Filmgoers are attracted to odd and unique, which is why the feature film “Quaker Oaths” was successful on Kickstarter and landed a spot in the Austin Film Festival.
The film, which is directed and written by Louisiana Kreutz, focuses on a young Quaker couple going through divorce.
“There has never been a case when I told somebody about the premise, they didn’t say, ‘Wow, that’s a great idea,'” said David Hess, the film’s casting director and associate producer. “Everybody loves the idea.”
“Quaker Oaths,” which was partially funded through Kickstarter, premieres at the Austin Film Festival on Oct. 15.
The movie raised $9,000 of its $10,000 goal in just its third day on Kickstarter. Once its 30-day campaign wrapped up, the film amassed $13,509 in donations from 253 backers.
In fact, $5,000 of the donation money came from a man in Los Angeles, who had no personal connection to anybody involved with the film whatsoever.
“I can’t find any connection to him on Facebook,” said Kreutz. “He must have just really liked the project. So that’s kind of the wildest thing that’s ever happened to me.”
While the opening credits of “Quaker Oaths” roll, its main characters Joe (Alex Dobrenko) and Emily (Fede Rangel) are getting married. Soon thereafter, the film flashes forward six years into the future. Emily and Joe’s marriage is coming to a close, and they seek divorce.
However, Emily and Joe are Quakers. And when Quakers get married, every person who attends the wedding signs their name on the marriage certificate. In order for them to be officially divorced, they need every one of their wedding attendees to cross off their name.
“It’s a very unique tradition,” said Hess.
But the people who attended Joe and Emily’s wedding won’t let them divorce without throughly discussing their relationship’s problems.
“The Quaker community around Joe and Emily steps up and interrogates them throughout the entire movie about why they they’re splitting up,” said Kreutz. “They won’t let them split up for no reason.”
About six years ago, Louisiana Kreutz conjured up the premise for the movie. And when she discussed the topic around other people, it would elicit positive reactions.
Three years later, with the idea continuing to be bandied about, Kreutz realized she should pursue it as a feature film.
“I thought, ‘Man this idea hasn’t gone away, and it really makes everyone laugh whenever we talk about it,'” said Kreutz. “‘So maybe I should just go for it.'”
“Quaker Oaths” is Kreutz’s inaugural feature film as a director. She has directed four short films and a documentary. Therefore, it took her a while to adjust to the process of creating a feature-length film.
“I felt so out of my element at the beginning of it,” Kreutz said regarding working on “Quaker Oaths.”
Kreutz was used to smaller crews and working on the fly in documentary filmmaking, but she learned quickly that there is a lot more preparation in feature films. In feature filmmaking, every shot must be planned prior to filming.
“I kept having moments while working on this film where I assumed I could figure out [an issue] when it came up,” said Kreutz, and I realized if you have a crew of 15 people plus actors, that’s a really bad idea.”
One of the film’s characters Mikey (Pete Dahlberg), who is Emily’s new love interest, is a unicycle football player. Thus, Kreutz and her crew went to San Marcos, Texas — where the actual Unicycle Football League is based, and they performed those shots documentary-style.
Kreutz and her crew showed up during a regularly scheduled game, and after it was over, she filmed a scene in which Mikey scores a touchdown.
Before the cameras started rolling, Kreutz had one of her crew members implore the crowd at the game to cheer as if they were watching a real game.
Even though they had not informed the crowd of the character’s name, a woman on roller skates passed by as they were filming and yelled, “Go Mikey!”
“I was so moved to think somehow the word had gotten out about what the character’s name is and that she (lady on roller skates) was getting into part and doing her part by yelling,” said Kreutz.
Kreutz noticed her feature filmmaking naivety prior to filming a scene in which unicycle football players go into a van, which can be seen in the film’s Kickstarter video.
Kreutz had not planned to acquire a van for the scene, and one of her crew members asked where the van was before they headed to the unicycle football field.
“‘Oh, there will be one down there at the unicycle football game,'” Kreutz replied to her crew member. “‘I’m sure it will work out.'”
Luckily for her, it did work out, as there was a van. However, she realized that she should have made prior arrangements to have a van on set.
“That’s not the way you’re supposed to do things,” said Kreutz.
During the editing process, Kreutz noticed another significant difference between feature filmmaking and documentary filmmaking.
“In a documentary, you could be sitting in the editing room at the very end of the edit and realize that you need a lot more shots, and you can just go out and get those shots,” said Kreutz. “It’s not a big deal.”
With feature films, that’s not always possible. An actor may have changed their look, a certain set may not exist anymore, and doing additional shooting costs more money.
“You have to get all the shots you need when you can,” said Kreutz. “A year later [in the editing room], you can’t have an epiphany about this.”
The cast and crew had a great amount of fun putting this film together
Rangel, one of the movie’s stars, stated that working on this film was one of best experiences she’s had as an actress.
“[On set], it was very relaxed and easy going,” said Rangel. “It was really fun. It was so great hanging out with them. It was like playing honestly.”
Kreutz plans to make more feature films in the future, as she had a ball working on “Quaker Oaths.”
“It’s a sweet story,” said Kreutz. “We had a really small budget and a small community of people who came together to make this film.”