Thursday, August 20, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Monday, August 3, 2009
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
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
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?
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.
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.
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).
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' -
- 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
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
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.
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.
Monday, May 25, 2009
So in the middle of me doing pre-pro on this project I'm working on, I came across this video, one which I think is pretty interesting. As you watch it, you totally feel like the directors know what they're doing in terms of how they convey their ideas. Creepy Kubrickian touches. Very good use of camera, art, lighting, editing...using the elements of the medium to the fullest.
I've always felt like if I were fortunate enough to be a working director I'd prefer to do feature films over music videos--which is something I guess everyone thinking they want to direct thinks that they'd want to do...but it's refreshing when a music video does something that you wouldn't expect and incorporates symbolism, social commentary, whatever.
It's also interesting to think that a music video has the potential to be a completely different interpretation of a song from ideas that the musician who recorded it originally intended. I wonder if Christian Rich intended for the song to convey the ideas that the video seems to. Judging from the lyrics, I don't think they did. Interesting, though, overall.
And speaking of music videos--I've been fortunate enough to get the opportunity to produce/direct a video for this kid.
Nyle "Let The Beat Build" from Nyle on Vimeo.
I'm really excited about it--not only because Nyle's next few videos are probably going to be seen by a shitload of people, but because this one will be a piece that's going to let me tell a story, which is something I feel like you don't get the chance to do in most music videos (especially not in hip-hop). There's a lot involved in this piece, but if I can pull it off, which I will, it's going to be dope. Looking forward to it.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
So I'm one of the first that's skeptical about hype, especially when it comes to film, but Cary Fukunaga's (Tisch Grad Film) "Sin Nombre" might possibly be the best film to have been released in 2009 (and I know it's only May). For up-to-date hip-hop heads, I'd say it's the cinematic equivalent of Drake's "So Far So Gone" mixtape--yes, it's that frigging good.
The film follows a young Central American emigrant Sayra (Paulina Gaitan) trying to cross the border into the U.S. via Mexico, only to be sidetracked by a wayward, disenchanted MS-13 gangmember, Willy (Edgar Flores) who helps her along the way.
Sound like a snore-fest? Not in the least. This movie's got sex, gang violence, chase scenes, good old-fashioned vendettas and so on-- not to mention a soundscape so raw and visceral you just might wet your pants (if you're into that kind of thing).
But it's more than that. There were many times while watching that I, myself, even with my vast reservoirs of manliness, was moved to tear up. Sin Nombre is a gangster film with a heart.
Why am I been touting this film so hard? 'Cause man, Wolverine: Origins is amazingly wack and is playing in 3892 screens across the country; Sin Nombre is in 80 and only 1 in NYC: Sunshine. B.S. This film kicks way more ass--from the way that it was made to what's happening on the screen. Aaaand it won the craft awards for Best Directing and Best Cinematography at 2009's Sundance. What the eff does somebody have to do to get some play?
I've been following Fukunaga since way back in high school, when my filmmaking interests just started to bud and I saw him on IFC's Film School, d.p.'ing for Grad filmmaker Alrick Brown's 2nd year project, "The Adventures of Supernigger," grinding, trying to shoot a guerrilla style establishing shot off the Staten Island Ferry in spite of the guards telling them no. Straight Gangster.
Then, he comes back like 4 years later after having done mad research, and does this, a film shot out of the country with local actors, real gang members and apparently (from the nyc q&a) did about a week's worth of shooting on moving trains. Do y'all know how hard it is to get a 35mm camera rig on top of a effing moving train and keep it steady?
I don't. Look at that shit. I might try one day, but for now, I'm just not that gangster.
Anyways, go check this movie out, if you can, especially people in NYC--support your local filmmaker. Save that $14 you would have spent on getting a drink at some crappy bar/lounge/club, smuggle in a turkey melt and go see Sin Nombre.
143 East Houston Street at the Landmark Sunshine in NYC.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
I need to up my graphic/web design game. Just look at my blog.
I need to know bloody dreamweaver, flash, photoshop, illustrator, yadda yadda yadda.
Currently working on a simple business card design (something that should probably not take long but for me will likely take hours) for this thing that's happening in a few weeks--might be meeting some people...old people w/ money. What with my still needing to raise money for my thesis film, I've got to take advantage of any and all opportunities I can get.
Stealing some cues from some people's cards I've collected and am uploading a simple design to this site, which is pretty cheap for making cards. Hopefully they come out all right.
Eventually, I do plan to start a production company of some sort through or at least do business in my name. A business card should be a pocket-sized reflection of your company's vision/brand. Although I think my first one will be a bit generic just for the sake of getting it out there, stumbled upon a site with some pretty crazy ideas for others.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Director/Producer Lee Daniel's (Shadowboxer, Monster's Ball) urban drama about a (developmentally disabled?) young woman trying to overcome parental abuse, rape, etc. Sheesh. Sure impressed Oprah and T.P. enough to pick it up and def. took Sundance by storm this year...looks to be one of '09's sleepers, especially T.P. knows how to leverage whatever he does . With his and Harpo's name on the piece, it's sure to get seen by a lot of eyes.
