Wednesday, August 26, 2009
The Patron Saint Of Indie Moviemakers.
Malone: OK, pal, why the mahaska? Why are you carrying the gun?
Ness: I'm a treasury officer.
Malone: Alright. Just remember what we talked about now.
[Malone walks away]
Ness: Hey, wait a minute! What the hell kind of policemen you got in this god damn city? You just turned your back on an armed man.
Malone: You're a treasury officer.
Ness: How do you know that? I just told you that.
Malone: Who would claim to be that who was not? Hmm?
The Untouchables. Written by David Mamet
I used to feel the need to define what it is I wanted to do. Moviemaker? Of course. Actor? You bet. Writer? Duh. But back in the day it was always, What am I first? Am I an actor that makes movies and writes music on the side? Am I a director that sticks himself in his own movies and just happens to do music.
The fact is the way I define myself now is I am an entertainer and creator. Too general? Sure. But I feel more comfortable with that generalization, because to define what I do and what my goals are is a wide scope. How exactly do I define a comedy show that involves short films, blues harmonica, and puppets? Oh and by the way I'm working on a Sci-Fi, Adventure, Fantasy, Monster movie about a Closet. I'm work on my web series Monster Cops, I love making shorts and vlogs, I write a lot of stand up comedy (which apparently no one will ever see), I make music, scores, write songs, play harmonica and sing, and I have very defined goals in each of those categories.
As far as making movies is concerned I cannot say that I am completely just a director. There are still many old schoolers and film schoolers out there who cannot grasp the movie maker as an auteur. Before my way of making movies is the way it is because I have no money. I cannot afford to follow the regular studio format of producing movies. But now, my different indie way of making movies is how it is because it is the most efficient and the most comfortable to me, just as much as it is because I hear it and see it. And when I say hear it and see it that means I know exactly what the look and feel is, I even know what the score is because I make music. It's more comfortable for me to say moviemaker than just writer, director, or composer.
Lately the phrase "building a movie" is used by me alot. I don't just write the entire script, and then story board it, and then shoot it, then edit it, and score it. I write a 10 page scene, I immediately write out what the shots are going to be, I storyboard that scene, immediately switch over to the music software to get the basic notes down of what that music is going to be in that scene, and then go back to writing again. I find that I'm not wearing many different hats for long periods of time, I'm really wearing one hat doing everything at once, because I'm building the movie as a whole. I score as I write as I plan shots. I always hear many of the old schoolers talk about how they have no idea what the score will be like, or how they didn't realize what kind of movie it was going to feel like until they heard the score, or finally saw it edited. That's fine if you have a revelation of what a product might be that you may not have realized, but how do you not already have some idea of what you are making and what it's going to feel like when you start.
There is a sense with many movies that were made just because they were following guidelines. It's why so many movies don't work. They find a script, rewrite it, hand it over to an editor who may not have ever read the script, and then hand it over to a composer who has a completely different take on the movie. And it's like a crap shoot as to whether you'll have a solid movie. Now not to completely dog the traditional method. It's sometimes a good thing to have a director with a vision hand it over to a seasoned editor and then scored by a passionate composer, all with different takes on the feel. Some of the greatest movies were made that way, and perhaps someday I can collaborate on such an effort. But what I'm talking about is the pattern some movies fall into where it's just lazy filmmaking. If you're not doing it with passion and drive then what is the point?
For me it is a step further than just passion and drive. It does stem from being forced to do things on my own, and because I've gotten use to it. But I think it's really because the movies I want to make are always pretty much complete in my head. I know it, hear it, and see it completely from an audience members point of view, and I have the ability to accomplish those goals thanks to the affordable technology of today.
So aside from my little rant about my way of moviemaking, what this is really all about is truely defining what it is I am within my goals. Nowadays it's really not that important to me to truely define anything other than what the true essence and final vision for any given project is.
If someone would just give me a shot, I could really make something that will blow you away. But I can't wait for that shot. I believe you have to give yourself your own shot. Let's not wait for something great to happen. Let's make something great happen. Let's create our own opportunities. And you can do that, because in the end, you are, just as we all are, a creator.
Ness: [looking at a gold chain Malone is holding] What is that?
Malone: Ah, I'm among the heathen. That is my call box key, and that... is my St. Jude medallion.
Ness: Saint who?
George Stone: Santo Jude. The patron saint of lost causes.
Malone: And policemen.
Ness: Well, which are we, gentlemen - policemen, or lost causes?
The Untouchables. Written by David Mamet