Tag Archives: dear dios

Making A Movie Day 7 — The Penguin gone Cray Cray

Alright, I realize blogging on a daily basis about making a movie is not as exciting or fun as just ranting.

I’ll tell you why — Making a movie requires completion of a lot of technicalities, which take time to execute.  Such as creating main website for film, updating synopses, researching desired producers and production companies, etc.  Although that may be a Noah’s Ark Boat load of fun for me, it’s not that fun to write about and I imagine read SO until the process gets JUICY, I won’t bore you or myself with A) The emotional highs and lows of such a process and B) The practical highs and lows of such a process.

Blogging about cooking Julia Child meals on a nightly basis as Julie did in Julie & Julia is much more enjoyable for writer and reader than blogging about surfing IMDBpro and starting a tumblr account.

So, although I continue working on my first feature Dear Dios over the next year, I’ll only blog about the scandalous, enticing, and J-U-I-C-Y details.

MAN, doing this group therapy-mandated whole life inventory and consequential, resentment breakdown has me crazier than Danny DeVito as The Penguin in Batman Returns.

Wrapped up in the world of ME proves more than a tad unhinging and by that I mean absolutely maddening.  Sifting through the suckage and okayness of my life over a 26-year period has flared up ALL of my character defects/defenses: narcissism, control-freakishness, perfectionism, workaholism, self-flogging (which I almost called “self-flatulence”), and gorging on Entemann’s chocolate cake and countless bowls of “Honey Bunches of Oats.”

YUCK.

Spiritual & Psychological growth is one painful ugly sonumabitch.  A procedure I must undergo if I don’t want to rot inside until I my dying day 🙂

Yes, next Tuesday I read the inventory to my group therapy mentor.  Hopefully then, just maybe, I’ll be able to pull back from the transfixing pond that reflects back to me my visage a.k.a. NOT DROWN in mah’ B.S.

While attempting to finish this inventory for the past 2 weeks, I haven’t really spoken with or spent quality time with … well, hardly anyone …

It’s a self-imposed solitary confinement driven by the belief that when I FINALLY finish the task at hand I will deserve to reward myself — with connecting to other human beings in the world.

Gawd, I take myself SO seriously!  Gah!  It makes me want to eat ENTEMANNS!!

Last night, however, I experienced a nice deliverance from the well of echoing imperfection that is mah’ self-reflection when I hung out with two buds, Mama Geee & Sass, at House of Pies.

At one point during our discourse about cheating spouses and famous celebrity cheaters, Mama Geee commented, “”EW, Lance Armstrong cheated? But he’s ugly & has no balls!”  It connected me to my spiritual center and made my night.  Thanks Mama Geee!!!

Much has happened in the world today, per the usual.  Great things, miraculous things, awful things, terrifying things, spontaneous things, unforeseen things …

It’s great to know that when I want to stop my ego from swallowing me whole — during this intense period of personal healing — I can always look outside to the world’s ongoings and take peace from the fact that there is much yet to experience, much yet to learn, and much yet to re-watch like Batman Returns.


 


Making A Movie Day 5 — Killing & Burying the Ideal Self

Okay, after a couple of hours of wallow and nap, I’m up and active.

Today, as my previous post affirmed, did suck.  Not because anything awful happened to me (thank baby jesus in da manger), but because personal growth is hard.

I spent most of my waking hours this past weekend working on my whole life inventory’s (80 pgs, 9 point font, written over the last year and a half ) — resentment breakdown list, which is about 30 resentments so far and about 15 pages or so.

I was supposed to have it finished by this morning so I could read it in one sitting to my group therapy mentor and then we could begin work on my character defects. To keep healing and growing, you know, but the truth is I wasn’t able to finish the resentment breakdown so we rescheduled the read aloud for next Tuesday.

I wasn’t able to finish it because my obsessive attention to detail and enslavement to thoroughness, makes it quite impossible for me to skip or skim most things. Especially anything art and spirituality/emotional & psychological healing related.

