Low budget is defined by the Screen Actors Guild as a film produced for under 2.5 million dollars. Which is a bit absurd right? How are students like you and me supposed to even come up with 20k for a film? Low budget to me means Subway five-dollar footlongs for crafty and my handy DSLR. I got rent, food, gas and not to mention tuition–I’d have to scrape, pillage and fight to get that amount of money, but guess what? This past year a fellow Lion finished directing and writing his first low budget film, Starcrossed, featuring actors Mischa Barton and Eric Roberts.
Starcrossed is about a struggling writer who meets a mysterious woman and over the course of one remarkable night discovers what love is. The script actually started out as a play three years ago, but evolved into its current form, a screenplay, when Chase Mohseni’s own relationships during that time helped form his final vision of the film. “I was dissatisfied with the L.A. dating scene,” said Mohseni (Screenwriting – BA ’11 and Production – MFA ’14) as he reflected on his past drafts. Enough said! The troubles of dating have brought us some of the greatest films ever as well as wars and civilizations.
I met Mohseni in a feature writing course in Spring of 2013 at LMU. He was always full of comments that I first hated and then realized were great for my script. Often the case right? He spoke of his film as a new father speaks about their child. Tired from the work, but effortlessly proud. “It was supreme ecstasy,” said Mohseni as the constant indie music at a Mar Vista coffee shop pounded in the background.
This being his first film, he relied on his executive producer Ben Reed, a seasoned actor and a childhood friend’s father. “Anything I needed, he did, and every time I went OT, he would say ‘get what you need,’ and he’d figure it out,” said Mohseni.
Mohseni and Reed fundraised every which way they could and finally got to production. With other Lions on the crew (Chris Martens, Production – MFA ’14; Arden Tse, Production BA ’13 and others) the project was pieced together with favors and every discount they could get.
A 12-day shoot in L.A. isn’t cheap, but Mohseni and his band of filmmakers pushed through. The lesson here ladies and ‘gentlelions’ is that whatever your budget, you make it work.
Mohseni still can’t believe the project is almost done. Much in the way he couldn’t believe he got Mischa Barton to play a lead role. “It feels like this movie was written for me,” said Barton.
Starcrossed receives its world premiere at the San Diego Film Festival on September 28, 2014 at 4 pm.