Sunday, March 23, 2014

Make A "Connection" with me THIS Wednesday!!



Hey All,

As you probably know I'm making a film. It's called "Connection".

In support of the film, I'm doing a one-day fundraising webathon on Wednesday, March 26th starting at 7 a.m. and going until Midnight (PST). All the details are HERE.

I know you are probably as tired of crowd funding solicitations as anyone else, so we're keeping a very short promotional window and doing it all on a single day!!

And on top of that we're going to host a really fun, informative and engaging show for 17 HOURS!! If you are not a fan of filmmaking, not a fan of the subject matter or not a fan of me, personally, :)…then hopefully the show will earn your support. PLEASE TUNE IN!

We'd love for you to be a part of it, too. During the show, post to us anytime on our Facebook page or Skype (connectionthefilm) us directly during our call-in segments and breaks in the show. Would love to feel the love from those of you I see all the time, would love to hear from those of you I haven't heard from in awhile, and would love to meet those of you I haven't met.

As some of you know, I've done this webathon thing before and it was a huge success. Our goal is to break our own single day record. And we can do it with YOUR support! Donate whatever you can and/or spread the word via email, Facebook, Twitter, whatever. Ideally, you will support and then let the world know that you did.

This film means a lot to me, being my first feature film as a director in over 12 years. So, I DEEPLY appreciate your support and consideration.

Hope to "Connect" this Wednesday!

Best,
J.

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Few Questions About The Creative Process For "Connection"

My good friend Sean Hood, who has his own blog (Genre Hacks), asked me to write something about "Connection"'s creative journey that he could post on his blog. He asked a number of questions, much of it about screenwriting/filmmaking, in general. But since it includes"Connection", I naturally had to post it here, too. Enjoy!

How is writing an independent, micro-budget movie different than writing traditional spec script?
The main difference is that in writing an indie, micro-budget feature,  you MUST write within the bounds of your resources. Meaning, you have to consider, with each scene/location/prop/stunt/etc. how you are going to shoot it and how much it will cost. It sounds restrictive, but it actually forces you to come up with imaginative ways to realize things that money can't simply buy. With a traditional spec script, your imagination is unhindered by such things.  The difference between the two kinds of scripts, however, are minimal for me, since even with an unlimited budget, I would be drawn toward telling the same kind of stories, in the same kind of way, that I am doing on a micro-budget: Character-driven pieces set in a compelling dynamic. I make lower budgeted films, not simply because I have to, but because I choose to.

How is your story, in structure and content, different from a "Save The Cat" screenplay?
The main difference is that in my story, people are too busy having sex (or trying to) to even notice the cat. I actually am not too familiar with the whole "Save The Cat" thing and not very motivated to understand it too deeply. My loose understanding is that a "Save The Cat" screenplay follows all the traditional Hollywood story-telling paradigms, including having the main character "Save The Cat" early on to build audience sympathy for them. Real people are more complex than any standard paradigms and that I'm vastly more interested in exploring that complexity than smoothing it out for entertainment value. My story doesn't answer questions. It asks them and leaves the audience to consider them.

How do your plans as director inform your choices in the writing process?
I actually tend to try to separate the two. Of course, I can't help but visualize the film and think about directorial issues while I'm writing, but I try not to let that hinder me in any significant way. I simply focus on what the characters and circumstances are telling me as I make creative choices. Is there tension? Is it compelling? Is it authentic? Is it working on multiple levels? These are my four main general concerns while I'm writing. Then, when I direct, I "bury" the writer. The script becomes nothing more than a blueprint that I am free to re-interpret based on visual style, pacing, location, casting, quality of performance and many other real-world factors once we are actually committing it to film (or HD video, as is usually the case these days).

Why did you decide to fund this film through kickstarter and other fundraising campaigns rather than through a traditional production company or studio?
Two reasons. Well, three actually. The first is that the budget I saw for this film was in that zone between self-financing (or raising money just from people you know) and traditional production company or studio financing. I couldn't have done the film the way I want to do it on a smaller budget. Of course, I could've gone the other direction and simply done the film for a larger budget, but that leads to the second reason I didn't go the traditional route: the film itself. The subject matter is challenging and I want to explore it in a challenging way. It will not be typical Hollywood fare and I don't have faith that traditional funding entities are interested in funding anything that doesn't have commercial appeal and/or serious star power. The third reason is that I don't know many people in the traditional production company or studio world, nor do I have much interest in developing those contacts. For the most part, I'm not at all a fan of the films they often choose to do.

How can people follow the making of this film, either as fans and fellow filmmakers who may involved in the same process?
Given the ubiquity of social media, there are numerous ways to "connect" with CONNECTION. Here are the ones we have thus far:
Our Crowd Funder: http://filmmakersalliance.org/CONNECTION_Fundraiser.html
Our website: http://connection-thefilm.com/
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/CONNECTION_film
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ConnectionTheFilm
On YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/ConnectionTheFilm
On Tumblr: http://connection-thefilm.tumblr.com
On Instagram: http://instagram.com/connectionthefilm




Thursday, February 20, 2014

"Connecting" You....


