Sunday, August 31, 2014

Through the Rabbit Hole of Indie Filmmaking

I've fallen through it and I'm not sure I want to climb back out.

It all started three years ago when I was interviewed about my first published book PROUD PANTS and asked if I'd ever make it into a movie. I recently went back and saw that I had answered that perhaps it would work as a short film.

As an exercise, I wrote a small screenplay based on that book - but was juggling too many projects to give it much thought. Than I wrote a feature screenplay based on the book Missing by Drake Braxton when director Lois Munoz Merka wanted to turn that book into a film. I continued talking to friends about indie filmmaking. I watched and I studied. I attended a crash course on filmmaking and returned to the small screenplay I had written, threw out most of the characters and created an intimate six page script. I said to the universe I was working on a screenplay and pre-production was born.

I am now three weeks away from the actual shoot for MOTHER and every day my respect and my excitement for the industry grows. True to my pay-it-forward attitude that I love to do on social media, I thought I'd share some of what I've already learned.

1) Don't dream it: live it. If you want to do something, make it happen. However you can go about doing it. For me I need to tell more and more people so I'm held accountable to following that dream.
2) Surround yourself with smart people. I'm directing my first film. Sure, I've been a stage director for years, but I've assembled a team of people that know what they are doing in this medium. An amazing cinematographer, an assistant director that has done much more than I have, even a PA that spent this summer in the NYU Film School. We can always learn from those around us.
3) Surround yourself with people you trust. My years of working in the theater means I have a background of collaborating with very talented people that I know and trust. By bringing them on in crew roles means I do not need to have an aneurism over every single element of filmmaking. Let the costumer do what they do best. Trust your set designer to dress the location in a vision you both share. It will ease your stress factor tremendously!
4) Don't underestimate pre-production. There is only a finite amount of hours in a day for your shoot. Do everything in your power in pre-planning to make sure things run smoothly. I'm aware something may not go as planned - but meeting with crew members, rehearsing with cast, answering questions of everyone as they arise will hopefully allow me to concentrate on telling the story while on set and everyone else will be handling their own areas.
5) Make sure and enjoy the process. Being on the set for our short film (or any film) is the smallest part of the overall picture. If that's the only part you enjoy, you're in for a rough time. For me the process (in any project) is where I learn about myself while collaborating creatively with others. I love it!

Being an author or a screenwriter can be lonely. Working on stage or film is such a collaboration that while nervous of how things may go - I wouldn't trade it for anything. Yes, I've fallen headfirst down the hole and I am grateful to all of those tumbling down it with me. We're going to make a powerful film about family while creating our own family at the same time.

BTW - my blogs may not be as plentiful the next few weeks, but I will definitely update people after we get through the next phase.


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