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August 2014
Issue: October 1, 2007

FROM WEB TO SILVER SCREEN

By: Marc Loftus

Writer, producer, director Neil Mandt is a realist. When he set out to create Last Stop for Paul with his brother Michael and cinematographer Marc Carter, he had visions of television broadcast and DVD release. But by using the Web, he was able to generate considerable interest in the film. Its festival track record includes more than 30 awards, making it one of 2007’s most successful independent films. And soon, Last Stop for Paul will see true theatrical release.

The “film” — shot on DV over five weeks in Europe — chronicles the adventures of two friends who travel around the world to scatter the ashes of their recently-deceased friend. Their travels introduce them to interesting characters and lead to numerous crazy adventures.

According to Mandt, the entire project was shot by Carter and himself using just one Panasonic 24p AG-DVX100A camcorder. No crew, no lights, and little budget. All of the adventures are based on true stories and are designed to stand on their own as two- or three-minute shorts. Several appear on the Web (www.laststopforpaul.com) and have helped create the film’s buzz. Narrative links the dozen or so chapters together, creating the longform piece.

“Going into it, we had no aspirations of getting a theatrical release,” Mandt recalls. “I’ve made a few movies in the past… and it financially does not make sense to put a small movie out in theaters unless it’s one that you are positive people will show up for.”

As a partner in Mandt Bros. Productions, Mandt was able to post much of the film in- house using Symphony systems connected via Unity. Media City Sound handled audio post, ensuring the sound never risked sounding low-budget. And music was acquired through Web searches, further helping with budget restrictions.

The film has a real message of friendship that connects with audiences, says Mandt. He has looked into having prints made and will most likely be working with Efilm, providing them with a Digi Beta to create the 35mm negative. “I’m the first person to say I am surprised,” he says of the film’s success. “I never imagined it. You hope for the best, but you never expect it.”