We shot 7 shorts with one of the first cameras to hit the Houston area, and I edited a few of those. Editing wasn’t easy then, but now you can open a raw 4k RED file in Premiere and away you go. I recently got my hands on a Canon 5d to supplement the run and gun. I’m impressed. I used an Adobe After Effects plug-in to pump the size from 1080 to 4k and I’m still in shock. It matched with the RED footage on the timeline! (the 24p conversion is like pulling teeth however, but that firmware fix is coming).

Q. What challenges have you faced in making Crashing Down and how have you resolved them?

A. Getting everyone together at the same time is the hardest part. If this was a circus, then the producer and I would be the guys juggling chainsaws and pissed off cats between each other. In the end, it works out, but it takes a lot of playing tag. Another challenge is locations. I’m new to the area, so I’m having to hit the streets in most cases. Nothing wrong with this of course, it’s just time consuming. I’m starting to ask around more as I get to know more people, and in the end, this may be the solution to the problem of locations.

Q. What is your strategy for marketing and distribution for Crashing Down?

A. The times, they are a changing. Every moment I spend researching this kills more ideas, and births new ones. In the old days, one way to go about disto hunting was to premiere at a fest, build some buzz there, get invited to other fests on that buzz and start talking to traditional distributors. I’m reading that this doesn’t happen anymore? Specialty arms and indie distributors are closing left and right so we’ll have to see how everything shakes out for those of us that haven’t established a base yet. Even Gilliam is having a hard time finding a distributor for an A-list cast film in the U.S.? Wassup with that? The internet is really taking center stage lately with movies like Paranormal, The Age of Stupid, Nasty Old People, The Last Lullaby, INK, etc. I will say this; I still think theater is important. Going straight to DVD without some theater isn’t really an option as far as I’m concerned. That may mean that we’ll have to 4 wall a few places, but I believe any ‘good’ movie should have an opportunity to be communally experienced (even if you have to do like some folk singers, and have house concerts). I could go on and on about this subject, but ultimately, I’m still early in the learning curve regarding distribution and marketing. The thing that sux is that curve is more like a tsunami rushing away at high speed.

Q. How do you feel about Austin as a place to make independent films?

A. I lived in Houston before moving here, and was trying to decide the best place to go for making movies. My research pointed to Austin as the place to be for indie filmmakers, which jived with me on so many levels. I had already tried moving here several times before. The talent pool is pretty amazing — some of my favorite well-known filmmakers live here.

Q. How did the Austin Film Meet helped you with make Crashing Down a reality? Did you find crew or cast through the Austin Film Meet?

A. I’ve met quite a few people that are talented and all about helping. The fact that we meet once a week is pretty amazing, even if I’m too busy working on movie stuff most of the time to attend. Most groups I’ve been a part of only met once a month. Austin Film Meet understands the speed of life. Hahaha, that was cheesy, but I can still see it on a bumper sticker.

Q. How can fans stay up-to-date with all Crashing Down news?

A. Keep up to date by checking the Crashing Down website http://www.crashingdown.net.

There’s a link on the right for the Facebook page so you can ‘fan’ the film.

I also have my personal blog at http://www.tesanders.com that is still mostly about film, but sometimes goes off on tangents that I think are interesting.

Thanks for a great interview Tim!