Pictured: Austin Harris & Shane Stanley
Take It on the Road:
Behind the Scenes of “Night Train”
Written by Shane Stanley
I hope this finds everyone healthy and recharged ready to get back in the saddle making 2022 your most productive year yet! I am coming off back-to-back productions and jumping into post- on our latest female-led action/thriller “Night Train” and wanted to share a little about the experience because this one was filmed entirely on location. As I emphasize in my book, “What You Don’t Learn in Film School,” a large part of your success will come from the relationships you have, whether they are in the biz or not. I spend almost an entire chapter discussing the importance of getting to know small business owners and restauranteurs who can provide you great locations, and of course, the cast and crew you can pull on because of your history working together, and this couldn’t have been more a factor in producing “Night Train” which was our biggest indie project to date.
It’s no secret I like making dirt movies. You know the ones that include fast cars and faster women who kick butt and live by the seat of their pants. For “Night Train”, our story focuses on a single mom struggling to make ends meet who evades capture by a ruthless FBI Agent while running black market medical supplies in her legendary souped-up pickup truck. As most of you know, I’ve built a career of making low- budget, high output films that look like we have a lot of dollars to spend, when in fact we only have a few dimes, and before I continue, it’s important to note this could not be possible without my loyal and tireless team. We shot 90% of “Night Train” in Palm Springs and Las Vegas which meant we had to house cast and crew as well as feed and water ‘em because thanks to COVID and a record-breaking heatwave that ran through the desert, crew was extremely scarce. So, justifying bringing everyone out for five weeks and spending all the travel dollars was a huge concern, especially with the costs of COVID tests which can be quite a financial burden to boot.
Years ago, I reached out to Levi Vincent of the Greater Palm Spring Film Office and mentioned one day I’d like to bring my circus to his town and kick up some dirt. Understand, Levi gets roughly a dozen calls a week by producers trying to make contact for productions – most that never happen – so I didn’t blame him for being less than my level of enthusiastic at first, especially since he was juggling a few little projects like “A Star is Born” and “Tenet”. So, as you can see, I was quite the small fish heading out to swim in the Salton Sea but because of the foundation I started in our early communication, it allowed me to build to the point where once we had the green light and it became a reality, Levi pushed everything, and I mean everything else aside and became one of Night Train’s biggest allies. He moved heaven and earth hooking us up with locations that would make any studio executive proud. He connected us with lodging that was not only affordable but was the same place that housed Lady GaGa and Bradley Cooper while they were making their Oscar-winning excuse for a tryst in the desert. Basically, because of Levi, the entire Palm Springs area, which included the Coachella Valley, Desert Hot Springs, and everywhere surrounding it, rolled out the red carpet for us to help make “Night Train” one of the most enjoyable and easiest productions I have ever been involved with in my 30-plus years producing motion pictures. And we’re already planning our next one out there before the year is over.
I tell you this because I want you to remember, it all starts with a “hello”, and not to sound cliché, you only get one chance to make a first impression. People will want to help you because they like you, which allows us to do what we do and put it all on the screen. So, when you watch a film that you know wasn’t backed by studio dollars or endless recourses and you marvel at the production value and wonder, “How did they do it?” It’s quite simple, really. It’s because of relationships. Now go out and forge your own so people want to jump aboard your train.
Until next time…
Shane Stanley, filmmaker and author of the popular new book, “What You Don’t Learn in Film School,” is a lifelong entertainment industry insider, who has worked in every aspect of the business, covering a multitude of movies, television shows and other successful projects. At 49 years old, Stanley has been a steady earner in film and television since he was in diapers with a career that started in front of the camera at 9 months old and grew into a life of a multi-Emmy Award-winning filmmaker spanning more than three decades. To order a copy of Shane’s book and for his seminar schedule, please visit www.whatyoudontlearninfilmschool.com