Some years ago I received some money from George Soros to make a documentary about the children of prison inmates. The film is called Life Without…, and I received some development and pre-production money. Apparently, Soros eventually turned his whole film funding stuff over to the Sundance folks. They now oversee his program, and they inherited my project.
Let's get this straight right now, I have a problem with what Sundance has become, NOT what it started out to be. I also know that there are some really nice people that work there, because I have met one of them. (Who no longer works there.) I have written and spoken extensively about my problems with what Sundance has become and what a joke I think the place is because it no longer has any real connection with Real Independents. (It's a great place for $10 million films with big stars, and to watch Paris Hilton party)
Anyway, I was invited there 2 years ago to meet with this fellow about Life Without… (I was in town anyway.) This guy proceeded to introduce me around the office. Everyone was checking me out in a very weird way. I was informed later that they all knew who I was and some of the things I had said about their organization. I actually thought it was pretty funny, I don't think they shared my sense of humor. In fact they seemed rather humorless. I would still get updates from Sundance about different programs they have going on and how I should be applying for these things.
A couple weeks ago I received a note with a survey they asked me to fill out. As a public service I am going to re-print it the survey with my answers over the next few days.
Here is part one…
1) What stage is your Project in now? (development, production, rough cut, advanced rough cut, fine cut, finished)
A. I am still in development, and fundraising. In reality, Life Without is on the back burner.
2) Do you have a projected completion date (it doesn't have to be firm)?
A. No, but I always finish my movies.
3) Do you intend to apply to a subsequent grant category from Sundance? Which one?
(We're moving to a deadline system for grant proposals. The deadline for the fall round will be July 4, 2008. We welcome proposals submitted before the deadline.)
A. I seriously doubt it. I don't have much luck with programs like yours. Programs like yours usually ask for too much stuff that has nothing to do with making movies. You all seem to want consultants, and famous people signed on. It's not what I do.
4) Do you intend to/hope to apply to SFF 09?
A. No, I won't be applying to SFF anytime. Not my kind of scene.
5) Where are you in your storytelling? (have characters, have story structure, have a migraine...)
A. Life Without is a documentary. I know what I want and I know what I need. I just need to find the right people for the movie.
6) Do you have the team you need for this stage? Are you seeking other people to continue or complete?
A. I am an Independent Filmmaker, I have people I can call on to work with me on production, I usually handle everything else myself. I have been working this way for 25 years.
7) What would you say you need most (consulting editor, executive producer, broadcaster or foreign sales agent, festival strategy, outreach and impact plan, time in the editing room, web master, other?)
A. I need time and money.
I am a touring filmmaker, I spend 5-6 months a year on the road showing my films and teaching filmmaking work shops. I have a book coming out in a couple months (The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide) which I am doing the marketing for. I also self distribute my movies, 8 short films, 3 features, and 2 documentaries. When I am home I am editing my new films, trying to raise money for Life Without… and another documentary I am working on, writing another feature, handling the marketing and booking for my tours and trying to be a Dad.
I am also looking for sponsors for my tours. Both financial and equipment sponsors, do you know how expensive gas is these days? I drive over 30,000 miles a year to get to my gigs.
If I had the time and money to spend 6 months at home without having to worry about bills I could get a lot of things done, not just on Life Without…
8) Are you available to travel?
Yes. See the previous answer.
End Part one.
And now, your AF Tip of the Day.
Avoid the star bullshit. There are plenty of great actors around who will work their ass off and give you great performances.
- - from The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide (coming in Spring 2008)