This is a transcript of SYS Podcast Episode 386: With Writer/Director Marcelo Grion.
Ashley: Welcome to Episode #386 of the Selling Your Screenplay podcast. I’m Ashley Scott Meyers, screenwriter and blogger over at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today I’m interviewing writer and director, Marcelo Grion, who just completed a Sci-Fi film called Prototype. It is a big epic Sci-Fi film with lots of special effects. Check out the trailer if you haven’t already had a chance to, I will link to it in the show notes. He did it all without a background in special effects. He just had a vision and figured out how to make it happen. It took him nearly 20 years to complete this project. It’s an incredible story of just hard work and determination. So stay tuned for that interview.
If you like this episode, please help me out by giving me a review in iTunes or leaving me a comment on YouTube or re-tweeting the podcast on Twitter or liking or sharing it on Facebook. These social media shares really do help spread word about the podcast, so they’re very much appreciated. Any websites or links that I mention in the podcast can be found on my blog in the show notes. I also publish a transcript with every episode in case you’d rather read the show or look at something later on. You can find all the podcast show notes at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcast, and then just look for Episode Number #386. If you want my free guide, How to Sell a Screenplay In Five Weeks, you can pick that up by going to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide.
It’s completely free, you just put in your email address and I’ll send you a new lesson once per week for five weeks, along with a whole bunch of bonus lessons. I teach the whole process of how to sell your screenplay in that guide. I’ll teach you how to write a professional logline and query letter, and how to find agents, managers and producers who are looking for material. Really, it’s everything you need to know to sell your screenplay, just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide.Quick few words about what I’m working on. So we’re still meeting with distributors and sales agents on The Rideshare Killer. No decision has been made, but I think we are definitely getting closer.
We’ve met, at this point we’ve probably had meetings with 12 or 15 of these folks. So we got a pretty good picture of sort of where our film is gonna fit in the marketplace. And now it’s a matter of just vetting some of these people and kind of figuring out which one we think is the best fit. We’ve gotten into a bunch of festivals now. It actually looks like our film is going to premiere actually before this episode publishes. We’re showing the film at the Houston Horror Festival, which ends on June 27th. So that’s very exciting. Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend. I’m actually taking a trip back to North Carolina to see my parents. I’m sure a lot of people are in the same situation.
I haven’t seen my parents now since before COVID. So I’ve got the trip planned and there’s just no way that I could get away for the festival. We are also going to Action On Film, which is in late July in Las Vegas. I think it’s like July 26th, 27th. I’ll have some updates as time goes on. If you listen to the podcast, you may remember I actually went there with my past film, The Pinch. It was a great festival, a lot of fun. The guy that runs it really has, he creates a real sort of party atmosphere and just really makes the whole festival a lot of fun. So I’m looking forward to that one. Again, if you live in Vegas, it’d be great to see you come out to the show. I’m gonna definitely plan on being there for that one.
And I’ll just keep everyone posted as we get into more festivals. We got into another festival, I can’t remember what it’s called, but they’re not gonna do like an in-person thing. They’re just moving it all online because of COVID. So I think we’ll probably just politely decline to be a part of that one. I just, I don’t think there’s a big upside for a film like us being available online. I think that could potentially hurt our sales chances down the road if a festival starts screening it online and everybody can see it. So I don’t think we’re gonna do that, but hopefully there’ll be some more festivals that we do get into that have in-person events. There are a number of festivals that we’ve heard from that have like pushed their times back.
So we’re still in contention with many of those, but they’re not gonna take place until later in the year, hopefully once everyone is sort of recovered from COVID and feel safe going out. I know there’s just a lot of things that are up in the air. And I know as a business owner myself, it’s been hard to plan things. I would love to do an in-person live event for the SYS Six-Figure Screenplay Contest. But I’m just really hesitant to go and start like looking for a place and schedule a day. You got to put down deposits and you really got to start doing a lot of work and with everything in flux, I really understand that these festivals are kind of in a weird position, but a lot of them have been real good about communicating to us, and they’re just planning on we’re gonna go early next year or later in this year.
