Wednesday, January 23, 2013

In Which I Decide to Make a Film

I've been thinking about the following a lot lately. For more than a year, in fact. Something which I'm hesitant to admit mainly because in the past year all I've done is think about something rather than do something. Trust me, however, that I have many excuses. That said, one of those was NOT writing on this blog.

I'd like to think I've been busy. So busy that I literally do not have time to focus on writing this blog. Like I said, I'd like to think this but in truth that just hasn't been the case. I have a day job. I spend nearly 11 hours a day working as the Director of Digital Media for Anthony E. Zuiker (creator of the CSI: franchise). I also really like to sleep. That only leaves me a few hours every night to work on my own projects OR spending time with my wife. Two things that demand equal attention. 

So, with so little time to really spend on my own career as a writer/director, I've been thinking a lot about how I no longer want to waste that time. And right now, for me, writing a spec script to sell to Hollywood is a waste of time. The spec market does not excite me. Yes, its rewards are great but the spec market is an eternally dangling carrot of which I have no interest in eating. I'd like to consider myself a filmmaker. Not a developer, not a writer of things that don't get made. I am and want to be a maker. 

For a long time, I thought this would be possible on a big-budget (say 5 million plus) level. Which, obviously, is not the case. And what the digital experience has opened my eyes to, is the ability to make things. Now just work on an idea to make things.

For a year prior to the last, I really thought that a $200,000 - $300,000 level was a chance to make something. And I've spent the better part of a year developing a script for that budget level. It's a thriller, it's complicated, and it's taken some time to develop it and figure it out. If I'm going to be spending that much of someone else's money, I want to be really sure of it's viability, which is why we've been taking so much time with it.

But in all that time I haven't made something. I have a short sci-fi web series called Restart I'm currently shopping with Zuiker attached as a producer, to various digital distribution companies. It's a twenty minute piece. A three day shoot. And it's taken months just to get to this point. So, even something as SIMPLE as that, it's taken a long time to get it even close to being produced. So...needless to say, I'm getting antsy. I'm a director. And I want to be directing. 

This is all to say that I want to direct something. And in order to give my career a boost forward I need to direct a feature. And for a long time I always believed that my first feature needed to be a thriller, whatever the budget size, and something that could also show off my skills, aesthetic and ability as a director. I never wanted to just dive in to horror film or a comedy -- something that doesn't speak to me or reveal what I can do as a director.

So, some of the time has been waiting for the right first feature film. And now, I've found it (I'll tell you more about it later). The flipside has also been finding a project I can do for literally $0. Money is always the reason why I can't do something. But recently I looked around and realized, I have EVERYTHING I need to make a film around me. I know actors, writers, producers, sound mixers, locations, composers, post sound mixers, editing systems -- all of whom will probably cut me a deal knowing that I'm working on my first no-budget feature. With all this around me, WHY am I not just MAKING movies? 

So, this is what it's come down to. I'm currently writing a script, some of which may be outline, improv, etc that I plan to shoot on weekends with no friends. I'm grounding it in the style and approach of French New Wave and making a small, personal drama. It's a project I'm very excited about and am hoping to lens within the next couple months. Once I have a script it's full steam ahead and my goal is to do it for $0. (Though I may have to spend a little money for food, etc.)

I'm gonna run around Los Angeles with a 5D in my hand, shooting guerrilla style and piecing together a feature. It's gonna be awesome. Know why? Cause I'm making a film.