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June 5, 2013

When Big Leaguers go DIY

CTCS Alum and Co-Producer/Editor of Whedon’s Newest Film Discusses Micro and Big Budget Filmmaking

By Valerie Turpin

With credits to his name like Marvel’s The Avengers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Toy Story, Writer/Director Joss Whedon has earned his keep as one of Hollywood’s most sought after talent. However, the filmmaking process for Whedon’s newest film, Much Ado About Nothing, doesn’t seem too different from that of School of Cinematic Arts students’ approach. Whedon took on the adaptation of the Shakespeare play like a DIY passion project, employing money-saving techniques that students are known for.

Kaminsky (left) with Profesorr Peyser

Last night, the film’s Co-Producer, Editor and SCA alum Daniel Kaminsky ’07 visited SCA following an advance screening of Much Ado and spoke to students about the drastic difference between micro and big budget filmmaking. Professor Michael Peyser moderated the event.

Before The Avengers had even wrapped production, Kaminsky explained, Whedon was already moving forward on Much Ado through his independent studio, Bellwether Pictures. “Joss had just come off one of the biggest movies ever, and it was important for him to be able to do content outside of the studio system just to be able to make his own stuff,” said Kaminsky. “So we had to make it incredibly low and be aware of how much we were spending."

Similar to many budding student filmmakers, Whedon shot the film at his home, assembled a cast and crew from people he had previously worked with and fit the entire feature into only twelve shoot days. Remarking on the film’s lightning-paced production, Kaminsky said, “It really came together. He [Whedon] and his wife, Kai [who also produced the film], just had this drive that we were going to do this. When you have that sort of maniac mentality, people will get behind you.”

Hero (Jillian Morgese) and Leonato (Clark Gregg) in a still from the film

Graduating with a Critical Studies degree in ’07, Kaminsky worked as an assistant at several companies before landing a position as Whedon’s assistant, his first project with the director being The Avengers. Of the stark difference in the two films’ budgets, Kaminsky joked, “We figured we had The Avengers last year, so this was the next logical thing.”

Much Ado About Nothing connects a modern cast, including Amy Acker (Cabin in the Woods), Alexis Denisof (Angel) and Nathan Fillion (Castle), with old English speech and black-and-white noir cinematography. The film’s micro budget meant the cast had to learn and work quickly. Kaminsky noted, “Because we were moving so fast, we really only had one or two takes before moving on, so it was really imperative that everyone nailed their lines, and they did a fantastic job.”

Much Ado About Nothing will be released on June 7 in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City and will open nationwide on June 21.

For more information, please visit http://muchadomovie.com/#home