And that’s totally fine. I think as filmmakers, I think we can kind of roll with that. As filmmakers I don’t, or as a filmmaker, I don’t think I’m all that happy about the festivals to say, “Oh, we’re just gonna do it again online.” I think there is a sort of a value for the filmmakers to have this in-person event and really celebrate the thing. I don’t think it’s the same for an online event. And I don’t think if a lot of festivals go online, I just, I don’t think people are gonna have the same enthusiasm about them. I mean, we can all put our movies on YouTube or Vimeo or wherever and have our own festivals and screen to everybody. So I’m just not sure what the value in these online festivals really is.
But who knows, maybe people will be creative and kind of come up and will find a new model for festivals, and there will be some value for the filmmakers. Anyways, those are the main things I’ve been working on here the last few weeks. Now let’s get into the main segment. Today I’m interviewing writer and director Marcelo Grion. Here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Marcelo, to the Selling Your Screenplay podcast. I really appreciate you coming on the show with me today.
Marcelo: Hey, Ashley, how are you? Thanks for having me on your show. I was looking forward to talk to you one of these days and this is the day.
Ashley: Yeah. Perfect. Perfect. Well, thank you. So to start out, maybe you can tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up and how did you get interested in entertainment business?
Marcelo: Sure. I was like every kid, playing with toys and watching movies and kind of, I was attracted to like Sci-Fi and I was following all the big movies and going to the movie theater. And I started writing little scripts and so I decided to make a short film, and then eventually when I was in high school, I was kind of like, “Well, what am I gonna do with my life?” I mean, it’s almost like, “You know what, I’m gonna continue what I was trying to do when I was a kid. I’m gonna follow my passion, my dream, I’m gonna go into film.” So I move up. I was in Argentina, by the way. I was… I move up to the big city, the capital, Buenos Aires, and I signed up for a very expensive, the most unbelievable film school you could possibly put together in Buenos Aires Fundación Universidad del Cine.
And it was too expensive for me, so I couldn’t really finish it, but I got my feet real wet. And it was, I’m a go getter. So I did meet a lot of famous people and I cried all the way home because I couldn’t continue. Yeah, it’s a real story. So anyway, then I decided, okay, I’m gonna make a great short film. I’m gonna make it the best that I can make. And I did. It took me two years, and then I put it on the, I have a little publicity there, and I put it in movie theaters and it was a hit. I became famous, my people recognized me on the streets. I was 22, 23, I think. It was great. Two weeks later, I took the flight, I came to the United States and I became a dishwasher. So I went from having a suit and a tie and talking about how good I am making movies, to wash dishes in Hollywood.
And that’s how… and I wanted to make a movie in Hollywood in English. That was my challenge. Move to the United States… Because to be cut to the chase here, what I really, really wanted to do in the United States, was to find funding. You know, find financing. And I’ve been writing for the studios before or producers that I had, the Hollywood… remember the Hollywood Creative Directory, the blue book?
Ashley: Yeah, absolutely. I used that. Yeah.
Marcelo: Yeah. Well, I called absolutely everybody on that book, and I sent faxes and letters up from far away. A couple of big companies actually replied, which it was nice. But everybody, one guy will say, “No, you need to be around here. You can just be in another country.” So it’s okay. And then I went to see a big producer in my, you know, and he told me, “No, no. Sci-Fi, forget about it. It’s not us. This is not for here. It’s never gonna happen for you. If you wanna give it a shot, go to Hollywood, knock yourself out, learn the language, get involved with those productions and good luck to you.” And I cannot like burn my, the ship when I don’t… Then I started working in the smaller films, I learned my way out, like PA and assistant director, independent.
Then I was like, you know what, this is great, but I really wanna make my own movie. And I had a screenplay. Again, we’re talking about your… by the way, I wanna make sure people know you’re a great guy, and I love what you do.
Ashley: Well, thank you. I do appreciate that.
Marcelo: And you’re like almost 400 postcards, you’re gonna get like… you have to have this, people have to recognize what you’re doing, because you’re really helping a lot of people to polish their screenplays and get actually stuff down and get it out there. So that’s absolutely amazing.
Ashley: Yeah, well, thank you.
