First Rejection – Skyline Indie Film Fest

So, meaningless palaver or reason for optimism?  In any case, one down, three to go.

Dear Keith,

Thank you for your submission to Skyline Indie Film Fest 2019. I regret to inform you that your submission, Shenandoah Treasure Hunt, was not selected for this year’s competition.

Our screeners and readers are consistently impressed by the high standard of filmmaking and writing we’ve had the privilege to view this season. Please know that a rejection from festival programming this year is not necessarily a reflection on quality. We are a small festival with small venues and therefore can only screen a limited number of film blocks. Please be advised that we may contact you in the event that other programming falls through or more screening time becomes available.

We greatly respect the effort that went into creating your film or writing your script and thank you for your participation in our festival.

Thank you so much for sharing your work with us. We wish you all the best.

 

It Never Ends

OK, the artist is back from vacation, I’m back from vacation, I’ve recovered from the vacation (still suffering from some weird health issue that is apparently not cardiac related, at least according to my ‘nuclear stress test’) and last night actually stopped dilly dallying.  I figured, hey, I can create the DVD/Blu-ray disk images without any disks, burners, cases or labels, so stop procrastinating.

Except then I either couldn’t install the software I’d earlier selected or it was so unuser friendly to be useless to me, so a couple of hours of frustration later I finally gave up on my cherished Linux.  It would appear that the Linux community attaches no value to disks, so won’t collectively lift a finger to make decent software.  I even got so desperate to search again for authoring services and was briefly encouraged when I found one that would do it for $99.  Except when I read the fine print I realized to get the final product I needed I was back to $350-400.

I’m going to try one last thing.  My wife has a Windows laptop and I’m going to try the authoring software there and see what happens.  I sure hope that works, I’m running out of options and have no idea what to do next.

On a totally unrelated note: several relatives have recently watched Treasure Hunt.  At first I was quite encouraged by their interest, until I started to hear them talk amongst themselves.  It seems they spent the majority of the movie eagerly trying to guess which house each scene was filmed in rather than the actual story or plot, so the little confidence that I got when I heard they enjoyed it was dashed.

That being said, a very critical friend of mine has been pushing me to consider the effort to sell the movie.  He’s convinced it has a relatively easy audience, since it is about college students, treasure hunts and Civil War.  While I’ve pretty much decided to base that final decision on the results of the festivals I applied to, I did give the idea some thought.  The first biggest issue is I’ve been lazy and not got releases from all the actors, musicians and locations. In principle, those are easy things to fix, are ‘free’ in that it just takes effort on my part, and are highly likely to be granted without any issue.  The second biggest issue is I lack confidence in my editing ability and would really like to have the flick re-edited by a professional.  That, though, takes money.  Money I’m reluctant to put in myself, let alone my decision-making boss.  I have toyed with the idea of trying to find an editor that would take the work on with compensation through any sales that result, but am not convinced I could find a suitably qualified person to do the work on that gamble.

Indecision, it’s a terrible thing…

Broken Record

I’m sorry to sound like a broken record (can that phrase be used any longer?) in saying I haven’t got the disks made for Treasure Hunt yet, but that’s exactly what’s happened.  My ‘excuse’ this time is the disk cover/art isn’t ready.  I’m pretty sure I can craft something for the disk case, but I need something round and designed to be useful with a hole in the middle.  The good news is the artist who crafted the poster has also made such things.  The bad news is she’s been on vacation the last couple of weeks.  The worse news is now I’m going on vacation for a couple of weeks.  Thus, it’ll be July before I have a chance to get these things done.

More Delay on the Bluray…

Once again, I have to apologize for allowing myself to get distracted and not get the disks/posters made for Treasure Hunt.  I did get the poster artist to reformat the height/width to fit the promised size, so that tiny incremental progress has been made.  I looked into disk duplication long ago, found the prices to my liking, then, apparently, failed to keep record of my research.  So I started the process over again only this time learning that making commercial-quality DVDs or Blurays is a two step process. First is ‘authoring’ the master, which is the creation of the menus, formatting the files properly and creating the final digital file that’s set up for reading as a DVD or Bluray.  Then the file is replicated on the various disks.  For a couple of bucks a piece, at volume.

