Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Irene Glezos on Stage!

That's right this week-end, and next Ms Glezos will be in a one women play at "the Studio". It's called "Where Do You Put The 'Y", and it's directed by Brad Calcaterra. If that name is familiar brad's directing, writing and acting can be seen in the independent film "four eyed monsters".

The Studio is located 25 west 23rd street. On the second floor. Call the studio at: 212-463-7962 for more info.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Scripted or Improv

I've been thinking for the past few days if a film is better off scripted or whether a story is best told by the technique of improving. Now I've been on many sets and I know the realities of filmmaking. We're always fighting the clock, and filmmaking becomes a financial race. I've never had or been on a set where the budget wasn't finite. People have to work, and bills need to be paid, but it seems more and more that better films are made if you work with your actors. The performances are enhanced, and the story does have a life of its own. Make no mistake films like "Nashville", or "Short Cuts" were and had been scripted, but it was the director who knew when to let his actors go and service the story better then what the writer could write.

The more and more I study film, or try and make a film that is realistic and engaging the more and more I draw on actors to flesh out the story. I'm currently writing, but what I put down on paper just seems so cold, and doesn't speak to the reality of life. An actor can give a look that conveys a thousand words that I could never do justice too.

I was always told that the script is a blueprint of the film, and like all blueprints they can be changed due to the reality of the scene. What I’m hurrying to do is put down my thoughts, and try the best I can to capture a scene, and then possible work with actors to make it spring from the page to the screen.

My problem is that money is always a factor. Maybe that’s why so many films suffer from bad performances, or amateur like performances. Some productions use people that they know, which isn’t a bad thing, but it isn’t the right thing for the film. Sure you need a person who can show up, know their lines, and give something to the film, but expecting that on the cheap is a recipe for failure, and bad filmmaking.

I’m trying to put together a film about a man loosing his mind as he comes down with Alzheimer’s. Though from personal accounts, and personal experiences I know how that looks like, and what happens it’s hard to convey that into words. An interaction with actors is needed, and maybe a better story comes forward. AFter all the best actors are almost empathic, and that's how they draw out their best performances.

I’ve heard work shopping a screenplay or play is nothing new, but it’s a bit new to me. I believe that honesty needs to be addressed and when the film finally comes together that it isn’t my film as much as it is OUR film.

I know it’s still my financing, and it’s my story, but getting others involved may be a way to break out of this paralyzed apathy of mine, and create something better then myself. After all isn’t that the goal of art. To transcend ones own limitations, and create something bigger and better in scope.

Or am I just wishing too much!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Reeling & Rolling!

I've been wanting to writes something here for sometime, but there's always something that prevents me from getting the old thoughts up here.

First off it seems as though John Turturro 's film "Romance & Cigarettes" is doing well at the film Forum. The film is in it's second week and has boosted a nice week-end total. According to Indiewire the film earned $15,893 at New York's Film Forum, good enough for the number one spot on the iWBOT for two weeks in a row. Plus the film "In the Valley of Elah" earned $133,557 from nine venues, which is very respectable.

Director Larry Fessenden's thriller "The Last Winter will be opening Wednesday, September 19 in limited release at the IFC. I've been a big admirer of Mr. Fessenden for some time, and after hearing him talk at a seminar here in Philly about his film "Habit" I was very inspired to do a film. Also I've been reading about one of my favorite filmmakers John Sayles who is busy putting together his film "Honeydripper". John Sayles is an all time favorite of mine, and I find what he does amazing. The quality of his films makes me shutter with joy. Mr. Say;es consistently produces good pieces of cinema, and manages to keep on doing so without the Hollywood hype machine behind him.

So yeah can you tell I'm psyched too. All this energy and so many avenues to travel on, but what one story will catch my eye, and make me want to see it completed. That's the thing about us sub-basement filmmakers. We have so little resources that we need to make it interesting for us because were going to live with our film for some time, and one can't get tired of ones own film. If you do it's like they say "films aren't finished, their abandoned".

It takes a lot of energy to get a film going, and even more to finish it. It's not lack of ideas that hinders me. There are so many story's out there, but what one will you fancy, and what one will you want to put your name on. What type of story/film will use all your resources to the best of their ability while at the same time producing a quality product.

A film professor said to us when we were still in school is all you need is a house in the woods and you're set. Maybe at one time it was, but not anymore. Audiences are more sophisticated today, and another "don't go into the wood alone tale" isn't going to get much traction in today's media obsessed culture. I mean haven't we seen those types of stories all too many times?

