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The makers of 'Akoma' have advice for indie filmmakers Part 2

You can learn from the winners of the 2016 Film Challenge Detroit

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If you’ve got a story you want to tell, now is the time to enter Film Challenge Detroit 2018!

It’s Local 4’s film competition that takes the best film makers from all over the area, showcases their work, and awards the best films fabulous prizes. From cameras, to cash, to a trip for 4 to the Sundance Film Festival.

Check out FilmChallengeDetroit.com to see last year’s entries, peep the rules, and enter your masterpiece, and keep it turned to Local 4 all summer long for more information!

How did you go about preparing for the Challenge before you knew the theme if at all?

Alex “Literally my dad sent me a photo of the TV during a Film Challenge commercial once we were already well into pre-production on ‘AKOMA’. Lucie and I were planning on creating this film before we had known about the film challenge and it coincidentally fit the theme perfectly.

Once the contest kicked off what was your gameplan and were you able to stick to it?

Alex: “I’d say we were able to stick to it merely in the fact that we raced the edit in order to meet the deadline!"

How did you decide on a script? Describe the creative process of writing your film.

Lucie: "It all started as what was supposed to be a simple script that my best friend (Leah Ruff who is the lead actress in the film) and I could act in together on screen. I tried a few 'simple' concepts (two women having a conversation at a diner, for example), but I wasn't getting anywhere. I stepped away for awhile and had a strong vision of a woman washing her face at a riverbank and is startled by a man who stumbles into the picture from across the river. From there, I sat back down, and AKOMA was born." 

Do you have any advice for other filmmakers on how to get ahold of equipment, resources, and people to help bring their vision to life?

Alex: “I’ve used a suitcase of my grandma’s back-up light bulbs as equipment before to light a scene practically. You don’t need big lights and rigged out cameras. That’s all very helpful in certain ways, but it’s not always necessary. I say just try and get people around you whom you can trust to deliver in their respective departments and let them do their jobs. On ‘AKOMA’ I was finally able to focus on the moments with my actors.  Lucie and I both attended The Motion Picture Institute of MI and they have a wealth of resources, but the most important resources is good company so keep networking and tend festivals even if you don’t have a film showing there. Meet people because a lot of people own at least some equiptment that they may be able to bring with them.

Please share any fun/interesting/harrowing stories from the production of your film.

Alex: “Well because we shot the majority of the film in Goodells, MI one of our PAs who ran out to get water for the set ended up on the bridge to Canada! I didn’t find out about this until weeks after wrap! We also shot the film almost exactly backwards from end to beginning. That was a challenge to say the least."

Describe the feeling of finally completing your film, when you clicked ‘submit’ what was going through your head?

Alex “It was a mad dash to that point. It technically wasn’t picture locked and had a handful of temp aspects, but the film still carried most of the impact that the file cut has with the original score I think. Once we hit submit to meet the deadline we continued to work on it in regards to the color grade, original score, audio mix, and smoke effects."

On the night of the screening event at D.I.M.E what were you expecting and what are your thoughts on the experience now?

Alex: “The screening event at D.I.M.E was wonderful. I didn’t quite know what to expect, but I was certainly pleased. The step and repeat banner was a lot of fun and we had quite a turn out to support the film. Looking back at it now marks the start of what ‘AKOMA’ was destined to do. Since then it has screened at 4 other heavy hitting festivals all across the map, the largest being both Cinetopia & The National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY) in Seattle. Film Challenge was the beginning of one of the most important short films we may have ever created.

Any insider advice for this year’s contestants?

Alex: “Well because ‘AKOMA' was being created prior to knowing about the Film Challenge, it’s hard for me to give any advice on developing a project based on the theme. It might not hurt to come up with a handful of bloglines or premises prior to the announcement of the official theme therefore you can pick something that might fit once it is announced and get right to work.'