Marcelo: So I was trying to, I was pitching my screenplay, which is a Sci-Fi, a big, big one. A big budget film. So I got in touch with a European from Star Wars, The Phantom Menace, we had coffee, and the guy goes, “This is good, but you know what, you’re not gonna make it. You don’t know anybody. You’ve never made a movie. This isn’t gonna happen.” So anyway, he said, “If you wanna do something with it, you should get a trailer. Shoot a trailer, 35 millimeter, papapa, and then you pitch it around and hopefully you get your connections and someone will notice you and go from there.” So I went ahead and hired a guy, and we were doing… and it came up to be a big, like a chunk of money, to do a little thing.
Like, I was…I was like, you know what, if I’m gonna spend that much money, I’d rather shoot a small film. Like, try to do a little, to get… So I started working on the idea of doing my first feature, and it was okay. And then I have, I started working very heavily in restaurants. I became a waiter full-time. I had money saved and stuff and said, “You know what, I’m gonna start shooting this movie.” So I went to Kodak, I bought film, I used all my cash, like a lot of money. I had a lot of my stash. A lot of money. Went to Kodak, purchased all the film that I could buy, 60 millimeter, came back home. My roommate was like, “What are you doing?” I put it on the fridge. I said, “Well, we’re gonna shoot a movie.” “What movie?” I don’t know yet.”
Ashley: So, and what year was this? Why were you buying film as opposed to just getting a RED or a…
Marcelo: Well that’s yeah, good question. Yeah, this is a long time ago in the making. It’s been… I started in 1998. So that’s when I first started shooting The Prototype. And then I had a small office. This is the thing, I was working two places, and then I sub-rented an office on Sunset & Highland, the 22nd floor, after hours. From 5:00 PM until 6:00 AM, that office was mine, and it had access to anything I wanted. So when I had meetings, people would come and meet… I was waiting tables during the day, when it was 12 at night, I was there, and it was like, “Oh, this guy’s good. What is he doing?” So I was pitching my project and talking and so that’s how I got involved with, I did my casting, I got my first… I hired a writer, then we ended up working together, Steve, the first writer that I had, and then he actually passed away.
Ashley: Oh, no.
Marcelo: And then… yeah. And then we had a good a good idea, a solid screenplay. Then when I started shooting, 60 millimeter, and if you’re not familiar with film, it’s very expensive when you’re actually shooting a film. So I started shooting in film. I had a great DP, Pedro, from Spain, that I met at Loyola, Marymount working in two films. Then we started putting it all together and I got the cast. And then this is the 101 in film, you don’t have to go to film school or anywhere people will remind you. I said, “Who’s in the movie.” Like everybody asks me number one question, “Who’s in the movie?” the actors, they wanna know. “What’s the name?” And I knew that, but I could not hire a name. I tried. Let’s put it this way, but you have to have certain amount of, a level of filmmaking and also have enough money to put it in an escrow account, and book the talent if they wanna work with you and so on.
So I did and so I decided, okay, you know what, that’s not gonna stop me. I’m gonna pick the best actors that I think are gonna fit in my movie. And I went ahead and cast it and I signed all these actors, and the first two guys that I liked for the role and callbacks and stuff. And then Mark… I have, the two actors are, I wanna mention them now. So it’s Mark Vasconcellos, plays one of the lead characters. Then the other actor is Frank Spinelli. They’re both great, and they’ve been doing a lot of independent work for all this time. Then, so I started shooting the movie and it came real well. And then I ran out of money and that’s how we got started. Unfortunately it took me forever to raise money.
Ashley: So how much did you… so this initial thing, how much of the film did you get shot? And was it more like, the Sci-Fi, the trailer that I saw, it looked like a lot of it would probably be on green screen and there’ll be a lot of effects. So what did you actually shoot in this first period?