So I'm leaning towards a more personal type of film. I can't say what, because I honestly don't know. AT times I wish I had a collaborator to bounce off ideas on, but that does present itself with its own set of problems, and I've been down that road before. So yeah I'm chomping at the bit, and reeling to do something else worth while. Sometimes its a good day, and other times it's a bear. But I need to decide on what I want to do, and start doing it.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Romance & Cigarettes

I read about this last week, and was interested in why a film like "Romance & Cigarettes" hasn't been picked up by a distributor. I mean it has stars, great production value, a great soundtrack, and it's a musical of sorts. The filmmaker John Turturro decided to self distribute, and I think he's crazy. Crazy like a fox that is.

Now comes this news from indiewire:

"Weekend earnings of $18,445 shot actor-turned-filmmaker John Turturro's self-released musical "Romance & Cigarettes" to the front of the iWBOT, as well as the top, self-released debut by a director in recent memory."

The movie is playing at the Film Forum in New York city, and it looks as though it'll be playing for awhile. Good films can and do get seen. It's just getting harder to get noticed and separate yourself from the rest of the pack.

The executive producers are both Ehtan Coen & Joel Coen. John Turturro was there last Friday night for a Q&A. You can listen to it here at the Film Forum site. Now I really need to see this film.

Pirating Movies in Queens

The NY Times has an interesting article about pirated movies. It's actually happening in the old neighborhood I grew up in. Pirating is another problem the filmmaker faces in distributing his or her movie. If you don't think it affects you you're wrong. Money made by pirating movies goes into the wrong hands, and never makes it back to the filmmaker. I remember working in NYC and seeing the vendors on the street selling their knock-offs.
Independent filmmakers could possible learn a thing or two about how these pirates work. As one filmmaker says the pirates have better distribution then the studios. It would be great if we could use the pirates tactics in our own DIY way of distributing you're own film. That way we would ensure that the filmmakers who made the film would actually get the the money he or she is owed. Interesting concept isn't it!
*photo by Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Sunday, September 09, 2007

The Target Effect!

So I'm in a Target store looking at the DVD section, and what's newly released. There are some really interesting films that I made a mental note of to put on my list. But what is really noticeable is the prices of some DVD's. IFC films had several for $7.99. One of them was the movie "Factotum" starring Matt Dillon. They even had a double feature DVD of "Footloose" and "Flashdance" for $7.99.

Now I'm not a rocket scientist, but how does the independent filmmaker survive in all this when major motion pictures can be owned for as little as $7.99? The films all have production values, star a famous actor or two, and are of interest to the regular guy on the street whose looking for a pleasant distraction from the mundane of life.

It's not even just Target stores. Walmart is the same thing. Though I did see a statistic that Walmart has a 40% share in the market of selling DVD's to the consumer, so I would assume that Target and stores like West Coast Video, Blockbuster, and Sun Coast Films share the rest along with probably Amazon.

Doesn't seem like there's room to sell you're movie unless a studio picks it up, and you eventually wind up in one of the discount stores mentioned above.

That's probably why you are better off selling to you're base, and going it alone. What I mean by selling to you're base is that selling a movie directly to the people most interested in seeing you're film. Horror films, relationship films, action/adventure films all have their niche audience. You tap into that and you're golden. The question is how to attract them, and how to call attention to you're product without a major studio marketing machine behind you.

I won't begin to tell you how you can do it. Different things work for different people. But before you start shooting that first frame of film get to know you're audience, and do some homework. You'll thank yourself latter for it.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

DIY films distribution woes!

First read what Anthony Kaufman has to say about competition for indie-film distributors. It's a good article and it has some valid points.

It's at the Village Voice's web site here.

Then go to Reeler editor S.T. VanAirsdale's response.

Both have great points, and I will be the first to agree that in the past two years it has become frustratingly difficult to get ones film seen. There is so much product out there. Good and bad, and that's the problem.

It kind of reminds me of when porno went video or when B-movies were all the rage, during the VCR revolution in the 80's. Their was a glut of BAD films in both genres, and distributors flooded the market with inferior product. When distributors began selling their tapes for $5 and began running their films in EP mode instead of the preferred SP speed the quality of the product sank. All to save on the cost of a cassette. Good B-type thrillers & artful films that were created in the late 70's and early 80's soon devolved into video crap. Eventually those movies found themselves in the bargain bin at several discount stores.

Now comes the "new" art crowd with their lattes and over priced fruity drinks and the cycle begins again. What's hip and what's not.

The common equalizer may just be the digital download. I mean if I could download a film for under four dollars maybe the power of distribution will revert back to the audience where it truly belongs and not the eclectic distributors who only service the snobbish elite.