Register Monday | January 27 | 2020

Filmmakers Anonymous

We finally finished our short film over the weekend. At least, I think we did. Part of me wonders when the next surprise will arrive, like we forgot someone in the credits or we have to re-do some of the music, etc. But for now, I’m trying to enjoy the idea that we have finished this little movie that took 8 months to make.

Of course, there is still more work to do. DVDs to make, a website to build, festivals to apply to, money to spend. Lots of money. We budgeted about $5,000 for this twelve minute movie, and though we have probably only spent $3500, we thought all along we would raise the money so we would not have to take it out of our own pockets anymore. But our fundraising efforts went nowhere and though I’m still hoping for a miracle, I have given up on the dream that I would get reimbursed for my portion of the budget. (Since I was the gung-ho get-things-done director, I probably paid for two-thirds of the movie, while my co-producers put in the rest).

But you can’t think about money too much when you make a short film. You spend as little as you can and hope you get some recognition, but the possibility of making money back from a short film is pretty slim. So you just put everything you can into the movie and hope for the best. Every time I make one I realize that filmmaking is really an addiction that cannot be helped. You end up at the equipment house renting gear you cannot afford with money you don’t have, much like a drug addict selling off his TV for his next fix. The rational parts of your brain just don’t function. You need to have that dolly for that one shot where you push in on your actor’s face at that key moment. If you don’t have that, what’s the point of doing the movie at all? Screw it. It’s all about that moment and here’s my credit card and hopefully I’m not maxed out. Now let’s get to the set and start shooting.

It’s hard for other people to relate to it: You spent how much? On what? Over the course of the past eight years I have probably spent enough money on films to go on five long and amazing trips around the world. I could have bought a BMW or made a down payment on a house (a very little house in the ghetto, but a house). I could have opened a trust fund for my non-existent future child’s college education. Instead, I have 45 minutes of footage and a handful of stories that have helped me grow as a filmmaker and hopefully other people appreciate when they sit in a darkened theater and stare at my work.

Speaking of people, my co-producer M has befriended the one and only Burt Reynolds this past summer and is showing the film to him today. How crazy is that? I’m going to get feedback from the Hollywood legend himself. I’m told Burt is a truly nice guy and, while it would be something special to meet him, getting his feedback on the film is pretty damn cool. (I know, I know, he’s just a guy like anyone else and his opinion doesn’t matter any more or less than any Joe on the street, but hell.. it’s BURT REYNOLDS!)

I’m already picturing the poster for our film. At the top, one of those review-style quotes: “It’s not bad!-Burt Reynolds”

Happy Thanksgiving everybody out there.