Marcelo: Well, that was just 16 millimeters. So I got 60 percent of the movie in 16 millimeter overtime. I went to Italy and I brought the actors there. This is in 2001. We shot another piece of the film and it was 16 millimeter. Then I show it to a couple of sales people, distribution, and they’re like, “You told me it’s a Sci-Fi? There’s not even one effect in this clip.” I said, “Well, how many do I have to have, 10?”“No, at least a hundred.” “A hundred?” “Yeah. Through the movie. A hundred effects.” I said, “Are you crazy? I mean, I can barely put the movie together.” “Well, that’s, if you wanna sell it as a Sci-Fi, you need effects.” So I got in, I was going through a divorce and all sorts of personal things going on.
Eventually, I got… a friend of mine came through with money and he became an investor. So I got another guy, I worked extra, extra, extra hard and I put all this money and we got to shoot in six… sorry, in RED cam for the green screen, which it was in 2010. Then, and you wanna go, well, the question is…
Ashley: Now, you’re still using the same actors. You’re gonna try and still use some of this footage, the 16 millimeter footage. At this point, your actors have aged 10 years or something.
Marcelo: Yes. I love it. That was part of the plan. When I wrote the screenplay, I was like prepared to whatever happens. It actually worked out so well. It actually makes the movie so much interesting to see the actor, it’s not makeup. It’s actually they’re aging. It’s actually happening. And then with the VFX, I was able to do a lot of work otherwise I couldn’t have done. I’ve tried, I mean, I’m not a fan of VFX to be honest with you. I mean, I like VFX work, but I don’t… it’s like, I like the VFX work that you see on a commercial on TV. It’s a three, four or five shots, they’re brilliant and that’s it. When the entire movie becomes an entire 30 minutes of VFX and green screen and there’s too much going on, it’s too distracting to me.
I’d rather build the set. I’d rather have the practical effect. I’d rather focus more on the storyline, on performance. And then eventually you add what you need instead of going, “Okay guys, do whatever you want and add a hundred spaceships. And then it’s gonna be an epic battle for 15 minutes.” Okay, and that’s all it is. It’s a roller coaster of 15 minutes. I’m not a fan of that. I know it’s very attractive to a lot of people, and probably that brings a lot of people to the movie theater. I’m trying to find a balance. So that’s what I was doing. Anyway, it’s my first movie, but still I was thinking, I cannot really get carried away. Then unfortunately the way it was shot, it was not shot properly. I trusted the team that did it, the green screen, and it came back, the footage was like, it had a lot of problems. Oh my God! So that put me in a bad situation.
Ashley: Just quickly, what were some of those problems? Like what are some of the problems when you shoot on green screen and then…?
Marcelo: Green screen, yeah. For example soft focus, you have the spills when you light it, then when you move the camera, the tracking, you got to be careful, there’s so much stuff to track. Because it looks amazing on the monitor. It looks amazing. And then when you actually process the whole, process it and then you look at it and you want to try to cut it, the rotoscoping, and then okay, well, it becomes blurry and it’s hard to match the shots. There’s a lot of information you have… in order to do a great green screen photography, you need a lot of time and that’s it. You just take your time, and that’s gonna cost you a lot. But if you do it slowly with the right person, the right team, and you keep checking what you’re doing, and you go back and you [inaudible 00:17:26] on the effects and you go back and you… and everything matches and then you’re good and the lighting is good and everything’s good.
You do it again. Okay, fine. Then you keep going. If you wanna do 10 shots in one day and you’re trying to get it all, you might make, probably you’re gonna make technical mistakes, and then you… We, in the end we fix it in post. It took me a long time. It goes through lot of different things to fix stuff, but we got it done. And it looks good. I like it. I like it. I mean…
Ashley: So just a couple of follow-up questions and then we’ll dig more into The Prototype. I’m curious now, with some hindsight, would there ever be a reason for you to go back and shoot in 16 millimeter? Like is there some advantages to that in this day and age? Is there anything you would do and you would shoot on film?
Marcelo: Yeah, I would love to. I mean, unfortunately film is going away. I mean, there’s…
Ashley: But you like the aesthetic of it, but it’s more of just the technical stuff is too difficult, to expensive.
