If one thought the heroine of Bryan Wizemann’s last film “About Sunny,” the tough-minded drama starring Lauren Ambrose as a single mother stuggling to provide for her daughter in a lonely Las Vegas, had it rough, you should listen to the writer/director talk about making it.
“We faced an insurmountable obstacle every day, often the same one, and it took its toll on everyone, me especially,” recalls Wizemann, who is still considerably proud of the film. “What I took away from that film in terms of directing has less to do with the ins-and-outs of general filmmaking than it does with how to handle a situation that provides no easy solution. It has more to do with hard won lessons about interpersonal politics and relationships and compromise.”
However, the experience only strengthened the bond between Wizemann and his crew, a team that includes indie film all-stars cinematographer Mark Schwartzbard (“The Comedy”) and editor Michael Taylor (“The Loneliest Planet”). So when it came time for the director to make his follow-up “Each Coming Night,” currently raising funds on Kickstarter before a June 26th deadline, the trust was there to attempt something where they’d try to achieve more with less.
“Working with the same key collaborators we now have an opportunity to do something quickly and cheaply, utilizing fans of the last film to helps us crowdfund it and really be part of the process,” said Wizemann. “We’re even offering the script as a free download before anyone is asked to contribute anything, just to let people know exactly what they’re supporting.”
What they’ll be supporting is a coming of age story that’s particularly close to Wizemann’s heart, a drama about a tortured relationship between a high school senior named Dan (Danny Flaherty of the U.S. version of “Skins”) and Jessie (Joslyn Jensen), a young woman whose spirited nature hides an increasingly fragile mental state, which when coupled with the throes of first love results in an affair both torrid and easily combustible. The script feels keenly observed, dangerous and even sharply funny at turns, leaving little doubt that Wizemann likely lived through such a romance himself.
“The multi-year relationship that inspired it was a tumultuous on-again off-again one that was very intense with someone very troubled, though I didn’t realize that until later,” said Wizemann. “I both wanted to be there for someone who desperately needed my help, but at the same time was continually pulled apart over how much I was sacrificing. I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one who’s been in this position with someone early in life.”
Which is why “Each Coming Night” appears to be a natural project for crowdsourcing, with Wizemann hoping that Kickstarter support for the project isn’t limited to building its budget, but to make it the best film it can be. Besides offering potential contributors a look at the script before it goes into production, backers of the film at certain levels will be offered scenes to give notes on during production and participate in an online test screening of the film. As Wizemann notes, “Film is such a public medium, even though I tend to write personal work I’m always amazed by how much an audience can bring to help make a film simpler, stronger, more approachable.”
Should the Kickstarter campaign be successful, “Each Coming Night” is expected to go into production in the fall, concluding a one-year turnaround from when the writer/director first put pen to paper, a process he hasn’t been too precious about for fear it would rob the film of its spontaneity and daring. For Wizemann, going the crowdsourcing route is an extension of that belief.
“By being smaller, I hope to be bolder with the aesthetic and narrative choices, and crowdfunding will definitely give us the freedom to do that,” says Wizemann. “I don’t think independent films should just be cheaper versions of Hollywood films, and there’s an opportunity to take more risks when working outside that system. I’m also excited about the two leads we have in Danny Flaherty and Joslyn Jensen. They were really my first choices for both, and since we’re Kickstarting this one, I didn’t have to worry if they satisfy some hedge fund manager’s expectations.”
With a little help from the crowd, the only expectations Wizemann will have to satisfy are the high ones he’s set for himself.