By: Raquel Deloatch
Louisiana native and father of three chats with Blvd Vine about his feature directorial début ” Incantation” (2022).
How is it living in filmmaker friendly state Louisiana?
I live in Shreveport which is a weird anomaly in regards to the film industry. After Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans, film productions looking to benefit from Louisiana’s film tax incentives came here to film and there is a film base still left over from that period.
Did you start as a producer/director/writer or actor?
I started as a PA and simultaneously started writing and directing short films. That eventually led to me line-producing and producing features.
What inspired you to direct Incantation?
I actually had a friend who was dabbling in witchcraft and thought it would be a fun topic to film about. I also wanted to prove to myself I could make a feature film at that time period in my life.
How long was the process from pre-production to post-production?
The whole process was pretty fast. I didn’t have a lot of money to shoot it so I relied on luck from the film gods to pull it all off.
What obstacles did you have to overcome while shooting?
Having a tiny budget really limits everything. We only had 10 days to shoot and very little prep time. There were some days I didn’t even know where we were going to shoot but luckily we had a very resourceful crew and it’s a small town so we were able to pull a lot of favors.
What was your favorite scene in the movie?
My favorite scene is when the cast is doing the ritual in the attic. The wind actually started swirling around the room and blew the candle out. We also rigged a pulley in the rafters and yanked one of the actors into the air. We had an hour to pull it all off and it turned out pretty good.
What was the most difficult scene to shoot in the movie?
There’s a scene where one of the characters walks up a wall backward. We had to rig a pulley in the rafters and yank him up the wall. He was actually a pretty big guy and our crew was so small we all had to yank him up.
Was it a union or non-union production? If Union how did you go about casting union actors for the roles?
It was a SAG new media project. We did the casting through breakdown services which is a common industry standard.
Money I made back was from the tax creditsEric Gibson
How did you raise the budget for Incantation?
Horrible things. Horrible things.
Since the release of Incantation, you have produced and/ or line-produced three features. Did you invest in each film or was it a work for hire?
One of them I found the financing for. The other two were work-for-hires. I’ve learned an incredible amount about making features since Incantation and looking forward to showing off my new skills at the next one.
Has Incantation created any opportunities for you as a filmmaker?
It taught me a lot. A lot of what not to do also. Doing that film allowed me to get work as a line producer and producer because it taught me how to do those jobs. Each film I do I learn a little more which allows me to help others who want to film in this area.
Has Incantation broken even or made a profit?
Nooooooo. It’s made about half of its money back. A good portion of that money I made back was from the tax credits. Nothing teaches you more than “failure.” Learning distribution and how to maximize a film earning potential is a whole beast to tame itself. Since Incantation, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some great producers and have learned a lot about what to do and what not to do.
Tax Credits? Most states require a budget in the millions to apply for tax credits.
In Louisiana it’s $300k to qualify for the credits or $50k if you’re a local.
Filmmaking is expensive and time-consuming. How do you balance filmmaker/producer having a family?
It’s tough. A lot of suffering and sacrifice. I’ve learned to cut my brain off from work when I’m spending time with my kids but sometimes that gets hard. There’s so much work to be done at all times and I never feel like I have enough time but as I get older, I learn to enjoy the ride and let some things go. Sometimes I had to sacrifice me time for our fun time but I’m at that age where I don’t need any of that.
The first thing investors ask me is how much my other films have made.Eric Gibson
What have you learned since you produced and distributed Incantation?
So much. So freaking much. I’ve learned a lot about storytelling, production, and distribution. I’ve worked with some good producers since then and I always try to learn from any experience I have on set.
What advice would you give the filmmaker considering making a movie?
Being a filmmaker is tough. Once the fantasy of living the good life as a renowned director fades you’ll be riding on passion. If the passion is there, then you’ll survive. If it’s not, you won’t. With that being said, I would read the first two Save the Cat books and The Anatomy of the Story. I would work on as many productions as possible to learn and meet the crew. I would start making short films and submitting them to festivals. I would spend as little as possible on my first feature. And I would make sure you don’t use a distributor that is going to keep all your money. The last thing – find people with more experience than you to help out.
Do you think a filmmaker should engage in union productions?
Not starting out unless you have a name attached. It is expensive to make a union production. However at some point in your career, if you are good, you will have to make a union production because most the talented actors are in the union. However the problem is, films with no name actors have very little value. So it either it has to be amazing (most of the talented people are in unions) which is hard to do without experienced cast and crew or be a high budget film with named talent to convince people to watch. If you are working with a good distributor they will handle all the residual payments. However being Indy -production and distribution company it will be difficult and expensive to get up with residual payments.
What are your thoughts on Mark Rudolf’s statement that actors should make indie films?
Hmmmmm. Not all actors have the capability to make a film. But I think it’s important they understand how hard it is to make a film so they can appreciate the experience more. And it helps to be better at the job of acting because you can assist the production in small ways because you can relate to the struggles of the production.
What are your thoughts about the current distribution system for indie films?
There are a lot of opportunities for filmmakers regarding distribution. I would say, definitely do your homework with whoever you decide to use. But it’s important to understand that films don’t make a lot of money. So many things you must have to fall into place and the execution has to be amazing to be profitable. Don’t think (like I did) that all you have to do is make a low-budget film to be profitable. There’s a ton of very talented competition and you need to respect that.
Financing is one of the greatest challenges filmmakers often faces. As a line/producer ,what advice would you give to filmmakers seeking to raise money from investors?
Filmmaking is a business just like any other. You need a solid business plan to raise the capital needed. Raising the funds and selling the film is crucial to longevity. The first thing investors ask me is how much my other films have made. The best thing someone can do who is making their first feature is to find an experienced producer to help so you don’t make beginner mistakes that can be costly.
What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m line producing a cool film called Drowning and prepping to direct my next feature called Portal in the Pines. I’m very excited about it.
Where can audiences watch Incantation?