DIY FILMMAKERS: JASON STEPHENS’ “DECAY”

[ WHAT'S YOUR STORY? ] ^ I’m a Deputy Sheriff and a Filmmaker. People often think that’s kind of strange. “You’re a cop!?” It is shocking to them to learn that I have other out side interests. ^ I started out doing Saturday Night Live style skits with my Dad’s video camera when I was 13 years old. As I got older I kept doing them, learning the craft of Video making. I started sending the short videos off to contests and started getting feed back. I was basically having fun and that’s why I am still doing it…..FUN. I eventually met a guy named Dennis Devine who made B-Horror films (Dead Girls, Things) and helped him out on a couple of features. I met more and more film makers and worked on their projects for free… with the intentions of pulling in my favors when the time was right. ^
[ WHAT'S UP WITH THAT TITLE? ] ^ “DECAY”……The title is kind of playing with the story. There is a dentist and you could make reference to tooth decay, but I think of the story as: The plot starts and the whole thing starts falling apart…..decaying. Besides, I couldn’t think of another title that fit…..and neither could anybody else. ^
[ WHAT WAS YOUR BUDGET, SCHEDULE...? ] ^ The budget was $12,000. It would have been ten thousand but some one stole my camera man’s Tri-pod (O’conner 50) which I replaced at a cost of two grand. (Never leave expensive equipment outside when you are shooting inside!) ^ The entire shoot was 9 days in September of 1997. We shot for three – three day weekends. It was tight, especially with nine locations. Our days were incredibly long, often 16-18 hour days, but thats what low budgets are all about. ^
[ DID YOU SACRIFICE ANYTHING BECAUSE OF THE BUDGET? ] ^ Yes. We sacrificed time. The thing that cost the most was feeding every one. I tried too keep everyone full and with a drink in their hands. I learned from many low budget shoots that if we were fed – we were happy. I tried to keep everyone happy. I wish I had the funds to stretch the shooting out another weekend. I can watch DECAY now and say “I’d add that scene right there!” ^ We shot DECAY on Betacam SP and had a low cost film look done, so I guess I sacrificed film stock, telecining, etc., but I couldn’t afford that kind of feature so I did what I could. ^ Now that I’m in the distribution phase I guess I would have like to have gotten another “name” on the film, but that could have been my entire budget. Having Robert Z’dar (Tango and Cash, Maniac Cop) really helped and I’ve been told by so many companies. I was also told that another familiar face would have made the difference! ^ Everyone on low budget films makes sacrifices…..I mean when your talent/crew are working for free, rearranging work schedules and taking vacation time to shoot your film you make some sacrifices. You don’t really mind – because everyone else is making them with you. ^
[ WHY DID YOU DO IT? ] ^ Fun. I hear a lot of bullshit from people who make films or “talk” about making films. Some have their story to tell or want to create something. Me, I’ve been doing this sort of thing since I was a kid because I like it. A strange thing happens when your making a movie. You always have things to do, people to talk to, and problems to solve. I went from getting home from work and checking my answering machine with 1-2 messages to making a film and having 15-20 messages a day. Your busier than you’ll ever be, but when your done and everyone gathers together to watch it you know why you did it. ^
[ WHAT IS THE STATUS OF THE FILM? ] ^ The film has foreign representation with Movie Reps International in Hollywood and has been sold to Panama. (There are other foreign deals in the works….or so I’m told) Domestic rights are through Cinamatrix Releasing in L.A. We just shot the domestic video box cover and we are shooting for a December street date. I hope to get it into some video stores and get some internet sales. There are up-dates on the status of the film on our web site and you can currently order several past films I’ve worked on through the site at: [ www.UnknownProoductions.com ] Theres also a lot more information about the movies we make and the people that helped us make them. ^
[ ANY ADVICE FOR FILMMAKERS? ^ I'm sure they've heard it before, "Just get out there and do it!" ^
[ WAS IT WORTH IT? ] ^ Yes. It was hard, exhausting and I had a great time. Fiscally? I don’t know yet, but I hope so. ^
[ WHAT'S NEXT? ] ^ I’m always shooting something….shorts, trilogies, heroin. Hopefully I can make enough from DECAY to finance another feature I’ve written.
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Posted on December 7, 1998 in Interviews by
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