I’ve reviewed many of Alex Ferrari’s films, and certainly enough to know what an incredible and stunningly visual film maker he is. Recently, I had the chance to review his latest short, Red Princess Blues, and I got the chance to talk to him about not only that short, but his plans for a full on feature length version of the film.
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Since I haven’t interviewed you since 2005, (jeez, has it been that long?) let’s have you re-introduce yourself to everyone and tell us all a little about your background as a film maker.
Well name is Alex Ferrari and I started out as an editor and worked my way up as a colorist, VFX & Post Supervisor with my post company NUMB ROBOT (www.numbrobot.com) I also made a short film called BROKEN (www.whatisbroken.com) a few years back which played in over 160 film festival. I also independently sold over 5000 DVDs of the film.
Let’s get right to Red Princess Blues. This thing has been in the pipeline for a really long time, and started out with an animated short. Tell us about the origins of Red Princess Blues and how it led up to that first animated incarnation.
I created RED PRINCESS BLUES about three years ago. I worked closely with my Creative Director at Numb Robot, Dan Cregan, to create an animated prequel to the LIVE ACTION feature I was trying to find financing for. After the anime was released we got an amazing response but people were confused and didn’t know if it was a animated or live action project. Finally I decided to shoot a live action short to introduce the world of RPB and show people what my vision for the film is.
Who all worked on that particular short as far as the artwork and animation and such?
The animated film was co-directed by myself and Dan Cregan. Dan created all the amazing artwork in the film.
What all did you do with the short once it was completed and were you able to generate much buzz with it?
We’ve done something really cool with this film. I think we are one of if not the first independent short film to self distribute through an iphone App. I think this is the future for indie filmmakers trying to get their films out there. The short is based on the feature screenplay of the same name. I hope to be able to garner enough attention with the short to get the feature film version made.
About that same time you made another short called Cyn. Tell us about that one and what your plans for that were for it. Do you think you’ll ever do a feature of that one, or has that one been pushed to the side in favor of focusing your energies on Red Princess Blues?
Cyn was an early incarnation of the world of Red Princess Blues. I was kinda playing around with the idea at that point. A lot of people really liked it and it won a bunch of festivals.
So now with this new short of Red Princess Blues, this one’s live action, and you’ve cast it with some really great people. In fact, you’ve always seemed to have a knack for being able to find some really professional acting talent. How do you manage to connect with such great people while so many others seem to struggle in that area?
I guess I’m just honest with the people I’m working with. I tell them my crazy ideas and ask if they want to come along for the ride. Most of the time they do. I think one of the keys in attaching great people to your project is to create an ambitious and unique story you want to tell. If you show a seasoned pro something they haven’t done before or are not given to opportunity to do they will be more inclined to jump on the Mad Hatter’s train with you.
I know that many film makers have had problems with their talent flaking on them before or during production and bailing on the project. Have you ever had to deal with that on your films, and if so, what kinds of setbacks did it cause you and how did you deal with it?
Honestly no. I set up a very professional atmosphere. People working with me understand that I’m not playing around. I respect them and they respect me. You have to do it this way, especially when you are on a small budget.
This particular short, is this actually a scene from the feature length script, or is it simply a side story just to develop interest so you can get funding to create the feature?
Yes that is correct.
You seem to have an innate ability to really create a visual style in your films that bring out the most in every scene, and this film is no exception. How long did it take you to put together all the artwork and to design the whole set and backgrounds for the film, and what went into creating it?
I’d say about six weeks. For the best explnation on how we put RPB’s look together you should take a look at these behind the scene documentaries:
RPB :: Production Design – http://www.youtube.com/user/redprincessblues#p/f/4/KaaVuemj1m8
RPB :: Creating the Look – http://www.youtube.com/user/redprincessblues#p/f/1/fBLuttXmbnA
I’d like to touch on the technicals a bit since we have a lot of film makers that read our magazine. What kinds of equipment and software are you using nowadays in your film making, and how is it all working for you (cameras, sound recording, editing, graphics, etc…). Do you have any gear that’s allowed you to take the next step so to speak in a certain area simply because it’s so good?
Yes, THE RED CAMERA! I’ve been working with the RED camera for a couple years now and have become a RED Specialist. The RED Camera and master cinematographer Ricardo Jacques Galé allowed me to create an amazing high res image at a very good price. It’s clearly the best camera in the world for the price. I was the editor/colorist in RPB and used good old reliable Final Cut Pro for all the editorial and Apple’s Color for color grading the 4k RED RAW image files. Dan Cregan & Sean Falcon used Nuke for all of our VFX and compositing. Dan Cregan created the amazing titles in Maya and composited them in Nuke. Pro Tools was used by Emmy Award Winning Sound Mixer Dave West at Digital Dreams in Burbank, CA.
How much of the funding to you have for the feature so far, and what kind of an overall budget would you like to see the finished product have?
We have no funding in place at the moment. We are look for $2-$4 Million for the final feature film.
Has current technology allowed you to keep your budgets lower overall, and if so, in what ways?
Yes as I said before the RED Camera is key for any indie filmmaker trying to make a high end film on a low budget.
What areas of promotion have you been exploring or taking advantage of aside from reviews and interviews?
The iphone App is turning into my best form of promotion. People are really digging it. I’m currently working on a DROID and Blackberry version as well.
What kinds of things do you work on in between films?
I mostly do color grading, editorial, VFX and Post Supervision with Numb Robot.
What advice would you give young film makers who are just starting out to make their first film go a little smoother? What should they do, and what should they avoid doing?
I would think through what story you are trying to tell. Then see what resources you have or can get access to. If those two meet in the middle you should have a smooth and successful film. Do not try to over extend yourself. Sometimes people’s egos get the best of them. Do what you can do comfortably at first and then move on to more ambitious projects. Last piece of wisdom: JUST MAKE YOUR FILM AT ANY COST = )
Is Red Princess Blues going to be showing online or at any film festivals where people can check it out?
Yes, you can watch RED PRINCESS BLUES on its iphone App by clicking here, or goto the itunes App Store and type in the keyword: RED PRINCESS BLUES
For festival screening goto: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Red-Princess-Blues/108120729216025?created&v=wall
Here are some of the places you can see and follow RED PRINCESS BLUES
Official Site: http://www.redprincessblues.com
YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/redprincessblues
Be a Fan at Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Red-Princess-Blues/108120729216025?created&v=wall
To see more of my work you can goto: www.alexferrari.com
Is there anything else you’d like to mention before we wrap this up?
You can check out a bunch of Behind the Scenes Videos at: http://www.youtube.com/user/redprincessblues
Thanks so much for allowing me to speak about RED PRINCESS BLUES. It was a pleasure as always! Hopefully next time we’ll be speaking about the feature = )