ByBrannigan Carter, writer at
I...make...movies and watch movies?
Brannigan Carter

The "theatrical" trailer for the independently produced feature film, "Two-Eleven" has just gone live on YouTube. What makes this film so special?

It only cost around $3,000 to shoot.

The film's co-writer and director, Joseph A. Covas was asked just how the Hell he did it-and here's what he had to say:

"I guess the biggest thing was utilizing any and everything we could from the local community. We asked for a lot of favors… friends with access to houses or office buildings or airports for filming locations… I think the crazy thing about that is making friends with people who run airports...

It also helps that nowadays you can film good looking HD footage on cameras that cost less than a third of what the "traditional Hollywood camera" costs to rent or purchase… So in reality, we kept the cost low because we just asked nicely and were fortunate enough to have people believe in our project. Having a good script helps too."

  Covas (middle), with his 1st AD (left) and DoP
Covas (middle), with his 1st AD (left) and DoP

It could also help that Covas chose to shoot his film in Wilmington, NC. Already being an NC native meant he wouldn't have to travel far (around 3 hours) to location.

But isn't that still a long drive - every day - to shoot a feature?

Here's another kicker. The film's first script was only 30 pages long. It was a short film. So the crew planned to only shoot for one weekend-which, in itself, is a feat.

Here's where I came in. I was asked to serve as the Director of Photography for Two-Eleven. I'm used to shooting fast. Guerrilla style. And I LOVE natural light.

So we went with a Canon 7D fitted with PL lenses, which would allow us to use all the available light in each location--and avoid hours of setting up equipment. We did shoot and light one scene with a RED One because we needed its slow motion capabilities...but 99% of this film is shot on a $1,000 DSLR using only available light. We also used a lot of equipment we made ourselves...

  This was pulled off with a camera on a skateboard.
This was pulled off with a camera on a skateboard.

And most of the crew played multiple roles...

  One of the Executive Producers...also slate guy...
One of the Executive Producers...also slate guy...

Anyways, the rough cut of the short film was a whopping 43 minutes long. Which is much too long for any viable film festival submissions. Sundance's suggestion for a short is actually 10-12 minutes.

So a talk was had. Either cut most of the heart away from the short and end up with something mediocre...or write and shoot more scenes. The latter was an obvious choice.

One small IndieGogo campaign later and we were ready to shoot the additional scenes.

  And so we did.
And so we did.

It wasn't even hard. The entire cast agreed to shoot more-everyone-cast and crew-working for free. Just to create something they believed in. THAT is the spirit of independent cinema.

The town of Wilmington is often called "Hollywood East" due to its massive film boom of recent years. "The Conjuring", "We're The Millers" and "Iron Man 3" were all No. 1 hit films that shot in Wilmington. It also hosts TV shows "Sleepy Hollow" and "Under The Dome" at the moment.

But under the glamor of all those major productions is the core and heart of the film community-who will all work together with each other out of passion and kindness to create what they truly believe will be great. And thanks to people like that, we end up with something like this:

Just after this was released I had someone state that "There is no way you made this for $3,000. Not without tens of thousands or (more likely) hundreds of thousands in contributions and equipment; and standing on the backs of those you had help."

To that I say this: When your entire cast and crew is basically a giant group of one gives a crap if they got paid. And if you're really into film stuff, you may have heard that the North Carolina film industry just went through it's hardest fight for film incentives ever...and lost. The NC government seems intent on destroying film in NC. So, more than ever, the Wilmington film community fought back-and their passion shined brighter than ever. It is because of them that this film was made. Most of us are aspiring film makers. Aspiring actors. We haven't "made" it yet. But this was our statement. This is our North Carolina film

Because passion and talent can create great things.

Two-Eleven is slated for a film festival run in 2015.


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