Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Filmmaking as a desert

So I recently repicked up the book The Fundraising Houseparty by Morrie Warshawski. I read it about two years ago, when I was just starting to take my doc out of the class room and make it a feature. I went to DCTV for a little seminar and tried to pass around my first rough version of a prospectus. I am sure I seemed like an adorable little dreamer unaware of the harsh desert adventure that filmmaking can be. In a way that was true

And now I am stuck in the middle of that desert. I keep telling myself I will hold out and climb just one more dry sandy dune to see if I find water on the other side. I usually dont and , to keep the metaphor going, there is only so much I can keep licking the bottom of my canteen for water. I am looking for a lake and I can't even come up with enough water to fill my canteen right now.

Still, I will climb just a couple more dunes, hang in there with my bare minimum. Who knows, maybe I will find the oasis I am looking for. Between you and me, I think I might.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Adventurous Stranger- The LLC begins...

Adventurous Stranger, LLC.

That is the name of the new humble little production company I just started. It is an LLC, a Limited Liability Corporation, and it is now officially registered and about to be published thanks to my entertainment attorney, Miriam Stern. I have set up the bank accounts associated with my new business, I already started getting mail addressed to "Adventurous Stranger, LLC", I am making a website, my brother is making a logo, I have a movie a I am already making... it is all wonderful.

Now I just need money to
put into the accounts. My potential investors should be calling me very shortly and I am hoping their answer will be, "Yes Christa, we have thought it over and over and we would love to invest in your marvelous film. Our fellow investor friends who we spoke to would also love to pitch in. Who do we write the check to?" and I would say, "Write it to Adventurous Stranger, LLC, please"

The title Adventurous Stranger comes from my signature poem, written by CS Lewis for his book The Magician's Nephew, the first of the Chronicles of Narnia. The poem goes as follows:

Make a choice, adventurous stranger,
strike the bell and bide the danger
or wonder till it drives you mad
what would have followed if you had.

It has been an ins
piration for me for years now, signifying the courage to go for it, even if you are scared, or risk regretting it forever. Don't die wondering, would some it up.

My other choice was "Button Sou
p, LLC". I have often though that the story Stone Soup is a great metaphor for a producer who finds creative solutions even when you get a lot of "no"s and the situation seems dire. Except when told in Spanish it is "Sopa de Boton", basically Button Soup. And I thought that the anecdote of creative problem solving would also be a great ideal upon which to build my budding company.

I am going to write more about my Stone Sou
p metaphor for my other blog, the Down and Dirty DV blog.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Oops... And I though I knew what I was doing

You know, on the other blog I write for, Down & Dirty DV, I have a series that I write on networking. I don't necessarily consider myself a guru, but I think I have a pretty good idea what I am doing, at least more so than most beginner filmmakers I know.

However, I recently realized that I made a huge mistake. I somehow offended someone who I very much wanted to talk to by being overly-conversational. I had no idea! Apparently my attempts to find common ground resulted in what seemed like prying. Oh no! Well, all I can do is go back into the whole thing with my head up high and be as professional as possible.
Here goes nothing.....

Monday, January 18, 2010

How I Saved $3,000 over Christmas

What are your happiest memories worth?

One of the important elements I needed for my documentary was archival footage of my family. We needed to establish my family as it put out roots in Guatemala, as we created the nuclear family I am a part of, as we grew up and loved each other. Luckily we had dozens of home VHS videos of our childhoods. Unluckily they had been kept in a closet in our home in Guatemala where the concrete walls accumulate the humidity of the air, and in turn the tapes were overgrown with mold. They were unusable. All of our childhood treasures lost!

Last time I went to Guatemala I brought all of the moldy tapes up to NYC with me anyway, figuring between Tisch and all of the rest of NYC, there had to be some resource (maybe in the 411 Guide?) about how to restore and fix tapes suffering from this malady. I did my research and found out that the only place in New York that did this, the only post house that had these hi-tech devices to fix archaic tapes, was Deluxe. And that the cost was $100 a tape.
Um... I had $30 tapes. What I did not have was $3,000.

However, then I told my dad my dilemma. Being a member of my family, he had a different interest in the tapes totally unrelated to filmmaking. He told me to ship some of the tapes down to Bradenton, FL, where my parents now live, and that he would try to clean them one by one by hand.

I loved it. It was wonderful. When I went down for Xmas I brought down all the tapes with me. And, since my dad got laid off, he now had a lot of extra time on his hands to fix the rest of the tapes. I could see his VHS-cleaning methods myself.

It was a wonderful mix of homemade contraptions run on the power of human hands and power drills. It involved paintrollers and wood, kitchen spoons and about 4 VCR's, whole and functioning or in parts. A truly unique method that nonetheless did the job.

So my dad kept his hands busy, I saved myself $100 or every tape he cleaned, we were able to enjoy Christmas watching old home videos.

As my dad said, it was a real box of chocolates with these tapes because most of these tapes were not labeled, and the ones that were were either illegible due to the mold, or provided very little context. So we never knew what we were going to get when we popped in a tape. Sometimes tapes that took a long time to clean ended up being old recordings of kids TV shows. But then there were some gems.

My brother's second birthday where he was afraid of his pinata. My christening! I was adorable. My house while it was being built (gold for my documentary!) with shots of my mom looking so different thanks to 80's fashion that my sister and I didnt recognize her. My sister's music class Nutcracker show, and a wonderful documentary we made about our pets in 1994 where we show and talk about our horses, macaws, parrots, parraqueets, peacocks, chickens, geese, cat, dogs, fish, etc etc etc.

I found a lot of material that I can use for my film, and that is great. But seeing the videos made us all nostalgic for a time when my siblings and I were having a beautiful childhood in a beautiful home.

I Work All Day So I Can Work All Day

Monday, Jan 18, New York, NY.
Today is a holiday- MLK day. That doesn't really make that much of a difference to me. Not that MLK day is not important, no that's not what I mean. I just mean that weekdays, weekends, holidays... they all are the same to me. I am unemployed at the moment and therefore have no consistent schedule, and yet I always seem to have things to do. Lots of things to do. Where would I even fit in a job if I had one?!

In any case, this Blog is way way overdue. I have been making this film for over two years now! How on earth I fit in film school in between producing and directing it I am not sure. And yet here I am, two years later- I have all my footage, I have explored and changed and mined my story until I found the essence of what I wanted to tell. I got a grant, I have a great crew, I have a website and I just started a blog. Now I spend my days applying to Tribeca All Access, Tribeca Gucci Doc Fund, Chicken & Egg, IFp filmmaker labs, IFp spotlight on Docs, Sundance Doc Fund, ITVS, etc etc etc etc e t c ee tt cc etc.

I pay each time I want to apply to one of these, all for the hopes of getting money because I dont have any and I can hardly afford to pay the application fees. I stay home and do all of this instead of work because I am stuck in a catch 22:
I either get a job and spend most of my time at work in order to get enough money to inch this film forward bit by bit, or I live off my thin savings and scrape the bottom of my bank accounts while I put all my efforts into getting money, so that I can then spend all my time working on my doc, like I already do, but actually move the doc forward, actually not starve, actually pay people. So I work on my doc all day so that I can eventually work on my doc all day. What a conundrum.