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Portrait of an Indie Film

Over the past few years I have become less and less satisfied with what Hollywood churns out. Remakes often lack the charm and soul of the original; for instance Clash of the Titans in 2010 was a tiresome and tiring trudge through some admittedly spectacular, but ultimately uninteresting scenes. It was less a journey and more a series of video game levels. Rarely has Ancient Greece looked less Greek and less Ancient.

I started to turn away from Hollywood’s output, and have been revisiting the classics at home, via DVD and Film 4, and the cinema of India and Japan have fascinated me too.

That is not to say that all US film is the product of the great factories of Hollywood. Some filmmakers are still living and working in Hollywood and making incredible, thought-provoking cinema.

Pig, written and directed by Henry Barrial, and produced by Mark Stolaroff is one such film.

A man wakes up alone in the middle of the desert with a black hood on his head and his hands tied behind his back. At death's door, he is discovered by a woman living alone in the desert and is nursed back to health. Upon regaining consciousness, the man realizes he has amnesia, and has no idea who he is. His only clue, a piece of paper in his pocket with the name "Manny Elder" on it, sends him on a journey to Los Angeles to discover his past. But things and people are not what they seem and clues lead to something bigger and more unusual than the man could have ever imagined.

An intriguing premise. This is a film to make you think, a deep exploration of the human condition.

No less intriguing than the film, is the journey from idea, to script, to making, to release and the path that this wonderful film is now on, playing to audiences on the film circuit. 

How I got the most incredible insight into the nuts and bolts came about through a mixture of chance, and because I am naturally nosy without a shy and retiring bone in my body.

Back at the beginning of the year, I was looking for distraction and for some interesting people to follow, and I joined a fan forum for actor Rudolf Martin. I don’t normally do this, I very rarely join forums for anything, the reasons why would be far to long and boring to list here, but to cut a very long story short Rudolf has intrigued me as an actor for some time and I thought it would be interesting to know more.

I am always on the look out on Twitter, so I followed the Official Fan Page’s feed there too, and whilst I was there, clicked on another couple of suggestions that popped up.

The first was @Stolaroff. Mark Stolaroff is Pig’s producer, and the founder of No Budget Film School (more of this later), a weekend course that Mark teaches, on how to make a movie without selling your grandmother and winding up broke living in a cardboard box.

The second was @ThePigPicture.

Mark messaged me and thanked me for the follow. I messaged back, asking if there was anything I could do to help.

More messages were traded and a few weeks after, a quick and somewhat unpolished copy of Pig was in my hot little hands.

Wow! This was film in nearly its raw state. Watching it for the first time, without all the extra gloss that is added later, missing some incidental music, none of that mattered. For the first time in a very long time I felt a genuine connection with a film. I cried at the end. Here was a writer who truly understood the nature of man. You cared about the central character, a truly mesmerizing performance by Rudolf Martin.

It was an amazing experience seeing the film for the first time.

I was actually lost for words. Something that some of my friends who know me well wish would happen a bit more often.

I told Mark and Henry, the writer and director, that I loved it. I think I babbled.

Within a couple of months, the film was polished and ready to hit the Festival Circuit. Nashville was first.

Then Sci-Fi-London Film Festival. Mark and Henry were coming to the UK. Well of course I was going to get involved, I collected them from the airport, and was privileged to spend time with them and get some insight into all the hard work that goes into making a successful festival entry.

Pig won Best Feature in London. An extra accolade being that this was the first time in five years that the Sci-Fi-London committee had awarded the Best Feature prize.

Since then, Pig has gone on to win at Shriekfest in Los Angeles, Best Sci-Fi Feature, and Best Feature at Thriller! Chiller! in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Not bad for a film that was made for next to nothing.

There’s still a decent amount of money in the feature, but more important than cash is talent, skill, passion and knowing where to spend the money where it will do the most good.

This is something that Mark Stolaroff knows all about. He was a principal at a  company called Next Wave Films. Next Wave gave finishing funds to small budget movies, it was Mark’s job to watch a lot of films and decide who to give the funds to.

In his twenty-year career as a producer, Mark has gathered a lot of knowledge about what and what not to do to make a film. These tips, tricks and secrets he shares, along with an assortment of guest speakers, in a two-day weekend package he calls No Budget Film School.

Filmmaking is tough, and Mark pulls no punches on that score, telling it like it really is.

As amazing and wonderful as Pig is, the guys behind the film, and the story of how the film was made are every bit as fascinating and interesting as the film itself. This is real movie making where story matters more than CGI and the connection the audience feels with the spectacle is more involved.

Pig could well be coming to a festival near you, check the official website to find out, it will eventually be available on DVD and/or download.


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