An Interview with Filmmaker Alex Ferrari and Crew – By Duane L. Martin

Alex FerrariI always like to start out by having people tell everyone about themselves. So let’s start there.

Alex: My name is Alex Ferrari and I am the director, producer, writer, editor and a bunch of other jobs on Broken. I have been editing and post supervising commercials, music videos & features for about ten years and been directing commercials for about six.

Jorge: My name is Jorge Flores Rodriguez and I have been writing and producing for the last five years. Before that I worked as both a flight attendant, critical care nurse, and comic shop owner. I’m a Sagittarius and I enjoy long walks on the beach.

Sean: My name is Sean Falcon, and I handled most of the VFX on Broken. I’ve been doing VFX now for a few years now. I currently work in the post world as a full-time motion graphics designer during the day and I am freelance Compositor / 3D artist by night.

Dan: My name is Dan Cregan and I did storyboarding, concept art, co-created the title sequence, and did about 20% of the digital compositing effects in post production. This is my third film project and when I’m not working for The Enigma Factory I’m teaching at Digital Media Arts College In Boca Raton.


Where did the idea for this film come from, and was it ever envisioned as being more than a short film?

Alex: I came up with the idea in college and kept it locked away for years until I decide to resurrect it for BROKEN. I wrote the original script for the short and then brought it to Jorge to see if he wanted to put his "stank" on it. Together we developed the final script for the short and are currently working on the full screenplay. We always had a vision of making this story to a feature. The characters were just begging for it!

Jorge: Alex brought me the story and immediately I saw its potential as the type of calling card we could use for our freshman project together. It as a feature waiting to be built. The short became act 1 and 2 of the feature… with a couple of new twists.


Visually and effects-wise this film is just stunning. Tell us some about how you achieved the look you were going for first visually, and then with post production processing. What were some of your biggest challenges visually?

Alex: Thank you! I let Sean and Dan speak about the visual effects. As far as the look and style, that was achieved by designing the frame from scratch. We art directed, lite, and moved the camera while always keeping in mind the final image. When I got it into post, I timed the color in Apple’s Final Cut Pro and created the unique look that I was going for.

Sean: I used Shake for all of the compositing work. It really gave me the speed that I needed to do these shots. Its workflow is very organic so you can create and make changes very quickly. I did this project after working a full time day at work, so things needed to move quick. We didn’t have any stock footage until the end, so things like the muzzle flashes had to be created by hand. Shake also helped me develop a workflow for creating this effect since there were many instances where it was needed. I created "flash templates" and used some hand painted basic flames, and then added additional fx that were run by expressions that gave the process somewhat of an "automated" feel to it, so I wasn’t painting hundreds of flames all night. Alex had the look of the film done early so I could send him the fx shots and run them through the color stage to see if we needed to tweak color in my comps.

Dan: Making the effects fit in the scene without drawing too much attention to themselves is always the hardest part. We were always going back and forth over what would look "cool" and what would be believable. Thankfully, Apple’s Shake makes anything possible with enough time.

Jorge: We always wanted it dark and brooding. The initial tests Alex showed me made comfortable as to how we would arrive at the final product.


Jorge RodriguezWhat kind of equipment and software did you use in the production of this film? (cameras, lighting, sound, software, etc…)

Alex:
Camera: Panasonic DVX100a 24p mode.
Editing: the fore mentioned Apple’s Final Cut Pro
Compositing: Apple’s SHAKE
3D: Alias’ Maya

Dan: Don’t forget Apple’s ipod… which was responsible for transporting a fair amount of raw footage.

Jorge: Pad, pencil, and calculator.


How long did this film take to create from start to finish and what kind of a budget did you have to work with?

Alex: Pre-production started in August 2004. I wanted to have a long prep period so I could have time to work with the actors and design every aspect of the short. We all had jobs, so this was done at night and after hours. Principle photography began in October 2004 and lasted 5 days. We had a budget of $8000 to make the entire short. We finished post in January 2005.

Jorge: What he said. But we were developing the story for 3 months before that.


What kind of feedback have you gotten from people about the film?

