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by Mark Elijah Rosenberg
May 9th, 2011

On Saturday, May 14, Rooftop Films will be hosting the World Premiere of Zachary Raines black comedy Freeloader. Before you get your tickets for this disturbingly funny New York City indie film on Saturday, here for your edification are some points about the film and the production.

Rooftop Films: Tell us what the film is about.

Zachary Raines: In a nutshell, it’s about a guy who just coasts along, taking what he can get from people. His girlfriend gets tired of him and kicks him out, and he moves from couch to couch, person to person, trying to get by without giving much of himself.

RF: The lead character is an enjoyable jerk; fun to watch, a bummer to be friends with, and someone I think a lot of people will relate to (though they won’t admit that they might be like him). Without naming names, is that character based on anybody? Do you consider him a parody of a type of person you know?

ZR: If he’s based on anyone, I suppose it would be me. I’ve been in that situation: broke, lazy, willing to weasel things out of people rather than take care of things myself. Obviously, though, he is an extreme case. But his personality, his style, the things that make him fun to watch and allow him to get by the way he does, that’s all Kyle. He makes the character lovable, which is crucially important. Otherwise it would just be a horrible, hateful film.

RF: The script is very sharp and natural. What was the writing process like? Did the script come out fully formed, did you work with the actors on it, or is the writing somewhat improvised? Did you have a structured story arc in mind from the beginning of the process, or was it more of a portrait piece?

ZR: The script kept changing during the course of the shoot. The story structure was fixed, but the scenes would change and evolve. As far as the dialogue, a good deal is from the script, but most of it is improvised. We always had the script, but the actors weren’t required (or even encouraged) to stick to it. We would set up the basic movement of the scene and then turn them loose. The things they came up with were usually much better than what I had written.

RF: All the performances are realistic and nuanced. Are the cast professional actors, are they your friends, is it some combination? What was it like working with them on this material?

ZR: They are my friends. They’re excellent actors, but most of them aren’t professionals, by which I mean they don’t get paid. I’m not a professional filmmaker, either. But I’m extremely proud of the performances in the film. Because we all know each other well, we had a comfortable, collaborative atmosphere to work in, and we got very funny, very honest performances.

RF: Shooting in New York can be rewarding and challenging. What was the most difficult (or crazy) thing about making a low-budget movie in New York City?

ZR: I have a great producer, David Guinan, who helped me get this done with a very small budget. We share a “by any means necessary” mindset about these things. Also, we got lots and lots of talented people to devote their time and energy into making this happen. I think New York is a great place to make a low-budget movie; great locations, plenty of talent, and best of all, if you’re shooting with a small crew out in the streets, no one pays any attention. They couldn’t care less.

RF: You’re having your World Premiere at the Opening Weekend of Rooftop Films 15th Annual Summer Series. How are you feeling?

ZR: I’m excited. It will certainly be the biggest audience I’ve had, and I look forward to seeing how they respond to the movie.

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We’re excited, too, and expect hundreds at this show. So get your tickets now.

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3 Responses to “Filmmaker Interview: Zachary Raines (“Freeloader”)”

  1. Bwuh says:

    Congrats, Z! Erm, I don’t have to pay for my ticket, do I?

  2. jen says:

    i had the good fortune of seeing this film on a LES high school rooftop this may. It was great!!! When is it coming out on DVD?

    • Lela Scott MacNeil says:

      Hi Jen,

      I just heard from the filmmaker that the DVD will be available in December. Enjoy!

      Lela, Rooftop Films

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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.

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