Not exactly sure how I so thoroughly managed to drop that ball, but there it is.  Now knowing about this two steps, I do some research and find out that authoring is really expensive, particularly for just a handful of disks.  Around $500 each (DVD and Bluray; actually, Bluray is a bit more expensive).  That threw a substantial monkey wrench into the work – if I went with paid authoring I’d have blown through almost all the funds I raised!

OK, so now I start to research how to author the masters myself.  Preliminary indications are this is feasible, but I’m not getting a huge warm-and-fuzzy that the free Linux versions are going to be painless.  Now I need a Bluray burner (my computer has a DVD burner built in), disks, the cases for the disks and ways to produce the art for the covers.  I hate to say this, but it’ll most likely take me another couple of weeks to get all this done.  I rather hoped to put the production onto someone experienced, but it seems it once again falls back on me to power through the learning curve.

Contacting B-Listers

So far, I’ve had no luck contacting B-list actresses (and one actor) for my Dominatrix project.  Eight actresses so far, plus the one actor.  I was initially very optimistic (the eternal optimist: doomed to eternal disappointment – but I just can’t help myself), as I’ve been told this is a ‘juicy’ role and there’s supposedly a dearth of solid lead parts for women in their late 30’s to early 40’s (the character is listed as early 40’s).  Half have responded (well, their managers have (the others never responded)) with variations of ‘thanks, but no thanks,’ though one did say their client was only interest in ‘pay or play.’  Not going to be me – I’m specifically looking for leads who want to take on the executive producer role and help get the project funded and sold.

It’s discouraging and I often think about quitting, but I’m nothing if not stubborn.  I’ll probably lick my wounds for a while, then try a few more times (I get a calendar reminder every two weeks).  Of course, if I win Nicholl and/or Austin then I’m sure things will change.  Maybe even for the better 😉

No word yet on how my screenplay is faring in the competitions.  I did add one, the Virginia Film Office has a screenplay competition.  I had to show residency in Virginia, since we live during the week in Maryland, but that was straightforward.

It can be really frustrating how ssslllooowww these things move!

Gotta Wrap Up Treasure Hunt

Another quick update to the Treasure Hunt saga: Irrespective of the efforts of the young lady to recreate her behind-the-scenes interviews, I need to get the disks/posters made and distributed – I’m starting to get more and more drawn in to my next project: Domestique.  I’ll be/I’ve been blogging about it here, if you’re curious.  This one I’m intending to make money (though, as always, success in that regard is a long-shot), so if you’d like to invest (as opposed to donate via crowdfunding (though I do intend to consider that as well)) let me know.  The first step is filming a short, later on this summer, which I will then use to attempt to interest investors in funding the feature.

As an FYI, still no word on the festivals I submitted Treasure Hunt to.  It’s probably too early in the year anyway, it wouldn’t surprise me to know they’re still taking submissions.

I’m going to try and get the disks, etc. wrapped up in the next couple of weeks.  I know, I’ve said that before, but I think I’ll do better this time…

Domestique – Short

After much conversation, I convinced my wife to back the funding for a short for my next project: Domestique.  My goal is to film a 5-7 minute short at end of August this year, then to use it as a form of advertising  to interest investors in funding the feature.  My arm-waving goal is to film the feature next summer, but who knows how ridiculously over optimistic that is (well, I do; and it is – but a man gotta dream).

I’ve been assembling a team and have the lead actors lined up, a DP, an editor, am ‘recycling’ John as the sound guy (swapping the use of our property for filming his shorts) and a couple of other guys who said they’d like to be involved in the project.

I thought about detailing my thoughts on why I think this is a good investment (insofar as any movie is a good investment – most are horrible), but my paranoia won’t let me.  Not at this time. Perhaps once I’ve got some meaningful investors on board and the prospects of it being greenlit are good (or, contrariwise, in a few years when I given up), but even though I know ‘nobody’ reads my blog, I don’t want to create any reason for competitors to my project, but with deeper pockets, to decide to create something.  Silly?  Of course.  But creatives tend to be silly.