Yet my obsession with the passage of time — my race to accomplish more, BE more constantly tricks me into setting unrealistic deadlines for myself.

Deadlines that bludgeon me with a clock hand — the size of the metal ones you find in train stations.

I set deadlines that prove unrealistic and unhealthy for my detail-oriented nature. It’s not that I can’t make the set deadlines, but that I’m usually pulling all-nighters and sacrificing other areas of my life to do so.  Often times, I don’t make many of the severe “around the corner” deadlines I set for myself because I can’t bring myself to sacrifice the quality of the task at hand.  I know I’m cheating it if I do.

Of course, when I inevitably don’t meet said austere deadlines — I pummel myself with a large block of wood that has the word “F-A-I-L-U-R-E” spray-painted across it. So then I set another deadline (the one I should have originally set for myself) and meet it.

Instead of blindly following the pattern, as usual — today I heard my mentor’s voice when she said to me again what she’s told me for a long time, “Your life is not a race.”

My life is not a race.  What a brutal yet liberating concept to assimilate…

I’ve always felt that I’m falling one step behind if I don’t race to finish the book, finish the film, get the grant, get the awards, make high honor roll, etc.

I’ve lived in an incessant relentless competition with my ideal self since I was about 7-years old.

Focusing on my ideal self obviously means, however, that I’m never enough now.

I compare my body, my career, my romances and lack thereof constantly, relentlessly with those who seem to have all their chit’ TOGETHER.

As Carly Simon once sang about Warren Beatty:

Well, I hear you went up to Saratoga
And your horse naturally won
Then you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia
To see the total eclipse of the sun
Well, you’re where you should be all the time
And when you’re not, you’re with
Some underworld spy or the wife of a close friend
Wife of a close friend …

That’s the person I compare myself to — never those “worse off” always those “doing better.”

As Martin Luther King Jr. once said (By the By, Happy BDay Papa King!!!):

I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the “isness” of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal “oughtness” that forever confronts him.

This “oughtness” is my greatest and gravest obsession — to become the best me and all the while I’m not the best me, I feel that I’m just wasting my potential.

It’s clear to me today, that I fail at this feat because it’s an impossible one to achieve — Likened to trying to reach the Sun on foot.

Worries swim through my head all day and all night: If I don’t finish this resentment breakdown then I can’t work on the “To Do’s” for my film then I’m pushed back a week, and then and then and … Always falling deeper into the “isness” and further away from the “oughtness” …

The question is: Do I continue relating to my life this way?

If I am ever to be happy, to take enjoyment in the things I do — in the variations of the Self I become — I must humble myself to the moment that is, raise my white flag, and embrace that I’ve failed.

I will never win “The Race” I’ve imagined myself winning since I was a little girl because the race never ends … but the body, the mind, and the soul do tire …

I’m tired.

Thus, I surrender to the process of living — the one life has set out for me — and drive a stake through the heart of my beloved Brass Ring.

Making a movie — making this movie Dear Dios — isn’t about proving to myself that I can do it or that I can do it as quickly and as perfectly as my ideal self can — It isn’t about the Nicholls Fellowships or the Sundance Labs or the Cannes Film Festival –It isn’t about getting signed by CAA or backed by the Weinstein Company…

Dear Dios is about learning to make a movie with other creative people I’m inspired by in a manner I enjoy — learning to make a film that I artistically respect and love — learning to cut out the unnecessary middle men and make my work available to people all over the world through forums that are affordable for them and economically lucrative for me — learning as an artist/filmmaker and business woman to work from a place of principle not of fear so that humility, quality of craft, and accessibility of art are my aims not the Brass Rings.

On that note, this blog — which follows the making of a portion of my first feature Dear Dios over 365 days — will focus primarily on making the movie while achieving balance in my life as a whole person — spiritually, psychologically, emotionally, socially, romantically.

There is no race.  I have nothing to prove.  I have failed my ideal self and exchange its dead body for a chance to enjoy the great unknown — like a nomad, a wanderer, an explorer.