Marcelo: Yeah, it’s also, when you pull the trigger and you start hitting the tchtchtchtch, the chassis, the thing rolling, I mean, you feel the moment. You’re like it’s real. It’s a photographic moment, it’s… The video is more like, you’re capturing digital. You’re like… And you can capture all day long as long as you have enough memory, you can capture and capture and capture. Yeah. I mean, from 10 years ago to today, probably the technology is amazing. Like the cameras today are, and probably in 10 years from now, we’re gonna be like, whoa. But I mean, I think we’re losing a lot of the romance and the glamour of filmmaking. So I’m one of those guys, like, sorry, when I was in film school, that short period, I actually edit in 35 millimeters. I was with a mobile actually carrying film.
Ashley: Huh? Yeah. I’m curious, you mentioned at the top of the interview, when you got to LA, you were doing some PA and AD work as well as dishwashing and eventually being a waiter. What do you recommend? I know there’s a lot of writers that are in this situation of having to have that survival job. Do you recommend, like, why didn’t you continue in the production side? Why not be a PA and AD and at least pick up some production experience and try and make your living that way as opposed to being a waiter or busboy?
Marcelo: Well, I was working in a Corman, Roger Corman, producer, you know? Concorde, New Horizons?
Marcel: I got in that studio, I was sending faxes like every day. Calling, calling nobody pick up, calling, calling, fax. Then one day I say, “You know what? I’m gonna go there,” and I just took the bus. I went there and the security guard calls, and they said, “Yeah, excuse me. He’s waiting for you. Go, actually, he’s waiting for you.” I’m like, “What?” “Yeah, a second please. Go.” I’m like, “Oh my God, I’m going in.” So I went in and the guy goes, “Oh, hi, Marcelo. I just got your resume. Are you available tomorrow?” I’m like, “Yeah.” “Well, orientation tomorrow. We start a new production. Are you available?” I say, “Yes.” “Okay. See you tomorrow. 8:00 AM.” And the next day when I went, when I went the next day, everybody’s asking me, “How did you get in? Who do you know?”
I said, “I sent a fax for a long time and I call and then show up at their front gate.” “Nah, come on, bro. Who do you know?” I’m like, “I don’t know anybody. Who are you?” So yes. And I learned a lot and it was a great experience, but it wasn’t… I was like doing all… PA, a lot of things. I was driving the director back home, picking him up. I used to walk with a walkie-talkie blocking the trailer, the hallway, this and that. I was with the main stars, giving them their coffee and whatever. I was doing blocking, a lot of things. And [inaudible 00:21:08] and stuff like that. I mean, it was fun. It was fun, but it wasn’t… I came here to be a director. I didn’t come here to be a PA. I mean, and that’s great. If you wanna be a writer, write.
You wanna sell, well, pitch and pitch harder. If you’re not getting any bites, pitch again. Pitch to different people, go back, rewrite, keep writing, pitch again. In the end, if you give up, they win and you go home with nothing. If you finish your screenplay, great accomplishment, get it with a service, get it all, double check everything, make triple check. It’s good. You like, you’re proud of it. It’s your best work, put it forward, you know what I mean? Sit with a movie. I mean, I could have finished this movie a long time ago, but I didn’t like the way it was coming together. I was working with some people, I’m not gonna mention names, but for VFX and stuff, and they were not giving me their best work. I was paying them by the way.
Okay? I wanna make sure that everybody that listens to the podcast now in 10 years, I paid everybody. I worked in a restaurant. I made tips, I save the money and I pay you. You told me how much, and that’s the money I pay you. That’s what I can afford. That’s what you agree on. Now, when you come to perform on set or on location, some of these people didn’t give me their best, their best work. They’re content with making what they’re making and doing what they’re doing. And I’m like, okay. And that’s the problem with independent filmmaking. A lot of these issues that I had technical, for example, they could have been solved if the people that were… all these moving parts, they were actually… If they told me the truth at the beginning, “Yes, I know how to operate this equipment. Yes, I know the software extremely well.
My demo is here then can you…?” “Yes.” We meet again, and then, okay, I hire you. I believe you, you’re good. Perfect. We’re gonna get along well. And then when I see the footage, two, three months later, I’m like, “Dude, this is horrible. What happened?” And there’s no way for me to go back and reshoot. You know what mean? I already spent all the money. That’s the thing with doing, when you’re like in a constraint with your money. It’s like you go through all… it’s important just to stay focused, you’re making a lot of decisions. And in the end, it’s your passion, in my case, it’s my passion that kept me going, you know what I mean?
