Making a Movie… A journal Starts

ver the next couple of months, I plan to be in pre-production and production on my project. Its the story of the rescue of 10 women who were kidnaped in Germany during the initial stages of the Iraq war, sent to Iraq and held for ransom. What made this story was that it was a lone US Soldier who went AWOL to save his pregnant wife and he ended up saving 8 of them. But for political reasons during the time of Jessica Lynch, Pat Tillman and an election, two governments tried to hide the event and court martial this soldier.

I thought it might be interesting for me, as well as film lovers, to journal the exploits of this project. Ill try to do this as much as I can, and perhaps you can get a glimpse into the process of how a movie gets made.

Last month we officially secured our side of the financing. I wont give details, but we put a chunk of money into an account, combining investments from a few different people including our company. There is a financing group that loves our project and has verbally committed to bankrolling the picture assuming that they can verify our funds. So they get their stuff together to put up the rest of the money and green-light the movie. That has happened Of course, we all agreed on all the terms and the contracts and all that, and that took some time, but we,re moving along.

Ironically, there’s another company that is showing the same interest. I met with these guys a couple months ago, and they said they were in, but they didn’t get back to me with anything official. The group from the above paragraph came in out of the blue, so I hit the ground running with them. Its bizarre that I might actually get to a place where I’m turning money down.

Here’s how this current group came about, A producer from Fox, whose been trying to get some projects set up heard the story through a family member who has been in Hollywood casting movies since the 70″s. We became buddies through our discussions about each others projects, and he’s always tried to get it in the hands of various people, but nothing has come of it. We don’t have a deal or anything, hes just been doing what he can on the side. Anyhow, a few months ago his aunt was in a small town in Missouri and struck up a conversation with a stranger, who told her about all the developments that were taking place in this town. For some reason, he mentioned a movie studio and gave his aunt a brochure. His aunt then passed it on to my buddy, who decided to contact this production facility for the heck of it.

He cold-called them and said basically, I know you guys are a production facility and arent investors, but Ive got a cool project that should be shot in the southwest, and I’m wondering if you know of any money guys who are shooting some films at your place. The guy gave him contact info for some guys, he got a hold of them, sent them the script, and voila..they loved it, one of the producers grew up near where the story took place, and they wanted to make it. They believe it can be developed into an Oscar. High praise indeed but that is far off.

Unless these guys are liars or stupid, neither of which appears to be the case, they’ve got the money and are on board. All they needed was proof from us that we can guarantee some funds as well. That was done.

Funny how God works, assuming He cares about my career and the movie business and actually has a hand in all this. Of course, I know He cares about my career, but sometimes I think we think Hes devoting more time to our vain pursuits than he actually is. Either way, I’ll take it and give Him credit for anything good that happens.

So right now I’m preparing to make this movie as everything gets in order. I need to get the script in great shape before its sent to actors, so I’m doing some last minute adjustments.

One common note I’m getting from a few people is that there’s a problem in the first act. This story is about a man who goes from being a Highly decorated soldier in his unit to a man who turns into Bruce Willis in Die HARD. The thrust of the story is in the change he has to brings to himself and dealing with people in this depressed, backwards, deep mountain region, but we also need to take some time to show how he transformed. Not an easy task, because I have to do it in 20-25 pages so we get to the meat of the story quick enough.

Our trick is to try to show what would lead him to be desperate to make such a big change in his life. That’s easy to talk about. He was sad, depressed,angry. He felt like his govt was going to let his wife die because it was an election. He was meant to be there, but that’s not easy to portray on screen. We’ve got plenty of moments and incidents in the script that cause him to be frustrated and angry about how insane and violent the Iraq region is, but we need moments of inner turmoil for him as well; private moments that show how dark he had to become and down he is.

If he failed or was captured, he knew not only would his wife would die, he would be killed also. So that’s what I’m working on right now, trying to find those moments that are cinematic.

The good news is the majority of people really like the script a lot. But its always easier when someone doesn’t like something you’ve done but they can’t give good reasons why. That said, I think its more important to seek out people who disagree with you or don’t like something you’re creating than to surround yourself with unconditionally supportive people. Id rather hear bad things now, while I can still correct them, then read them in the paper from a critic after the movies out. So we will see.

