It is exciting, we're now working with a casting director, Emily Schweber. She came highly recommended through a number of folks in mine and Megha's circle, and we're super stoked about working with her. She will be a huge help in casting all of the children and some of the other roles, especially the teacher and publisher. For the mother and father roles, we are working with the ever talented Meera Simhan (Date Movie) and Ravi Kapoor (Crossing Jordan). Then for the janitor, we've cast James Morrison (24, Jarhead)--we are very excited to be working with these talented actors!


Where We're At

Making a feature film is already a highly complicated undertaking, and in times like these it becomes even more tough. Over the past few months, we watched the economic situation go from bad to horrible. This means it's that much more tough for us to raise money. I think folks who would have put in without any issues a few years back are now hesitant. What does this mean for us? Well, it's sort of tricky because we've raised quite a chunk (I think) to do something, but not all that we want. I've gone in huge circles over the past few months and been stressed about what to do. We decided back on Sept. 1 to proceed--simply make the film. It's been good since we made that decision. We've been working super hard--put out some calls for locations, and folks have responded. We're talked to a great casting director, and she has been responsive. But I do feel a constant sense of angst about this whole money thing. In other words, will we be okay? What will happen to us, making a feature at such a low budget? I mean, in moments when I really stress, I remind myself that all of my shorts were basically made for no budget (well, a couple thousand dollars and a credit card), and I still managed to make something, get it into festivals and even win a few awards. On the bright side, since the economy is so bad and production is slow even here in LA, there may be a chance to get some deals, which we are presently hustling. It isn't easy, but we def. having film and it's def. coming together.


McCain is Afraid

Yes, that's my basic assessment of the situation, because we all know McCain has been MIA, not voting on jack shit for at least the past year. So why the rush to get back to "the people's business"? The first theory is that he's just plain afraid to debate Obama, because he knows his ass will get waxed. It's probably also a ploy to knock the dates for the VP debates out of whack, so maybe by some slim chance, Palin doesn't have to get her ass up there. Or most importantly, maybe McCain needs to get back to the "people's" business to bail his banking cronies out of the hole, to get his CEO homies the multi-million dollar severance packages they want. It's pretty fucking outrageous, for real. Get your ass up there and debate fool, it's an election!

The Plot Thickens

A tumbling economy, a massive bailout financed by the taxpayers, a candidate who wants to pull of out of the debates, Bush inviting both McCain and Obama to discuss the situation... The plot just gets deeper and deeper, and honestly, it's all starting to sound like a... A movie!! Fiction really couldn't really make it any more interesting!!


Rallying a Team

So, there is this whole process in filmmaking, particularly in Hollywood, where before you actually get a work made, you send your material (screenplay) out to managers, producers, agents and other people to get a team around you and actually make a movie. What happens is that you mostly get rejected. A lot of people tell you they're not interested, a lot of other people say it's not the right project, and others just don't respond. It takes a long time, and in some cases years, for this process to go through it's rightful cycle, and then you finally, finally you meet someone who really likes your work. Then slowly, that person brings in more people and so on. For some writers/filmmakers, it just happens quicker, maybe because the work was highly commercial or a very powerful person gravitated toward it. I used to think that that's how things worked, in general, like something would happen in an instant, but now I see that it really takes time. The whole thing, too, is that even when you start getting people in your corner, not everyone else is going to believe in the work. But what's really important is that you have that core team who believes in the work, so it doesn't really matter who else rejects you. With Raspberry Magic, I had a producer like the script, and then a manager. That manager hooked me up with talent, who in turn liked the script. That talent was able to bring on more talent, and with the producer, we were able to get a few investors. With those investors came more investors. Slowly but surely, we have made Raspberry Magic into a real, living/breathing entity. It's a long process, but I understand now how that process comes to fruition...


Dark Times

It's hard to stay positive in these really difficult times, when basic things are a huge question mark. I mean, the fact that we can no longer completely trust the banks is a very scary thing. I went ahead and broke up the accounts for the Raspberry Magic, just to be safe. The whole economy and everything has got me feeling very restless and very uneasy about everything. While on a day to day basis everything is generally fine on my end, these are certainly very tough times to be an indie filmmaker. Money is tight and people who might ordinarily write a check without hesitation are now understandably nervous. On top of that, there have been incredibly bleak forecasts for selling indie films, as well. All of this has me feeling heavy, very heavy. But what do we do in times like these? Stop? Give up? forget about our aspirations? Seems like maybe that's the answer, and trust me, I have felt that way in many fleeting moments over the past couple of months. As corny as it sounds, though, these are truly the times when we have to simply do what we always do, and move forward. Especially as artists, now is a time when people need beauty, they need something that gives them hope and joy. For me, art has always played this role, and I feel more resolve than ever to keep going. In terms of making my film, we are basically there, all we need is $70K more to really be okay. Maybe it's not all of the money we originally wanted, and maybe there are compromises that will have to be made. But isn't this the nature of indie filmmaking? Shit, isn't this the nature of existing? And yes, there are many naysayers about indie film right now, but in reality, I think that once things settle down, the market for indie film is going to be much, much better than it ever was before, I think this could happen over the next few months, too. The current business model for indie filmmaking basically sucks. You make a movie, and then you basically stand on a street corner and beg someone to pay you for it. Megha and I have always been very clear that our strategy to bring RM to market will be much more comprehensive than just getting picked up at a festival. In our business plan, it is outlined much like the way Peter Broderick recently described on indie wire, in his new model for selling movies. His approach is what we have taken all along, to break up the distribution among many entities so that we have control. And, we've been exploring some very new and exciting places that are dying for content like ours, a family film. On some level, even though things are tough right now, it feels like the right/perfect time to make Raspberry Magic. I mean, it's a story about a family falling apart due to debt and the father's job loss, and a girl trying to figure out how to handle it. I personally went through this a few times when I was growing up, I mean, my dad losing his job and being nervous/confused about it, so I can relate to all of you out there dealing with tough times. That's really the essence of RM, and that's why I have to get it out there.


