It’s been some time since I posted a blog, so please accept my most sincere apologies. My haters will be like “fuck you man!”, so maybe the apology will fall on deaf ears. Anyway, for the past six months yours truly has been very busy doing what filmmakers do: making films.
We completed two features in that time, from script to screen and now on to distribution. Also in that time, we have seen numerous projects start, falter and then disappear into the void. Time and time again people who have worked on my films are amazed that we get films done. Well, it’s simple. Film making has to be about business. Not friendships, not Facebook likes, and not endless fucking trailers of that film you can’t seem to edit together into a coherent piece of cinema.
Which leads me to today’s topic. As many of you know, yours truly was basically blacklisted in the Columbus, Ohio film scene for one reason: I was too opinionated. Yes, word from on high informs me that because I told the truth, no one in this here cow town wants jack shit to do with me. Which is perfectly fine, since I will never shoot any film in Columbus again. Besides, I have a fantastic crew in the Cincinnati area that is done with gossipy Facebook shit and ready to make films.
You know, the thing that filmmakers ought to be doing. instead of getting mad at people who are giving you straight up advice to help your career.
Often during my productions, I mentor upcoming filmmakers on the production process. And the biggest issue I run into is this thing about friends, feelings and making everyone happy. Let me make this plain once and for all: A film producer must learn the art of Ass-holery to the utmost. Now when I say that, I do not mean being a real life jerk with no regard for human life. What I mean is, as a film producer, friendships, feelings, favors and other emotional garbage have to be put aside and replaced with the goal of completing a film that you can be proud of. And selling the damn movie.
Look, I say this because i have made the same foolish mistake. Time and time again, I was overly concerned with making sure all of my friends got big parts, with super cool scenes, and lots of screen time. The result: films than ran way too long, filled with loads of sub par performances, and story lines that went in 10,000 different directions.
This is a mistake I have made far too many times. As an example, a film critic in the UK who watched our film DEMONS RISING, said this:
Unbelievably this film clocks up a total of nearly two hours, and at no point does it feel like it warrants that amount of time. It got so ridiculous that, at one point, I had an out of body experience where I saw myself watching the DVD with a caption underneath me reading “5 weeks later” and I was still watching this movie. It seemed like it was never going to end. When it did seem to get somewhere, new characters would pop up, or old ones with subplots happening in the background would re-emerge. The realisation that things would take more time to tie up was unbelievably frustrating.
Lee has been very ambitious with this film and while that is very commendable, with the budget they were (painfully obviously) on, it was never going to work. By condensing the script, reducing the locations and cutting out half the cast who were really unnecessary (and not particularly great) the film could have been passable as a respectable independent film. But what we have is a mishmash of ideas that do not work together. If he starts making these changes, his work will greatly improve, but right now it’s just a headache.
After three or four of those reviews, you start to get the message. Point is, you can never please everyone, not even your best-est buddy in the world who wants all of her scenes kept in the film so she can show her friends on Facebook how cute she is.
One thing should dominate your work: the business of selling your film. Here are the facts:
- For the most part, as a new filmmaker, no one outside of your crew knows you or your friends. They do not give a shit how good you think your acting is, they want to be entertained.
- Most filmmakers end up with more than ten hours of raw footage. So how can you keep in all the scenes of your friends, keep everyone happy, and still make a feature with a running time around 90 minutes? Answer: You can’t unless you become and asshole and cut some of your running buddies out of the picture!
- The distributor looking at your film does not care who got mad, quit your film, or who will not speak to you now that you have edited their scenes out. You shouldn’t care either.
- The completion of a film that some distributor will buy is your primary concern. Not feelings, or friendships or not getting your BFF pissed off.
Producing a film is about getting it done, and making a piece of work that will sell. That’s it.
Bottom line is, being a film producer involves sacrifice. Sacrificing time, money,and lots of friends and family who just don’t get it. You should make it a point to remind them your name is on the line, your reputation is at stake, and their scenes were cut because business demanded it.
Oh, one more thing. if your friend’s acting sucks, be up front and tell them to work harder at their craft! Don’t let feelings and emotions get in the way of business! It will save them the embarrassment of having someone else tell them. And it might be the difference between you selling your movie to a legitimate distributor, or you printing out copies to sell out of the trunk of your car.
I for one would rather lose friends and sell my film, than have people kissing my ass while I file for unemployment again.
This is business. Nothing personal. It shouldn’t be rocket science.