...with "Connection"




Yes, it's me and my damn movie, again. To be totally straightforward, I'm making a last-ditch crowd funding effort - looking for $10 (or more, if possible) from each of my friends, family, acquaintances, filmmaking colleagues, social media contacts, ex- best friends, ex-girlfriends and one-night stands who have yet to support my first feature film in over 12 years. Can you do it? We are at a critical time, now, as we race toward production, so trying to see if this crowd funding thing can truly work and finally get us to our goal of $100k. 

Why is it a critical time? Because "Connection" is live!

Meaning, we've officially launched into pre-production for our April shoot. Offers have been made this week for the lead couple. Can't say their names right now but they are one of the many listed at the bottom of this note. Would love to get your thoughts. Who we get is partially dependent on how much we can afford to pay - and we have to be able to make an offer asap (funds are typically put in escrow for high-visibility actors). We've raised $100k for production (trying to get more, of course) and now immediately need funds to back the offers to our actors without challenging our production budget.

We've also launched out site: http://connection-thefilm.com/. Would love to get your feedback on that, as well.

I know there are more important social, environmental, health and other issues to support out there and, perhaps, lots of other creative projects (don't know about you, but I get inundated with Kickstarter requests), so just hoping that I am in the mix in terms of things you choose to support. And hoping that your contribution will not only be small and painless….but rewarding. 

Please go here for more info/details:

And go here to directly show your support:

Cannot thank you enough for your encouragement and support!!!

With DEEP appreciation,
J.

Jacques Thelemaque
President, Filmmakers Alliance
Co-President, FA Productions
1317 N. San Fernando Blvd, #366 
Burbank, CA 91504-4236 
310-568-0633 office
323-397-2164 cell
jacques@filmmakersalliance.org
jacques@faprods.com
http://www.faprods.com
http://www.filmmakersalliance.org
http://filmmakerslife.blogspot.com


Actors under consideration for "CONNECTION":

"Melissa"
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Julianne Nicholson
Keri Russell
Elizabeth Moss
Kelly MacDonald
Elizabeth Banks
Kate Beckinsdale
Katie Holmes
Amy Adams
Rebecca Hall
Bryce Dallas Howard
Jessica Chastain
Sara Paulson
Diane Kruger
Emily Blunt
Abbie Cornish
Rachel McAdams 
Rachel Weisz
Kate Winslett 
Marion Cotillard
Vera Farmiga
Lena Headey
Anne Heche
Hilary Swank
Reese Witherspoon
Christina Ricci

"Benjamin"
Peter Sarsgaard
Matthew Rhys
James Badge Dale
Mark Duplass
Alex Karpovsky
Corey Stoll
Ewan McGregor
Bill Hader
Jake Johnson
Mark Feuerstein
Justin Kirk
Stuart Townsend
James Tupper
Michael Vartan
Bryan Greenberg
Jon Heder
Jack Davenport

John Hawkes

Monday, February 17, 2014

Confessions of a 3rd Page Addict

As some of you know, I've been involved recently with a group of writers/filmmakers in something called "3rd Page". It is as simple as this: once a week, one among us sends out a set of 3 key words which we call "prompts". They can be almost anything - a place, a thing, a color, a concept, etc. - and are usually totally random and unrelated to each other. For example a recent prompt is "Storm. Microscopic. Jolt." Then we each write a 3 page script (no shorter, no longer) that, in some way, incorporates the prompt.

The idea is to write a short film - a fully fleshed out, stand-alone story - in 3 pages. No small challenge. So, it is not unusual to see a script that is part of what could obviously be a much larger whole. But, again, the goal is to create a stand alone piece in 3 pages.

The scripts are uploaded to the 3rd Page website, where they are "copyrighted" using the Creative Commons model - meaning, the scripts are open to use by ANYONE as long as the original writer is credited. We basically let go of any proprietary energy about the scripts in hopes of seeing them energize and inspire other creative types of all stripes. Maybe even see them realized as films by filmmakers anywhere in the world.

The final aspect of the group is that, those of us in the LA area, get together "once a week" to read and discuss the work that gets created. I put "once a week" in quotes because our weekly meetings are interrupted for all manner of work/life conflicts. Certainly, individuals don't attend every weekly meeting and the group as a whole skips many a week - sometimes whole months at a time. But I do my best to address each prompt and meet as often as the group meets.  Why? Because I'm addicted to 3rd Page.

I have been asked more than once why, with my busy schedule and a feature film shoot looming in April, I still devote time to this group which engages in an endeavor that has almost zero professional value. Well, first of all, I don't really believe there is zero professional or commercial value in 3rd Page. I think we are creating a huge treasure of GREAT short form content. If these scripts were made into 3 to 5 minute movies, it would be a TON of great mobile content for some smart, forward thinking companies who aren't just catering to 15 to 35 year-old males. Also, the ideas that spring from these 3 page scripts will eventually prove to be the genesis of a lot of excellent feature film and television projects - ones that will definitely demonstrate exceptional professional and commercial viability. But beyond that argument, I'll answer the question of why I'm addicted to 3rd page by answering a set of questions posed to me for my friend Sean Hood for his Genre Hacks blog.

