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BA of the Week – Indie Filmmaker Val Killmore Castro

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Every week we feature a different person from the community shedding a little light on their life of brokeitude. Who knows, maybe you’ll learn something about the human spirit — probably not.

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Val Killmore Castro is a rogue independent filmmaker. She is best known for her camp-horror feature film The Craving, which is currently being distrubted world-wide by Tom Cat Films. Being a truely indie and low budget filmmaker; Val prides herself on making films on the cheap! In fact, she wants to share her tips on how to make great quality low budget films on a tight (read: broke) budget. Val is currently gearing up to shoot her next feature film, Folie a Deux, later on this month…you can bet she managed to squeeze out some free locations too! Check out her film, Strange, that she co-produced. It played at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco on October 26th, 2012.

Name: Val Killmore Castro

Age: In between 1 to 100

Occupation: Indie Film Producer, Director and Screenwriter

What neighborhood do you live in?: I live in West Oakland, yo!

Best money saving tip: Try and get your locations, props, costumes and set dressings donated, or for FREE (even better). It is doable. When I was working on “The Craving”…I found out a lot of (non- film) people are usually stoked to help out on indie and local film productions. You just have to be persistent, tenacious, and appreciative. Catering is a hard one to get for free, but if you have a Costco card, and friend who likes to cook; hire them to whip up cheap, hearty and delicious meals for your craft service. Good food equals a happy cast and crew. We had a friend who worked at Whole Foods at the time, and hooked us up with their sweet discount to order some meals from their deli for uber cheap. We also had a friend who was a chef, prepare and make awesome meals for us. Never discount your fellow broke-ass friends, and always go through your network…you never know what might pop-up. Remember if you do get items/locations donated from businesses…be sure to thank them in the credits!

What do you refuse to spend money on?: Locations, props, costumes and set dressings.

Most expensive thing you’ve ever bought: Making a feature film. Even when you are an indie and low budget film production…it is still very expensive. I remember on the first day of shooting we burnt through half of our budget! Also, be sure to have some money squirreled away for post-production too. Post is never a cheap endeavor, and sometimes a more expensive process than the actual shooting.

How’d that feel?: It was the best thing ever! Grand, in fact! To not have a greedy studio executive breathing down your neck and telling you how to make your own film. If it’s your money producing the film; you get to call the shots. Your terms, rules and creative vision reign king on set. That for me is priceless.

Favorite cheap eat: Tofu Pad Thai in San Francisco. Vegetarian burritos from the taco trucks in Oakland. White pizza from Rosario’s in the Lower East Side.

Favorite dive bar: Zeigeist in San Francisco and Motor City Bar in the Lower East Side.

Best deal you’ve ever gotten: A free car from my folks.

Favorite free thing to do: Write. The writing process is actually my favorite in film. You get to create this alternate world, and crazy characters that you eventually see come to life on screen.

If you woke up a millionaire, what’s the first thing you’d buy?: I would buy one of those huge vacated warehouses in West Oakland by my house, and turn it into a state of the art film sound stage and studio. A place where filmmakers could shoot their films. I would make it affordable so you wouldn’t have to be a big Hollywood player (though they would be welcomed too) to rent it out. I would also conduct hands-on filmmaking workshops as an alternative for the people who cannot afford film school. Make more movies. Produce other filmmaker’s movies. Then buy myself a diet Dr. Pepper and 3 hour nap (those seem to be a rare delicacy these day).

Despite not having money, do you still love your life?: You have to love the filmmaking process in order to make films with zero to low budgets. In low budget independent filmmaking when you don’t have a lot money (and you’re used to it), you solve all your problems with creativity. It is amazing to see what you and your crew/cast can come up with down to the wire, without any money. Usually, the best stuff is created that way.

Do you own my book?: Definitely maybe. Dug your special on IFC.

Best hangover cure: French fries and ginger ale.

Are you a hipster?: Do those even still exist? I thought they were killed off when the electroclash music scene was pronounced dead?

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, poet, TV host, activist, and general shit-stirrer. His website is one of the most influential arts & culture sites in the San Francisco Bay Area and his freelance writing has been featured in Lonely Planet, Conde Nast Traveler, The Bold Italic, and too many other outlets to remember. His weekly column, Broke-Ass City, appears every other Thursday in the San Francisco Examiner. Stuart’s writing has been translated into four languages. In 2011 Stuart created and hosted the travel show Young, Broke, and Beautiful on IFC and in 2015 he ran for Mayor of San Francisco and got nearly 20k votes.

He's been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero":SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York.