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netribution > features > interview with rick schmidt > page one
Rick Schmidt began working in film in 1970 when he was roommates with Wayne Wang (Smoke, Blue in the Face, Joy Luck Club). The pair co-directed their first feature, A Man, A Woman and A Killer in 1973. Later editing Wang's Chan is Missing, Schmidt continued to direct low and no-budget features. Low on cash, he decided to write 'Feature Filmmaking at Used Car Prices' which, suprisingly for him, became a best-selling film book. With 13 features under his belt as director/writer, and a relatively successful publishing career, Schmidt chose to delve into Dogme, initially to add a new chapter for the third edition of his book. And after months of emails and phone calls, Schmidt finally managed to etch his name in history with Dogme 10 - Chetzemoka's Curse (on which Rick was one of seven collaborators) - and only the second ever US Dogme film . For those of you to whom Dogme is either a bad Ben Afflick film or a way of making life really hard for yourself on set, we've reprinted the Vow Of Chastity. So why not go for it - dare ya! At the least it seems like a neat way of getting Lars Von Trier's autograph.


"I swear to submit to the following set of rules drawn up and confirmed by DOGME 95:
1. Shooting must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in (if a particular prop is necessary for the story, a location must be chosen where this prop is to be found).
2. The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa. (Music must not be used unless it occurs where the scene is being shot).
3. The camera must be handheld. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted. (The film must not take place where the camera is standing; shooting must take place where the film takes place).
4. The film must be in colour. Special lighting is not acceptable. (If there is too little light for exposure the scene must be cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera).
5. Optical work and filters are forbidden.
6. The film must not contain superficial action. (Murders, weapons, etc. must not occur.)
7. Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden. (That is to say that the film takes place here and now.)
8. Genre movies are not acceptable.
9. The film format must be Academy 35 mm.
10. The director must not be credited. Furthermore I swear as a director to refrain from personal taste! I am no longer an artist. I swear to refrain from creating a "work", as I regard the instant as more important than the whole. My supreme goal is to force the truth out of my characters and settings. I swear to do so by all the means available and at the cost of any good taste and any aesthetic considerations.
Thus I make my VOW OF CHASTITY."
Copenhagen, Monday 13 March 1995
On behalf of DOGME 95

| by nic wistreich |
| photos by tom |
| in london |
Could you outline your history in the film industry?
My history "in the film industry" began in 1970 when I shot my first video that became transferred to 16MM and edited to become a short called "The Legal Operation." From there I became roommates with director Wayne Wang (who then wasn't the director of The Joy Luck Club or Smoke of course...just a graduate student in film). In 1973 we co-directed our first feature together, entitled A MAN, A WOMAN, AND A KILLER, which and ended up winning Director's Choice award at the Ann Arbor Film Festival. With that movie I won a $10,000 grant from the American Film Institute (AFI) to make another feature, Showboat 1988-the remake, completing it in 1978 and getting shown at the London Film Festival resulting in a sale for two showings on Channel 4 in England.
My only entry into "the real film industry" was editing Wayne Wang's, Chan is Missing. He hired me to do the final cut, leaving me alone in the edit room while I pulled yards and yards of footage out, switched scenes around, conceived and constructed the opening credit sequence, helped to make it into a cohesive feature. Still hard to believe that I help create a movie that earned millions and is now preserved at the Library of Congress along with Star Wars!After Showboat 1988 came the features Emerald Cities in '83, Morgan's Cake in '88, American Orpheus in '92, and a series of feature-length movies made with collaborators at my Feature Workshops (>), including Blues For The Avatar, and the movies co-produced with my son Morgan Schmidt-Feng: someone like me, Welcome To Serendipity, Loneliness is Soul, Maisy's Garden, Crash My Funeral, Sun and Moon and Chetzemoka's Curse (DOGME NO. 10).You've made 13 low-budget features. Is that through choice or circumstance?
Once I survived my first feature, I found I enjoyed that format...having 80 or 90 minutes to create some kind of dramatic arc and resolve it...hoping I could change the audience's vantage point regarding their real life and dreams before the leader ran off the projector and the lights came up again. What led you to write 'Feature Filmmaking at Used Car Prices'?
I was quite destitute while my wife Julie slaved at a graphics department at a geological firm. I thought I could do the impossible, and be one of the only 2 or 3 books that sell out of the 12,000 slush pile, unsolicited manuscripts these big publishers like Viking Penguin get each year. How I succeeded against these odds remains a mystery!What are the most common ways low-budget filmmakers waste money?
Filmmakers waste money shooting too much footage...too many retakes. You have to go into production thinking that you will shoot each scene only once (1:1), and only reshoot a scene if there is some hideous mistake. Shoot a scene and move on toward the next is the way to do it!What would be your top three tips for saving money on a shoot?
The first is to shoot less footage, the second is to edit sporadically - grabbing a half day here, a half day there on a flatbed, whilst rolling through the footage at home on an editing bench. I actually give details for building one of these in my book or you can get Final Cut Pro ($1000), a DV iMac ($1499 now...) and go that route The third tip is to shoot scenes at locations which are close together. No running back and forth across town!
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