Tuesday, June 27, 2006

How it began....

It all started with a little advertisement in Backsatge. As you can see the ad says for a short film, and for intended purposes I was going to do a short, but after sitting in on Dov Seimens two day lecture called "Film School Crash Course" I thought differently. I had made shorts in school, and I knew how to make them, but a feature, that was the next step. So I tried my hand at creating a script with few locations, and few actors. This was key to my whole strategy in making a feature film I could realistically afford. I had been interested in crime stories, and thought that there would be some interest in my story. After all I was hoping to sell this film, so I was thinking crime drama. I had also been very interested in film-noir films of the 40's & 50's, and these films usually had few characters, and a lot of dialogue. If your in doubt take a look at "Double Indemnity" that film alone is loaded with dialogue. I tried fashioning a script with those elements, and hoped I could write a feature length film that I could do on the cheap. Of course I would update the material to present day, so I could sell it in todays market. There was even a thought of shooting it in black & white, but I quickly nixed that idea because I wanted the film to be in color. I am also a fan of the movie "Blood Simple" and wanted to emulate that film too. Unfortunately I would NOT have the budget that "Blood Simple" had. Not even close, so the film needed to be scaled down. The film could have been a bit shorter, but what I have now is sort of a director's cut of the film which I like. I did get some compliments from people who read the script, and even a few who liked my writing, and in the end I did cut one major scene, and shortened a couple more while editing the film.

"Deadly Obsessions" is a movie that is raw. It shows an ugly marriage falling apart, and devolving into murder and mayhem. Part of that anger, and vial came from our next door neighbors who at the time were always arguing. Being an urban dweller since I was a baby I was always able to tune out a lot of that noise that the city was famous for, but being that the walls were thin where we lived at the moment it was hard not to hear them. Sometimes both my wife and I were woken up in the middle of the night by their arguing, and I guess that's where the two main characters in the film came from. A marriage stuck in hell. It was a theme I could develop into a story. I even read an article in our daily newspaper about two women who had been living together for some time, and during an argument one of the women took her partners service revolver and shot her while her partner was taking a bath, and then tried killing herself. I believe one or both were police officers. All this happened with the couples baby in its crib in the next room. Truth is much stranger then fiction, and that's how "Deadly Obsessions" was born. There were a number of other things that contributed to the formulating of Deadly Obsessions, but stories from real life made a more lasting impression on me then anything that was fictional.

After sorting out the actors headshots I wanted to contact them and made arrangements to audition them in NYC. I took a day off, and my wife and I headed to NYC where we video taped several actors doing auditions. I had help from Rebecca Lyttle my associate producer on the film, and also from my wife's dad who was in charge of security (he being a federal police officer and all). I shot the audition with my Hi-8 camera and from those video tapes we kind of did a process of elimination. Now one thing about auditions. They are frustrating, and yet very fun to watch and participate in. Especially when the actors start uttering your lines. You see your work come to life in front of you for the very first time, and it can really be invigorating to watch and hear. I had sent some "sides" to most of the actors that we had scheduled for auditions, so they could look them over. I either emailed or faxed the sides to the various actors. Each actor was great in their own way, but from these auditions there I found my team. I had them play off each other when I could, and at other times I had Rebecca read with them. Ms Lyttle was great and she helped a lot, and without her I don't think I would have gotten as good a cast as I did. She was my sounding board, and an objective viewer & listener. Also some of the actors had worked with each other so I could see chemistry between different actors right away. Eventually it came down to Nick, Karen, Michelle, and Irene. Irene Glezos, who plays Rebecca, was added at the last minute to the audition because Rebecca knew her, and said she was interested in the part, so I said yes and GOOD thing too. I had Irene and Karen do a scene together, and though I liked Karen for the Lisas part I had her read Monicas part. To tell you that after that read I was so fired up is an understatement. The room was quiet, after they performed, and that's because Karen & Irene are professionals. To say that I want to work with these ladies again is an understatement. Also both Michelle & Nick were great in their parts. Both gave it their all. It's because of these actors I wanted to FINISH this film. It took me 5 years but I did it, and I still want to work with these guys again. While filming I watched how they transformed my characters that I had written and breathed new life into them.

I need to say something here about auditions and the world of the actor. The world is FULL of talented actors out there. It's very hard to say no to them. At least it was for me, and you can see a sort of dogged determination in all their faces. I mean these actors get rejected more then they get accepted, and yet they keep going on and on to auditions. It was my first taste of what show business is really like from the other side. I was always the techie, so I did not see the process an actor goes through before a production begins, but now I knew, and the one thing I can say to any filmmaker out there is please treat these special people with care. I had coffee, and bagels waiting for them, and even had juice. I figured it was the least I could do for them coming down to audition for little old me.

So after knowing who my actors were. It was time to set a date for the start of production. Of course that would come sooner then I thought due to a little thing called unemployment. But it was one more event that said to me that the time was now or never, so I jumped in with both feet and never looked back

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