As I always do in my interviews, let’s start by having you introduce yourself to the readers and tell them a little bit about yourself and your background.
Hi there. My name is Ed Radmanich III and I am an independent filmmaker. I made an indie short called "Artie Saves the Hood", which as of August 05′ has started it’s festival run. It’s a sci-fi action comedy based on a character I created in a series of animated shorts called "Artie Guy & Jay". are featured on Ifilms and Mania TV! I hope to get "Artie" made into a bigger budget action sci-fi film in the coming year. I also have another indie in development…It has zombies!! I tend to make action movies with sci-fi and horror elements, but have a sense of humor, so am always making them funny too. Artie Saves the Hood is my biggest project yet, and it’s my 24th film.
What inspired you to get started in filmmaking?
Well, I was playing with video cameras since I was twelve. My co-collaborator Phil Mohr lived down the street from me and we used to goof off with our toys and make little skits all the time. Watching movies like Batman and Beetlejuice, along with cartoons like Gi Joe and Transformers made me get into storytelling. Playing video games all my life inspired the crazy action scenes I put in my films.
What’s your background in art and animation and how long have you been doing it?
I took some film courses in high school and got a chance to work in a television studio. From there, I was creating little films here and there, experimenting with storytelling. I when to college in San Francisco and made some student films. After thet I made more and more films until I got into animation in a different college and created a concept franchise character, "Artie Guy". All this time my buddy Phil honed his craft in music and computer fx. We collaborated again on "Artie Saves the Hood" I’ve been making stuff since I was twelve, but film really started in 96. I got into animation in 01′.
Artie Saves the Hood visually goes way beyond what most independent films are able to achieve. What all went into creating some of the great visual effects and CGI that you used in this film?
Phil Mohr and I joined forces to make something that would definately stand out. I wanted to tell a sci-fi action story with clonebot soldiers in a parrallel dimension with no budget. I did all the practical stuff like cardboard boxes, and green screen soldiers walking in different ways. Then Phil would come over and we’d shoot composite extras in my garage and on the side of my house with green screen. Phil took all the footage and composited it in a way that made it seem like multiple clonebots and cardboard boxes were flying. We both shot backdrop footage and Phil compiled it seemlessly into awesome fx shots. We both worked at the same place so I would cover for him as he took days off to put in long hours at the computer. Then gun shots, and eery dimension footage were added. Mix it all up with clever editing to give the illusion of an interdimensional war was going on and wala.
Were you happy with how the visuals came out or do you watch it now and keep spotting little things here and there you’d do differently if you were to do it again?
Well I think it’s still quite an achievement with what we had, but of course there’s always little things here and there. For the bigger budget version, we’ll be getting a green room and miniatures. I have had some experience with that before, but time and space constraints prohibited the use of those for this picture. I have a big imagination and part of the problem is getting too ambitious. I hate having to hold back on telling the story and unfortunately a lot of my ideas need special fx. The next Artie is gonna be crazy, with a lot more fx. Probably 5x the fx.
What software did you use to create the visual effects for this film and how long did it take to create all the visuals?
After Effects and Particle Maker. The effects took roughly give or take 3 months. I imagine if we didn’t have jobs and could have worked on them full time, it could’ve been done in about 3 weeks. A lot of the time went to crashing computers and transfering files. The next project will be networked better. Along with a couple of more stable desktops and we’ll have a more efficient post production house.
Did all the CGI work take its toll on you or is it something you really love to do?
I personally think it’s the best way to do cool sci-fi on a shoe string budget. Locations are hard to control and get everybody out to on a small budget indie. You literally can create worlds with green screen backdrops and do it from your house or a set. It has to be convincing enough to suspend dibelief and keep the story compelling. It’s really hard to do though. I don’t recommend it unless you are ready for long hours and trial and error results. We went through several versions of certain scenes before it came together, but man when it comes together, it’s awesome and well worth it. I have to give it up to Phil Mohr, once again for making all the sacrifices he did for my brutal slave driving direction. He really came through with our finest shots.
Were the cast in this film all actually friends of yours or did you cast some people from the outside?
We had several people in it who were my friends and a few casted from outside the circle too. I borrowed other peoples’ friends too. The majority of the cast were also the crew. I only acted in it myself because we needed someone available at a moments notice, and I always seemed to be hanging around.
