Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How Early Is Too Early to Want It?

Recently we pitched for the Crazy8's Film Festival here in Vancouver. The idea behind this festival is to make a short film in 8 days with an $800 budget (plus an exorbitant amount of production services) and then to show the film at a screening in front of industry professionals and the public alike. This is meant to showcase new talent, and create a calling card film that can be submitted to the festival circuit, as well as on a demo reel. We did not get in. We did, however, attend the screening for the six films that made the cut. Five out of the six were comedies, and the one drama blew them all out of the water. "Mike Inc." created by Jose Pablo Gonzalez and Paal Wilhelm Nesset was an incredible feat, especially considering the time constraints.

We went into our pitch with a project called "Grocery Confessions" (which we will incidentally be shooting this summer. Tell your friends and rich uncles!!) Though we pitched it as a dark comedy, "Grocery Confessions" has a lot of dramatic elements and is not slapstick by any means. As our first major pitch, we felt pretty good about our efforts, and received some positive feedback from the jury, despite the outcome. I suppose if rejection felt like cookie dough ice cream and kitten snuggles it would be a very different world we live in. What I'm getting at is that after attending the screening, I felt better and a little worse.

BETTER:
Looking at the types of films that were chosen, it was apparent that comedy was a major theme throughout the chosen films. I don't mean comedy in the "Darjeeling Limited" or "Oh Brother Where Ary Thou" sense, we're talking knee-slapping, guffawing, SNL-type comedy. Some of which succeeded, and others that may do better on YouTube. This made me feel slightly better about our story, if only because I can now convince myself that they weren't looking for our brand of story, as opposed thinking that despite the positive feedback we may have botched the pitch.

WORSE:
I feel worse, because the guys who made "Mike Inc." are clearly well on their way to amazing careers in the film industry, and were able to buck the system and create a mini masterpiece within the constraints that were thrown at them. It is inspiring and discouraging to witness their success. That is the nature of the beast, the good the bad and the ugly all in one California Roll and dumped on a peice of lettuce. Chew on it! Coming out of the event, I have several new ideas to flesh out, and much more networking to do.

MY QUESTION:
What I want to know is; when is it too early in your career to be picky about what you will and won't do? When are you allowed to avoid something that isn't up your alley, even if it may further your career in some way? Is there a right time to say "I will not compromise"? I ask because we could have pitched a comedy of the slapstick variety, and possibly made it into the festival, but we didn't. We chose to pitch a story we're passionate about, in a genre that we love, in a format we can get behind. Was this a bad move? I still say we did the right thing. Thoughts?

Also, since i was a delinquent on Logline Friday, perhaps I will try to achieve one line a day the rest of the week.

*disclaimer* I save all my best loglines for my idea log, in case someone decides to borrow the mediocre ones I post for their own gain. This exercise is merely to stir the molasses that is the right side of my brain. (On that note, if you've never done the right brain/left brain test, you should check it out. I ALWAYS see the dancer turning clockwise and it takes me forever to see it the other way - what do you see?)

Here is today's Logline:

A chef in the city is fired when he is wrongly accused of harassing his female co-workers. He exacts his revenge by paying customers to complain and send their food back.

7 comments:

  1. You did the right thing. While it's important to know how or what to compromise on, it's important overall to not compromise on the type of stories you want to tell.

    'Tis better to live unknown with a film you love that loathe a film you must live down.

    I hope that answers your question and I hope you're impressed that I used the word 'tis. :)

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  2. here is my answer to your question:

    Kevin Smith & John Waters! Both makers of intensely GREAT films and niether one gives a SHIT what others think (well maybe a little) but do what they do because they LOVE it! Make what you want to make because you feel GOOD about it and the followers will come, Just think "Field Of Dreams" If you *build* it they will come! And remember, I'll always buy your movies!

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  3. Thanks for the validations! Also, V. impressed by use of the word 'tis. A clearly under appreciated gem!

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  4. I completely disagree, probably because I'm coming from more of a TV background than a film background, but whatever.

    Whenever you create anything you need to be aware of the two groups you're creating it for: The audience, and The Money (Studio, Network, Festival, etc). If your idea isn't serving and satisfying BOTH groups, then you need to rethink your pitch.

    The Crazy 8s festival has a much stronger history of producing successful comedies than it does dramas. It's what's worked for them in the past, it's their strength (and arguably the strength of short films in general), and thus if you're interested in getting something made, it should be what you pitch. That's not to say you can't make a drama work, it's just that your drama needs to be EXCEPTIONAL.

    The big difference between pitching something like the Crazy 8s (a program that gives you money and support) versus what indie filmmakers like Kevin Smith and John Waters is that their first films were largely self financed. If you're willing to foot your own bills, then you can do whatever the hell you want.

    If, on the other hand, you're asking other people for money (and you want to get something made), then you better give them what they want...

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  5. Doh.. I commented on this right as you edited it, and it killed my comment.

    In my opinion, integrity is everything.

    An aspiring actress that does an adult film seems to nix herself from ever landing a Hollywood A-movie career. Are there any exceptions? ... Read More

    Do you want to make money or movies? The winner of the contest, it sounds like they were in it for the art.

    Now, that's not to say that you can't aspire to make money with your movies, and perhaps it will motivate you to make the art you see in your mind, that you strive to project to the viewer.

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  6. As for your question as to when its too early... we all have to pay our dues. It sucks, its shitty, but that's the way it is. No one, or very few, are successful on their first attempt, especially on any kind of creative endeavor. Even Brittany Spears had to be a Mouseketeer before she could hit you baby one more time.

    In the mean time, all you can do is focus on the integrity of your vision and practise your art. And WORK DAMN HARD.

    Matt

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  7. it is important to remember in scenarios like this that there is alot that goes on behind the scenes. Yes, you pitch to crazy 8s and yes the good pitches do get in. however a film like Mike inc came from two guys that personally know the producer of the Crazy 8s quite well. Even if their film was terrible they would have been selected in. And also note that Mike inc was a film in which an ENTIRE animation studio shut down for several days to make the film. this isn't such a huge feat when you have so many industry people working on it in a very well equipped studio. of COURSE it turned out well, the team had many favors. But also in my opinion the film 'looked' good but had absolutly NO story, it looked like a video game because those are the people that made it careers. Don't feel despair because most people with those resources and an entire studio at their disposal can do the same.

    Story is more important than anything, and integrity is even more important than that. Don't lose your integrity, and always be sure to recognize someone's effort when they work with you. Don't compromise either because things are happen when they are meant to happen. One day people will want to do favors for you and do good work for you because you are a respectable and talented person who treats others right. It is great to always push yourself, but I think the most important thing you have to remember is that you can NEVER compare yourself or your progress to other's, this is really important because there is so much you don't know about a person and where they get their money, so called 'talent' and how often they are out kissing the asses of the higher ups. If you compare your progress/success to others you are sure to feel badly.

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