For those that the love movies, there is often an urge to move from appreciation into production. It might be something as small as being annoyed with seeing the same Nic Cage plot recycled for the fifth time, or a deep need to connect and communicate using the medium of film. Though the inspirations are varied, there is a definite through line to why most of these films never get made: getting an independent film together is a pain in the neck. Psycho Drive-In recently caught up with Edward Kiniry-Ostro, who wrote, produced and acted in the recent short film Hold Up Heart (watch it at the link!). He graciously talked to us about the many ups and downs of creating on a budget, the need to let go and act, and the fact that some things really can be fixed in post. PDI: Everybody says they want to make a movie. What was your impetus for actually getting out there and doing it? I actually live right around the corner from the liquor shop that we used in the shoot. One night I was in there to buy some booze, and it hit me that this would be a great place to shoot a movie. The seed started germinating immediately. I thought about what the story would be, and immediately it was that you would hold it up. There’s the tension and the action, and from that point I tried to delve a little deeper into things that were resonating with me at the time. L.A. is kind of a difficult city, and one can often feel inadequate. It’s not just being an actor/writer/artist here. I feel like it just wafts through our smoggy air: you’re not pretty enough; you’re not talented enough; you’re not whatever enough. Everyone has to go to a yoga class, or go to their better wellness class; everybody has to take their vitamins. That’s basically what I was interested in exploring, and that was the origin of the piece. PDI: How did you decide to go with a short film? Did you have an end game in mind when you started the project? I wanted to do a short film because it was my entry into film. I’ve done work primarily as an actor, but never really as a writer. I’d just written a musical, and I wanted to do something that had the potential to reach a broader audience, but also that was little more elevated than a web series or something like that. It’s kind of funny that my next project ended up being a web series, but really I’m into telling stories and finding the right venue for them to reach an audience. PDI: Well, before we move on I need to know what your musical is about. It’s a dark indie rock musical that follows a young man who meets these two young kids. It turns out they may or may not be real. The world that he’s been living in may be a creation of his imagination. PDI: Well, OK. When you’re writing an indie rock musical or the piece that became Hold-Up Heart, are you working with a venue in mind, or specific actors, or are you mainly just creating to because it has to happen? It’s definitely something where I need to be working; I love working. I’m reading Judd Apatow’s book right now and he makes the point that the most exciting part of any creative endeavor is the actual creation. Once it’s out, that’s when the negative feelings start to show up. I totally relate to that. I feel the strongest as an artist when I have my hands in the pot. For me it really is just about doing the work. And when I’m working, I’m also meeting new people and collaborating with them. This lets me expand my network and also see more clearly where I want to be going. PDI: I recently listened to an interview on NPR with Jason Segel, and he talked about writing the Dracula musical that ended up in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. He took it seriously to Apatow, who told that no one could ever see it. Do you ever feel like that when you’re halfway in on a project? I think it’s really more about the hurdles for the individual project. There are hurdles with any creative work, but you have to ask yourself if it’s serious enough to abandon the project. Hold-Up Heart is no different, though most of the issues here were technical. Since we shot in a convenience store, there were lots of freezers. They had to stay running the entire time, because the store was not getting enough money to let its products spoil. We simply had to work around that, but there was a point where we hit the wall, and I had to wonder if we were going to be able to release it. I’m the kind of person that when I say I’m going to do something, I do it, so we found a way. We worked with a really great sound production house called Anarchy Post, and they were able to fix it. I think with most things there is an out- you just have to find it. PDI: Speaking of finding a way, how does a short film like yours get financed? I reached out to people who were in my community, and through them, because it was my first short film, they were generous enough to support me. Right now I’m doing season two of my web series Roomies with my partners, and we’re going to be doing a crowd funding campaign through Indiegogo. It’s again about reaching out to your community and then finding a way to go beyond that. It’s a good question, and it does make some people uncomfortable. When you’re starting out, you really can’t get an answer. You have to reach out for the first project, and then it becomes harder with subsequent projects, because you have to go back to that person and ask to borrow more money. At some point you have to extend your network. Right now we’re working with a campaign manager to reach out to people who have helped us in the past as well as broadening our scope through social