The son of the late actress Jean Stapleton and theater producer/director William Putch, John Putch (Putchfilms) has produced an enviable list of TV series, miniseries and big screen movies, and is currently working on two television shows. But it is in his micro-budget film projects that he is able to really stretch his filmmaking muscles. His latest micro-budget project, The Father and the Bear, is a beautiful, touching docudrama.
“Big-budget projects rely on big names, elaborate special effects and an obscene marketing budget,” Putch explains. But for these micro-budget projects, “we rely on the tools every indie filmmaker has, and the creative talents of all of the artists involved—producers, directors, writers, actors and sound people—as well as location to focus on the story.”
The Father and the Bear centers on Bryon Temple, a retired character actor diagnosed with dementia who wants to do summer theater one last time. The story was a personal one for Putch, whose mother suffered from the same disease. A central location in the film is the Totem Pole Playhouse, the same summer stock theater his father operated while John was growing up.
True to his indie filmmaking “rules,” The Father and The Bear was shot in 18 days. Working as his own editor, he locked the picture down in four weeks. Composing took 10 weeks, sound mix was a three-day affair, and there was one day of color work at Burbank’s CCI Digital.
For the production phase, Putch used OWC‘s 4 TB ThunderBay mini, 4 TB OWC-certified Thunderbolt hard drives and what he calls an “HD toaster dock.” The dock enables him to add and remove drives for maintaining multiple drive backups, cloning a hard drive or providing extra storage.
He uses new OWC hard drives for every film project because he feels that reusing/overwriting a drive is a false savings and isn’t a risk that even the indie film maverick wants to take.
When one drive is full, it’s cloned. One set of drives stays with his cinematographer; Putch uses the other set for editing. He keeps the drive sets physically separate, just in case something happens. Putch has been following the same archiving process since he produced the feature film Mojave Phone Booth in 2006.
“I have an off-site backup of every project I’ve done,” he says. “Every four or five years I copy the projects to a fresh OWC drive. It’s just cheap insurance every filmmaker—studio or indie—should have.”
And yes, he proved a great story can be done by film people with a passion and well within his budget!
The film is available on Vimeo and at thefatherandthebear.com.