Interview #39: Marc Price

Marc Price is a writer, director and producer. In 2008 he wrote, directed, edited, produced and shot
Colin which went on to receive a wealth of critical acclaim and was screened at the Cannes Film Festival as well as Raindance. Colin become known as the ‘£45 feature film’ and even praised by Martin Scorsese. His other works include Magpie (2013) Nightshooters (2018) and Dune Drifter (2020).

What or who inspired you to become a director?

I think it was a healthy diet of film and TV growing up. I was always fascinated with Spielberg and Lucas movies in the early 80s and I was drawn in by all the Behind The Scenes that gave us a glimpse of how some of the magic was achieved. As cameras and home editing software became more available, I was able to try some of those old techniques and fail miserably to make them work. But it definitely planted the seed to want to explore human connections in fantastic scenarios. Which is probably why my first movie was a zombie movie. I felt there was a lot of suspension of disbelief to go with relatable emotional rawness and COLIN was a way to explore that.

How would you describe your approach to filmmaking?

Frantic! I’ve managed to find a great team of people to prop up my admittedly chaotic approach to filmmaking. I’m constantly changing and adapting what we plan to shoot, so we can get the best out of each scene. Gabi Wood has been my script supervisor on a few projects now, and without her taking charge of my brain and being as laterally focused as she is, I’d never be able to get through a day. But I’ve only really been able to get projects off the ground since teaming up with Michelle Parkyn (co-founder of Dead Pixel). Since Michelle and I have started working together, we’ve produced five features in 4 years. With 2 more set for later this year. That’s all Michelle!

How would you define the zero budget filmmaking experience with ‘COLIN’? In what ways did it free you and in what ways did it restrict you?

Zero budget filmmaking is always fun for me. I’m not entirely sure we have broken free of that yet. We have budgets, for sure. But that is essentially our payroll. Once that’s covered, we only have a small amount left to make the actual film. So we have to get creative to pull the rest together.

I don’t think I’ve ever looked at a film from the perspective of restrictions. They present themselves, absolutely. But they’re obstacles to overcome, not excuses. I also have a tendency to reach quite high with low budget ideas, which is probably why there’s an 18 minute space battle sequence at the start of Dune Drifter and a nasty martial arts knife fight in Nightshooters.

Colin trailer
How did you keep the ‘Colin’ budget below £100? Did the zero budget help when it came to marketing the film?

We didn’t have a choice, really. I was living out of my overdraft at the time, so making the film using what we had available was the only way to do it. Being a zombie film, the beauty of that premise allowed us to cobble stuff together. Which we guessed is what people would have to do. So we found stuff and taped it together and it became a weapon.

There wasn’t any money in the marketing from our perspective. We were in a fortunate position where the big news story of the day involved a global economic crisis. We were a cute little story about overcoming that. We leapt on it as a chance to get the film picked up by a distributor.

How did you go about promoting your no/low budget films during a time before social media?

Social media wasn’t what it is today. When we shot COLIN it was still the MySpace days. We were partway through shooting when someone started talking about Facebook. So the promotion was through standard avenues. Interviews, blogposts, trailers and reviews.

Are international co-productions an option that independent British filmmakers should consider more often? If so, how do you think this reflects on the access to funding and support networks in independent British film?

I think it’s helpful if film makers get in the mindset of walking through the doors that open for them. No production is perfect. Even if all the money you could ever hope for is given to the production, there will be outside sources trying to steer the ship. If a co-production that requires shooting in Canada presents itself and the circumstances are something workable, it’s probably worth considering.

I find government funding to be a fruitless endeavour. It’s an extremely lengthy process that often results in nothing. Maybe my projects just don’t appeal.

Dune Drifter Trailer
Your new film Dune Drifter looks great, how did it come about?

I’ve always wanted to make a sci-fi. There was a big scratch to itch. I wanted a space battle and wanted to avoid the greenscreen intangible look that some low budget sci-fi can sometimes have. So we looked to shoot for seven days in Iceland for all of our planet-surface sequences. The rest was shot in my flat. We built a Starfighter set and used projection for any views seen outside the ships in battle or in the wormhole sequence.

How did you find the experience of shooting Dune Drifter in Iceland, were you aware of these locations while writing the script?

The way we made Nightshooters and Dune Drifter is that we had the distribution secured first. That released the funds from our financiers and, in a strange process, THAT is when I start writing. So with both films we knew our budget before writing and I was able to work towards that.

Michelle Parkyn presented a few batches of images that were specific to an area we could shoot for 7 days. The one I thought would be most interesting was Vik in Iceland. I started writing scenes based around the images and when we arrived on location we were somewhat prepared.

I was excited to see our same locations in the first few episodes of the latest Star Trek Discovery! I could also spot a few shooting issues they seemed to have that we also had. It was strangely comforting!

Is there anything you’d change in the film industry?

I don’t really look at the industry in that sense. It’s so vast and there are so many different ways to get your films made that I focus on how we can move forward over tearing down a process that I find inefficient or exclusive.

What I truly admire is how the technology has advanced to such a degree that we are seeing films from all walks of life and not just people who have a chunk of money.

Now these films aren’t necessarily represented or distributed with the care that they deserve, but the voices are out there and they’re screaming. We are in an exciting punk-rock stage of film making and I hope the world can look back on these uniquely voiced movies with some fondness.

What advice would you give to anyone starting out as a filmmaker?

Make your films! Don’t wait till the time is right. Take what you have available and make a film, because the film maker you are at the end of that process will be more advanced than the film maker you are right now. Don’t mortgage a house to get your story told, but take risks and see it to the end. It’s upsetting how many people don’t finish their script or films. Just get to the end and if you need to shoot some pick ups or an extra scene, it’s okay to do that. But you have to finish. That’s really important.

Dune Drifter is now available to rent on Amazon Prime.

Many thanks to Marc for taking the time out to chat with us! You can get in touch with Marc via Twitter.

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