An amusing? note on the short: I expected to film a bike racing story with, you know, actual bike racing.  So I got a quote for insurance and to close the road.  Bad news: the combined quotes match my whole budget!  Now I have to figure out how to film a movie about bicycle racing without any actual racing.  Conferring with the DP and editor, along with input from others, I feel fairly good that I can wind up with something that looks good enough for the purpose, but I was really hoping to practice some filming techniques in the short that I could apply to the feature.

Why not ‘guerilla‘ it?  Well, if anything bad happens, then it’s on me and I don’t fancy that financial and reputation risk.  But, at least as important, I’ll be using SAG’s Short Project Agreement for the shoot (because there are some SAG actors I want to work with and intend to use for the feature, assuming it gets funded) and I feel quite certain if they knew I was operating without proper insurance they’d blackball me.

Stay tuned for more on the journey called Domestique.

A Slight Reprieve

A quick little update: the young lady who did the behind-the-scenes for Treasure Hunt – and then lost the material – has asked to attempt to contact the cast and crew to repeat the effort.  As such, I now have an excuse to put things off for another week or so.  I won’t wait too long. The worst case would be she puts it all together after I decide to get the disks created and the material will only be available on my Vimeo site.

Finally out of Excuses

A week ago (yes, I am way behind the times; sorry about that) I found out that the young lady who did the behind-the-scenes cast interview has lost those recordings.  It’s frustrating, but such is life.

Now I have nothing keeping me from getting the DVD/Blurays made.  Except inertia, which has been dragging at me quite a bit lately.  I make this post, not simply because it’s been so long since I last did (over a month!  so much for at least once a week), but to try and act as incentive to get myself motivated to get these things done.

A few weeks ago I attended a festival to support a friend.  They were all shorts (Treasure Hunt is considered a feature, even though it’s only 62.5 minutes long), but what I got out of that experience was my movie wasn’t quite as bad as I made it out in my mind.  This is not to say that there aren’t deficiencies, which is certainly the case, but that the deficiencies don’t, at least in my mind, detract so much that it’s out of the competition.  At least in that small sampling.

On a related, but more depressing note, I contacted a sales agent through a Reddit post.  A sales agent is like a book agent, they do a lot of screening work for the publisher (in the case of books; distributor in the case of movies).  Thus they have a reputation to maintain.  This sales agent took a look at my trailer and promptly informed me that the acting and production qualities weren’t enough to be considered.  Perhaps I’m wearing narcissistic, ego driven rose-colored glasses, but I didn’t feel I measured up that poorly, particularly to the movies I’ve seen that did get distribution.

I discussed this with a friend.  He pointed out my glasses were, indeed, at least somewhat dirty and added editing might make a big enough difference that it could kick the project up a notch.  I can’t disagree, but keep coming back to the notion that the extra expense of an experienced editor won’t be recovered by extra sales, at least without some sort of distribution planned.  This is not to say that I won’t make the movie available for sale (once I get feedback from the festivals), just that I remain unconvinced the project as a whole is worth the extra investment.

Which is sad, because I think it came out a lot better than I had originally thought.  But I have other projects in the pipeline, ones that have a much more clear, and global, audience, and I should be putting my time and energy (and retirement money) there.  But I think about the idea of reediting it often.

From Echoing Nada to a Peep

This is a follow on to an earlier post.  I didn’t even get snarky comments, so decided on a broader, more open-ended one:

https://old.reddit.com/r/Filmmakers/comments/b3q8id/howwhere_to_find_producing_partner/

A peep or twain and I started communication with one fellow writer/director in the DC area.  No idea if anything will come of it, of course, but this business runs on contacts, so worth investigating to see if there is common ground.

I tried an ad on DragonukConnects, but nothing.  I was going to post a ‘job‘ on the Virginia film web site, but can’t seem to get past the captcha. I sent an email complaining and got no response.  However, yesterday I was contacted by the VA film office interested in an update to my horror movie concept I must have mentioned to them at some point.  I told them it was on the back burner in favor of the bike racing one, but also mentioned the RedDom long shot and my efforts to find a B-list actress to take on the project.

Speaking of which, after two weeks an echoing nothing from my first attempt. Last night I fired off a second one.  This actress has proven she’ll take on indie work (she has one coming out this year with a $200K budget) AND act as executive producer, so maybe I’ll get lucky this time.