A Personal Challenge

19 Mar

A typical feature film utilizes multiple locations and employs numerous cast and crew.  Not only is this expensive, but it poses a logistical challenge as well.

I believe a talented filmmaker can create with very little.  Their craft is not dependent on resources.  Great filmmaking is manifested not in what is utilized, but how.  Give David Lynch or Spike Lee one actor in one room and they will come up with something innovative and compelling.  In fact, limited resources often inspire creative solutions.

I also feel a first-time director must earn the right to make an expensive film.  If I have a child who wants to learn piano, I’m certainly not going to raise money and accrue debt in order to purchase a Steinway.  I’ll probably scour Craigslist first and buy a simple keyboard.  My child must demonstrate genuine interest, commitment and discipline before I invest in a piano

After learning the basics, my child will outgrow the keyboard and need an actual piano.  And again, after years of additional practice and dedication, my child will be sensitive to the touch of the keys and the quality of sound.  Their old piano will be holding them back, so I will then purchase a more sophisticated piano and maybe one day, a Steinway.

The original outline for my film had numerous locations and characters.  But after reflecting on my own conviction, I realized I needed to pare it down.  I now have 3 characters in one primary location.

This is my first feature film and I need to do the best with what I have.  I’m going to start on a used keyboard and compose and play the very best song I possibly can.  It may lack the sophistication of a Steinway piece, but I can definitely incorporate just as much heart and passion!

Some people don’t even need a keyboard!


9 Responses to “A Personal Challenge”

  1. Mark Stolaroff March 23, 2010 at 2:36 am #

    Chris, your piano metaphor is an excellent way to express the idea that nobody will (nobody should) give you a lot of money for your first film, when it’s not even clear if you can play, or even want to play. I’m going to have to steal that one for my class! I was on a panel about 10 years ago with a Panavision guy who was deriding the use of inexpensive, high quality DV cameras that filmmakers were starting to use at the time (this scared the shit out of folks at places like Panavision!). His comment was, “just because you give a Fender guitar to someone, that doesn’t make them Eric Clapton.” That got a big applause from the (stupid) audience. I followed him with the comment, “yes, that may be true. But if you give a shitty old beat up guitar to the next Eric Clapton, he’s probably going to be able to play some pretty good music on it. And if he never gets a chance to play that shitty guitar, we might miss discovering the next Eric Clapton.” If you’ve got the skills and the desire, and your limitations fuel your imagination, you’re going to be able to play some pretty good stuff, even on that old Craigslist piano!

    • Christopher March 23, 2010 at 10:59 am #

      Thanks for sharing that story, Mark. Wow, that really sums up many people’s attitude in Hollywood: if you can’t make it look a certain (expensive) way, then don’t even bother. A lot of people believe the lie and sacrifice so much to prove themselves worthy – it’s sad…

      • Mark Stolaroff March 23, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

        And the attitude in Hollywood is also, “you don’t have a right to do this.” It’s that gatekeeper attitude. Like somehow if a bad movie is made in an inexpensive way, it’s somehow damaging to the industry. A lot of bad poems are written every day, but they’re not hurting the good ones.

      • Christopher March 23, 2010 at 2:33 pm #

        It’s amazing how convoluted film production has become, when it doesn’t need to be. Half of my energy as I work on my film is expended on unraveling the process and reducing it down to its essentials: originality, vision and truth! Thanks for sharing your insights, Mark….

  2. Christopher March 19, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    Thanks. I love hear from you all!

  3. Rae March 19, 2010 at 12:40 pm #

    I couldn’t have said it better :) Nice.

  4. Deon Lee March 19, 2010 at 12:10 pm #

    Chris B,

    Thank you for sharing your blog with me earlier and it is good to see your progress on here. I am currently finishing up a program at USC (this summer) and has been a great year so far. I hope things are going great with your film and wish you the best-


  5. Miguel N. March 19, 2010 at 8:09 am #

    Yeah, I believe that moviemaking is about developing a craft. Then, the most control you have over the process, the most effective you’ll be.
    Having three characters and one location is VERY challenging. And I like that Challenge.
    But It’s very hard, I wouldn’t resist to look through a window to know what’s outside.

    • Christopher March 19, 2010 at 9:56 am #

      All true, Miguel. Agreed! And, yes, the main character will look through a window – the window to her soul! :)

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