Filmmaker Brad Saville. Photo Credit: Brad Saville.

Filmmaker Brad Saville. Photo Credit: Brad Saville.

GALO: You said previously that the film was shot at a cost of $10,000. I’ve spoken with other independent filmmakers in the past who enjoy working with extremely small budgets. They say that it really keeps their projects pure. Do you agree with that sentiment?

BS: I agree with it in that it makes you become more creative in working with limited resources. Also, I’m not a big fan of waste. When I think of Hollywood pictures, I think of waste. I think of a lot of people being paid to stand around and do nothing. But if you’re asking me if someone handed me $100,000 to make a movie would I turn it down, then the answer is no. But I would definitely do something more innovative than someone else with $100,000 would do. I view this as a sort of boot camp. I like making small pictures; I’m young and I view these small pictures as honing my craft. And I always want to hone my craft and I want as many obstacles as possible to make me a better filmmaker. So yes, I view this as running a mile with leg weights — and when I take those leg weights off, I’m going to be faster than anybody else.

GALO: Of course. That’s how you become great.

BS: Yes, but I do like doing the small budgets and there is a purity to it, but it’s more out of: “I want to do this. This is what I have. Let’s do it.” And I do make scripts with budgets in mind. I have four or five scripts that I’ve written without budgets in mind that I’ll probably end up selling, or maybe making one day. I have a couple that I have no interest in making, but I think they’ll sell. But when I write a script, I write it to be made; I write it for a budget and I write it with all that in mind. Practicality and pragmatism are traits lost in the arts. And there is a sense of entitlement. People say, “I should have this money because I should be entitled to do my art.” No, just be practical and pragmatic and deal with what you have. Technology is to the point where you don’t need miles of 35mm film to make something look great. I would put the actors in this film up against most actors in Hollywood. I think they’re great. I think it’s a shame that money is wasted the way that it is. But it also employs a lot of people, and I don’t want those people to be unemployed, so who am I to say?

GALO: I know that you just told me you are big on auteur theory, which is essentially making your presence as a director known in a film. What was the biggest difference that you found as a writer/director working on Williamsburg in 2006 versus Regretting Fish

BS: Knowing what the hell I was doing. Williamsburg is an inferior picture, although it has the catchiness. No one had done that yet. It got a lot of play because of the timeliness of it. No one had a movie called Williamsburg. But I didn’t know what I was doing. I knew what I wanted and I knew how to talk to actors. And once again, we had rehearsed for several months. But I didn’t go to film school. I was a philosophy major. Well, I was a double major, [I studied] marine biology and philosophy. I was a writer and I had a novel published when I got out of school, so I knew what I wanted — and I knew how to delegate, but what I didn’t know was anything technical. I was relying on my DP (director of photography); I was relying on my sound guy. For the editing process, I didn’t know how to edit; I didn’t know how to use Final Cut Pro. I didn’t know any of this. So, I was really a slave to a lot of people that were just telling me things, and I didn’t know if they were true or not, or what the capabilities were. I didn’t know anything in 2006.

Well, [the film] was actually made in 2005. It came out in 2006, but in 2005 the waters were so murky in terms of technology. 24p had just come out. We shot on Mini DV, and HD came out the year after. Everybody and their brother was like, “you can make a movie with this 24p.” And we shot it and I was like, “man, this looks like crap. We’re going to make it black and white because the colors are horrible.” I learned on that movie, and I made a lot of friends. I still remain friends with every actor that worked on that. My DP, Will Sargent, was my DP on Regretting Fish. When I called some of those people up, they said, “Get me a plane ticket, I’ll come out and work on your next movie. I just want to hang out for a couple weeks and have a good time.” So I learned, and I learned on Regretting Fish. And you always look back because the process takes so long. It takes a year to two years to release a picture. And by the time you look back, you realize what an idiot you were two years ago.

GALO: Well, you do the best you can with what you know.

BS: Yes. But I’ve grown and I’m anxious to get on to the next one.