F*****ing Keynote!

So, Megha and I are doing an audio pitch of our presentation to a group of people up in the Bay which is great, it really is, but the problem is, we've had so many issues in Keynote, I'm about to go nuts. Basically, we have a beautiful presentation we do for people, usually in person. This time, we wanted to add narration over then export it. No big deal, right??? Especially since the latest version of Keynote promises this feature. As if it isn't already hard to enough to record the talk in one, long take, the other issue is that we had to cut it way, way down. Finally, after getting it just right, we learned that there is a major, major glitch in the audio output of Keynote. Basically, the sound either does not make it out at all, or when it does come out, it's totally and completely choppy. I thought I could bring it all into Final Cut Pro and fix it up pretty easily, but no, of course not. After many long hours of tinkering and outputting then re-outputting, I came up with the following solution: I imported the audio into iMovie, then exported it as a .aiff. Then, I basically timed all of the slides in Keynote, then recorded them to that time using a damn stopwatch, yes, a stopwatch. This is because there is no timeline function in Keynote that really makes this work. Then, like some people on the boards mentioned, I outputted using the Apple Codec--this is the key to getting rid of that choppy ass audio. I believe that Keynote outputs audio to QT in some strange way which causes all the issues. Finally, I joined the two tracks right in Quicktime. The Apple discussion board was so, so helpful, a savior, really. Next time around, I would just record the audio in GarageBand, then put it under Keynote... Now, I've just got to burn/label the DVDs and I'll be good to go...........


Hectic but moving...

It's been super hectic lately with my semester of teaching starting and the movie ramping up. I also made it through the first round of the Sundance labs, so I finally turned in my script last week, which was good, but a crazy taxi driver hit me on the way over, go figure (long story). Anyway, since we made the decision to shoot Dec. 1, things have been moving forward at full speed. We've been going back and forth in terms of what camera to shoot on, but we finally decided--The Red. Megha and I were undecided before, only because we've heard about some difficulties in post. But we met with a good colorist and generally technical guy last week who went through the process with us and assured us that it would be fine. My DP is on the wait list for the camera, so I hope he gets it soon, else we'll have to rent it. But I'm excited about shooting on it, only because the depth and color range is pretty wide, and once we put some 35mm lens on it, the images will look stunning, especially the forest. We are also going to be working with a really good casting director, which will make things a lot easier in terms of finding the right kids. We have some great leads on the adults, but the kids are a little harder. Now comes the fun part for me, as well, finally, after all of this raising money (which still isn't over), I will be directing. Yes, what I set out to do in the first place, direct a movie. So, I'm already thinking a bit about different elements (have been forever), but now, I will start thinking about setups, in terms of each scene. Before I do that, I plan to go through the screenplay and look at each scene for subtext, motivation and deeper visual undertones. I know it seems weird to do this, especially since I'm the one who wrote it, but I now want to put my director hat on and start thinking about the movie visually. It's pretty exciting, but I'll feel a little better about it all once we get more team members on board and some of the logistical elements come together!


Time to step up...

Watching the political debates this time around has been fascinating. Palin coming out of wood work, the first black president, etc. Even though I was pretty put off by Palin's background (just imagine if Obama had a pregnant teen-aged daughter, he would have been out of there a long, long time ago!!), I have to say that she carried herself very well in her speech. She came off as being, well, an ordinary American poised to do extraordinary things (I'm sure a presidential bid is in her future). But I couldn't help but feel disgusted the entire time, especially with all of the fierce and harsh attacks against Obama and the same fear-based rhetoric about terrorism. The Republicans have done a damn good job of painting Obama as a candidate with little substance and thin experience. Now, the Dems really, really need to step up their game. It's time to really push the facts: the economy has been miserable under the Republicans, the Republicans have very little or new ideas for a greener future. (Drill, baby, drill? What the??) For the past few days, we've been inundated with Palin. Now it's time for the Dems to come back and hit hard. Obama shouldn't hold back. He has got to respond to Giuliani's mean spirited attacks, and really play into his strengths. He has got to nail it to McCain voters--McCain's time has come and gone. He is nothing short of washed up and really and truly has no new policy agenda except the same, old crap.


Raspberry Magic Update

Okay, so my producing partner and I have spent the past two years working really hard to raise money for our indie feature. Between the two us of, we have a pretty great roster of contacts. We've pitched to some angel investors, a number of high net worth individuals, and even a few production companies. It's a tough, tough game, especially for a first time director/producer team. What I hate most the anticipation of talking to someone, then all of the waiting. And then of course, the rejection is always a bit tough, too. Despite all of the "no's", we've gotten quite a few "yes's," and while we still have a few more checks to go, we have done what we needed to do a long time ago: set a steadfast date.

We are shooting this movie Dec. 1, and that's just it. It sounds crazy, but with a clear date, so many things have come together, I can't even explain fully how much lighter I'm feeling. We are shooting the film in the Bay area, specifically, in the Montclair region on Oakland. There's an awesome forest, school and even a few great homes there. We also have a lot of help in terms of crew up there. Now, we are working on putting the deals together. Our budget is small, so every single dollar counts. But this is what filmmaking is all about, and it feels really good to be moving forward... Stay tuned.