Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Life of a writer/producer (with no money)

Today is Thursday and tomorrow, Friday the 10th, we're going to have the reading with the cast of The Casualties of Love; 4 men and 1 young woman. For those of you who are new or haven't been here for awhile, here's the "pitch" as they call it;

The Casualties of Love is the story of three men facing 40 and realizing that some of their dreams will never happen. So, instead they decide to kidnap an aging rock star to attempt to persuade him to not sell his music to advertisers.  But things take a turn when a young transient enters the story. 

Okay, so that's the basic premise and pitch. I could make it more edgy and mysterious, but it's a pitch to me from me, so this will do. Some producers now ask for the entire story in one sentence. That's totally ridiculous but it is the future.

I can see a producer asking for a pitch in 3 words. Maybe only one word.

Besides the actors there will be myself, a production assistant, David and maybe a few "guests" that might pop in, those being director friends of mine. Also we have a "Reader", someone who specializes in reading the description parts of a screenplay, keeping in tune with actors reading dialog parts.

So as of now, I am the writer, director and producer. I'm also getting that big Starbucks coffee box, muffins, water, powerbars, juices, not to mention also scripts that I printed up, even though most of the actors will have printed up their own scripts from a pdf Chris sent them.

Chris Sullivan is my co-partner on this venture, he's also playing the "aging rocker", Chris is an Irish actor and musician and also keeps reminding me to move forward on the project.

I rented a small theater off Sunset near the 101 freeway, $15 per hour, undoubtedly the lowest rate in town. And it has on-street parking that is absolutely free, something vitally important to cast and crew.  Even if the crew is 2 people, me and David.

So today drive around picking up the food and packing the scripts, the video camera, tapes and a rented "shotgun" microphone. Friday morning I head out early as traffic is a killer going into Hollywood from the valley. On the way I will pick up fresh muffins and coffee.

Pretty glamorous, eh?

I was doing this as a production assistant way back in 1979 and now 31 years later am still doing it. No limo, no perqs, no personal assistant. David will no doubt help, he'll  probably shoot the video and maybe run an errand or two.

As of now, nobody is really helping me raise the money for the film. I intend to edit a 2-minute video to show a handful of potential investors, mainly people I know who can and have put small amounts of money into projects.

Casualties of Love is a "no-budget" feature film; or as defined by the actor's union "SAG", an "ultra-low budget". Meaning that they give breaks on actor's rates and demands. This was instituted some years ago as SAG realized that a lot of SAG actors, given the choice of not paying their rent or working non-union, would take the non-union job.

So SAG came up with a somewhat reasonable scheme to allow their actors to work in "ultra-low budget films".

Same goes for me as a member of WGA, which also has a somewhat complicated version of SAG's deal. In any event, once the film is sold, both SAG actors and WGA members (me) have to be paid full rates.

Generally, both SAG and WGA really don't want to deal with these kind of projects but have to as not all their members are million-dollar actors or writers. In fact very few are.

So, tomorrow, from 10am to 3pm, we will have 2 readings, the first one going pretty fast and the second one, hopefully more polished, a bit longer. Ideally we can finish in 3 hrs. I took 5 hours just in case.

Monday you'll hear all about it. Wish me luck.

(Mon: What happened, what didn't happen, what went wrong, what went right)