In the summer of 2016, Madison County native Aaron Garrett set out to make a feature film in the streets of London. He wrote, directed, and produced the film which tells the story of two brothers trying to reconnect in a small town as it erupts into a state of chaos.
The film was originally titled, “The Last Riot,” but eventually changed to “Madison.”
Garrett, who now lives in Los Angeles, finished shooting the film in July 2016 and went back to L.A. for the editing and post-production process. That, too, has now been completed and Garrett is currently in the process of pursuing distribution.
“On a big Hollywood production, you have access to people and resources and the ability to get the best people working in the industry,” Garrett said. “With a lower budget film, you don’t have that. So I went through a process of finding people who have the same standards as I do.”
The post-production steps of a film can be as demanding as the shooting process. Once all the footage is shot, the film has to be edited together, colored to the filmmaker’s specific preferences, has its sound edited and mixed to fit a variety of audio systems, and scored with a musical soundtrack.
“I set out to make the most cinematic film I could,” Garrett said. “With that, comes a lot of elements.”
Since all of those steps are in place, Garrett has moved on to the process of getting the film sold. The film’s $50,000 budget was independently financed and Garrett is hoping to find an outlet which would allow him to pay back those who contributed to getting the movie made.
“I’m not trying to make a profit, personally. I just want to pay back people who helped,” he said. In early November, Garrett visited the 2017 American Film Market in Santa Monica, California, an eight-day event which allows filmmakers to network and connect with financiers and distributors.
“The best way I can describe it is it’s like the stock exchange,” said Garrett. “It’s held in this big hotel and the rooms are turned into offices. I bought a pass and essentially went door-to-door setting up meetings.” He said the idea was to meet people and see if there would be any interest in his film. By the end of it, he had a couple offers from distributors but hasn’t made any decisions.
“There have been multiple offers, but for me there are two different paths,” he said. “One of them would be to sell to this company in New York who connects you with ways to sell physical copies like at a Walmart or Redbox or places like that. The other would be to sell it to Netflix.”
Garrett said the Netflix option may be a better fit for him considering his film doesn’t have recognizable actors. By selling it to a streaming service, anyone interested in watching the film could seemingly do it for free since they are already paying for the Netflix subscription. In the case of the other option, Garrett’s concern would be the risk to get people to spend money on something they are unfamiliar with.
“I’m just looking for what would be the best thing for this film,” he said. Once the specifics of distribution are figured out, Garrett hopes “Madison” will have its premiere here in London at the State Theater. The obvious reasons being the film was shot here and has its origins here, but also because much of the success of the film’s completion has everything to do with the city.
“We had such amazing support from the people in town,” he said. “Which is why my way of marketing it has been this grassroots approach.” Local businesses such as the theater and Casey’s Carry-out are selling T-shirts featuring the film’s name. Since putting together a trailer for the film, he has shared via social media on numerous occasions.
“I want to get it out there as much as possible,” he said. “That way, if the right person sees it, I can say, ‘look, I can make a film that people enjoy and makes money.’”
Reach Michael Williamson at 740-852-1616, ext. 1619.