Saturday, November 26, 2005

Anniversary Present Trailer

Finally after six months of post production on our new film, I decided to hunker down and cut a trailer. As the front line of distribution, the trailer is super important these days and I'm hoping that I did it justice. If you have any thoughts or comments, please let me know...
Click Here to View the Trailer

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Student Questions

A film student at Niagara College writing a paper on the process of creating a successful short film asked me if I would take part in his project. Here are some of my answers to his questions:

What brought you into the film industry?

When I was 9 years old and living in Paris, France, my parents brought me to a screening of 'Lawrence of Arabia' and I realized for the first time that films were made by someone and that I could be that someone.

What positions have you filled in the film industry?

I got my first video camera at age 12, but my first experience with professional filmmaking arose at 13 when I found myself enthralled with the process of editing three-quarter inch video tape on a straight cut editor at the Center For Art Tapes in Halifax. From there, I learned how to use an AVID and spent a few years immersed in non-linear editing. At the same time, I moving from video into film. I shot my first few films on 16mm cameras that I borrowed from the Atlantic Filmmaker's Cooperative in Halifax. I quickly set my sights on directing, but I felt that the only way to become a successful director was to gain a deep understanding of the other disciplines involved with the medium of film. In that vein, I took on the roles of Grip, Electric, Producer, Writer, Cinematographer, etc on many projects from the age of 17 to around the time I left for Africa to make an hour long documentary on HIV/AIDS at age 21. The only position I haven't held is that of Art Director/Production Designer, but the more that I direct my own work, the more I realize that Design and Acting make up the real meat of what's being captured with all the multitudes of equipment and crew running around the set.

What inspires or motivates you?

Research and writing are the two things that inspire me to tell stories. The more I delve into the craft of writing screenplays, the more I feel like there is room for the form to develop (although I don't feel like I'll necessarily be able to move it forward). I get inspired by thinking that people want to see things that affect them and make them think. I just completed the first draft of my second feature length screenplay and I feel like I've made some progress with my writing in the last four or five years. That helps propel me forward. As far as thematic elements or types of stories that inspire me, I seem to have a thing for people experiencing mental breaks and/or dealing with traumatic experiences, because those ideas come up in my work repeatedly. On the research side, I spent 8 months in Africa with AIDS patients, a year volunteering at a mental health center, and now I'm trying to work my way into federal prisons to hang out with inmates. I call this research, but maybe I'm secretly just trying to fulfill my theme by giving myself traumatic experiences to increase the chances of having a mental break.

What helps you bring your ideas to the screen?

Taking a long view and lying to myself. When I get a green-light on a project I typically tell myself that it's gonna be quick and easy, not take all of my energies for years at a time, and that we have enough money to make the film... But that's never true. I think that I may be an overly ambitious filmmaker, constantly trying to make films that are much more difficult and complex than the budgets that I manage to raise. So I really have to just jump off the cliff and hope that everything is gonna work out. I guess I take big, somewhat calculated risks. As far as the long view goes, I just keep telling myself that I'm moving towards the goal and that the more time and effort I put into the project, the more pleased I'll be with the final product. I've spent the last 6 months editing an 8 minute film, and when I really think about that I find it a little frightening.

What makes for a successful production to you?

If at the end of the process I have a film that I'm not embarrassed to show to audiences. I also like it when I'm still friends with the people I made the film with.

What do you feel makes a film truly successful?

If the story resonates with it’s audience, I feel like I've done my job. If a film brings about interesting discussion or pushes people’s buttons in interesting ways that makes me happy. I also thinks it's really important for a film to feel like it’s based in a tacit reality--a reality that the filmmakers invented from scratch or created by capturing the world in a certain way.

How do you describe success when speaking about yourself?

I talk about the fact that somehow I've managed to make a film a year since the age of 17 and sold every one of them to broadcast. I try to be humble and realize that whatever I've accomplished is pretty impermanent and that my films might well not be around in over a hundred years, but that if I had something to say, hopefully it got passed on.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

We Gotta Get Off This Compound

Four days ago Sierra and I arrived in Orlando, Florida to be one of four Camera/Sound teams for my old partner Walter's documentary on "The World Rubik's Cube Championships" to be held at Disney World's "Pop Century Resort." I knew we were in trouble when I asked the lady at the Magical bus that takes you to your hotel from the Orlando airport if our new abode was nice. "Pop's one of our Value Resorts, Hon." She winked at me, and her painted on eyebrows moved up and down like a cartoon character's. For the next four days the only words that went through my mind were "We gotta get off this compound." The food was some of the nastiest I've ever eaten (I cannot over emphasize this point). Our nine person crew was dysfunctional at best. The Cuber's were mostly autistic, or insane (with some friendly exceptions). And Disney world? Well it was Magical. I think whoever put the following postcard lines on got it just right: "I visited the happiest place on earth... and I cried in the bathrooms"