Life Has Been Tough

20 Jul

Not entirely tough – everyday I remind myself how lucky I am in many ways, especially regarding my family.

It’s been quite some time since my last post because I went to Indiana for 3 weeks to work on my current feature film project. It was both good and bad…

I’ve also been working on my photography with plans of working for-hire in the near future.

I’ll post more about my IN trip in the coming weeks, but, in the meantime, check out these finished photos of my grandmother, Josephine, which I captured yesterday and developed today.


Economy of Asking

23 May

As I continue to produce my feature film, I’ve been asking for advice, help, and insight from many people, mostly via email and Facebook.

It’s generally easy to ask for help on the internet – it’s impersonal and unobtrusive. This makes me wonder: has the “economy of asking” changed due to the internet? In other words, because it’s easier to ask online, are more people asking? And if more people are asking, are more people living audaciously?

On the flip side, during the telephone days and face-to-face days before that, was there less audacity? More audacity? Because it takes more courage to make an ask over the phone or in person, were fewer people boldly going forth?

Not sure if the devalued economy of asking is a good thing or not. Maybe the higher need for courage to ask over the phone or in person weeded out hacks and wannabes.

What do you think?

Rebuttal to Ken Levine’s Rant Against Zach Braff

8 May

Zach Braff’s recent Kickstarter success has sparked a hot debate in the indie film world regarding celebrities who have turned to crowdfunding.

Like many others, Ken Levine wrote a blog post criticizing Braff and Kickstarter, while throwing The Veronica Mars Movie campaign and Sundance into the mix as well. His article is chock-full of the now trite and fallacious arguments against celebrity use of crowdfunding sites.

Because Mr. Levine’s article has gone viral, I felt compelled to respond. Below are some of his arguments, followed by my rebuttal:

“Zach Braff is a good actor and a fine filmmaker. GARDEN STATE was a terrific movie. But I wouldn’t give him a dime. Why? Because it defeats the whole purpose of Kickstarter. ” Only Kickstarter can determine what their purpose is, not a blogger nor anyone else. Kickstarter green-lit the campaign, thus, it must align with their mission, whether one likes it or not. It’s fascinating how folks think they can determine what a company’s mission should and should not be! “Why is McDonald’s serving lattes? It’s a burger joint!” You have a right to an opinion regarding decisions a company makes, but one has no right determining the company’s purpose.

“Zach Braff has a name.” This one really peeves me. Because someone is reputable, they lose the right to call upon their fans to help them develop a film? And at what point does one become a “name”? Who determines this? To implement Mr. Levine’s discrimination, Kickstarter would need to establish a cockamamie celebrity “ranking” system to determine you is too popular to use their platform.

Regarding Braff, “He can get in a room with money people.” Did Mr. Levine not watch Braff’s video? Braff mentions the “money people” numerous times – that’s the whole point of the campaign, i.e., the money people wanted to control the creative content of Braff’s film. Braff does not want to compromise, so he took his project to his fans.

“So someone who otherwise might have funded the Mobile kid instead will toss his coins to Zach Braff because he figures it’s a better bet and he gets to rub shoulders with show business.” This type of reasoning is based on a consumerist limited good mentality. Generosity is not limited and giving to campaigns is not limited. One can give to a celebrity AND a no-name campaign. Crowdfunding is not a zero-sum game. Even if someone only has $5 to give, they can break it down and give to multiple campaigns, assuming said campaigns have an under $5 level. Kickstarter does not limit contributors; people are not forced to give to one and only one campaign.

The Veronica Mars Movie is another celebrity-driven crowdfunding success story, which Mr. Levine attacks as well, “Are you a big fan of VERONICA MARS? Want to support it? Great. Buy ten tickets and see the movie ten times.” Once again, did Mr. Levine not pay attention to the MARS campaign? The whole premise of their campaign is that they COULD NOT get green-lit by Warner Bros.. So they turned to their hungry fans to launch the project. Without a successful crowdfunding campaign, there would be no movie to buy tickets to. Buying tickets is after the fact…

Then Mr. Levine brings the ever so love-to-hate Sundance into the mix. He complains: “Now look at the festival. Every entry features major Hollywood stars.” A downright lie and exaggeration – absolutely not true. Sundance is full of no-name films. Besides, Sundance is what it is today because it strategically programs celebrity-driven films. Without them, the very nobodies that Mr. Levine is looking out for would not reap the benefits of top agents, distributors, press, etc. who attend the festival because of celebrities.

Mr. Levine ends his article with this: “Kickstarter is for the ‘working man,’ Zach. And VERONICA. And (soon) Harvey [Weinstein].” This statement is so disrespectful, I can’t believe he wrote it. No doubt these “rich” folks he disrespects work just as hard, if not harder, than Mr. Levine. Who is he to judge them as “working” or not?

I genuinely admire Mr. Levine in that he clearly is looking out for nobody filmmakers, which I of all people truly appreciate! But ranting against celebrities and festivals like Sundance with fallacious arguments is not constructive and ultimately contributes to the disgruntled state that afflicts many indie filmmakers. Many of my indie colleagues chronically complain and point fingers at celebrities for the lack of their own success and articles like Mr. Levine’s simply fuels their self-pity and insecurity.

Though he’s looking out for us nobodies with his viral blog article, Mr. Levine would do us more good by deleting it.

UPDATE: On May 9th, Kickstarter posted staggering numbers demonstrating the positive effects celebrity campaigns have had on nobody projects…

No-Budget Film School a No-Brainer

7 May

I rarely promote stuff on here, so when I do, I mean it!

The NO-BUDGET FILM SCHOOL will be held this weekend in LA. I have personally attended twice in the past and it is worth every penny. It is the single most effective event an aspiring filmmaker can attend.

And the following weekend, May 18th & 19th, No-Budget Film School presents CINEMA LANGUAGE, which I have also attended, twice! It will teach you to take the nuts-and-bolts of the No Budget weekend and apply it cinematically, with purpose and meaning.  Cinema Language is a visually driven seminar with a ton of movie clips and an amazing teacher.

Sign up here:

A Hidden Blessing Not so Hidden Anymore!

1 May

The most excruciating part of low-budget, independent filmmaking is asking for help.

It takes a lot more people to make a film than almost any other art form. I often fantasize about being a lone poet or painter because of this harsh reality.

However, as I embark on my current feature film project, I am beginning to discover a hidden blessing within the taxing need for help. I have come to realize that asking for help often leads to receiving help, and receiving help comes with the blessing of knowing people care about you and your art.

Even if I don’t “make it” as a filmmaker, I will know one thing for certain: there are a lot of people out there who care about me, something I may never have known as a lone artist…


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