Some of our frequently asked questions are about how to get into filmmaking. Where do you start? How do you find your way?
These are tricky questions because everyone’s path is different.
You may try your hand at corporate videos and realize you absolutely love working with clients. You may start shooting fiction films and find your calling as a cinematographer.
You never know until you start trying, so the best way to learn is to simply do it.
This is why we love sharing stories about what others in the film community are doing. We believe that this builds a stronger, more united film community. Celebrating successes, confronting challenges, and cheering one another on is the best way to build a thriving film community in the Triangle and beyond.
You are not in competition with one another as filmmakers. You are in competition with yourselves to hone your craft and become the best storytellers you can be, so that you can create beautiful cinematic experiences.
To inspire you to take action on your own filmmaking dreams we talked with Evan Kidd, an emerging filmmaker in North Carolina who just wrapped production on his first feature-length film. The film is titled Son of Clowns and was shot in North Carolina in 10 days.
You can share a word of congrats with Evan, cheer him on, or ask questions in the comments.
Enjoy the interview!
Tell us about your film. What it’s about and how it was written?
My film is entitled Son of Clowns. It’s the story of mildly famous troubled television actor Hudson Cash.
Hudson has found some success living in Los Angles but things fall apart upon learning of the cancellation of his low rated TV show. With little opportunity left, Hudson drives east returning home to North Carolina.
Upon returning home, Hudson finds that things haven’t really changed. His family still runs … a backyard circus. And to Hudson that is still weird no matter how many years he’s been gone. Hudson moves back in with his folks to figure out his next steps. And from there a lot of hilarity, drama, and missteps ensue.
In terms of the writing process it was a pretty extensive one for sure. The beginning of the film was written right after I graduated college so that was an especially transitional and influential period of my life. Lots of lessons learned, etc. Using that energy and putting it into a script was a personal goal of mine.
Additionally, this was my first feature length screenplay and it took about one year to get through the writing process. I’d chip away at it whenever I wasn’t shooting or working on something else. I’d go a month or two without writing sometimes, then pick it up and write twenty pages in an evening. That sort of thing.
What inspired you to make it?
Son of Clowns came from an extensive array of places.
The origin of the film came from me wanting to challenge myself as a writer and find a unique and interesting way to fuse heavy drama with comedy. Reveal some of the more realistic aspects of human emotion. For example, I feel as an audience you can better connect to a character in their darkest moments if you’ve had the chance to get to know them, laugh with them or at them even first. I think Breaking Bad is an example of a medium that does a great job with tone like that.
This was also by far the most personal film that I’ve written. I’ve never grown up with clowns so there is a good deal of fiction here, for sure. But there are a lot of metaphors, and even conversations and experiences in the more personal moments of the film that have come from somewhere in life. I think that’s what’s cool as a writer/director. You get to see that through off the page.
Our entire cast and crew took great care in ensuring that we got this tone right. And I am so fortunate for that.
How are you getting the film made?
I’ve had a personal goal to create a feature length narrative film here in North Carolina for years. It was just a matter of meeting the right people and making sure we could assemble a team to pull it off right.
That started when I met my producer Bradley Bethel. He’s a super talented individual with a knack for juggling. (Both literally and figuratively.)
Once we planned things out, broke down my script, and scheduled things out we very quickly saw that feature filmmaking was an entirely different beast from short form. We’ve both done feature-length documentary work, but narrative felt like learning a new language. But one that I feel so fortunate to be fluent in now because of that.
The entire film was shot in ten days. More or less no one slept during that production schedule.
That had to happen because of the various schedules of our cast and crew as a whole. In a way it forced us to actually get the vision on film. There wasn’t time for anything but our craft. Truly. But I feel we got a stronger film by trimming the fat.
We shot all over the Triangle, Wilmington, Kure Beach, and even my old stomping grounds of Greenville, N.C. Seeing so much of this great state was a true gift. I believe that the setting of your film has a direct impact on the effect of your storyline. Think Austin, T.X., in Richard Linklater’s work. I want that connection with my fellow North Carolinians.
That’s why this film’s plot is set in North Carolina too as opposed to “fictional-town” USA. Bring a spotlight to independent filmmaking here in N.C. is important to me. People can still create indie films even though we don’t have formal film incentives in state anymore. It’s just a matter of how bad do you want to create your art?
Regarding budget and plans going forward now that the film is shot, it’ll be a trip for sure. One that I can’t wait to embark on!
We’ll edit then send it to the film festival circuit over the next year. But we shot the film solely on our own funding last month. Credit cards, months of planning for the expenses that we occurred. But again. It’s a matter of how bad do you want to make a film. We were lucky in that our entire cast and crew volunteered for this project, simply because they saw something in the story. Sure, we still had a lot of gear, equipment, travel, food, and other miscellaneous fees but we’re indie.
We make it work. That is probably the most humbling experience from it all to me honestly. Seeing people come together for the love of art.
What are three of your biggest lessons from working on this movie?
Thats a great question. I told this to everyone while we were shooting but I could easily write a book based on the lessons and experiences that came out to me while creating Son of Clowns.
But I suppose first I’d say find people who relate or want to relate to the roles of their character. I find that actors who have a connection, personal or otherwise to your story will be most invested. I lucked out in finding everyone on this cast and crew, but working with prior connections from my past works like April Vickery and Eric Hartley, or meeting new talent like our lead Adam Ferguson, and co-stars Paul Kilpatrick and Anne-Marie Kennedy was just amazing.
All of these folks and countless amazing others who I could list out all day gave their all to this project. I love working with an actor who fires back with more energy on take five or wants to collaborate with me. People who care.
Second, find time to say thank you. Multiple times. This is key.
When making a feature you are going to be spending a lot of time with everyone you work with. And you want to make sure you let people know, especially at the indie level that you care for their well being and help in making your film. Thanks doesn’t really go out of style. Especially if one of your cast/crew nails a take. Let them know.
Lastly, I would say to truly and honestly be sure YOU care about your script. Filmmaking is all about story telling at the end of the day. Your films despite whatever you may plan for become you. They’re our babies.
Be sure you want to tell this story to everyone on the planet. You have to be that passionate about it. Because thats what will get you through a 4:00 AM editing session, of which you’ll surely have plenty.
Just honor the story you are setting out to tell. You’ll find the rest will find it’s own way.
Evan Kidd is a filmmaker and founder of RockSet Productions. He earned a degree in Cinematic Arts and Media Production from East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C. Evan released Spazz Out!, a 35-minute documentary film on local music festival Spazz Fest in Greenville, N.C., in 2013. Displacement Welcomed was an official selection of the Viewster Film Festival based out of Zürich, Switzerland.
Do you or someone you know have an interesting project to share? Please tell us about it. You will inspire others while simultaneously broaden your reach, so that you can build a solid audience for your work. Use the comments section below or our contact page to share the details!