Archive for indie film

Dealing with Current Realities Or Am I Related to Francis Ford Coppolla?

Posted in Greenspoke, Making Movies, Non-profit filmmaking, reelheart with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2009 by Tom McIntire

Filmmaking has been a passion of mine for many years, supported financially by me through my corporate employment. When I was at the 2008 ReelHeART International Film Festival (RHIFF) with my short film two julias, I received a phone call from my employer of 6 years letting me know they were laying off several people in my department and that I was one of them.  The ironic timing of the call did not go unnoticed since I had made my first film as part of an employee filmmaking contest there. They let me go while I was on vacation at the first film festival to show one of my films in competition.

RHIFF is a great filmmaker-friendly festival and definitely worth the submission fee – I have entered again for 2010. However my overall festival submission strategy has definitely changed since then. I tended to take a shotgun approach before.  I research the festivals more and take advantage of early bird submission rates where I can to save money. If you use withoutabox.com, use their search and watch list functions rather than waiting for their e-mail notifications. Most of the e-mail notifications are for the higher fee late or final deadlines. More money for WAB and the festival but not the best use of limited filmmaker bucks.

I took a leap of faith and used my severance to fund Greenspoke, a project that was already in pre-production before my layoff.   I do not regret making that decision – that project kept me sane through what I thought would be a couple of months seeking employment. Greenspoke has done well so far, showing in four festivals and getting a good review in The Seattle Weekly. Oddly my layoff from a high profile employer and continued filmmaking also led to a small piece in The Seattle Times as well. Unfortunately the article makes it sound like the layoff somehow helped my filmmaking career – that is not the case. That story came up in a job interview I had shortly after the article came out.

As I have been searching for a web editor job over the last 15 months, I have had to adjust my expectations as a filmmaker to line up with current realities. Before I would have gone ahead with a project even if funding was iffy — that just isn’t possible anymore.  I can’t proceed with any production activities until firm money in place. I set up non-profit Smiling Z Studios as a means of soliciting tax-deductible donations. When many of your previous supporters are also out of work or worried about losing their jobs, it is tough to make the pitch that a non-profit  independent film production is a great place to make their charitable donations. We do pay all of our cast and crew, many of whom are struggling financially, as part of the studio’s mission. However,  if a potential donor is on the fence between supporting our projects vs making a donation to a food bank or the Red Cross, I would not want them to choose the studio.

Most of us wonder what we would do if we won the lottery. I often think about what it would be like to make that transition from mostly self-funded director/producer to working as a director with full production support and investors who believe in me and my abilities enough to finance my projects. While that is not out of the realm of possibility, I do believe the odds are better to win the lottery and give these feelings the same kind of weight. I think most artists sans trust fund or those who lack a family connection to Francis Ford Coppolla struggle with how they are going to pay for their art.

So what do I do while I’m sorting this all out? Work on the things I can. Besides checking in with friends and former co-workers (again) who may be able to help me find work, I’ve redoubled my efforts to seek gainful employment. There do seem to be more jobs out there in my field and I’ve even had a couple of promising interviews.  I’ve also started working on storyboards for my feature length screenplay The Smiling Zombie, which was a finalist in the 2009 ReelHeART International Film Festival Screenplay Competition. The Smiling Zombie is about Jack, a successful musical theatre performer whose career is cut short by multiple sclerosis. With the support of his HIV+ partner, Jack attempts a comeback of sorts with a featured extra role in a no-budget zombie film. Making the best out of a bad situation seems to be a theme here?

Paper and pens I got, and storyboards help me to really think through the script, its problems and strengths, and what the overall look and feel will be. If I work on the things I can, I’ll be ready with a new job and a solid script and storyboards when things turn around. And who knows, maybe I am related to Francis Ford Coppolla?

Filmmaker or not, what are you doing to keep your passions going during these tough times?

