May 24, 2024

The Director’s Chair: Pablo Feldman and Sophia Sabella on their Journey towards ‘Edge of Everything’

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Welcome to On Production, the podcast about navigating the ins and outs of today's production industry. Our guests this week are the dynamic Los Angeles based writer director duo, Sophia Sabella  and Pablo Feldman. Known for their captivating storytelling. They've directed the compelling film Edge of Everything, and that it's their debut feature film, as well as Sour Milk. Join us as we dive into their cinematic journey exploring the passion and production intricacies behind their work. Both of you. Thanks for being here. And welcome to On Production.


Yeah, thank you.


Thanks so much for having us. Super happy to be here. Funny story right off the bat, is that sour milk actually was an old title of edge of everything. Okay, no


kidding. God.


No, no, it's it makes sense. I mean, that this film has gone through multiple titles. It's coming from like posers to sour milk now to edge of everything.


Yeah, that was found its place that edge of everything. And I think


that's kind of like a perfect articulation of like, I I mess up the intro. But here's the thing like, create your creative journey has been this process of kind of iterative creation and like really refining the story into something that you're so proud of the audiences are really resonating with. That's awesome. I'm really curious, like with that point of becoming filmmakers. What What drew both of you to filmmaking? How did you start working together?


Funny enough, we we actually went to high school together.


Yeah, we've had the same drama program. And our theater teachers actually in this film. Yeah. And our theater teachers, literally, probably all girls. But yeah, we were friends in high school. And then we reconnected in college. And we were just to get we were just dating actually, at first for like, a year and a half. And Pablo was at Emerson for acting. And I feel like that was like more what you were doing? Yeah,


I was like, I got to be an actor. This is what I'm doing with my life and moved out to New York, where Sophia was finishing up at NYU. And we started me writing and making sure it's just kind of out of the desperation, find something to act as soon as extra hard. It's hard, hard to hard to get casted and get work out there. And then fell in love with it. Fell in love with writing direct, yeah, and


kind of moved entirely to behind the camera side of things. And edit


in sled, we moved out, we moved out to LA and then we're doing other shorts out here. Then the pandemic head and midway through we're like, we have to make a feature or losing our


minds. And it's so inspiring that you guys found this Do It Yourself way and brought a film totally to bear that is super, super awesome. Drilling into some of the like, kind of production questions they have is, I'm curious, like, what were some of the key technical challenges you faced during the filming of edge of everything?


I mean, so many, you know, obviously, we worked on such a low budget. So everything


was like about being super scrappy, like we got all locations for free, which is really nice. We actually shot in my parents home.


At our high school, like we said, our where we both went to high school, like we said, our drama teacher high schools, yeah, no, takes


place just for reference. It takes place in art where we both grew up in Marin County. So that's why we were able to have so many locations for free, we kind of used what we had. And it really made it really helps I get it and


And hats off to our other two producers who were amazing at using budget. But we also there were other things such as you know, shooting through the night, or our camera did, did it just come shut down on day, like these production things that you would never think would happen. And luckily, it was a Friday, but we lost a full day of shooting I had


to I had to like figure out how to make it up. And basically like just how many pages like some days we were one day we shot like 10 pages, which was crazy and just like trying to figure out how to make that work without like losing the kind of quality.


Yeah, the madness of indie film. Yeah.


I'm really curious. I want to dig into something really quick. You know, I imagine directing as do can have some incredible rewards, but some challenges as well. How do you to navigate creative differences and how do you collaborate effectively?


We're so prep based on but I think I also think the only way that we work together as a duo is because we have the same vision and we're on the same page to begin with, which is something that almost can't even be discussed, like going back to the origin But it's like we're connected on the same taste. And that


kind of learned together like we can. We've kind of gone through our process together, which makes it so easy. Yeah, to kind of keep going. Yeah, I don't know if I could write and drag


that data data shop, we get that question a lot. They're


like, how do you do it? Do you like to sit down next to each other and just write on his computer? And yeah,


but physically, when we're on set, it's a very collaborative, it's all one person working with actors. The other perks of working with camera were one person will end up going to either or, but we'll discuss Yeah, and then we're


forehand. And we had so much prep that we trust each other just to talk to an actor. And we'll be like, we've had this and we're like, great. So we don't won't repeat it. But it's just like, we trust each other just to make the right decisions.


