Story is powerful. Following your passion for a certain story or genre adds valuable energy to it. That’s the lesson from filmmaker Anthony Ferraro, who has always had a passion for telling great, unique stories—which is what the filmmaking process comes down to. Anthony has always had a story of his own to tell, as you will see in his interview. It has been his passion from very early on, and he used whatever outlet he had access to in order to tell his stories.
Telling a story is one thing, but telling a story well is another. Anthony realized he had a knack for the sci-fi genre and ran with it, creating GALACTIC GALAXY, a quirky web series about a Space Werewolf named Fen who teams up with a Space Trucker named Pam to rob an illegal space disco in order to fulfill his destiny and save the Galaxy.
Through the process of creating the web series, Anthony experienced the importance of never underestimating the genre you are walking into. Film takes work, a lot of it. There is an extra layer of heavy lifting to be done when it comes to specific genres like sci-fi and fantasy. Anthony has made this journey many times, sometimes with just just himself and a few, and sometimes with a whole crew. One fact remains; he has not stopped telling stories. He has continued running the race, and when that race is finished, he moves on to the next one.
Let’s hear more of what he had to say about his experiences.
How did you get into filmmaking?
My training was in theatre—I studied acting and directing. My passion was storytelling, and at the time the only DIY option was theatre. Then in my mid-twenties, the digital revolution began and I was able to start making films. I was very inspired at the start by Dogme 95. I started with a SONY VX2000 and Final Cut 1 and never stopped.
What sparked the idea/world of your web series, GALACTIC GALAXY?
I have always been a big fan of sci-fi, fantasy, and westerns. However, all my earlier films were more Arthouse—poor attempts at my versions of a Jim Jarmusch or David Lynch film. It was not my authentic voice. I had a moment where I thought, All I watch are sci-fi, yet I’m not doing that? Why not? So I sat down to write a sci-fi project, and Galactic Galaxy was the result.
What sparked the idea was, I had just watched a documentary about Tolkien and he famously scribbled on a paper he was correcting, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” That was in my mind at the time I sat down to write. I wrote something to the effect of, “In a Space Disco, there was a Space Werewolf.”
How much money did you raise? And how did you raise it?
Just about $20K on IndieGoGo.
What do you wish you had done differently in your last project?
I never really think about that. I am really addicted to the process [of filmmaking]. Once I finish a project, I head right into the next one. Parts of the process that worked carry onto the next project, and ones that did not are discarded.
If pressed on Galactic Galaxy, one thing I would not do again would be to spread out production to save money. I needed five shooting days, and to afford it I had to spread it out over five Sundays to get a better rate on the location. In hindsight, I would cut or adjust something to just be able to work straight through. The starting and stopping were not productive.
What mistake in your film work do you see, but no one else does?
In one episode of Galactic Galaxy, there is a bit of wild dialogue that comes out of nowhere that no one notices, but I always do. And in another, there is one shot where the actor is not in the light. But nothing major.
What was the most rewarding part about making this particular web series?
For this series, I was able to have a team. All of my other projects before and after have been mostly DIY. I do 75% of the jobs. In Galactic Galaxy, because I raised a little money I had a writer’s room, green screen studio, custom-built costumes, script supervisor, an AD! So many things I usually do without.
What advice about filmmaking do you wish you knew when starting out?
Just keep making content. To make films and series is a Herculean effort. And too many people rest for too long after a project is completed. No one project is going to set you apart and get you to the next level. The cavalry is not coming. Do your work; do one round of festivals. During the festivals, talk about your next project. Start the next project.
What advice would you give to filmmakers going into sci-fi/fantasy?
Only do it if it’s your passion. It is very involved. I have seen and talked to about half a dozen very talented filmmakers who would think they could just make fantasy or sci-fi. Once the project gets into post, it dies a slow death. People with no experience in genre filmmaking underestimate the art direction and post processes. I suggest starting with a five-minute short and seeing how it feels.
What are your pet peeves in filmmaking?
I’m not really that type. It’s all good. You do you, and I’ll do me.
What other filmmakers are you inspired by?
These days, Guillermo del Toro.
What is your advice on how to create a fanbase?
Offer something to your potential base beyond the actual film or series. You cannot build a fan base off of one project. If you have a film, it’s a few weeks of, “Hey, look at what we are doing. Hey, look what’s out. Hey, did you see what we did?” And then what? Yes, people may enjoy it and you will get eyeballs, but that’s not building a base.
My advice is to start in pre-production. Choose whatever social media platform you like and just post every day: “Hey, today we are writing. Hey, check out these test shots. Tomorrow we go into production. We are at these festivals. Red carpet pic. Hey, we won an award.” By then, it’s the end of the year, and you are building [a following].
You need to always be putting out content to build a base. Share the process and the journey. That six episodes of your show may be awesome, but after it’s watched, that’s it. Now what? Why would someone sign up to follow something that is finished?
How are you set up so fans can get involved in future productions and help grow your community as it relates to your content?
I have a YouTube Channel where I post weekly. I do how-to videos about creating sci-fi. I do props and costumes and basic filmmaking. Most of the tutorials are things I am working on for my next project.
Does “star power” matter anymore, in your opinion?
It does. I always wanted to think it did not matter, but it does. You might not want to hear that, but there it is.
Is there anyone that may make you starstruck?
I live in Los Angeles, and I always get excited when I go to the supermarket and someone catches my eye, and I’m like, “Oh dang, that’s the guy who was in three episodes of LOST.” There are many low-key, super talented character actors from films and shows you love roaming the aisles in Los Angeles supermarkets. I get excited when I notice them and can tell no one else does.