The Art of Travel / Tom Whelan Interview: Part 2

5. How many days did you shoot?

The film shot 2 days in Los Angeles, 5 days in Nicaragua, 15 days in Panama, 5 days in Peru, and three days in Bolivia. Then we had to use about 7 days (in between all the shooting days) as travel days to get to all the various locations!

6. Can you tell us more about the actual shooting structure of the film from idea conceptualization to pre-planning and funding to shooting and editing? (For example, how long was spent pre-planning, how long was spent editing etc)

The script was written in about three months and then we had about 2 months to raise the budget for the film. Then we spent 3 solid weeks of casting and then three weeks of preproduction. On top of the location scout that Graciano, LaBelle, and I took prior to the writing of the script, I went by myself and scouted Nicaragua and revisted Panama to lock down all the locations. The time by myself was so valuable because I could somewhat plan out my shots and get as prepared as possible before the cast and crew started on the film. Then after we shot the film, it took about one year to edit and complete the film. Then another six months of Film Festivals (so far over 25 film festivals in North America) and to get all the film’s deliverables to First Look Studios.

7. Now that this film is completed, do you have another project on the go? If so what is it? If so, was this film meant to be a “business card” to help you get more funding for films in the future?

I have a film called “A Cabin on the Hill” which is a horror/comedy that I’m working on at the moment. Funding seems to get easier and easier once you have a few feature films under your belt, especially when you can tell investors to got to BlockBuster to rent your last film. I guess there just comes a time where all your friends who are also starving filmmakers all seem to have works in the progress. Then eventually you join forces with other friends and pull together all your resources to go out and make more movies. That’s one of the greatest things about going to film school, keep in touch with everyone from your school and hopefully you’ll be working with classmates on all sorts of projects!

8. Would you say this film was “reactionary” to films you’ve worked on in the past, or was it similar to films you’ve done in the past.

For some reason each film I do, it just seems to get a little easier. What I mean by that is on your first film you think every little speed bump you hit is the end of the world and your film is going to suffer a horrendous death. But the next day comes and you keep plugging along and before you know it you have a completed film that showcases all your hard work, sweet, and tears. Then on the next film something comes along and you realize that it’s all part of the filmmaking process and you start to roll with the punches. Then eventually embrace the punches and then pieces all seem to fit and everything turns out fine. “The Art of Travel” seems to be hitting a cord with audiences much more than my past two films. ‘The Art of Travel” seems to have the right amount of mix with adventure, drama, comedy, and romance, which my last two films seemed to suffer from. Each film is a learning experience.

9. What is the major criticism of the film and what’s your response to it?

During all the film festivals the two major criticisms we get is how did they have enough fuel for the jeep to drive through the Darien Gap and that the characters somehow managed to get their hands on beer during the expedition.

Then we would explain that the Darien Gap is filled with many rivers that the locals call “highways” that natives use canoes to transport supplies all over the jungle and believe it or not you can buy anything from the natives that live in the region! It’s easier to obtain beer and soda than it is to get bottle water in the Darien Gap! And fuel is just as easy to obtain. Once we explain that fact, people let down their “suspension of disbelief” wall and seem to feel better about the film!

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Full Interview

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