Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Just Do It!

Making Your Own Movie Is Easier (Much Harder) Than You Thought...

I wanted to tell you guys a little bit more about the first short being coproduced by Coverage, Ink. The film is called SHOWDOWN OF THE GODZ, script by myself and Aaron Schnore, and directed by Julien Calderbank, produced by John Reefer.

Aaron is a talented NYC writer who is hooked up in the NYC film world, and has had several exemplary shorts produced including RHYME ANIMAL, AVE X and WHITE CURE. In October he pitched me an idea for a comedy about a loser, the world's biggest Godzilla fan, who is challenged to a Godzilla trivia showdown with the soon-to-retire 84-year-old archivist from Toho Studios--the keeper of all Godzilla knowledge. If the loser wins, he gets the guy’s job. But meanwhile, the guy’s marriage is coming apart as he singlemindedly trains for this idiotic dream.

So we banged out a script together and looked to see what we could do with it.

I have been so programmed by years of being in the Hollywood trenches that the idea of mounting a production myself seemed ludicrous. No, I had to find some producer to buy/option the script, then sit back, hands-off, while the project staggered along through rewrites, only to inevitably crash and burn courtesy of some executive changeover, sending the project into turnaround. Hmm. Come to think of it, that sucks.

But Aaron actually MAKES movies. What a concept! So we set about the radical notion trying to do GODZ ourselves. But... how? Well, it’s easy. Sort of. Just do it. Kind of.

In a nutshell, we needed to find: A, money, B, a director (since neither of us were inclined/competent to do it,) C, a producer, and, oh, yeah, all the other stuff--camera package, actors, crew, locations, etc. Where to begin?

Believe it or not, we actually found our very talented young director Julien Calderbank through... Craig’s List. Julien had a sharp reel and by some amazing synchronicity was looking for a project to shoot in February. Even more astonishing, he brought a good chunk of the financing to the table. Aaron also set up our camera package through a director he met on Craig's List. Through free ads, we found the linchpins for the entire project!

Once Julien came on board, we did a polish on the script and set out finding Big Puzzle Piece #2--a line producer. We needed somebody who knew the city, was seasoned, and knew how to get things like permits and insurance and how to deal with SAG. Through Aaron’s connex we found the amazing John Reefer. In under 6 weeks from completion of the script, we had the team, the money (with Coverage, Ink kicking in the balance of the film’s $12K budget) and we were rarin’ to go.

Let’s face it, it gets damn frustrating sitting around waiting for Hollywood to buy a script from you. I’m lucky enough to have had a few things produced, but damn, my last feature was 9 years ago already. Thus it dawned on me right around Christmas--holy crap, we’re making a movie. Simply by placing an ad, making a couple calls, and getting off our butts to make it happen.

The last big piece of the puzzle: a *star*. Sure, we found a bunch of amazing but relatively unknown leading men we could get for a buck. But I know that one very big way to get people to pay attention to a short is to put a Name in it. While we couldn't afford the big salary of a Name name, we could certainly afford a well-known respected actor, if not a star, for the lead role--someone everybody knows, perhaps from some iconic TV role. Enter my friends at The Gersh Agency (this is where writing Agent’s Hot Sheet has its advantages.) They immediately hooked me up with ten terrific NYC actors. And now we are about to extend an offer to one of them (can’t say who yet.)

The point of all this? It’s been both incredibly easy, and at the same time tricky and unexpectedly time-consuming, to mount a short. But damn, has it been invigorating. I HIGHLY recommend it. All of you guys who are in the doldrums because your last spec got no play, or your fist is raw and bloody from banging on Hollywood’s razor-wired door, why not write something and go shoot it?

Of course, I know how hard it is to get your short into the bigger festivals nowadays. Don’t talk to me about that right now, Buzzkill! Right now I’m looking at actually having 15 minutes of film in the can soon. Allow me to enjoy the moment of empowerment. A year from now I’ll write you all gloom and doom about how having a short nowadays is worthless ;)

--Jim Cirile


Anonymous said...

sounds pretty funny, are you planning to put the movie up on the coverageink website

Anonymous said...

Hi alabastard, that remains to be seen. We're planning on going the festival route for sure, possibly putting it on YouTube and other places.

--Jim C.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a winner! Good concept.