A groundless, frightened, passion-driven thing that admits she knows nothing and exists on earth for the sole purpose of learning.

That being said, I’ve made my tumblr account for Dear Dios, which will illustrate the film’s press kit a.k.a synopses, logline, tagline, artistic inspirations such as paintings and photographs, music links, articles, ETC.  I’ll also include a paypal button as fundraising, starting on the smallest scale, will begin shortly.

I plan on buying a domain name and forwarding it to the tumblr account and of course, linking that up to this blog and my main website.

I plan on updating my director’s reel, resume, main website, and official news/press blog.

Oh, yeah, and I haven’t seen Baby Dewds in almost 2 weeks, which means I have to get in some Baby Dewds University quality time ASAP.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Making a Movie Day 3 — “I” ain’t my career.

So, I decided to get started early on today’s blog — like at midnight of January 15th instead of at day’s end because …

I have a loooooong Saturday ahead of me.  A long weekend, actually.

I keep wracking my brain for the next “To Do” regarding my film Dear Dios and my book The Voting Booth After Dark: Despicable, Embarrassing, Repulsive — whose characters are based off of the Dear Dios script characters.  I’ve decided to focus my energies in 2011 on these two specific projects.

1) Continuing promotion on my book: Interviews & Reviews.

2) Getting my film off the ground — meaning done with pre-production and ready for production a.k.a. producers, production company, financing, cast/crew, and distribution deal in place … or at least 3 out of the 5 😉

Still, being an artist is being someone who internalizes every single bloody thing that happens, reflects upon the internalized, and expresses their contemplations through an art form.  Consequently, I can’t just focus on the business end of things and push aside the creativity.  It’s like pouring water on a space heater.

When I tried to do that in my early 20’s; my heart imploded into my brain and my brain exploded into my mouth and my mouth poured into the world a rotted deteriorating sight, scent, and sound.

Believe me, I tried for many years to BE what I DO for career — to identify myself solely as “writer/filmmaker,” but we human beings are much much much more than what we professionally do.  Our innate profundity always sabotages our cheap conscious-level efforts to be lesser.

To derive any real three-dimensional joy out of life, I must continue to work on myself as a whole human being.

There is no stagnancy in Life — you either grow or shribble and die.  Your pick.

I’ve done the whole shribble and die dance and UGH, it’s sooooo boring and AWFUL!  Consequently …

A huge part of choosing growth is choosing to grow my whole-self, which requires developing emotional, psychological, and spiritual health. Nurturing the well-being of these specific areas cultivates my gratitude, humility, and compassion. Thus nourishing my perspective and as a result, my art.

I must be honest with myself.  I’m meeting with my group therapy mentor on Monday and reading her the inventory on my entire life.  All 80 pages  (9-point font), which took me a year and a half to do.

I have 2 days worth of work left to do on it and 2 days until we meet, which means:

I must finish the assignment this Saturday & Sunday.

It’s vital to my personal healing = overall well-being.

I can’t realistically research and watch films on Fandor this weekend.  I must go to work on Saturday from 8am – 4pm and spend the rest of the weekend finishing the inventory.

I feel like a slacker, like a lazy bum, like a slothful ingrate when I don’t work on my film and book 24/7.

I must embody the mindset that I’m working on my film even when I’m not working on my film as long as I’m fortifying the other poignant areas of my life …

Next Week’s Strategy for Dear Dios (while I wait for the 4 film books to arrive in the mail):

1) Update my Director’s Reel

2) Update the Dear Dios web page with synopses

3) Update Main Web page with Bloggimia info

4) Update Press/News Site with new publicity info

5) Renew my IMDBpro subscription

That’s of course, aside from my book promotion tasks, which I’m not detailing in these posts because they mainly entail research on blogs, magazines, newspapers, radio/tv/internet shows, sending them emails, following up, and mailing them books for review.  You get the picture.

