Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dead Weather Vid

engrossing in a very strange way.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fuckin' Music Video, Dudes.

A still from "Fuck a Nice Guy."

One young man's career may hang in the balance. My hopes of doing another music video might, as well. Why? I've got to follow this.

Nyle "Let The Beat Build" from Nyle on Vimeo.

Logging and capturing as we speak.

Monday, August 3, 2009


I'm so busy that it's not even funny.

Music Video in 2 weeks. My Wannabe Opus of a cop drama in 6.

Don't know whether I'm getting school insurance for the latter, but I need it.

The former is coming together really well. Why? Because Nyle Emerson is a talented ass artist. I've been banging his shit since his EP released like last week, and not just because I had to contrive a shot list from it. Fantastic tunes. Fantastically talented band. Great nouveau-old-school flow. The thing I like about it is that so much of it speaks to his trying to make a way for himself and for his art--for his mode of expression. He's hungry and I dig that. I know exactly what that's like. We vibe well, so I think it'll be a good collaboration. It'll never be "Let the Beat Build," but I have a feeling it's going to be good.

Things are coming together in a good way. In a big way. It'll be the biggest thing I've directed since...for quite some time. Feeling lively, looking forward to things.

The short, "A Reasonable Doubt," which incidentally has the same title as a wack-looking feature film starring Michael Douglas, is a bit more of a challenge and has been a daunting one at that, but everyone I've talked to--my actors, my peers, are like, "yo, you're a good writer, it's a good story." And it's encouraging when your school is about to short you $1,500+ worth of free equipment and $1,000 worth of liability insurance, in a recession no less. Still, I'm going to do it. I have to. I've been talking about the shit for too long. It's time to get it out into the universe.

It's going to happen--it's a fact that you have to acknowledge. The thing is that you can't be scared of it. It's coming and you've just gotta be ready to rise to meet the occasion and be willing to go the distance that it takes to surmount any obstacles which come along the way. Sounds like some cliched motivational speaking, but it's realer than anything. Just gotta do it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hell and High Water

1st we lose our equipment insurance 'cause some asshole leaves $140,000 worth of prime lenses in an unattended van in front of school.

What does that mean? Every time you go to get equipment, you have to have a certificate of insurance that you can present to the rental place so that they know that if you fuck up their equipment, there's some way that you can actually pay for it. Now that we have no insurance, we have to pay for it ourselves--another expense out of pocket.

$300 - for about $25,000 worth of equipment through college student insurance, which would probably be enough for most shoots if not for the added necessity of prime lenses--basically interchangeable lenses with a fixed focal length--kind of essential.

the next option --

$1000 - for about $1,000,000 worth of equipment

Then, no more than 3 months later (and this shit isn't even funny) another kid is electrocuted to death on set. He'd graduated just two weeks before.

So now what happens? Now we've got to submit our production info to an administrative committee that will scrutinize every element of our production to ensure that we're not endangering anyone's safety. Until we submit that information to the administration, we get no dates guaranteed.

That's all well and fine, but it's really putting a kink in my plans. I need my production dates so that I can tell my actors, crew, everybody, when and where to be. Trouble is, we'll apparently have to tell the administration who all of these people are in order to get the dates in the first place. A severe catch-22. Not only that, but--

My equipment list, info about stunts, cast, crew, social security #, blood type, favorite food, pastime, sexual orientation, etc. etc.

I need my goddamn dates, damn it.

Probably blowing a bit out of proportion, but there shouldn't be any reason to delay. I'm aiming for the 2nd or 3rd week of September. I'm shooting the 2nd or 3rd week of September, come hell or high water.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Money Woes--

So I'm broke. Just like everyone else in this damn economy, I'm broke. And I need to raise what looks to be about 7-8K for a film. Now $7-8k, that doesn't seem like it'd be that much. A grad student matter-of-factly remarked to me recently that that's "only 10 people giving you about 7 or 8 hundred dollars."

