The Inevitable, Freakishly-Large, Bumps In The Road

You’ve decided on a destination. You’ve carefully mapped out the route. You’ve built in extra time in case of any side-trips you want, or are forced, to take. You’ve studied the forest and have seen the trees. Or have you?

I love research. No, I mean I love research. I’ll research anything. Am I a history buff? No. I not only love finding the information I’m seeking, but I also love the journey I take to find it. Suffice it to say, I’ve put a lot of effort into mapping out my journey of getting my film to the big screen. There are always going to be uncontrollable variables along the way for which no amount of research will prepare you.

The biggest and most interesting of those variables are people. I say interesting because I’ve met some of the most interesting, talented, creative people and my quest has just begun. When I give my commitment to a project whether paid or unpaid and others will commit to that project unless something better comes along is not wrong; it’s just a different way of doing things. That is the variable that you just can’t work into any journey.

When it comes to filming anything, timing is everything. Not only do you try to work out each shot’s timing but you have to set shooting times and dates. People have lives outside of their careers, so coordinating these moments are extremely difficult. I’ve found myself switching dates and times on a few occasions already and I know it will happen again.

What I must strive to do is stay professional through the whole journey. That is going to be difficult given that I’m a passionate guy who is trying something that is largely an impossibility. Plus, when two or more passionate people bring their varying opinions and ethics to a project, fireworks are likely to happen. I am not about to allow those fireworks to burn bridges. I love bridges. They help support you on your journey. They help you continue on that journey and see you through to the end. Why the hell would I or anyone want to burn a bridge?

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I know that what brings people to my quest, is that over the inevitable, freakishly-large bumps in the road is something incredibly special. Every minor step is a major success. I will never be able to properly thank anyone who has set out on this journey with me. Though, I will try my best by being passionate, professional, resourceful, collaborative and most of all, humble.

Stay tuned.

Perks

I ask myself what would get me to help a film get made? Great perks. But what perks. I thought hard about this and I think this would be a good perk at $25. What do you think?

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$25
Clarice Starling (Silence of the Lambs)
She’s new, but man is she dedicated. She’s just like you, wanting to squeeze everything there is out of the evidence. For that, we give you a Special Thank You in the closing credits of the film plus a .pdf file of the shooting script emailed to you. You’ll get regular updates from behind the scenes.

Crowdfunding?

ImageConsidering the fact that I will be crowdfunding my next short film, I wanted to give those unfamiliar with it, a definition.

What is Crowdfunding?

It is the pooling of funds from people who are passionate about a film to help bring it to life. Essentially, it’s shared enthusiasm. I will set a budget for the film and with the help of contributors, try to reach that goal. There will be different levels for contributors; anything from a dollar to $5, $10, $25 and up. Each level will offer the contributor different perks like a thank you on the film’s Facebook  page, a digital copy of the film, a DVD of the film, signed movie poster and more.

Where once you would buy a ticket to see the finished film, now you are given an opportunity to be part of the process of making that film. It’s an exciting prospect and one that will be happening soon. Please stay tuned.

Progress

I’m thrilled that my short film, Rock and a Hard Place has been well received by those who’ve read the script. To hear such good actors praise the script feels wonderful. There are now four actors who’ve committed to the project and I couldn’t be happier.

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Peter Campbell was the lead in my last short film, Upon Reflection. I look forward to seeing his portrayal of this new character. I know he’ll be great.

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Stacey Iseman is an accomplished actress whom I saw as a perfect fit for this project. Luckily she said yes and I couldn’t be happier.

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I had Aieron Munro’s face in my mind as I wrote one of the parts of this film. Of course he wasn’t quite so handsome and happy in my vision. I was thrilled when he agreed to be part of the production.

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I watched a lot of footage of Tyler Parr and knew pretty early on that he was perfect for this project. Best part of all is that he accepted the challenge and I can’t wait to see this man bring that character to life.

There is still a long way to go before we get on set, not the least of which is filling out the final role and landing a Director of Photography. Then there’s the little matter of crowdfunding this project which will be no easy task. Am I excited? Damn right I am. These are incredibly talented people that will make this film amazing and will help me be a better director. I am thrilled, absolutely thrilled at the progress of this project.

Stay tuned.

What’s In A Name?

