May 15, 2017

How to Turn an On-Set Day Job Into Your Own Film [PODCAST]

Renée Felice Smith and C.A. Gabriel parlayed everything they learned on other people’s sets into SXSW's most inventive low budget feature, 'The Relationtrip'.

Renée Felice Smith and C.A. Gabriel may have higher profile industry experience than you or I do. Renée has been a lead actress on one of TV’s most popular shows, NCIS: Los Angeles, for eight seasons, and C.A. has composed commercial music for high-profile brands like Chrysler, Kraft Foods, and Jose Cuervo. But when it comes to making indie films, they’re in the same boat: trying to make their vision a reality with limited time and resources.

In fact, they may be even more fiercely committed to independence because they are normally beholden to the creative visions of their bosses or clients—which is something that many of us who have day jobs in the industry can relate to.

"Your questions on set become your strength."  -Renée Felice Smith

The pair has collaborated on some short films, but their first indie feature as co-writers and co-directors is The Relationtrip, an utterly charming film where an entire relationship accelerates from meeting to marriage to breakup over the course of one surreal weekend. In the film,  Renée also plays the character of Beck, opposite Matt Bush’s Liam. In this episode of the No Film School podcast, you’ll hear my conversation with Renée and C.A.—or Chris as you’ll hear us call him—from SXSW where the film premiered earlier this year.

In our conversation, we cover how they took everything they’ve learned on other people’s sets and parlayed it into their own film that they made with their best friends, and how they used low-budget practical effects to make their weirdest fantasies real on screen, including making the decision to spend six whole hours out of a 16-day shoot on an eleven-second stop-motion animation.

Listen to the episode by streaming or downloading from the embedded player above, or find it on iTunes here.

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Featured image by Jenny Tunberg @jtunberg

This episode was produced and edited by Jon Fusco.

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