It has been 5 1/4 years since I decided to make my second feature, and as of today, it is done -- all the way to a screener DVD and a promo package. I thought it could take a year to get to this point. Silly me. My first feature came out in 1993, and that was on SVHS, with tape-to-tape linear editing and analog visual effects. For this one, I had never touched a Mac before, nor FCP, nor AE, nor Logic. Learning from step one. Thank you to Chris and Trish Meyer for help on the vertical learning curve.
For me, some titles come fast, others don't. No title popped out of the aether for this one, so I wrote down all the titles of the 75 classic films noir, separated the words into nouns, adjectives, adverbs, and verbs, and assembled my title from those. My movie is called SWEET LOVE AND DEADLY. There are a lot of movies named "Sweet Love" or "Deadly Love" but none have this title. Hence the choice.
The basic categories of problems in making a movie are:
Artistic -- the choices of how to tell the story, who to cast, what locations, etc. ...
Financial -- perhaps the contingency fund should be about 200% of the rest of the budget ...
Personnel -- managing the personalities who get into movies, their fuckups and betrayals, etc. ...
Technical -- camera/computer/hard-drive/sound/etc. ...
Read DIRECTING THE FILM, edited by Eric Sherman. All the Golden Age gods of film direction, interviewed at AFI, the interviews cut up and reassembled by topic. No glamor, just the reality. Guess what -- they have exactly the same problems as rebs and microbudeteers -- the same, only their problems have more zeroes on the end than ours.
I had a patron at the start, and I've dribbled in various amounts of cash over the process. At least I have no outstanding debts for it -- it's all been cash on the nail.
Making a feature with practically no money is insane. It is possible; many people have done it, but it's obviously a sign of mental illness. Too bad for me. It's worse than any drug and I can hardly wait to start the next, a longish short (currently at 43 pages -- too many). Lotsa reb effects in that one. I cast the Golden Dragon today. A 9' albino Burmese Python.
I did not get sufficient on-set stills, and the ones I did get suck. The screen shots I have are better. I did get a few shots at the alley murder location, and studio style shots of my star, for the one-sheet, and I'm happy with that.
Now the time has come to put it out in the world. Fortunately, I have a mentor in Hollywood. He teaches at the L.A. Film School and he walks the walk. So my first screener and promo package is zooming out via UPS tomorrow morning.
It is possible, even for neophytes like me, to do effective image repairs with AE, such as cameo appearances of the boom and its shadow, and some toning down of clipped highlights. The latter aren't perfect, but they don't make me puke any more. An ounce of prevention is worth a month of roto. The responsibility for the crap is, of course, entirely mine.
Despite all the hassles and Murphy's calisthenics in this project, I remain pleased with the performances, which I believe -- belief, an article of faith, an axiom -- is the main thing.
When you get the Big Idea -- you know the whole story.
When the screenplay is written -- you know every scene.
When the production phase finishes -- you know every shot.
When the editing finishes -- you know every take.
When the sound track is complete -- you know every damned frame.
It's not an attractive level of intimacy with the project. I can hardly speak for others, but in general, I've lost all objectivity about it. The parts that are good are probebly not as good as I think they are, and the parts that stink probably don't stink that badly. I've shown it to a few people, and they got into it. About 2/3 of people who've seen it wanted a warmer ending. They thought it was too dark. Well, tough. That's film noir. I showed it to the filmmaker who won the Audience Choice award at SlamDance 13 months ago, and she loved it. I have no idea if that means anyhing. I think it's a good movie. I don't know, though. Maybe it's impossible for the filmmaker to really know.
There is no doubt in my mind that a good score transforms a series of shots into a movie. You shouldn't compromise on the best and most appropriate music you can get. I have great music. The A-list Hollywood sax player is my nephew. The Rodriguez Orchestra. I spent about 2 years on tne soundtrack and I think it was worth it. I just couldn't send it out with crappy, band-aided location sound.
Filmmaking is no-limit hold-'em. The movie you made is your hand. The other five cards are just the random whims, rare blessings, and snotty jokes of fate. You spend all the money, energy, and a chunk of your allotted time on this planet and then the only thing you can do is push all the chips in.
There is no bush league in movies. We're in the same basket as THE ENGLISH PATIENT and JURASSIC PARK, THE BEAST WITH 10,000 EYES, THE FOUR SKULLS OF JONATHAN DRAKE, THE EVIL DEAD I and II, and THE WICKER MAN (the original masterpiece and the recent abortion).
However SWEET LOVE AND DEADLY turns out -- I may have my foot only on the bottom rung, but at least it's the real ladder.
-- Paul E. Clinco
Mon Feb 11, 2008 9:20 pm
Joined: 31 Jan 2007 Posts: 4424 Location: Hollywood, CA
Congrats Paul, I'm proud of you and excited for you. Cant wait to eventually see it.
Mon Feb 11, 2008 9:35 pm
Joined: 12 Aug 2007 Posts: 596 Location: Tallahassee, FL
Excellent, excellent, excellent!
When can we see it? Is the trailer posted yet?
Stuck in the middle of my own multi-year project, I have to add my best wishes to Gage's.
I do get to L.A. once in a while, and before that, I could send a screener for you all to enjoy. It's 90 minutes.
I haven't made the trailer yet. This movie has action, but it's a drama, not a SIN-CITY-like noir-flavored action movie. Like the classic noirs, it's all about the clash of personalities. I think I should review the trailers for the 1945-55 noirs and see if there's a clue there for me.
Tue Feb 12, 2008 8:08 am
Joined: 05 Mar 2007 Posts: 844 Location: Moorpark, CA
Outstanding, Paul. You now fall out of the ranks of the ones that talk but do not walk. The difference is huge. HUGE congratulations!
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