Interview: Chris Jay – Baker’s Dozen Film


During their down time local musicians Chris Jay and Aaron Goldberg (Army of Freshmen) decided to write a screenplay. As anybody in the biz can tell you this is not a small feat. This project has been a long time dream of the super energetic Chris Jay. We chatted about the low, low budget film and their decision to shoot it entirely in Ventura.  They will film all over the city for the next 13 days but their immediate need is for extras on MLK day – 1/20/14 at Camino Real Park Ventura from 10am-5pm.

Army of Freshmen

Polly: Tell me about this film project that you’re working on, how did it come about?  It’s you and Aaron right?

Chris JayChris: It’s me and Aaron, we co-wrote it.  Actually, we started to not tour as much when the music industry got a little funky.  We began working on a little screenplay on our off time, here and there, just a little bit, for the past couple of years really.  It’s a comedy.  What happened is we got a producer who produced one of our old videos. We got in touch with him, turned him on to the project and he helped us put the script together to a presentable point.  We made the decision we didn’t want to do what we do with music where you spend so much time begging people to listen to you and help you and sign you. And we knew that for first time screenwriters no one is going to read a script two musicians wrote.

Polly:  Right

Chris: So we decided to fundraise on our own.  We thought the film was funny, the concept was funny.  For the past couple of months that’s what we’ve been doing raising money but we have also been working on pre-production we’ve actually been putting it together.  Like you know I contacted you months ago asking to film a scene at Zoey’s long before we got any interest.

Polly:  Yes, I remember.

Chris: We were hoping once we got the funding we could jump.  We were basically in pre-production on a film that had no money and may not exist.

Polly: Haha, well did you finally get that producer on board and who is that?

Chris: Yes a gentleman by the name of Reza Rezai and you know he’s just a friend who did our video and also did some smaller indie films.  So he knew really low budget.  Even if we did raise some money it was going to be incredibly low budget.

Polly: So what is your budget?

Chris: I can’t really tell you our budget because we don’t have a finalized one yet.  And frankly we are trying to continue to raise money but we did get more people on board and one or two investors who decided to back the project enough for us to get cookin’.

Polly: Nice, good for you.

Bakers DozenChris:  We’ve been going absolutely nuts for the past two months basically putting the movie in to production.  And we are happy to report we’ve been working, working, working.  We kinda kept our months shut, because we didn’t want to seem like we were bragging and telling people we were doing it because these things can fall apart so easy especially when we had this many people, and money and stuff,  we didn’t want to embarrass ourselves.  So we put everything in place.  We picked a date, got tons of people, we’ve been casting, working on the script, just literally doing a crash course on the film business.  We started filming yesterday [1/18/14] and we are filming 13 days over the next 19 days all in the city of Ventura. Every single scene is going to be shot in a location in Ventura.

Polly:  Wow!

Chris:  So we have 13 more days on 6 days off on a 20 day schedule.  We wanted to keep it homegrown.  We wanted people to contribute and people have been amazing!  We got all of our locations for free with the exception of the baseball field we had to rent from the city which is understandable because we had to shut down part of the park.  But we got everything else for free.  We have gotten every single meal donated for the whole shoot, just local restaurants helping us out.

Polly: That’s so cool.

Baker's DozenChris:  It’s been wonderful! Our producer was hesitant to film in Ventura simply because it’s an hour outside of L.A. actors driving and all that kind of stuff, but he’s been thrilled and what we’ve found is that community feel, and all the bonuses, and the fact that people are excited!  So say if we did go down to L.A. and we walked into the “Zoeys” of LA and asked to film for a day you know their fee is going to be $1000 bucks. Flat out.  That’s how they make extra money.  So many people are filming down there, film permit people are hard, it’s a nightmare.  Here it’s been such a smooth ride.  Especially since we are so ultra, ultra low budget just to be able to have people so on board and so helpful it’s been really, really cool.

Polly:  That’s so great.  So you started yesterday.

