Duct tape and chicken wire

Squishy Studios is all about scrappy, do-it-yourself filmmaking.  We’ve never had much resources to make our movies (budget, equipment, etc.), even compared to some of our equally broke filmmaking peers.  I’ve always been proud with what we’ve been able to pull off.  But I don’t think this “duck tape and chicken wire” approach can be solely attributed to my meager income (although that’s certainly a factor!).  I think it comes down to a philosophical difference in what making movies means to us.  Or to me, at any rate.

I don’t know, I worry that putting more time and money into a single endeavor is a better way to impress people who may potentially hire you.  That creating a meticulously crafted and slickly presented piece is a more successful route for the advancement of one’s career.  A “calling card” film, if you will.

That may be one of my problems, that that’s a secondary goal to me.  The first being that I just want “to play.”  I want to be an author that create worlds and stories.  Instead of a telling single story I’d rather tell several for the same amount of money.

The heady days of film school - "Without Allies" 1996

In film school students usually don’t make a lot of films.  Maybe three or four.  And their big senior thesis film … their “Capstone” or TCM275 project … can easily cost $2,000 or more.  At USC, where the pressure to stand above the crowd is even greater, we’re now talking tens of thousands of bucks.  And don’t get me wrong, these things look great.  And they’re fantastic calling cards.

My problem with this is that “story” and “character” take a long, long time to master.  Storytelling is THE craft of moviemaking, in my humble opinion.  But by doing so few films, you’ve barely stretched your wings as an artist.  More than cinematography, it’s the storytelling that will set you apart from other filmmakers.  Or at least that’s my thinking.  Maybe I’m wrong.  It’s not like we don’t want to impress these potential people who could hire us — we DO want that very much!  A career in filmmaking is the ultimate goal.

The combined budget of  five our movies, “The Lords of Dragonhoth”, “The Hand You’re Dealt”, “Until the End of Everything”, “Masters of Daring”, and “Zombie Team Building”, is approximately $1,400.  We’re currently shooting forty minutes of new “Normally This Weird” episodes for a dollar sum even less than that.  Maybe this is a testament to our low-budget knack, but the reason I bring it up is that it’s also a design observation.  There are of course sacrifices we make by going this route.  We never have all the equipment, we don’t have the make things look perfect … we basically have to run and gun.  And with any kind of sacrifice you do give something up.

This “choice”, which I don’t know think was ever really consciously choice, has come out of the simple desire to tell as many stories as possible.  It just seems more fun, really.

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