Jeremy Joyce and Rob Lockyear of Two Eyes Film had no shortage of behind-the-camera skills, ideas for the film or passion to get it made, but they were lacking in something typically seen as essential in moviemaking—you know, money. Luckily for surf film fans, Joyce and Lockyear are as good at stretching dollars and asking favors as they are at making movies. In spring of 2017, they launched a Kickstarter campaign that offered such prizes as the infamous “Wavefucker” model surfboard from “The Shaper”, or the opportunity to write a line for one of the characters to say in “The Outrider” if you coughed up enough dough.
Once they had a little cash in hand, the pair drummed up a cast and crew that shared their passion for making something fun on the cheap, they set out for California for production and saw just how far they could stretch their funds. Below are some tips from Lockyear on how you could do the same—whether or not you should is debatable.
“Last year we headed out to California with a tiny crew and not enough money to make a new surf comedy,” says Lockyear. “It was our most ambitious film yet and we were woefully unprepared. Here’s how we just about pulled it off. This isn't advice or anything like that. Don't do this.”
Recruit Star Talent (As Long as it's Free or at Least Cheap):
We first met the enigmatic MC of People Under the Stairs, Thes One, through our Kickstarter. Thes provided some amazing music for the film but also delivered a powerhouse performance. Here's why:
—Hollywood Looks: Thes suffered major sunburn a few days before the shoot. He didn't want to be peely on screen so buffed off his crispy bits with a battery powered exfoliation brush. That's how they chemical peel in Oceanside.
—Bringing Himself to the Role: Thes' character, Mr. Portugal, is a reclusive pigeon-breeder angry at his noisy neighbor. In the script, he runs into shot wearing slippers, a white vest and pale blue boxer shorts. Thes felt the character should be wearing a gold, velvet, Gucci tracksuit—we agreed.
—Focus: As we were about to roll the cameras, we turned around to see Thes kneeling in the corner preparing himself to "bring it"—the first time we have felt like we were making a real film.
—Resourceful: We had taped Thes up with a wireless mic but there was one cable that hadn't been taken care. “Hey, I need some gaffer tape to strap down my piece," he said. A true professional.
Ask and Thou Shalt Receive (Unless They Say No):
When you make a film on a tight budget, you have to ask for help. It can feel shameful, but it's unavoidable—you just have to check your conscience at the door and get stuck in. The film would have gone nowhere without the help of some beautiful people—from our five-buck backers to our two grand executive producers, our amazing crew who worked for free and are worth a fortune, the SURFER mag team for sourcing our locations and opening their rolodex, Ryan Lovelace for opening the doors to his amazing shaping bay and squeezing into Tommy Tonata’s (one of the films’s main characters) costume to make the shaping look real, Jacob from Jive surf lending us his classic VW van without a second thought (or liability documents)…the list goes on.
There is a special place in my heart for the guy who shared his pickup truck BBQ with us while we were setting up a shot along the freeway near Rincon. "Dude, dude…you gotta try this,” he yelled at us. It's chicken…with peanut butter. My son just invented it."
Embrace the "Magic of Cinema" A.K.A. "Cheat":
At the climax of the film, Mike Strident, played by Danny Webb, attacks a van with a flaming stick while high on acid. In the script we were in Baja, but it didn't take too long to realize we didn't have the time or the budget to drive to Mexico, so we had to set the scene up in a patch of dirt below the freeway in Santa Barbara. We managed to transform a sandy drainage system into a deserted Baja point break with some artful lighting and a case of Pacifico. Our cinematographer Ben had dropped in on Danny during a surf the day before and cracked his rib. We managed to get the scene in the can despite the fact Danny could hardly walk—artful cutting and creative camera work getting us through. The next day we had to shoot some water footage of Danny who bravely agreed to suck it up and paddle out. He was miraculously healed when a set wave came through though—funny how surfing has the power to heal.
You’re Never Going to be Ready—Just do it Anyway:
We arrived in California without casting the role of Mike Strident's nemesis and host of fictional surfing talk show, Foam Masters—Canon Makowski. This is not the first time we have started a shoot hoping we will find an actor to fill a role—the bird-flipping farmer in Freezing was a theater director from Rekjavik who we found on Facebook with three days left to shoot. You can make it work but it’s not smart!
We found Patrick, the actor who played Canon, on a casting website only knowing that he needed to be handsome with a soap-opera-worthy jawline. We met Patrick in a cafe in Venice. We were in boardies—Patrick showed up in a tux. We made him read for the part even though we would have to hire him regardless—luckily he made us laugh our asses off. You can make it work—just believe!
[Click here to watch “The Outrider,” now streaming on Vimeo On Demand.]