|Cast and crew of Sovereign Entertainment's Devil's Point at Louisville Fright Film Fest|
If you’re around Fort Thomas over a weekend this spring don’t be surprised if it feels like Hollywood has come to town. Local filmmakers William Chaffin and Chris Wesley have gained permission to film in Fort Thomas and plan to start filming their next feature “The Edge of Indolence” over weekends from April 21st to the end of June.
William and Chris have been making movies together for almost fifteen years. Their production company, Sovereign Entertainment, has made multiple feature films and short films in the Northern Kentucky/ Cincinnati area. They pride themselves on spending a lot of time and energy on the quality of their storytelling. Their aim is to not to break in to Hollywood, but to make “Mainstream quality movies with good storytelling and bring them into the popular realm: mainstream quality in an independent world.”
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“The town seems dull and boring on the surface, that’s what the name Indolence means, but there’s a lot happening under the surface. There’s a mob element in the town and a lot of quirky and unique characters. It’s going to be a fun, action orientated movie”
William’s fiancé lives in Fort Thomas and he plans to move to the city in April. While visiting her he saw a lot of elements of the city that he though would work in the film. “It’s one of the hazards of being a filmmaker, when you’re driving around you’re also looking at things thinking, “Ooh, I could film that!”” When William read Chris’ script he immediately pictured “tree lined streets, a lot of small businesses and homes with different styles and different colors. Not a cookie cutter modern suburb. There had to be a character and a sense of history to the town, so that it could have the layers needed for the plot, the aesthetic and visual aspect had to reflect that.”
He found everything he needed in Fort Thomas.
The talent on the movie will also be home grown, both in front of and behind the camera. William and Chris contact local talent agencies, which advertise auditions to local actors. They also offer auditions to local students in drama programs at NKU, UC and Miami Ohio “In this case a lot of the characters in “The Edge of Indolence” are college aged, so that works quite well for this.” They also recruit for behind the scenes roles through film classes at the same colleges and local societies like the Southern Ohio Filmmakers Association. “The students get to bounce around, to run camera, set up sound, set up lights, so they get a lot of experience. For key crew like cinematographer, we generally use someone with more experience, but for grips and camera operators, college students are great.” As a small business most of the cast and crew aren’t paid in advance but receive an agreed share of profits once the movie has been released.
Sovereign Entertainment has a specific business plan, self-distributing their movies through various streaming services such as Amazon Prime. William explains:
“Twenty years ago a lot of people started off making movies independently and then got their move into Hollywood. Guys like Christopher Nolan, Kevin Smith or Robert Rodriguez. Back then the challenge was that equipment was much more expensive and harder to access but once you’d made a movie it was easier to get distribution. Now it’s reversed, it’s much easier to make something, with much more high quality equipment readily available but it’s become more difficult to get distribution.”
By self-distributing William and Chris are effectively cutting out the middle man, instead of going through a distributor who takes a cut of the proceeds, they do a deal directly with Amazon, for example, and split the revenue with them. “It means more money in our pocket overall. The movie itself may not make as much but it allows us to keep a bigger share of what it makes”. It also makes their films instantly available worldwide. Their last film "Otaku Vampires" is currently getting positive reviews as far afield as Germany and Japan. Through Mike Catchman, a former Hollywood executive who has worked at companies like Lions Gate, they have also made more traditional connections in movie making and have an open invitation from Red Box to submit future projects.
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One of their previous movies, a comedy/ horror “Otaku Vampires”, is currently available on Amazon Prime and “Devil’s Point”, a supernatural thriller, should be available soon. When they finish a movie, it’s submitted to Amazon and an aggregator checks that it’s of sufficient quality to be streamed. Once it’s been approved, and William and Chris are ready, it’s made available to the movie watching public online.
Both William and Chris have full time jobs and make their movies on evenings and weekends. Their ultimate aim is to turn their small production business into their full time job and make more movies than the two a year they currently manage. So far after the proceeds of a movie are realised they pay everyone who worked on the movie and the rest of the money goes towards funding the next movie.
Despite the fact that they hope to wrap filming in June, don’t be surprised if it’s a while before you see the final edit of “The Edge of Indolence”. Making a film is a long process: William and Chris will spend the rest of the year editing and aim to finish “within a year.” Their current hope is to premiere the film locally next spring, enter it into a couple of film festivals and then distribute online. Between writing, pre-production, location scouting, filming and editing the whole process will have taken approximately two years.