media and various other connections. PDI: How do you get a campaign manager? Is this someone you already know or are people advertising for these positions? We got him through my producer. He knew a guy, and so we reached to him. He has a hundred percent success rate of reaching the goals for the projects he’s been associated with; we’re just starting out, but it’s been great, probably one of the best things that I’ve ever invested in. I’m learning a lot from him. It’s not just specific to campaign management; it’s really marketing and public relations 101. I think that the main thing, especially when you are just starting out, is to not be scared. If you have questions about your project, as you should, ask people that you respect and admire to look at your script and give input. We did two or three read throughs of the script for Hold-Up Heart before coming up with something to move forward with. Do that second or third rewrite, and then when you are seeking funding, the project is something that you’ve worked on and really believe in. PDI: What do you think is more damaging to the creative process: people are too proud to reach out for help and assistance, or they are too married to their product and won’t change it? Too married to their product and won’t change it. I will pat myself on the back here, because everybody that I’ve worked with is always surprised that I am so easy going when it comes to letting things go. Unless it’s that one choice that I’m really passionate about, I will always listen to other people’s ideas and criticism. I think you only get stronger that way, and more often than not they’re right, because when you’re the person creating, you live in this world 24/7 and your viewpoint becomes skewed. You have your ego wrapped up in it, and if you can let that go, especially when it comes to your production team. They want you to look good, because that will make them look good. It’s all part of the common goal. Listen to what other people say. If you’ve hired a good team, they know what they are doing. PDI: Part of assembling a good team is getting the right actors in front of the camera. How did you go about casting Hold-Up Heart? When I started writing it, I had some ideas I mind. The two women actresses, Trisha LaFache and Rachel Germaine, I had them in mind. As far as the guy and Nigel, the ex-boyfriend, those two we did casting session with, and that was a little bit more challenging. I reached out through my acting school that I was going to at the time and had my producers put out casting notices. We actually did a formal casting, which was really interesting for me, to be on the other side of the table for once. PDI: What kind of venue did you use for your casting session? We actually used the same space that we used for rehearsal. Our on-set photographer had a studio, and that’s what we used for casting and then throughout the process. PDI: You had a lot of different roles in this production. Which one was the hardest for you to fill, and why? I would have to say it was the acting. I had been working so long as a writer, and then when you’re producing that takes a lot of your brain space. It’s really easy to forget that you still have to do the work as an actor. You feel so married to it by the time filming starts; that’s the challenging part. I had to let go of my writer brain and the let the piece be done. I had a discussion with my producing partners and my director that I did not want to be producing when I was on set, and they respected that. Once we started shooting, I was not producing. I really put that off on to my other producing partner. I needed to be able to do my job as an actor, which is still really hard. PDI: There are stories of the writer of a piece being pushed aside once the film is in production. Did you have any issues with that on Hold-Up Heart? Justin Zsebe and I definitely had some differences of opinion, especially when it came to the cut, but he’s a great collaborator, and we valued and respected each other’s opinions. While we may have disagreed about things, we always ended up coming to an accord. I think when it came to the final cut, we both had something that we really liked and were excited about showing. Of course, as a writer and producer there were definitely things that I very clearly saw and worked with Justin on; I wanted his opinion as a director. I tried to tell him what I saw, but always tried to be careful to ask him what he saw too. He also brought so many things to the table that I had not seen, that I am really very proud of the finished product. PDI: What do you do with a film once it is finished? I did the international festival circuit last year with the film, and we had a really good run and got nominated for some awards. I found that there was something to learn at the bigger, well-established festivals, and those on the verge of collapsing. The festival circuit is very challenging, very fun, and very expensive. You also get to see all this amazing art. After being so wrapped up in your own thing, it’s great to interact with all these other influences. It’s inspiring and makes you want to go out and make something else to do it again. PDI: What is your next project? After finishing Hold-Up Heart, I started working on a web series called Roomies. It’s totally different, kind of a Broad City meets Portlandia thing. It’s made of two to four minute sketches. We’re doing a second season right, doing the Indiegogo campaign. People can find the first season at http://www.roomiess.com. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.