Chris:  Yes, and it’s been more work than I’ve ever done in my entire life.  Music videos are great but that’s one day.  This is a like a music video times 2 weeks.  We got enough people to be in the film but we are so low budget we couldn’t hire a production crew.  We do wardrobe, we do location scouting, we supervise catering.  Literally we weren’t prepared for that on set work so for the past 48 hours it’s just been this whirlwind of four hours of sleep. Getting there at 6am it’s great.  The energy has been great but it’s been a whirlwind.  We are going for it!  Tomorrow is day 3.

Polly:  Tell me about tomorrow and needing Extra’s at El Camino Park

Chris:  It’s our big baseball day and we’re at the park we need a bunch of people hanging out, in the stands, kicking it, we just need to create that vibe.

Polly:  What’s the basic storyline?

Chris:  It’s a raunchy comedy in the vein of “40 Year Old Virgin” or “Super Bad” or “Old School”.  The plot is a loser in life and love gets into a high stakes bet where he has to find and go out with the girl he had a crush on for every single year he went to school.  So he’s got to go back and find 12 different girls, find out what they’re up to now and somehow convince them or trick them into getting with him.  That’s the gist of it but there is an evil company owner that if he wins the bet he gets the company and he can give it back to his dad.  This is not high brow.  This is Adam Sandler stuff.

Polly:  Haha, right.  Is this a short film?

Chris:  No, it’s a full length feature film.

Polly:  Wow.

Baker's Dozen setChris:  We are going for it a full length movie.  That’s the insanity of it.  If it were a short film we’d shoot for 3 or 4 days but we’ve got tons of characters and locations. We’re basically making a low budget movie by Hollywood standards on no budget. To be frank we are trying to make a million dollar movie on a tenth of that budget.  People are telling us we’re insane, we can’t do it, you’re getting in way over your heads but that’s the only way we’ve ever don it, we don’t know any other way.  So if we’re going to fail we might as well fail in a big way. We’ve got a bunch of extras in it, bunch of homies from the local music scene.   If this comes out, when it comes out at least from a local stand point we’re going to rent a screen at Century 16 and invite everybody and say – we don’t know what the hell we made here but at least we’ll get a kick out of it.  And you’ll see a bunch of people on the screen.

Polly:  That’s awesome. I’m so happy for you guys.

Chris:  It’s always been a dream of ours.  It’s a weird thing.  It’s either put up or shut up.  It’s one thing to work on a screen play but it’s completely another thing to make it because the whole time you’re wondering man if this stinks I just spent a massive amount of my life working on this project.  So it’s wild.  And you put your faith in so many people.  That’s what I’m learning too.  You know me, and much like yourself we’re micro managers.  We want to have our eyes on everything we do.  But it’s hard to trust someone with your baby.  That camera man he’s got your baby.  That director, he’s got your baby.  Those actors they have your baby.  You may have a little bit of say but you’re not going to tell the camera guy who’s gone to school where to put the camera.  You’ve got to roll with the flow.  So in the last 48 hours I’ve learned to breath and if you’re not digging what you’re seeing you have to trust that they are doing it for a reason.

Polly:  That’s so exciting for you guys.  We’d love to be involved.  How can we be involved?

Chris:  Well thanks for spreading the word and encouraging people to come out.  There’s going to be some really neat stuff.  We have cameos from three legendary wrestlers.  I know that sounds funny but I’ve always been a big wrestling fan.  We ended up getting Jake “the snake” Roberts, Tommy Dreamer and Diamond Dallas Page.  So if anybody comes tomorrow afternoon, if you’re a wrestling fan, these wrestlers will be hanging out, in Ventura, in Camino Real Park, and will be accessible for autographs and stuff.  And I know this is super last minute.  But that’s how film world is.

 Polly:  I know, you audition on a Friday and then you have to be on set at 7am Saturday. 

Chris:  Exactly.  Thanks for everything, spread the word and if you can please swing by tomorrow it will be an experience!