Back To The Theater

I returned to a movie theater today after what I think was a year and a half away.

First reaction: I MISS THE HELL OUT OF THIS!

I think there will always be moviegoers who want to see films on the big screen. Sure, we have a ton of home and mobile options but nothing is the same as seeing a movie unfold in a movie theater, complete with Dolby surround sound, stadium seating, and a screen the size of a two-story wall.

And the trailers!!!!!

I love this part, HOWEVER, studios, let’s rethink the whole 20 minute-long stretch of them. Too much of a good thing, and literally you’re begging the viewer to be bored BEFORE the film even starts. Hard no, imo.


Anywho…

I arrive at the theater on a Tuesday at 3:40. I have five minutes before showtime and still need to grab a Diet Coke and use the facilities. My job allows for me to do this, yet I feel like a kid playing hooky. That is until I actually see a kid driving by with their head sticking out a car window, and my heart thumps in danger as I realize, no. You are definitely an adult.

I choose to see “A Quiet Place – Part II” and right out of the gate, with filmmaker John Krasinski’s thoughtful intro, I’m thrust into being a fan of his again (after not being impressed when he sold the community-assisted “Some Good News”, but I digress…)


No spoilers but I loved how the gender roles that are often stereotypically assigned were thrown to the wayside and I adored this tale of perseverance, hope, family, and love.

And Los Angeles is so fun. I’m never the only one who stays for the credits. Today, it was half of the dozen of us who had seen the flick.

So, in sum of the experience, seeing a film in a post-pandemic world wasn’t terribly odd, except for having to activate the fountain soda machine WITH YOUR PHONE! When you try it, you’ll see what I mean.


It was a most enjoyable experience, one that I’ve missed tremendously.

And I walked out of theater #15, eyes adjusting from dark to daylight, feeling a natural high.


Oh, yeah. There will always be a reason to go to a movie theater. I don’t care how many streaming options come out.

Family Is Love

Hi All!

I made a little one minute short film with my niece and nephews this weekend to submit for a filmmaking grant by Moet Champagne.

If you have a moment, please visit it’s site here to watch and vote if you like it!

Children are everything. Let’s celebrate them.

http://www.moetfilmfest.com/entry/family-is-love

Thank you!!

Keep the faith

The past year has been rough for me, in terms of navigating my career. I’ve been struggling with finding avenues to get film financing for my feature and my latest short documentary has not been getting love from the 2017 film festival circuit.

Now, I know people have it a lot worse. I’m not comparing. I’m only saying it’s been tough for me within this context.

Many times when I meet other indie filmmakers/writers, we ask each other, “what do you do for money?”

See, it’s incredibly difficult to make a living as an independent filmmaker, especially for those of us who have opted to live in Los Angeles, which in my opinion is the epicenter of filmmaking. Rents are high and competition is stiff.

But this is not my first time at the rodeo. I’ve been making short films since 2006 and have toured the festival circuit for many years with various films. Some of my films have earned distribution. Some, not so much. Regardless, I’ve put my heart and soul into each and am proud of them.

But this year has been tough. Competition is fiercer than ever, especially with iPhones being capable of producing quality work. The barriers of entry are opening and that is great but there is a glut of content and it is growing increasingly difficult to have one’s voice and work heard among all the noise.

So, where does that leave us? The artists of the world who have something to say and are trying to figure out ways of getting it heard….

Pretty much left to our own devices.

But in my opinion, now is a time of innovation, fast moving technological growth and change. A shift in power is emerging and the monarchs are falling from grace, as blunt talk and transparency prove them to be the false leaders that they are.

I’ve learned it’s best to plant one’s own seeds and tend to them until they grow instead of putting your seeds in another’s basket.

Personally, I have been planting seeds all over. The dry spells have been insanely difficult and I have a long way to go but I plant, nonetheless.

And suddenly, some of the seeds are starting to sprout. Some are ones I planted years ago.

I’ve found if one heeds nature, and listens, answers will arise.

