So you're back... from outer space.
To the glorious, steadfast, and handsome TFAB team:
As I've been getting a lot of questions lately to the tune of "are you still making the movie?" I just want to put all fears to rest.
The short answer is a resounding YES. Until further notice, we are alive and kicking. The longer update, which also explains our absence, follows below.
If you're tired and don't want to read through to the end, please know that we took a step back from filming in order to let some essential character development (ie Landry growing up) happen, and to earn a little more cash through traditional routes (ie "work") in order to continue funding the film as well.
Landry has completed his first official year at the conservatory, and is doing better than ever. His voice is at 150% of where it was before his snafu last year, and the mandatory voice rest just may have been a blessing in disguise, as he's hitting notes he was never able to reach before. He's excited to begin his second year in the fall, and his professors are beaming with pride, specifically saying to Landry: "Stop feeling like you don't belong here, because this is exactly where you belong."
Now for the longer story:
Since my update last year, I moved back to the States after 5 years in Italy, and started working post haste, to make sure we could continue to fund more shoots in the future. I guess I was working so much that I forgot to let you all in on the trip that happened in December! But that American paycheck paid off, as I was FINALLY able to bring our outrageously talented Director of Photography, Luke Sauer, with me on this 7th (!) shoot in The Hague, where we filmed for about 10 days. As always, his eye for beautifully composed shots did not fail us, which you can see in the production stills below.
While I am very proud of the work we did there, it became clear that Landry was hanging out in some serious limbo, and, as a result, the material we got (while absolutely stunning) did not exactly reflect growth in Landry's character. So, something had to give: either we had to restructure the film, or wait out this "awkward phase".
Ultimately, Elaine and I decided to do both.
In terms of the film itself, we recognized the narrative we were presenting was not the film we were actually making: one about the human experience. Without going into too much detail, Landry's human experience, and the growth I mentioned earlier, meant a real struggle with his sense of agency. When we started filming, Landry was perfectly comfortable letting others make decisions for him, and was not exactly participating in his own destiny. But, I believe, you can only get so far in your creative and artistic development if you are afraid to set your own rules, to fail on your own, and to be responsible for your actions.
The problem was, Landry needed to figure that out for himself - of course he got a lot of encouragement from us and his friends, but in the end it was up decide what kind of a man, and artist, he wanted to be.
If this seems vague, it's because it is. I can't discuss everything that he was working through, but I can say that in the months that have passed since our last shoot with him, it seems to me that he is taking momentous steps towards gaining his independence. Of course, with that comes the fear of failure and the need for accountability to himself. We've been in touch often, and I can honestly say that, as his surrogate "big sister", I am really proud of him and what he is accomplishing. If all goes according to plan, I'll be catching up with him again in The Netherlands before the year ends, camera in tow.
Though I'm not really supposed to share (shhhh), I wanted to let you guys in on some comments we received from one of the grants we applied to. Unfortunately we didn't get the grant, but made it really far - far enough that they broke their own rules and sent us some of the reviewers' comments. My favorites are:
"Landry is amazing and I was rooting for him the moment he appeared on screen. The production values are stunning and the film is filled with so much compassion and inherent drama. Love that it's a story about an African that isn't about crisis, and love the character and the overall style."
"I thought the visuals were arresting and it was a very creative approach to filmmaking."
"Beautifully put together, sparks of visual flair and creativity, a real potential for a story that can sustain 90 minutes, a character I want to watch and a greater depth to the story both politically and personally."
So, please, give yourselves a round of applause, a footbath, an expensive cocktail - whatever you do to treat yoself - because, in case you forgot, absolutely NONE of this could have happened without you. YOU did this. For serious. (I'm crying now...)
I am really excited about the new developments, and I think we are going to have a very honest portrait of an artist when all is said and done. The waiting game is a maddening one, but sometimes I look over your names and remember where we started: with a simple idea, and the hope that people would like it enough to join us on this journey. Each and every one of you is an integral part of this film, and the reason that I believe so much in it. So, again:
To the OG backers of this project: Thank you, from the bottom of my overflowing heart.
Until next time, you can laugh at my horrible singing in the video below.