Yeah. And then, of course, obviously, not to lead one more thing, but obviously, sometimes it as it goes in a high stressful situation. You do like, may disagree. And you're like, and it's always the same. We were talking actually at Santa Barbara with a different directing duo. And they were like, You never fight in front of the kids. And you like, you know, let's take a walk. Let's take a walk. And


yeah, and also just, it's like, so nice. Because we are so close. We've been working together for so long. It's like if someone says something you don't agree, you're just like, I don't agree. Yeah,


it gets through all the BS ahead of time. Yeah, you could just shoot it straight.


Like don't have to be that nice about it? That's fantastic.


Do you notice that both of you will work truly collaboratively on every part of the process? Or do either of you gravitate to kind of different elements of the directing process? Like is one of you like really focused on actors versus, like visual mood and tone working with the DP like, or is that really something done fully in collaboration? It's,


it's fully done in collaboration. But I think there's times when somebody will, of course, there's times because there's so many things going on, on a set. And that's where I love the director duo especially, is that there's times when one person will end up going in another direction, and the other will go another direction, especially in prep, I think, just because there's so much happening, and luckily, there's two of us to be able to tackle all of it, like Sophia is amazing on the production design and cause some side of things like has an amazing eye for it. And I'm like, sometimes I'm like, just I trust whatever you're gonna do, like, oh, it's


like, so talked about before that it's easy for me to just go and kind of go within and just kind of we talked about it afterwards, whatever kind of thing we can't, I came up with the production designer or with the costume designer, but at the same time, I feel like it's something it's interesting. I feel like, yes, maybe that's was true, like earlier, but then I feel like you're getting more into production design.


No, I love it. I love it. It's just a matter of so much to do. And we also were on the producing team. So we were dealing with all sides. Yeah, so assizes a lot of roll.


You know, I was going to ask you about that, you know, like, obviously, our show is called on production. My whole career has been on the production side and the payroll side, the operational side of complex storytelling. So I was gonna ask you, you know, like, tell me about your producers, tell us celebrate your producers. Tell me about like, what drew you to your production teams? And how did you kind of organize that team and make this thing happen?


Yeah, and all of this is like credit to that. I mean, we could not have gotten through the through through the thick of the woods, literally without them. They're amazing. Jolene Mendez, Robbie of soltana, like great producers, who actually we cold emailed. Initially, we were looking for partners in this film. And this was like, way back and we emailed them we loved, we had seen that one of Julian's film, she paradise went to Tribeca. And it was really inspiring. And we're like this, it feels like, especially for this coming of age intimate story would be perfect. And we reached out, they got back and we kind of clicked went from there. And you know, they they did an amazing job on set. And we also were so lucky to work with the rest of our crew. I mean, everybody from our DP Scott, production designers to our editor, and yeah, we're really lucky, really lucky to have such a supportive crew on our first features.


And it obviously like the pay is not very high. It's just if you really liked the project, and you're willing to come out and that was really amazing to see how many people were willing to do that. That's too cool.


I'm so happy to hear that the team came together and made something special. You know, pivoting a little bit can you walk me through your approach to casting especially for such complex characters as Abby and Carolyn?


I think casting is personally is the most like it takes care of a lot of work beforehand, because it's so important. I forget who said it but I heard somebody Say it 70% of a director's job is casting, because that really defines where the characters are going, where you can make adjustments on set and workshop. But a certain part of the person just is going to be that character. Yes, person. As soon as casted. We got edits and others, they were so grateful to work with an amazing cast. I mean, we got our


friend, one of our friends introduced us to Sierra. And we got that she was great. Perfect, perfect. Yeah, she does fit the role, perfectly. And then he also introduced us to Emily Robinson. And then Emily introduced us to Ryan and it was kind of this like chain of we were like going through a lot of people and then kind of coming upon these, these people that just knew people through other people. And yeah, we were really lucky to have that.


And then the rest of the roles just being super specific. We did a casting call for a lot of these roles. And I think that's one of our favorite parts of the process. Yeah, casting and casted


locally for I mean, locally for a lot of the smaller roles. And then we brought we brought out the main cast, and then how we got Jason who played Jason Bella Horner, who played David, we just DM him on Instagram.


We loved his work, and we're like, we gotta gotta get through him somehow. I'm sure his agents are gonna shut us down. Yeah,


but he responded. It worked.


Yeah, that is so rappy.


