Two Filmmakers Walk Into a Bar: The O'fish'al Story of Big Brownie

I am really excited to share with you guys all the lessons Liz and I have learned from making our film Big Brownie: The O'fish'al Story. I assure you there are many. This post is going to serve as a bit of a road map for the upcoming posts because the amount we learned from making this film would be one epically long blog post. We are going to talk about the entire process of how two totally broke independent filmmakers (who happen to be married to each other) actually end up making a thirty-five minute documentary in their spare time about a fishing festival few people had ever heard of.  Most importantly I want to be completely transparent about our experience in making the film, our goals, our achievements and why we made Big Brownie.

Mostly I am writing these posts as a reminder of what I have learned in an effort not to forget. I hope you will get something valuable out of them as well.  My brother Ryan had a quote he loved, "A smart man learns for himself but a wise man learns from others." So my friend, be wise and learn from our mistakes and successes!

 Our first interview, me shooting b-roll of Jim Nensewitz, netter of original Big Brownie

Our first interview, me shooting b-roll of Jim Nensewitz, netter of original Big Brownie

Road Map of posts:

Post One: Pre-Production - How did we come up with the idea to make a film about a fish worth $50,000 that is tagged and released into 23,000 square miles of treacherous water?  I want to tell you guys about the research we did, our resources, our initial pitch. What our expectations were and what drew us to this story.

 Days spent in the library going through 40 years of archived news articles and pictures.

Days spent in the library going through 40 years of archived news articles and pictures.

Post-Two: Production -  Immediately, the story changed when we started talking to people and the story became something much larger.  It is a strange experience cold calling people in general, but cold calling people in a small town and telling them we were making a movie (about a fishing festival that they do not deem noteworthy) and wanted them to be the stars is totally different. How did the shooting go and how did we do it with no money?  Do we feel that our equipment and our skills were adequate to handle our goals at the time? We spent six weeks filming in Alpena, Michigan and when we got back to Savannah, the film sat for a long time before we started post-production because we had to make some money.  Not an unusual situation for filmmakers.  

 Me filming the tagging and release of the Brown Trout before the festival started

Me filming the tagging and release of the Brown Trout before the festival started

Post Three: Post-Production - We did all the post-production at our home office on our MacPro. We had a couple super helpful people come in and do transcriptions of the interviews and a sound editor mix our sound but we did everything else.  So if the movie sucked, it was our sucky movie.  Good or bad, it was our responsibility.  

 Editing so much we set up another station in our living room and got to work

Editing so much we set up another station in our living room and got to work

Post Four: Crowdfunding Successfully - We did a bit of calculating and came up with a dollar amount we needed to finish the movie and get it seen.  Our goal was to have it in as many film festivals in Michigan as possible and a few other select festivals around the country.  We successfully raised $3,000 and have already submitted to 12 festivals and we have about 18 to go. Festival submission is a long process that can be very expensive. 

 Social media at it's finest. We made a lot of these and they were so much fun.  

Social media at it's finest. We made a lot of these and they were so much fun.  

Post Five: Film Festivals - What did we do to get our film ready and were we successful in the festival circuit. How much did this cost and was it all worth it. 

Post Six: The Premiere and Final Conclusions - Last but certainly not least. How did the community react to our perception of their beloved Michigan Brown Trout Festival? 

Here is our trailer for the film if you have not seen it yet.

If you would like to purchase copies of the film on DVD or BluRay, the best looking t-shirts around and koozies to keep your beverages cold, click here to order our lovely Big Brownie merchandise.  All purchases go toward getting the film out into the world!