‘Devil’s Damned to Try’ dir. Marshall J. Burnette
A Southern Tale of Lies Well Lived.
Writer-Director: Marshall J. Burnette
Producer: Henry Reed
DOP: Dustin Lane
Editor: Michael Carter
Key Cast: Riley Anglen
C8: Where did the idea for ‘Devil’s Damned to Try’ come from? What inspired it?
MJB: The lead actor in ‘Devil’s’ is my good friend Riley Anglen whom was in an old comedy music video I directed. He is not a trained actor, in fact, ‘Devil’s’ is only his second time on camera. I wanted to make a short film with Riley as the lead. I knew the tone I was trying to create and decided it would be a lot of fun to make a film about hunting. I did a bunch of research and found some interesting articles about hunting accidents and people who try to cover them up. It seemed like an interesting concept with a lot of layers, so I wrote based on that.
C8: How long did you spend working on the script?
MJB: I would write a draft and send it to Riley and Henry Reed (the films producer) and we would discuss it. We probably had about six drafts, and the final cut of the film is pretty different than the script. The script was very much a guideline for us to follow but we did a lot of improve and changes in production.
C8: The Hunter has very few lines of dialogue. How did you work with actor Riley Anglen to bring this character to life?
MJB: Like I mentioned earlier, Riley has never formally acted before. I just know him as a man and know that he has an intense understanding of human emotion and how to connect with people. He was very method in his approach to the film. He would do a lot of meditation into past events in his own life to reach a performance for the film. I knew when writing the film that I wanted the lead actor to never say anything, the only lines he has in the movie were improvised by Riley and they made the cut.
C8: Did you face any obstacles while shooting and how did you overcome them?
MJB: Oh yeah, we had some tough situations to get out of. Our picture car, the blue suburban, caught fire on us three times. We ended up having to cut a scene from the shooting schedule because we couldn’t get the suburban to our location.
The one-shot scene in The Hunter’s bedroom was quite a feat as well. Riley’s head never actually touches the mirror. It took us 16 takes and 8 hours to get the shot we wanted. That is always really enjoyable for me though, getting to invent a way to pull of a trick shot.
C8: What did you shoot on and what was your reasoning behind this choice?
MJB: We shot on Red EPIC with a set of three Lomo spherical lenses, an 18mm, a 35mm, and an 85mm. We shot in 5K RAW and kept a 4K workflow throughout post. Our first theatrical screening of the film was in 4K, which was cool. We decided to shoot Red because of budget. We didn’t have the money for Arri ALEXA and wanted something a bit more theatrical than the Canon C300. We found a private owner of the camera in Nashville who helped us out with a low-rental rate.
C8: You funded the film through a kickstarter campaign. What makes a successful crowd funding campaign?
MJB: We actually self-financed the production of the film. Henry Reed (producer), Dustin Lane (cinematographer), and I pitched in and decided to go shoot the film and then figure the rest out later. We ran out of money shooting the film and then decided to cut together a trailer and use it to run a Kickstarter campaign for post funding (editing, color, etc.) Funding a film on Kickstarter is a tough thing to do, especially if you are trying to fund the film without anything already to show. I think what helped us is that we had already shot the film and could show our backers that what we had looked really good already.
C8: What advice would you give emerging filmmakers wanting to get their projects funded?
MJB: The best advice I can give is to write films that are affordable to make. Find anything interesting and cinematic that you have access to and write for that location or that object. The sad truth is you will probably have to self-finance your films for a while. Try and work on other projects that you may not consider ‘passion-projects’ and invest what you make back into the cool stuff.
C8: Even though you successfully raised over $3,000 that’s still an incredibly tight budget to shoot a film. How did you make it work?
MJB: Yeah, like I mentioned earlier, the $3K went entirely to post budget. It paid for the edit, the color-correction, and the sound design. My team and me were able to invest about $5K to shoot the film with. The ending budget all-in was about $8K. Which is still really low. The entire crew was made up of good friends who helped out for free. We got deals on rentals. Every location we shot at was free. I wrote a film that takes place in a poor place and we shot in a poor place. That’s the great thing about making films in the South Eastern United States instead of LA or NY, no one is too worried about how much your going to pay them to shoot at their house or business, they are just excited to be part of a movie!
C8: Describe the Nashville film scene. Do you feel somewhat limited because you don’t live in New York or LA?
MJB: I think I feel a little limited when it comes to making contacts that can potentially invest in your next projects, but creatively I think it’s really freeing to be here. Everything is really affordable and we have close relationships with the rental houses and post houses in town. The Nashville film scene is mostly commercial and music video productions, and most of the directors in town are focused on those projects, so everyone gets really excited when a good narrative film comes along.
C8: What makes for a good collaboration?
MJB: It’s important to me that I work with people that have the same interests that I do. Dustin Lane (cinematographer) and I both geek out over a lot of the same films and have a very similar style and tone of films that we want to make. If team members understand your interests they can understand your directions more.
C8: Any exciting projects for Marshall Burnette? What’s next for you?
MJB: Actually yeah, very exciting. I have teamed up with a production company in New York to develop a feature film based on a true story of a tragic accident in a small farming community. I am working with two talented writers at the moment. We have begun taking research trips for the film and hope to have a 1st draft ready in a month or two. We hope to be shooting the film this time next year. I also have a short film I want to make based on a Breece D’J Pancake short story, but I’ll probably have the self-finance that one, so I’m busy working crew jobs and saving up.