Low Budget Filmmaking with Nick Zedd and Michael W. Dean

I was watching Nick Zedd’s “Police Station” in Seattle with my friend Kurt Shute. I said, “Wow, this is low budget as you’re going to get…they didn’t even try to make the room look like a police station.” Kurt said, “It’s great. It doesn’t have to look real. It’s a play.”

And then it hit me…That’s a key in cheap filmmaking. It’s a play. A lot of films with no money try to do things that look like they had money, fall short and look cheesy. Better to just have good acting, good camera work, good dialogue and good ideas. Zedd had this. And the acting is better than great; it might not even be acting. I’m pretty sure they actually are beating him up. Zedd would probably do that for his art. I think one of them is a real homeless person. Why not hire real bums? They can use the work! And a lot of the bums in LA are really handsome. They probably used to be movie stars.

(From $30 Film School by Michael W. Dean. , p 132. Dean directed a indie favorite called DIY or DIE: Burn this DVD (now available as a shareable DVD, although curiously it hasn’t been out as a bit torrent or anything like that). Dean is working on a new film, It/ll Be Better Tomorrow, a “labor-of-love documentary on the life and work of Hubert Selby Jr.”

Here’s an interview with Nick Zedd. Here’s another more polite interview with Zedd about Hollywood:

Q: Do you think the films shown at Sundance are really independent?

A:No. Not at all. They are commercial products made with budgets in excess of several million dollars designed as springboards to conventional theatrical distribution. Many mediocre movies are rewarded with the imprimatur of Sundance. The rancid careerists rewarded by this system go on to produce more Hollywood rubbish after being camouflaged as “Indy” for awhile, hoodwinking students and pseudointellectuals before “selling out.’”

See also his less polite Cinema of Transgression manifesto.

His artistic vision seems to be coupled with anger, vulgarity and political outrage at the excesses of capitalism. Obviously, that can grow old very quickly, but I have to admit I’m intrigued by his approach to filmmaking (It’s not exactly Dogme 95, but it could offer opportunity for innovation). See also Nick Zedd’s livejournal.