Friday, April 29, 2011

The Next One...

I've been so fortunate with the success that Enter the Dark has had so far: screenings around the world, great reviews and multiple awards.  More importantly, people really seem to respond to it and have encouraged me to keep going.  And therein lies the problem.  That dreaded sophomore slump.  It's time to start writing the next one.

With Enter the Dark, my main goal was simply to finally finish something.  I've been very good at coming up with ideas in my lifetime, and horrible at actually finishing any one of them.  I purposely made this goal embarrassingly easy to accomplish - shooting it in my own house, with my friends, with gear we already owned.  No excuses.  If I couldn't complete a short film under those circumstances, I never would and I should just accept that fact.  Fortunately with the great help of my friends, we did indeed steam forward and not only finished the project, but made a pretty darn good one as well.


But now, things are different.  This time, there can be no excuses - no conditions.  It's not enough to say, "Hey, isn't this pretty good considering we did this with no money and it was just me and my buddies?"  No, this time it has to stand on its own.  This short film has to be good enough that it could be shown to anyone and they would assume it was a Hollywood-produced film.  The story, acting, camerawork, lighting, art direction, sound design and everything else all have to be top-notch.  It has to be seamless - no excuses.

And why is that - you may ask.  Well, it's simple - this has to be my calling card.  There's no more goofing around.  If I'm to ever make it in this industry - to actually fulfill my little ol' BA in Cinema from S.F. State University, then the time is now.  This project has to be good enough for someone to look at and say, "Wow, this guy's good - let's give him a couple million and see what he can do with an actual budget.  Let's give him a feature film to direct."

There, I said it - that's what I ultimately want to do.

So, you tell me, how can anyone actually produce good art under those pressures?  You see, I have to play a game with myself - to forget what my goals are and just concentrate on the task at hand - writing a great story.  But it has to be a story that not only speaks to me, but that enables me to showcase my talents as a writer/director.  It has to be small enough so it is do-able (considering I still will have almost no budget), but big enough to explore inventive ideas. 

In short, I need to produce a tiny, perfect gem of a story that will be the seed to my future.  No pressure there…


I'm stuffing myself with movies, pouring over M.C. Escher prints and reading Borges' Labyrinths to hopefully have all this wash over me so that some of its brilliance may somehow seep into my pores.  But I know I need to find my own true voice - I cannot allow myself to try to write to please others.  Only by making the story personal will it connect with others on a deeper level.  The things that work in Enter the Dark work because they feel authentic.  I must focus on that.

The good news is I think I've found the story - the architecture around which I may be able to create my film.  I still need to flesh out the details, breathe life into the characters, find the heart - but I think I've found the vessel.  Now, if I can just make the damned thing float!

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