Wayne Dudley, 22, was told by industry insiders that his plans for a movie were unrealistic but a year on he has made the film for a staggeringly low budget of £230, and will premiere it next week.
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The movie, which is called The Hidden Persuaders, is a mystery surrounding the death of a rock star and was filmed in Dundee with a cast of 60 including the American actor Dayle Teegarden, who has worked on 24, CSI:Miami and ER.
Dudley, who did the filming with almost no other crew, says he was inspired by the movie El Mariachi, made by Robert Rodriguez on his own for £4500. Films with relatively small budgets have become a trend in film-making in recent years as camera equipment has become cheaper.
Dudley, who is a former business studies student at Abertay University, used equipment he bought two years ago to make a short film, and managed to recruit all the actors for nothing after telling them about his plans. He hopes his micro budget – which covered food and petrol – will help him stand out from other young film-makers.
“Everybody I talked to about getting into the film industry said there was no chance that one person could make a film of this scale on their own,” he said.
“There’s thousands of people who want to be filmmakers and I thought the way to stand out from the crowd was to make a film by myself.”
Shooting started in June and lasted around a month, with Dudley forced to beg, borrow and improvise along the way. When one actor pulled out at the last minute, he recruited a woman off the street who filmed the role in her lunch break.
“The shoot was one of the hardest and best experiences of my life,” said Dudley. “I would get up in the morning to make the actors’ breakfasts and lunch, drive them to the set, film all day, upload the footage and prepare for the following day’s shoot at night. The actors were also staying at my house. Needless to say I didn’t get much sleep”.
After filming was completed, Dudley spent 10 hours a day for four months editing the final version of the film on his laptop. He says the kind of equipment now available to use at home has made film-making easier.
“Anyone can pick up a camera – it doesn’t have to be a high quality one – and just practise making a film. The difficult thing is getting people to watch it. I’m still a nobody in this industry so it’s essential to get a distribution company on board.”
To do that, Dudley plans to set off two days after the premiere, at Dundee University on Friday, and visit film companies around the world in an attempt to secure the deal. He will go to London, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Toronto and New York – and realises that there are going to be a lot of doors slammed in his face.
“Mass rejection is hard to prepare for,” he says. “Some companies will say we haven’t got time for this, you’re just a nobody, but I’m going for the shock factor of just turning up.
“I’ll be telling them: this is what I’ve managed to do on my own, so either distribute my film or take a chance on me on a future project. If this is what I can do with a budget of £230 what could I do with a bigger crew and a bit more money?”
Dudley says if he comes home without a deal, he’s prepared for that too. “If I come away from this process without a deal, it won’t be for lack of trying so I won’t have any regrets. The dream is that, by the end of the journey, I will have secured a distribution deal for the film, future work for myself and my actors, and accumulated a vast list of contacts in the industry.”
Blockbusters on a budget
El Mariachi (1992): This story of an out-of-work musician travelling across Mexico was written and directed by Robert Rodriguez and made for £4500.
Clerks (1994): The comedy about two shopworkers was made for £17,000 and was written and directed by Kevin Smith.
Blair Witch Project (1999): Horror about a group of friends lost on a hike, pictured right, was fabled to have made viewers sick with fear. When photography first wrapped, around $20,000 to $25,000 had been spent.
Primer (2004): The science-fiction movie about two geeks who accidentally discover time travel was made for around £4500.
Paranormal Activity (2007): The psychological horror film which was a hit all over the world but was made for under £10,000.