THE BIG ONE, 2012
The Big One is a film about choices. Every day we are put into situations and we choose to do good, bad, or something in between. Owen Vestri has always done the right thing. He’s a nice guy, a hard worker, and a dedicated student who wants to win his school’s business grant. Unfortunately, he loses the grant, then his girlfriend, and suddenly something else is put into limbo: his soul.
Owen's mind has had enough of failure. Good guys do not finish first and the darkest part of his subconscious knows this. For a while, reason and logic prevail but with another costly semester on the horizon, the dark side begins to take over. At first it is all fun and games for Owen. He never does anything; he just sets things in motion and things go in his favor. People’s funny vices are exposed and Owen’s chances rise as others' fall. Little by little the consequences become greater and he decides it is time to stop, but his mind has other plans and wants to keep playing.
Can Owen make things right? Can he succeed in a society that is more about profits than it is principles? What is success? Owen needs to figure it out before he goes crazy and crosses a line he can never return.
The Big One is a film for those who follow the rules and pay the steep prices to go places in the world, yet go nowhere. There are choices to be made good or bad, hard or easy. At the end of the day everybody deep down knows what to do with the big one, but will they do it?
The Big One started out as another film, Culture Club, a multicultural comedy about what America. After five months of hard work, fundraising and preproduction, the film was ready to go. But three days before cameras rolled, the majority of the cast and crew left to join CBGB, a big-budget independent feature that was filming in Savannah. Left with two choices, Michael and I had to decide what to do: win or fail. Michael then took his own two-minute short and for three days, he pursued draft after draft until the story was perfect.
On set was just as hectic since Michael and l had to act as not only director, producer, writer, and actor, but everything else. Improvisation was encouraged and two cameras were always rolling to capture more reactions in less time. After ten 24-hour days and countless problems including a principal actor leaving mid-roduction, the film was shot and The Big One was born. The film’s theme is making the hard choice, and for everyone involved in this film, it was the hard choice but the right one, and now a great one.
Filmmaking is a privilege as well as a responsibility to ones audience. When Mike and I set out to do this film we kept that idea on the table at all times. We went on a roller coaster ride from Day 1 to today and we never backed down. I am proud of what we can do as a production company having made this movie on a peanut butter and jelly diet. Our team of dedicated actors and crew members worked hard to bring this story to life and after pushing myself as a director, cinematographer, assistant director, editor, and many more job titles on set, I am astonished at the outcome of what one can do with little money and a creative team. The Big One is our first baby as a team and I am proud of every frame that lights up the screen. This film is one that anyone can watch, over and over again, and get something different every time.
Seven questions about the film:
Q: What genre is it?
A: It is a little bit of everything. Life is comedy, tragedy, action, adventure, satire and this film imitates life in that it is never one particular genre, it is everything at once.
Q: Who is the audience?
A: The audience is anyone who had to make a big choice. Especially when one is young your choices shape the path that you will walk for the foreseeable future and it can be nerve racking when you are unsure of what to do. This film is for anyone who had to make a big choice.
Q: What was the greatest triumph during production?
A: The sound crew and their ability to adapt.
Q: What was the biggest failure?
A: People who mowed their lawn everyday.
Q: What is the hardest part of improvisation?
A: People being able to control themselves. And editing.
Q: What is the biggest success?
Q: How many pages was the original script?
Camera: Canon 7D
Lens: 24-70mm L-Series Lens
Lights: LED panel, DIY light kits built from items bought from home depot.
On a micro budget indie film like this, a lot had to be created. We knew that sound was a key element in a good film and I went out and got us two bright yellow light changing poles from home depot. The idea behind a boom pole is weight, the lighter the better. I modified the ends to be able to screw on a shock mount( to help with handling noise) and used a paired AT-shorts to record the daialogue and production effects. Lets not forget the recorder, we used the Zoom H4N to record the two channels of audio.
I am a big fan of Avid and I've used Avid Media Composer since 2006, and I like it a whole lot better than Final Cut Pro or Priemier ( both of those are great programs as well). I enjoyed the workflow of transcoding all footage down to DNxHD36 and consolidating and transcoding back to full resolution when done. We used about 8TB of G-Raid for the entire film and had backups elsewhere. Once we had picture lock we went on to post sound.
My team and I had Pro Tools avilable to us as well as an ADR booth and Foley Stage. We broke up the film into eight reels, ten minutes each. and distributed them to the various group of sound designers. While the composer worked from beginning to end without reel breakdowns.
Since our cast memebers were scattered across the country, I had to rent a car and take my rig up to Kentucky to get ADR for a scene in the film that we had to loop due to overlapping production sound.
Overall the process was a very delicate but rewarding one. We unfortunatly ran out of time and $ and had to work with what we accomplished.