Issue 2 - Find Your Forever Collaborators

Assemble your dream team of constant collaborators!


“You play to the level of those you surround yourself with.” ~ Rando Athleticist

Collaboration is the key to filmmaking. Each team you assemble for your projects will factor into the film’s success or failure. They will also either uplift you and the material, or bring both down.

I have long said, that if a good time is had on set by the cast and crew, then that energy and sense of joy will translate through the screen and connect with your audiences.

This means everyone who is on the set contributes to its energy and flow. They are each a factor in this equation. So you want to ensure, as much as you can, that they add to the sum, not subtract.

Especially in our terms, with regard to the no-to-low budget grind. The mood on set is vital to keeping all of your cast and crew happy and feeling some sense of satisfaction with the process and project.

So you need to be extra mindful of who is contributing to your energy equations.

Just Ask

For the longest time, I felt that as a no budget filmmaker, asking anyone to join me on these projects was tantamount to disrespecting those I sought to stand alongside in these indie film trenches.

Apparently, this made me seem like I was somewhat unapproachable or inaccessible to some. When that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

But it meant that just as I was unlikely to reach out with projects to offer, it was just as likely that others were not going to approach me either. This kept our sets and teams very small, and meant for the wearing of many hats.

But there was a recent conversation with a good friend, one whom I always worked with on others’ projects, as I saw her as being leagues above myself.

And she poignantly said, “Just ask.”

“They can always say no if it’s not something they are willing to do.” No harm, no foul. And I had never thought of it like that. I often waited for those who wanted to work with me to approach me.

But if you like someone’s work, and would like to collaborate with them, just let them know.

Be up front and honest with them about the project and the nature of it, and let them decide.

Keep ‘em Coming Back

If you can, continue to work with some of the same people, time and again. This way you can start to build a foundation of solid collaborators that you know you can trust and get good results with.

This will allow for some much needed peace of mind in otherwise hectic and fast-paced environs. Furthermore:

  • this helps to build both relationships and trust (between you and the cast/crew, but also between team members themselves)

  • can aid in short handing needs and expediting setups and production process

  • allows you write specifically for them (be it someone’s style/strengths on camera that you want to play to, or an actor’s range and capabilities)

  • fosters an air of comfort and knowing on set (and knowing is half the battle)


When I got the greenlight on the Stephen King adaptation, I immediately started assembling my Avengers. Making a list of my own forever collaborators that I knew I wanted to bring on board.

Both in front of, and behind the camera, I was mapping out the team that I wanted to take on this opportunity with. Who could really bring these pages to life.

Meet Some of the Fam


I met Travis a few years ago, and instantly knew I had a forever collaborator in that moment. He was genuine and kind. Exceedingly giving and generous with his knowledge, talents and time.

His eye for composition and his instincts with movement and style are nearly unparalleled in the Springs. By my account, and for my money, there is no one better.

Travis’ infectious laughter, and the command he wields over the cinematic frame, guarantee that he is always a welcomed addition to any set I have any influence over.


Erynn and I were part of the same Film Studies cohort at UCCS during our undergrad stint at the campus. We became quick collaborators, and faster friends as we shared officer duties in the Film Club and beyond.

Since then, Erynn has been gracious enough to collaborate with me in various capacities, both in front of and behind the camera, on nearly a dozen or more projects.

Some were projects of mine that I brought to her, and some were projects of hers that she brought to me. However they have come about, she has remained one of my favorite people to work with.

Recent interviews with Erynn where she talks about the project and more!


Megan is someone I met more recently, while working on our friend Ian Brander’s indie feature, Matchbot (keep an eye out for it), and have since worked together on a number of sets.

This is the first time I have had the pleasure of having Megan attached to a Whatsabudget Films’ project, so I am beyond ecstatic to finally work with her on a script I have written.

When I mentioned earlier in the writing that I’d had a recent convo with a friend who told me to not be afraid to just ask people to collab, that was her! That was Megan.


Cynthia is another person I met recently while working on yet another indie feature from our friend Mat Nelson, Real M.ichigan (again, keep your peepers peeled), and we have collaborated on several projects since.

She has such a natural ability when it comes to acting, everything feels so genuine and real when she plays it. Because of that, I have turned to her on several occasions with scripts I needed to cast after witnessing her talent.

So I was once again elated when she read over E is for Expiation and readily signed on to the film.


Kat is another of my UCCS compatriots, whose involvement in Whatsabudget Films goes back almost a decade at this point. I met her after seeing a film she had made for one of the annual Student Film Festivals our Film Club hosted.

A talented filmmaker and actor herself, Kat and I found a number of projects to collaborate on in the ensuing years. In fact, Kat was key in being there on a difficult film for me to make right before the pandemic. A very personal piece.

So Kat and I have been family for a minute, and though the pandemic kept us apart and from connecting up to collab on anything for a couple of years, we have gotten back in touch recently and starting collaborating once more!


Speaking of those long burning partnerships, Erica Erickson is one of those actors who I would put in absolutely everything I ever produce for the rest of my life if I could. Her talent is boundless, and her heart is as well.

We met through a mutual friend who had shared a stage with her on occasion as I was just getting going making films. Mark had mentioned knowing several actors looking for some fun films to tackle, and I was connected to Erica.

She auditioned for a feature I planned that never came to fruition, but in that audition where she read for a number of characters, I wanted to cast her in every one! We’ve been staunch supporters of one another and creative allies since.


Ian is another person who will forever have a place on any set I have any say over for life. Ian and I had been circling each other on socials, knowing so many of the same people, but not having actually met in person until a few years ago.

It was when I got the privilege of working on his feature film, Matchbot that we met irl finally. And since that day we too have collaborated on a handful of projects both feature and short form.

As skilled and talented an eye as Ian has, he has an equally big heart and spirit that make him beyond a valuable asset to have on any film. He cares deeply for the craft and all the people behind it, and I am honored to have him on board.


Ralph is a major figure in the local indie film scene, leading the charge for the community at large, and growing it through his own efforts and with the help of others for more than a decade here in the Springs.

He’s affectionately known as the Godfather of Colorado indie film by many of the local players and participants of the scene. He’s been such a champion for Whatsabudget, always granting our work a screen and audience to share with.

Not only someone I’ve trusted and turned to for years now in film, but Ralph was also part of the very first wave of Dollar Baby projects licensed from the King program in CO. So it is only fitting that he have a place here on one of the last.

More to come about the Stephen King adaptation as we get it into production this year! A crowdfunding campaign is coming soon. So you can support and be part of the project too!