ATDB by Carter Smith
I’m writing this from my bed. It’s 3 in the afternoon and I’ve spent most of the day lazing around and feeling like I got hit by a bus.
Indie filmmaking will do that to you.
Last week I wrapped shooting on SWALLOWED.
SWALLOWED is the very first ALL THE DEAD BOYS feature film!
My love for telling intense, queer horror stories is how ALL THE DEAD BOYS was born – and I’ve always known the project would grow to include full length feature films.
It all started last year in the late dark hours of a Maine winter.
It was an experiment.
Could I write a feature film script that used only the things I had at my disposal?
Everything you read on indie filmmaking preaches to “use what you’ve got.”
It makes perfect sense.
But my scripts always seemed to veer off that path and beg for more “cinematic” elements. Elaborate creatures or SFX. Expensive locations or extensive cast.
They were NOT wildly grand stories requiring millions and millions. But they DID always face roadblocks when I tried to get them made.
Not gay enough.
Not horror enough.
It was always something.
Because I needed other people (investors/studios / A-List movie stars) to get them made, I was always at the mercy of what other people thought. But if I learned anything from ALL THE DEAD BOYS it was that I was happiest when I was creating for myself.
If it was true with stills, why wouldn’t it be true for filmmaking?
Even if it meant stripping away all the bells and whistles, I was ready to try my hand at micro-budget filmmaking.
Because I was so fucking tired of waiting for someone’s PERMISSION to make the movies I wanted to make.
I needed to stop focusing on what others wanted or expected of me and make work that I cared about deeply.
But also work that I could somehow find a way to make on my own.
So I sat at my table and turned on some music
(Narcisc0 by Rina Mushonga to be exact)
and I wrote SWALLOWED.
I listened to that one song at least five hundred times. Every time I put it on – the story seems to flow freely.
(SIDE NOTE: I’d also been listening to a lot of NOAM KROLL’S amazing microbudget filmmaking podcast SHOW DON’T TELL, which is always super inspiring and exactly the kick in the ass I needed to believe I could actually pull this off)
I’ll be writing a lot more about the film as I make my way through post-production. From film festivals and distribution to a deep dive into how we managed to make this film with a crew of 8 on a micro-budget in remote northern Maine.
But for now all I can think about is sleep.
Because filmmaking can be barely-able-to-lift-up-your-head exhausting. When every crew member is wearing multiple hats and there’s never enough time or money – it’s often pure adrenaline that keeps you going.
And after our whirlwind 16-day shoot I’m beat.
But I’m also so fucking excited.
Because we did it. We made SWALLOWED exactly as it was meant to be made. Using only what we had. From locations and props to actors and gear and crew it was 100% DIY.
And I couldn’t be more excited about it.
I’ll be writing about SWALLOWED a whole lot more here in the coming months. Let me know if there are specific elements of the project you want to hear more about.
I’m excited to have you along for what I’m sure will be a wild ride.