A lot goes into creating an independent film but the pressure is heightened when you’re working with a tight budget. With the dream of their independent film making it big, producer Kellie Maltagliati and director Michael Whitton were grateful when AMC Theatres agreed to show their film.
Maltagliati and Whitton produced and directed a film called “Exit Strategy,” which will premiere at AMC Loews Cherry Hill 24 at 2121 New Jersey, Cherry Hill and AMC Franklin Mills Mall 14 at 1149 Franklin Mills Circle on Feb. 10. They started the project in September 2010, and had no idea it would be premiere at AMC Theatres in the Philadelphia area.
“We are a very, very low budget movie — under $100,000 — and we are now playing in AMC Theatres in Philadelphia next to movies that are 100 million dollars,” Maltagliati said. “It is sort of miraculous that we were able to get this movie finished and made.”
With just 14 days to shoot, and less than $100,000 to work with, the “Exit Strategy” team utilized their relationships and their ability to multitask in order to get the film completed.
Local Philadelphia radio personality Quincy “Qdeezy” Harris, who plays “Carville,” was able to gather funding and support for the film. Harris, a Germantown native, has a show called “The Qdeezy Show,” on Hot 107.9 Philly. Radio One, an urban multimedia company, owns Hot 107.9 Philly — and through Harris the “Exit Strategy” team secured a media partnership that entailed a significant amount of on-air content that focused on the film.
Along with media coverage, Harris’ relationship with people in the industry provided funding opportunities to the film. His friend, Kurt Alexander “Big Boy,” radio show host on Los Angeles KPWR-FM Power 106, helped financed the film through his production company Ida’s Son Productions. Maltagliati’s production company Ask Around Productions, provided the remaining funding for the film.
Maltagliati started her production company around five years ago, and incorporated her background in business and marketing into the development of the company. Both Maltagliati and Whitton agree that having a diverse background in many fields and being multi-faceted was the only way making the film was possible.
Whitton directed the film, but like the rest of the team, he absorbed other roles, since they had such limited resources. He directed, edited and took on a lot of the post-production work the film needed.
“The key is to learn everything about the post-production process you can,” Whitton said.
Maltagliati felt Whitton’s work was responsible for a lot of the film’s success.
“He’s not like a normal first-time director in that way, he comes at it like I think any director would with 100 million dollars,” she said.
While the team behind the scenes took on many roles, the actors had the pressure to perform at their best, knowing the financial situation.
Kimelia Weathers played “Kim” and felt the limited resources forced her to always be on her “A game.”
“For me it helped enhance my experience,” Weathers said. “I saw how hard everyone was working to make this a good film, so I had to make sure I was on point everyday.”
Jameel Saleem wrote the script for “Exit Strategy” and played main character “James.” Saleem had to work to not let the film’s low budget interfere with his acting.
“I had to stop myself and say they’ll figure it out and they’ll take care of it — just focus,” Saleem said. “I had to separate myself and just be an actor.”
To cut down on production costs, the “Exit Strategy” team used technology and advances in digital practices to their advantage. The team used a Canon 5D video camera as opposed to film, which they estimated saved them thousands. By using this camera, the team was able to utilize laptops and distribute their movie to AMC in a cost-efficient fashion.
“Sending out individual reels would normally be a huge bulk of distribution costs for a huge studio,” Whitton said. “For us, we’re sending out a thumb drive.”
The “Exit Strategy” team sent out their movie to AMC just last December. Through AMC Independent, the AMC Theatres initiative to display independent films, the movie was picked up, and the team is pleased it will premiere in the Philadelphia area.