Monday, November 16, 2009

Shut up and put your money where your mouth is!

I have a rather larger to do list for the rest of the year. I've done this before, and I'm familiar with the drill. As much as I would love to get all of the projects done on my list before the end of the year, I know it's just not possible. We're almost into December. We'll have the weather to contend with soon. Most of my stuff is exteriors, and we don't have a studio at our disposal.

I know we're most likely going to be delayed on everything. Redd will most likely be finished by March. Monster Cops will probably not have a new episode til after New Years. And Bobby's Closet will probably be pushed to late summer, most likely because of problems with fund raising. And the sad part isn't not finding the funds to raise, it's having time to actually make the effort. Life just catches up to you and rearranges your schedule.

But this doesn't mean I won't try to get the list done. I've had some practice at this, and it all comes down to anticipating problems, and planning for the worst. We may only get one production day a week through January, which means I have to work to get each and everyday as productive as possible.

Yes this all changes if I can raise some money, get some studio space, and free up my work schedule. But no funds will be raised if I don't put together proof I can produce something truly cinematic to go with our killer business plan, and I'm having a heck of a time doing that since my work schedule and lack of studio space prevents me, which would be easy to remedy if we only had the money, which would be easier to get if I can .... yadda, yadda, yadda.

It's a vicious circle, and I could spend all day whining about it and how I'm trying my best.

John Mason: Are you sure you're ready for this?
Stanley Goodspeed: I'll do my best.
John Mason: Your "best"! Losers always whine about their best. Winners go home and fuck the prom queen. 
- The Rock (1996)

Point is, I know what I'm capable of, I know I can create something absolutely amazing (could I be any more impressed with myself?). I'm confident I can raise the money to make Bobby's Closet (and possibly even a feature length REDD.) But I've never been one to wait for someone else to give me the opportunity. I'm use to making my own opportunities. And even though someone might write me a check to get the studio space, pay the cast and crew, and make a cinematic masterpiece. Part of me likes the no budget low end.

Maybe I'm a masochistic. Maybe I'm addicted to movie-making poverty.

I think mainly I wanna make it on my own steam. And not just make it, but make it big. Not make it big as in some big studio gives me a big distribution deal. I mean I make something truly great, distribute and market it myself, and reap huge benefits from it. Millions of dollars from an indie movie with a low budget, enough to pay everyone that needs to be paid, raise a hell of alot of money for Cancer Charities, and have enough left over to make another one, and so on and so on. All with no permission from any studio of any kind.

I know I talk about it all the time, but it's completely possible. It's all in the business plan for Bobby's Closet. Go on ASK ME FOR A COPY! It's in there. The means to market and distribute are all available for anyone with a movie to sell. You don't need a distributor if you've got sites like Create Space or Filmbaby.

Marketing is all word of mouth. If you make a great product and get it in front of people through YouTube, festival screenings, even downloaded for free through torrent sites, then they'll be willing to put up the money to get a copy for themselves. And that's the key. Make something so good, that even though people steal a copy, they'll want to pay for it. Like the great Harry Anderson always said,

"If you put on a good enough show, they'll be more than happy to pay the price of admission."

The word spreads like wild fire, through YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, etc. It's gotta be that good that people talk about it. The best advertising is word of mouth. If you've got the right amount of money you can supplement all that with a few print ads in the right cities, some TV time, pay per click ads on Yahoo and Google.

But you gotta make that amazing piece of cinema. You've got to create the product first.

And like I said, I'm not one to wait for someone to give me the opportunity. Part of me doesn't want the money (this is Patrick's sensible side, no no, he really does want the money). Part of me wants to see how far I can take this no-budget thing. I think we've done some pretty good things with no money. Fake guns shoot real with visual fx software, I made a book of the dead out of duct tape, built a Werewolf out of cardboard, created guns with orange juice bottles. Part of me wants to know what else I can do with no money and few production days.

The money makes it easier to create the magic, but easy isn't where the creativity is.

Yes, the money will give me the freedom from the day job, so I can have the time. But what can I do with what I've got. No money, minimum time, a decent camera, and a computer to edit on. How far can I take it? How big can I make it?

And I'm not talking about a Blair Witch or a Paranormal Activity. Yes those were great concepts and executions with documentary style formats. I'm talking HUGE. Cinematic. Can I make Gone With The Wind with no budget? Can I make something as good as a Hollywood Blockbuster or better with my crappy tripod and some duck tape.

You wanna know what I did this week? I built a camera crane out of cardboard tubes, an old tripod, and duck tape. SERIOUSLY! One thing I know I needed for REDD was big sweeping cinematic shots. I need a crane for that. So I made one with stuff I already had, it literally only cost me 6 bucks for the extra duck tape.

Those videos and tutorials are everywhere. Indy Mogul, Film Riot, and videos all over YouTube have people making expensive movie gear that would normally cost thousands, and they're doing it for hundreds and less. Dolly's, cranes, steadicams, etc.

But I want to go even further. I have to ask the question, "has anybody made a truly great cinematic experience that is completely mind blowing with DIY (Do It Yourself) gear. Can I make the Matrix or Die Hard or Pirates Of The Caribbean with DIY equipment. YES! I think I can.

I don't think I've ever truly tested myself. I don't think I've pushed myself hard enough. I don't think I've truly seen how far I can go or how big I can make this. And I think it's time I put my money where my mouth is. Someone told me once that I was truly driven in my goals of being a movie maker. I don't think I'm driven enough. I don't think I'm trying hard enough.

Don't give me any money, don't give me any people, but give me freedom, and I'll give you a movie that looks gigantic.
- Robert Rodriguez

And that's what I'm going to do. If you're reading this and you wanna give me money, great. I'll take it and I'll make something absolutely amazing that will make a bunch of money. But even if you don't, I'm going to do it anyway. And I'm going to do it with cardboard, duck tape, my trusty camera and computer and the few days a week I've got. I'm going to try harder. No wait, ya know, I think I've actually been trying too hard. I'm not going to try anymore. I'm just gonna do it.

Do or do not... there is no try.
- Yoda

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