Summer in Indiana is the season for fresh, homegrown sweet corn and those warm, sugary tomatoes that taste nothing like the ones at the grocery store. It’s the time when kids on vacation catch lightning bugs in fruit jars or build a house for a box turtle found in the backyard. This is the perfect setting for what we call ‘homegrown filmmaking’.
In case you didn’t know it already, we’re not a big, fancy production company. In fact, I have to clear my workspace in the dining room so that we can eat dinner.
Both the director, Storme Wood, and I balance time with our families with filmmaking. This doesn’t mean that we are weekend parents. It means that we are the primary caregivers while our spouses work.
In the middle of post-production, we have had to stop everything to find a lost shoe. We have halted a production meeting to play ‘Go Fish’. We have folded laundry while making budgeting decisions, called into meetings from soccer games, and hung up the phone with a fellow producer to better arbitrate a sibling squabble. Our spouses have come home and made dinner more times than we would like to admit.
Sure, this kind of filmmaking takes longer. A lot longer. But with a lot of hard work, late nights, early mornings, and quite a bit of grace in the form of coffee, we were able to pull it off.
Most filmmakers are actually pretty amazed that we were able to make a movie this way. Had we had a bigger budget or more resources, we’re not sure we would have shot Paradise Recovered any differently.
The summer of 2009 found us on lush creek banks, on Hoosier back roads, and in clover fields getting that perfect magic-hour shot. It found us in a small town VFW Hall, a courthouse square, and a Big Ten university campus. And it found us in a number of small businesses that make up the backbone of Indiana culture.
“Can you believe this set?” our Austin-based director of photography David Blue Garcia would muse from time to time. “I mean, productions pay big bucks for set design like this. And we just show up and, well, here it is!”
The hospitality shown to us while we filmed here in Indiana was incredible. For instance, Sahara Mart, a locally-owned health food store in Bloomington, allowed us to shoot on their premises during business hours and gave us a nice discount on food for our crew. The Palms, a Bedford beauty salon and spa, was gracious enough to open up for us on a Sunday so that we could shoot undisturbed. Local city governments provided permit-free locations and blocked off free parking places, caterers delivered to out of the way locations without delivery charges, and good friends kept our kids occupied during filming.
When we watch our credits roll at the end of our film, we are floored at how many generous people there are in this great state. Over 120 extras came out to be a part of our production, thanks to the promotion from Bedford Little Theatre. Broad Ripple and Bloomington musicians offered their amazing, original songs. The Indiana arts community really greeted us with open arms, and they gave our partners and friends from Austin an amazingly warm welcome.
As first-time feature filmmakers and stay-at-home parents, Storme and I have had a pretty big learning curve, but the kindness shown by our Indiana cohorts made seemingly difficult challenges easier. Collaboration in filmmaking is essential to success, especially at the ultra-low budget level, and we could not have made this film without the help of our friends and neighbors.
When you come to a Heartland screening of Paradise Recovered, you’ll be seeing a homegrown film in its native setting. Come on up afterwards and say hello. We’re proud to represent Indiana filmmaking at Heartland Film Festival, and we are grateful to everyone who helped make Paradise Recovered a success. Thank you for giving this stay-at-home mom the opportunity to dress up and call herself a filmmaker…and now to set the table.
Producer and Writer of Paradise Recovered