Getting to the Next Level
Brian Padian updates us on his next feature, “Sister/Brother.”
Independent filmmaker Brian Padian, who at a Propeller event last spring discussed his debut feature film The Black Sea, is in the midst of a campaign to raise funds to make his next movie, Sister/Brother. As a continuation of that previous conversation, Padian chatted via email about what he has been up to since last spring, how pre-production on Sister/Brother is going, and how he chose his fundraising platform.
Propeller: When we chatted at Boys Fort back in May, you talked about preparing to embark on your second feature, which is what your current Seed & Spark campaign is for. Before we talk about that, though, it sounds like you’ve already wrapped shooting on a different project—a web series. Could you tell us a little bit about that?
Brian Padian: I wrote and directed a 6-part web-series called Microaggressions in early September. The series focuses on a mediation in a City building early one Saturday morning. Present are four people: the mediator, two City employees and their shared manager. Each episode features one of the four getting ready to leave home and come to the mediation. The fifth episode concerns the mediation itself. The last episode gives attention to the facilities technician who set the room up prior to the mediation. Speaking broadly, the series takes a look at areas of human intersection and separation. We had a great time shooting it and the actors are really all incredible so I’m feeling very excited about it. Currently it’s in Los Angeles, with my editor Evonne Moritz, about to start post-production. Each episode will be about 5 minutes for a total run time of 30 minutes.
Propeller: Where are you at in pre-production on Sister/Brother, and what have been your biggest challenges during pre-production?
“The film primarily centers on Nora’s rebirth. She finds herself at the crossroads of middle age: many mistakes and regrets, lots of unrealized potential. I relate deeply to her.”
Padian: We have the two titular roles cast and a couple key creative roles filled but aside from that we are at the starting line. The screenplay got to the second round of the 2018 Sundance Screenwriters Lab, which was very encouraging for the project. The biggest particular challenge thus far is a very common one: financing. Last fall we applied for many different grants and received zero of them. This film kind of walks the line between being accessible and being slow and quiet. That’s a hard sell in this current era of immediacy and polarization. If there’s anything in the film’s favor, though, it’s that it was written and designed to be made cheaply.
Propeller: How did you decide to use Seed & Spark for fundraising for Sister/Brother? What advantages does it have over other fundraising platforms? How did you decide on the amount of your goal?
Padian: Unlike every other platform, Seed & Spark is solely dedicated to film and video projects. They are geared toward the needs of the filmmaker and have a root understanding of what it takes to finance, make, and promote films. This knowledge seeps all the way down and informs their interface and their language. Additionally, they release your funds when you hit 80% of your goal. I chose $25,000 as a sort of do-able sum to crowdfund. (When I did this for my first feature, The Black Sea, we raised $32,000 for production, and that was a long hard slog.) $25,000 is not enough to make this movie right, but it is enough to build the tracks to get the train slowly rolling. And one always hopes: the money will attract more.
Propeller: Where and when are you planning on shooting the film? Who will be involved?
Padian: We are shooting in Spring 2019. Most of the movie will be shot in and around Portland, with several days in Seattle and Astoria, primarily for exteriors. David Marion (my 1st AD on The Black Sea) is co-producing with me. Scott Ballard, who is kind of ridiculously good at many aspects of filmmaking, will be my cinematographer. Evonne Moritz, who I’ve known since undergrad, will be editing. Scott Unrein will compose (you can hear his music in the teaser trailer). The very excellent Todd Tschida will play the brother and Erin McGarry, whom I refer to as Portland’s best kept secret, is playing Nora, the sister. Erin and I developed the film together over the last couple years, mainly just so we could have another project to work together on. The film primarily centers on Nora’s rebirth. She finds herself at the crossroads of middle age: many mistakes and regrets, lots of unrealized potential. I relate deeply to her. I can’t wait to make this movie to help her gently to the next level of who she is meant to truly be.
Brian Padian is a screenwriter, photographer, and the director of the feature length independent film The Black Sea (2015) and the short films The Big Black Dark (2011) and I’m Your Man (2010). A graduate of the American Film Institute, he has lived in Portland since 2004.