Alright, enough of my boring rants!  Gah!  Hopefully mah’ funny kicks into these blog posts soon.

Layta Gaytaz!

Ps. I’m beginning the book When God Was a Woman tonight before clonking out. Woohoo!

 


Making A Movie Day 2 — Knowledge is Power, but Experience…

Alright, after hours of research, I found various potentially magnificent/helpful indie filmmaking books, but since I’m a filmmaker on a budget — I weeded through them — to the most presently pertinent and bought the on amazon.com (shipping within 5 – 8 business days) for $46.70.  Bargain hunted and got 1 used and 3 new — which turned out cheaper than “used” because of amazon’s super-savings shipping deal.

Throughout these years of research, I’ve come across countless helpful websites — an OVERWHELMING amount — but during this specific search I delved into the advice of these two:

1) List of Indie Filmmaking Book Recommendations

2) List of Indie Filmmaking Websites

What they said, coupled with a bunch of other stuff I read, brought me to buy these 4 books:

OF MOTIVATIONAL/INSPIRATIONAL/ETHICAL/CREATIVE VALUE

1) My First Movie: Twenty Celebrated Directors Talk about Their First Film

2) Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player

OF PRACTICAL/TECHNICAL VALUE

3)From Reel to Deal: Everything You Need to Create a Successful Independent Film

4) The Insider’s Guide to Independent Film Distribution

The biggest stress for me proves to be NOT reading EVERY book and article I come across, which could potentially assist me in KNOWING how to more perfectly execute this process.  I think at times — if I know more, school myself more, prepare myself more — I’ll pull off the film more perfectly.  Sort of like a toddler obsessed with walking — she can study other kids’ walks, ask them how they do it, ask her mother (the doctor) how physiologically legs are able to move in such a balanced effortless way, ask her father how he gets them to run so quickly because she’d love to run that fast too …

Yes, all of this information will help ease her into walking and later on running, but only attempting it will actually get her DOING it.  Practice — only in experience — makes progress …

Therefore, I have to let my little perfectionist toddler school herself in theory, but only while she takes action in reality.

Experience is where feeling makes sense to body and consequently, movement acquires meaning.  It’s a fine balance — preparing oneself to take action and taking it.

A balance that seems entirely personal and subjective … Balance, I believe, is gauged by individual intuition.

Intuition: Listening to the wisdom between my ears where thoughts and words go quiet.  Where knowledge rests, effortlessly understood, and instincts bow, awe-struck, to Nature’s orders …

Making a movie is, in fact, exactly like walking.  First you observe/absorb the act in order to prepare for it and then you do it when intuition says so — applying to the best of your ability what you learned — in order to grasp, better, and master it. Intrinsic to this process, of course, is a lot of risk and stumbling.

What I spewed was just a lot of babble blah blah for what I really meant to say:

I’m excited to learn from books and real-life experience how to make mah’ beloved moooobie! But I have to stay aware of my tricky perfectionism or I’ll waste away in the safety of study and always theoretically “know how to make a feature” … but not in actuality :/  STAY ALERT to your sly self-sabotaging ways, Banethita!

The icing on mah’ cake is that tonight after work, my friend Dustin was kind enough to offer me his free extra ticket to as he calls it, “A Tricked Out Technicolor lecture on historical & philosophical influence of color vocabulary” a.k.a. WHAT IF ESQUIMAUX HAD NO WORDS FOR BLUE? The History & Philosophical Significance of 19th Century Color Vocabulary Studies – An Illustrated Lecture by – PROFESSOR ZED ADAMS.  Yes!

Strategy for Tomorrow:

1) Spiritual Maintenance: Finish breaking down my whole life inventory (80 pgs 9 point font) to read to my mentor on Monday/let go.

2) Watch a film that I’d like Dear Dios to take visual inspiration from on Fandor: A curated service for independent and international films on demand. The Fandor team scours the globe for award-winning narrative features, docs and shorts screened at film festivals around the world … Aims to be a destination for film-lovers and filmmakers who look past the multiplex to a world of inspired, beautiful and surprising film.

