Monday, November 2, 2009

You know what they say about "Great Minds"

So I was struck a little off my guard today when I saw the poster for James Cameron's new movie Avatar. It looks amazing. He's a great director of course. But I was struck because for a moment I thought I was staring right at the "blue goddess" image that had been the iconic mark of yes, none other than my thesis film, Speak Heaven. Hmmm, James Cameron? Yet another ridiculously high profile director's work some odd coincidence, somewhat resembles my own?

There must be a reason this caught my eye, so I looked for an inspiration in it. And in researching Cameron's journey to the top I discovered much! Apparently James Cameron dropped out of college and after a few years quit his job apparently to spend his meager savings on experimental film equipment while browsing books in the USC library about film technology. Self taught! And he made his own short, showed it to the right person and through his talent, began working as a production designer. What struck me as encouraging was that he was uncertain and clearly had no money and no reputation or experience but somehow just from the love of what he wanted to do...the inspiration...pulled through!
He sold his script for Terminator for only 1 dollar to the only studio that would allow him to direct it....that means he was broke, right? basically...yet turned down potentially $120,000 from the studios that would buy his script....just so he could direct it.

Nice to know that people out there are still able to become successful and ridiculously wealthy...not by being "in it for the money", cut throat bottom line, and out for themselves....but by simply following their passions.

So I'm doing just the same thing aren't I? I've quit my job(s) and am using my meager savings to buy film equipment, starting with a computer and software...and I already have my short film just waiting to bust at the scene!

And meantime, it's still reassuring to know that great minds think alike....and to see the ones that keep comin up on the same page as I am....

It's also worth noting....Avatar was truly an amazingly beautiful piece of cinema with a profound underlying story that truly spoke to me of the human potential for tolerance, love and re-establishing connection within themselves and with Nature. My hat is off to you, Mr.Cameron.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My So Called Film Failure

I've spent two years creating my short 15 minute thesis film Speak Heaven. When I started out, I meant it from the bottom of my soul. It had intricacy and depth and spoke, I thought, on deep levels meant to stir you. But after screening it to University faculty and film colleagues, none of whom seemed the least bit phased by it, I thought, "Wow, nobody gets it. I guess I failed on this one. Maybe it sucks?" After all, after stickin your nose in a film for two years straight one can never be too sure of what they've really got anymore. That's why you screen and ask for opinions.

Then the other night perfect strangers came up to me who had seen the film during an educational screening. They knew who I was without me even saying anything. "Wow! You're the girl that made that film??"And to my complete shock, not one but two people who have seen the film confessed that it moved them to tears. One of the ladies after pouring accolades upon it for about 15 minutes said to me, "Ya know, really, I couldn't believe it, I cried from the beginning all the way to the end, all the way through the whole movie! was beautiful" Another lady insisted I show it at film festivals because the world needed to see it...she even offered to be my personal "Confidence Coach."

Hm. What more could a filmmaker hope for?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I've got it!!

So my beloved friend pointed out the obvious. When you charge something like a film project with positivity and excitement and it's overflowing with it, that tends to attract opportunities and fortuitous happenings right to it. All you need is the right energy, the right attitude, the love for what you are creating.

I've already got it. It's a short 15 minute film, my thesis from college called Speak Heaven. Fewer things could be so charged than that piece. It took me two years in between working to finally finish it...I just hope my long climb and countless hours of labor intensive tedium didn't outweigh the original inspiration and passion I had for that project.

I think it's time I finally get back to it, n'est pas?

The Goal:
1) To be Seen
2) To be Recognized

This will involve countless submissions to film festivals. My Without a Box account is already primed and ready to click submit!! All the film info and production kit has already been entered. woot! woot!

See the trailer!!!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Brainstorming Ideas for "The Project"

So my intention was to follow in the footsteps of Robert Rodriguez...somewhat in the same fashion as in Julie and Julia where Julie Powell cooked her way through Julia Child's cookbook and blogged about it...inadvertently launching her writing career.

