Interdependent Filmmaking

By in Blog on March 4, 2008

White Knuckles was born out of a deep desire to explore a story with a group of artists through the collaborative medium of film – and to explore it as much as possible while the story is happening – while it’s on its feet in production – while the characters fully inhabit the actors.

The means of accomplishing this would be a team of artists that could invest themselves personally in the shared vision of the project, and could work as a unified whole that could shift, adapt and adjust whenever the story changed based on the flexible nature of capturing dramatic improvisation. This could only be accomplished by maintaining a collective atmosphere of safety and trust with the crew, filmmakers and the cast. An atmosphere where the actors could feel like they can fully explore their characters without any judgments or self-direction. A creative space where the actors can go deeper in the improvisational present moment, and the filmmakers and the crew can support and guide them along. A truly interdependent process where there are no idle hands on set – a place where everyone is involved, and each member on the production is truly critical.

With White Knuckles, we wanted to see what would happen if we wrote a script and then took it away at some point during production – when the film begins to breathe on its own. We wanted to see “what happens with the characters” and we wanted to see “where will the story go?” It was in a large part about curiousity. Though we had a screenplay that would be great to shoot – we thought that perhaps guiding the improvisation initially, we could fully let go later and produce real surprises and true-to-life dialogue and moments that could not have otherwise been planned.

To do this in a drama that goes to the places White Knuckles does – it took the safety net of the rest of the cast and crew to make this work. Really, it took each other – and every individual working together as a unified whole to make this real “Interdependent” film happen.

There is a point in every soulful, artful film production where the actors seem to fully inhabit the characters, sooner or later. On set, sometimes this happens early – other times certain key aspects of the character emerge later depending on the circumstance. But ultimately – there is a collaborative search for truth that makes ‘a film by Sabi Pictures’ – and if the film is honest (as I believe White Knuckles is) than perhaps it will be blessed to find its audience.

It is a rare group of talented filmmakers that converged to create White Knuckles. And what we have in this film, is in my humble opinion, a true example of interdependent filmmaking. As filmmakers – we all simply wanted to be able to let go of pages and pre-conceived notions and rather listen very closely to what comes out of (and what comes from within the soul) of the character. We wanted to hear an authentic voice, and wanted to see the story that was the deeper, more meaningful, more real version (than the duplication of the intentions on the page). We want to see the sum that is greater than it’s parts – a piece of real art emerging from our collective creative contributions together.

This is ultimately the collective desire of a collaborative group of artists working on an Interdependent Film. Interdependent Filmmaking is the kind of filmmaking where one uses “us” and “we” and “our” more often than they use “I” when describing the process of making that film. We think that White Knuckles is unique because of the interdependent nature of the shoot. The WK website’s “Creative” section details examples of how many of us together collaborated on this film, and there will also be some behind the scenes posted to get a look at the faces that made it happen.

As with every interdependent film, there are so many hands on the work that it is hard to summarize or describe the process of each member that took part – but each person’s contribution made the film possible. And though the credits on the film will generally reveal every person’s name that contributed – there are so many more roles that were filled by each member than can possibly be listed.

Calling White Knuckles and interdependent film is a way to say Thank You – to acknowledge that the film could not be possible without the entire interwoven web of creative contributions, a network of interdependent people, that all get behind one idea. It’s a beautiful thing when it works, and it is the most fulfilling kind of filmmaking. And Interdependent Filmmaking is the evolution of the art form, in my humble opinion.

I’m honored to have been a part of this process at Sabi Pictures. Sure it is an ever-changing and an ever-evolving process with each new story – but the unique way of making each film bears one thing in common between everything we’ve made: there is simply no room and no time for inflated egos when a group of artists want to venture into the great unknown of making a film together. There is only room to learn from one another, for true collaboration, for support of each other under any circumstance, and for the collective desire to see the story through to the end no matter what.

We had a very talented group of individuals that came together to bring you the interdependent film White Knuckles – as well as Heart of Now. We guided the stories to the end rather than pushed them, and what resulted from the process thus far may move you, and perhaps even surprise you.

Kevin K. Shah
Interdependent Filmmaker from White Knuckles

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