Rebel Without a Crew & Clerks….

The thing that crystalized me into making my own feature was reading the book “Rebel without a Crew” by Robert Rodriquez and the release of “Clerks” directed by Kevin Smith.  I had been trying to get a film together for some time, but I ran into resistance, and non-compliance by some.  So I decided that I had to go my own way and do my own thing.  Others were certainly doing it, and reading Rodriquez’s book was inspiring, and it set my soul on fire.  You would think that after reading so many books on filmmaking I would get inspired.  Rick Schmidt’s books certainly did that, but I wanted to make films of a different nature.  I was always drawn to B movies and I thought I could write something along those lines.  My favorite author was and still is Jim Thompson.  Thompson is the author of such novels as “The Killer inside me“, The Grifters“, “A Hell of a Women” and “The Getaway”.  These are all novels that were turned into films.  Some were successful, but to me it never came close to the true essence of a Thompson novel.  The closest was “The Getaway” with Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw not the remake with Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger.  Not that I totally disliked the film, but the original was a lot closer to the novel, and it was directed by Sam Peckinpah who got it right.  So I figured I try and write something like that, and it was no surprise that I loved the film “Blood Simple” by the Coen Brothers.  I looked for articles, and interviews when the film “Blood Simple” came out. It was the Coen Brothers I was trying to emulate, yet I did not have the budget they had, so of course my attention was drawn both to Rodriguez and Smith two creators I felt I had something in common with, and that was no money.

Can I say that I saw “Clerks” a total of three times in the theater.  I thought it was brilliant, and I reveled in seeing someone make a Black & white comedy.  Eat your heart out Woody Allen I thought.  I read everything there was on the making of “Clerks”.  I can thank “Moviemaker” magazine for their coverage of the film.  They even printed a budget for the film which again I looked at and studied.  What both movies had was that they were made by people with a passion for moviemaking, and a desire to get it done without any excuses.  It was then that I set off to write, plan and execute my own film.

With the knowledge I acquired I made my film “Deadly Obsessions“.  I started in 1997.  Shot it in 1998, and finished it in 2003.  Took 6 years approximately to finish the film while at the same time I worked at my day job.  When I finished I tried landing it somewhere at a festival, and I had no success.  I can cry “its not what you know, it’s who you know”, but I tried all the  festivals I could think of to no success.  Even got a book about film festivals.  I put it on “without a box” website, and still nothing.  I was a film lost in the wilderness of other films.  By now digital video had exploded and the internet was awash with DV clips, and shorts. Digital video changed the landscape of independent film.  Now there was a avalanche of films that were being submitted to festivals.  I was being lost in the shuffle, and I’m not making any excuses here.  My wife and I did our best to try and get it seen, but it became too expensive after awhile, and other priorities came first.  Number one being my family.

I still am very proud of the film and would like to release it someday online.  The film was available for a short while at Film Baby which closed awhile back.  I would need now to convert it to HD, which is possible, but costly.   I still have hopes that the film will be seen someday as it was meant to be seen, and I even have desires to do more.  What I learned in making my film was tremendous.  The people I met and the people I worked with will be forever etched in my mind.  I so want to use some of them again.  When you work with talented people you want to do it again.  I even believe that I could make a feature for even less then I original made “Deadly Obsessions” for.  But in order to do another feature it would have to be something that would be close to my heart.

All I can say is that if you’re going to go down this road make a movie you can live with for awhile because you’ll be working on it for sometime.  I’m sure you’ll do it on digital video since it’s easier and it looks fantastic, but you’ll still need to have a life, and the bills don’t stop coming so you’ll have the day job.  But pace yourself my friend, and get i done.  However it takes.  Francis Ford Coppola said once to an audience that:

To me, the great hope is that now these little 8mm video recorders and stuff have come out, and some… just people who normally wouldn’t make movies are going to be making them. And you know, suddenly, one day some little fat girl in Ohio is going to be the new Mozart, you know, and make a beautiful film with her little father’s camera recorder. And for once, the so-called professionalism about movies will be destroyed, forever. And it will really become an art form. That’s my opinion.

Francis Ford Coppola

I’ve always loved that quote, and it has fired up my very existence.  I see it in the young boys and girls I teach sometimes, or even in my own children.  There is so much more vision out there.  You are all better then Hollywood because you all have real stories to tell.  With todays technology all things are possible.  That neat little sci-fi epic you have in mind can be done.  I still have dreams and I’m much older now, but still the dreamer with a realist vision.  There is inspiration everywhere, and we all need to break down the walls that separate us and start building bridges.

What I want to do now is make more films.  Hopefully I will be able to.  In the meantime I’ll write, and keep yelling into the wind with the hope that someone else will hear.  Do you’re on thing and keep plugging away.  Enjoy your life, and meet others.  A rich life is a life with many friends and family.  Don’t let Hollywood dictate to you what a success is.  Find inspiration where you can, and don’t let the creative spark fade.

 

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