Thanks for the link, Arianne Sved!


Making A Movie Day 1 — Perfectionism

I’ve been inspired by the NC-17 horror film Julie & Julia to blog for 365 days about the making of my first feature film Dear Dios.

It’ll be like watching Atreyu’s quest to save The Land of Fantasia in The Neverending Story.  Lock yourself in a middle-school attic, throw moth-eaten blankets over your head, and start swiggin’ some popcorn …

For The Journey Begins

Today is Day 1.


I want “making a movie” to be perfect — all of it.  I want this blog post to be perfect, to outline perfectly exactly the plan that is to take place.  To specify — like I would in a grant application — each detailed step of the process.

I’ve come to accept, however, what I refused to admit to myself even 2 weeks ago:

Yes, I’m experienced in making short fiction films and documentaries on shoe string budgets, but I don’t know how BEST to go about pulling off a narrative feature film since I’ve never made one before.

Ego-smashing and 100% true.  So let’s see what the next 364 days teaches me about such an operation.

I am open …

“May we be fearless…from known and unknown…May all the directions be our allies.” – Atharva Veda

I wrote the Dear Dios (originally titled Deity) screenplay in 2007 and have been revising it/polishing it/refining it ever since.  I believe it’s one draft away from Dynamite a.k.a A Shootable Script.

As I explained in previous blogs, I’ve applied to grants and other forms of “Academia”-style support and validation for 3 years to no avail.  No Sundance Fellowship, No Slamdance Screenplay Competition Award, No Gotham Awards, No American Screenwriting Competition Award, No Nicholls Fellowship, Etc. My gut knows I gave those applications all I had so now the time has come to change direction.  Grants, Mentorships, Residencies, Contests — Competitions — have proven a barren fruit tree for Dear Dios, therefore I am done putting energy into them.

I embrace that the machinations of Making A Movie won’t bend to my perfectionistic (controlling fear-based) designs.  Rather, I have to learn to dance with the rhythms of its organic yet unpredictable nature.

1st New Year’s Resolution: Vanessa, don’t apply to grants or residencies or fellowships or contests NO matter HOW badly you want to.  You’re just investing a lot of hard work into excuses.

“Perfectionism leads to Procrastination leads to Paralysis.”

A New Year calls for New Strategies.

Today’s Strategies:

1) Accept that I need to try new avenues, and remain completely open to their lessons — whatever they turn out to be.

2) Research Inspirational and Practically Applicable Books by independent filmmakers whose creative work and professional careers I admire. How did Pedro Almodovar, John Waters, Werner Herzog, David Lynch, Guillermo Del Torro, Christine Vachon, etc. make their movies early in their careers?

3) Order 2 of those books.  One inspirational.  One practically applicable.

“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen … Stay the course.  When thwarted try again; harder; smarter.  Persevere relentlessly.”  – Coach John Wooden


At Mamushka’s — Contemplating Luck and Meryl Streep

I’m afraid.  Afraid that I don’t know how to “make it.”

Not that I’m not talented enough or intelligent enough or brazen enough or enough of a troubleshooter because, quite frankly, the passage of time has made me into these things … Humbled by life’s various expressions of the concept “No” — into these things. Rejection has broken me in half, dipped the sliced parts in acid, bulldozed the remains into slithers of thin rice paper, gathered the bits back together, and poured it all into a hot iron cast — where I slowly, but surely melded into one again.

I’ve been sculpted into a woman who works really really really hard for what she loves, trusting that serendipity will conspire at some point with that hard work to produce finished projects, which she is proud to call Her Art Work.

Poetry, Essays, Short Stories, Reviews, Books, Screenplays, Documentaries, Short Fiction Films …

and … quite possibly, one day soon, the reigning Goddess of them all:

— A Full Narrative Feature.

Even so, I am afraid — scared shitless really — that my talent, intelligence, skill, and tenacity aren’t enough to “make it.”

