Two years ago, Nick Bafia and Julia Stamey were struck with inspiration after hearing a guest speaker in one of their classes talk about how they attempted to submit an original film they created to the Academy Awards.
Bafia, a UNC graduate and former Daily Tar Heel photographer, and Stamey, who is now a senior, came together and formed the Bafia-Stamey Productions team to workshop their film, "Fix."
Bafia said they planned to submit the film to the Best Original Musical category for the Oscars because it is a niche category that is likely to have fewer submissions.
The film centers around the reunion of three high school friends who are each facing their own struggles as they navigate adulthood, said UNC alumnus Harper Cleland, one of the three leads who plays Emma.
Cleland said they could have submitted "Fix" to the 2020 Oscars but chose to hold off until 2021 to see if the team could recruit any more filmmakers to join their efforts. She said the team never lost sight of its main priority when making this film, which was not to receive accolades, but rather to have the opportunity to show other aspiring filmmakers that it is possible to start when you may feel limited.
“As eager as we are to share the film, we have to keep reminding ourselves what the purpose of creating it was in the first place,” Cleland said. “And that's not to win an Oscar, but rather to use such an esteemed and well-known platform to encourage other new filmmakers to start their journey no matter their skill level, monetary situation, etc. Everyone has to start somewhere.”
Operating under a low budget and having most of the production team still in college were two of the biggest obstacles they faced before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cleland said production was put on hold after the pandemic began.
One of the qualifications to submit the film to the Oscars was that the film had to be shown in a physical theater, and their options were severely limited by restrictions placed on gathering areas — including most movie theaters across the country.
“We have two other options,” Cleland said. “We could show it at a drive-in theater in L.A., but in this day and age, those are limited. Or we could pay to release it at the Academy screening room, but that costs way more than we have in our budget.”
Stamey, who is the film's music producer, as well as an executive producer along with Bafia, said her job became difficult because bringing musicians to the studio was put on hold for a while.
However, Stamey said if the team had given up on its goal out of impatience, it would have been a disservice to everyone who worked on the project and all the people who started their own projects but couldn’t finish due to COVID-19.
They plan to release "Fix" on Amazon Prime in the spring. Viewing will be free for Prime members and a low price for non-members. Additionally, the film will be shown in a drive-in theatre in Los Angeles County to fulfill the screening requirements for the Oscars.
Stamey also had some words of advice for aspiring filmmakers.
“Working on a big project, a little progress is better than no progress,” Stamey said. “Sometimes when a task is so looming, you’ve just gotta do something. Keeping that in mind, nothing is really that impossible.”
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.