Friday, February 17, 2006

Co-Conspirators


So as I am writing the writing becomes more detailed, and the story blossoms into something bigger. I can already see where I'll cut things, and where there is room for improvement. I had originally wanted to just make a simple two character type film, and it has now mushroomed into something a bit more complex. It usually does happen that way, but when you wear more then one hat on a film lines begin to blur, and one can be in conflict with oneself when jobs begin to overlap. Hence the title of this post co-conspirators. A filmmaker is as good as his or her team is, and being one who is a team of one can be frustrating at least in the beginning phase of the filmmaking process. As I've said before I've tried to have co-conspirators in making films, but it has always not worked for me for one reason or the other. I thought the problem was me for a long time, but it wasn't. You see I have a strong passion for filmmaking, and have found few people who share that passion and are serious about the making of films. Now you may say wait a minute, I have passion, and I have just enough passion as you. That's all well and good, but do you have the nerve to take it to the next step. To put up or shut up, and to put in not ONLY your blood sweat and tears, but also your MONEY.

Yes it does come down to the almighty dollar. Filmmaking is expensive, and one can loose him or herself in the technical aspect of making a movie, but it takes dollars to create, and if your not ready to put up the cash how can you ever create something. I'm not talking about buying cameras, and filmmaking equipment. I'm talking hiring people to work for YOU. I see a lot of productions made that advertise "no money, but tape provided". Now I don't know what world you live in, but in my world the rent/mortgage needs to be paid each month, and I need to feed, cloth and provide for my family. Everyone does, and it's a fact, but maybe and just maybe for your first film you get volunteers to help you create your film. However don't expect them to stick around when an opportunity for a paying gig comes up, so you better be Houdini and pop that sucker out quick like lickety split, or otherwise you'll loose your talent and or crew to the realities of life. Yes I did pay people on my film, and that's how I got done in the amount of time I got done. Now I know we all scream poverty at first, and we hope and pray that this will be the definitive film for you, and will put you on the map, and hopefully your next film will be with pay, but I'm here to say "don't bet on it".

It's easy writing your epic in your room alone with nothing but the glow of your monitor to illuminate you, but after getting it done on paper, and then breaking it down, and creating a schedule you better have help. I learned that doing it all can distract you, and when you are focused on just getting it done you can loose sight of the movie. So hire a PM (production manager), and get him or her on board as soon as you can. Some scenes in my film actually were better when I listened to some of the crew, and they were helpful. They were also grateful to being paid, and cashing that check. It basically says to them that I honor their work by paying them. These aren't big bucks either, but they are being compensated for their time, and that's important. I haven't found a way around this, and if you're serious about doing a film you'll have to confront this problem sooner or later.

Way back in my youth I had what you might call co-conspirators, but as I was serious about doing a film others were seemingly not, and as they say it all fell apart. Partners are good, when they are backed-up with deeds and not only words. Filmmaking is a grueling process, and it takes not only money , but lots of time to do. We are all not the same and we are individuals with our own set of priorities. If you have partners make sure they are on the same page as you. That means sit down and hammer all your differences out, and decide who does what, and how. Spell it out. Write a contract, and sign it. I'm dead serious. You say you're all friends and you don't need that. Well I'm saying because you are friends you'll need it more then ever. Like Michael says in "The Godfather" it's nothing personal, just business, but in art it's ALWAYS personal. Sure movies are commerce, but they are an art form, and are subject to the rules that everyone is a critic, and EVERYONE HAS AN OPINION. This includes your partners. You can go round in circles forever debating this or that, but you need to respect the chain of command. Director, producer, writer, etc. In pre-production get it all out in the open, and settle it there. Don't let it slide until production, because in production you need unity of thought. Get it done. Time is ticking, and money is being spent. In production there is NO TIME to bring up differences or have an ego fight. Remember this and all will go well. Don't and you risk having it come crashing down on you.

So that leads me being the lone wolf, which can suck, but it does get the job done. I can say that it's all me, but I'd be lying there too. My partner is my wife, and she has ventured with me into the insanity of moviemaking, and made it a sane and creatively fulfilling endeavor. I am still seeking co-conspirators still. You'd think I'd stop, and just give up, but I can't. I'm more then enough willing to work on other peoples projects, but my time is limited, and so it's at a premium. I've learned to talk things out, and see where each person stands. I don't hold anyone in contempt for NOT joining the madness. We all have a master to serve and we all need to live. Creditors, landlords, banks won't wait for their money. You can't tell people that this is for art's sake. All art has a price, and one should be willing to pay that price to create it. If you aren't then how can you evolve into a better filmmaker.

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