When transitioning from screenplay development to preproduction, a producer is constantly trying to determine what is real progress and what is perceived progress. A lot of good conversations, a lot of research, a lot of pitching your vision to potential crew and investors doesn't make the actuality of your film any more real. What makes this production real? Spending actual dollars, making commitments that you can't back out of.
Of course spending money doesn't mean that the film is going to happen, it doesn't mean that the film will be successful. What monetary commitments do is put a stake in the ground creating a rallying point for everyone involved to believe in. Until money is spent, everyone involved has, at the very least, some small semblance of doubt that the film will happen. Even after money is spent, a bit of doubt will probably still exist, but it won’t be a governing emotion .
For Bokeh, it was both that we spent our first dollars and what we spent the dollars on that added a level of commitment and conviction that we will be shooting in Iceland in June. We needed to secure housing and more specifically beds for our eleven crew members and our two main actors. Thirteen beds doesn't sound that challenging, but since we wanted to avoid spending $50,000 on hotel rooms for a five week period, we had to work within the constraints of needing single beds for each crew member within the limits of availability, time and price. When in Rome, or at least when vacationing in Rome... we decided to book three Airbnb houses. Credit goes to one of our co-producers, Briene, for overseeing the puzzle that was housing. After a lot of discussions with various homeowners in Iceland, we locked in three houses for $13,666 for the shoot. We will write a blog post at some other time about sharing numbers, why we think that matters and why we wished more of the independent filmmaking community would share more.
There will be more important dollars spent on Bokeh, there will be better deals made for Bokeh, but this $13,666 means that we moved from, "we are making a film" to "make sure your passport is up to date because we will be there in thirteen weeks and your bed is waiting for you."