Alex: AMAZING! The feedback has been very cool, positive and unexpected. People seem to enjoy Broken and that is all a storyteller can hope for.

Jorge: The most amazing feedback is that people want more. They want to know about the other characters and what their purpose is in the grand scene. That’s flattering and motivates us to get the feature done ASAP.

Sean: The feedback has been great. Its nice to hear people acknowledge many a hard days work.


The acting in this was just brilliant on everyone’s parts. Tell us about some of the different actors, how you found them, what else they’ve done, etc…

Jorge: The cast was brought together from a combination of open castings and local agencies. We were fortunate to find a cast that was both as diverse and as talented as this one was.

Alex: Most of the talent were stage actors. That is exactly what we needed on this project. I wanted a long rehearsal process and wanted actors that were used to that. We were lucky to have such a talented group walk through our door.


What kinds of problems did you run into during filming? Any nightmare days, cast problems, problems with the equipment, props, etc…?

Alex: Jorge can take this one.

Jorge: Where to begin. First, my wife went into labor the day before the shoot and gave birth to my third child Jessica. We were also dealing with the fact that a hurricane hit West Palm Beach the week we were supposed to shoot. When we went to assess the damage of the old hospital we were using, all of the areas were either flooded or unusable. We decided to delay the production for one week and incorporate the damage into the screenplay. Then on the first day of shooting we were told that FEMA would be dispensing hurricane relief at the facility during the week of our shoot. They were expecting 10-20 thousand people… they got over 100 thousand. Every day we were faced with late starts and later nights but the crew and cast were champs and understood it was out of our control.

Dan: Well, it was about 110 degrees in the location we were filming. That was a bit of a drag.

Sean: Just a lot of looong nights.


Alternatively, did anything particularly funny or interesting happen during filming?

Jorge: In spite of all the obstacles the entire shoot was a blast. I can honestly say that I developed friendships during that shoot that will last a lifetime.

Alex: Tear… that’s sweet Jorge. Really, he’s right. One thing I found funny is that my phase on the set was "we’ll fix it in post," everyone laughed but I really knew how we were going to fix it in post. That was the design on it. When I was shooting certain shots, no one on set understood what I was doing (VFX plates, etc.) and they said, "Well he sounds like he knows what he’s doing." Only after the short was screened did everyone go "OH, so that’s what that was for!" Funny!


What do you guys like to do outside of making movies? What are your other hobbies?

Jorge: I spend most of my time reading comic books and playing video games with my three daughters. They may not know who Abraham Lincoln is, but I’ll be dammed if they don’t know Speed Racer and the Transformers.

Alex: I love to travel and engross myself in new cultures and history. I love stories and history is full of them. I don’t play video games because I know that it will take over my life.

Dan: I’m a freelance comic artist… and I enjoy a good game of ice hockey.

Sean: Outside of making movies??? That’s dangerous thinking. Seriously though, nothing beats just relaxing, but apart from that, I like drawing, music, video games, movies…. and just having a good time until the sun comes up.


What’s next for you now that this is done? Any other stories in the works?

Jorge: My main focus is finishing the feature version of Broken, although I may be producing a romantic comedy this fall.

Alex: Working on the feature version of BROKEN and writing the full screenplay w/Jorge. We are currently in talks with producers about developing and making the feature… wish us luck!

Sean: I’m sure Alex has something hiding somewhere, just waiting to pounce on my free time!!

Dan: I’d tell you but then I’d have to kill you, and I already have enough to do.


Is there anything else you’d like to talk about before we wrap this up?

Jorge: We just want every one to know that budget should never be a reason not to make a movie. As long as you have an idea you will find a way to adapt it so that you can get it on the screen. The only limitations you have are those you impose on yourself.

Alex: Push the envelope and do something new and creative. Tell your story, no matter what!! VIVA INDY FILM… I MEAN VIVA INDY STORYTELLING IN WHATEVER MEDIUM YOU CHOOSE, DIGITAL OR FILM. ; )

If you’d like to find out more about Broken and the people involved in it, or if you’d like to check out the trailer, you can visit the film’s homepage at http://www.whatisbroken.com/.