DIRECTOR NICOLE FRANKLIN REDEFINES FILMMAKING
Director Nicole Franklin’s latest project is the feature film, Title VII, which was filmed in 8 Days. No, that was not a typo. She filmed a feature film in 8 days. And we’ve seen it, it’s good. Ever the enterprising individual, Nicole recently started a seminar poignantly titled, #FilmAFeatureIn8Days that teaches filmmakers exactly how to perfect the process. We sat down with Nicole to learn about her motivation, process and advice.
What Motivated Me To Start The Film A Feature In 8 Days Seminar
When I was forced to reduce my number of shoot days for my recent narrative feature film debut, TITLE VII, I needed a confidence boost. For months I was planning a 15-day micro-budget shoot. About 45 days before production I knew we could not afford what the key crew needed. My IndieGogo fundraiser had a $15,000 goal. In reality, microbudgets of our size—10 leads and two locations—are at least $75,000. We struggled to raise the $15K! I was talking to my friend Leesa Dean, creator of the #BlerdDating Twitter hour and I was telling her how worried I was. Then I said, “I have to film this in about eight days or else we’ll run out of food! I can do this film in eight days, right?” She said, “Hell yeah, you can do the film in eight days!” I was on a mission…straight to the Internet. There was barely anything there at the time—except for the myth of the two-day filming of Little Shop of Horrors. I say “myth” because I believe Roger Corman was able to do re-shoots. We would not have that luxury. I really would have liked to have had a real comrade online with whom to bounce off questions but there wasn’t anyone I could find at the time. So I promised myself if I made it through, I would be that person for others.
As the director you’re the lead, but also practice good listening.
What was your process like in filming Title VII?
I think the main process of filming in eight days helped me as a director in the confidence boost. More time would have been a luxury, and maybe a few more ideal shots. But collapsing our days meant six to eight scenes per day. And to still visually appear as if the camera was constantly moving and the shots were impressively stunning that just meant pre-production was more on point than anything. Hats off to the force that was our DP, Cybel Martin, and our all-female camera team from FDUFilm on the Fairleigh Dickinson University Campus. With their lead and a gaffer/grip team that moved lightning fast and were very talented as well, we wrapped by 6pm every day—one day by 4:30pm. I guess as a director I now believe I should be home by sunset, hahahah.
My advice for up and coming filmmakers has many facets. There are many aspects of filmmaking to study in all three phases: Pre-production, production and post. You have to have a solid handle on all three—or at least know something and have some top hires in all three areas to make a film. And I’m not saying that you have to hire an army. I mean really take the time to study on other sets, take class and get experience. I grew up in post-production—27 years to be exact—and I grew up in news television so working as a team player is in my nature. Also, everything comes down to story. If the story is there—and that is largely due to well-drawn out characters and a fresh take on the chosen plot—then the setting, art direction and cinematic values will follow. As the director you’re the lead, but also practice good listening. All of the departments will appreciate it and you’ll have a wealth of resources to work with in the end. Also, get some sleep!
More About Nicole:
NICOLE is an award-winning filmmaker, published writer and, come Fall 2017, an Assistant Professor of Television Production at Hofstra University. Through her 27 years in the industry Nicole has been a television director, stage manager, editor, educator, public speaker, web event host and contributing writer to such publications as The Good Men Project and Toronto-based ByBlacks.com. For eighteen years, her company EPIPHANY Inc. has produced independent films for numerous cable networks including Showtime, BET, IFC, Nickelodeon, Sundance Channel, FUBU TV and kweliTV.