Shout out to Xosha Rocquemore (Tisch Drama '07) who appears in the trailer playing a classmate that "just wants to get her G.E.D." These Tisch drama kids are about their business. We film kids need to catch up.
Also shout out to Mariah Carey playing a not so glittery looking, raspy-sounding guidance counselor. Didn't see that "Tennessee" piece that she did, but is Mariah trying to get some performance chops?
Now, depending on where you're from, everyone between the ages of 9-21 that I know is pretty much prone to grind, dub, or freak depending on where they're from. In fact, most of us born between the years 1984-1993 most likely grew up on a lot of popular music that involved just moving your body from side to side, making a bitch crawl from a window to a wall, or just plain supersoaking them with skeet. Still, it's not so much the oft-alleged prurient immorality of the dance style that often accompanies such music that I take issue with. After all, much of Afro/Latin dance traditions involve close contact, gyration, undulation, booty shaking, etc. It's just what we do.
Still, my concern lies more in the fact that when I think about the dances that I, as an increasingly grown ass man want to do, I find myself wanting to distance myself from gluteal-crotch contact and do something a bit more sophisticated. All I feel like I know how to do, however, are variations of two-steps, cabbage patches, stanky legs, etc.
Then I remembered "hand dancing," (apparently the D.C. name for it) something I've been wanting to be able to do since I saw one of my exes's parents do way back in the day at some family gathering. My mom being a Bronx-D.C. transplant acted like she didn't know what it was. Still, I'm pretty sure it's just an old school style of dancing, something like stepping and possibly also known as "shag dancing?"
Whatever it is, old folks know how to do it and how to do it well. I started googling stuff after seeing my aunt and uncle do a little in this wedding video I'm still cutting for them (something I've unfortunately put off doing for a while now...smh). Even before my uncle gets to really going around 4-5 seconds, you can see him working in a bit of that old school niceness here in this 8 sec rough clip:
From there, I started youtubing some stuff and started trying it out--hence the shoes:
playing "Back Together Again" by Donny Hathaway and Robert Flack in my room.
Then, I remember having seen my girl Elle Varner (the gurl can sang)
break it out crazily at my man Nyle's house party this past summer. She made me jealous. All that to say...I think I should learn this stuff so I'm not looking like a fool in the future, so that I can look cool as an old man, and so I'm not supersoaking my wife at my wedding, my kids, at family reunions, etc.
I need to find a dance place in BK. Another thing on my neverending list of things to do.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
So yeah. Yesterday I graduated. Today I begin a whole new journey into life: the final frontier. As such, I feel it commensurately important to go see Star Trek in Imax. Dean Campbell delivered some inspiring words for us Tischies (much appreciated when you go out into the world with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree) something by G. Bernard Shaw about jumping, taking chances, etc. It was really cool. I feel like most of the time people don't pursue what they're good at 'cause they're scared. I feel like there's a lot of societal pressure to be perfect and good as an artist, especially in movies, as everything always ends up being presented in this tight little package. Still, people have no idea how much goes into making these things and that it's not the contribution or genius of any one person that makes things work, but rather the collaboration of a team and the fluid, willing exchange of ideas between the people in it.
On another note:
I need a home office, or something like one. I have been up since 5:21 A.M. and have not gotten a damn thing done. Part of the reason I think is that I have this bloody laptop, my macbook pro super-steam engine, sitting on this desk with other things that distract me from my focus. To the left--raisins. To the right, just...a bunch of junk. But I'm a messy guy and I can't help it. Whenever I start writing, which I often do--as with this bloody feature that I'm trying to finish a draft of, once I get blocked, which happens often, I immediately start looking for something else to do...it's like I'm trying to escape from the task at hand. Distractions. That's probably what I should call this blog.
Trying to get locations for Nyle's vid. Got some cool spots I've seen, so far. Need to get some more things rolling, though. We're supposed to shoot in a month and this concept I've got is a bit ambitious.
I wanna shoot here:
I don't know, we'll see. These people have been a bit evasive so far, but you gotta try untiil you just get an outright "no" and always have a plan B. Kind of like pursuing a woman. Anyways, I've got about 10 other spots that I've seen, and about more that I plan to look at...but we need to have an idea by like the end of this week.
Need to have a production meeting and quick. People (including me) have been dragging their feet a bit because of graduation, but we need to kick things into high gear. I get restless when shit doesn't get done.
Speaking of shit needing to get done...I need a bloody job. I can't go back to D.C. Anything happening filmwise is out here, in NYC, or in L.A. D.C. is....just not for me anymore. Just something to sustain myself while I grind.
eh...NYU Careernet...save me.
Need to get moving. That was productive, though, wasn't it?