Following is an interview with Rick Masi, a film director in the Buffalo area. Masi’s latest project, titled ‘Free Fallers’, will be premiering at the Dipson Amherst Theatre on Saturday, March 25th 2017. According to Masi, “It’s a film about ‘making a film’ – a ‘behind the scenes’ comedy about an ambitious director named, Tony – who is trying to realize his dream of making a film. The whole focus of the film is the shenanigans behind the scenes and the journey of ‘will it ultimately pay off’? It is very much inspired and in the vein of Mel Brooks, ‘The Office’, with some of the snappy wit of ‘Family Guy’. This will be my second feature film – my first ‘On The Level’ was featured at the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival (BNFF) in 2016, I was a top 5 finalist for Artvoice‘s 2016 Best of Buffalo in the Filmmaker category, and I currently have an ongoing Twilight Zone inspired series called ‘Tales of Darkened Light’ that has been picking up significant festival recognition.”
The inspiration for the film came mostly from personal experiences in making a film. When we worked on my first film “ON THE LEVEL” it was a complete eye-opening experience of what it actually takes to make a film. I had to change my mindset of “I want to be a filmmaker” to “I AM a filmmaker” and once I got past that initial hurdle of being scared to take the first step towards filmmaking I spent a good 18 months independently researching how to make a film… and holy moly was I not initially prepared for how involved it is. To keep myself in check I put it out into the atmosphere and particularly on social media that I was “making a film” and gonna see it through. FREE FALLERS is a love letter to every wacky thing that went on during that process.
When did you start shooting?
We started shooting this in the spring of 2016, and continued throughout the summer. All actors, locations, musicians, and crew are all Buffalo based. Buffalo has a wildly talented arts community and this was an opportunity to give a platform to some amazing talent that might otherwise get unnoticed.
What was the budget of this ‘no budget’ film and where did you raise the money?
The actual budget was in fact no-budget, minus any expenses I paid for things like Tim Hortons or lunch on days of a long shoot. I was fortunate to have many resources like location and my Canon t3i available to me. I’m at a stage of my career where I am trying to prove that I can make a quality product within my limitations. When you’re relatively unknown its hard to get backers – but I 100% believe if you’re earnest, passionate, and are able to show people you’re willing to do the work you will get a support system that will back you. The best thing about this experience is that I got to make a movie with friends, and was able to meet new people I call my friends. It’s extremely difficult, but I’ve kind of made it my model to work with what you have and eventually with enough experience under my belt and being able to show what I can do with what I have, I’m hoping that future products will allow me to raise money or have investors.
What was the hardest part when it came to producing this film?
The hardest part is always time. Time and money are never a filmmaker’s friend. But I’m a firm believer in “pushing through it” and through experience I’ve learned that NOTHING will ever go as planned lol, and its crucial to have back-ups and to be completely adaptable to any situation. For example, the first film I worked on – we lost 2 days worth of footage due to a faulty card reader. It destroyed most of my footage. Completely out of my control, I was devastated – I was white as a ghost and catatonic for a good 30 minutes lol. But through intense and agonizing editing I was able to salvage about 70% of what we lost. We had to adapt to the situation, and even though it wasn’t originally what we planned, we successfully made the story cohesive through what we had.
Absolutely, I think it will give the audience a greater appreciation of what goes into making a film. From a filmmaker’s standpoint it can be extremely funny, frustrating, inspiring – but I always think back to a phrase I borrow from comedian Eddie Izzard; to paraphrase “if you shine a light on the frustrations and embarrassments – it takes the curse off of it.” And that’s what we tried to do here – we try to laugh at every wacky situation that arises. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you’re dead. For instance, one of the clips I forwarded about the cameraman that forgot to bring extra batteries – that was from an actual real life newbie filmmaker experience lol. Lesson Learned!
How much improv is in this film?
There is a significant amount of improve in this film and I think that’s what makes it fantastic. I tell my actors all the time not to feel married to all of the dialogue – if the point comes across but they’re able to add their own flavor or flare to it, I am 100% supportive if they want to improv. Most importantly I want them to feel good and proud of what they’ve done. But with regards to the improv, I always try and find the most naturally funny parts about the actors personality and try to have them capture that on screen.
What do you feel makes this film so original?
I think that the personal experience aspect of it – and the general everyday “Seinfeld” like quips and situations will really bring the audience in – and the fact that its a fly on the wall view of how funny but difficult filmmaking is, will give it some intrigue.
I think if people are fans of witty situational comedy they’ll get a kick out of it. If they’re the type of person that constantly quotes movies or makes pop culture references with their friends they’ll enjoy it. I think that especially now with all of the anger and frustration with the current political and social climate. It’s important to every once and awhile take a breather. Even for 90 minutes to watch a goofy movie about a buncha people getting together to make a film and escape for awhile.
FREE FALLERS Saturday March 25th, 2017 at the Dipson Amherst Theatre