So my first idea was to use the book Rebel Without a Crew as my own personal cookbook, if you will, (does that make Robert Rodriguez my Julia Child?? I don't know) and embark on a journey to create my own El Mariachi feature film with a small budget, coincidentally at the age of 23. Since my film is effects heavy I figure all I need to invest in is computer equipment. It's ridiculous already that I don't own final cut pro or after affects so they'll be first on the list. And then I could pretty much craft the whole film myself from home. The idea after finishing the film is to pitch it to a talent agent.

Already I've run into a few issues with that plan.

There are many differences in following Rodriguez's formula. He was in Texas traveling to Mexico to shoot. I'm in NY and I'd need way more locations than just Mexico. His film idea came from the inspirational image of a guitar case full of guns....attainable props. My inspirational image is a huge apocalyptic spectacle that can only be achieved through sophisticated visual effects....(I'm not gonna go into detail of the image online since it's brilliant, easily steal-able and I can't believe with all the 2012 stuff comin out no one's thought of it yet...but I'm keepin it to myself a thank you!)

Also....he never got the Spanish video market to buy his film...which turned out to be a blessing in disguise because ICM got Columbia Pictures to pay for exclusive rights. However that means that if he'd never gotten ICM to look at his demo, he would've never gotten any money back nevermind launching his film career. He would've been out $7,000 still broke with no job having worked his ass off on a feature with nothing to show for it, except for the practical experience.

So it all depends on getting ICM or a talent agency to see your demo reel it seems? Problem is they are like fort knox. They don't accept any unsolicited material and it's a miracle anyone at ICM even watched his demo in the first place!

But for brainstormings sake....this is what I've got. I've got a feature film idea and a script already fleshed out. It is extremely special affects heavy and requires multiple location shooting...elaborate egyptian sets (although I could pull something off digitally or with design) and I was toying with the idea of experimenting with minatures like they did in LOTR. That would be an awesome learning experience! I feel like I need to direct my own feature, so I can know what the experience is like. So I will feel confident and prepared if every the opportunity arose down the line in my career. But then again I feel that it would be so different going out by myself with just my actors and shooting my own style vs. doing things Hollywood style with more than 100 people on your crew that it's hardly a comparable experience?

And anyway the only difference between the directing I've already done on shorts and the experience I'd have directing a feature on my own would be the length. It's the same process and ultimately the same experience. And now that I've evaluated it further I'm realizing that my feature film just isn't the kind of film that can be done guerrilla style with no budget. It would be competing to look like 10,000 B.C or Transformers in special effects quality and just would end up looking second rate. And the lack of production value might detract from the story and take away from the integrity of what I was trying to convey.

So I learned something today about cookbooks. I can't use Rebel Without A Crew as my recipe to success because there is no set formula for how to become a success in Hollywood. Everyone's path is different and in truth there are many roads to get there. And maybe "there" ends up being something unimaginable and far better than anything I could've hoped for or even knew I wanted. Rebel Without A Crew is a book of one man's journey, it's not a cookbook of the recipe to success.

So I think this means I need to invent my own cookbook, taking some guidelines of inspiration from said rebel. One thing for sure that came across in the book is that positivity and a can-do attitude goes a long way to attaining your dreams. So does throwing away the rule book of "shoulds" and "have tos" and "right ways." There is no right way. Also, trust your instincts. And while making a miniature set of an Atlantean island sounds like so much fun! and I might still do it and film it as a test just to see what happens....I don't feel instinctually like my film should be made into a feature on my own. I need those parts to be cast right and I need way too much from my production value...and it's more than my magic can compensate for in post. I've always felt that for my film to be done right it needs to be picked up by a studio....other wise let's be honest, I would've been out there with a camera filming it already.

If I need a calling card, there is still more to be done with my short film that I already have which actually is a short version tied into my feature. It took me two years to finish, I need to send it to festivals. Why start something new when I haven't even marketed what I have?

And why shoot a whole new project when I haven't been able to gain anything from the work I already have? I already have what I need, it's just 15 minutes instead of 90. My feature project maybe instead of shooting the whole feature film, just a trailer could be created instead? I need to do something creative asap, so I can feel like myself I continue to invent this project...and my own recipe to creative success.

Also a note from the inner caverns of my mind from earlier. It had dawned on me not to sell my script directly to a studio and just be done with it but to go in all the way on this project. Produce it, direct it, have my hands full of it as all truly creative people often do.

Back to the drawing board.