Dennis Fallon is no stranger to the movie business. As an independent film producer, Fallon has made a range of films from 2000’s family movie More Than Puppy Love, with Diane Ladd (which sells five thousand boxes a week at Wal-Mart), to 2002’s Threat of Exposure, a thriller starring Sean Young and William Devane.
But it wasn’t until the script of his latest film, (working title) Shadows of Atticus, had passed before him that Fallon decided to take the helm as a first-time director.
“When we were putting together this film, it was really the people around me who said there is only one person to direct this film and that’s you,” says Fallon. But that didn’t mean that Fallon immediately jumped on board. His experience as a producer made him question his possible role as director.
|“Nobody is going to give it the passion and the effort to make it be the story that it needs to be, so I had to do it“
“As the producer of this film, I had to ask myself am I putting the right person at the helm. Am I making the right choice? It took me a long time to make a decision.” But in the end “nobody is going to give it the passion and the effort to make it be the story that it needs to be, so I had to do it. It was really that simple.”
That doesn’t mean the transition from producer to director comes without difficulties. For Fallon, one of the trickiest parts of being a producer and a director has to do with trying to find balance between the two roles.
“If something is not going right, I tend to want to jump into the producer mode and fix things - and you need to stay focused on the creative part of it and let other people handle that.”
Another difficulty that Fallon is facing is trying to describe his film.
“It’s really weird to try and explain what this film is about,” Fallon sighs. “Here’s why: it’s a family film but it’s not a family film in the traditional sense. The movie has lots of animals in it, and it has a kid in it, but it’s not about animals. It’s about a family who is broken is trying to find their way. It’s an extremely well done script that has incredible complications but yet is very simple - I could tell you what this movie is about in 14 different ways and you’ll interpret the story in 14 different ways.”
The film is currently shooting in Kansas City, Missouri, where Fallon and his production company Waldo West (www.waldowest.com) are partly based. Fallon loves shooting in the area because “the people are extremely friendly, and it has a beautiful location that always has a different look.”
Despite shooting on a luxurious horse farm and having a cast like Peter Coyote, Peter Boyle and Vivien Cardone, Fallon is proud of keeping his budget under three million. “When you see this film, you are going to be like, how in the world did you get all this for fewer than three million? It’s going to look great.”
He’s also hoping for a theatrical release. “A lot of people are going to like this film. Just watching it as we are making it, I’m getting more and more excited that it looks like it’s going to be a huge movie.”
Fallon, a self-professed cinephile, is greatly inspired by filmmakers such as the Cohen Brothers (“Oh Brother Where Art Thou is genius”), Francis Ford Coppola (“The Godfather is my all-time favourite film”) and Sam Raimi. He believes the number one quality a filmmaker should have is “an incredible passion for the project and a total belief in what they are doing.”
In fact, because of the passion that Fallon possesses for his films, there is no aspect of filmmaking that he finds difficult, but he stresses the importance of “assembling the right team so that everyone is going to work together in harmony. It takes you a while in this business to understand that you need the right team to make the right movie.”
Another important aspect of filmmaking is understanding how to work the distribution side and sell your movie.
“There are so many of these people who go out there and make movies that they will sell and they don’t realize what’s it like out there in the world of marketing. You aren’t going to continue to make movies if you never sell them. You’ve got to understand that the production side of it is really the smallest part of the movie process. You produce it, you finish it, then it has to go out into the world and you have to make a movie that audiences want to go see and buy on DVD – you’ve got to understand what the world is looking for.”
Fallon thinks that if he had to start in the film industry all over again, he probably would have started on the distribution side, just to get an idea of how important the marketing process really is to independent filmmakers.
|“When you go out there to make something, just to be making it, and blow a lot of money, whether it be your money or someone else’s money, it’s really tough to convince the world again. ”
“I would have understood how the markets work and all the things that you need to provide for those films and what sells and what doesn’t sell. But at the same time, once you know all that, you can sprinkle those ingredients into your film without jeopardizing the integrity of it. When you go out there to make something, just to be making it, and blow a lot of money, whether it be your money or someone else’s, it’s really tough to convince the world again.”
With the success of recent independent films sweeping the Oscars, other awards shows and bringing in big bucks at the box office, Fallon believes that the public’s appetite for independent films is on the rise.
“The big studio pictures are getting so formulaic that people are getting tired,” he says. “We had a year of movies that have been done and beat to death so many times that people have just gotten bored with it. So, then people in Hollywood were saying “the box office is down, the box office is down.’ Well, if they were to provide more quality movies and quality entertainment, then the box office would be back up again.”
As for Fallon, he hopes to keep on directing, if not on every movie.
“Do I want to direct every picture that we do? No, but I would like to direct more pictures on projects I feel really, really passionate about.” And given Fallon’s passion for film, it’s safe to say we can expect to see Fallon behind the director’s chair in the years to come.
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