I love it. Yeah, and we still do, like, we do stuff like that our D ever Yeah, totally. Like, you know, maybe get get to somebody directly at that spark there, which I


think is always so hard when you don't have finance in place, and you're trying to have conversations with agents off the bat, it's something where everyone's always like, if you know, somebody, that's always a good way to get the ball rolling, because it's so much easier, otherwise have to go through all these hoops to get to them. And you don't even know if it's gonna get to them. And especially as first time directors, it's like, if you have someone who loves the project, and also believes in your vision, that it's really helps to get everyone else on board, no


snows suits, per se, were going to give us the chance to go make this and or thought thought that, you know, it was a worthwhile Navy thing. So we knew that and we're just like, Let's go around every single corner. But I also think even at a higher budget, that becomes true as we're putting together our next tool. It's like getting scrappy with who we know and what connections we have. It's really like going back to the same thing, funnily enough. Yeah. Didn't necessarily become everybody's not to jump the gun on the conversation, but it hasn't become everybody's calling. It's like maybe some more doors are open. But but


now the budget is higher. How are you gonna get the money for that budget? And also, now you need an actor who maybe I don't know, it's it's like so silly. Like, there's always things where it's like an actor who? I don't know, it has more value. Yeah, of course. That's more followers. I don't know. Yeah. So interesting how that works.


The whole ecosystem is so interesting. And I think what's fantastic about film craft, right is that even a, quote unquote bad movie is a minor miracle in terms of collaboration and applied creativity in a direction. And what's interesting about a wonderful quote, unquote, movie is that there are these elements that sometimes just simply cannot be fully planned for. Like, even if you're fully wonderful at your craft, like, there are, as you said, situations where a casting just has to be right or a location just must be right or a scene just must be right. Like it's just incredible. What has to line up to make something special kind of to that I want to know what was your guys's strategy for creating the visual style and mood of edge of everything?


Well, at the time we were really inspired by filmmakers like Eliza Hitman Andrea Arnold, we were really into like the grounded like feels super real. Still are and still are. But that was really inspiring for this film. And we wanted it to feel really real and really dropped in like you're with the girls. And so we were kind of just, I mean, it was so funny, like our, like Ashley Munz who did costume design. She was like, Do you want like norm Corp? She calls it norm Corp. And I was like, Yeah, Norm Corp is perfect. Yeah, cuz it basically like everything just wanted to feel like real. And nothing was too like flowery or stylistic in that sense, because it's supposed to be like a real home a real bedroom. And like a real school, all the things. Actually teenagers were then


on the with our cinematographer Scott. It's funny enough I think some of the reaction almost in q&a is that festivals are Oh, it feels almost documentary style. Did you just put the care Number on the shoulder sometimes and just add rocket and create this, you know, what a lot of I think is a very beautiful aesthetic. And we're like, no, it took months and months of extreme precision and prep to create that naturalistic feel. That was the vision all along. And it took so much prep to just create that on the camera side. And Scott's


like, just so amazing that he's so good at making it feel that way. That's


too great. That's awesome. How did you two manage the post production process? Like, how was the edit your music selection? How did the story come to shape up in the edit bay, Ben


Sherman, our editor is literally the best person that we were, we love that. And he, we, again, found he had edited a friend's film and we loved his work, you know, he kind of worked especially, it was still like pandemic times, and it worked where he would do a chunk, and then he would send it to us, we would do a full round of notes, he would come back and then we would go in person and work from there. And maybe we would still continue to tear things up. And that really worked well for us, especially because we trust him off the bat. And it's really nice to have a new voice come in, so that one can see where where they take it a fresh take, especially when you're so caught up. And in production. It was really nice for us to have a new storyteller, not just the storyteller, but somebody come in and give their fresh perspective really worked for us and music wise, a lot of its Bay Area Music Yeah,


are all of its like, artists, a lot of it is and then we had the the artist Mark on board.


He's music director,


he was our music director. And he found a lot of the music for us, which was really helpful and connected us to artists. And a lot of the music really is like what we listened to in high school. So it was like very visceral on that and like especially like some of the scenes where there was like heavy bass in the car, like driving down a windy road, like so many people came up to us being like, I remember those days of being in the back of a car, and there's like heavy bass and you're driving down a windy road with someone who's just like whipping down the road. And it's so dangerous. And it's like amazing, we're all like that.


And to go back to your last. The other question of style of the decision from the beginning was that everything would be diegetic with with sound so all the music comes is source and comes from in the film, there's no there's no score, it's all songs that we chose. And stylistically, we wanted everything to feel as naturalistic as possible. So a lot of moments do live in silence or just saw a song from the radio. And now that was something that was really important for us from when we from the writing process as well.


