Captured Time Productions
Loop Dreams

Loop Dreams: The Making of a low Budget Movie

Productions Notes



I'm Harvey Hubbell. I make documentaries. But to support my habit, I work as an Assistant Director on other people's movies. And that's how I came to make Loop Dreams.

Being an AD drives some people crazy. But for me feeling comfortable in the midst of chaos seems to come naturally. Maybe it comes from growing up in a large dysfunctional family.

Over fifteen years ago I was a Production Assistant on a low-budget movie made by George and Mike Baluzy called Memoirs of a Madman. It was the story of a psychotic murderer who leads a group of mental patients on a Christmas Eve killing spree. By the time it was over two AD's had been fired or quit and I had my credential as a First AD.

I saw the Baluzys intermittently after that. At their Halloween party they dug graves in the lawn and attacked the arriving guests with chain saws. Life imitating art, I guess. Meanwhile, I began working with a talented team of documentary makers. Writer and Fulbright Scholar Jeremy Brecher added lugubrious ponderousity to our team. (By the time we were done with him, he was writing comedy.)

My own documentary Electronic Road Film was what they call a critical success. It won an Emmy, and Telluride IndieFest Director Michael Carr called it "The best 'grassroots' depiction of current American values". That and the credit cards it was produced on were enough to buy me a cup of hemlock. The poet William Blake once said, "If a fool would persist in his folly he would become wise." I don't know if we became wise, but we certainly persisted in our folly and in seven years of production our team won a total of six Emmys.

Meanwhile, I kept AD-ing features and 35mm commercials to support the documentary folly. When the Baluzys and their Producer Mike Delfay asked me to AD their new feature Blackmale, I thought, why not combine two kinds of folly at once? I said I would -- but only if I could make a documentary about it. They agreed, and signed releases for a dollar apiece. George demanded a box of Evermore cigars as well.

When I signed on as 1st Assistant Director, George and Mike had a crew of seven including George and Mike. With two weeks to go we needed at least 50 bodies whether we could pay them or not. We pushed back the start date and got down to work.

I worked on assembling two overlapping teams -- one to help make Blackmale, one to make the movie about the making of Blackmale. We assembled an intern army. As professionals came on board for Blackmale, we recruited a few of them to be our double-agents. Roger Coraggio, one of my old interns who started his own business, showed up with a state-of-the-art DVD camera. We immediately hired him to work as primary cameraman for the documentary and to shoot video inserts for Blackmale.

The feature began like most low budget features -- an ambitious script and not enough money. In an interview, my wife asked their producer, "Why work on low budget films?" His reply, "Cause nobody's stupid enough to give us money for high budget films!" Brian McAward the Director of Photography told her, "Everyday's a battle and you have to have a battle plan."

But not everyone in the crew had a plan, some people were just following their dreams. A stunt double told our camera, "I'd love to be an actor, I would, but the only thing I don't like is remembering the lines." And amidst the chaos my wife yelled to Director Mike, "Do you lose your temper a lot?"
"Do I! I get a little psychotic I think."
"Is that a part of filmmaking?"
"I don't think so, I think it's a part of being psychotic!"

So be it; that was our crew. These were the people who put their lives on hold to become devotees to a cause. We had 40 locations in 30 shoot days, stars pummeled in bar room fights, actors nearly run over on location, sixteen hour shifts from unpaid crew, and one destroyed dolly.

Barely intact, and out of work at the end of Blackmale production, I convinced a third of the crew to help on Loop Dreams, logging over a hundred hours of tape and working long into many nights to create a rough cut. Remembering early cable TV work, I called my now established working buddy, Patrick Ahearn, to look at the tapes -- and he became our Editor. Patrick brought 15 years of on and off-line editing experience to our team and the ability to tell a story with comic and dramatic pacing.

Initially I saw Loop Dreams as a behind-the-scenes, Entertainment Tonight-type program. As incompetence compounded chaos I began to think of it as The Gang that Couldn't Shoot Straight. But gradually I came to realize there was a deeper story here.

No one who ever worked on Blackmale may ever win an Academy Award, and some won't even be able to make a living in the movie business. But for a time, everyone who worked on Blackmale was touched by


the magic of the movies. If they weren't in the limelight, at least they were in the wings. One of them told us, "I like that energy. The energy that starts to flow when it's going crazy." Others said "I just get a buzz"; "it's almost like addictive"; "it's almost like a high." Loop Dreams is the story of the people who had no guarantee that they would get a reward, unless doing this was its own reward. It's the story of the dreamers, the addicts, the warriors. The hopes and aspirations of independent filmmakers.

And me? Let's just say that surfing the chaos of a large, dysfunctional movie crew represents my comfort zone.


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