1. An idea
Who has it? Could be a writer a director or someone like you!

2. The pitch
A studio has to be convinced that the film is worth making. Someone has to talk them in to it. To get the idea across it will normally be developed into a summary of how the film will go.

3. The studio
They put together the team to make the movie. Once a director has been picked they find actors, and the studio also finds the money. Sometimes a studio needs to find investors to raise enough cash.

4. Production
The location scouts must find the places to film the movie, then it’s ready to be made. It is not filmed in the order you see it on screen. The director has a storyboard and what they film first depends on which actors and locations are available.

5. Post-production
The raw filming (called rushes) is edited in this stage. The music is added and sometimes actors re-record lines that weren’t clear enough.

Editing is mostly done on computers. In the past, film was actually cut into bits and stuck back together – movie people still say an edited film has been ‘cut’.

6. Release
The film is sent out to cinemas ready for you to see it.

All right That’s enough for now


Serious question: Do you know who your friends are? What makes your friends your friends in life or on Facebook

Serious question: Do you know who your friends are? What makes your friends your friends in life or on Facebook

Last night I sat on the couch at my home with an old friend. She is going through a hard time in her life, the same thing I went through three years ago. Fittingly, it was this friend who stood by me as I went through my hard time and now I was doing the same for her. She cried, but not because it was sad; because the more we talked, the more we realized how similar we are, how much our beliefs and values align. The emotional intensity of it all was so overwhelming that we both ended up in tears. During this time the Movie Notting Hill playing in the backround.

The experience was jarring for me. Not because I minded crying or sharing that kind of experience with a friend. It was jarring because sitting there and feeling what a close friendship is, I realized that a lot of people that I call “good friends” aren’t really good friends at all. I realized how readily I use terms like “good friend” or “close friend” with people I’ll never have this kind of experience with.

In this age of omniconnectedness, words like “network,” “community” and even “friends” no longer mean what they used to. Networks don’t exist on LinkedIn. A community is not something that happens on a blog or on Twitter. And a friend is more than someone whose online status you check. A friend is an emotional bond, just like friendship is a human experience. What I’ve learned is that I’ve too often confused the weak bonds I have with people I know with the strong bonds I have with friends. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is.

A friend is someone with whom we share deep trust. The strong bond we have with a friend means that person will be there for us no matter what. The reason I made it through a few years ago was because someone was there for me at a time when I could offer nothing in return. The strong bond of friendship is not always a balanced equation; friendship is not always about giving and taking in equal shares. Instead, friendship is grounded in a feeling that you know exactly who will be there for you when you need something, no matter what or when.

There is a difference between vulnerability and telling people everything about yourself. Vulnerability is a feeling. Telling everyone about yourself is just facts and details. The problem is the more we share about ourselves on Facebook, for example, the more we confuse all that information with having others “get to know us.” Someone can look through our pictures, read our comments and opinions and start to think they know who we are, but they don’t. They only know what they see and read. Worse, the feeling they may have toward us is one-sided.

This phenomenon is called a parasocial relationship — a relationship in which one person knows much more about the other. This is what happens with celebrities. Because we can read about their public lives in the tabloids and hear about what they are doing on TMZ, we think we know them. But we don’t know anything about who they are. Everyone see’s what they appear to be but few feel what they are

I “friend” a movie star who lived in Toronto. I sent her a message that I was coming to see Toronto and she posted on Facebook that she would like to show me the city and go together. I told her my dates but when I was ready to to go and emailed her she never responded and was nowhere to be found.

Recently a “movie star” who I had many connections with gave me her personal email and said she wanted to keep in touch. I never asked her for it. But when I email her she never responded. Months later when she came back after reading how she was planning to have a baby with her boyfriend … she claimed “she missed me” . Two weeks later she was off Facebook again.

In our modern world, however, we are all celebrities and we all live semipublic lives. Others can read about what we’re doing and who we know and what we like. They can start to form bonds with us, but those bonds are one-sided and they are not the basis for real, close friendship. I was not friends with her and nor did I expect her to come through or even see her. The reality is those people are acquaintances — a term we rarely hear anymore.
Although I like the movie ‘Notting Hill’ I have no desire to be a character in it.