Ashley: Yeah. So let’s dig into The Prototype and really talk about the production and how it all came together for you. Maybe to start out, you can give us a quick pitch or a log line. What is the log line for The Prototype?
Marcelo: For example the ones I’ve been using is, an FBI agent is tracking down the disappearance of people behind a church, and he comes across a blue liquid and that blue liquid is used to, it’s being tested on humans to create super soldiers and there are aliens behind this whole operation. Then he comes across it and survives it and then he becomes the prototype. So that was kind of like, I wasn’t really pitching it to anybody. I was pitching to myself. But kind of the story was like you asked me what the actors, it’s been, over time it’s been changing. Because I was adapting the story to the events of the time. Sometimes I had the opportunity to shoot for three, four days, and then sometimes I was only able to shoot one or two days.
And then one of my actors quit, one of the guys that I hired quit. He shot half the movie with me, and then he quit. He said, “I don’t shoot anymore movies. I’m done.” He gave up. So that made me rewrite the whole thing. I hired another guy to write. And then we never used his material because the actor quit. I was like, oh my God. Now what? So but it’s a matter of like planning the movie from the very beginning to come up, like to be a Sci-Fi thriller more than a… it’s not, like I said, it’s not like Star Wars with a lot of effects. It’s more like a, think about it like a one percent of Blade Runner, if you wanna be more… You know, that was the… And then eventually it became a little more than that, more than one percent. It started growing.
So at one point, I was like, okay, yeah. Well, I need the actors to keep going. I had a meeting with them and they were like, “Yeah, we’ll keep going.” Because it’s like a feature film. I said, “I don’t have enough money, I don’t know how long it’s gonna take me.” And then the idea of the movie was like to prove my talent as a first feature film. It’s kind of like what happened, I did try to get funding and so people know. I mean, I even tried which I’m not a fan of crowdfunding. One of my guys goes, “No, you have to try, you have to do it.” I’m like, “Okay.” So I tried it out for just, I didn’t get any money by the way. But there were a lot of people like, “Oh, I’ll give you a hundred dollars and you give me a t-shirt and tickets to the movie and I want a producer credit.”
I’m like, “For a hundred dollars? Everything?” “Yeah, yeah. And you invite me to the premier.” I said, “Okay, well, a hundred dollars. I mean, what I’m gonna do with a hundred dollars?” I mean, I can’t. It’s not gonna cover anything. So it’s like, you know what, forget it. I really worked, extra, extra hard, take a business loan, low interest and then work hard to pay it back and then get it going.
Ashley: I’m curious, now that you’ve been through this process with the green screen shooting, sort of in blocks, what are… and this is really a sort of a writer question. What are some things that writers should maybe avoid if they’re trying to write like a low budget Sci-Fi thriller? What are some things that they should avoid because they’ll be difficult and expensive, versus what are some of the Sci-Fi thriller things that maybe are not that expensive, but we might think they’re expensive, but things that writers should do to increase the production value?
Marcelo: Well, in my case it was 16 millimeter, the look of the film, the location.
Ashley: You’re saying that was expensive. So probably you wouldn’t do it again.
Marcelo: Well, I mean, I knew it was expensive, but I wanted to have that look. So for a production value I wanted to… back in ‘98, probably it was not like a lot of choices for high HD video cameras, probably were still in development, but when I started the movie, it was like, okay, 16… I checked, the price of the film was like, okay, well that 11 minutes I can. I’m like, I did the math and then I have to process this much feet. And then you’re going to [inaudible 00:28:02] and said, “Okay, it’s gonna be this much. Oh my God. Okay.” And then I only can do, like, my a ratio was like 2:1 or 3:1, which is nothing. Usually we’re talking 15, 20, 30 takes, to get the right one, but that involves more days. Anyway, that was what I wanted, to have the look.