It’s a big deal, the title of a film, short or feature. How many times have you picked up a book because you liked the title? Think of how often you hear a title of a film and your ears perk up with curiosity or excitement. Think of what happens when you hear or see a title that has the opposite affect. It’s my first opportunity to connect with an audience and it’s one I take very seriously.

My decision made on my next film, it’s time to edit and rewrite that script until it shines. I was going through it again last night and suddenly realized that I didn’t like the working title, Injustice For All. It’s a negative, it’s formal and it really doesn’t say what’s at the core of the film. So, I kept editing and it hit me. It was clear and made sense and was familiar to people. I turned back to the title page of the script and wrote, Rock And A Hard Place.

ImageThe name not only describes the dilemma facing every character in the film, it’s also easy to digest. It speaks to the heart of the film.

Our justice system doesn’t always seem to work, at least not from where most of us sit, on the outside of it. We see people getting slaps on the wrist for what are serious crimes and it’s upsetting. I’ve written several pieces, both fiction and non, that address this issue. This is the one piece that I feel opens a discussion on justice or the lack of it and also entertains people with a gritty story.

A couple experienced a terrifying home invasion years ago and arrive home to find the man responsible for that crime tied up in their basement. What do they do?

Rock And A Hard Place. Yes?

Timing

Of the three projects that I’m considering, all are definitely possible to shoot. One thing that I have to consider is when I can shoot them. Given that two have the option of shooting in any season, they have to be given priority. But which of those two should be first up?

I’ve decided on a script tentatively titled, Injustice For All. It stands at fourteen minutes and will use the talents of five actors. Aside from the obvious timing, why this script over the other? Location, location, location; I’ll only need three locations. Length not withstanding, this should make the shoot a lot easier; no moving people and gear. This will make the shoot less stressful for actors and crew – including yours truly. The cinematographer will only have three locations to light and that will definitely make life easier for them.

This is not going to be simple. No film ever is. I’ve tried to think ahead and mitigate any problems that will occur. The next phase is going to be difficult – finding talent to help me bring this story to life.

Fingers crossed. Stay tuned.Image

Choices

Every film I make takes me one step closer to my ultimate goal of directing my first feature film. Though it certainly may not have been evident between shorts one and two, I stretched myself and learned even more about my capabilities, or the lack of them. That progression will always be my aim with each short I attempt. My next certainly will push me in new directions, the most important of which is finding the right people to the jobs that I so foolishly attempted in my first two films. I will be relying on a cinematographer for my next film and I’m hoping to fill other key roles as well.

Before I can make any of that happen I must choose my next project. You’d think that would be easy, right? So did I but I found a few barriers in the way of making a decision.

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One of the things I had to do when writing scripts was take off my producer’s hat; I found myself changing the story because of costs or availability or any number of restrictions. All that did was restrict my creativity and storytelling abilities. I needed to tell the story first and worry about the production later.

I’ve completed three scripts for short films ranging from eight to fourteen minutes. Time is not a constraint, though I do prefer a shorter film so, if I choose the longer script I expect there will be some trimming.

One of the considerations for my choice is cost. How much will the budget have to be in order to complete the film. I’ve made rough estimates and of course the script that will cost the most to produce is the story I want to tell. The funny thing is it’s the shortest of the three scripts.

I’ve started trimming down some costly elements all with an eye on maintaining the story. For instance, I had a late 1500s ballroom dance scene with ten dancers, two of whom were my leads. Now, I’ve rewritten the scene to be just the leads (a more intimate dance) and moved it outdoors with one violinist (as opposed to an orchestra or quartet). The actors/dancers were really not the biggest cost in that scene; I’ve gone from ten actors in period formal wear to two actors in period garb that I’ve yet to decide on. And, one musician instead of four or more.

I’ll try to get as much free anything as possible but I know there will be costs involved. Having said that, what was looking like a $100,000 film is going to cost a fraction of that. There is still much to be decided, but I know now what story I want to tell and thanks to putting on a creative producer’s hat, it’s possible.

Stay tuned.

Crowdfunding Tips

ImageI’ve spent a lot of time going through Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns to help familiarize myself with the process. I’ve learned as much from failed campaigns as successful ones. I’ve also scoured the net looking for information on how to run a successful campaign. Here’s a list of some good articles on the subject.

10 Tips to a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign (Part I)

10 Tips to a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign (Part II)

Crowdfunding Tips for Independent Filmmakers

Enjoy!