Yesterday we got some news — the distributor behind films like THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST is very interested in distributing our film, and possibly even coming on board as a Pre-Sale. For those not in the film industry, a pre-sale for an indie film like ours is virtually unheard of these days. We’re talking out the details now…and holding our breath.
That’s it really for an update. We are excited! Wish us luck.
AND, when you have a successful distributor interested to this extent, it definitely helps to have a film! Unfortunately, we have a tiny bit of our budget left to raise. Can you help? If so, whatever you can do, please click HERE to support!
SHOULD I FLY ACROSS THE WORLD TO MEET WITH AN ACTOR?
A couple weeks ago, I got news that made me very excited. The actor I was most eager to have in my film was introduced to me. For an actor who has done a couple films that both made more than $100M, he was incredibly down to earth and kind. And I thought I couldn’t like him more.
I wanted to meet with him to pitch our project, but encountered a snag: he isn’t in the country. He is filming out of the country for the next months. He isn’t even on the same continent.
That said, this is the actor that I think can really bring the film to life. Immensely talented and, from our correspondence, I also think he would be a pleasure to work with. Pitching on Skype just wouldn’t be the same.
So, I’m thinking of being a little crazy…and traveling to another continent across an ocean to meet with him. I want to really be able to express to him my vision of the film, and also show him how valuable we feel he is to the project. I asked a few of my mentors whether they think the actor will think I’m being crazy and they said no…so I’m going to propose it soon. I’ll let you know how it goes…
And don’t worry — I won’t be using any donated money!
Forget the giraffe riddle - help us out here!
Imagine this — one of the actors you really want for your movie (a quite famous actor that everyone knows) has just been personally introduced to you by email. What do you say to him to get him to meet with you, instead of just brushing you off and saying, “Yeah just send me the script” (in which case he may not get to it). Or, is meeting with him even the most strategic route?
Unfortunately we can’t disclose his name, and the tricky part is that we don’t know enough about his personality. We know that his face is known across the world because of a couple films he did that all made over $100 Million. In addition, he is currently a supporting regular on a critically acclaimed drama on TV right now. We have no clue whether he is open to doing a film that could show his acting chops in a way his other films haven’t, or whether he no longer feels he wants to work on lower budget films. So…we want to play our cards right!
Brainstorm with us in the comments section! Time is ticking!
I don’t know who this actor is, but he sure seems happy signing his contract.
After a bit of a hiatus where we worked on cutting down the size of our script (to get the running time under 100 minutes), we are now starting to send formal offers to letters. The process:
- Find creative ways to hunt down actor. Since this is an indie production without $20M to spare, that screen time to get the actor excited about your story is important. We found one actor at a film festival and got access to him in the Green Room. We arranged a private meeting with another through a friend of a friend.
- Actor reads script. Loves it.
- IF the actor is not holding out hope of being in the next Superman or other comic book movie, we send him offer and he considers it. And then we stress out.
Surprisingly, in this realm of filmmaking, actors actually consider offers that are quite low. Helen Hunt just did a film called The Sessions for less than $20K. As I’ve mentioned before, Ryan Gosling did Half Nelson for something like $15K.
That said, we are really mostly focusing on our lead role…which I will divulge was in offers a bit more than $20K. Wish us luck!
For those interested, the rest of the letter includes:
If there is anything else that you need to know or any further material you require, please contact me.
BENEFITED FROM THIS POST? WANT TO HELP US AFFORD OUR FILM AND PROSPECTIVE (KINDA BIG) ACTORS? Please support the film by visiting our website HERE and also spreading the word with the included links!
PETTING THE DOG (OR SAVING THE CAT)
Later known as “Save the Cat” by fans of the Blake Snyder series, “Petting the Dog” is a device used often in screenwriting: show the main character (however surly he is) doing something self-sacrificial or even just kind by doing something like petting a dog or saving a cat early in the script — and the audience will like the character, and thus root for him.
In our script these days, we actually unknowingly went back and added such a device. And lo and behold, everyone liked the main character more from the get-go.
Some examples in other movies:
- Aladdin (who may otherwise be unlikable since he is a thief) offers some of his stolen bread to a local orphan
- In October Sky, Homer’s father stops yelling at him just briefly enough to save Homer’s friend from his abusive father
- Andy Dufresne asks the name of the prisoner who was killed
- The Godfather is softened because he is petting a cat (something Marlon Brando just threw in)
- Steve Carrell literally pats a dog in the beginning of Get Smart
- Still-human Murphy shows that he is learning a gun trick so his son will think he is cool near the beginning of RoboCop.
