Nostalgic Cinema


Feature Filmmaking at Used-Car Prices
Rick Schmidt

In hindsight, the publication of this book seemed rather timely upon remembering the late 1980s – early 1990s indie boom. Who is to say how many budding filmmakers were inspired by this great read? As I continued in life’s journey, I had met several friends who were as excited by this book as I was. My discovery of Feature Filmmaking at Used Car Prices couldn’t have been at a more opportune time, as I was preparing to shoot my first film the following spring.

Independent filmmaker Rick Schmidt’s hands-on guide has since been revised and retitled several times to reflect changing technology (ie- digital vs. film), but the basic principles are there. He shows you the guidelines for making a feature film on just a few thousand dollars (the price of a used car). Take the bus to work and make a movie instead! In these pages, he offers a lot of encouragement, but he is also very realistic about the obstacles you’ll face, and the sacrifices you’ll have to make. Upon finishing this book, you’ll know whether you want to continue in the crazy world of making movies. If you do, then great!

This book became such a major influence on me that every time I started a film, I’d re-read it for inspiration and for preparation. One of its great takeaways is a list of straightforward questions that you’d need to ask yourself at the start of every project. Some of these questions are: Is this something for which you would want to be known? What is the best thing that someone would say about it? What is the worst thing that someone would say about it? Rick Schmidt would often cite examples from his own independent micro-budget features to explain how he overcame the usual production setbacks one would have in such a venture, which of course made me want to seek out his films. (I’d need to wait a couple of decades before seeing such delights as A Man, A Woman and a Killer, or Emerald Cities, when he made them available to DVD.) This book may give you more than you want (for example, I’ve never needed to build an edit bay in my home to cut film, since I was either cutting film at school, or editing on video at the community cable station), but it’s there for those who need the resources. That’s how thorough it is.