Tuesday, December 30, 2008

First Iteration of Website up

I've been spending the last few weeks working on titles, there is a lot of them in this movie. Ian, the web developer also finished a first iteration of the website. It's solid. Check it out: http://www.winorlosemovie.com

I still need to make a real trailer for the film...on the way.

Friday, December 12, 2008

This Week

This week I submitted to some big festivals: Hot Docs, SXSW and True False and Tribecca SXSW seems like a good match for the film but there is no way to tell what festival will take it. I'm trying to come up with a tag line for the film, this is what I came up with or stole from the internet:
1) To win the game is great, to love the game is greater but to lose the
game sucks.
2) The only way to prove your a good sport is to lose.
3) Most games are lost not won,
4) Winning isn't everything but its way better than losing.
5) If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?
6)You win some, you lose some and then you go home.

What do you guys think?

Oh, and here are some new titles I thought of:
Learning to Lose: A Camp Story
Pulling The 12: A Camp Story
Camp Loser
To jump or to throw: A Camp Story

Yeah, I don't like any of them either.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Denny Screening, Sound Design & Film Festivals Rejections

Last week I screened the film to Denny Rosen, he is the director of Camp Ojibwa. 3 1/2 years ago when I showed up to Camp Ojibwa we had made a signed agreement when I started filming that Denny would have final say on the whether the film would be released. If we disagreed over something in the cut an arbitrator would be brought in. Naturally I was nervous when I screened, but it went great. He was brought to tears at the end. Although he didn't sign any official location releases he definitely loved it and didn't make any threats to my life at the end.

This week I got several unfortunate replies from film festivals. I got rejections from Sundance, Slamdance and Palm Springs. Blasts to the ego but no sweat for the film. There's dozens of more festivals, I'm sure eventually it will find some nice festivals.

We are very close to finishing sound design and music composition. Just a few last songs to tweak and two temp songs to replace. I think I'm going to start color correction soon as well.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Long Road of Consultants

After graduating film school I had a film in my hand but it was far from done. I knew this because upon showing it to people they would ask me questions like 'what was the name of that kid in your film?' and 'who actually won?' - they couldn't follow who was who and they didn't care about any of the characters in the film: slight problems. I began to work with another consultant, Eric Taylor. He created the series Unsolved Mysteries. He's more 'old school' in his approach to filmmaking, we worked off paper-cuts (scripts) of the film instead off of the computer. Eric really helped make the film not suck. He helped me find a narrative through line that made sense. After 5 months of editing with him, he said we were done and it was time to go to a fine-cut editor.

I showed the film to several editors, about 10. Many said the film was done and they were willing to work on it. Which was great. But two said the film was far from done and needed major work. One of them was Kurt Engfer, who edited many of Michael Moore's films. I respected his opinion. He had agreed to look at my film for free and offer his critique, which was far from pretty. One of the other editing-dissenters was Flavia Fontes, she agreed to work on a consulting basis with me to fix the film. For another 4 to 6 months we worked on the film, meeting on a weekly basis. She was phenomenal to work with; she had a knack for creating likable characters and expressing universal themes. Eventually, she, like many others before her, said the film was done. Flavia and I talked about going to sound design. We also talked about several film festivals to enter into but I was hesitant. I had been here before. I showed the film to two new faces. People that never saw the film before. One was an editor who I highly admired, his name was Chris White.

After showing Chris the film, he said something I had heard before: 'you're a loser, why did you make this piece of sh*t?'. Just kidding, he said it wasn't done. The good news was he thought the last 2/3rd's of the film just needed to be touched up. The bad news was the first act needed to be re-structured. I worked with Chris only over the phone on a consulting basis and continue to work with Flavia. Chris and I didn't meet more than 5 times total, but in those few meetings he helped me solve the beginning of the film.

Finally, I took the film to Sound Design with Mike Furjanic, who also did my sound design for a short film I made in grad school. I also began music composition with Nadim Issa who is a member of the talented, New York based band Mancino. Nadim also did music composition on my short film. Both are very talented. Mike did the sound design for Jesus Camp and Mancino has been featured in Spin.com. We are so close to finishing, can't wait to be done.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The First Year of Production

3 1/2 years ago I started production on a documentary about my camp. I needed to make a thesis film to graduate film school. I had never made a documentary before but I liked the idea of the minimal pre-production involved with doc filmmaking and of course I had many documentary filmmakers I adored. I thought collegiate week at camp Ojibwa was a good story for a documentary. All the drama takes place within 2 weeks at Camp. I wouldn't have to follow someone around for many years, I wouldn't have to work on this documentary for many years, at least that is what I thought.

So I called the camp director Denny and pitched him my idea and he said yes. I asked my good friend Zach if he would do sound and help me direct and he also agreed. I rented a camera package from the film department and showed up at camp a month later for the last two weeks of camp. I had never shot a second of documentary footage before that. Zach had never held a boom pole. And the first thing Denny says to us when we get to camp is something like 'you screw me over and I'll cut your balls off.'

For two weeks we shot 12 to 15 hour days. We shot everything. We shot completely on instinct; if we liked something we'd shoot it. By the end of the two weeks we knew we had something funny, emotional and energized. We had 70 hours of footage. There were clear-cut characters with stakes, at least in my mind. There was also a clear ending to our story. We thought we had it in the bag. I went home eager to edit.

I got home and watched all 72 hours. It was exhausting, not nearly as fun as filming. Not really knowing what I was doing, I began to cut together scenes. I put together a 20-minute cut and showed it to my professor at school. I was hoping he would t0ell me how brilliant we were and how amazing the story was. Perhaps I could finish editing in a few months and graduate sooner than later. Film festivals were just around the corner, months away.

Instead he said I have a lot more work to do, I was getting a little ahead of my self. He didn't know who any of the characters were. He explained that the characters needed to be properly introduced. Of course, seems so obvious in retrospect but at the time I didn't know. He recommended I film the main characters at home kind of like in the documentary Spellbound. I called Zach and told him we'd have to do more filming. We would spend a month traveling around the mid-west filming campers in their houses and at counselors at their colleges. By the end we had accumulated 30 more hours of footage.

I cut together some more scenes and put together over an hour long cut with rough character introductions. I think I had over 6 main characters in the film. My professors and I worked on it until we thought it was satisfactory for me to graduate with. About 1 Year after I initially started filming I would graduate film school with this doc as my thesis. I was excited to graduate and almost be done with the film. I began to send emails out to campers and counselors explaining the film was almost done. I figured it would just need some fine-tuning and it would be all ready to go. I could move onto my next project in no time. This was a slight miscalculation.