Are you a frustrated but aspiring filmmaker? Would you do anything to get your film picked up by a distributor and viewed in theaters across the nation? Canadian filmmakers Karl DiPelino and Chris Ragonetti feel your pain; five years ago, they began shooting their first independent feature-film titled “PiGs.” Now finally, in 2007, the film has been distributed and released theatrically and on DVD. DiPelino, who served as screenwriter and director, and Ragonetti, who took on the duties of screenwriter and producer, took time to talk to The Quad about their film.
DiPelino described “PiGs” as a romantic comedy involving a guy’s quest to sleep with 26 girls, each representing a letter of the alphabet according to their last name. All of that changes when he meets and falls for girl X. “He has to decide between love and money,” DiPelino said.
In the press release, “PiGs” is described as appealing to fans of the “American Pie” series. Ragonetti told The Quad that they were trying to reach the same, young demographic as the “Pie” movies, but at the same time they strived to be different. DiPelino remarked that they didn’t want to “tread the same kind of ground.”
“What I wanted to do is make the characters more realistic in the way that guys who would partake in this were really objectifying women, treating them like conquests,” said DiPelino. “These aren’t nice guys. We paint them accurately, and we don’t make excuses for them. We’ve made a movie with lead characters that aren’t flattering.”
DiPelino and Ragonetti explained that, though the film is dramatic, at times it plays more like a documentary in the sense that it “feels like it’s very handheld.”
The production itself, which cost about 80 thousand Canadian dollars, was self-funded by DiPelino and Ragonetti, who were working day jobs at the time. In fact, Ragonetti is a physician. They told The Quad that they received a lot of financial support from their hometown simply because they were known locally.
Still, it was not an easy process to raise money, especially when trying to convince different organizations to contribute funds. DiPelino said, “(Raising money) takes time. To fill out the applications and wait for the deadlines. It could take six months to hear a no.” Ragonetti remarked that “it was a matter of saving up over a long period of time.”
Ragonetti went on to explain why the two decided to make the film, despite the fact that finding a distributor was no easy task. “We were really trying to get a calling card of what we could do,” he said. “I always did think we would get distribution, (but) there were times I lost faith; I didn’t necessarily think it would go around the world, it was unexpected. But I did have faith in it getting picked up.”
“It took us years to get the film finished,” said DiPelino, “There was a dark point where Chris and I couldn’t even talk because (the film) was dead on the vine so many times.”
DiPelino and Ragnetti used all unknown actors. DiPelino said that some of the actors were from previous projects he had worked on. “Most of the cast had never been in front of the camera before,” he said. Actors also came from a casting service. “They sent us headshots, and we held auditions at a Holiday Inn,” said DiPelino.
Ragnetti added that some characters in the script were written with particular actors in mind. With a short production schedule that was only 18 days, rehearsal was imperative. “Karl just rehearsed a lot and we managed to get really good performances,” said Ragnetti.
When asked about what advice they had for aspiring filmmakers, DePelino joked, “My advice would be don’t do it (laughs).” Then he suggested, “do it while you’re young and just getting out of school because it’s a lot easier to find likeminded people who want to work for credit or a demo reel. By the time Chris and I got around to doing it, him and I and most of our key crew had mortages. We did have to pay them something. But if people wanted to do it on the cheap, they could do it for less than we did while still living in their parents’ basements.”
Ragnetti added, “Write things you know you can shoot, and for locations you know you can use. Shoot non-union, and find local actors. Try to cut deals on the equipment instead of paying cash out front. Music is expensive. Do your planning ahead of time for sure.”
For more information on “PiGs,” visit www.pigsthemovie.com or check out page 12.
Chris Pierdomenico is a fourth-year student majoring in secondary English education, with minors in psychology and film criticism. He can be reached at CP591761@wcupa.edu.