Ten long years ago I made a decision to shoot a feature film with very little money but with a lot of help. Influenced heavily by Park Chan-Wook's Oldboy, I wrote a script called Here's to Revenge, a thriller about a woman and her associate who hold hostage a group of people who all seem to be suffering from amnesia.
Here's to Revenge was the film school education I didn't get. Yes, I went to school to study filmmaking and television production, but the timing was all wrong. Digital was just around the corner, but I was stuck shooting on old Bell & Howell cameras with 16mm film stock and cutting on a flatbed and later deck to deck.
As I settled into the digital era and had roughly a dozen short films to my credit, some as director, some as DP, all as editor, I decided it was time to test my mettle and shoot a feature.
I wrote the script in three days and did a revision with the help of collaborator Steve O'Regan.
We spent a few days casting the film before finally settling on a group of actors and then got to work on gathering props and wardrobe and figuring out a shooting schedule which was very much piecemeal.
I directed and did all the cinematography and had grip and audio help from some friends (Vinny, Megan, and Steve). At one point or another almost every actor in the film played the role of 2nd AC and quite a few them filled in as a boom operator.
It was a bare bones, extremely indie, no budget affair. I shot the entire film with a Panasonic DVX100B, more than 30 mini-DV tapes, a shotgun mic, and a few tungsten lights.
I edited the picture in an older version of Final Cut Pro and also scored the pivotal scenes myself. At the time, I really wanted to understand every aspect of film production, so I tried to wear as many hats on this project as I could. It certainly was both an experience and an education.
Shooting a film of any length is a task and a learning experience. More than twenty years since I started studying filmmaking, I'm still constantly learning on every shoot, whether it's a corporate shoot, a doc, or a narrative.
I learned a lot of valuable lessons when making Here's to Revenge and it's almost certainly the point where I decided that I was more interested in cinematography than directing. Ten years later the film still isn't profitable (though a few surprising people rent it every month from Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/Heres-Revenge-Jennifer-Lee-Mitchell/dp/B001D3NKBO/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1477838623&sr=8-3&keywords=here%27s+to+revenge)