Yeah, that's it. 'Cept it doesn't seem like I can name one that can even give me $200. So where does that leave me?

The high volume approach--hit as many people as I can as soon as I can and as fast as I can.

It's shrapnel logic. The shotgun approach. You shoot out enough material and something's gotta stick. It's gotta. The means?

Grants, family/friends and of course, the ill-fated last resorts.


As a result of the credit crunch, a bunch of film art related grants are out of commission for this fiscal year. Fortunately, however, a few remain.

I've applied for two grants already--one through school, the other through a private foundation, both of which (were I fortunate enough to get either) would be disbursed after my production's done. So that's...well, that's tough. But if I were fortunate enough to be awarded either, it would be nice to have some dough on hand for reimbursements, post, film festivals, etc. Applying for another--the app's due the 19th of July and I don't have shit else to do. But a day job, go to the gym, read Zadie Smith (currently my favorite author of all time by far--clever as hell) and watch movies, so why not?

Then there's--

People Whose Businesses I/My Fam Has Patronized in the Past That I Would Hope Might Be Able to Help a Brotha Out--

Now these aren't just any people. These are people I've been seeing for various ailments, maladies and check-ups for years. But will they cut a brotha a tax-deductible check? Doesn't seem like it.

Not like I expected all of them to help, but damn.

The endocrinologist I've been seeing since I contracted a thyroid disorder/Mono on Valentine's Day '07--didn't think we'd have developed a substantial enough rapport to warrant my solicitation. Did I try? Hell yes.

Worst they can say is no.

He says he'll think about it. Call again. He says he'll refer me to his nephew, who "knows about these things."

I know what that means, but that's cool. I like the guy, he owes me nothing. I mean, no one really owes me anything, but certain other people? I kind of feel entitled.

For example,

The guy that's been managing and getting commission off of my mother's stock portfolio since who knows when? You could give a little bit. At least if you're not, don't tell me you'll "look over my materials" and then not answer my phone calls when I try to correspond.

The dentist my mom and I have been seeing loyally for 10+ years even though he always has his appointments running late, like an hour + late? The dude my mom just gave $1000 to this past winter when I broke a tooth being a meathead doing an upright row at my Manhattan gym and went back to while visiting MD because I didn't have an NYC dentist?

--I go home Spring Break--slap the prospectus down, dude says he's real interested, seems generally interested, says he'd cut me a check if he had the cash...he gives me his "#," tells me to call him in two weeks to see when "things are better." No answer.

Call back again.
No answer.
No answer.

See him again about a month ago on a visit home, drop by his office like, "what's good," drop off my business card in front of his secretary, who I ask to tell him to call me...she says she will.

On the way out, I see his face in the office, we wave to each other, and I leave, 'cause he's backed up with appointments that have run past schedule (as always).

Call again.
And I visited this guy for 10 years.

So you can see why I trust no one, not until there's some money in the bank. I would like to hope I can trust--

Family and Friends -

Probably the only hope I have.

- Fundraiser parties - Have seen some of my peers do these in bars around Manhattan--drink special deals and what not, but I'm just like--is it really worth the time/effort and the expense with respect to potential money earned? You can't really make but so much. Dunno. Maybe I should investigate. Gotta say, though, I just don't like I'm feeling in people's debt. You know what I mean?

- Direct tax-deductible donations - hells yeah. I'm tax-deductible, and that's cool and what not, but what happens when no one you know seems to have any money? Well, hell, I guess you're just s.o.l. But I don't know that I've tried hard enough. People I know know people with money. Sort of. The trouble is finding those who might be moved enough by my tenacity, my seeming passion, my rugged good looks, whatever, to let a little liquid slip my way.

- soliciting issues - The trouble mostly is that all my money--that is, all the people I know with money, are back in the DC/MD/VA "erea," where I'm from. It's hard enough trying to convince people you haven't spoken with to shell out some money in exchange for a tax-deduction in person, let alone when they're 225 miles away. Then there comes the whole issue of how they can even get the material in their hands from that distance.

