How I directed my first feature film in 15 days.

After 4 years of development, on August 25th 2013, I completed principal photography of my first live-action feature film, Family Party.

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A lot of people have been coming up to me and asking me how it all went, and honestly I don’t really know. Looking back, it feels like a giant blur as I was running on pure adrenaline the entire time. In fact, three days before we wrapped, my brain blew a fuse and I was directing with a full blown fever. But not even high body temperature could stop me as all I could see was the finish line from the start. I give all the credit to my crew who battled the odds with me and pushed through a tornado. And we somehow survived. This experience was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Here are some quick facts:

1. We shot an entire feature film in just 15 days.
2. We did not cut a single scene from the ridiculous schedule. The entire movie was photographed based on the shot-list I created with Richie, my cinematographer.
3. We shot out one of our main leads who left for college right in the middle of our shooting schedule. What this means is we were able to fully film all of his scenes (out of order) all the way up until just a few hours before he got on his flight. Crazy, right?
4. We shot the core of the film – the party scenes – in just four days.
5. I grew a rally beard and it was awesome.

I give tremendous credit to my AD Alun and our Producer Emily. To this day, I have no idea how they did it or how they dealt with the bullshit that I presented to them in a bow-tie. These two are rock stars and steered this ship in the right direction through daily storms.

But it was the entire crew who set the tone with energy, enthusiasm, and an “in-it-to-win-it” attitude. They are all my family and I could not have pushed my way up this mountain without them. We are the “little engine that could”. Seeing them everyday at 8am with smiles after the shit-show that was the day before put fuel in my tank and made me want to keep going. I’m getting emotional just thinking about my crew. I love you guys a lot. You are all very dear to me.

The entire cast was also wonderful and the performances were phenomenal. The youth in the film really knocked the wind out of me with their transformations. There were times where I didn’t do any directing, but just watched the monitors with my mouth wide open. Being that young and understanding character, subtext, and objectives just blew my mind. I absolutely love when actors don’t act, but instead just be. This consistently happened on set and it still gives me chills thinking about it.

Other than that, we had our usual hurdles of shooting extremely fast with a small budget, which caused adult actor tensions with schedules. But everything worked out in the end. I was raised on one principal: “if you change your attitude, you change your luck”. So even when the heavens rained down on me, I found a way to keep the sun shining. I thank my parents for giving me a heart that beats so strong, because without it, this set would have been one hot mess. The only real other casualty on set was when Chris Nealy, our sound mixer, sat on my polarized Oakley sunglasses on the second day of filming (I’m not mad Chris, I’m just impressed with how much force your rear has, haha!).

To tell you the truth, it feels good to have a feature film in the can (or in this case, hard drives). Of course I would do things differently if I could, but to be honest, the ride was awesome. I know a lot of filmmaker friends who have given up on their passion and I give myself credit for taking the punches, not giving up, and jumping off the deep end. You see, I’m not good at math or science or business and the only thing I know how to do is tell stories. I chose a profession you can’t quantify with your brain, but instead you need to feel with your heart. It’s been hard trying to teach people to stop using their brains through the four years I’ve been in development (I wrote the film in December 2009) but I battled the odds, and rose like a phoenix.

And we’re still rising. We’ve only climbed one part of the mountain and still need your help. We’re still raising funds to complete post-production. Now that the film is shot, we need to assemble the giant puzzle. We’ve shot close to 2 TB of footage so organizing, assembling, and editing are the first steps to post-production, followed by color, audio, and the music score (which are all just the tip of the editing iceberg). Our goal is to submit our film to some of the top film festivals around, such as SXSW and Sundance. We have a unique story with a niche cast (made up of Indian-American teens and adults – which you don’t see everyday!) and with the right help in the kitchen; we can cook something really fresh together.

We need to close our budget of 95k and raise an additional 45k to edit and release Family Party. Here is how you can help.

Fractured Atlas:

1. Follow the link to Fractured Atlas, our non-profit partner, and donate to help bring our film to the big screen.
2. Donating to Family Party is tax deductible.
3. A lot of you backed us on Kickstarter. Unfortunately, we were not able to hit our KS goal and did not get any of the money raised. We really need you to help support us by donating back to Fractured Atlas

Investment

1. We also have investment opportunities available in exchange for equity. Please inquire with us for our business plan with workflow and projections: familypartythefilm@gmail.com.

And since you’ve come this far already check out our website, our facebook page, or just follow the #familypartyfilm to see how much awesome was created the month of August. Come join our party.

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Ps. Shout out to my wife for being super rad, patient, and understanding. This is all for you.

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