Aug 4 Fundraiser Screening Plus Live Music at Central Cinema – tix at brownpapertickets.com

Posted in acting, Greenspoke, Making Movies, reelheart, screenwriting, Seattle events with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2009 by Tom McIntire

Smiling Z Studios

Two award-winning  short films, snacks, live music from The Daguerreotypes and a no-host bar – come see Tom McIntire’s award-winning political satire “two julias”, plus be a part of the first super secret preview screening of his latest, the sci-fi thriller “Greenspoke”.

two julias: Much to the delight of his kinky girlfriend, a counter-terrorism agent abuses his authority by spying on single women just for fun. A young woman looking for love online and a lecherous married salesman get entangled in their games. A darkly comedic political satire. Break a heart in seven languages! Winner honorable mention and director’s pick 2008 ReelHeART International Film Festival and recently nominated for Best USA Film under 25 Minutes at International Film Festival Ireland.

Greenspoke: A beautiful Japanese translator and a world-weary vehicle emissions technician awaken profoundly changed by the work of a brilliant scientist who believes he has found the solution to climate change. Winner of the Accolade Award of Merit: Short Film and nominated for Best International Film under 50 Munutes at International Film Festival Ireland.

The Daguerreotypes: Their quirky music is featured in both films – come hear this great band live!

Net proceeds benefit Smiling Z Studios, the nonprofit film studio dedicated to providing paid cast and crew positions in quality Seattle film productions

NOTE: No one under 21 years old will be admitted.

Feel free to share this info with your friends, including the discount code for your poor friends. Enter the discount code “blog” and get in at the cast and crew price of $12. Make your rich friends pay at the higher levels listed on brownpapertickets – purchases at the $25 and $50 levels include a portion that is tax-deductible, plus some thank you gifts.

I hope you can make it!

two julias and Greenspoke have both been nominated for awards

two julias and Greenspoke have both been nominated for awards

Greenspoke won an Award of Merit for Short Film

Greenspoke won an Award of Merit for Short Film

two julias won an honorable mention and a director's pick

two julias won an honorable mention and a director's pick

False starts and new hopes

Posted in Greenspoke with tags , , , , on August 17, 2008 by Tom McIntire

We were watching the Olympic sprinters yesterday. One of the runners called a time out because the officials kept them in a down position too long. Then the same runner started too soon and they had to start again. Her dilemma resonated with me after the day I had with Greenspoke.

I’ve been shoving this short sci-fi project along through:

  • scheduling messups (mine)
  • getting laid off
  • recruiting barely available staff because of my last-minutitis
  • having equipment we needed just out of reach
  • giving an onerous task of production management to an eleventh hour part-time production team
  • not listening to my instincts and impressions

After some harsh words and soul-searching, I realized that I would not be doing the project or the people involved justice if I went ahead. My good friend Michael listened and let me work it through and figure out that the best solution was to put the project off until spring.

I love this script. I am proud of it and what it promises as a short form piece. So I am going to take a different approach:

  • hire a professional production management team so I’m not worrying about whether the actors and crew are taken care of, especially when we shoot outdoors
  • compress the shooting schedule and shoot on consecutive days so we can secure the best crew without restricting their ability to get other paid assignments
  • define roles and responsibilities at the very start with every member of the team
  • go into our first shooting day focused on getting the best shots and performances from my actors

The sprinter I mentioned did not finish fast enough to get a medal. But she finished, false starts and all. And maybe we can finish and get the gold with more careful planning and attention to detail.

Greenspoke funding

Posted in Greenspoke with tags , , , , , on June 26, 2008 by Tom McIntire

I recently was laid off from my day job so funding the next short film project, Greenspoke, is going to be a little tricky. I tried something fun (this isn’t an original idea) of selling space in the credits on eBay. Do a search on eBay for Greenspoke to see the auction. Not sure if we’ll get any nibbles but I will keep you posted on what happens

two julias update

Posted in Toronto, two julias with tags , , , , , , on June 26, 2008 by Tom McIntire

I packaged up 2j to send to Ouat! (pronounced “what”) Media in Toronto – Jessica Klement from Ouat! was part of a great panel discussion on distribution sponsored by the ReelHeART International Film Festival (RHIFF).

