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.

Age is meaningless. Passion matters.

I turned fifty a few months back. Yep, one half of a century old. What’s more is that over the last year I’ve found my passion – filmmaking. The weird thing is, it was there all along – I just didn’t see it; a forest for the trees kind of situation if you will.

I wish I could tell you that when I was a small boy the first time I walked into a movie theatre I fell in love with cinema. I can’t. That would be a lie.

The first time I went to a theatre it was the Capital on the Lake Shore in New Toronto. I was six or seven I think. I saw a Godzilla flick and when a three-headed monster hatched from a giant egg, I freaked out. I started crying and yelling to go home. So, one of the older kids took me home and he was seriously pissed off.

I’ve loved film for a long time, but it was writing that ultimately gave me the push in the movie-making direction. I’ve always been a storyteller and realized that those stories were pictures in my mind. I wrote a lot of what I saw. Mini-movies in my mind. From there my writing turned to screenplays and that’s when the realization of the ‘system’ took hold.

Sometimes passion is just not enough.

The film industry has always had gatekeepers. Those people whose job it is to filter through what they believe is or isn’t right for the industry. I’m sure they use a checklist of key words like ‘marketable’ and ‘demographics’ and ‘revenues’ in their decision making. No matter my passion regarding a project, it never seemed to be good enough. Oh, there was a lot of ‘this is fantastic’ and ‘love it’ and ‘let’s get this made’ but it was truly smoke and mirrors. Really what they were saying was ‘no’. And, I’d much rather have heard that than the crap they peddled; I’m a rip the bandage off quickly kind of guy.

So what is a fifty year old guy, living far from Hollywood, not connected to anyone in the ‘biz’, to do?

What are you waiting for?

I chose to make my films myself. The journey from writing scripts to having a feature on the big screen is one taken in small steps over a long period of time. Age be damned, passion is what matters. And believe me when I say, I have many fears to face and will die trying to get that feature made.

One step at a time.

I’ve got a few short films under my belt now and it’s abundantly clear to me that my strength is in the writing. I feel so damned good when an actor or producer or anyone for that matter, tells me how much they like my work. I’m open to having my work critiqued since correcting the mistakes I make certainly makes me a stronger writer but, positives always give a welcomed boost. Writing  wouldn’t be a problem for my next film.

I realized quickly that I needed a director or photography, someone who knows the nuances of the gear they use or the gear I can provide. I wanted a particular look for my next film and now I know it’ll look as good on the screen as it does in my head. My passion for the project has to drive my decision making; what’s best for this film is paramount. This is not about me, it’s all about the end product – the film.

Add great actors willing to give their time and talent along with a crew that works with the same passion and you’ve got the makings of a great film.

Passion is essential but so is coin!

It truly is the best time to be an indie filmmaker. One of the reasons is crowdfunding. I get to reach out to people and talk about my film – my passion. This is the best way I can think of to get people interested in my film. No longer do people read about an upcoming film and line up to see it. They are part of the passion, they’re part of my passion – they’re in my passion network! We all get to be involved in making a great film. I get goose bumps when I think about it.

This is an exciting time for me and I needed to share that. I’ve written Rock and a Hard Place and will direct it. I’ve met wonderful people who share my passion. I’ll be reaching out to hundreds of people to share my passion.

The hell with my age, let my passion flow.

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Movie Makers Are Movie Watchers

Learning by Osmosis

I’m a glass is half full kind of guy so, when I watch films I tend to comment on the good rather than the bad. Of course, we learn from our mistakes, so don’t completely ignore what you think is wrong with a film. The bottom line is that every film has a potential to teach you something. This is not a new sentiment. In fact, I’m sure I read it somewhere when I first started thinking of writing screenplays.

What are new are the Special Features that come with your movie purchases. Where once scene searches, photo galleries and trailers were considered special features, now these extras are loaded with goodies for every filmmaker to watch and learn.

The Blu-ray transfer for Jaws was brilliant; it’s the best transfer I’ve seen. Along with a classic film that changed cinema forever, you also get a host of extras. Be sure to watch them all but pay close attention to The Making Of Jaws; it’s a look inside an early indie film. If nothing else, it will definitely inspire you.

Monsters was a good movie until I watched the extra, Behind the Scenes of Monsters; then it became an amazing film. It is a blueprint for guerrilla filmmaking. Director/Writer Gareth Edwards did an incredible job. He would see one thing with his naked eye and create another with his creative eye – all on the fly. Watch the featurette and be awed. Highly recommended.monsters

I recently viewed Safe House and enjoyed the film. There were jaw dropping moments at seeing some extraordinary shots and sequences. I couldn’t wait to delve into the extras. There were quite a few but those that stuck out were on the fight scenes. I loved the step-by-step approach they took on creating these action-packed yet intimate scenes. They were a real eye-opener on filming hand-to-hand combat. Be sure to check them out.

J.J. Abrams’ Super 8 instantly jumped into my top ten; kids, making a zombie film, on Super 8, aliens, the military – how could it not be one of my favourites? Plus, the Blu-ray came with great extras including, The Dream Behind Super 8 and The 8mm Revolution. Though I didn’t walk away after watching these filled with new information on filmmaking, I did come away inspired. I highly recommend this film and its extras.

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What other films had extras worth a watch: District 9, Kick Ass, Star Trek, Star Wars, The Amazing Spider-man, Lord Of The Rings Trilogy and many more. Though extras are slimming down on many Blu-rays, I still see them as a great opportunity to get behind the scenes on a film and learn from those who’ve gone before me.

I’d love to hear about any other extras worth watching. If you’ve got a favourite, please share it here.