Monday, September 13, 2010

Begin all over

I've almost returned to normal life, or at least however normal it is to struggle to find money for movies with constant rejection. But actors get more rejection so onward I go.

As of now I have 4 projects I would like to get made in the next twelve months. They are:

1. The Casualties of Love.
2. A Shirley project.
3. Emperor of Mars.
4. The Christmas movie(which is presently optioned by a company)

Lets begin with The Casualties of Love. This is a play I wrote years ago and focuses on 3 friends approaching 40 who, as teens, had a rock band called, appropriately, The Casualties of Love. They team together to kidnap a fading rock star who has announced he will sell his music rights to an advertising agency. The three hope to convince the rock star to not sell out.

However it isn't quite that easy as they have seriously broken the law and slowly their plan unravels with their own selling out to life. And at that point a 17-year old girl appears to complicate their plan.

This film is a 5-hander, as they say in theater, meaning it's basically 5 people talking. Which means one location, which means less expensive, which means bare-bones budget. I think I can do it for $5000.

Who wants to see 5 people talking for 90 minutes?

Maybe nobody, maybe a few of my friends, maybe a few strangers. This is entirely a "labor of love". Well, maybe not totally, but I haven't directed in years and this will show me if the chops are still there.

Is it possible to make a film this cheaply. I refer you to past blogs about my friend Randy Gifford who made 2 movies for $10,000. And you can visit his website if you don't believe it can be done, it's

He managed to get a studio for very little if any money, got a designer to design two different sets, one a coffee house and the other a cafe. And the actors worked for free.

The gear needed was an HD camera, soundman and editing facility as well as lighting. These he got at bargain rates begging poverty and since there's not as many movies being made these days, not difficult to negotiate. Better to rent a few HMI lights for a little money than having them stacked in a warehouse.

Randy bought an HD camera and then persuaded an editor to edit both films. After the movie was finished, he sold the camera to pay for editing expenses. Eventually it cost a little more, but not much.

Now, where do I start? 

First thing is a rewrite, which I did a few months ago, making it a little more cinematic than the play was. Now I need to find some actors to workshop the script. This means sitting around a table, reading and acting out the parts while I watch and suggest things as well as finding new lines of dialog or spotting slow parts in the story as well as new scenes to add.

This can take place over a day or two, maybe more and costs are limited to coffee and some snacks. A small theater space is best for this, rather than at home, as it's a neutral ground and more democratic in it's ambience and tone.

The project came about when I did a documentary about 4 friends who had a reunion of their rock band which was went 34 years. Seeing them back together with all the baggage those years brought was not only fascinating  but funny, sad and complex. And I wanted to capture all those moments. I decided to make my rocker band a little younger but might reconsider as the readings will give me more insight into the story.

It's also heavily influenced by John Casavettes, one of my favorite directors, who was the father of independent films with movies like Shadows and especially Husbands, about 3 husbands who go on a drunk after their 4th friend dies at 40. 

Yes, it wasn't an original idea of mine. 

But you know what, everyone is influenced by something or some one, the idea of an original story is impossible, it's all been done. And not by us. 

By the Greeks. 

They had it figured out; betrayal, sex, love, anger and death. And when they couldn't find a new way to tell a story, they threw in gods. Zeus and those other guys.

But what makes Casualties mine, is that it's based on my friends, maybe a little on me, I was in several hopeful bands in my day as well. So maybe the template is Casavettes Husbands film, mine will be mine.

We'll follow Casualties (or, if you want to be trendy, C.O.L.) first, but before that I'll give you more details on the other two projects.

(Thurs: The Shirley project)