Inside an indie: Making a film from scratch without a Hollywood budget

CNET | 2/10/2019 | Andrew Gebhart
samtetley (Posted by) Level 3
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In the winter of 2014, I stood on a bridge in downtown Chicago surrounded by the flashing lights of police cars. It felt like it was negative a billion degrees, and my cop outfit didn't provide much warmth. I also had blood dripping down my nose and was yelling at one of my oldest friends to step back from the edge while a dozen other cops pointed their weapons at him. Strangely, I was having fun.

It had been awhile since I'd last done any acting, but that night, I was playing a bit part in my buddy's action film, Hunter.

Hunter - Nugget - Idea - Production - Addition

I'd seen Hunter grow from the nugget of an idea into a full production. In addition to the cop cars, I was surrounded by other extras, production assistants, lights, camera rigs and most of the stuff I'd imagine you'd find on a Hollywood set. Fortunately, the blood was also fake, but the lead actor handing out hand warmers reminded me of Hunter's humble production values.

The blood was fake, but the cold was very real.

Friend - Jason - Kellerman - Movie - Fraction

My friend Jason Kellerman wrote, produced and starred in the movie, which was made for a fraction of what Hollywood considers "ultra-low budget" and a chunk of that went toward getting a single Hollywood name to play a small but important side character. A lot of the equipment was sourced from universities, and a lot of the people on the set were students or young artists looking to cut their teeth.

Now, after several years in post-production purgatory, Hunter is finally being distributed starting Tuesday, Feb. 12 on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, PSN, Xbox Live and more. To commemorate the occasion, I talked with my friend Jason about how, exactly, a truly independent film gets made. The following is an edited transcript of our conversation.

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