Full color copies of a 20 pg prospectus @ Kinkos = $20 + Shipping costs = Not worth it.
50MB prospectus sent via gmail - doesn't work for most internet mail clients
50MB prospectus posted on a free ftp site such as zshare, media-fire or whatever - befuddles most relatives that are over the hill

The most cost/time effective-solution?

Put it right in their hands. Everybody's at least gotta have a computer they or someone else can show them to in this day and age.

Throw the prospectus on CD and mail it out people with a letter of intent. You gotta throw it right up in their faces and pray that they're moved. To their wallets, bank accounts, change purses, anything. For the love of God and young Black men trying to be productive with their lives. There are allegedly only a handful of us, after all! For the love of Barack Obama, for goodness's sakes! And WWOD? He would give to Tahir Jetter.

So yeah. And from there, it's in their hands. So that's the new move.

I'm revamping my list of people to hit up. I have about 70 stamps. 100 padded envelopes. Ain't no time like the present.

Then there are other options--the less desirables.

Pay for it Myself

Why not? It's my damn film. I'm taking the risk. Why shouldn't I. And best believe I will.
Probably going to be what happens, anyway. I have a job, so with some budgeting and some soon-to-be frugal living, I'm going to be putting each little bit extra that I have into this thing. It'll probably make me feel a lot more accountable for the choices I make in pre-production and therefore a lot less prone to bullshit.

I am determined not to have my parents pay for this thing, not that they really could even if they wanted. My mother loves me and I love her too, but she's enabled me to get over on some things in certain ways that haven't been good for her--namely with her dipping into her own funds to finance my last film and that's not cool.

As a man, I think I need to take responsibility for myself, no matter what happens. Even if it means my impeccable credit rating has to take a temporary dive. I was born to be indebted. I'll pay it back. Hell, Obama didn't make his money back until he wrote two bestsellers near the age of 40. I've got time.

And even more options.

The Options that I Sometimes Toy With--Objectifying Myself--It Gets a Little Silly Here, but--

I don't care who you are. Every broke ass filmmaker has at least thought of pursuing these avenues for quick and/or easy money.

- Whorin' -

Totally entertained ideas of pursuing lonely, lovelorn Upper East Side women and serving as the noble, eloquent Mandingo that validates their liberal leanings and makes them feel as though they're "giving back."

But as with any entrepreneurial endeavor, this approach begs the question of how to identify clientele.

- Strippin' -

As much as I'd like to think I'd like to think I've got it going on, I'm pretty sure I'd be more awkward on stage than a recently birthed fawn.

- Robbin' -

Too risky.

- Sperm Donations -

Now this is something I've really been thinking about. A buddy of mine's actually been doing this now for about nine months, I think and has himself apparently already put the bulk of his spooge funds toward financing a project himself.

Supposedly it's like $500-$800/month for two cups/week but the downside is that when you do come in you have to have a full load. That means rearranging certain other activities that one might have going on. Also, it takes the cryoharvesters like 6 months before they start to actually pay you. But that first wad of dough is bound to be pretty nice if you've been coming faithfully. So to speak.

But could I really deal with having miniature Jetters running around the earth? Sure, by sharing one of my most precious resources, I'd be helping people, but what if one of my little implanted seeds recognized me one day on the street? Like, what would I do, really? The genes are too strong to be denied. Of course, that's not the main issue. Somewhere along the more traditionally weaved lines of my moral fiber it's been instilled in me that that stuff is mine and that to just give it away for free is to somehow be playing with nature, or God, or what have you. Sure could use that $500-800 bucks though. And just for nutting? Why, I could buy a camera.

I don't know. We'll see what happens in the weeks to come. In the mean time...


