WHO NEEDS BUDGETS! - The making of Who Needs Enemies
Who Needs Enemies was our/my first feature film. It started as a short film I wrote for Producer Tony Currier to star in (he was doing a bit of acting at the time) and it was called 'Dead Man', a short story about a gangster who have to hide a dead body from his wife (Sort of like the bonnie situation in Pulp Fiction).
The script was so inspired by Pulp Fiction that I thought to myself that Pulp was indeed a series of short films tied together and shot as a feature film. So I spoke to Tony about possibly turning this into a feature film and he asked how much do I need to make it to which I naively replied "about 5k". My brother Nik was already a partner in the production company so agreed to also fund it...so in total we has £6,000 to make a feature film...impossible right? Maybe.
So I wrote several more short films and tied them together in one feature film script that became 'Who Needs Enemies'. Each story took place in one location (which we'd borrow) and that's how we kept cost down. Tony knew a lot of people in the industry who were looking for a good project and somehow he managed to convince Michael McKell, Ian Pirie and Emma Barton to be in the film. They loved the script so amazingly they agreed.
Tony had also worked on a set with Kris Johnson who was just getting into the industry at the time and told me that this guy was gonna be big! After seeing a demo reel I agreed and immidiatly casted him, without an audition. I even rewrote a lot of the script to centralize his character more because I knew he would be the explosiveness of the film. We then held auditions for the rest of the cast and we were ready to go!
Our crew you could count on one hand! The sound recordist alone cost us 3k so right off the bat...we had 3k to shoot this film. Luckily Tony knew Andre Govia who at the time was just getting into filmmaking after a successfull photography career...and he brought all his equipment with him. Camera (DSLR), lights, rigs...he made the shoot possible. We had a make up artist, a script supervisor...and that was it! Obviously my sister, brother and Tony was there daily to help out too but essentially we were all doing about 20 different jobs on set!
Our shoot days were around 4 hours long (because money was low and people had jobs!) so we would litterally be working around peoples schedules so we could shoot a few scenes here, a few scenes there and wrap up. Overall we started shooting early September and finished late November. People were so patient with us, giving us their time and I think because not only was it a good script but because they were having fun. We all became a little family and had a great time shooting.
Once wrapped I started editing, sound editing, sound mixing (even done the 5.1 mix). For music I searched the internet for independent artists. I listened to 100s of artists and when I found a song I liked I approached them and managed to get the licence for the film. I still love the Who Needs Enemies soundtrack!
Only a handful of films have been made for under 10k and actually found distribution deals - Robert Rodrigez's El Mariachi was the most notable, so we wasn't hopefull at the start of this but we managed to get picked up fairly quickly, and I think because we were so new to the industry we moved a little too quickly without really considering our options and signed with a couple of distributors (Filmworks Entertainment US and Ballpark Films UK) who did a good job at getting exposure for the film but did a terrible job of giving us sales reports (we haven't seen a penny from those distros till this day) but that's a whole other story.
On a positive note Who Needs Enemies was distributed on DVD worldwide and also had a UK release on cinemas
I think it made it onto 20 screens, Vue and Showcase Cinemas (god knows how it passed quality control lol). It also screened on London Live UK TV and has held a stead rating on IMDB. It got four stars from Total Film and was featured in many of the mainstream outlets.
It is safe to say that it day way better than we expected. In fact it has probably made 10 times the initial budget and then some. Recently we managed to get the rights back from those shady distributors and we've signed it an actual honest distributor Journeyman Pictures who have released it on Amazon Prime.
Who Needs Enemies was a huge learning curve for us into the industry. It showed us what to do and what not to do. Sure it has its flaws but for what it is, a feature film made on a short film budget...it's bloody great!