PRE-PRODUCTION JOURNAL


WHY DOES THE DAMN START DATE KEEP CHANGING?

5/23/00

That's an excellent question, and one that many of us in the independent film world ask ourselves all the time.  The answer is complicated, but not that hard to understand.

Making a movie is an exercise in balancing and coordinating hundreds of details: first you have to decide where to film, who to cast, who to hire for the crew.  Then there are innumerable creative and logistical issues -- the shooting style, film stock, choosing costumes, hairstyles and the "look" of the film; how to balance the schedule to accommodate locations and actor availability for the most efficient use of time.  And driving the engine is the financing.

When a studio "greenlights" a film, it reaches into its deep pockets and pays the budget.   For massively expensive films, it will sometimes lay off part of the risk to another studio (see Titanic), but once the decision is made to make the film, it has passed the biggest hurdle -- finding the dough.

 

In the independent film world, it's not that simple.  A ton of movies are made using credit cards or mom and dad's savings, but as soon as you enter the arena of budgets measured in millions of dollars (or substantial fractions thereof), you need to find other sources of funding.   And that's what we're doing now.  Jon is in Los Angeles for three or four weeks attempting to drum up interest in EvenHand and in his new script, In the Pines.  Ideally, we'll sell off  foreign rights to EvenHand or make a deal for post-production financing.

EvenHand poses another challenge as well.  Because its a drama about cops, and because we have a budget that's well under a million dollars, we need to find a city with a police department that will give us full and enthusiastic cooperation.  That means use of the logos, patrol cars, shoulder patches and real cops to work as extras.  We can't afford to create a fictional police department.  Unfortunately, this is a snag we have run into in San Antonio.  While the SAPD is willing to be supportive in many other ways, they have denied our request to use their cars, badges, logos and uniforms.  We are still enthusiastic about filming there, but have been forced to broaden our search to other cities.  We may not find a city with a police department willing to give us what we need, which will probably mean that we figure out how to make it work in San Antonio.  But if we do find another city, EvenHand will be adapted to reflect the character and specific attributes of a new place.

Solving these kinds of problems are part of the fun of making an independent film, but there are always moments where one wonders if all the hurdles can be surmounted and filming can actually begin.  In the meantime, a start date provides something to aim for -- even if it is a moving target...

- Joseph Pierson
 


               

Next: Better Than a Sharp Stick in the Eye


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