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Artvoice Weekly Edition » Issue v10n1 (01/05/2011) » Five Questions With...

Aaron Doolittle: Screenwriter, Actor

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Aaron Doolittle: Filmmaker, Screenwriter, Actor

A couple years ago, Buffalo native Aaron Doolittle moved back to the area from Los Angeles to shoot a feature-length film called Bonfire, Falls, with a crew of friends that include filmmaker Chris Santucci and actress Marlee Francis—pictured above with Doolittle in their latest effort, Say Goodnight Gracie. The film tells the story of a young couple who have just moved in together and the attending highs and lows of domestic intimacy. To have a look at the trailer, and maybe throw a few bucks toward completing the film and entering it into film festivals, visit

You say the budget for this film is “ultra low.” What does that mean exactly? How do you manage to make a film with little money?

Our first film we hired a crew, and on our second film our crew paid our way because the project was something we all believed in. Gracie was an opportunity to make a film stripped of any bells and whistles, written for two actors to focus on the fun and the hard times couples go through when they first move in together. Chris Santucci and Shannon Madden lit, boomed/mic’ed, and shot, the actors Marlee Francis and Dominic Luongo did everything else. We wore a lot of hats.

How’s Kickstarter working for you as a funding mechanism? Will this become a viable way for funding the arts, journalism, whatever else?

Kickstarter is awesome. I only wish more people knew about it. It’s a place for independent projects to find funding. Almost any project can do it. Right now if you wanted to pledge to an independent film, you’d go to the website, search through the video pitch for each project, find one you want to donate to, and if enough people pledge, the film makes its pledge goal, it gets funded. And it’s a really cool way to get your name in the credits, or get personalized merch from the filmmakers. We’ll see Kickstarter blows up when an independent film promises merch from an A-list actor. Right now it works to our benefit, but I have a feeling Hollywood will absorb the idea and it will become a way to fund passion pieces major actors want to produce.

You’ve got a pretty tight crew of regulars in your films. Do you all slip into familiar roles, behind and in front of the camera? Is that a good or bad thing?

It’s a good thing for sure. Independent filmmaking is a nightmare. The more we are familiar with each other, the easier it is to get the shot without miscommunication, which eats up time, and patience. When you know someone are good at what they’re doing, it’s a lot easier to trust their creative process.

What’s your life like with a film after it’s done?

A lot like stage, where when production comes to a close its a relief as well as a let-down. I like working, and I work as hard as I possibly can on our films. When it’s shot, there is a lot of down time between editing, watching the film 50 times, and film submissions to festivals can be very expensive and time-consuming. Still watching and rewatching the footage never gets old when it’s good material.

Tell us about your next projects.

Back in August we made a short film entitled Davis ( and people really liked it. I just wrote a companion piece to see if I could make essentially the same film but exploring totally different themes. Chris Santucci and I are going to make a a couple short films in the coming months. It seems a short film is the best mission statement. Very few people know just how independent real independent cinema is, and it’s hard to ask people to watch 90 minutes. A good short can be better than most feature-length films.

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