I've been writing a lot of micro or flash fiction in between screenplay revisions. I really like flash fiction, it allows me to explore a moment of time or an emotion while playing around with language. A piece of mine called, How Airplane Videos Keep Us Grounded, is posted on a lit magazine called, Word Catalyst. In the past, I had written some short pieces, but I wasn't doing it consistently. But now that I've been doing it regularly, I see my imagination opening up. I think writing these kinds of piece are great a great workout for writers!
Between pulling different pieces of Raspberry Magic together, re-writing my new piece and teaching, I've been a little crazed. But we've found an awesome location for Raspberry Magic--I'm not going to say anything specific about it just yet because I don't want to jinx anything, but it's really the perfect place and would work very well for us. The other question has always been whether I'm shooting the movie on Super 16mm film or digital. I've always wanted to go Super 16mm film, because I like that grainy surreal look. But, a lot of people have tried to talk me out of it, especially because there are so many amazing digital cameras out there now, and if we use 35mm lens, we can really get a great look. So, after long talks with the DP, producer and several other people, I've decided digital will be okay. I think HD Video is now becoming it's own look, and people here in Hollywood are much more in sync with that look rather than Super 16mm. I had some angst about digital, but ultimately, I realized it's just going to make the process easier, plus, we have some excellent people helping us to get the look that I want. Also, this will allow me to get as many takes as I want without being totally stressed, and I may be, seeing that the film's got lots of kids. We pretty much have our core team in place, like the DP, line producer, etc, but I really haven't found a production designer yet. I don't know too many production designers, but I def. need someone good. It would be great if this person was an Art Director too, (welcome to low budget filmmaking), but we may have to split the roles. I'm sure we'll find this person, but for now, I've been doing a bit of searching on the look/feel. The climax of the movie is a science fair, and I've written in some funny projects. But someone recently sent me a link to this hilarious site with 41 Hilarious Science Experiments--real kids, real science projects. I love it!!!
A couple of days ago, my husband and went to see the hilarious South Asian comic, Russell Peters perform at the Nokia Stadium here in LA! Nokia! A huge venue which was sold out for his latest show. I couldn't believe how big the show was, because the last time we saw him was at a tiny venue in LA called, The Laugh Factory. It's interesting because his comedy sort of pokes fun at all of us in-betweeners: Indians, Chinese, Persians, sometimes Latinos, in other words, those of us outside just black and white. He's tapped into huge market, and I think it's really exciting, because it means that there are other people out there, like me, who want fresh, new ideas, especially funny ones. I love his Chinese accent, and his famous "Be a man" bit never fails to make me laugh.
I was really saddened to learn that the child who was shot in the Oxnard school shooting was declared brain dead. It's a sad epidemic in this country--kids shooting kids over what used to be a simple case of bullying or playground angst. Every time I hear of another shooting, I am disturbed, and I really feel like we, as the adults, have to do more to stop this kind of violence amongst youth. It feels like schools have become battle fields, and there is nothing being done to quell it. No politician seems to have an answer to stopping these kinds of shootings. I'm def. a proponent of gun control, but I also think there needs to be education and awareness among teachers and students about this kind of violence.
So, the strike is finally over. Things will slowly creep back into action, but it'll be interesting to see how it all plays out, especially with new film and television projects, and especially how the web will play a role in all of this. According to an LA Times article, so many people, especially young people, have turned to the web for entertainment, it'll be interesting to see how many people are lured back into TV. On another front, we're moving forward on our little indie film, I've had a couple of good meetings with actors, and I feel excited about the cast that's shaping up. We had a conversation with a distributor the other day who said he felt our movie would be impossible to market because it features a South Asian family. I can see his point in some ways, but on the flip side, so many people have said that the movie is very much about an American family who happens to be South Asian. Many people believe that the overall themes and ideas in the movie are universal and can transcend being just a South Asian film. Also, with the success of movie like Bend it Like Beckham and even Monsoon Wedding, I feel like the color of the actors' skin is becoming less of an issue. Honestly, I think some really smart distributor could market this film in an interesting way and make a damn good return on it! Maybe I'm too idealistic, but I truly believe that this film has a place in the market, that people will come and see it not because it's about Indian people, but because it's about people!
As some of you may/may not know, in addition to working on my movies, I also have the pleasure of teaching writing and filmmaking at a couple of colleges. This semester at LMU, I am teaching a course on shooting movies using cell phones and other portable devices. The class has been fun because students don't have to fill out all the forms, etc like they have to do in ordinary production classes, and can instead just go make movies. We limit the length to around two minutes for the films, and the class really focuses on storytelling paradigms. By that, I mean, we do a discussion on using media to convince/persuade, then we have students shoot something and show it it class. Another professor and I spent last semester developing the class, and it's been pretty cool to see it through. I think a lot of students at LMU are still not that keen on the idea of movies on mobiles devices, because they are still interested in traditional production. So the group we have is self selected and are very progressive and tech savvy people, which is pretty cool. I believe these students are opening themselves up to a lot of very interesting work opportunities. That was kind of how it was for me when I graduated from college. I was an English/public policy major, but bc of an internship, I got really into web design and found that I liked it. Web design was a great foot in the door as a congressional aide as well as a way to get a fellowship for my Master's degree at UC-Berkeley. I think movies on mobile devices will be more common, and the "small screen" itself will become a medium. There is definitely a need for content in this arena. Now, the crazy thing is, someone sent me a very interesting article from the NY Times on the popularity of "cell phone novels" in Japan. The article is called, "Thumbs Race as Japan’s Best Sellers Go Cellular." The crazy thing is, according to the article, ten of the top best sellers this year started out as cell phone novels. This is truly amazing, isn't it? I think people crave stories in every format no matter.
This week, I completed a new script that I've been working on for the past six months or so. It's been a long haul, but the process of writing this piece has been much more fluid than much of my work in the past. Also, it's exciting to me because I believe that the script has a much more commercial feel that some of my past work. I'm sending the piece out to a few trusted people for notes, then we'll see what happens next! It's exciting. The crazy thing is, I've been writing so much over the past few weeks, my hands and back are absolutely killing me. I sound like an old geezer, but honestly, it is a serious issue, being on the computer for such long hours. I really need to figure out some way to sit/type so that I'm not in this much pain. I got a massage last week, but that didn't seem to help. Ugh! On the Raspberry Magic front, we got a couple more people to invest, and we've actually been talking to a couple of distributors. Don't know what will come of that in the immediate, but at least we have a conversation going. We're actually excited about some actors, too. It's hard because people want us to cast big stars in the film so it has a better chance of selling, but sometimes I hate the idea of stars because it seems like the focus of the movie then shifts to the "star" rather than the actually film. Miranda July was damn lucky to be able to get away with casting all unknowns in her film, Me, You and Everyone we Know. But then again, Miranda July has been hailed a genius, so she can get away with it. If it were up to me, I would simply cast actors, meaning people who can act their asses off, rather than people who are stars. But such is the business of filmmaking, so we'll see what happens!