In the Beginning/What the Fuck Were You Thinking

About this Blog: this blog is really me sharing my personal thoughts and experiences as I go through the process of making my first film. It is not intended to be a slick marketing piece or a filmmaker’s bible of absolutes rather just my personal experiences in the raw (which is code for there will be spelling and grammar errors and I’m ok with that). I hope you find these ramblings somewhat educational, informative and entertaining, but either way these are my raw thoughts on my experience making my first film, so enjoy.

I love movies. I have always loved movies. They were my escape during a less than ideal childhood and my refuge from the world as an adult. My favorite genre has always been horror movies; I have seen thousands ranging from 60s era classics like Psycho and Repulsion to modern day marvels like Lovey Molly and Saw. I also love to write. Starting at a young age the idea of making up a story then infusing it with enough details to bring it to live and make it resonate with anyone outside of my head has amazed me. So naturally the idea of filmmaking has held my interest for a very long time.

I have been actively writing something since childhood. Along the way I gathered various types of accolades and atta boys. In my 20s living in Southern California with a love for movies I naturally gravitated towards screenwriting. Though making some progress I had to exit stage left relatively quickly for reasons that are meaningless now and I got into business. After a few years I had a couple big successes and a couple massive failures under my belt and migrated towards management consulting.

Then 40 hit. If it hasn’t hit you yet trust me it comes quickly and hits like a ton of bricks. My 40th was spent in Las Vegas fueled on Jack Daniels and reflecting on life. I realized I would never have that “normal” life with a wife, 2.2 kids, a dog that looks like Lassie and a white picket fence, and really thank god because that life never really interested me very much (let’s just say “normal” was never my thing). I also realized I had no passion for what I was doing, which is a sad realization to have to face. Money was no longer a motivator, I had made it, lost it made it again, and so on so the trappings of money were old hat and meaningless to me. I wanted to spend what I see as my third act doing something I was extremely passionate about, something that succeed or fail I would love simply for being able to do it. I realized then that I wanted to be a filmmaker. Fortunately the technology has advanced so far and the amount of information available today is so robust that being a self taught first time filmmaker is a real possibility.

With this newfound enlightenment I started to wind down my other business ventures and spent most of the next two years learning everything I could about filmmaking. I didn’t just focus on the creative side; I also learned everything I could about the technical side and of course the business side. I learned a lot in those two years and came out with a solid idea of what I wanted to do and a business plan I could be confident in. I also wrote and re-wrote about ten scripts during this time, finally picking the one that would be my first film. Horror films being my greatest love I naturally decided to write in that genre. From my technical studies I learned all about camera and lens selections, filming techniques, cinematography and of course the importance of quality sound. When I studied the business side I learned most films do not make money, I was able to analyze why that is the case and build a business plan around the realities of the film business. Since I was spending only my own money, the idea of losing money on a project is both more frightening and more palatable because nothing is worse than losing the money of others. My plan calls for self-financing five films to essentially prove the model (all the films will be in the horror genre with a similar feel to them) then gauge the need for outside capital at that point.

When I started to share my plans with some friends and colleagues is where the “what the fuck were you thinking” came in. Some wrote it off as a mid life crisis and suggested I get a 20 year old girlfriend and red convertible like everyone else while others thought I seriously lost my mind. A few suggested I become a producer and finance other people’s movies, they didn’t realize that the passion was to make my own film’s not be a money man for someone else’s dream. Regardless of the well-meaning advice I received I didn’t care. This was my dream, my money and my third act and I was going to write it any damn way I wanted for no other reason than I wanted to. I build a business plan for the first film, figured out how much money I was comfortable losing on my very first film, and the truth is you could spend a lot of time and money to make nothing in return so I prepared for that. Once I had that number I broke down the script and made more edits to achieve that budget number. A film consists of a lot of moving parts and spending years in management consulting comes in handy when having to manage all those parts. With a breakdown prepared, a shooting script ready, and a budget in place I got under way casting, an adventure I will share with you in my next post.

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