3 Thoughts for Sundance Filmmakers – January 27th, 2014

It’s been a while since I’ve written a post but with good reason. First, I’ve been working day and night putting the finishing touches on my comic book script for the Top Cow Talent Hunt. I’m terribly proud but we all know that doesn’t mean much unless I get one of the writing spots. I can’t say a lot at the moment… aw, f**k it. Here’s one hint. My comic is about this artifact:

Glacier-Stone_History_Sm

The other reason it took an age to write a blog post is because I went to Sundance this year. In 4.5 days I managed to to catch 17 movies (those in bold were my favorites).

  • The Green Prince
  • Dinosaur 13
  • Camp X-Ray
  • God’s Pocket
  • Animation Spotlight
  • Frank
  • The Guest
  • Ping Pong Summer
  • Whitey: The United States v. James J. Bulger
  • Marmato
  • To Be Takei
  • Land Ho!
  • Life After Beth
  • Life Itself
  • Kumiko the Treasure Hunter
  • The Sleepwalker
  • No No: A Dockumentary

*Note: that’s also the order in which I watched them.

Now, instead of getting into a “this film is better than that film” post, let me offer some thoughts about all the films I saw.

One, no matter what the subject, or when it’s set, your film must speak to today’s audience. If you’re making a film for Sundance 1994, you won’t find a receptive audience unless you jump in a TARDIS and zip back twenty years. I’m not saying that your film has to be “ripped from the headlines” but you should be addressing some faction of today’s audience directly. It doesn’t matter if it’s a movie for old people or LARPers or revolutionaries, address an audience that’s here in a theater, now.

Two, hook us with your characters. If you can’t hook us with your characters, you’d better have an amazing, mind bending idea and at least three other things that’ll draw us in. I’m talking about amazing cinematography and nudity and “big” name stars, plus your movie had truly better be “something we’ve never seen before” and not just “something I (the filmmaker) have never seen before” — that just tells me that you haven’t done your homework. Note: even if you have all of the above, you’ll still have an uphill battle. Do yourself a favor and make those characters great.

Three, cut 10-20 minutes out of your film. Every film I saw could stand to lose at least 10 minutes. Those that could lose more were usually overstuffed by the filmmaker. At some point in the edit, consider your theme, find a way to balance disparate element or throw them out. Remember, this won’t be the only film you make. This won’t be your only creative endeavor. Resist the urge to stuff it with everything you have to say.

And with that, I’m going to say “adios“. I’m not gonna get into the many discussions about indie film that permeated Sundance. Let others argue if there are too many indies being made or if indies have become too inaccessible and self-indulgent.

Me, I gotta move on to my spec TV script becuase I’ve got a lot of episodes of this show to reverse engineer:

OrphanBlack_S2

Until the next update.

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