Dominique Toussaint is one of the co-producers of the short film, Alpha & Omega, a short film exploring the Rastafari culture. We discuss with Dominique the difficulties she and other film makers face in producing their films on a tight budget and what she has been doing to prepare herself for this project.
What will the funds from your crowdfunding campaign cover?
The funds will cover as much as possible; catering, expenses for cast & crew, set design, camera and lighting equipment, the list goes on! We are creating a short film on a very small budget however our crowdfunding campaign has had amazing support from 97 backers to date, giving us the opportunity to cover what we need. I am used to grafting and have even created short films without a budget before. Therefore, the need to be flexible and move things around depending on the resources available to me, is nothing new!
What are some of the difficulties you feel independent film makers face in producing their work?
There could be a range of things depending on your connections, support and funding are the main ones for me. If you’re without funding, you usually rely on your connections and your ability to hustle. Particularly if you are unknown, you’re sometimes not given a fair chance and therefore have to hustle to make ends meet and get the right people on board. You’re heavily reliant on people believing in your vision, buying into your passion and at times depending on their circumstances and even that isn’t enough sometimes.
Fortunately, we live in a time where high quality equipment is a lot more accessible and there are some amazingly talented people out there who are more than happy to take part for a small fee. You just have to know where to find them! There are a whole host of Facebook Groups (Project Noir, Film London Talent Connect etc.) and online platforms like Mandy/Film & TV Pro that helped us find collaborators outside of our immediate network. I also believe that timing is everything, so although it appears difficult in the beginning, over time you can build a network and if you keep the faith things do eventually come together.
As a co -Producer on this film, what will be your specific role in putting this film together?
My role is to support the director as much as possible with recruiting the right cast & crew, without this you are basically doomed. I have been promoting the film to organisations, charities, online publications, local businesses and creatives. Pretty much anyone that will listen! I have also been supporting the set design and costume teams, connecting them to friends who run their own décor and jewellery businesses. It is our aim to include as many people from the community as possible and in return promote them where possible. Admin and organisation is also key as there will be A LOT going on when bringing the film together, so along with Nathan (also co-producer), we work together to ensure all bases are covered.
Do you feel the success of a film depends on who you know rather than merit?
Who you know helps in many ways. Word of mouth from the right people will always be a great help re the crowdfund and gaining the right support. I also believe that having the right cast & crew makes it much easier for the writer and director’s vision to come to life exactly how it should. However, I am a firm believer in merit and if you create an awesome piece, it cannot be ignored and that is definitely the plan for this amazing story.
What sort of things will you be doing or have done already to ensure you fully understand the script and storyline before commencing work on it?
I have read the script over and over and over with many different hats on. It was my job to list and source all of the locations and props, it is important to not only be aware of these items but also understand the Directors vision and therefore the more intricate details of her requirements.
Furthermore, I’ve also sat with the heads of each department and broken down the script with them in order to understand their requirements and hence how to support them more effectively during pre-production.
I have also researched the key issues we are exploring with the film, (e.g. Cancer, the Rastafari faith, Natural medicines) so I can speak more authoritatively with prospective collaborators and organisations.
As a co-producer, there isn’t much I have been kept out of the loop of, so liaising with the writer, director, DOP and co-producer, ensures I am fully equipped with a true understanding of the script and storyline at all times.