To make it — my feature film Dear Dios — in a manageable and enjoyable manner.

I’ve run the Guerilla-filmmaking track several times, and learned along the way that making a finished film is not the great hurdle — Distributing a finished film is.

One of the best films I’ve ever seen is The Last Summer of La Boyita. Have you ever heard of it?  Exactly.

Hollywood isn’t made famous so much for the quality/artistry of its films, but for the quality/artistry of its Distribution of films. Hollywood gets movies marketed and exhibited all over the world through numerous avenues — film festival circuits, theatrical runs, dvd rentals, pay per view, cable distribution, netflix instant streaming, etc.  Hollywood gives Movies — quality or not — a shot in the global psyche by seemlessly shoving them into the faces of countless millions.

It’s not the art of filmmaking that weighs down on my neck — that I fret about in the dark hours of sleepless weeks — but the art of distribution: 1) Marketing 2) Exhibition

I know a lot of filmmakers, specifically independent filmmakers, who get their films funded through grants and/or fiscal sponsorship of sorts.  Most of these films are documentaries or narratives about minority issues.

I also know a lot of independent filmmakers that get their films funded through corporate backing and advertising profits.

The creative quality of the projects vary from breathtakingly outstanding to abusively horrid.

The one commonality most of these films share, which staples them into my brain:  They can’t secure proper distribution.  This means the film doesn’t get what it really needs to be SEEN: 1) Killer Marketing 2) Audience Accessibility through numerous Exhibition channels.

I could go on and on about the many countless mainstream and guerilla ways a filmmaker employs to make/distribute their films. Additionally, I could go on and on about my first hand experience, the endless hours of the research I’ve conducted, the seminars I’ve attended, the books I’ve read, and the advice I’ve been given on those topics …

But I’m trying to get to the root of my anguish … What burdens me, fills my chest with tacks, and bludgeons my passionate fearlessness into a whimpering pup.

What I know to be “the horror stories of the moviemaking business” or “the slim chances of getting a feature film off the ground” or…blah blah blah — are not what scare me.  I’ve heard it all and seen a lot of it and I don’t care.

Dear Dios is getting made and shown …

I’m terrified by the fact that I just don’t know the best full-proof  way to go about it.

My main concerns being: 1) Maintaining creative control 2) Securing Proper Distribution, which includes hefty marketing and smart exhibition strategies/audience accessibility.

Like I said in the blog post before this one: Grants were Plan A.   The dream plan.   Academia’s stamp of support and approval.  I know many a blessed filmmaker who fund their projects and livelihoods this way.

3 years later — Plan A is Plan Over.  The 40-hour applications proved great writing practice: Sped up the quality and delivery of treatments, vision summaries, synopses, screenplay, and honed my essay writing skills like no formal writing course ever did.

Aside from that, however, nothing — only neon mailing confirmations and post office receipts scattered about my computer desk. Reminders that, not so long ago, I naively thought and hoped with every inch of me that “making a movie” could be a safe and predictable affair.

Years of Academia train you to believe in such false havens.  The Academic Way is characterized by a comforting lovely structure: When you do your best — you apply and get accepted, turn in test and get an A,  graduate from Grade X and move onto Grade Y.  It creates an unrealistic picture of Life — as being a controllable and comprehensible thing.

When in actuality, Life is Mother Nature — a transient and unpredictable force — The Wild West.

So yes, I’m scared.  Scared that I can’t, as I had once hoped when applying to grants, make my movie with a formulaic certainty.  Approach it — strategically and emotionally — the way I use to do school exams.   Scared of the open ended dance with Serendipity I now face …

Yes, I’m riddled with anxiety, fear, and worry.  Anxious that a small being must pull off such a grandiose task.  Afraid that neither timing or opportunity knows of  my existence.  Worried that preparation and hard work won’t make up for Serendipity’s unruly and inconsistent presence in my life.

Scared shitless that Luck picks favorites and is so taken with the charming Meryl Streep, it may have forgotten about me.


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