So if you’re shooting out, like rarely today, you’re gonna write for someone who’s gonna be shooting in HD, so you don’t have that, so you’re gonna have a great look. So forget the, there’s no film. So that’s one you. So you already got the look, so locations, what sort of locations, and then I mean, there’s a lot of cheap stuff you can do…
Ashley: Are there things, for instance, are there things that are difficult, like space battles versus fist fights on a spaceship? Planets, spaceships, shooting at each other as they’re flying around planets? What are some of those things that are more difficult and less difficult? Just to give us some idea. I really don’t have a lot of experience with these sort of projects, and so I’m just really curious.
Marcelo: Well, me neither. I learned actually as I was doing it. I was like, remember that guy who I told you, about the producer, he wanted like a hundred effects?
Marcelo: Well, I ended up having 300. So yeah, I went overboard. So I was like, okay. And then, we’re talking 300 effects. I went to different quotes and different companies. Like, so this is $2,000,000. I’m like, “No, I can’t, there’s no way I’m gonna pay for two million. There’s no way. I can’t. Better find another solution.” But it goes back to the name actors. If you have name actors, the name actor will attract the financing you need to cover those $2,000,000. So you will have the three, four, five million dollars you need to have the movie. But in visual effects, I will say a lot of preproduction, which I didn’t have that luxury. I mean, you have to have a lot of planning. A lot of trials and getting familiar with equipment, the set, have time to set up the lighting right, the props, the wardrobe, make sure you have all, everything.
You know what you’re doing basically, have a, more than one time go through the whole thing again, do it again, do it again. Then in post-production, you have to have a, basically an anatomy of people. Because rotoscoping alone, which is cutting out the character out of the green screen, that’s gonna take you a long time. And if it’s, we’re talking like, a feature film, so how many shots do you have? Like hundreds. So you have to make sure that… well, so you can send it to India like I did once to try to get it down there, which is the cheapest way. Or you can do it in the United States or Canada, and then you know how people work on it. But you have to have a small crew because here everybody wants to… the wages are higher, so you have to have…
There’s no way you can do it with those two guys. I mean, I tried with the first time, the second time, and it was gonna take five years. And I told the guy, “It’s fine. I can wait five years, let’s do it.” He goes, “No, are you kidding me? I’m not gonna wait five years working on this.” You know what I mean? “But I’ll pay you. I’ll pay you the money.” “No, it’s okay. I don’t wanna do it.” I said, “Okay.” Well, so you have to… so you need an army. You need a lot more than… You need at least 10 to 20 people just to, so it will take you a few months to put it all together quickly. And then you have to have great, great VFX artists, the actual designs, you know. Small studio is gonna, they’re gonna charge you for all the designs, all the time they spend, they’re gonna bill you for everything.
Then you have to have render, rendering machines. You have to have a farm because these effects consume a lot of the power. And then, you want it to look like Star Wars, well, or try to, or one percent of Star Wars? You need more than one computer. You need at least, 20, 30, 50, 60 computers, just to give you that power so you get the best result. And that costs a lot money.
Ashley: Yeah. I’m sure. I’m curious. So now you’ve been through this process, what’s next for you? What are you gonna start working on next? Do you have another Sci-Fi epic you wanna get into production?
Marcelo: I do. The one, the script that I was telling you when I moved up first time to United States. Right now I have Fantastic Films International, they’re representing The Prototype, Fred and Roxanne. So, and they’re working on the sales of this movie. So basically right now, what I’m doing is promoting the film with a trailer that you saw, which it’s getting good reception. I put it out like a week.
Ashley: Yeah, and what is the release schedule gonna be like? Is it gonna be on Video On Demand pretty soon or?
Marcelo: Well, I mean, I know they’re negotiating with some people so I’m waiting to see what… So we also have the Cannes, the film market. The Cannes Film Market at the beginning of July for international. And then hopefully, we’ll get all those sales in one place and the movie will be out everywhere soon. It’s a first movie for me, so actually when, if it’s out and you can get to see it, it’s great. You know what I mean? Any medium. I would love to have it in a movie theater, it actually plays really well in a movie theatre. We tested it and it plays really well. The sound is professional, the photography, we did a 12-week correction on all the color. It looks amazing. I’ve been working on the editing for a long time, so everything is worked, frame by frame.
