'Beasts of the Southern Wild' Making of Demonstrates the Benefits of Collective Filmmaking
If like me you’re drawn to films which experiment with narrative form, presenting strong characters making their way in worlds that are slightly off kilter from our own, then I’m betting you also have Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild pretty high on your must watch list. Following the film’s Sundance premiere (where it won the Narrative Grand Jury Prize and Best Cinematography) and Camera d’Or Cannes screening, the project has drawn accolades for both its story and six-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis’ central performance. Here’s a taste of the Beasts’ world in the trailer:
A limited release indie film project to get excited about is all well and good, but of much more interest is the means of its production. Created by Court 13 a self proclaimed ever growing Independent Filmmaking Army based in New Orleans, their collective approach to production seems to be the antithesis of creation by committee for which Hollywood is sometimes lambasted, but rather a demonstration of filmmaking as performed by community.
We took a look at Beasts of the Southern Wild from a script evolution perspective last month, but a few days ago The Creators Project released a making of video which highlights not just the normal challenges the production overcame in getting the film made, but also the inclusive philosophy behind Court 13′s filmmaking and how they transferred their working methods of living the extremes of the stories they depict from shorts to their first feature:
The Beasts of the Southern Wild budget reportedly sits somewhere between $1-2 million sourced from various sources. However with New York non-profit foundation Cinereach picking up the majority of the tab ($1.3 million) after being impressed with Zeitlin’s 2008 short Glory At Sea!, the production found itself also classified as a non-profit which brought its own freedoms such as full casting control, an up to two year editing period and final cut for Zeitlin:
Profits are going to go back into other movies, which is pretty incredibly,” said Zeitlin. “If the movie does well, the actors and filmmakers have points, but as far as the production company goes, the money is going to get turned over and put into more projects like this one.” He adds, “There was no fiscal motivation for production decisions, which allowed us to cast non-actors and do this in the grassroots way that we did.
Do you see Court 13′s ‘all inclusive’ approach to filmmaking as sustainable over the long term? Is this a way you’ve worked on your own projects?
[Via The Creators Project]
- Benh Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar Describe the Script's Evolution for Beasts of the Southern Wild
- Storytelling Through the Periodic Table in Global Filmmaking Project '94 Elements'
- Great Opportunity: Cinereach Awarding Grants of Up to $50K to Fiction and Documentary Film Projects