Directing A Movie 101

Let’s get to the nitty gritty, shall we?  Here are my postulates about getting a film made:

  • The quickest way for me to direct a feature is to write my own script.
  • The script has to be great.

Well that seems easy enough, right?

Aside from the obvious assumption that a great script has the highest probability of becoming a great movie, a great script also serves as the best way to attract recognizable “name-brand” actors.  Recognizable actors equal financing.

Financing merits it’s own paragraph —  I don’t have the money to finance a film myself, so I will be seeking investors.  These investors will be looking for marketable elements in any script they finance.  As mentioned above, attaching recognizable actors is a top priority, but other elements include:

  • The movie is in a lucrative genre
  • The movie has awards potential
  • The movie has an obvious marketing hook

My goal is to direct big, world-building type of movies.  These types of epic movies generally have a large scale, and make significant use of special effects.

So let’s add another postulate:

  • To function as the cornerstone of my career, my movie should should be large scale, and utilize special effects.

Hmmm, that could be a problem.  Since I’m a first time director, the budget for my film will probably be relatively small.

That makes epic filmmaking a challenge, since when I think “EPIC”, I think:

  • Exotic locations
  • Expansive sets
  • Large casts
  • Big, important themes

Themes are free… and though complex sets and large casts can be expensive and unwieldy, exotic locations aren’t necessarily more expensive than just shooting in LA (where I live).

Right now, I’m currently developing four different ideas that I think are feasible as films.

  • An action horror movie
  • A highjacking film
  • An alien abduction horror film
  • A supernatural thriller

I don’t want to dive too deeply into the relative merits of each project (this is a public blog, afterall), but the important thing to notice is that each idea takes place within a recognizable genre.

Now I just have to decide on which project I want to develop further.

Square One

It’s been over 2 years since the morning I started this blog, so you’re probably wondering if I ever accomplished my goal?

— One. Million. Dollars —

… Not by a long shot.

What went wrong?

That one’s a little more complicated.

You see, the point of starting this blog was to commit to an audacious goal that would have a major impact on my life.

Earning $1 million certainly fulfills both those criteria.  But I failed, and before I get into understanding what I did wrong, I need to analyse how the goal itself was wrong for me.

To start with, the goal was too vague.   Saying “One Million Dollars” actually hindered me from having to plan any strategic way of earning that money.  Was I going to start a business?  Was I going to write software?  Was I going to rob a bank?  It was all up for grabs.

The goal was audacious.  It has a nice ring, and frankly, I do want to make one million dollars.  I liked the monetary amount, it gave a nice solid number to benchmark my progress.

I didn’t want to be one of those people who says, “I don’t care about money, I just want to pursue my passion”, because usually when people say that, they’re insulating themselves from failure.

But passion is the fuel that will keep you going.  And the problem with choosing “$1 million dollars”, was that I went down a lot of wrong paths, without realizing that they didn’t lead anywhere.  I worked on reality shows, I wrote screenplays in a genre that I knew was wrong for my talent, I started online companies that I knew I would never be fully committed to…

Suddenly I realized that my life had become like the audition scene in Walk The Line — the scene when Johnny Cash can just adequately sing someone else’s song.  He fails to impress, and the lesson Sam Phillips teaches him next is the turning point of the movie:

“If you was hit by a truck and you was lying out there in that gutter dying, and you had time to sing one song… One song that people would remember before you’re dirt. One song that would let God know how you felt about your time here on Earth. One song that would sum you up.  You tellin’ me that’s the song you’d sing? … Or… would you sing somethin’ different. Somethin’ real. Somethin’ you felt.”

The irony of my failure is that I actually have a pretty good idea what I’m passionate about (the story-telling element that Ridley Scott calls “World Building”).  But that hasn’t been what I’m working on.

So I’m turning it all around.

I’m going to build worlds – in commercials, video games, movies, and television.

And my audacious goal is to write and direct a feature film.

I’m not sure about my methods, and it’s going to take me some time to even fully develop the processes and rituals that are going to get me there…

This is Day 1.

Meanwhile, 5 Months Later…

Did I mention my main plan is screenwriting?  Hmm… well there will be more about that later…

Update on all progress:

– 2 TV Pilots written

– 1 spec TV show outlined

– 3 reality show proposals completed

Next Steps:

– 2 Reality Company meetings this month

– 1 meeting with one of the largest agencies on the planet.  Wish me luck.