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Case Study: Making Pretty Broken by Brett Eichenberger

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Pretty Broken is the third film from director Brett Eichenberger

Date: 4th April 2019
Case Study: The Making of Pretty Broken
Filmmaker: Brett Eichenberger

Pretty Broken is an American dramedy film that follows Lindsey Lou (Jillian Clare), as she tries to learn the steps after the death of her father. The films also stars Preston Bailey as Monty Lou (Lindsey’s younger brother), Stacy Edwards as Caroline Lou (their mother), and Tyler Christopher as Jerry Carlyle. Resonance Productions and Leonian Pictures are produced Pretty Broken. Eichenberger directed from Jill Remensnyder’s script about an unemployed college dropout on the verge of divorce who finds herself at her childhood home while her family grieves the death of her father. The film was shot entirety in Portland, Oregon over the period of a year. The film held its world premiere at the 2018 Newport Beach Film Festival.

Q: What is your film about?
Brett Eichenberger: Pretty Broken is about a young woman who still believes her missing father is alive, she’s determined to find him and bring him home. The origin of the story of Pretty Broken was an idea Jill Remensnyder had about how a family deals with grief. She was interested in how different family members each have their own way of grieving. Lindsey is the last person in the Lou family to come to terms with her father’s death. The process she goes through in Pretty Broken is her denying the truth until the truth ultimately overcomes her.

Q: Tell us about the festival run, marketing and sales?
Brett Eichenberger: We had a short festival run. We premiered at Newport Beach Film Festival in May of 2018 and followed up with the Portland Film Festival that October. We used the premiere at Newport Beach as our launchpad to find distribution, which we actually secured right before we screened at Portland. We weren’t able to make the announcement until this January, but that allowed us time to focus on our marketing plan for the VOD release and our week-long theatrical run of Pretty Broken in LA. Since the movie revolves around Lindsey and what she’s going through, it made the most sense for Jillian Clare to be the face for the film and our PR campaign.

Q: Dramatic Feature?

  • Director: Brett Eichenberger         
  • Producers: Jill Remensnyder, Susan Bernhardt, Jillian Clare, Brett Eichenberger
  • Budget: Low budget- you can’t put a price on sweat equity and passion!                                             
  • Financing: Investors, Self-financed, and Crowd funded
  • Production: Summer & Fall of 2016, pick ups in Spring 2017
  • Shooting Format: 4.6K Raw 4:1
  • Screening Format: 2K DCP
  • World Premiere: Newport Beach Film Festival
  • Website

Q: Give the full Official Synopsis for your film?
Brett Eichenberger: Lindsey Lou, a college dropout on the verge of divorce, reconnects with her family after her father goes missing in a mountain climbing accident in the Himalayas. Hanging to a shred of hope that he’s still alive and waiting to be rescued, she hatches a scheme to raise enough money to go to Everest and bring him home herself. The only problem is, she’s the least qualified for the job. As Lindsey’s plan comes together she fights to keep her father’s memory alive and bring him home before her lonely mother replaces him with a younger man. Coincidentally, the younger man is the former star of a regional kids TV show and Lindsey’s childhood “celebrity” crush who now runs a small used car lot. This love triangle only complicates her efforts to focus on her search and rescue mission, sign the divorce papers she’s been avoiding, and grow up to be the young woman her father would have been proud of.

Q: Development & Financing?
Brett Eichenberger: Jill Remensnyder wrote the original script under the title SPIFF back in 2010. She would make adjustments and tinker with it while we pursued other projects. There was some interest in it from producers in 2012, but they ultimately decided it was too niche and wanted to do something more mainstream. Ultimately, we knew if we wanted to see it made we’d need to take the initiative to make it happen. In 2013 I directed a made-for-TV Christmas movie filming in Southern Oregon that Jillian Clare had a role in. Jill actually approached Jillian in the hotel lobby about the script, she read it and soon she was on board to play Lindsey and Susan Bernhardt came on as a producer. 

