Thursday, May 30, 2013

Filmmakers Ian and Esh Nelms

Eshom and Ian Nelms

Writer/ directors Ian and Eshom Nelms are two brothers from California's central valley, who grew up with napalm sunsets and miles of endless farmland. They built raced-out Volkswagens, team-roped with their Dad and on hot summer days, tubed the St John's River. It's this upbringing that inspired the backdrop of their latest feature film, "Lost on Purpose."

What is "Lost On Purpose" about?

It’s really about where we grew up and the people who live there, but this synopsis will probably give people the best sense of what to expect.

“Fueled by gin and pure determination, Elizabeth James struggles to keep her dairy farm from being swallowed up by the region’s domineering co-op. To help with the workload, she’s hired five renegade ranch hands. Together they fight for love, pride, family, and their vanishing way of life.”

What was it like growing up with so much farmland around you?

It was nice, actually.  It’s definitely a slower paced lifestyle, but it really is a place filled with some of the hardest working people on the planet.  Farms and crops are 24/7 jobs, and they’re pretty thankless professions.  We really wanted to highlight that lifestyle and bring some awareness to it!

Why choose to self distribute the film?

There were quite a few reasons, but mainly we wanted to present the film a certain way and the distributors we spoke with wanted to present it in a very different way.  One example: they wanted to put a cast member on the cover who was only in the movie for 3 minutes and act as if she was the lead, because she won an Oscar last year.  We understand it, they’re out to make as much money as possible, and of course money is nice, but we want the film released in the same spirit it was made.  It’s a love letter to our hometown and we want to preserve that integrity.  Changing the title to make it appear in a VOD queue earlier, and slapping faces on the cover to mislead viewers into thinking it’s a different type of film just doesn’t fly with us.

What are the pros and cons of working with your brother?

Lol.  That’s a great question.  Some people can’t work with their siblings, but fortunately we have pretty similar taste.  All of our battles are fought and decided in the writing room.  When we step out to shoot, we’re 99% in sync with what we want to see.  I’d say the biggest pros are that we can bounce ideas off each other and motivate each other.  The biggest cons, maybe that every idea you come up with doesn’t get put into the material, but that’s not always a bad thing.  Some of those ideas were probably crap, and needed to be tossed.  We feel pretty lucky to be able to work together.  When we both like an idea, then we know it’s probably a pretty good one.

Why use Kickstarter?

Kickstarter gave us a unique opportunity to reach out to people and present our ideas and passions for the project. We looked at a few other options, and for us, Kickstarter had the best format.  We like the all or nothing mentality, it definitely parallels making film and art. There’s no half-ass in creating, you can’t fail anyone but yourself, so why should fund-raising be any different.

Why do you think your campaign was successful?

We’d like to think it’s because the film is interesting and exciting, and that people are galvanized by personal stories with a lot of heart.  We’re sure there are quite a few people that feel that way, but we also know plenty of people who just really wanted some cool signed schwag.  Lol.  Honestly, it’s probably a combination of the two.  I think the people who backed us really feel a kinship with the story and us as filmmakers, and want to support a passion project and get some cool rewards in the process.

What was the casting process like?

It was a teeter-totter.  We’d get a cast member, then a little more financing, then back and forth until it was fully cast and funded.  James Lafferty was the first person to come on board.  He read the script and said he was “in.”  We started raising funds the next day.  It was pretty carefully cast.  We really believe that if you get the right person in the roll, then half the work is done, and we can’t say enough about the people we worked with.  They all stepped up to the plate for pennies on the dollar and just swung for the bleachers.

How did you pick your crew for the film?

The key positions were pretty homegrown.  Johnny Derango was a producer on the film and the DP.  We’ve known Johnny for about ten years, and he brought in a great camera, lights, and grip crew.  Michelle Lang was our set producer.  She did a lot of the heavy lifting during production and found a lot of our other key crew members. Our amazing production designer, Nathan Carden, was suggested to us by another filmmaker friend of ours.  Catherine Velosa, costume designer, came from our hometown.  She was a friend of a friend and mainly worked in theatre, and she came on set and just fit like a glove.  My Mom was the caterer, cooking 3 meals a day for 30 people.  It was pretty intense, but by the end we all really felt like a family.

Were there any on set shenanigans?

Sure, I mean, we stuck 5 guys in a house with an endless liquor supply.  It was definitely a recipe for shenanigans.  We wanted to give the guys a real feeling of what it would be like to have a ranch hand lifestyle and they definitely made a go at it.  Lol!

Can you recommend indie films and/or campaigns to check out?

A friend of ours, Dan Prostak, who worked his tail off on “LOST ON PURPOSE” is doing an Inidegogo campaign for his short film, “UNDER A BLACK VEIL,” it’s a psychological thriller.  Very driven, talented guy.  I say definitely check it out!  Overall, personally, we’re really excited about this time in film.  There’s never been a better time to create or release a film on your own.  The production value that can be achieved on a low budget is just astounding, and the ability to reach and deliver a film to an audience has never been more readily at our fingertips.

Is there anything you'd like to add?

The musicians we worked with on the film were just incredible.  Bands, “ALL THE REAL GIRLS” led by Peter Donovan and “LOST ON PURPOSE” (who’s name band leader, Will Vanderwyden, graciously allowed us to borrow for the film) were amazing collaborators.  We wrote scenes to music they’d already created and they wrote songs to scenes we’d written.  It was a very inspirational process.  We’re just fortunate enough to be friends with Peter and Will.  They’re some of the first people we met after moving to Los Angeles, and we’ve been friends and working together ever since.  We’d encourage anyone excited about good music to seek out their other albums and websites.  Such talented guys!

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Thanks for doing the interview guys. I look forward to seeing "Lost On Purpose" when it comes to a theater near me.