One of our longtime LA filmmakers and actors, Bill Ferris recently premiered his short film HERE & THERE after a year long festival run. If there was a project that was a better example of how to utilize all the resource We Make Movie's has to offer members, we've yet to find it! From workshopping in WMM writers groups, to being read during a WMM short film challenge (where he attached producer Steve LaMorte, director Krista Amigone, and co-star Jennie Fahn - all WMM members), to accessing affordable production insurance through us, and even finding his editor amongst our WMM family, we feel honored to be along for the ride every step of the way.
HERE & THERE explores the universal balancing act of duty to one’s family and duty to oneself. Where does one draw the boundary between sacrifice and self-preservation? No matter one’s age, race, religion, or gender, these questions will come up in everyone’s life – whether inspired by death or less final circumstances -- and there is never an obvious answer.
What compelled you to make this film? What was the impetus?
Bill Ferris: I wrote the first draft of “Here & There” about five years for an acting class showcase of original scripted work. At that time, I had experienced a number of emotional discussions with my sister-in-law and brother about taking care of our parents as they headed into their nineties, while I lived across the country. The subject matter seemed like an ideal focus for a short film and one that would resonate with people of a certain age.
What was your process in making this film?
BF: The initial version of the script was written completely on my own but it evolved over time through feedback from our We Make Movies writers group the “Happy Accidents.” Numerous live script readings and later Zoom sessions during the pandemic helped put the final touches on it. During a WMM Challenge, Steven LaMorte volunteered to produce the film whenever I was ready to shoot it. Krista Amigone also agreed to direct and Jennie Fahn star opposite me during the same challenge. Once the pandemic had greatly declined, I coordinated with Steve to get the ball rolling with production talent and COVID compliance. I researched locations via Giggster and found an ideal spot in Anaheim. It offered a visually appealing Craftsman style setting with enough space to accommodate our cast and crew and a layout that our cinematographer approved of during a pre-shoot walk-through. To shoot everything in one day, we used two cameras to get as much coverage as possible and capture reactions in the same take.
What was the most challenging aspect of getting this film together?
BF: Both Krista and I wanted to be actively involved in the editing process but were not going to be in the room with the editor. While the online version and commenting functionality was helpful, it was a challenge to triangulate and accurately convey nuanced feedback. We used a combination of phone calls, texts, emails and the comment interface to finesse the original version through to picture lock.
Did you collaborate with WMM or use any of our services, and if so, how was that for you?
BF: WMM was instrumental in the whole process from script development, crew, insurance, equipment, post-production, COVID compliance, craft services, etc. Despite the challenges of production during the pandemic, it was extremely easy to work through WMM personnel/friends.
If you could make this film all over again, what would you do differently?
BF: I would lock down the location earlier so that the cinematographer and director had more time to assess the site and plan the shot list. We got an amazing amount done in a single location in one day, but a little more time for planning might have helped prevent a few coverage issues we discovered in editing.
What are your aspirations for the film? Do you have a marketing and/or distribution plan?
BF: I submitted “Here & There” to a limited number of short film festivals and it was accepted to over half of them. My intention was to attend as many as I could to network with fellow storytellers and to have the film viewed by as many people as possible. We premiered the movie at the LA Shorts film festival and it was shown as far away as Buffalo, NY. I have no intention of selling the film or a theatrical release as part of a short film collection (though I’m open to the idea).
Who are the types of people most likely to watch your movie?
BF: “Here & There” will resonate with anyone who has aging parents (or dealing with health issues) who are losing their ability to live independently. Siblings who live far away from family will also relate to the dynamics, pressures and emotional stress that distance can bring.
If you could, how would you improve the film industry?
BF: I would streamline the process for doing union productions and make it easier and less costly to shoot on location (i.e. faster, easier, cheaper)