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

 

 

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

Have Courage, Will Film

I launched a Kickstarter campaign a little over three weeks ago to “kick off” the fundraising portion of my feature film debut, Driving Your Mind, a film I co-wrote with editor, Suzanne LaBrot. I’m not asking for the budget of the film by any means but rather a modest amount (in my opinion) to help get the ball moving for this film.

It has not been easy. I’ve tried my best to offer value for value but the reality is it’s down to the last five days of the fundraising campaign and I’m at about 45% funded.

Imagine trying to move a mountain, by yourself, with your arms. That’s kinda what it’s like if you’re a writer/director/producer trying to get an independent feature film made. At least, for me, I often feel like I’m trying to move mountains. Making a film is hard. It’s damn hard. But when mountains do finally nudge a bit and the sun streaks through, that right there is the essence of life and exactly the reason I do this.

Kickstarter helped me see I have to go outside this small box I live in. At first, it was an eye-opening experience to see only a handful of people I know decide to support me in this endeavor (and I’m taking into account all who supported me, both financially and/or with other actions) But then! I realized how large this world is and how my work has only been exposed to a select few…

It’s ME who needs to step this up now. I need to throw out my hatred of networking, all of my fears about being perfect and what not and get the budget I need to make this film without sacrificing any quality. I need courage. I am going up against the steepest of mountains. And thinking about this, I’m reminded of a moment from my childhood…

When I was no taller than my waist, I had a fear of something on television. It was big and scary and busted through its clothing and turned an odd shade of green. The Incredible Hulk. This green giant scared the bee-jeezus out of my brother and I when we were kids until one day, my father decided to show us this hulk was nothing to fear. He made us go to the television screen when the show came on and touch it as the Hulk grew into full form. It terrified me to think of doing anything like that at that moment… but then… after a minute, being coaxed by my father… I did it. I touched the hulk on the screen and nothing bad happened.

I need to channel that moment right now and touch “the big screen.”

Have courage. Will film.

(And for anyone interested, please find my kickstarter campaign link below! Thank you for the consideration! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/drivingyourmindinc/come-along-for-the-ride-with-driving-your-mind/description)

Timing

I’m sure it’s safe to say that most of us, if not all, have heard the expression “timing is everything”.

Today, I’m pretty sure that not only is there truth in that but it was likely first said by someone who realized that life is like a puzzle, and there are moments that come together and fit perfectly to create a whole. I think we finish a ton of puzzles throughout our lifetime, some many more than others, but I also think timing has a lot to do with them.

I recently lost a job all the while dealing with the fact that my latest film has been rejected from the majority of film festivals I’ve submitted it too. (For those who don’t know, filmmaking is my life.) And while it would be very easy to get depressed about these two things, I’ve been trying incredibly hard to stay positive.

But I’ve had some help.

Is it a coincidence that I just happen to find a guy who I genuinely want to know and be with right before I lose a job that I enjoyed very much? Now while the fact I lost the job makes me sad, it’s hard to stay that way after meeting someone who makes me so happy.

But okay, I chalk it up to a coincidence and leave it at that.

Tonight, however, makes me think it might not just be happenstance…

As mentioned, I’ve been thinking a lot about my films, which isn’t that surprising since I probably think about them 90% of my day, but in particular, I’ve been thinking about my latest film which has yet to play a festival. It deals with the topic of individual responsibility for oneself. Those who are avid fans of my films, cheer me on and tell me to keep doing what I’m doing (though give me constructive criticism as well,) but it’s been hard because I know I make films that are not going to appeal to the masses. While there is definite room in the cinematic marketplace for escapism films, they seem to be all the rage and I by no means make them.

Today, I was cleaning out my office and came upon a DVD of a film called “Think of Me”. I looked it up on IMDB and saw that Lauren Ambrose was in it. I’m a huge fan of hers from her work in “Six Feet Under” so that was enough to get me to play it. I popped it in and settled back with a bowl of popcorn, a glass of wine and some diet coke on ice. I was hooked within ten minutes. And captivated until the end. I had tears in my eyes and I don’t cry at movies unless they somehow connect with me, deeply, on a human level. This film did and chances are, next to no one has heard of it.

Timing.

This is the EXACT film I needed to see right now. It was beautiful, courageous, honest, real and thoughtful. And the fact that it was made gives me such hope that I have a renewed energy about making the films I make. Sure, these films may not reach the audiences or profit level that a film like “The Avengers” might but I realize I don’t care. Artists stay true to themselves and I believe there IS an audience for honest work based in reality.

Timing may not be everything but damn, it sure it is something.

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.”