GALO: To return to what you were saying previously about getting films out to market, I read that it was extremely difficult for you to get a fair distribution deal for Regretting Fish. Did that experience prompt you to self-distribute and how did it come to that idea?

BS: Just research and realizing what people were doing. Besides promotion, there is really nothing distributors are doing these days, unless you are in the upper echelon of what is going on. Originally, we were going to do a Blu-ray and a whole release. But then I thought about it, and I said, “I don’t buy DVDs anymore.”

GALO: Probably no one is buying DVDs anymore.

BS: Right. I don’t buy Blu-rays. Why would I? This is how people are watching movies, this is the future and it’s great. Why go any other way? You control the quality of what people are watching in terms of the resolution.

I sent out screeners of this movie on DVD to festivals, and it didn’t look good. Why am I sending an HD movie in standard definition to festivals? How am I going to sell that? Why am I going to do that? It just makes zero sense to me. To me, it just seems like the way of the future. My girlfriend is making me take all of my DVDs and [is having me] digitize them, so we can get them out of the house.

GALO: Oh, I completely understand. I’m holding on to my DVDs for as long as possible, though.

BS: Hold on to them for dear life. I mean Kim’s Video is shut down in New York. It’s gone. There are maybe two or three kitschy little DVD stores. But all of these places are having to transition into doing something else — like Nitehawk Cinema in Williamsburg, they’re doing dinner and a movie, which is cool. Why else would you go to the movies? Not to say you shouldn’t go to the theater and watch movies, but for the most part, there are only a few directors that I’ll go to the theater and see. Other than that, it’s hard to get me to the movie theater.

GALO: Well, it’s also just very expensive.

BS: Yes! And you can’t [press] pause if you go to the bathroom, so you miss something. Plus, you can’t put your feet up.

GALO: Going off of that, what do you think about the current state of the film industry for independent filmmakers? There seem to be different grants and prizes and such; however, have you found that you are expected to give up a lot of creative control in return? 

BS: Absolutely. Regretting Fish was done with my money. I had investors on Williamsburg, but there was no creative control given up. Well, there was, but we parted ways [with] one of the investors — and I gave him a bigger chunk of [the] movie so I could hold on to creative control. But Regretting Fish was 100 percent me. I could do whatever I wanted. But yes, I would expect to give up some creative control, and that doesn’t sound good to me at all. So, it’s the difference between me making small pictures and having 100 percent control, and making a larger picture and giving up some of that control. That’s no question for me at all, it answers itself. But that’s not to say you can’t find people who will let you do what you want, which is why, in my opinion, you need to do your own thing for a couple of pictures, show people that that’s fruited and then say, “Listen, I got this.”

GALO: Of course, then people are much more willing to invest without wanting so much control.

BS: Exactly. That’s my goal to show people that I’ve been doing this. Let me do my thing. I’m not difficult and I’m not an idealist. I want to make a good picture. I want to keep the story going and I want to do something original. Other than that, I’m not going to do anything too crazy that’s going to make people nervous. At least that’s how I view it.

GALO: Just to wrap things up, now that Regretting Fish is in the market, what is next for you and Cadillac Films?

BS: It’s going to be two pictures — one of which isn’t written yet, but I know what it’s going to be about. It’s going to be a black and white political thriller, very much of the film noir vain. And I also want to do another small picture that I have written; it’s kind of a comedy. I want to do them piggyback to one another, so that when one of them is going to festivals, I’m editing the other so I don’t have any lag time in-between releases and pictures going to festivals. I want to keep going to festivals for at least a year and a half to two years with two pictures.

GALO: That sounds incredible! You will definitely be busy for the next couple of years.

BS: Yes, because you end up going to festivals and you’re not doing anything. I mean, I’m always writing. But I want to be editing and working and actively getting something ready to go to market, so when the first thing goes to market, the second thing is still in festivals — and then the second thing can go to market.

GALO: Well, thank you so much for speaking with me and GALO. I really enjoyed our conversation, and I really enjoyed Regretting Fish.

BS: Well, I’m really glad that you did. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.

Find out more about where you can purchase Regretting Fish and Williamsburg at Cadillac Films.