Saturday, June 16, 2007

Foundation - Building Ain't Easy

Things have been moving along.

My new networking skills are continuing to pay off. I was able to secure a sound mixer and have been playing e-mail and phone tag with a very talented DP. I’ve seen her reels and I’m totally impressed with her eye for capturing, not just the subject, but the world around him/her/it. She is currently working on a feature film, but is very much interested in working with me. I’m going to need to surround myself with experienced people.

I spoke with a few potential animators. One, in particular, I really like. He is very enthusiastic about the vision and goals I have for the project and even offered sound advice. As he has a strong background in fine arts, I might also bring him aboard as the artist (there are pieces of artwork that must be completed for the project). The weird thing, we both attended the same undergrad around the same time. Indeed a small world. Based on our phone conversation, I will be rewriting the script in a way that incorporates the animation I want to include.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Putting the WORK in Networking


I’ve spent the past three days networking my butt off. Though, I really wish it were that easy to slim down the junk-in-my-trunk (as my aunt so lovingly refers to my rear).

But, anyways...

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Jane of All

So, continuing on the track of being a Jane of All Trades (see post below for clarification), I’ve been a busy little bee.

The phone is my new friend. The hubby and I have been calling any and everyone we can, seeing if they know someone who knows someone who is someone that I need to know.

So far, a few of these phone calls have paid off. Next week, I’m off to meet with an artist about using her original artwork in my short. I met her a year ago at a New Year’s Eve party, and having seen and admired her work, I’m hoping she’ll agree to jump aboard this project.

My Pool Guy, who went to school for video production, as well as acting, is becoming a tremendous resource, in addition to serving as one of the actors (two down, a few more to go). We’re actually discussing the possibility of working on a future project.

Having always been a bit uncomfortable with making small talk with complete strangers, I now find myself sporting what I call a panicked confidence. A confidence stemming from the fact that I either have to step up to the plate, or give it up - and giving up is NOT an option. The other night, the hubby and I dined at a cozy little restaurant up the road from us. I got to speaking with the waiter- who also dabbles in acting and comedy (made a mental note of this) - and before we left, he introduced us to the owner, who agreed to let me film a future project there. This place is gorgeous. With a mind that rarely shuts off, I found myself coming up with a story idea, and will get to work on a outline in the next couple of weeks. I like to let an idea marinate.

My Pool Guy also told me about a former classmate of his that has a strong background in film production; though he has since left, he’s still very much interested in getting back in.

Last night, I approached the first person on my list of possible producers. His background is more in music, but he’s a go-getter, and someone who always perks me up no matter what mood I’m in. For me, that’s going to be crucial during those days when I’m dragging. He’s going to think it over, and in the next couple of days, we’ll discuss it some more.

As I predicted, my transcribing the script (from handwritten to Movie Magic) brought about some changes. Nothing big, more of a needed polish.

With all the people that I will hopefully be meeting with, I’ve decided I need a prospectus/small business plan. There’s no time like the present to actually put to practice what I may need for future ventures.

Again, this all a bit scary, but fun as hell. I really hope to get people on board that will share the passion I have for filmmaking, but above all, who want to have a helluva fun time and amazing journey.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Writing Bug Bites Another

Oh, proud mommy is me. Is that a real sentence?

I’ll just go and ask my 11-year-old son. He’s sooooooooooooooo smart. Scary smart. A bit arrogant smart, too, but, hey, I’m not hatin’.

For the past year or so, my son has been saying he either wants to become a social studies teacher or the President of the United States. On the president front, my husband told him to aim higher. Uh-Oh, did I write that out-loud? Are blogs covered by the Patriot Act?

Sorry, ADD.

So, the wise little owl that he is, brings home a written assignment that he must correct before handing in. He gives it to me and says, “Tell me if this is a good story.” Arrogant, didn’t I tell you? The boy knew damn well it was a good story. I was the clueless one, but what’s new?

So, he hands me this thing while I’m in the middle of my own writing nightmare. I take it from him and offer that “I’ll pretend to be a good mother and read it and nod at all the right places so that your confidence can continue to inflate and you’ll grow up to be a strong confident man who rules the world” smile. But, to my surprise, I was hooked from the first line. I mean, the first damn line. Did I say he was good? Better than good.

He’s even got a voice. Mind you, this was a kid who didn’t speak a coherent sentence for the first 3 1/2 years of his life, prompting us to spend money on a speech therapist. Though, I think we overpaid because when he does decide to open that mouth of his, it’s a mile a second.

The story was about a Marine in the distant future who, having returned from a future war, is unable to adjust to life away from the war. My little egghead (and I mean that with all the loving affection from a mother who continues to struggle with her own learning), he even has this vivid flashback/dream sequence thingy going throughout the entire story.

In the words of Don Corleone: “My boy. My boy.”

Jack of All Trades, Master of None

God, how I hate this saying. First of all, who’s Jack? I’d like to meet him (though it’s most likely a her) and give him the coveted Platinum Multi-Tasking Award. I think the person who came up with this catch-phrase was an underachieving slacker.