Fast forward early 2015. We knew potential investors would want to see a proof of concept-something tangible-that summed up Lindsey and the ride the audience was in for. We shot the first two scenes of the movie with Jillian and her movie dad, Peter Holden. It gave a sense of Lindsey’s immaturity and hopelessness, as well as her relationship with her father and that she would do anything for him. People responded well to the scenes but it was a chicken/egg scenario. At that year’s AFM we met with a lot of distributors who told us they couldn’t wait to see it and to get in touch when it was finished. Obviously we’d need to get the ball rolling ourselves.  This was confirmed in a meeting at Cannes in 2016 when we were told to just go make it and see what happens. 

The biggest obstacle that was holding us back was coming up with ALL the financing at once. It made sense to break it up into pieces we knew we could afford. The first week of filming in July of 2016 was entirely self-financed. We launched our crowd-funding campaign around the same time. That money really helped when we went back to filming in September. The difference in expenses was self-financed. Later on in post-production an investor we approached earlier on came back to help with finishing funds.

Q. Production?
Brett Eichenberger: Our strategy for scheduling the week of filming in July was to knock all the small locations out of the way, along with day player roles so we could really focus on the bigger locations and the family in September.

We started location scouting for “Phase 1” in April. Our production coordinator, Alison Clifford, took the lead on that and lined up location visits for us. We’d bring DP Mike Ferry along so we could run through logistics during the visits and troubleshoot ahead of time. For the main locations, the house and car lot, we tackled those in August. A larger dealership came with a price and a lot of restrictions.

Jill and I would drive past a small family-owned lot in Hillsboro all the time and would always comment on how perfect it was. Turned out the owner loved movies and thought it would be fun. The Lou house was the biggest struggle to secure. As luck would have it, someone Jill grew up with had just purchased the home across the street in the adjoining neighborhood.

There was a window for us to film our scenes-the only catch was the house would be empty with exception to their couch and dining table. (All their new furniture was delivered a couple days after we wrapped filming.)

One of our biggest scenes that takes place at
the end of the film had to be pushed out because the talent had but their hair
for another film they were doing and we had to wait until they resembled the
character from our movie.  We filmed that
scene in October, about a month after we wrapped principal photography.

Editing was pushed out until February of 2017. As a full-time director and editor, I had to balance the film out with my clients who had commercial projects waiting to be filmed. This prolonged the editing process quite a bit and we had our first rough cut that summer. 

Once we got close to the finished film I could determine where we needed additional shots to round out and enhance the story. Jillian Clare came up in April for a day of filming and we were set. The initial cut was over two hours.  Luckily, we had great on-set sound and only needed Jillian to ADR a few lines. 

Once we got the picture locked we lined up our VFX artist and sound designer. The goal was to make the Sundance deadline with a finished film.  We submitted a work in progress and continued to chip away at getting the VFX and color dialed in until it was perfect. The deadline for “perfection” came when we were notified Pretty Broken was an official selection in the Newport Beach Film Festival. 

Q: Festival Preparation & Strategy?
Brett Eichenberger: Our festival run was bittersweet. Our film wasn’t finished when a lot of the big festival deadlines rolled around, but I truly feel the two festivals we played were the perfect venues for the film.  Newport Beach Film Festival’s proximity to LA allowed the majority of our cast to attend and the audience was really in tune with the family dynamics. The Portland Film Festival really gave us an edge. It’s our hometown festival, filmed on location, and we had a great network already established who had been following the film. The festival really pushed the film and we got a lot of news coverage. Our main PR during NBFF and PDXFF was Social Media and Word of Mouth.

Q: The Release?
Brett Eichenberger: We released the film initially through two film festivals. We world premiered at the Newport Beach Film Festival in May and played the Portland Film Festival in October. After the film festivals we screened in the Laemmle North Hollywood 7 for a week engagement while releasing on VOD through Freestyle Digital Media on March 1st 2019.

Q: Advice from the Filmmaker
Brett Eichenberger: Filmmaking is one of the hardest jobs in the world. The best advice I can give is to follow your gut instincts. When you feel the story, you’re on the right track. Movies work because of their emotional connections to the audience. If something doesn’t feel right in the script, on set or in editing it’s because you’re not believing it to your core. With all that being said sometimes it’s difficult to perceive those gut instincts through the other business of filmmaking. If that becomes the case make sure and find a way to take a break from your movie (as much as you can) to gain perspective.

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The post Case Study: Making Pretty Broken by Brett Eichenberger appeared first on indieactivity.

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