And what makes the story, the film is a story, that’s what makes the movie. The storyline is what makes the movie. I mean, it’s not the effects, the locations are good, everything else is good, but the storyline is what makes the movie. You finish the movie and like, okay, you don’t feel cheated. You feel like, okay, it’s a low budget, but it’s okay. It was worth the time. It’s good.
Ashley: Yeah. For sure, for sure.
Marcelo: I’m not hyping it, you know what I mean? I’m telling you the actual… but I think in some moments it’s really good, I have to say. I was like, “Oh, this is good.” I wish I had more money. I wish I had the chance, the opportunity to do it in a more controlled environment, but maybe the next one when I get the financing. That’s the goal. So the next project will be the one that gets financing.
Ashley: Got you. What’s the best way for people to keep up with what you’re doing? Twitter, Facebook, a blog, anything you’re comfortable sharing, I will round up for the show notes and put those in the…
Marcelo: Thank you. Well, thank you again for your time. Thank you so much. The best way will be, I have a Facebook page for the company Energia Films Corporation, or my email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or you can Google my name and it shows up and you have many, many links to websites and stuff that I have there. You can always find me. I’m always online.
Ashley: Perfect. Well Marcelo, I really think this is an inspirational story. I just applaud people like you that just get out there and make things happen. That’s really what I’ve tried to do with this podcast, is just show people that we can all get out there and make the movies that we wanna make. We don’t have to sit around and wait for somebody to give us that recognition or approval. So congratulations getting this done. It sounds like it was a long road. I really hope you got a good distributor and I hope he can really get this movie out far and wide for you.
Marcelo: Thank you very much. Thank you again very much for your time, and a pleasure to be in your show. Thank you.
Ashley: Hey, thank you. Thank you. We’ll talk to you later.
Marcelo: Bye-Bye, thank you.
I just wanna talk quickly about SYS Select. It’s a service for screenwriters to help them sell their screenplays and get writing assignments. The first part of the service is the SYS Select screenplay database. Screenwriters upload their screenplays along with a logline, synopsis and other pertinent information like budget and genre, and then producers search for and hopefully find screenplays they wanna produce. Dozens of producers are in the SYS tem looking for screenplays right now. There have been a number of success stories come out of this service, you can find out about all the SYS Select successes by gonnawww.sellingyourscreenplay.com/success. Also on SYS Podcast Episode #222, I talk with Steve Deering who was the first official success story to come out of the SYS Select database.
When you join SYS Select you get access to the screenplay database along with all the other services that we’re providing to SYS Select members. These services include the newsletter, the monthly newsletter goes out to a list of over 400 producers who are actively seeking writers and screenplays. Each SYS Select member can pitch one screenplay in this monthly newsletter. We also provide screenwriting leads, we have partnered with one of the premiere paid screenwriting leads services, so I can syndicate their leads to SYS Select members. There are lots of great paid leads coming in each week from our partner, recently we’ve been getting five to 10 high quality paid leads per week. These leads run the gamut.
There’s producers looking for a specific type of spec script to producers looking to hire a screenwriter to write up one of their ideas or properties. They are looking for shorts, features, TV and web series, pilots, all types of projects. If you sign up for SYS Select, you’ll get these leads emailed directly to you several times per week. Also, you get access to the SYS Select forum where we will help you with your logline and query letter and answer any screenwriting related questions that you might have. We also have a number of screenwriting classes that are recorded and available in the SYS Select forum. These are all the classes that I’ve done over the years, so you’ll have access to those whenever you want once you join.
The classes cover every part of writing your screenplay from concept to outlining, to the first act, second act, third act as well as other topics like writing short films and pitching your projects in person. Once again, if this sounds like something you’d like to learn more about, please go to www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com. On the next episode of the podcast, I’m gonna be interviewing writer, Richard Finney. He’s one of our industry judges for SYS’s Six-Figure Screenplay Contest, and he’s also a writer and producer. He’s written and produced a number of films, and he comes on to talk about his career and offers a lot of great practical insight into writing. So keep an eye out for that episode next week. That’s the show. Thank you for listening.