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Interview with filmmaker Chris Bodel of “ReMade” Documentary

November 22, 2011 | By | Add a Comment

Part of “Best of Chicago DIY Film Magazine,” originally posted March 21, 2011.

Jay Nolan

Hackers collaborating at the NY Maker Faire.

It is hard to be a DIY filmmaker.  You scramble for money, gear, talent, money, film-fests, support, crew, and money.  The true filmmaker, the dedicated dreamer, doesn’t let these things get in their way.  No money?  No problem.  Even if you can’t afford all the state-of-the-art gear and crew you want to get your hands on, don’t let it slow you down: take Remade: The Rebirth of the Maker Movement, a documentary in the works for example.

It started out simply as a collection of footage that Jordan Bunker (a producer on the project) had.  He took it to filmmaker friend Chris Bodel, who became the director.  They shared a passion for the uprising hacker culture, which the doc would be about.

Chris: “We (Chris, Jordan, and another future project producer Jim Burke) all decided maybe we should consider doing this…  let’s see how much money we have at the end of the week and sell some of our stuff, go fly and shoot some stuff and see what we have…”

Armed only with an iPhone on a homemade mount (you can learn how to do this yourself here, thanks to shorts Electromagnate has posted on Vimeo) they descended upon the Maker Faire New York.

True DIY filmmaking: a smartphone on a homemade mount and a ‘shoot-anything-that-moves-spirit.’

The Maker Movement, an offshoot from the DIY movement itself, is a spreading culture, thanks to the continually dismal economic climate.  More people are willing (or forced) to spend some extra time figuring out how to make their stuff last longer.  And it doesn’t just apply to your kitchen appliances, but to the film industry as well.

Chris: “All of our rigs, mounts and dollies are still either built by hand or borrowed from friends.  You have to understand when we started this project; we went in with a single iPhone.  That’s it.  No tripods, no lights, no microphones, nothing.  This project has always been about making do with what you have and living the very philosophy we are trying to promote with the film.”

Money and gear or not, they adhered to the #1 rule of cinematography: turn on a camera and point it at something.  They came away from the Maker Faire with a huge collection of footage and interviews and piled up a trailer of the characters who partake in hackerspaces.

That trailer was then posted to Kickstarter.com, easily the most popular ‘crowdfunding’ site.  The idea behind Kickstarter is to get people to collectively pledge to fund your work based on a monetary goal within a set amount of time.  If you reach your goal, you get the money.  If not, no one pays anything.  Donators are rewarded in some way for their contribution.

Chris: “The Kickstarter model empowers the makers, artists and DIY’ers of the world to take their passion to the next level and turn a profit or just take the burden of capitalism out of the equation completely.  Our plan before Kickstarter was to travel around the country with an iPhone in my 2-door hatchback during the weekends.  That would have been a five year nightmare.”

To get Kickstarter.com to work for you, you need to get the word out.

Chris: “It seems to make a lot of sense to market to a broad audience.  With something like Kickstarter, I don’t believe that is the case…  Focusing on and reaching out to a small, tightly knit community is several times more effective than just burning out promoting absolutely everywhere. A lot of the word for our Kickstarter was spread through the people we interviewed.”

Jordan Bunker (left) and Jim Burke adding a personal note in the beginning of the trailer posted on Kickstarter.com.

They succeeded hitting their modest goal of $10,000 on November 17th and have received $17,895 from 244 backers to date.

But even with funding, Remade will continue to be a project on hackers, for hackers, and by hackers.  Chris reluctantly decided to use some of the funds to move up from the iPhones; We were having some production and post-production issues with shooting on iPhones.  We tried solving these problems with different apps, even going as far as to begin coding our own.”

In the end they did purchase a Canon T2i.  The rest of the funds will go to “Tertiary items such as legal advice, DVD duplication and festival entry fees,” which might sound boring, but are essential expenses that are often forgotten by over-zealous filmmakers.  Remember, if you don’t have the money built into your budget for editing and distribution, no one will ever see your work.

So, are you ready to make your movie? Time spent saving up for that next DLSR or Apple product is time not spent making a movie.  Chances are, you already have the tools to make your movie.  Take a page from the Electromagnate Team behind Remade (and watch for it later this year) and simply start filming.  Even without a blockbusting budget, the tools are out there, and the world deserves to see your movie.

Pictures from the Electromagnate Team’s website and trailer.

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