A “pet the dog” moment won’t make a horrid character likable, and isn’t as convenient a cheat as people think (the quality has to already be part of the character) — but we can’t deny it’s a device that is used in a lot of movies, whether consciously or not. Next time you watch a film — chances are you will find such a moment…
IN FILMMAKING…HOPE IS NOT A GOOD THING.
At least, in part. They say filmmakers — no matter how talented, need to learn how to put up with rejection. What we have learned is that they also need to learn how to put up with their hopes being raised up high. Then crushed. Again and again.
Some examples of how this has played out for us:
- One investor told us he would invest $100K. He just had to ask his wife, and it shouldn’t be an issue. We thought we were done fundraising. Then, it turned out he and his wife couldn’t agree. No money for us…
- One donor told us he would donate $30K to our Kickstarter campaign. Our eyes lit up. We thought hope was on the horizon! Then, he changed his mind. Figured other people were donating I suppose.
- One investor was about to invest about $100K with us. Our lawyers hammered out the details for about 4 months since he traveled a lot. Then, at the last moment, right when he was about to sign…another deal came up and he took that one instead.
- One donor pledged $60K to us before our Kickstarter began. Once we finished our campaign, we couldn’t find him again….leaving us with an unexpected amount that we still have to raise.
The lesson? Don’t count anything until the money is in your account. After a lot of hard work, we have about 95% of our budget in hand, in our escrow account. The second lesson? Don’t get your hopes up unless there’s no way they can be crushed!
Can you help us raise our remaining amount? Click HERE to learn how to help!
Lena, I just looked through the website. I'm glad you're making the film. I also have my own movie I'm working on along with this project I have associated with my blog and you're definitely inspiring me! ;)
Glad to hear it, and good luck with your own film!
PROLOGUES AND VOICE-OVERS
When you’re in film school, there are a lot of rules you learn: be careful using voice-overs. Avoid jump cuts. Keep your Act 1 under 25 pages.
And, for the most part, those rules are important. Those rules are there because most people who break them don’t do them well. How often have we seen voice-overs severely over-used, where the narrator is basically telling us what we are already seeing? How many films have we seen that have no real structure, and fail as a result?
These questions all come into play as we work on our film. For some items, we have a knee-jerk reaction about whether or not we should have them. For instance, our film has a very short prologue — it’s a tiger hunting scene in India. Some say, be careful with a prologue. And be even more careful if it’s different in tone from the rest of the piece (which ours was).
So what did we do? On the one hand, you can just say “it’s risky, let’s remove the prologue.” But, in making some decisions, sometimes you have to fulfill your role as an artist…and know when to do what’s best for the piece. This is what many directors have done before. Despite voice-overs being so often overused, they were used brilliantly in some of the coolest films — think American Beauty, Forrest Gump, The Shawshank Redemption, Fight Club, and many, many more.
So, before we break conventional wisdom…I make sure that I’m sure. I researched a ton of films with prologues or beginning flashback scenes (asking a lot of advice from my wonderful fans on my Facebook page - click HERE to follow). The list was amazing: films like Ted, 21 Jump Street, Up, Bride Wars, A Serious Man, There’s Something About Mary, and 500 Days of Summer. I learned two things: prologues can be very different in style from the rest of the film (like in 500 Days), and they are short.
So what did we do? Knowing the film, and my vision for it…I rejected the idea of taking out the prologue. But, I also made it conform more to the tone of the film (a dramatic comedy). Doing that — knowing the rules, but also knowing where to break them…it came out for the better. The film now starts out light-hearted, still has the heart of the prologue, and now also has a Bollywood-style vision sequence that is completely organic to the story (and fun, too)! I’m excited.
BENEFITED FROM THIS POST? WANT TO HELP US AFFORD OUR FILM AND PROSPECTIVE (KINDA BIG) ACTORS? Please support the film by visiting our website HERE and also spreading the word!
One of the songs we’re looking to license for the film…will let you know how much it costs, and if we can afford it!
HOW DO WE DESCRIBE THIS?
We have strange tasks some days. One of the things we’re trying to figure out today is how to describe the Indian push-up above (at the very beginning) as succinctly as possible, in a way that both describes it and also describes the eccentricity around how it looks. We need it for our script, and just calling it an “Indian push up” hardly captures the description or humor for those unaware.
Any ideas? Comments below!
(We also need to describe an Indian squat, but that’s a bit easier).