But if you do climb that ladder in Hollywood, It wont take long to understand that a new kind of woman will be interested in you, even if you are with someone. Its the sort of woman who in the past had stirred insecurity. If you get to that world, It was like a kid finding Batman’s belt in the lost and found. No point in giving it back until you’ve tried all your new powers. But you can forgot to ask, will you be able to stop once you’ve tasted these powers?

Superficially, the bar for women is set, based on the physical: some sort of exterior beauty, along with fame, sophistication, wild-child possibility, flirtation with the dark side.

As you climb the ladder, your social confidence explodes. You receive the sort of attention you never did when you were younger. It is addictive, and when you are in it, there seems to be no end in sight. The attention increases tenfold when you are dating a Hollywood Star or know one personally . You become a star also.

But that life isn’t rooted in good practices; it’s more like, “flash your badge and they will come.” Your confidence is based on a pack mentality, strong in numbers. (5000 FB FANS) You can push aside the inconvenience of having to start a conversation — just by being in the V.I.P. section , the conversation is started for you. If you have a well-connected friend or an entourage to find you a companion, you might not need conversation at all.

Reducing a relationship to time, money and X is usually a bad way to start. Relationships can get crafted around their whims. The spiritual significance of an enduring commitment falls by the wayside, giving way to limits and rules defined by the ego.

Although it doesn’t have to be this way, relationships can become part of the world of ego and illusions.

I was reminded of this when I ran into an old Hollywood girlfriend in Calif

At the time she was the most beautiful woman I had ever see. A Hollywood actress who was constantly at the Playboy mansion. It was like Jessica Rabbit had come to life. I was determined to make her mine. She had told me she had “dated’ George Clooney and Bruce Willis but I was what she wanted and I showered her with gifts and trips. But nothing about her was real as I was to find out including her name. Years later she was still looking for ‘Mr GoodBar” …still looking for a man who would treat her like a princess and no longer a choice for movies roles.

When I asked her of all the men who had come into her life wasn’t there one?. She said she had been engaged 3 times but changed her mind. Now she sits in a bar in LA paying for yesterday, on with pictures from 10-15 yrs ago.

The thought now is if I were a up-and-coming actor, you would try to hook up only with A-List female celebrities. It’s like buying $50 million of free advertising.

There are lots of people who tell me they are my friend. They seem to act like friends, but they aren’t really friends. I don’t, and probably won’t ever, share that kind of deep, strong relationship with them.

I have one business relationship who, when he introduces me to people, introduces me as “my close friend, Every time he does so, it makes me uneasy, because we’re not close friends. I’m not sure we’re even friends. Another professional relationship, almost from the day we met, would tell me, “this is the start of a long and close friendship.” He acted like a friend too. He would send me e-mails to say hi, call to chat, and he’d want to hang out when we were in the same city. But when we couldn’t agree on the terms of a formal business relationship, all of a sudden my “new close friend” stopped calling, stopped e-mailing and no longer wanted to spend time with me.

As my life becomes even more public, I meet lots of people and I form genuine friendships with some, but most are just acquaintances or professional relationships. The problem is that there are lots of people who think they know me. They think they are my friends. Yet friendship is too quixotic to be formed by a decision. It’s a feeling more like love. You can’t decide to be friends with someone. You can’t request it. It just happens.

Facebook is good at connecting people with common interests. We can easily form weak bonds with people online. And those relationships are good and have real value, but strong bonds, trust and deep friendships require physical interaction — and lots of it. I no more believed Rachel McAdams or Anne Hathaway were my friends than I believe I am going to be POPE. I have never met them nor do I expect I will. But unfortunately a lot of people do and that’s what can be painful for a-lot who do live their lives through Hollywood.

But the lesson I learned this week is more of a reminder. I have too often confused the weak bonds I have with people. I know with the strong bonds I have with people who are my friends. When I run the names of the people I call “good friends” through this new filter, I realize that I don’t have as many good friends as I thought. And that’s not a bad thing, because the ones I do have I value even more.

My family member who is a casting agent for the past 30 yrs told me something that still resonates today.
” Everyone wants to ride the limo with you when times are good. But what you want is the friend who will hop on the bus with you and drive when the bus breaks down. Then you will know who your real friends are.” In Hollywood she said ‘Until that happens you will never know who is your real friend. That’s why I don’t envy those who have 1000 friends . I envy those those who have 1-3 good friends because that’s what everyone in this town really wants”

That applies everywhere.