Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Summer In The Life Of This Filmmaker...

Well, well, well. Lookie-here what the cat dragged in. A new blog. I know, I know. I've been a very naughty blogger. I let June, July and most of August just slip away. And I'm kinda shocked at how quickly those months have passed. But, let's face it, if work/obligations were an animal and time was a car, I tried to fit an elephant into a VW bug. Surprisingly, I got most of it in.

So, what the hell was I doing besides working? Livin', dammit!! Livin' the filmmaka life! So, let me just try to catch you up on what that was all about....

Well, June was all about film festivals. There seemed to be so many festivals in one month you could literally go to two different festivals in one day. I only attended 4 and that seemed overwhelming. I was at Dances With Films, CineVegas, Los Angeles Film Festival and Palm Springs Shortsfest. And frankly, I had an awesome time at all of them.


There was a nice mix of film watching, schmoozing, serious film talk and flat-out partying at each of them. All were nicely organized and energetic. Although it's a shame the Los Angeles Film Festival can't figure out how to have a closing night party or some kind of wrap-up event to bring together all the peeps who connected throughout the fest. I know money is tight, but when a fest is missing that, it always feels like it fizzles out rather than ending with a bang. Anyway, I could do separate blogs about each of the fests, but I took too long to get around to writing this blog so that I may confuse the details a bit. What goes on isn't much different at any of them, but it's the how and where it all goes on that makes the difference and gives each its own unique energy. However, I will say that "The Revenant" on which I was one of the producers, played at CineVegas and won the Audience Award for Best Feature which made that experience extra special. And I also had an especially amazing personal adventure at L.A. Film Festival that only happened because of the festival. Nonetheless, each fest truly deserves its own separate blog, but I wasn't up to it this year. Here's some blogs/reviews/wrap-ups done by others:

However, June was also about the Ultimate Filmmaker Competition we're hosting - and it cranked up even more intensely in July after the final extended deadline. Amanda Sweikow, Filmmakers Alliance Executive Director and my partner in all things filmmaking, shouldered the bulk of the load. And what a load it was. This is our first year doing this competition, and, taking that into consideration, we are handling it exceptionally well. But we had no idea how much work organizing all of the submissions and getting them out to judges was going to be - not to mention responding to the mountain of filmmaker queries and various requests. And on top of it, we had to manage far too many flaky judges. Simply put, it was a bitch. And Amanda and I are still concerned that some good projects may have slipped through the cracks, although we pray that is not the case - despite what some disgruntled filmmakers who did not make it to the quarterfinal round have assured us.


I also started shooting my new short film "My Last Day On Earth" in June. The pressure was on because I wanted to get it in for the VisionFest selection committee deadline. People assume that because I'm the President of Filmmakers Alliance that my film's inclusion in the program is automatic. It isn't. Nor would I want it to be. If the people on our selection committee don't think it should play in VisionFest, I wouldn't want it to play there. Some filmmakers get really upset when their films don't get selected, which I don't understand. I mean, I understand the disappointment. I would be pretty damn disappointed. But ultimately, if the film is not being received well by the committee, it will probably not be received well by a larger audience. And hence, would not benefit me as a filmmaker to have it out there. The only exception to this is if the film is so incredibly unique, the selection committee just doesn't "get it". But I've worked closely with the committee over the years and it is very good - no matter who is on it - at differentiating between unique artistic intention and intention gone wrong. Simply put, they can see the difference between stuff they just don't get and stuff they don't want to get. Anyway, I made the deadline and the film got into the selection pool. But the making of the short deserves a blog all its own, which I will do very soon.


As July kicked in, VisionFest cranked up to the next level. All the last minute details are overwhelming and, again, Amanda was on top of it all. But I had no small share of stuff to do. That, along with arranging and doing the re-shoots and aerial shots for my short kept me running. And lastly, I had some fundraising to do for our new global web-based expansion, which launches in early 2010. So, all of this crazy activity - making a short, working on and raising money for the Global FA, the Ultimate Filmmaker Competition and VisionFest all spilled over into August and finally came to a rest of sorts on August 19th.

That day, I had a big meeting with a potentially huge partner for the new global site with VisionFest right on top of it that evening. So I had to prep for VisionFest - including cleaning myself up and putting on an actual suit - early in the day, go to the meeting and then run straight over to the Directors Guild for VisionFest. My film was selected by the committee, by the way, and VisionFest was a huge success. But that deserves another blog of its own.


With the passing of this year's VisionFest, the crazed energy seems to have to have mellowed a bit, although there's still more fundraising and a ton of work to do for Global FA. Which begs still another blog as I'd love to relate to everyone how that is evolving, the mindset behind it, and the resources we are trying to pull together for it. For YOU! Then, there's still a couple more rounds of the Ultimate Filmmaker Competition to judge/manage and the usual FA activities to handle including moving out of our current (very dirty and decrepit - but dirt cheap) facility. And personal life? I squeeze in some fun and drama here and there. I don't talk about my personal life very much in this blog other than to allude to it in regard to how it might directly affect my filmmaking life - which is what this blog is about. But the two lives are necessarily intertwined for me since I believe experience fuels imagination, deepens creativity and sharpens authenticity. However, there is frankly, not that much to relate....just a lot of internal activity - questions about happiness, love, meaning, purpose, obsession, fear, comfort, ego, art, etc. - that I will attempt to address through the work.

What's next? Independent Film Week in New York City in late September...and the festival circuit with my short.....And, of course....more blogging to come...I promise!!

1 comment:

  1. neat summary. fun times. can't wait to see your short.