On our final day of shooting, I received a private message through this blog from a young filmmaker in New York. I have been asked a variety of questions since launching the blog, but something about the timing and subject of this particular one really caught my attention and landed with me. The "asker" has been kind enough to let me repost some of his message below followed by my response.
I am an 18 year old aspiring filmmaker in NYC! I just wanted to first say that I truly admire what you are doing. Not only are you embarking on your first feature film that you've probably worked your fingers to the bone for, but you are documenting every step of the process so people like me can learn more about the quest of making an independent feature film!
My question for you is this: Once you've written a script that you are passionate about and believe in, how do you get it off the ground? I am astounded by your success in networking and finding funding, and only hope that the project I have been working on can get off the ground. After reading your posts you seem like a perfect example of someone who is living the young filmmaker's dream!
...I want to thank you for documenting this process, as it is really inspiring for me to watch a young filmmaker like myself out at work.
Can't wait to see "Passing Harold Blumenthal"!
Hi Sam. Thanks for the kind words and support. It was one of my original hopes for this blog that it might be of some use to other filmmakers out there, and I'm thrilled to have you following the journey. As I'm not technically done with my movie and have no real idea as to whether or not I've done my job well yet, I'll just give you my take on getting to the point I'm at now with the film.
Sam: "Once you've written a script that you are passionate about and believe in, how do you get it off the ground?"
It's a good thing you asked this question now, because I really only realized I had an answer a few days ago. Sitting on set and looking around at all the people, equipment, locations, etc. I thought to myself, why are all these people here? What are they doing? Do they know this is just some stupid story I made up while sitting in my underwear at the computer? Why would anyone agree to do this thing with me? How did I ever get this off the ground?"
I think the simplest answer is to not get hung up on the question of "how". In the "About" sections of the blog (which I reread today for the first time since November), It says it doesn't matter how I do it, but only that I'm doing it. I think that has held up better than I meant it to.
There are a million ways to make a movie. A million ways to finance it, write it, shoot it, edit it, and sell it. None of them are easy or predictable. I have found that simply stating out loud that you are going to do something goes a long way. So long as you don't get hung up or stalled by any of the obstacles of industry standards, you can get your film made. You just have to be prepared to do it regardless of how difficult it might be or how small it might be.
If June would have come and I hadn't raised any money, I was prepared to make this movie for whatever I had in my savings account. It would have been a different movie. It wouldn't have looked as good and would have been a hell of a lot harder and I would have slept even less. Nevertheless, I was ready to do it that way. That was all the empowerment I needed.
If you have a script you love and believe in, pick a date and mark it on your calendar. Give yourself some time, but not too much time. Keep the excitement as fresh as you can. The way you keep yourself excited is to talk about it. Tell everyone what you are doing. Once you've told everyone you know, go and find people you don't know who might be interested. Every time you talk to someone, have them make an introduction to someone else who might listen to you talk about your movie. Talk talk talk. You never have to beg anyone for anything, because you don't really need them (remember, you are prepared to do it by yourself right?).
The specific path is always different and unpredictable, but so long as you have the constant backup plan of doing the movie with your Canon T2i and shooting in your mom's house, you will speak only with confidence. Once you declare your intentions to make the movie, the train has left the station. Once that happens, people will want to get on the train with you. Why? Because your making a movie and movies are awesome.
So, Sam, just keep talking and keep doing. If you are truly prepared to do the whole thing alone, I guarantee you that one day you will find yourself sitting on the set of your own movie calling "Action!" and watching your filmmaker dream literally come to life.