A New Dawn in Indie Filmmaking…
With an egotistical director, his hapless friend and two wannabe actors and the girl of his dreams, join this mockumentary of the making of an Indie film.
“We Make Movies” – Official Trailer, Matt Tory
Award winning actor, director and writer, Matt Tory contacted me at Realweegiemidget Reviews asking that I review his movie, We Make Movies (2016). In this film, Matt Tory’s character, Stevphen Bixby is a man with a dream, a vision and a plan. He hopes to win the local Film Festival by directing his movie screenplay, A New Don: The Inspiring Story of How the President’s Nephew Fell in Love, Saved a Nation, and Found His Way Home Part II.
We Make Movies, like Matt’s previous movies stars himself along with his childhood friends. Here, the actors playing characters who are exaggerations of their off-screen personalities. And this genre reminiscent of the mockumentary series Parks and Recreation (2009-15). This film also part autobiographical, telling of Matt’s earlier film making experiences, where many of us can emphasise with him and understand the characters. This be you as a cast or crew member of a blockbuster or indie film or simply you and your pals put on wee plays as kids.
The film after some natty credits and font takes us to a film set standing in as “Arabia”. There an Indiana Jones character – complete with that trademark jacket, hat and whip – is fighting a green monster that wouldn’t look out-of-place in those early Star Trek days. This making Shatner’s Captain Kirk’s battle with the Gorn (thanks Darlin’ Husband) look the most realistic man vs beast moment since movies began. This telling you straight away this is not a tale of how to make a blockbuster movie on a big budget…but how to make an
Indy Indie film.
We then return to Day 1, to Boering (pronounced Bor-ing) where we meet the man of the moment as Stevphen (yup that’s how he spells it) Bixby (Tory) tells us of his dream, which he hopes to realise during his college holidays. This to direct his movie screenplay, and winning the town Film Festival. Stevphen has an inflated ego, and sees himself as a combination of Spielberg and as he puts it the guy who made Inception. He regales about a few of his previous movies, a couple of mockbuster films. Coming over as a man who thinks he knows it all but doesn’t really.
Shortly after this, we see him putting his plan into action. He encourages his best friend since childhood – and birthday sharer – the loyal, photosensitive Donny (Jordan Hopewell) to join him in his quest. With Donny’s alternative choice is attending an accountant summer camp, nerdy Donny is a wee bit unsure. However, Stevphen wins him over.
The intrepid double act hunts down, actor friend and solid bloke Garth (Jonathan Holmes) at his home. Garth is an actor from many of their previous productions. In a nice wee in joke film reference the bromance pair – after much cajoling – eventually sign Garth up for the movie whilst he takes a shower. This reminded me of a similar scene in Silent Movie (1976) with Burt Reynolds. But unlike Mel Brooks and his cronies, Stevphen and Donny are at the other side of the shower curtain…
Garth tells them of another actor, Leonard (Zack Slort) who might be interested, the three become four. Leonard comes over as a wannabe thesp. Making his demands and proclaiming himself as a method actor with his name pronounced Leo-nard. It gets me wondering if he and Stevphen will clash egos… Then they become five, after Donny’s cousin, Jessica (Anne Crockett) is encouraged to join the cast as a love interest for Leonards leading part. She agrees to join the boys almost reluctantly, as she’s initially more keen to text her buddies. A one time friend and actor in Stevphen’s productions, Curtis also is keen to join this cast and crew. But he’s flatly turned down by Stevphen. and throughout the film, this man was seen to be Stevphen’s nemesis…
So from there, we hear and watch Stevphen’s story as he motivates and encourages this foursome into creating his story on celluloid. The screenplay of his film, A New Don II (etc) pays homage to other movies (with a few spot the movie references). The behind the scenes moments are interspersed with this cast and crew in candid interviews. Needless to say, there are good days and bad days. With fallings out and arguments, there are heartwarming and comic moments too. This giving the film behind the scenes moments a natural fly on the wall feel to it.
Stevphen is seen to have a chink in his armour as he, Leonard and Garth fall for Jessica. With these three men then jostling for her attention in their own unique ways. Stevphen so besotted he asks for advice from Donny, proclaiming that she’s the one for him.. but is he the one for her? Stevphen’s heartbreak at not being the one for her leads to repercussions, recriminations and revelations .. as the cast and crew’s relationships are tested off-screen…
The focus on Donny and Stevphen’s bromance was a delightful sub-story to the mockumentary. It was interesting watching the character arcs of these friends develop and how this impacted the pair. With Donny, appearing timid but loyal and a good confidante. Donny was often not valued by Stevphen and in time this changed. Stevphen also came over as quite domineering towards the others at the start, was also seen to have another side to his character. Later seen as a vulnerable and unconfident character. These attributes made him more likeable and more rounded a character.
It was interesting to watch developments from Day 1 to the date of the festival, as you felt more suspense as the big day of the Film Festival grew nearer. Keeping you in suspense til the end on whether this dream would be realised. Along the way, there were some lovely moments in the film. With the cast and crew learning new skills, with one scene with Donny riding a bike for the first time standing out. This led to inevitable comic moments but was heartwarming to watch the cast and crew supporting him in this.
A montage with the cast involving a water pistol fight also showed the growing camaraderie between the characters was also a joy to watch. The romance was sweet and subtly put over, and these scenes were kept to a minimum. The knowledge of this romance on Stevphen was however a strong part of the storyline, and it was heartbreaking watching the scenes of this now more vulnerable man try to woo her in what seemed a case of unrequited love.
This film I would recommend for anyone who hopes to embark on making an indie film on how things may develop when making a movie. This film also indirectly offers useful suggestions for film making where a budget is much more limited. Location and props used a living room lamp for lighting and an imaginative green sheet for a green screen along with an estranged uncle’s barn. And even Stevphen’s mum was seen popping in as an unofficial tea lady to support her son and his friends. With Matt’s mum in the role, she was born for.
Since its release, Tory has won an award for this film at the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival. And this well deserved for this refreshing, honest and unique take of the Indie film-making business. The look at film making from an Indie – rather than a blockbuster – perspective makes you feel you can relate to the characters, their hopes and motivations. Scenes showing both the good times and bad times on and off-screen, made it a more honest and balanced mockumentary. It’s these factors scenes that makes We Make Movies feel more natural, authentic and believable, and that to quote the film is the “Movie Magic”.
A disclaimer and personal thank you to Matt Tory for asking me to write this post. Financial compensation was not received for this post. I received a copy of the movie in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed here are my own. I would also like to add that Matt Tory kindly personally agreed to me using these videos and pictures of him and his work in my blog. If you are involved in the entertainment industry and would like to be featured or promoted here, please drop a line to me via my Contact Me Page.