Grant App due July 19th
Revamp Prospectus for Massive Family/Friend Solicitation


More forthcoming.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


The music vid was supposed to direct got pushed back until further notice, which is cool with me considering I have a bunch of other shit on my plate.

I've recently been hired--which is a gigantic weight off of my mind. Everyone know appears to eitehr be broke, searching for a job, or working earnestly just to keep the one that they have. It's a rough economy.

Still, even with that aside, I've got to get over the massive hurdle of shooting my bloody thesis film, which I was supposed to do in April but had to push back to September as a result of my failing to get the money necessary for production.

The only expenses I really need to make?

Food -- I'm thinking a crew of 15-18 - $100/day?
Car -- a Black Ford Crown Vic - about $120/day

The bulk of the budget will likely be in--

Camera Stuff --depends on what I can swing for free


Grip & Electric - The bane of the producer's existence on a night exterior shoot. Why? 'Cause it's dark as hell and if you've got wide shots, you have to be concerned with how much depth there is in your image. So how much will I be spending? Who the hell knows? To be honest, I'm really down to make this shit look gritty (I think it'll really sell edgy-noir-cop drama) even if that means just working with what street light affords us in the wides, amping up the gain and shooting on a camera like the Sony EX-1, which apparently has a sensor that performs really well in low-light.

But jeah. Can't afford to be spending all that damn money on stadium quality HMI's to light the wides, but might get a few for close-ups, etc.

For production--
On the low end, I'm estimating - $5-7K
On the high, hopefully no more than $7-10, which is quite a bit of $$.

Revisited my site the other night just to check it hadn't usurped by some faceless corporation and made into a factory, although it might in a couple of weeks-months. But so far, I think it's perfect. Quiet as hell, not a lot of traffic and really creepy. Check the pic for a possible reference -- (was dickin around in photoshop for a monochromatic noir style treatment I'm thinking about going with in color correction)

My biggest fears--

- Rain on a Night Exteror Shoot. If I get rained out, I just might be fucked and might possibly have to do a reshoot. There is nothing worse than having to do a reshoot because of weather when you are broke and are getting virtually everyone to work for free. Nothing. It's like 1.5-2x the cost of your estimated budget.

I've had to do it before on "The Learning Curve," the first film I ever attempted and never quite finished--a massive failure which has borne down on my consciousness like a celluloid tumor since the fall of 2007, my intermediate film, one which I've incidentally had to revisit in an effort to get grant $$ for "A Reasonable Doubt."

It's a fish out of water story about a guy trying to connect with a girl from the other side of the tracks and finding that his own class prejudices and elevated sense of self is more of a barrier to their getting together than anything else--oh yeah, those things and the fact that she happens to have a boyfriend.

It's an autobiographical piece that I'm pretty sure had a lot to do with my own feelings of alienation from a lot of other people in the Black community I'd come into contact with since having moved to New York, a general sense of alienation from the Big Apple itself and a satirical treatment of my own sometimes sense of elitism. I don't think I fully understood this when doing the piece, but I think if I had, I might have done a lot of things differently.

But, excuses, excuses, excuses. It was the biggest crew of people I'd ever worked with (18), really my first time crewing and I was way in over my head. But since then, I've worked on a lot more shoots, seen other people fuck up and feel confident that my new film will kick ass.

If it doesn't, I'll be out about 10-15G's. But that's fine. I'm already in debt. I'm pumping everything I can muster--time, $$, etc. into this thing because I believe in it and you've gotta take some risks in this business to get anywhere. Otherwise, I'm just working a day job, something I'll have the rest of my life to do.

So as soon as I get these production dates from my professor, I'm confirming the cast--the majority of which I auditioned back in the Spring (thank God), sending out new prospectuses and trying to weasel as much $$ out of people as I can. I've still got time. The worst thing anyone can say is "no" and after months of fundraising, I've become all but immune to hearing that now.

I've got to get this thing done and I will. It might just be great. It might not, either, but scared money don't make none.

More forthcoming.