Just as I was starting to think about if it was time to switch gears and go after a more stable gig like copywriting or something, I received an acceptance for my feature film script to a popular film festival screenplay competition (I can’t say which one yet!) and one of my article pitches was accepted from a website I currently write for.

I won’t go on but my point of all this is to say that it is always worth it to keep trying for what you want because you never know when your seeds will become plants of their own. So….

Plant those seeds.

Tend to them.

And believe.

Because they will grow….

#neverletanyonetellyouotherwise

 

 

Determination

The other day, I was working my normal lunch shift, waiting tables in Silicon Beach, when something happened that happens about twice a year and reminds me of why I do what I do.

As I approached a table, I recognized one of the two women. She had been a regular of mine at a restaurant I worked at many years ago. She was startled that I remembered her but she remembered me as well.

We briefly caught up before she told me she was here celebrating her friend’s birthday. Knowing that, I went out of my way to add additional touches so their meal would be extra special. (See, it pays to be cool to your server…)

Throughout their lunch, we chatted a bit and it was lovely.

As their meal came to an end, the woman who I had recognized, said, “Tell me, Christina, what is it you really do? I know it’s not this.”

She said it with such certainty that she wasn’t worried in the slightest if that offended me. I told her she was right – I’m a filmmaker/writer. She asked about my work. I gave her my card and told her a couple of my shorts are available on Amazon. She told me she’d be looking for them.

Sometimes it’s difficult to pursue a career where only a very small percentage of the population succeed at it on a financial level. Not to mention how many people and dollars one needs to helm such a project.

But when someone like this guest takes an interest in me based on our conversation and genuinely wants to see my work because of it, I’m reminded that waiting tables is a means to an end and it’s that end I’m determined to reach…

(Picture above is me shooting a short documentary on my honeymoon #justmarried – shot on my iPhone! @parisiprods)

 

25 Days of Spreading Love – A countdown to Christmas: Dec. 10

For the original idea, please go here.

15 Days till Christmas – spreading love by backing a Kickstarter film

As a filmmaker, who has run a successful Kickstarter campaign that was anything but easy to do, today I decided to spread the love by supporting a fellow filmmaker through this popular crowd-funding platform.

I went on the site and browsed through the various campaigns in the film category. I spent quite a while, to be honest, as nothing was grabbing me…

That is, until I noticed a little post about a documentary on the making of Kalamata olive oil in Greece: (and the filmmaker is a teenager!)

 

I decided to donate to this campaign. I hope he gets to make his film. Check it out above!

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”
― Mother Teresa

Spread the love. #spreadthelove

Perserverance

This past weekend I attended the Independent Film Forum, a yearly forum held about all things indie filmmaking. It’s filled with keynotes, case studies, market reports, networking opportunities and much more. It’s a great place to go to get an understanding of where things are currently in the indie film marketplace and also to meet others in the field.

Overall, the theme of this past weekend, as I saw it, was this:

Things are difficult for making independent films.

Even the keynote speaker opened his discussion with acknowledging how very poor his film did at the box office the previous night.

But things are also very exciting.

The entire marketplace is shifting right now and rediscovering itself, with new distribution platforms sprouting up constantly, making it easier than ever before to reach an audience.

But with that, comes the difficulty of being heard among the noise.

Is it just me or does it seem like there’s a constant stream of mindless content available everywhere you turn, all designed for the attention span of a three year-old? And does anyone else wonder why television is having a golden age but cinema remains mostly saturated with comic-book tales and 3D epics? Television is embracing complex, character-driven stories that audiences very clearly want to see. In my opinion, it’s time independent filmmaking caught up.

So, will there ever be a time that is “good” for independent filmmaking?

Chances are, probably not. The very nature of being independent implies a certain level of difficulty in that something is created outside the influence or control of others and in the film world, those “others” have a lot of control over theatrical distribution and exhibition. But with digital platforms, they do not. At least, not yet.

