Friday, July 2, 2010

Our Next Project

Some days my mind is filled with ideas for our next project.  Too many ideas, in fact.  They cease to keep coming while I'm trying to focus on the project at hand.  It gets annoying because I want to focus on finishing this project, but new ideas keep coming out of nowhere until the day comes when I want to sift through those ideas to find the good ones.  Then they have all mysteriously evaporated.  It's beyond frustrating.

Thankfully, a certain tip from one of our friends, Doc, whom you might remember from the digitizing of mini-DV tapes at the beginning of this adventure, has stuck with me.  He's been doing this a lot longer than I have, and always seems to give great advice when I need it most. 

When we first got started, Doc told me that the project would send me on an emotional roller coaster ride.  There would be highs, lows and some points at which you might want to vomit.  (True, true, and true.)  He also told me that ideas will come while you're in the middle of working on the project.  He recommended that I not indulge them, but write them all down as fast as possible, and then get back to the task at hand.  It is this advice that replays in my mind each time a new idea comes while I'm working on Abandoned Allies.  I have a list of very unorganized ideas, but they are at least captured on paper.

Recently, Surry and I had some time to sit and talk about this project and what might happen next.  (He, too, always provides sage advice when I need it most.  I'm a lucky woman to be surrounded by such smart people.)  We talked at great length about the work left on Abandoned Allies, the process for completion, and what will happen after post-production wraps.  We also talked about the next film(s), and developed a list of criteria for selecting an idea.  He helped me feel that it's not too soon to start going down the list of ideas to find one that I could live with for a long time, something that would be a great second film.  I've started thinking about it in greater detail, but will have nothing to report for quite some time.

In other conversations, a few people have been curious to know if I would tackle another film.  A family member asked if this project had scared me away from filmmaking.  Ha!  Hardly.  These are thoughts that never crossed my mind. I believe filmmaking is something I am meant to do and I hope there are many more films for me after this one is completed. 

There are at least two or three documentary ideas I'd like to tackle immediately, and I keep finding old screenplay ideas I'd like to further develop and produce.  That might seem a bit lofty, knowing how long I've spent on this one project; however, with some creative financing and having a team in place from the get-go, I think I could move much faster on the next one.  I think with some of those things in place, the experience would be a much more balanced, healthier one.  That could mean I would improve my skills as a leader, therefore enabling my team to be happier, more fruitful and possibly even paid.

Interesting, too, are the ideas that others are pitching to me.  I'm always grateful when someone takes the time to share an idea with me, because it's obviously something they found interesting.  It's typically an idea they've carried with them for a while, and they want to see it come to life on screen.  They are usually knowledgeable and passionate about the subject matter, too, so I end up learning something new.  Having ideas pitched to me is such a delight!  It further develops my love for the business/production end of filmmaking.

In the meantime, I keep reading about filmmaking, festivals, and distribution so we can figure out our next steps.  Blogger Eric Sherman posted a two-part article about "The Sophomore Jinx" on filmmakers.  I'm so grateful to have read his thoughts on the matter because it gave me things to think about before we finish Abandoned Allies.  You can read Part I and Part II online if you want to read them, too.  I'm finding a balance between reading about filmmaking, business and the subject matter of our film.

While we've not found the one idea for our next project just yet, I know it must be right around the corner.  I now recognize how lucky I was to have the idea for Abandoned Allies take shape so easily. 

Sprinting Through Peanut Butter

During the past few weeks I have found myself willing to share much less of my life online, for one reason or another.  This means you've heard less from me about the progress of the film, and for that I am sorry.  These past few weeks have come with some adjustments and delightful adventures in my personal life.  They make for some great stories, many of which I will refrain from sharing here because a lady needs a certain level of privacy in her life, don'tcha think?

Once upon a time, I might have considered myself a social media evangelist.  That hasn't changed too much, but I have retreated from so much of my social media activities.  I rather miss it, but also feel quite lucky to have people like Alena Koch to manage the Abandoned Allies Twitter and Facebook accounts.  It is a great help in keeping me focused on finishing the film.

Progress with the film continues to move forward, if ever so slowly.  It is a test of patience, for sure.  I find myself ready to sprint, when a slow and steady pace is required.  A zero-dollar budget will make you a creative producer-director, but it doesn't allow you to move too quickly.  As they say, "Money talks."

Nevertheless, we are moving forward and that's a great feeling.  I've been putting the Super 8 film in place, and can hardly begin to describe how enamored I am with the footage because (a) it is free, (b) it was shot in Vietnam during the war, and (c) the subject matter is almost directly on target with what we need.  More footage would be truly helpful, and I'll work in that direction once some other matters are put to rest.

Surry shot the Super 8 film in Vietnam while he served as a Green Beret.  He handed it over to me in our first year of production, which started a grand (two-year long) adventure in getting it digitized.  I'll forever be grateful to Skip Elsheimer of A/V Tech Geeks for helping us convert the film. It is one huge task to check off of the to do list.

Always seeking help with video editing, I am also grateful to Todd Tinkham for showing me a few tricks in FCP recently.  I am getting the film in as good a shape as possible before Todd takes another look at it in the coming weeks.  Having meetings like this one scheduled helps keep me motivated and moving forward.  I'm a girl who likes deadlines.  There are a few other private screening events to schedule with the team, and that will also keep me motivated while editing.

Some of my self-imposed deadlines have been missed, though, and this is incredibly painful for me.  Some of these missed deadlines have been out of my own control.  Some of them were fairly unreasonable, too.  Don't read anything into these statements, though.  This is all a learning process for me, and I simply want to document it so that the next attempt will be much better.

One of the things that attracts me to filmmaking is the team effort that's involved.  You and your teammates learn to dance with one another over time.  This is why, I think, filmmakers work on so many projects together.  They've learned to communicate efficiently.  They know and understand each other's personality quirks, unspoken expectations, and creative minds.  They learn to work well together, and so they keep working together.  In the end, they can say a lot with very little which helps them move faster or even take bigger risks because they trust each other.  This is true in improvisation.  This is likely to be true in the military.  The experiences lead to trust, which leads to acts of collaboration, which can likely lead to big and fascinating results.

Filmmaking is a collaborative art form unlike any other, in my own opinion.  I'm working with some of the most talented, passionate people I've ever met and that's absolutely wonderful; simultaneously, I recognize that people are motivated by financial rewards.  I do hope that we can raise money for the next film in order to help it move along a bit faster. 

I find myself very anxious at this point, ready to sprint toward the finish line so I can share the film with you.  Patience.  Patience.  Sprinting through peanut butter will get you nowhere.  It's better to take your time, do it right, and end up with a piece of work you're proud to share.  Of course, the end is in sight.  And I look forward to crossing the finish line.

More to come...