It began between places, of course. Bouncing from Los Angeles to Chicago to New York.
I've been obsessed with film sets since I first stepped on one two years ago; the hierarchy, the pragmatism, the blue collar feel of lugging equipment and making days. It was all fascinatingly specific to me, and remarkably far from the one-man-show I anticipated. On my first set I didn't even know who the Director was because the First Assistant Director was doing such a good job managing. It was practical, empirical even, with its scheduling almost predictable to the minute.
I was working in Los Angeles as a casting assistant and crossing my fingers that a short I had written called Irene & Marie would get made. Living on a budget, I stayed in a lot of nights, ate Trader Joe's tortellini, and watched every episode of The Wire in just two weeks. I looked at the actors and thought, "Man, I'd love to work with them." I made a list titled Actors I Want to Work With and listed everyone from George Clooney to my theater buddies of DePauw University Delaney Williams who played Sgt. Jay Landsman on The Wire.
One of my friends was the talented First Assistant Director I spoke of earlier. He always had stories to tell of actors, directors, parties he'd been to or heard about. I thought, "when I'm telling someone about a good movie, one of those good movies of the 70's and 80's, I don't tell them what it was about - I tell them what HAPPENED." How would I write a good movie? I'd tell it.
It stopped there. A monologue, a script with one man telling one story in between "rolling!" and "cut!" I read it to a few friends at parties. They encouraged me.
"This isn't a story that's being told. Anywhere. It's not a half-assed genre film that wishes it were a feature film. It's a short. A pure and simple short about a world people want to hear about - there's something magical about movie sets and Hollywood parties and Los Angeles. There's a sheen to it only a few get to look behind and that's the story we're telling. It's raw, it takes chances, it talks about people and things the way great writers talk about people and things - with affectation, with objectivity and without fear, all at once. It's funny, too - it's laugh out loud funny. Every damn person who's read the script has said "my God, I couldn't stop. It had an energy and a drive..." It's set life, it's party life, it's all the sad spectrum in between shot with the best camera that exists with the best lenses that exist and a team of actors that might just include John Mahoney from Frasier. This is the film we're making. It's a badass film. It's a film that isn't getting made anywhere, a story that isn't being told anywhere. We warned you. buckle Up."
By then I knew some of the ropes of casting so I sent out the script along with a follow-up to one man, Delaney Williams. In the same vein I contacted Olympia Dukakis for Irene & Marie. I thought, "Why settle? Why not at least try?" Meanwhile, Irene & Marie had taken off on kickstarter and suddenly we had a $50K movie to shoot.
A few weeks later I had Delaney's interest along with his suggestions for a rewrite. I plugged them through and sure enough, the man knew what he was talking about.
I needed a producer. My friend, Will Trowbridge, had done fantastic things on the set of "Safety Not Guaranteed." I also knew him to be shrewd and practically confident in ways I was not. My experiences with him studying at FAMU in Prague were overwhelmingly positive. Not only were we roommates, Will was my chief critic and contributor.
Suddenly this little project was happening. Irene & Marie had completed production and was being re-written in the editing room. I moved to Chicago chasing production work and the bank of actors I had come to trust on set with Olympia Dukakis, Rose Gregorio and Lou Zorich).
Recently Will put me in touch with a friend of his and fellow filmmaker, Travis LaBella. Travis is a freelance director of photography and we had an immediate connection. Travis is remarkably talented and has had a film in the Cannes Film Festival as well as a write up in American Cinematographer.
Suddenly this "effort" became a "project." Suddenly we had crew coming out of the woodwork: a director of photography, an editor, and producers in both Chicago and LA. Suddenly we had This Party Off Mulholland.
I'd financed a film through Kickstarter before. Now we would set out to do it again, with (and ONLY with) the help of you, citizens of the world, future producers and lovers of GOOD MOVIES.
Only with you.
Ps. A huge thank-you goes out to our friend, Vick Trola, who created the wonderful story art used in our campaign video.
Risks and challenges
Once we reach our goal, our budget will be set. In other words, with $20,000 we will have no want for equipment, actors, crew, craft services, travel, and festival fees. Completion of the film will not be an issue.
Challenges will arise in promoting the film, as short films are not typically moneymakers. They have been described to me by director Jason Reitman as "calling cards." They are starting blocks. Films like "District 9," "Boogie Nights," "Sin City" and "Bottle Rocket" all began as shorts.
So while there is a questionable market for short films alone, there is no shortage of outlets to mine the film's potential. We will submit the film to Cannes, Telluride, Toronto, LA Film Festival, Sundance, Berlin, SXSW, Venice, Rotterdamn, the NY Film Festival, the Chicago Underground Film Festival, DC Shorts and San Francisco Shorts.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (35 days)