Adventureland: Working With The Team

Pt 2 (of 3) of my NY Film Academy discussion on Adventureland. Mostly about the release, and what it was like about working with the various cast and crew. There is a fair amount on working in the studio system, at least what little I know about it...

Hope For The Future pt. 4: The List #'s 14 -17

My goal was to provide my friends, collaborators, and co-conspirators 52 Reasons Not To Feel Glum About The State Of Film Culture, and precisely that sector of independent art film culture I call Truly Free Film.  I figured with the economy in the toilet, traditional media stepping into the grave, and a business leader or politician being revealed as a crook daily, we didn't need more gloom poured on.

I didn't think I would have to do build the list alone though.  Isn't that part of the glory of the whole blogosphere?  That people collaborate?  I started the list and kept on adding to it until we go 25% there, hoping that the list would then write itself.  It didn't.  
I guess that is the bad news: either people don't like to participate or that the film world is a bunch of pessimists.  If you know which one it is, let me know.
The good news is that I had no problem completing the list solo.  Granted it took about an hour, but I stopped when I got to Number 52.  Taking it further might make us giddy.  As this year winds down, we can rest knowing we have many reasons to be cheerful.
And so, I continue this list in no particular order.  When I approach its end, I will provide it somewhere, if someone wants it, in its entirety, with an ordered logic and some other tasty filler.  But for now...

14. We have seen a perfect distribution model and its success: the Obama social network was nothing short of a thing of beauty. Its methods should be an inspiration for all truly free filmmakers. People had a reason to visit the site, to supply information, to reach out and connect to others. They were supplied the tools and a mission. Now go out and find someone to vote for the culture you want.

15. The DIY/Do It With Others model is now recognized as a real alternative to traditional make-it-and-pray-that-others-will-pay-to-distribute-it-for-you. Filmmakers are planning for it as a possibility from the start of production. This preparation becomes the key to success.

16.Filmmakers are recognizing the need to define their platform at early stage AND make it on-going. Be they producers like Bill Horberg or Jane Kosek , directors like Raymond DeFelitta and Jon Reiss ,or writers like John August and Dennis Cooper, creative filmmakers are taking upon themselves to find and unite their audiences at an earlier stage in the process. Okay, maybe it isn’t so Machavellian; maybe they just want to talk to people. Either way, it is going to lead to more people seeing better films.

17. A curatorial culture is starting to emerge. Creative communities need filters. Every year I have as many “want to see” films on my list as I do “best of”. It’s not that there is too much as some like to claim, but it’s that there is still too little discussion on what is best and why. We started Hammer To Nail (soon to debut in a new & improved form!) for this reason, but we are not alone. Although they tread in much different waters, popular email blasts/broadcasts like Daily Candy and Very Short List, these sites work as much as filters as they do identifiers. Social Networks most popular features are members “favorites” in their profiles. We are all being trained as curators, but are only now starting to share it publicly.

What's wrong with these people?

I was complaining again. I know what I love. I know what I want to see. Unfortunately it aligns all too rarely with the film industry's main desires. Along these lines, Bill Horberg and I were emailing back and forth about our pursuit to bring Edwidge Danticat's The Dew Breaker to the screen. Bill remarked:

Art House has become everyone's favorite perjorative. And we don't get to say "probably too mall for me."

I love that. People generally only want to see ambitious films once they are already made and some critic -- if they haven't all been fired from their jobs -- shames them into wanting to see it. It gets worse at the level of gatekeeper and financier: if you quiz them about their favorite film, it generally is something quite beautiful and aiming high.  They seem to forget why they got into this business -- to make films that are as ambitious as their favorites.  The hard economics of this craft leaves everyone shaken and skittish.  Yet you can marry great material to reasonable budgets.  Unique worlds, original characters, dramatic and truthful situations -- these will always be what makes up great films.  But money is afraid that all people want to see is escape.  They also want to be transported, transformed.  They want to appreciate their lives and to aspire to more.  They want to recognize themselves in others whom lives are quite different.  They want to see their stories told.  Ah, well.  I am going to keep trying.

Bill is a very witty and passionate guy. It's quite rare for a producer, if I do say so myself. You should definitely check out his blog.

We will get this movie made. It's just too good not to. And its coming together nicely.  Stay tuned.