Two Steps Forward, and…

Since the purpose of this blog has been to tell the truth about all the ups and downs of the filmmaking process – and while lately all the news has been good, which is a whole lot more fun to write about – I need to tell you about the last few weeks, which have confirmed a few of the most basic filmmaking credos for me, one of which is that you don’t have a green light until the ink is dry on the check, and the check has cleared the bank.

A few weeks ago, we were in pre-production on ASHOD.  The film was fully cast, and seemed to be fully funded.  We opened production offices in Sarasota, Florida, and the A.D. and UPM and D.P. had all convened there.  We were putting in long days and chowing down on stone crabs at Walt's Fish Market in Sarasota. We had reduced the budget of the film to the barest bones, and I had been shaving pages off the script in order to make this lean and mean shoot happen – even it if meant losing some scenes and moments that were important to me.

And then the other shoe dropped.  A major investor who had committed, well… simply changed his mind.  Why this happened is anyone’s guess.  This investor wasn’t someone I had direct dealings with.  A guy in LA was talking to a guy in New Orleans who was talking to this guy in Palm Beach.  It was like an elaborate game of phone tag but with a lot of dollars attached.  And then… silence.  Phone calls not returned.  And slowly, a pit in my stomach which grew and grew until it was confirmed.

We are going to have to postpone production.  Re-group.  Re-think.  Find a new investor, or new series of investors.  My wife turned to me (we were in a car on our way back from a funeral when this news hit us) and said “this is going to have a silver lining.  You are going to look back at this, six months from now, and be glad it happened this way.”

Now, my wife is no Pollyanna. And deep down I feel the same way.  We were shaving too much off the budget.  Making compromises that felt nerve-wracking, all in the service of just getting the movie made on schedule.  Now, my producing partner and I have increased the budget.  We’re going after different investors with a different strategy.  Everyone – from the cast to the crew – who has believed in this project from the beginning is still on board.  All the original investors are hanging in there.  They were doing this for love, and they still are.  We’re going to make ASHOD, and we’re going to make it the way it needs to be made.  This is the story of getting an indie film off the ground, and up until now, I am aware, I had a crazy-good run.  It felt almost too good to be true.  And guess what: it was.  So this is the next stage of the game, and the thing that separates filmmakers who actually get their movies in the can from those who give up.

In my previous career, I was a war correspondent.  This is a war – the war of art, the war of building a skyscraper from the top down, the war of combating exhaustion, disappointment and insecurity and moving forward, day by day, to the moment – we are hoping it will be this fall – when I will be saying those two, most precious words:

And…action!

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3 Responses »

  1. I hope that in the end it will be more of what you want... but in the meantime this is disappointing news. I'm sorry to hear it. I think it's very selfless of you to share the setbacks and warts of this process. For those of us not involved with cinematic endeavors it is a glimpse into a mysterious world. I appreciate the insights you give with each post.

  2. Except leave out the "And..." That little preamble ups the tension but not the energy.

  3. Well I don't know why I came here tonight,
    I got the feeling that something ain't right,
    I'm so scared in case I fall off my chair,
    And I'm wondering how I'll get down the stairs,
    Clowns to the left of me,
    Jokers to the right, here I am,
    Stuck in the middle with you.

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