Making a film is never just about the finished product. Especially in the indie world, a film set serves as a place to do homework, build a network, get recognized, create a core team, and even get a workout. (Hey, everyone who happens to be on set moves the furniture when the Director says to!)
Recently Snowbird Ghosttown LLC (aka Christopher Bradley) teamed up with Brian Kiefling of Madu Productions to produce “The Trigger.” The film explores the instinct to save each other from the dark world of alcohol addiction and recovery, sometimes at the expense of our own lives. It is written and directed by Christopher Bradley, and stars Slade Pierce and Julia Severance.
The discussions between Snowbird Ghosttown and Madu started at this year’s Jerome Indie Film and Music Festival in June. Bradley wanted to work quickly, with a goal of getting the rest of the pre-production work complete in just five weeks. They ran into snags, and it was tough to give the cast and crew enough notice to take time off from their day jobs. In fact, since they had to start filming a bit later than hoped for, filming spilled over into the first week of the school year. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem, but the lead actor, Julia Severance, had to film in short bursts each afternoon before going home to do her school work.
Another of the consequences of a short pre-production period was that locations didn’t necessarily have time to fully commit. At one point, Kiefling and Bradley found themselves scouting locations for the same day’s scene, but were able to magically pull everything together. As is often the case on an independent set, most cast and crew work a full time job in addition to filming, so making the filming schedule must have seemed like an exercise in theoretical mathematics. Plus, since it was a SAG/AFTRA set, the amount of paperwork alone was as thick as the script. Each day.
The film had the normal catastrophes we hear about on set: they lost the sound guy due to an injury in the first weekend of filming, they had to reduce one of the lead’s shooting schedule because she had to go to school, they had to rent more equipment than expected, they lost a location, and they were working on open sets, which made it all the more challenging.
But through it all, passion perseveres. As Kiefling said, “When the work is done, there is still work to be done.” The goal for “The Trigger” is next year’s festival circuit, and then locking down distribution. The crew truly came together for this one, and a few newcomers really shone. Marlon Hawkins who served as the Second AD, particularly garnered respect. Even when the First AD was off set, Hawkins made a seamless transition and did wonders when he was left in charge on some pretty challenging days.
One thing runs constant on indie film sets, and it’s the amount of effort everyone puts in. They work a normal job, then come and work on set for 8 or 12 hours. They put all their focus into the film for the three weeks they’re filming. And when I ask each Producer what they’ll do as soon as they wrap, they all give the same one word answer that Kiefling did: “Sleep.”
They’re on Instagram at thetriggermovie and Facebook under “The Trigger.” Check out both to keep up to date as the film moves into post-production.