Could you produce a feature-length documentary for $1000? Local stand-up comedian and emerging filmmaker Amanda Bulman is up to the challenge, and there’s even an official name to it.
Created by indie film wonder woman Ingrid Veninger of pUNK FILMS and Women in Film and Television Atlantic (WIFT-AT), 1KWAVE ATLANTIC is an initiative that supports five female filmmakers in their endeavours to write, direct and edit a brave and bold feature film in five months under the guidance of industry mentors.
In 2012, Veninger founded and personally financed the Toronto-based 1K WAVE, which saw the successful production of five feature films for $1000 up front. Veninger is a mentor for the Atlantic initiative along with other industry professionals, including filmmaker Kimberlee McTaggart.
Bulman is the sole participant from Newfoundland and Labrador with Prince Edward Island native Harmony Wagner and the Nova Scotia trio of Catherine Bussiere, Koumbie and Nicole Steeves rounding out the five selected filmmakers.
The First Five Minutes is Bulman’s first film and follows several amateur comics as they struggle to write their first five minutes of jokes and face many obstacles that prevent them from stepping up to the mic. She began shooting this month.
“I’m interviewing amateur comics and investigating all the reasons and obstacles that prevent people from performing comedy,” says Bulman. “The documentary is focusing on the experience of women because that’s my perspective, but I’m interviewing everyone that I can and am stumbling on similar stories.”
Apart from the specific act of stand-up comedy, Bulman sees a broader story about the creative act in general and how artists sometimes step back from one format or genre to direct their energies toward other creative acts.
“Most of the artists that I’ve interviewed have come back to performing or have channeled that energy into something new, but equally creative,” says Bulman. “Someone stopped performing opera, but found musical comedy. Someone else stopped performing in musicals, but began working on the technical aspects of filmmaking. Artists have to create – it’s in their blood – and that is so interesting to me.”
As for stepping back from the stand-up stage to make a feature film, Bulman hides any hint of fear behind unbridled enthusiasm when she talks about being selected for 1KWAVE ATLANTIC.
“I was really, really excited and completely terrified. I don’t have filmmaking experience and am in way over my head here. I have zero technical skills. Having said that, I’m lucky to live in a city with tons of helpful and creative people. I absolutely know that I could reach out to the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival or NIFCO and someone would pick up the phone. I’m going to attend some of the Scene and Heard events! I’m very excited for those! I just think that this is a great city to be an amateur filmmaker in.”
As Bulman closes in on the end her four-week window to shoot this month, she’ll soon find herself spending a lot of time in post-production followed by promotional brainstorming sessions with Marketing Mentor and WIFT-AT Founding Chair Jan Miller to make the September delivery deadline and screening event.
“I really want the film to be a celebration of creativity. I want people to watch it and try stand-up for the first time or watch it and think, ‘Shit. I need to get back to making XYZ’.”