EMK’s Film Notes: Pushing Through Purgatory

Some people have a passion for law. Some people have a passion for religion. Some nature, and on and on.

For me, creating stories is my passion. Filmmaking is one of the most exciting headaches that there is for me. Long periods of time are spent thinking about ideas, writing them down for months, developing scripts, then holding fundraising campaigns and sometimes they get made, sometimes they don’t.

After years of acting and auditioning in Los Angeles, and after being involved more and more as a producer on films, I decided to direct a feature film a few years ago thinking I would make another one right away and that I would just do this from now on. I finished the film and instead of just jumping into the next project, I got caught up with the release and all of that mindlessness. I only say that the release is mindless because it’s all in the eyes of the beholder and the only thing that’s going to satisfy myself is to be working on the next film not talking about how much fun it was to make the one that is done.

I think there is an energy window that exists soon after you make a film. The window was open. I remember I saw the window and I hesitated to jump through it, and before I knew it that naive energy was gone and then hesitation purgatory took over.

So here I am now. Hello.

About three months ago, while polishing up a script that requires a real budget (at least $200k or more), I thought about how much fun it would be to just make something with almost no crew and a couple of actors. I had been messing around with a treatment for a series of films about three different drifters who leave Los Angeles. The idea came out of wanting to make a bare bones film with nothing but a few strong actors, a detailed outline, and easy locations using natural light. I’m not making a Mumblecore movie (not that there is anything wrong with Mumblecore movies!). I’m just employing some of the virtues of Mumblecore, and moreso, Dogma 95.

Fast-forward to a few weeks later and I’m sitting in my living room with Sapna Gandhi (versatile actress and my producing partner), and our two good friends, Ethan Kogan (actor and filmmaking wizard) and Jessica Silvetti (another incredible actress multi-hyphenate) pitching this idea to them. They both look at me and say “Great. When?” Full. Steam. Ahead. Conversations ensue. The treatment continues to grow and the characters continue to develop. The fundraising video came together fairly quickly with the help of the platform we are using (Seed&Spark) and Ethan, who helped me edit and design it. Ethan also had a great idea for his character to take a daily film journal on a Russian crank camera called a LomoKino. We had already done some test footage on film that we had scanned, so we cut together a montage with a short monologue that I had written for his character, and it looked great. Then I went out with the DOP Kiko Suura and we took some test footage on a few different lenses he is thinking of using for the shoot.

Alright, my head is on straight. I’m focused. In one week, we are going to launch the fundraising campaign for About Strangers. It’s the first film in a series of three films about drifters on the road. It’s about what happens when you are a stranger in a strange land and you want to leave and go back to where you’re from and get lost. It’s about my life and about the lives of other people I’ve come in contact with. It’s about making something personal and tangible and not worrying about names or budgets or whatever.

Just a filmmaker making his film. I’ve officially pushed through Purgatory.