Check out Ouat!’s site for more information about distribution:

http://www.ouatmedia.com/

We sold our first 2 DVDs on createspace.com yesterday. Yay! I think I may have spammed the cast and crew a bit yesterday between the Honorable Mention award at RHIFF and the DVD availability. If you would like to buy one, it’s $12 USD and you can get it here:

http://createspace.com/250395

Festival closing and other news

Posted in Toronto with tags , , , , , on June 23, 2008 by Tom McIntire

I was having internet access issues in Toronto so sorry that I haven’t kept up with the blog. The festival was a wonderful experience. Lots of good films and friendly smart fun filmmakers and festival folks.

Films that stood out (in no particular order):

Close to Midnight – personal and yet accessible story line, thoughtful choices from lenses to camera angles to color to music, extraordinary performances from the actors (Michael Bianco brought a rare level of sensitivity to the role of Chris Ryan). Kudos to director Ken Castellano and the cast and crew for this moving feature.

Brick by Brick … a Civil Rights Story – at times frightening and disturbing in its raw look at racism, director Bill Kavanaugh’s and Sylke Froechtenigt’s skillfully told tale of a long-term fight to integrate the city of Yonkers.

Leda and Her Art – 92 years old and she makes me feel like a total slacker – the funny and insightful story of Brazilian sculptor Leda Gontijo. There are people in the world who show you how to be alive – Leda is one of them.

Paola or The Art of Survival – Barbara Sostaric’s well-crafted and touching documentary about the obstacles and creative solutions of Paola, a single mother in Recife, Brazil as she tries to support her family. Paola’s story is troubling in its depiction of abject poverty yet inspirational when we see Paola’s resilience and dedication to her children.

The Red Room – Writer/director Elina Fessa’s beautifully realized story of an exotic dancer confronted by a long-lost love.

The German Lullaby – Director Tess Malone examines the betrayal of an innocent and the echoes that ring out through generations to come.

Futures and Derivatives – Writer/director Andrew Halpern creates a world where beauty is revealed in a very unlikely place.

Soul 37 – it’s all about heart and living fully – link goes to a previous blog entry about this touching film by David Shin.

Asian Task Force – a skillfully executed send-up of 90s cops shows like the A-team. If you like hot Asian actors playing something other than the nerd, funny and amazing fight scenes, then this one is for you. William Lu directed – Comedy Central needs to pick this one up to follow Reno 911 and class the evening up a bit.

Sneaky Snake – Lost in the Holy Land – need I say more? Best Animation Winner and that snake is a flirt

And Then She Was Gone – this lovely, dreamy film was shot in Savannah and features Diana Scarwid and actor/director Jacqueline Pennewill (also directed by Pete Konczal)

But back to me me me

two julias got an extra screening because people were trying to buy tickets after the original screening date. Several other films were in the same sitch. How fun is that? It gave me a chance to see films that I had missed – (The Red Room, Portrait of Envy) and to feel the reactions of a mostly new audience to two julias.

I was invited to be interviewed (along with several other visiting filmmakers) by saucy RHIFF director Shannon Kelly at their Lunch and Learn series. I talked about what drove me to write the script and told Shannon my favorite curse word. One of those is true.

And on a less positive note, my now former employer had the grace and style to call me during the festival to let me know we were breaking up. I went in to pack up my stuff today and turn in the card keys. I feel suddenly much lighter.

Off to Toronto!

Posted in Toronto with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2008 by Tom McIntire

We’re heading to the ReelHeART International Film Festival (RHIFF) in Toronto tomorrow morning. The shuttle arrives at the uncivilized hour of 4:35 am. That’s a nice time to come home after a long crazy evening – not  a great time to roll out of bed and comb your teeth, brush your hair, take the dog for a shower and do your business on the lawn.

I’m excited and nervous about the festival. two julias was my life for about a year – I made some lasting friendships, learned alot about working with actors and producing a film on a microbudget, and am proud of the piece we submitted. It’s wonderful to get into a festival in a big film town like Toronto. RHIFF has been great and I’ll be posting my impressions as Kurt and I spend time at the festival and in and around Toronto.