Monday, March 3, 2014

A Few Questions About The Creative Process For "Connection"

My good friend Sean Hood, who has his own blog (Genre Hacks), asked me to write something about "Connection"'s creative journey that he could post on his blog. He asked a number of questions, much of it about screenwriting/filmmaking, in general. But since it includes"Connection", I naturally had to post it here, too. Enjoy!

How is writing an independent, micro-budget movie different than writing traditional spec script?
The main difference is that in writing an indie, micro-budget feature,  you MUST write within the bounds of your resources. Meaning, you have to consider, with each scene/location/prop/stunt/etc. how you are going to shoot it and how much it will cost. It sounds restrictive, but it actually forces you to come up with imaginative ways to realize things that money can't simply buy. With a traditional spec script, your imagination is unhindered by such things.  The difference between the two kinds of scripts, however, are minimal for me, since even with an unlimited budget, I would be drawn toward telling the same kind of stories, in the same kind of way, that I am doing on a micro-budget: Character-driven pieces set in a compelling dynamic. I make lower budgeted films, not simply because I have to, but because I choose to.

How is your story, in structure and content, different from a "Save The Cat" screenplay?
The main difference is that in my story, people are too busy having sex (or trying to) to even notice the cat. I actually am not too familiar with the whole "Save The Cat" thing and not very motivated to understand it too deeply. My loose understanding is that a "Save The Cat" screenplay follows all the traditional Hollywood story-telling paradigms, including having the main character "Save The Cat" early on to build audience sympathy for them. Real people are more complex than any standard paradigms and that I'm vastly more interested in exploring that complexity than smoothing it out for entertainment value. My story doesn't answer questions. It asks them and leaves the audience to consider them.

How do your plans as director inform your choices in the writing process?
I actually tend to try to separate the two. Of course, I can't help but visualize the film and think about directorial issues while I'm writing, but I try not to let that hinder me in any significant way. I simply focus on what the characters and circumstances are telling me as I make creative choices. Is there tension? Is it compelling? Is it authentic? Is it working on multiple levels? These are my four main general concerns while I'm writing. Then, when I direct, I "bury" the writer. The script becomes nothing more than a blueprint that I am free to re-interpret based on visual style, pacing, location, casting, quality of performance and many other real-world factors once we are actually committing it to film (or HD video, as is usually the case these days).

Why did you decide to fund this film through kickstarter and other fundraising campaigns rather than through a traditional production company or studio?
Two reasons. Well, three actually. The first is that the budget I saw for this film was in that zone between self-financing (or raising money just from people you know) and traditional production company or studio financing. I couldn't have done the film the way I want to do it on a smaller budget. Of course, I could've gone the other direction and simply done the film for a larger budget, but that leads to the second reason I didn't go the traditional route: the film itself. The subject matter is challenging and I want to explore it in a challenging way. It will not be typical Hollywood fare and I don't have faith that traditional funding entities are interested in funding anything that doesn't have commercial appeal and/or serious star power. The third reason is that I don't know many people in the traditional production company or studio world, nor do I have much interest in developing those contacts. For the most part, I'm not at all a fan of the films they often choose to do.

How can people follow the making of this film, either as fans and fellow filmmakers who may involved in the same process?
Given the ubiquity of social media, there are numerous ways to "connect" with CONNECTION. Here are the ones we have thus far:
Our Crowd Funder:
Our website:
On Twitter:
On Facebook:
On YouTube:
On Tumblr:
On Instagram:

1 comment:

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