Quiet River at the Madrid International Film Festival, Redux

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So our little movie Quiet River has been nominated for Best Feature Film and Best Cinematography at the Madrid International Film Festival. Good news, and we’re happy that the film is being recognized like this in such an esteemed international festival.

I have to make mention of the fact, however, that QR is by most standards a tiny, tiny movie — the entire budget was less than $5000, and on good days the crew was only three people — myself, producer/production designer Shane Meador, and Director of Photography Shane Peters (yes, out of three crew members, two of them are named Shane). Occasionally, I was my own DP, and operated completely solo — with no assistants or even a second crew member. Our camera budget was nil, though we did use an old/awesome Canon 5D and Shane let us use his vintage Nikon lenses to give it an interesting, “digital 70’s” look.

Thus, to have a major international festival recognize our photography (and our movie in general) as superior … well, to say it makes me feel good is an understatement. Thank you, Madrid!

Moving Pictures — WNC Magazine

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Recently I was featured in WNC Magazine in an article on North Carolina filmmakers. I had the pleasure to be part of a conversation about regional indie film in the 21st Century, along with such great filmmakers as Jack Sholder (Nightmare On Elm Street 2, The Hidden), Rod Murphy (Being The Diablo), Erin Derham (Buskin’ Blues), Paul Bonesteel, James Suttles and more. Read the article here. Great photography by Stewart O’Shields.

Summer Dreams

Image05No plans for me to star in Grease this summer, or to date Olivia Newton John.

But I do have plans. First, I’m teaching a filmmaking intensive at the NYS3 School, a (very) well-regarded acting and performance facility here in Asheville, North Carolina. Should be lots of fun. Sign up here if you want. You’ll learn something, I promise.

And … I’m also writing my second novel, called “In The Dark All Cats Are Grey.” This is a story that’s been floating around in my head for awhile, and it’s just time to finally get it down. About a small town kid in the early 1900’s who’s recruited into a shadowy occultist organization, it’s a little like “My Antonia” filtered through the darkest Stephen King. Or if Harry Potter were written by Nic Pizzolato. Tons of research, lots of cool stuff to learn, it’s a longer story but a worthy one. I’m very excited.

That’s my plans. What are yours?

More Press for American Breakdown

In the midst of our Kickstarter campaign for American Breakdown, more articles and press are making their way onto the Interwebs.

Asheville’s influential blog, Ashvegas, has a nice little press release here, and Mentorless.com asked me to write about my tips for no-budget filmmaking. You can find that article here.

And as always, please take a look at the Kickstarter for American Breakdown, and if you can, contribute!

Kickstanding — I mean, Kickstarting

We’re live on Kickstarter! We’ve raised a little money. Not that much, but a little! Go here to check out American Breakdown on Kickstarter. And remember, in the world of finance, nothing matters but cold hard cash. Please support indie film!

American Breakdown on Kickstarter.

Like a Grain of Sand

So, if you’ve read this blog at all (and don’t feel bad if you haven’t), you know that I’m gearing up for my third feature — a small but noble project called Rods & Cones. It’s been an interesting process of development — collaborating with the principal actors and crew to create a story in which our characters can roam free.

In the time-honored tradition of Robert Rodriguez, we crafted a tale that fit our available locations, talent and general story-world, and worked hard to fill in the details. One decision led to another and suddenly a full-fledged saga emerged — one which is hopefully as rich and compelling as any big-budgeted drama.

In a recent interview with Shane Carruth, the mastermind behind the very interesting low-budget indie Primer, he mentioned how many folks would tell him how good his movie was — for the money in which he had to make it. It was almost as if they were patting him on the back, telling him, “Not bad — for a person with developmental issues.” Carruth wisely made a decision: All of his budgets would now be a secret, because in the end it wasn’t about the money — it was about the ideas and the execution. “This thing about the budget,” he said, “I never want to hear those words again.”

What’s really interesting, though, is how much the world around us seems to rise to help us once we get going and gain momentum. A location scout with several crew members recently ended up fortuitously solving several problems at once — some with near complete randomness. It’s almost as if the world around us wants us to make a creative project come to fruition. People sense our drive and our commitment and want to help; they admire our energy and want to be involved.

But just as important is how a project accretes positive attributes like a pearl forming around a grain of sand — little by little, bit by bit. One decision leads to another, which in turn affects the whole, leading into yet another generation of decisions and positive developments. Flexibility is key, of course, as is a team of dedicated people you trust. And a little luck. But ultimately a story and a project develops that is as strong — or perhaps even stronger — than one which is toiled over in isolation for years.

In the end, it’s about the drive, the energy and the desire to get something done. “Enthusiasm,” William Blake once said, “is the all in all.”