It’s extremely rare when I’ll sit down and watch a movie in which I have no idea of the premise. Actually, I don’t think it’s ever happened until today. Most people will read a description or ask a friend what a movie is about but I had neither option to go with. See, what happened was I was browsing through Kickstarter; looking at upcoming film projects that needed help with their budget. I came upon a Kickstarter page which had the filmmaker’s first movie available to be viewed right on the page. They explained in the description that they had already made a movie and the budget was only $3,000 CAD. Since microbudget filmmaking is something that I have been wanting to get into, I thought, let’s give this a go and see what kind of movie gets made for only $3,000!
Psychic, written by Paul Andrich and Dale Krawchuk, is the story of a mob boss, Mr. Zambrelli (Jeff Skinner) who takes a psychic, Luke (Paul Andrich), hostage so that he will tell him where his missing daughter is located. Mr. Zambrelli is accompanied by his two henchmen, Joe (Dale Krawchuk) and Danny (Tyhr Trubiak) who torture their hostage so he will use his gift to give up the location of his missing daughter.
The first thing that I felt really worked with this movie is that the very first scene of the film, which shows what is happening later in the plot without giving anything away. A beaten hostage. A mob boss threatening him to get him to help them. But why? I wasn’t sure what was going on after the first scene, but it sure looked like it was going to be interesting. Who were these people? Why did they need his help? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON!? Later on in the movie, that scene will be shown again, but then we know why they’re there and why they need Luke’s help.
Micro and low-budget movies usually seem to have one thing in common when it comes to the comedic elements within their story. They’re hit-or-miss, with more misses. The comic relief in this movie comes out in the henchmen and it worked well. They definitely enjoyed their parts and I laughed out loud at their characters here and there. I could sense some ad-libbing in a few of Trubiak’s lines, and whether it actually was improved or was in the script, he had me smiling at the very least.
I don’t know why, but every time I sit down to watch a low budget movie, I think about the horrible acting in local car commercials. I think about how monotone and stiff the actors are and about how they just plain suck. The actors in Psychic were definitely much better than their budget would normally allow, and although a few lines here and there were awkwardly delivered, maybe either rushed or like they concentrating on the line as they delivered it, that was rare. Most of the performances were natural and effortless, as if they had much more experience. I am guessing (and this is just a guess) that the actors in the movie aren’t seasoned actors, since this is the first film by their film company, Terribly Important Films.
The special effects were decent for the budget and could have been improved, obviously, had the budget been bigger and a special effects make-up artist been hired. But when you’re making a movie with basically no money (in the movie world $3,000 is NO money), you have to take what you can get. Hell, YouTube is full of tutorials for blood and gore effects, and it’s free. Blood, cuts, and bruises looked pretty good on the hostage given the budget, and it was at the very least convincing.
Working with no money makes it hard for the sound in a movie to really stand out. Equipment is expensive. If you don’t already have top of the line equipment, then digging into your pocket for better than what you have is just not going to happen. So, like everything else, you have to work with what you have available. I’m not sure what sound equipment they used but there was a faint hiss in the background. I watched it with headphones, so it was probably more prominent for me whereas on a regular TV it may not be heard. Sound effects tended to be a little louder than they should have but again, it’s what you have in microphones and sound equipment. Also when you are working with no budget, music can be really hard to come by. If you don’t know many musicians, you’re going to have a tough time finding decent music that can be used to create a soundscape for your movies. The title sequence music was a little generic, sounding more like 90s action movie music, and there could have been more background ambient music, but all in all that wasn’t something that took away from the movie. The song in the ending credits was a weird old-timey blues song that was just enough out of the ordinary that it fit. After reading the credits, it looked like most of the music was public domain and that is something that is really hard to use and make work.
All in all, Psychic was a really good film for the budget. As someone who wants to get into microbudget filmmaking, if my first feature turned out to be something similar in quality to this film, I’d be ecstatic. I applaud the team for crafting a good plot, developing a good twist, and making what is an overall enjoyable movie for $3,000. I can’t wait to see what they put out next and it can only get better and better with more experience and money.
Their new project is a post-apocalyptic vampire film called Blood Snow, and their Kickstarter could use your attention and a little of your cash. Check out what they have planned here, and also take some time to check out Psychic (which can be watched in its entirety on the Kickstarter page) to get a taste of what they can do.