Okay, okay, so I understand what it really means, but sometimes I resemble that remark, and I can be quite defensive.

Having decided to leap into my first short film (outside of a class assignment), I’m starting to realize that I’m Jack, John, Jim, Jacob, and just to bring a wee-bit of realism to this thing, the glass-ceiling-breaking Jane.

What is a writer-director? Does a person start off wanting to equally be both? Does this person spend hours, days, months and years honing the crafts of both writing and filmmaking? For that matter, do screenwriters not consider themselves filmmakers? As a writer-director, what skills should I concentrate on more, and which one matters the most?

Do I have answers to any of these questions? As usual, I just ask a bunch of questions.

Will knowing the answer to these questions help me get my film off the ground faster? I’m not sure, but it would either prove or disprove that little saying about “master of none”.

I started out loving books. Words, words and more words. I can’t go more than a month without buying a new friend to spend several hours losing myself in a world either familiar or unfamiliar. Growing up, I didn’t watch much television. My mother believed that it was not an appropriate vehicle for growing minds, though, oddly enough, I was allowed to sit in on some of the shows she watched. Dallas was a favorite of hers... and mine. I guess I still have the flare for the melodramatic. We watched the Dukes of Hazzard (and I refused, as a loyal fan, to see the remake). My mother was big into the nature shows, and entering her 84th birthday, I just recently informed her that there are entire channels dedicated to the shows she loved watching on PBS. How come old people are channel-surfing challenged?

But, my ADD is getting ahead of me.

My older brother introduced me to movies. The first movie I remember seeing in an actual theater was Star Wars. He’d take me to see a lot of movies that I can barely remember, because as a small child, I would usually fall asleep. I remember, he was also the first person I know to get cable - WHT. Stripes, that was the first movie I watched over and over. Big brother also owned a number of VCR’s (Beta Max (sp?), I vaguely remember), and here is where I completely fell in love with movies. I would watch some of those movies over and over and over. To this day, I know verbatim the movies Beat Street, Ghost Busters and The Last Dragon. He also introduced me to my love of Karate Flicks - as we called them.

When I started teaching high school, I was given the opportunity to create two elective courses from the ground up, and I jumped at the opportunity to teach a film class. I was lucky that the school - a vocational and technical high school - had a TV studio. The TV studio class met for three periods straight, and I designed a course where I would team teach with the TV teacher, giving us four periods of film exploration.

I didn’t know at the time, but this served as preparation for my dip into filmmaking. I learned about the history of film, the “great” auteurs. I also learned about the technical aspects, from lighting to editing. I forever believe that if you really want to learn something, teach it.

Where the heck am I going with all of this?

I don’t think I set the stage to become one or the other. Without realizing it, I put myself on the path to becoming a writer-director, or what I like to call a filmmaker, with the hopes of becoming a MASTER FILMMAKER.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Nothing is ever small

So, I’ve been moving ahead with the pre-production of my short film. A snail’s pace - but I’m still moving.

I just finished a rewrite of the script - a class assignment I completed while at NYU. It turns out I just completed my first adaptation. The assignment was to write a scene for the stage between two people, where one person does not speak at all. It was a difficult assignment, and the first for that class. I dug deep in my bag of tragedy and anger and came up with a nice little piece for this great actor to perform.

We rehearsed the piece along with an assigned director and it was really received well. It didn’t hurt that this actor is AMAZING. He’s also agreed to be in the short film.

So, when I decided I’d turn this piece of theater work into a short film, I was totally clueless. Okay, I had a clue, but it didn’t prevent me from having to scratch the original outline and put my filmmaking hat on.

I’ve learned theater is theater and film is film. While they can meet, there has to be a whole lot of preparation and rearranging. What I thought would be a simple, no-budget film is turning out to be anything but. After coming to the realization that I would have to think bigger than just a stage with two actors, I have come up with a more visual story, without losing the original content and feel that garnered an emotion-filled response.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I write freehand, and now comes the task of sitting down and typing this 13-page script. I’m sure the page count will change, as I am a perpetual rewriter. Once I hammer out this draft, I’ll be sending it out to the actor. As he already knows the background and the emotions needed for this character, his feedback will go into another pass of the script.

Now I’m realizing that I’ll have to sit down and actually come up with a budget for this thing. What I thought only needed two locations, now calls for at least two more. I’ll also need a few more actors than I’d originally planned, and a good editor and lighting person. Or I can just learn to wear many, many hats. I am going to prepare two budgets - maybe three. One will be my dream budget, the other my bare bones budget, and maybe an it-can-happen budget.

The other thing I’m realizing is that I may need to get a producer on board. I have one or two people in mind, but as I have never worked with them on this level, I’ll really have to sit down with them and make sure it will be a good fit.

What I’m realizing through all of this is how much I really love storytelling. I’m also understanding the business end, which make me a bit Sybil-like when I sit down to work on the script. I have to think with a creative hat while remembering what can and cannot be done due to financial strain.