The "No Updates" Update...
It's been a couple of months since the Man Child campaign ended, and I've been itching to do an update. I was waiting until I had something big to relay, but despite a lack of earth-shattering news, I figure it's been long enough that I should check in with a progress report... just to let you know that I'm hard at work on the project and have not escaped to the caribbean with the funds! (that sounds fun though)
So, what's new?
I've been getting notes from producers and others, and it's been a new challenge as a screenwriter to get this much input. Everyone has a different version of the finished film in their head, and what matters most is your own vision... but you have to be cognizant of good notes, while simultaneously casting aside notes that could damage or take the story in an unintended direction. For a project that's lived in my head for a year, it's ultimately very helpful to hear from others... but deciding which notes to incorporate is a very different challenge from staring at the blank page by yourself.
With that in mind, I've been working on a new draft of the script, and I have not lost any of the excitement over the project. In fact, I'm more excited than ever about it, but there are a number of new challenges. First off is finding the right producer -- it's a passion project, and despite the size of the Kickstarter campaign, it's still a very small budget as far as sports films are concerned. I've heard numerous concerns about whether we can make it for the Kickstarter funds or whether we should try to raise additional private investment. At this point I'm 100% focused on the script, but real-world logistics are starting to creep up -- for example, basketball is a winter sport, can we really shoot it in the summer and fake it? Time will tell... ultimately we're going to make this one way or another, it's just a matter of when and how.
Here are some other things that have happened with the project since the (amazingly successful!) conclusion of the Kickstarter campaign.
- The project participated in the Emerging Narrative and Emerging Visions programs put on by IFP and the Film Society of Lincoln Center. I met a lot of producers as a result of these (amazingly helpful) programs, and I had an opportunity at the latter to meet with director Doug Liman (Swingers, The Bourne Identity, Fair Game) to chat about Man Child. Doug famously made Swingers for $200k, and amazingly shot it on film for that amount -- today's digital tools bring production costs down even further. His experiences were very instructive, as he talked about the most important aspect of making your first feature: finding your personal voice as a filmmaker. In many cases, having a smaller budget can make for a better environment for this, as you have less cooks in the kitchen. Noted!
- I've made a slight revision to the title, going from Man-child to Man Child. One concern I've heard from folks is that the title makes people think of an immature grown man (living at home, playing videogames, not getting a job, etc.) instead of a young athlete who's bigger and stronger than his peers. The term "manchild" can mean either one, of course, but I think separating the two words will make it more thematically relevant to the maturity and growth of our protagonist, TJ. That's my thinking at present, at least. This isn't an earth-shattering change, but that's why I called this the "no updates update!"
- If you're ever thinking about running your own Kickstarter campaign, I wrote a post on my website that may be helpful about how I raised $125,000. There is no "right" or "wrong" way to approach a fundraising campaign -- the magic and uncertainty of a creative pursuit is what makes these projects special, in my opinion -- but I certainly did a lot of research before running my own campaign, and in that light perhaps this post could be interesting or helpful.
- There was a minor controversy on my website over my decision to purchase a RED camera to use on Man Child. As a backer you may recall that I'd sketched out a rough budget that included $15k to rent a RED camera, but after the campaign ended RED announced a newer, cheaper camera called the SCARLET that sells for about the same amount. If you're a filmmaker who plans on making more than one movie in your life, if the prices are the same it makes sense to buy rather than rent a camera, so you can use the camera on future productions... but the whole controversy was startling to me because I didn't use any of the Kickstarter funds to buy the camera! My idea is I can use the camera for many productions and write it off over several years, and "rent" it to Man Child for free, thereby spending more of the Kickstarter funds on actors, locations, etc., enabling us to put more of your money on screen. Some people apparently did not understand this -- nor do they understand the concept of putting something on a credit card and paying it off over the time -- but... water under the bridge. I'll be using the camera over the next several months to prepare to make MC, and it's already very nice to be able to test something ahead of time and work out the kinks, thereby helping to make a better film.
I'm sure there are plenty of other minor updates to share, but these are just the first things that come to mind. I find it difficult to share anything interesting about the writing process -- it's just you, your notes, and the script spending some quality time together. Hours stretch into days, days into weeks, new lines are added, entire scenes are thrown out, and all that matters is you end up with the best possible script. How you get there is a murky process that is sometimes teeth-gnashing and sometimes triumphant. When writer's block sets in, however, I've found that the absolute best motivator has been the success of the Kickstarter campaign. You are all responsible for the outpouring of support that gets me past the speedbumps along the way! Thank you again and again, and hopefully I'll have bigger news to share soon!