16 August 1999 | Cine-2
A tale of low budget film-making
And for those of you who didn't believe that you could shoot a film for practically nothing, even when you heard of Mr. Rodriguez, then 'The Accountant' is just another example. We shot this in just under two weeks on Super16mm - I had never touched a film camera before. We used practicles for the lighting. Fuji exterior film doubled up for the interior shots. Technicolor laughed when we delivered one piece of film, which I had to cut when unloading the film from the camera (it was my first time), in a biscuit tin. I had trouble getting a edit suite to let me come in and use an Avid to cut the film because they said I'd need an editor because I'd never used/seen one before. I cut the film, put all the dialogue in, SFX and music in seven days. I had to cut the script down from its original 85-minute length due to the absolute ZERO assistance we got from the British Film Industry. We were shot down at every avenue. Any funding we sort, assistance or equipment we needed were not given. So the only way that we could get this made was with our own money (finished cost: around £3,500). A lot of the media people also expressed disbelief that we could accomplish what we set out to do. Now I left film school to make this movie because at 'film school' they made us make models to animate, of which you'd get five minutes using the equipment. So I came on to make this movie totally alone with just Mr. Calver as my producing partner and star of the film. Now to make a film you don't need film school - you just need some cash. An hour or two with the camera people at Arri (who, BTW, gave us a VERY good deal, thanks guys), a glance at your light meter here and there and you are well on your way. Sound is probably the biggest headache in such a production. Around 50% of the dialogue was recorded while we shot, the rest wild later on. We used a Sony Minidisk recorder for all sound. Why? Few reasons: it is cheap, it is digital and you can chapter what you recorded for instant access. In the finished film the only negative comments that I have received is that at some points during the film it is very 'quiet'. Now I can put this down to 'artistic integrity' or some other crap but they may be right. If we were to do this again I'd leave that minidisk recording AT ALL TIMES. Wild sound is very important. It also made me realise how important that Foley stage is for footsteps, sounds that you take for granted when watching a film. A tip for the editing: go non-linear. It is really so easy and painless to cut a film, any film, that way. Also, ignore any 'suggestions' that you'll need an editor to work the system for you. Do it yourself, it's easy, it's fun and you have complete creative control. So now it is complete and I have seen it several hundred times (you will if you are the editor) and the question I'm always asked is "well, what do you think?". I always give the same answer: it is impossible to stand back and give a reasoned response. When I watch it I watch it critically and can see the errors and what should have gone in there and how it never turns out as good as it was in your mind. Other people have commented very favorably, though.