I quit my job and moved to New York in 2006 to make movies. I spent two years working on some freelance stuff, networking and making friends along the way. By late 2007 I cashed out my 401K and asked my friends to help me make a feature film.
This was a beast to produce myself. You know how you hear advice all the time for a first feature? People suggest minimizing your actors and locations -- well I said fuck that and shot in over 20 locations with more than 40 actors.
We spread out the shoot over Dec 2007 and Jan 2008, with a few weeks break for the Christmas holidays. Being a newbie producer, I scheduled December too tightly where we were exhausted. It didn't help that my AD caught a nasty cold from filming outdoors in the rain, so he was out of commission for a few days. Having learned from that, I scheduled January much better to the point where my crew told me that, if I wanted, I could add more scenes to each day.
What can you say about your first feature film, except that it's your baby. You put your heart and soul into it, then let it fly hoping it'll land on its feet. For better or worse.
The worse: There were 3 major storylines that I cut out of the film. I tried to create a much larger kaleidoscope of characters and wasn't able to piece it together as I'd hoped. To this day, telling the actors were the toughest phone calls I had to make.
The better: I played at festivals and got some nice reviews. Made solid friendships. I learned a hell of a lot.
It really snowed on Jared (Jared Asato) and Truly (Susan Cagle)...and rained on Elliot (Jeremy Koerner) and Sam (Vanessa Streiff) for some great production value.
During filming, we were approached by the NYPD in Red Hook Park (a sketchy area). I was a bit nervous because we didn't have permits. All they wanted to do was warn us that we were in the bad part of town...and to ask if they could be in the film. Gotta love New York.