Register Monday | December 9 | 2019

Half A Million Dollar Baby

What does that even mean?

I've spent the last few days getting feedback from a few trusted friends on the latest version of my script. So far the response has been positive in most aspects, so I can't complain, and I always find it helpful to hear other people's ideas. Even if their comments end up being off-base or just plain wrong, it's amazing how sometimes a bad idea can still spark a good one. Like most aspects of this business, it's all about prospecting, swishing the pan of rocks with the hopes you'll find a shiny nugget or two in there.

The one area of concern that keeps cropping up is also the toughest one to face: "how the hell are you going to make this movie for under $500,000?" While that is, in fact, a LOT of money (especially when you have to go out and find it), in movie terms that falls in the range of "low budget" or worse, "no budget." What does half a million (yes, MILLION) dollars get you these days? No one seems to know, though plenty seem to agree that a film with such "little" money is a disaster waiting to happen and that the script can only suffer from the number of compromises (read: scenes that will need to be cut) that are required to actually pull it off. (Both a line producer and my cinematographer friend deemed it "impossible"). Of course, everyone says "no way" until a film comes along like "The Station Agent" or "Napoleon Dynamite" that proves everybody wrong. And then you start to think, maybe it's not impossible. Just hard.

I wrote this script with every intention to make it a cheap, doable movie. Of course, my ideas are often bigger than my wallet, and before long I had scenes set at the Lakers game at the Staples Center and several scenes in bars. What the hell was I thinking? So maybe I'll have to make some "adjustments" and get real about what can actually be done in four weeks.

Look at me, writing as if I already have the money. Like I'm shooting this in a week or two. The bigger problem is that there is no money yet! I've got to go out and find it somewhere. And the worst part is that this year, I really feel like the clock is ticking. That if I don't make a feature film now, I never will. That may not be true, but it's a deeper sense of desperation than I've felt in the past, and I figure I better just use it as motivation to get this thing done. So I'm meeting with every person I can and putting together the fancy "prospectus" and investment documents I will need to convince those 100 people to give me $5000 apiece. Or maybe 25 people giving me $20,000 each. Or, god-willing, that one person giving me all the money I need. (By the way, if you are reading this and you have that kind of money, or know somebody who does, don't be shy. Send me an email. Let's talk.) Sorry, that was the new, "Desperate Me" talking.

So to sum up: Script is decent. Maybe even good. Budget is low. Money is zero. Time may be running out. Filmmaker may be crazy.