McGinnis: Local pair produces new filmmaking web seriesWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The creative minds behind the new Toledo-based web series “Already Indie” have a slogan for their creation: “You ARE a filmmaker.” The statement functions not just as encouragement, but an affirmation of their core beliefs as artists.
“Our slogan ‘you are a filmmaker’ is based in the idea that if you keep saying to yourself that you are going to be something you might not ever be,” co-producer Michael E. Cullen II said in an interview with Toledo Free Press Star. “You need to say that you are something and go out and be that.”
“By saying you ARE a filmmaker, you flip a switch in your brain and begin thinking like a filmmaker,” added fellow co-producer MJ Koleszar. “By saying that you are going to be a filmmaker, you are subconsciously holding yourself back from what you are capable of doing.”
The whole of the enterprise is infused with these beliefs. Each episode of the series, which can be found on YouTube or through its official website, alreadyindie.com, offers insight on and instruction into the process of making independent films.
Both Koleszar and Cullen have a long history in filmmaking, with over two decades of experience in indie work between them. The idea for the series emerged as Koleszar was considering the path he’d taken to where he was in his work, and the outlets those hoping to do the same had to learn from.
“I noticed a few things. First was that no one channel covered filmmaking as a from concept through distribution process. Some covered technology like cameras and sound equipment, others showed effects in editing or practical makeup,” Koleszar said. “I wanted a show that ran like a production and will focus on everything from writing, script formatting, to holding an audition, how to get the space as an indie artist and then how to shoot it.”
Cullen, who had known Koleszar since high school, got involved in the project early on. “MJ and I knew there was an audience of independent filmmakers who were looking for a ‘guerrilla-style of filmmaking’ that we could help teach them through every process of the filmmaking process.”
The show is still early on in its run, but has begun to evolve a personality all its own compared to other instructional shows on the internet. Both creators noted that keeping an independent tone to their work was crucial.
“We wanted an indie feel, so with the theme music, we requested the help of indie musician Matthew Haase. Keeping with the idea of guerrilla filmmaking, everything we do on the show, from the way it is filmed, to what we cover on the show — low budget FX makeup, DIY builds, digital FX like the explosion in the ‘AI’ intro — revolves around it,” Koleszar said.
That “guerrilla filmmaking” style can become one of the greatest tools a young filmmaker has, the pair argue. “I feel that knowing how to make a film with what you have available can come in handy in any small or even big budgeted production. There are always times when something goes wrong on a set and working in a limited budget makes you have to be more creative. It also helps you to solve problems more quickly and creatively when they happen,” Cullen said.
Koleszar added that the creative freedom such control can offer is another amazing benefit. “This style of filmmaking’s big advantage is that my vision is not compromised. In Hollywood, the studio may pick a lead actor or recast, tell the director to change the ending, or alter the original script. In editing the editor may have a different vision than the director. So many hands in the creative and you make compromises. In indie filmmaking I love having others give ideas and be creative; however, I still have the final say.”
Though the series recently saw the departure of its original host, actress Sarah Dauer, both producers are clearly enthusiastic about the additions of local performers Meghan O. Koesters and Herschel Powers to their cast, and are hopeful for what new viewers will get out of the series.
“I’d like to see the show continue to grow both online and locally as we help educate people interested in how to make films. I’d like to see the show grow as a brand and become a community of people who can learn and grow together and help grow the independent film community,” Cullen said.
“We have plans to grow within the Toledo community. Doing things such as working with local businesses to have a film competition to inspire local filmmakers, showcase Toledo acting talent, and inspire young people to delve into the filmmaking world. Online, we want to become the largest filmmaking community to showcase work, get feedback, and network with industry professionals,” Koleszar stated.