Mark Ashmore discusses first feature
Future Artists Founder Mark Ashmore spent 3 years directing and producing his first feature film ‘The Lost Generation’ which features powerful, gritty footage and takes indie creation to the next level. Working with DSLR cameras and a tight budget, Ashmore successfully produced his indie feature from the ground up with a passionate community of actors and film crew.
Once the production was finished, he decided to pursue independent distribution online with the help of Future Artist members. ‘The Lost Generation’ will become available from tomorrow on DVD but you can already get a copy early online through the VOD player above.
‘The Lost Generation’ tells the tale of a Reality TV star fighting to survive in a world where a corrupted media have the power over the government and police, inspired by the true events of the occupy movement.
Check out how Mark made his feature come to light, and what his approach was on filming and distributing it to a wide audience.
Interview with Future Artists Founder Mark Ashmore
Iain: How did you get the cast and crew together for your first feature?
Mark: We began the process as a workshop and short film; the film was born out of frustration. As a producer and director, I had been to 100s of coffee meetings to talk about getting finance for films, and they never seemed to go anywhere, just more coffee – the same goes for a lot of talented actors and filmmakers I know; always waiting for the phone to ring, and when it does, it’s never the ‘dream job’. So at Future Artists we got a small group of us together and with a mublecore/dogma 95 style manifesto, we set about some ground rules on which to build a film and from there, started to connect very early on with other creatives and our audience. From the original idea, the production began to grow, organically and also with me producing it.
Once we had workshopped the themes of the Lost Generation with the actors, we began the process of putting together a structure. Reality TV was the most mentioned thing from the workshops, so we began to imagine a gameshow called the Lost Generation, and why it exists. We then went and shot a short film, over 3 days to see if:
a) The actors could pull it off
b) If we had a skilled enough small crew and
c) if it worked in the edit!
Iain: What made you decide to shoot ‘The Lost Generation’?
Mark: Besides the above, I personally wanted to tell a story in this way, connected at all times around a digital campfire to my audience, from the idea, to the film premiere and subsequent platform releases (VOD/DVD ETC). The media in the UK has dubbed my generation ‘the lost generation’ condemning us to history. The film reflects this message but the transmedia around it, the way it was made and the context of the art being made shows this is just not the case. This film , is my f*** you, to the entire traditional film industry.
I made this my way, completely independently using all the new media tools out there, and my audience helped us when we needed it, and the crew and cast all worked in different ways, multi-tasking, collaborating, as a media collective. – the lost generation is a film and a movement, we aim to #occupymedia with it.. if only for a day, done in the Future Artists way.
Iain: Can you give us an insight into how you planned and shot your film and what you learned?
Mark: The film was 14 shooting days over 3 years. The reason for this was life and work gets in the way, our budget came in in bits, and the whole process was workshopped and discussed, and we never had a final script. There were just a lot of ideas on how we felt the film or the story should be told and end, so for example we had about 20 pages of script to start with, we prepped it, shot it and then something would pop up in the media or the audience would suggest something, and it was like, “how do we get that in the film?”, or if we do, “What will it effect?”, so it was a very organic process.
We were also handed little gems, like the protest scene in the film; we had 10,000 extras to use as a backdrop in the movie, so we devised a sequence which would tell our main character’s back story in a unique way, using this protest, so we had to adapt to shoot the scenes. What we also had going for us, was that we shot on a domestic Canon 550D
Iain: How did you approach distributing and marketing your film?
Mark: We began the marketing I guess 3 years ago, talking about the idea online, at festivals in meetings, while teaching, and then engaging our audience, stepping outside the story and going, “By the way, we are gonna need your help to make this,” whether it was sourcing locations, props, or even cast straight through to the distribution and sales of cinema tickets and the VOD. In that process, the audience have an ownership of this indie film, and this was set up from day 1, and so for 3 years, we have watched our audience grow, and get stronger as a support network. This is really what Future Artists is all about. Also our audience can earn 15% of every download or dvd sale of the film, becauqe we are using new tech in the distrify VOD player, which enables your fan base to share or basically become sales agents for the film! click embed on the player on this page to see how it will take 20 seconds and you’ve got it. It’s the same as sharing a youtube video and what this also enables us to do is get a digital foothold in the world’s biggest film blogs, who can host our film and get a revenue from it. Who needs netflix?!
Iain: Can you give any tips to up and coming filmmakers who are looking to shoot their own indie features?
Mark: Be in it for the passion, as it’s a long slog, 3 years to make a film and then another 1 year to promote it, so be true to your story, don’t follow trends and fads, don’t conform. If you’re indie, shock and surprise us, do the opposite to the mainstream films, be your own voice and you will find an audience.
Iain: What do you think about the UK film industry at the moment and the technology available to help people make their movies?
Mark: We don’t have a UK film industry, we have a UK service industry. Our crew and talent serve other industries very very very well (Star Wars shooting in the UK etc). What we do have though is an amazing indie scene. Here in Manchester we have a huge indie film scene with Future Artists and also a huge fringe theatre scene, where actors, writers and crew develop their skills, but to make this into an industry that is beyond cottage industry is going to take investment and time. We are at least 5 years off this new industry, but myself and others at Future Artists are at the vanguard, and ‘The Lost Generation’ is the start of this change – and at the end of the day, people have to think it’s a good movie, so we can go and make another!
So readers can head to http://www.projectlostgeneration.co.uk and watch the film now via future artists video on demand, and then tweet us a mini review at @futureartists and follow the conversation and tag themselves into it with #occupymedia
The Lost Generation poster
Iain: What’s next for you?
Mark: Before ‘The Lost Generation’ has even been released, because of how we made it and our audience impact across the world, we have been given funding by a major VOD site to make some original content – I can’t announce the full details yet, but for us it’s recognition and it’s also a sign of where the industry is heading…