This is a very interesting story about a director with a great idea but no money. Kely McClung is a director writer actor editor. He’s been able to film his movie with no money and very low resources. But he made it! The award winning Blood Ties is his first feature film. His first short film, AM Session, was recently nominated for HBO’s Short Film Award. Here’s what he wrote for us.
How to film an award winning movie with no money
The four year, twenty-three day, ninety-three minute movie!
Yeah, yeah. The movie’s not that long, it just has been for me. Everyone else, besides friends and family, will get to see the 93 minute version. And the reality is, I might be on it another couple years, though what anyone sees will still be the 93 minute version.
“Blood Ties” was filmed with no money by a crew of three in both the US and Thailand (with just a few moments over the border into Cambodia). Just to make things a bit more complicated, we filmed in the mountains of Virginia, Washington D.C. on the Mall, The Port of Miami, and Atlanta. Our crew numbers stayed at a maximum of three and our cast grew to 154.
And post production? Me. Sound, visual effects, editing, ADR, Foley, graphics, titles, music? Me. Which is not to say everything is great, it’s just what we could afford on a no budget movie. Every time I’d get ready to fire myself, I’d remember that I’m the only guy I could afford! And even with that, I definitely had some long talks with myself.
Is it worth watching? We hope so, and our success on the beginning of the film circuit says we might be right.
Blood Ties won The Action on Film International Film Festival’s “Action Film of the Year”, The Audience Award for “Best Director” at the Big Bang Film Festival, “Best of the Festival” at the Indie Fest USA International Film Festival, “Best Visual Effects” at the same, and has been nominated for various other awards at various other festivals.
Could I teach something about directing? Yeah, probably, even though Blood Ties is a first movie. About editing? Yeah, I’m known as a strong editor. After Effects, sound editing, composing for film, and 200 other subjects involved in making a movie? I’m pretty sure I could. But that’s not want I want to teach or preach or pass on in these few words.
The lesson I hope to share right now is in creating a vision – not only of the movie and what you want it to be but how you want to be perceived – keeping it in mind, and striving toward it with as little compromise as possible no matter how long it takes. Knowing that in twenty or thirty years, your first film won’t matter in the scheme of things except that it will always be, no matter how successful or not, your first film.
One of the things to strive for is surrounding yourself with a strong cheering section. My film partner, my family, my amazing girlfriend. Though they might not physically take on the work, without them, there is no movie.
My film partner, Robert Pralgo put up the initial money, as well as a seemingly endless trickle of money since. He also co-starred, help cast, pushed, pulled and dared me to make a better movie than what we thought was possible.
My family never talked down to me even though I am the one brother of five who they all have to worry about if I have a roof over my head.
And the Amazing Amanda let me see the movie from many different angles, again setting me up to challenge myself to make it even stronger.
Our crew of three rotated several times, and our cast gave their all because they somehow knew that I believed in what I was doing. There would be no movie without all of their many efforts. I give credit to almost everyone I meet and genuinely mean and feel it. They color the way I look at myself and my work, and are reflected in the images jumping around on screen.
And jump around they do! Blood Ties embraced the hand held look simply because I knew where I was wanting to shoot, a tripod, a dolly, or a steadicam would get us arrested. “You mean you aren’t supposed to shoot on the Mall or the Port or in the streets of a foreign country without permission?” Permission is relatively easy to get, if you pay for it. And that just wasn’t part of the budget!
I am sure I could talk about the making of the movie for the about the same length of time it took to make it. And maybe I’ll get the chance to write more. There is a lot more information on our website and other people are starting to talk and write as well.
What I hope with this introduction is to pass on the challenge to others to make the movies they want to see. To learn and persevere. To look at the art around them and if they find themselves saying “I could do that” – then to do it!