And yes, films are incredibly expensive to produce and money is hard to find. But was it ever being handed out or grown on trees? (It pains me sometimes to think about how many stories could be told, meaning films could be made, with $100 million dollars, which these days is just a third of a blockbuster’s budget but I shouldn’t get started…)

As an independent filmmaker, I believe we need to continue to try to make our character-driven films, despite the difficulties. There is an audience. One that perhaps don’t go to the theaters anymore because they want stories beyond the narrow offerings of box office blockbusters and consumer marketing opportunities. An audience who likely binge on cerebral episodic television but will come out to the theaters once again if we give them a good reason to.

As noted during a panel discussion at the forum, “It’s the wild wild west out there” in terms of independent film distribution.

And If that’s the case, then anything goes, so what better time for independent filmmaking to thrive?

Admiration

I went to see the film WHIPLASH this past weekend and I have not stopped thinking about it since.

That is the power of an exceptional film. In my opinion, WHIPLASH is jazz music in the form of a film and it’s truly amazing. The emotional journey it takes you on is second to none.

I always try to spread the word on any film that hits me like this, not only because I hope others do the same for my work but because I feel I have a responsibility to do so. If I’m going to champion thoughtful, original storytelling, then I should celebrate those who do it well.

WHIPLASH does.

I get there is a place for the Iron Mans and the Shades of Gray out there but this is a film that demonstrates the power film is capable of. In my opinion – it’s an emotional, impactful journey that leaves you thinking about yourself and the world around you…

What more can you ask from a piece of art?

As an independent filmmaker, I’m consumed by what it means to make one’s art in the world in which we live in, especially since it takes money and at least in terms of filmmaking, other people. And I’m equally intrigued by those who manage to get through the iron gates of mediocrity and get their rare, brilliant, humanistic work onto the radar of the masses.

WHIPLASH, I tip my hat and bow my head to you. A diamond in the rough. And hope.

Thank you.

Living one’s dream is not typically the easy way. But with colleagues’ like you, I’m all a flutter.

Do things happen for a reason?

As those who know me or follow my blog are well aware, I am not religious (I’m agnostic, actually) and I don’t believe in fate. But lately, I’ve been wondering… do some things happen for a reason? Or is it simply a matter of timing?

Ron Paul came into my life this past year when I was searching desperately for someone who I could believe in and could fight for to become my president. Since I’ve found him, I’ve been motivated to volunteer my time and work hard on his campaign. In the process, I’ve truly learned about what an amazing human he is. And during all this, I’ve been dealing with my career as a filmmaker…

I make films that I know not all people want to see. I wish they would but reality dictates otherwise right now. See, I believe in individual responsibility, in as little government as possible as the Constitution states, in philosophy, in making people think, in drawing out what one doesn’t want to think about. I don’t do it because I want to be different or controversial or antagonistic. I do it because it’s what’s real to me, what’s meaningful to me and what I’m drawn to as a filmmaker. It’s my life. And in effect, it’s my life’s work. But it’s not that popular right now. So, what do I do?

I keep at it.

And I think about the time when these values will appeal to the masses, even if they don’t right now.

And that’s where Ron Paul comes in. I truly wonder about the timing that he’s entered my life. It’s practically Kismet, but I never believed in that. He’s been at it for forty plus years and has never wavered from his principles. He’s braved the masses rejecting him, ridiculing him, ignoring him. But now, his time has come. Not only has he predicted this entire mess we find ourselves in as Americans, with blame belonging to BOTH the right and the left, but he’s resonating with America’s youth because they aren’t okay with the status quo.

It’s the likes of him and people like my parents, two individuals who have never asked for anything from anyone but came to America as legal immigrants and used their own efforts to achieve success and instill responsibility into their children, that I am motivated by to continue making the films I believe in and not succumb to anything but.

It’s a tough road to stand by one’s personal beliefs but when I see people like my parents and Ron Paul, I’m reminded that it’s our beliefs and principals that matter. And while the success of those who feel this way may not happen overnight, what’s important is that they remain true to themselves. Success is defined by each individual…

Perhaps the author of Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White, had it right when he said – “Your whole duty as a writer is to please and satisfy yourself, and the true writer always plays to an audience of one. Start sniffing the air or glancing at the trend machine, and you’re as good as dead, though you may make a nice living.”