Archive for September, 2009

Come the Revolution

I don’t want to get too esoteric about what is often a mechanical process, but we are entering a new era in the making of films. We thought Peter Biskind had documented the revolution with his Down and Dirty Pictures, but all he was noting was the subversion of the studios by the indies.

Now for the first time, the making of a feature film is within reach of people who have only a fraction of the finance and resources that the great indie filmmakers have enjoyed. The real revolution is the digital one – and it’s arrived for film as it came for music.

What we are doing with The Insatiable Moon is part of building the future – the making of a film for the love of the art and the story. No studios, no funding bureaucracies, no bond, no bank managers. Just a bunch of people who believe in cinema as a way to tell stories, and who have found a way to make it happen.

And you know what? Once the film hits the screen, 99% of the audience will neither know nor care how much has been spent getting it there, or whether it was shot digitally or on film. They will care whether it’s a story which draws them in and captivates them, and allows them to leave the theatre somewhat different from how they came in. At long last, the power of filmmaking is back in the hands of the storytellers, where it belongs.

Vive la revolution!


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Warming Up

What to do when you’re typing an email and your two phones ring at the same time?

That’s what the days are like for me as I negotiate with agents, talk to potential crew, book flights, check the schedule, arrange locations, send out contracts, organise volunteers and sweat over the budget!
The good thing is that we’re assembling a fine cast and crew, with a wide skill range and huge passion for the story. Each day is a day closer to the first day of Principal Photography.
I do a bit of cooking for my friends, and the great secret of this is timing – making sure that everything is ready at the same time for people to sit down and eat. Making a film is a lot like that. Getting the preparation right doesn’t guarantee a good result, but it sure helps the possibility.

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Bird by Bird

One of the best books I ever read on writing was by Anne Lamott, entitled ‘Bird by Bird’. The title comes from the following incident:

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write [it] was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”

It’s a philosophy of life as well as a technique for writing. Rather than being overwhelmed by the number of tasks to be completed, simply focussing on the next one at hand provides a means of moving forward. Producing a feature film, I find myself needing to reclaim this approach time and time again. It has a way of simplifying and purifying the necessary demands.

A meeting with a potential director of photography on Friday was enormously energising. Should he come on board, I think we may hope for spectacular cinematography.

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What – Me Worry?

Crisis – what crisis? It’s just in the daily run of things. Juggle chainsaws while skateboarding across a precipice? No problems – this is the film industry we’re talking about.

Who has room for self-doubt when they’re attempting to fly a jumbo jet which only has one fault – no fuel? It’s not the problem solving which is difficult. It’s the problem of the number of problems.
But one of the life lessons which I’m trying to hone is that of making something out of nothing. For those who suspect this is evidence of delusions of grandeur, I can only agree! Who better to make a film about the ‘mad’ than a mad bugger. Certifiable? Quite possibly.
But there was a time when people just made films because they wanted to get a story on screen, and so they did it. Ah, what did we ever do before nostalgia?

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The Gap

Some great talent from the auditions over the weekend. Getting through 50 auditions over 2 days is a fair old ask. We’re keen to have acting of the highest calibre for this film. We need to run another day next Saturday.

Meanwhile things are picking up apace. Cast and location schedules should be done this week. We’re about to bring on a production manager, and have begun negotiations with an experienced DOP, sound operator and editor.
We only have one problem at the moment – money! We’re about $200,000 short of what it needs to get the film shot in the way that it deserves to be made. It’s not very much in the world of film financing. But sufficient to be an ongoing headache.
It’s the gap which needs to be bridged. If only we had some support from some of the bodies charged with getting NZ films to air (NZFC, NZ on Air), there wouldn’t be a problem. But we’re forced into going it alone.
It’s an agonising struggle at times, but it was encouraging to find the enthusiasm for this film from the people who were auditioning for it. With a little help we’ll find a way across the chasm!

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Ring Ring

Neo won’t answer, but we now have the phone connected at our Auckland production office. It’s (09)3601643. With any decent luck the broadband will be on tomorrow, which will make the office a lot more user friendly.

It’s a great base to operate from in Ponsonby. Feel free to drop in, but best to ring first to make sure someone’s around.

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All systems go for auditions this weekend. The logistics of doing the schedule have kept me out of trouble for a while. It’ll be a relief to finally get the chance to watch some very talented actors trying out for various roles.

The major mission is to find our Margaret, who will play opposite Arthur (Rawiri Paratene). Somewhere out there is exactly the right person… But there’s a number of other roles to fill as well in terms of major cast.
In the meantime, the phone will be connected and internet installed for the production office tomorrow. Looking forward to having a functioning base for the film. Onwards and upwards.

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