Over the next couple of months, I plan to be in pre-production and production on my passion project, “Mountain,” a project I’ve been trying to get made for four years.† I thought it might be interesting for me, as well as film lovers, to journal the exploits of this project.† Iíll try to do this once a week, and perhaps you can get a glimpse into the process of how a movie gets made.
Today, Jenkins Entertainment officially secured our side of the financing. I wonít give details, but we put a chunk of money into an account, combining investments from a few different people including our company. There is a financing group that loves our project and has verbally committed to bankrolling the picture assuming that they can verify our funds. Today was that verification. So now they get their stuff together to put up the rest of the money and greenlight the movie. Of course, we have to agree on all the terms and the contracts and all that, and that will likely take some time, but weíre moving along.
Ironically, thereís another company that is showing the same interest. I met with these guys a couple months ago, and they said they were in, but they didnít get back to me with anything official. The group from the above paragraph came in out of the blue, so I hit the ground running with them. After all these years of frustration with this project, itís bizarre that I might actually get to a place where Iím turning money down.
Hereís how this current group came about, itís quite a story. A producer from Texas named David Chandler, whoís been trying to get some projects set up out here for years, has always loved Mountain. We became buddies through our discussions about each otherís projects, and heís always tried to get Mountain in the hands of various people, but nothing has come of it. We donít have a deal or anything, heís just been doing what he can on the side. Anyhoo, a couple months ago his aunt was in a small town in Georgia and struck up a conversation with a stranger, who told her about all the developments that were taking place in this town. For some reason, she mentioned a movie studio and gave Davidís aunt a brochure. Davidís aunt then passed it on to David, who decided to contact this production facility for the heck of it.
He cold-called them and said basically, ďI know you guys are a production facility and arenít investors, but Iíve got a cool project that should be shot in the south, and Iím wondering if you know of any money guys who are shooting some films at your place.Ē The guy gave David contact info for some guys, David got ahold of them, sent them the script, and voilaĖthey loved it, one of the producers grew up near where the story took place and had heard of Bob Childress (the man on which the story is based), and they wanted to make it. Unless these guys are liars or stupid, neither of which appears to be the case, theyíve got the money and are on board. All they needed was proof from us that we can guarantee some funds as well, which we did today.
Funny how God works, assuming He cares about my career and the movie business and actually has a hand in all this. Of course, I know He cares about my career, but sometimes I think we think Heís devoting more time to our vain pursuits than he actually is. Either way, Iíll take it and give Him credit for anything good that happens.
So right now Iím preparing to make this movie assuming everything gets in order. I need to get the script in great shape before itís sent to actors, so Iím doing some last minute adjustments.
One common note Iím getting from a few people is that thereís a problem in the first act. This story is about a man who goes from being the hardest drinker and biggest fighter in his mountain region to a preacher who civilizes it. The thrust of the story is in the change he brings to the people in this depressed, backwards, deep mountain region, but we also need to take some time to show how he transformed. Not an easy task, because we have to do it in 20-25 pages so we get to the meat of the story quick enough.
Our trick is to try to show what would lead him to be desperate to make such a big change in his life. Thatís easy to talk aboutĖĒhe was sad, depressed, felt like his life wasnít going anywhere, and actually contemplated suicideĒĖbut not easy to portray on screen. Weíve got plenty of moments and incidents in the script that cause Bob to be frustrated and angry about how insane and violent the mountain region is, but we need moments of inner turmoil for Bob as well; private moments that show how dark and down he is. So thatís what Iím working on right now, trying to find those moments that are cinematic.
The good news is the majority of people really like the script a lot. The bad news is that those who donít love it make some decent points. Itís always easier when someone doesnít like something youíve done but they canít give good reasons why. That said, I think itís more important to seek out people who disagree with you or donít like something youíre creating than to surround yourself with unconditionally supportive people. Iíd rather hear bad things now, while I can still correct them, then read them in the paper from a critic after the movieís out.
Iím also reading Steven Soderberghís journal while making ďSex, Lies, & Videotape,Ē which was his debut feature. I suppose that journal is inspiring this in some ways. Itís a great book, from the perspective of one of my idols, about a movie that really changed Hollywood in many ways. Iím reading this while also reading books and watching DVDís on Appalachia. Iím making a movie about the Appalachian mountains in the early 1900ísĖI suppose itís a world I need to know really well. I also figure that maybe I can get a few nuggets that would look good in the script.
All right, thatís enough for now.
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