Thursday, January 21, 2010

Stuff I Need

Okay, so one of the reasons I'm doing this blob is to have a place where people who are interested in the project can come to learn more about what I'm doing and how I'm going about it and why.  Here are some of the resources I have:

A co-producer, Valesca Cnossen, who I've known for a long time and worked on a bunch of stuff with over the years.

A casting agency, Bright/Daniels casting, who have signed on to cast the project.  They sent me a preliminary list of casting ideas which got me very excited slash made me want to vomit with fear.  Something about seeing that list made it all seem real for the first time.

An amazing house to use as the primary location.  My friends/neighbors down the street have the perfect house.  They have at least tentatively agreed to let me use their home to shoot in, but that's probably because they don't realize what's in store for them.  They have three kids and she's pregnant.  Somehow I have to make it worth their while to vacate their home for five days.  This will be expensive.  But the house is just about exactly what I pictured in my head when I wrote the thing, plus it's steps away from the production office.

Various relationships with crew people and vendors generated from living and working in L.A for the past fifteen years, some of whom I haven't alienated completely and may be willing to help me out.

I have $17,000 that I've raised from friends and family.  I probably need twice that.  I'm still building the budget, but even if I don't pay anybody on the crew, I still need film/tape stock, equipment rentals, location fees, food, etc.  The biggest decision that needs to be made right now is whether to shoot film or Hi-Def video.  I could write a whole blog about that alone.  But I won't.  Ultimately, this is a decision that needs to be made with the Director of Photography.  I don't have one of those yet.

Here are some personnel I need, in case anyone knows somebody I should talk to:

Director of Photography
Production Designer
Production Sound Mixer
Boom-Op
Costume Designer
Grip and Electric

Here's locations that I need.  Anyone have an Uncle who runs a:

Cemetary?
Church?

Okay.  Let's face it.  I need everything.  And everyone.  And also money.  Can I have some?

Now What?

Okay.  So I thought I'd break down where things stand, what resources I have and what I still need to do/get.

I have a script.  I've been working on it for a long time.  I'm pleased with it, but it's too long.  Short films are a funny animal.  The analog is short story writing versus the novel, I guess.  Short stories don't try to accomplish the same things in the same way as a novel might.  Similarly, a short film usually approaches story telling in a different way than a feature might.  More impressionistic, perhaps, or a very simple sort of set-up/pay-off structure.  Not me of course.  I basically have a mini-feature.  Not really ideal for a couple reasons.  The lore is that the sweet spot for shorts in around nine to eleven minutes.  This has to do with the fact that a festival programmer would rather be able to squeeze in two or three films in the space that a longer one would take up, plus a lot of times they show them before the feature - so shorter is better.  Furthermore, shorter is better for web distribution in terms of file size, You-Tube limitations, and of course people's generally short attention spans.  Not to mention the simple matter that making a longer film is more expensive.  There is really no revenue to be made from shorts.  Maybe a few dollars here and there, but this is basically just a self-indulgent endeavor that is going to cost a lot of money.

So why am I making a long short?

The story I am trying to tell, and the ideas I am trying to explore seem to demand a longer format to play out.  However, I have never felt that there was enough meat on it's bones to warrant a feature length movie.  It's just in between.  I'm aiming for around twenty-three minutes.  We'll see.  A friend of mine, a successful screenwriter, is taking a look at it for me this week to suggest possible cuts.  I've been over it six ways from Sunday and have become convinced that it doesn't have any fat on it, which is of course nonsense.

The other concern with the script is that it is very dialogue heavy in places.  I always subscribe to the idea that with the best films, you could turn the sound off and still have a pretty good idea what's going on.  It is a visual medium, after all.  The dialogue should be icing.  This is probably even more crucial in the short film format.  It just so happens, though, that I haven't in many cases found a cinematic/non-verbal way of expressing some of the philosophical concepts and the science vs. religion debate that I am trying to explore in the script.

So that's where the script is at.  Now I have to go to work to cut a weight-loss infomercial to make some money to make this excessively long movie.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Blob

I've always found the idea of blogging vaguely self-aggrandizing.  Sort of presumptuous, or arrogant, the notion that what I have to say, you know, merits it's own web site.  But here I am.  I'll explain why in a minute.  But the best thing about a blog as far as I'm concerned, is that my friend John Michael's mother thought that it was called a blob.  That makes me laugh everytime I think about it.

So the reason that I'm doing this is that I am making a short film, called, oddly enough, "The Burying Beetle."  The indie producer/guru Ted Hope suggests on his blog that we independent filmmakers need to start documenting our efforts and strengthening our community so that we may learn from others' experience and they from ours.  I'll buy that.  I need all the help I can get.

On this blob, therefore, I will attempt to document the process of making this film.

My script is about a boy who's father is terminally ill and who's death is imminent.  The boy finds religion and becomes somewhat of a zealot, as a means of coping with and finding solace from the impending loss of his father.  Ultimately, he asks his father to get baptized, in the hopes of saving his father's soul and ensuring that he goes to heaven.  The only catch is that his father is a hardcore atheist, a scientist, who's religion if he had one, would be empiricism.  My story explores the conflict that arises when a man is asked to forfeit what he is for what he loves.  I try to explore the age-old battle between science and religion, but I am not under any illusion that I can bring something genuinely new to that conversation.  Ultimately, although I am fascinated by the topic, it's just the milieu in which my story unfolds.  I see it as more of a love story between father and son.

So that's what I'm doing.  The posts that follow will document how I go about it.