An Interview with Liza Trainer – By Duane L. Martin

Liza TrainerFirst let’s start off by having you tell everyone a little bit about
yourself. Your background, hobbies, etc..

It all started with Star Wars, my mom and dad took me to see it and I
have never been the same. I just fell in love with the whole idea of making
movies. I got my first video camera from Sears and I knew right away I wanted
to make a movie, so this has been a lifetime hobby of mine.

I can’t tell what I like better, filming, making the props or making rigs
to film with.

You’re doing something pretty revolutionary in the world if indie films. Tell
us about it and what all is involved with it.

The first time I saw MTV’s “The Real World” I was fascinated, and I had
all the time in the world to plan. And plan I did, for years. I thought a
reality TV show about making a movie would be irresistible to the public, and
when you are finished you have the season finale at the premier. So everyone
involved is there. Now just to pick up the pace, I wanted to do it on-line, and
let the public work with us every step of the way. #1 I am building an audience
before I even have a trailer. # 2 because the audience will want to be in on
the trailer for the film that there friends are going to watch. I like to do
things in a win win kind of way.

I’m sure there are prison breaks that were successful with less planning.

Having no schooling and no money was my prison.

If you had to make a guess, roughly how many people would you say have
had input into this film?

On-line so far it’s into the hundreds. Here at home in just my town 70 or
80, but I’m just getting started. I went on the Internet for the first time
back in 5/3/04, I know that for a fact because that is my registration date on
my board, lol.

How has the whole "open source filmmaking" kind of thing worked
out for you? Do you think that in the end it’s making things easier or more
difficult in trying to get the film made?

I have no idea, I have only helped out on one indie before, but I have
made 4 music videos and they went a lot faster. There was no one there to say
that doesn’t look good, or man that’s cool, but I really like that. I have made
clips and pics that I thought were the bomb, and posted them. And ten min later
someone in Japan
talking to me on a translator said, it’s too bright and you can see this flaw,
and I go back and take a look, and sure enough there it is, they were right.

I think this is the height of technology, and it’s only going to get
better. By the time I’m ready to let people see big pieces we made, the net
will be like cable TV, just in time for our new type of show.

Your filming location is in a rather interesting place that I’m sure our
readers would be interested in hearing about.

We took over the top floor of a building in the ghetto. To give you an
idea of its condition, our deposit was $300. It came complete with a fridge
that possums would not have lived in, a stove from the 1920s (with one burner
that worked but would throw sparks half of the time). Needless to say it was a
bit of work turning it into what we have now. This place is actually great
because it’s so big. This way we can have one half of it as the set to the
movie and the other half as a studio to make the movie. We also have access to
an ally outside which is perfect for the ally scene in the film. The building
below us is a convenience store and the landlord owns that too, who is the
nicest man alive and agreed to let us film in his store…..on top of putting up
with us.

Yes folks, she builds robots!When you started this whole project, how did you go about assembling the
cast and crew, and have you run into any problems involving the cast or crew
that has affected the production schedule?

To put it in a nutshell, a friend brought a friend that brought a friend.
The ones that left put a great hole in the fabric of this project. Footage of
them is now useless for anything other than behind the scenes. Not to mention a
great deal of time lost on the production. As a crew we hold no animosity
towards them, but when it’s all said and done, they will regret their decision.
But as far as crew, everyone on this project has little or no experience in the
film industry. They are just everyday people that love the opportunity of
working on a film. That’s what this project is all about. We rely on our
message board where we post pics and clips. That’s where our other crew comes
in, whom are pros and novices that guide us. They tell us what to do and how to
do it, and what the industry standards are. Some of them are real pros that
take the time to help us and we can’t thank them enough.

I’ve seen the shots of the set where this movie is being filmed, and I
have to say it looks absolutely amazing. How much time and money was involved
in putting it all together? Also, what are some of your favorite set pieces?

Oh man now there is a good question. I started building the set three
years ago. Over time we add pieces here and there. I have no idea what the over
all cost would be, but all of the pieces are hand made mostly from junk parts
and cheap materials. As far as favorites, everyone seems to like something
different. One piece that always seems to get a lot of attention is the dead
guy on the ceiling. He was actually made prior to moving here and before the
script was ever written. He was a creation of logistics. Where would you put a
large sized prop when you are living in a small apartment? When there is no
floor space…………. just look up, plenty of room there. What would be the best
thing to put on a ceiling……a life sized dead guy.

This is your first film. What are some of the most valuable things you’ve
learned from going through this process? Have you learned any "life
lessons" from it that are really going to stick with you?

Patience and gratitude were only words to me a year ago, now they have
become a way of life. What started off as something fun, has now turned into
something ominous and foreboding. At one time I took films for granted, but now
having experienced first hand the difficulties involved, I have gained great
respect for any indie filmer who has completed a project. Whether it be a short
or a full length feature, my hat is off to them.

Are you planning on doing any more films after this one? If so, would you
like to do another "open source" type of a project or would it be
more of a closed thing?

Ohh, absolutely an open source film.I have been planning the next one for
five years. With the knowledge and publicity we have gained from this one, the
next is a shoe-in.

Liza invents all kinds of nifty camera stuff too!This film is not the only cool thing you’ve done. You’ve invented a lot
of stuff including cool things that filmmakers can make good use of. You’ve
displayed these on your website along with instructions on how to make them,
free for anyone to check out and use. Tell us about some of your favorite

That’s a tough one to answer, every one asks “why don’t you patent your
rigs for cameras?’ and I always say the same thing…if giving my ideas to other
people gets me closer to my goal then that’s what I’m going to do, get closer
to my goal. My favorite one is the crane man. It uses the person as the tripod
or pedestal, you are the center, so where you go it goes.

Once this film is completed and you’ve added it to your long list of
accomplishments, what’s next for you? Do you have any other dreams that you’d
like to make reality, or is the whole filmmaking thing something you’d like to
continue doing?

I have another film project I have been planning for a longer time.

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

We hope to find a pro that will spearhead the TV show project, but they
must understand everything they do or say will be on the board for all to see
and talk about.

The people at home will interact with the show to. This means if someone
at home wants to make a clip and send it in and the audience likes the clip, it
becomes part of the show.

I know this might be hard to follow at first, but all it is in reality is
a detailed behind the scenes of a movie. For example if someone at home takes
there cam coder and goes on the street and interviews people asking what they
think, using preloaded questions, that can make for a great episode.

Again creating a win win for us and the public, the person doing the
interview gets recognition, weather he is in school to be a news man or just
wants to have fun, the people they touch will want to see there interview, and
they will want there friends to see what they had to say, and we get a clip for
our show.

If you’d like to check out the film’s website and find out what’s
going on with this great open source project, you can check it out at While you’re there, be sure to check out Liza’s really sweet inventions as well.