Saturday, March 23, 2013

Decisions, Decisions

So I put CHTHONIC on hold because a recent Hollywood release was simply too close to my concept and execution. It wasn't exact, but certain major elements were clearly there. Some suggested I just ignore the film and press on with mine. Just let the Hollywood film do its run and it'll be forgotten, most likely, by the time mine is done. Under the old world circumstances I would have done that, but this is the age of films having a life beyond theaters. The Hollywood film in question will likely be out on DVD/BluRay within a few months, and be on cable and streaming, so it won't really go away. And even though I conceived, wrote and started shooting CHTHONIC before I knew this other film had been made and was being released, I'll be accused of copy-catting. As a director -- no, as a producer also -- I know it would drive me nuts and work a number on my enthusiasm to go through all the effort and angst it takes to get a feature film completed knowing that The Industry already beat me to my basic concept. CHTHONIC has a very big difference from the Hollywood film in question, and the script is good, so it will get made. For now, I just can't do it under the circumstances.

So, what to do?

As you know by now, I'm putting together a film festival for one Saturday in November. I'm very excited about this for a variety of reasons. First, it's my type of event. My favorite genres and styles of films, the sort of things I'd like to see in a vendors room, a celebration of nerdy love for classic pulp era style adventure, fantasy and classic horror of the type that doesn't require air sickness bags on hand. I don't know personally of any other film festivals doing what we're doing. Adventure is usually misinterpreted to mean super-ridiculous action thrills, fantasy ends up being an overdone display of production art and CGI ( I long for the days when visual effects are used to enhance the story and action, not bombard them or even be the reason people go see a movie. CGI nuts could take a lesson from the old school use of matte paintings...) and horror has become something so literal I almost advocate a new genre designator for the more gothic and supernatural-themed classic stuff which I prefer. All that is why I'm doing the festival I'm doing. It's coming together and I know will be a lot of work between now and showtime, but it'll be worth it. The question is: Should I do another contemporary supernatural horror film or should I go balls to the wall and just do an adventure movie, something I can put together a trailer for and preview at the festival?

It's tempting because that's the sort of film I want to make. But there all the considerations. Do I make the contemporary thriller/horror film because that would be easier to make "look like a so-called real movie"? The argument for that is that when I distribute it, it'll be taken more 'seriously'. But I don't necessarily make my films for the people who take them 'seriously'. Those people, frankly, can be snarky assholes. The idea is that a 'real' film might get picked up for distribution and then I'm "in". That's simply bullshit. Besides, I'm already "in" as a Canadian company has recently finished an adaptation of a screen story I wrote with my buddy Mike Williamson. My other option is to make the sort of film that festival audiences -- specifically the sort of audience I would be sitting in -- love and talk about. There are so many distribution choices now, too, but the problem of piracy remains and I'm not keen on doing all the work to create something only to have some jack-off with fucked up political perspective on the world think it's OK to spread my movie all over the internet for idiots like him or herself to have for free -- especially when most of these petulant little assholes will likely just trash it with their snarky commentary. Another consideration is where I'm at in life: I've had another career already and am turning 50 this year. While, in spite of what you under 40 rubes think, that is not old, it is out of the range of having time to waste. I would argue my current position along life's journey dictates I should do the film I want to do.

And that's about the time my mind says, "Yes, but you could do two quick horror features in the time it will take you to finish the adventure you want to do" to which my other personality says, "Oh, but one well done adventure movie will represent better than two quickie 'crappy' horror films" and the debate goes on.

The argument for going ahead and doing my own films is clear: a friend recently shared an article that discussed the hard facts about getting an indie film produced right now. Investors/producers are backing away from films primarily because of the piracy issue. Too much money is being lost. Naturally, it's the small indie filmmaker that's taking the hit because producers would rather gamble on the big stuff with a take so potentially large as to offset the loss from the inevitable piracy (I can't tell you how much I hate the people who think intellectual property belongs to the world). Indie filmmakers take creative chances that Hollywood will not. Producers, however, can't be that courageous with their money. The solution is to change the distribution model and I'm resigned to that. I've tried my method and it works. The beauty of it is that the audiences I get are the most likely to appreciate the films I really want to do.

Problem solved, right?

Sort of. I still must decide: low budget creepy atmosphere horror film? Or dynamic adventure film?

The answer may be in the fact that there are SO MANY indie filmmakers doing low budget creepy atmosphere horror films. But there are not many, if any, doing dynamic adventure films. Movies on the indie level are a lot of work. I'd rather know that I'm doing something not every indie filmmaker is doing. That means, old fashioned pulp era adventure.

Well, it looks like I've identified my genre. Now to write a story...

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