Michael Covino and Kyle Marvin wore many caps on their cycling-centric comedy The Climb. They co-wrote and star in the film, which Covino directed. But they also produced — and thought like producers from beginning to end.
The film tells the story of a friendship between a destructive ex-jock (Covino) and a lovable friend (Marvin) who suffers because of the ex-jock’s selfishness. Covino and Marvin pitched their project to potential financial backers with themselves as the stars, and made it more appealing by counting the costs on every page of their script.
Because they were the writers as well as the producers, they could craft their story to take place in a limited number of locations, including a treacherous uphill road, a rambling house during the holidays, and a bike shop/cafe. They talk about how to think like a producer while you’re writing at the 9:20 mark, above.
“As we wrote the film, we wrote it in a way we thought we could manage,” says Covino. “We scheduled the film in a way that I thought from a producer’s standpoint would give us the best result. For example, every scene in the film had a full rehearsal day. We had 30 initial shoot days. It’s really like 15 initial shoot days with a full rehearsal day with cast and crew, so we’d run through the eight-minute scene.”
You read that right: Eight minute scene. The Climb is broken up into several sections, all of which consist of a single, continuous shot. The film immerses you in short moments between the friends, and let’s you imagine what has transpired in the time between scenes.
“We would start shooting takes by the end of the day and then we would look at the footage and we’d review the footage and look at it and make adjustments and come back in,” Covino explains.
A crucial scene in the house includes astonishing camera movements, through windows and up and downstairs — again, with no edits – which was possible with a lot of planning and a lot of apple boxes.
“We leaned on locations a lot and spending a lot of time upfront finding those locations,” says Marvin. “A lot of that pre-production work I think helped a lot. … By the time we went out to the location we were pretty confident — ‘This is the place we like, in this location, and this is how we wrote it with such specificity in terms of camera motions and specific things in mind.”
Marvin and Covino also talk about why they chose to work with Topic on their Sony-distributed film. This is an in-depth, inside-information-packed episode that also gets into how to turn a short into a feature, why you need to keep constantly creating without being too precious, and Covino’s excellent heel turn in the new Tom Hanks Western News of the World.
If you enjoy this episode of Demystified, be sure to subscribe and check out StudioFest, an annual event in which moviemakers compete for the chance to make a $50,000 budget film. Every episode of Demystified follows host Jake Bowen and StudioFest founders Jess Jacklin and Charles Beale in the creation of their award winning-first feature, Souvenirs, and their quest to find the next breakthrough.
The Climb, starring and written by produced by Michael Covino and Kyle Marvin, and directed by Covino, is now available on demand. Main image, above: Michael Covino, left, and Kyle Marvin, right.