Fantastic. pivoting back a little bit to production I can't ever help myself but can you share on how you will budgeted edge of everything especially you know, with the some of these constraints you mentioned kind of popping up which makes sense you guys like really were scrappy? No wasn't an answer. Like you went and you found solutions to problems creatively and the output is this awesome film but yeah, like how did you budget this and kind of walk us through that process on the finance side if you don't mind? So


it started initially, we were ready to make a film for $50,000. 25 grand we'll use real people will get scrappy and then of course it started we were really grateful to have these producers on board cast start coming on board it started to


like kind of snowball into like more of a budget more of a budget still allow but definitely kept creeping up Yeah,


yeah and we were just I think it was about being just incredibly diligent about where we where we put me and being able to pull in a lot of favors as well like not gonna lie and act like it wasn't a lot of favors were pulled in we got really lucky with some passionate people who came on board on the finance side that were really passionate about the story we wanted to tell and kind of pulled pulled together financing from a lot of private equity directions but it was it was scrappy, you know pulling favors friends using friends cars,


yeah, everything was like just somebody's something like Like it felt like very much like I feel like travel and lodging and appealing higher costs just for bringing everyone because we did bring out a good amount of people from LA and tried to use like as many people as we could from the Bay Area but it you know the ended up travel and like lodging always ends up being something that's pretty expensive. But yeah, having like so many favors, I think really just made it so this could happen in the way it did. And which is a huge reason why we chose Mill Valley. Yeah,


you know, home of course the Mill Valley film fast which is a great organization, great films. For sure. You know, I'm curious, both of you. What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers on kind of managing production from conception through to distribution? I mean, I think we've talked a bit about your style, how you wrote this thing, how you shot this thing. Talk to us about distribution getting it seen would love to kind of know that process from your sir.


Yeah, for sure. We we have a great sales company on board visit films who has really helped us get this film out into the world. But you know, from the beginning, it's not like we had that set up. Also, as filmmakers, like we were, to be honest, coming into this and I think that that's where we can, you know, maybe give good advice, path forward is we did come into this with super limited connections, just wanting to make a film and didn't have distribution setup or the sales company set up beforehand. But really did once we finished the film, and we didn't have a sales company on board for a while was uncovering every stone, everybody we knew, emailing cold emailing, people emailing,


yeah. Which is like something where it's sometimes you're like, I don't know if they're even gonna respond. But shockingly, a lot of people do respond and are receptive to cold emails.


Yeah, we are a sales company. And it's a hard cross sell in the film right now. But luckily, we got some good success with festivals. And we're with lightyear entertainment now for domestic distribution is this amazing company is getting it out into the world, and is really giving it I think, what it what it deserves, which we're so happy about. And I would say


this is like all to say like, I feel like a huge thing for us is like if you create it, you create a really good community of other filmmakers at your level or even like, like if you have any like sort of mentor, like mentor kind of people, those people like are really helpful. Or if you went to like, I mean, we didn't neither of us went to film school, but we both went to like, I feel like Emerson College like you're how many people for Emerson Emerson runs really deep, like people really help each other at Emerson. And I feel like creating a really good community, wherever you are of filmmakers, makes it possible to do these things. So someone always knows somebody who has this or what and like, that's how it really comes together.


They're the people who connect you at us. And then that's that's been so true for


us. That's so fantastic. Well tell me what's next for you to this film is is in the can it's getting distributed. It's getting seen people are loving it. You had mentioned other project, what's the what's your trajectory, while


you were doing this dramatic or dark comedy acts that were really different side of the valley. So yeah, it really doesn't matter. But it still has the heart that edge of everything has and the character relationships that really drive really deep in the story. And we're we're working to shoot in the fall working with a great team so far on this project. And I think it's we're really excited to get back on set. That's the itch since Yeah. What's


your it's about two monsters in the toxic relationships, though.


Yeah, we will Pablo, and Sofia, thank you so much for joining me on production. It's so nice to meet you. And thank you for sharing a bit about your story. how can listeners learn more about your work and watch your films? Yeah,


so edge of everything is going to be in LA. It's going to be at the no hole I believe starting May 17. We have a screening in New York with the future of film is female, I think may 21 at the Nighthawk cinema. And also for more for more updated. Then we'll be coming to streaming and VOD in the summer. But for more updates, you can follow us on Instagram edge of everything. Film is a great way where we're posting constant updates, but we'll be out in the world soon and so excited to share this with audiences.


That's too awesome. Thanks so much, Pablo, and Sofia. See you next time.


Everybody. Thank you for having us thanks.

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