Posts Tagged ‘Sophia Takal’

Writing and Directing Your First Feature: From Your Story to “Epic Fail”

October 19, 2011

Last fall, when the initial burst of energy to write the script for this movie came about (and I still had a job), I subscribed to both Script and Creative Screenwriting. The March/April 2011 issue came along in the mail. This particular issue had some articles that offered advice for new writer/directors, and I was interested in seeing how their advice lined up with the stuff that I’ve learned the past few years.

One article that really caught my eye was “Writing and Directing Your First Feature: From Your Story to ‘Film By'”, penned by USC Grad Student Robert Piluso. The article is focused on the hardware and software associated with filmmaking and its uses. Of course, there’s a discussion of Final Draft (Script is owned by Final Draft), Gorilla, Movie Magic Scheduling, and Final Cut Pro. I don’t think I would’ve had as much of a problem, had Piluso kept to his main focus–software and hardware–rather than veering off into festival submission and exhibition, which is article unto itself. Piluso could’ve heeded his own advice and used his two interviewees as a jumping off point for his own research rather than designating them as authorities.

That’s not to say that Piluso doesn’t get a few things right. He manages to avoid making his article into a collection of press releases and soundbites, as Script‘s articles tend to be. He does recognize that with a smaller budget, your film will need to be more personal in nature in order to work. Having a tight script doesn’t hurt. Finally, he stays away from making hackneyed references to El Mariachi and Clerks, two broadly known microbudget classics that have no bearing on today’s indie film landscape.

As someone with a few bad specs in my past, I know that spec writers are used to taking dogmatic advice from people who have worked mainly on the periphery of screenwriting (The late Blake Snyder and J. Michael Straczynski are exceptions to this rule), and are used to tailoring scripts for a market that’s becoming increasingly narrower in taste. In turn, these gurus have very rigid ideas as to what makes a good story. The festival circuit, with its more diverse aesthetic, is more interested in personal vision than a product aimed at a demographic. As I recall overhearing filmmaker Benny Safdie saying outside of a screening at this year’s BAM Cinemafest, “These films aren’t for everybody, but they’re for anybody.”

I’ve uploaded a PDF of Piluso’s original article for you to read and judge for yourself. The article is copyright its respective owners.

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On the Eve of my 30th Birthday

July 19, 2011

Okay, I have to do one final blog post before I turn 30 tomorrow. Because of my special birthday, I’ve been lying low in terms of working on my project. I think I deserve it.

Over the weekend, I read Cathy Erway’s The Art of Eating In. While I’m not completely broke right now, I probably should not be spending so much eating out. I read the book to understand how she buckled down for two years (!) and (mostly) ate outside of restaurants.

Reading the book gave me an idea for raising money for this movie. I’m not going to tell you what the idea is, not only because I don’t want anybody stealing my idea, but also, I need to work out the logistics of it. Recently, Sophia Takal (director of Green) recently held a fundraiser for her next collaboration with her fiancĂ©, Lawerence Michael Levine, and The L Magazine wrote about it. I would like to do a Kickstarter and/or IndieGoGo Fundraiser as well, but I think it’s best to explore different options.

Meanwhile, for my last blog post of my twenties, I’ll leave you with this video from Kalup and Franco. Gawker blasted it, and Beck basically made the same album twelve years ago, but they look like they’re having fun. I have the song on my IPod.

BAM!

June 25, 2011

NY was a blast.

I went down on the 17th for BAMCinemafest. The Catechism Cataclysm was just as fun the second time around (I saw it first at SXSW). This was my first time attending a Rooftop Films event, although it was held in a parking lot across the street from BAM Rose Cinemas, so maybe it should have been called “Parking Lot Films”? Anyway, I got to see a lot of people, like the film’s director, Todd Rohal, its stars, Steve Little and Robert Longstreet, as well as Michael Tully, Sophia Takal, and Lawrence Levine.

Sunday Night, I saw The Color Wheel with my friend Brian, who runs The Film Panel Notetaker. The Color Wheel is a very offbeat road movie about two siblings who set out on a road trip after JR (Carlen Altman) is dumped by her professor (Bob Byington). Michael Tully called the film a sitcom version of Frownland. The Color Wheel has similar themes that more mainstream independent films have, but with the “developed” aspect removed, The Color Wheel‘s characters are more absurd (in the existentialist sense of the term) rather than cartoonish. At the Q&A following the screening, Carlen Altman, the co-star and co-writer of the film, was genuinely grateful to be there:

“This is the first time I’ve finished a creative endeavor,” she said. (Okay, these weren’t her exact words, but she said something very similar.)

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