The Last Broadcast: a Full-length Movie on a Shoestring Budget

Videographers Stefan Avalos and Lance Weiler have produced a video movie that proves that you don’t need a hundred-thousand-dollar budget to produce a full-length motion picture. Their 90-minute movie cost them a grand total of just $900.

How’d they do it? Did they beg, borrow and steal? Well, they probably begged, or at least cajoled, their friends. And they borrowed plenty of equipment. But they didn’t have to steal–they owned some equipment as well.

Actually, there are four ingredients that made this project viable: their use of themselves and their friends as talent and crew, their integration of the “look” of video into the movie’s storyline, their ownership of two nonlinear editing systems, and free access to some pricey video equipment loaned by generous friends.

“We set out to kill the notion of feature-length movies costing an exorbitant amount of money to make, especially for independent videographers,” said Weiler. “What makes the project work is the video’s concept: a documentary examining the murders of two public-access hosts. To shoot a straightforward narrative that could be measured against the Hollywood standard would be suicidal. Our approach was unique: to make a movie that represents real life in real time, with all characters documenting each other with video cameras and microphones.”

According to Avalos, “The idea is to finally kill the concept of any and all feature-length movies requiring serious money. Even though $200,000 is nothing for a movie, it’s still a ton of money in the real world. Even $20,000 is [a lot]. We wanted to do something that would be the equivalent in cost to a home stereo system…well, a nice home stereo system; and we knew we could do it. The story that emerged was based largely on the premise: ‘What and whom can we get for nothing?'”

To find out more about The Last Broadcast, visit the Web site: www.tebweb.com/lastbroadcast.

Eagle Award Winners Announced

Representatives from Brooklyn’s Public School 41 were honored recently at a gala awards ceremony in Washington, DC sponsored by the CINE video organization. Students from the school, which also participates in the nationwide Kid Witness News (KWN) video-education program sponsored by Panasonic, received a prestigious Eagle award for their video production Bullets Through My Window. A stark look at urban violence, the video also won two awards at the 1996 edition of the annual Kid Witness News awards ceremony, held in Atlanta.

Pictured are (from left) Daniel Thomas, teacher Jeff Goldstein, Benneshea Allen, Shaniqua Hanton and CINE president Dr. Frank Frost.

For more information, contact Kurt Praschak, Panasonic Corporate News Center, (201) 392-6124 or praschakk@panasonic.com.

Notes From the Trenches

Denny Holland and Shawn Coyle of DreamTime Films are independent videographers who have been involved in a video movie project called Texas Larry for the past three years.

According to Coyle, “Texas Larry is the mythical tale of a dust-blown blues drifter haunted by surreal dreams, desperate songs and oily coffee…a metaphysical musical…a parable of modern intellectual despair set in the bleak landscape of the Texas Panhandle.”

With the project almost finished, Holland and Coyle are reflecting on the long, hard journey of independent video production and what they’ve learned from the experience. For those who intend to embark on such a venture, they offer the following advice:

“1. Know your resources. Subscribe to key publications, join local organizations (ours is the Bay Area Video Arts Coalition), buy books and scan the Internet for the know-how and any ideas that will advance your projects. Texas Larry has benefited from all of the above.

“2. Know your motivation. To seize the brass ring, you’ve got to align who you are with what you do. Fame and money are for losers; if that’s all you “shoot” for, that’s all you’ll get. And finally,

“3. Accept the fact that you are mentally unstable. You just don’t know it yet. Time will wear this conviction into your mind as you identify your irrational behavior and discover, with unnerving clarity, that it’s you you’re watching.”

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