Did you have any casting problems? Like people pulling out of the project?
Yeah we did. There was a lot of pulled strings and drama involved to get this thing done. I learned about who you could depend on and who you can’t, but I think that comes with all filmmaking. Movies are a group effort first and formost. If someone backs out, the group finds a way to still make it work. I surrounded myself with a lot of likeminded dedicated people. Without them, Artie wouldn’t be what it is. I just helped keep it together. The whole cast/crew gets props for pulling off something that many thought couldn’t be done. They deserve the credit. They’re all signed on for the next Artie too.
The girl from the other dimension in this film is speaking some language that sounds like gibberish. Is that an actual language she was speaking or was it just gibberish she was ad-libbing as she went along?
It is an actual language but it intentionally sounds like gibberish to Artie and his friends. In the next installment of Artie, it’s expanded upon and elaborated. Artie and Co. will be using the translator’s briefly shown in "Hood" to effectively communicate with the people from another dimension. It serves as a nice plot device, to have a language barrier to deal with. Also, there’s some great opportunity for humor too, such as the sequences in "Hood".
Did you have any major problems while making this film, and if so, what were they and how did you get around them?
Budget always comes to mind. We could only afford 2 yards of green screen and two full clonebot suits. We made it work though. There was also a full subplot we shot that I took out for pacing reasons. Computers that were not meant to handle this amount of work load were a real issue too. I have a toasted computer tower that once made "Artie saves the Hood" elevating a lamp in my room. I had to buy an external hard drive to commute files and timelines as well. Post caused the most problems. Post also created the best results too, so go figure.
Since basically everything we do in life is a learning experience, what did you learn from making this film?
I learned that you get better and more efficient through experience. I also learned the limitations of PC’s. My other thought would be that a great cast and crew make a world of difference. When there’s a good flow on set, it translates to the screen nicely. Low budget special effects can look good and cool. Try new techniques. Fiddle with things until they look good to you, and then move on. There’s a limitation to perfectionism in indie filmmaking, after you reach that limit, you just start pissing people off. Above everything else though, just focus on getting the thing done.
What’s been the general reaction to this film?
Extremely positive. The feedback thus far is great. Everything’s looking good for the next Artie, already in development. It’s been very inspiring and invigorating to hear the responses that we’ve been getting. I promise that the next one will be more of the same, except bigger scale, and full length.
All through the movie people are watching the cartoons you created that are also included on the DVD. Were those cartoons something you created for the movie specifically or were they done at some point before?
They are the "Artie Guy and Jay" cartoons. You caught my blatent advertising for my other work.
What are your plans for the future?
The full length bigger budget Artie is in the works. I also have a social commentary zombie movie in development. Then there’s also plans for another Artie film which focuses on the characters meeting a new neighbor. It will be set before the "Hood" timeline. That ones called: "Artie & Co."
What’s the best advice you could give to other filmmakers that would help their productions go smoother?
It’s all about the people you surround yourself with. Be passionate with your vision. Don’t compromise on it. Never give up. Have a sense of humor. There will be days where everything goes wrong, just roll with it. They don’t happen all the time, they just seem like they do. Editing and Sound Design are your friends. Get a boom mic, and a boom operator. Make sure your computer can handle multiple programs and memory traffic. An effects heavy short with original score and eight sound tracks take up about 150 gigs. You need a good 600 gig to work comfortably without always shuffling things around. Keep your chin up and don’t be afraid to give constructive criticism on certain things. It could mean the overall look of the film in the end. I hope that helps. Get out there and make your films!!
Is there anything else you’d like to mention before we wrap this up?
In 2006, "Artie Saves the Hood" will be widely available, and I’m on myspace.com so feel free to drop a line or join my friends list. Artie "the bigger budget one" is currently seeking financing, so if you’d like to be an investor, you can link from http://www.artiesavesthehood.com or at firstname.lastname@example.org or go through myspace.com. I wanna thank Rogue Cinema for this interview opportunity and give a shout out to Duane L. Martin for his interest and support for dcgfilms and "Artie Saves the Hood". Thank you very much, and I appreciate your time. -Ed