1. Why join a writer's group? - Lots of reasons, actually, but here's the main ones for me. First of all, disciplining yourself to write consistently is challenging for many of us, so being beholden to others outside of yourself (such as your fellow writing group members) makes it a lot easier to rise to that challenge. Secondly, the creative energy that flows back and forth in writing groups is stimulating and exciting, keeping me eager to hold up my end of the energy and exchanges. And finally, specific feedback from other smart, talented folk is always a blessing. At least it is for me. Some writers love to write in a vacuum and have no interest in hearing what peers/colleagues have to say about their work. Not me. I love to get a wide range of outside perspectives throughout the writing process. Whether I agree with feedback or not, it still opens up my own perspective and challenges me to look at my work outside of how it exists in my own mind.

2. Why write a three page script? - Okay, so even if you buy being part of a writer's group, you may be wondering why I waste that time doing 3-page scripts? One main reason: BECAUSE I CAN. Yes, my time is extremely limited, but I can crank out a three page script in an hour or two. Longer if I'm struggling, but often very quickly. This allows me a regular (and emotionally necessary) creative outlet that almost always comes with a satisfying sense of completion. A 3 page script is not the beast that a feature script is - which I've been known to labor on for months, if not years. I'm doing what I love to do (and am compelled to do) in sharp, concise, consistent and satisfying fashion - no matter what is going on in my life. Finally, I can take creative risks with a three page script I can't take with a feature. I can explore form, character, context, themes, issues in ways that a feature or tv script simply doesn't allow. That kind of creative risk is not just fun, it stretches and grows my creative muscles.

3. What's with the random three-word prompt? - I didn't come up with this concept, so I can't speak to the reasons behind its creation/incorporation. But I can speak to why the prompts work for me - the prompt both sharpens and frees my creative mind. The prompts help to focus my ideas and are often the jumping off point for the story I wind up telling. For instance, when I saw "Storm" and "Jolt" in the most recent set of prompts, I immediately thought of Frankenstein and a story developed from there. But at the same time, the prompts keep me from getting locked into specific story strains or themes. Dealing with the prompt often makes me address things I might not otherwise even consider. And the randomness of the prompt words may introduce a concept among them that doesn't conveniently fit into whatever neat package I was holding in my head. In short, the random prompt is freeing because it forces me out of my own self-generated creative boundaries.

4. Why give them (the 3 page scripts) away for free to the world? - Every 3rd Page member has there own reasons for why this works for them. Here's mine: I love collective creation. I love creative people sharing ideas and building off of each other. Call me a creative hippie/swinger/socialist. As good as my work has been, it always gets stronger, funnier, more interesting, more complex - more everything - with the the input/involvement of others. If someone can make my work better or change it so that it is no longer recognizable as the thing I originally created, but equally or more compelling in its own right, that is a GOOD thing. How can we "own" anything we put out into the world? It all gets consumed and repurposed in some way, shape or form. So, I get excited by the idea that my work could possibly inspire something better than what I created - or simply just different. Finally, as a filmmaker, I couldn't possibly make all of the 3rd Page scripts I've created (and continue to create). I'd love to see them get made by somebody…anybody. In fact, I'd love to see 5 different filmmakers take one of my 3-pagers and each interpret it in their own way. Well, maybe that's the creative hippie/swinger/socialist in me, again.

5. Why is it (3rd Page) so addictive and rewarding? - If you are a creative person, you don't just love to create, you are compelled to do it. You get depressed if you don't. Maybe worse than depressed. For me creating is less like a drug and more like….breathing. I need to breathe to live. I also need to create. However, it's easy for life to fill up with so much detritus, severely limiting your creative time and opportunities. 3rd Page is such a minimal time investment, I can stay pretty consistent with it. And it thus allows me to breathe - making me feel like I am ALWAYS the creative being I know that I am. And, as mentioned earlier, the scripts are so short that they always get finished. Every week, there is very palpable sense of creative satisfaction. And, of course, reading the other 3rd Page scripts and sharing ideas with my fellow 3rd Pagers is never less than inspiring. Fun, too. And, as I said earlier, it allows me to continue evolving as a creative being through the risks I'm able to take in this short format.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

This Is What A Rewrite Looks Like

From my good friend and creative collaborator Sean Hood at Genre Hacks:


What is the most important screenwriting tool?  (originally I answered this question on Quora)

For me, a "tool" is some process, habit or approach that can be taught. When I work with screenwriters at USC's School of Cinematic Arts, I can't help the students with talent or luck, which are by far the two most important factors in a screenwriter's success.

Likewise, I can't really teach imagination, stamina, or even self-delusion (important as they are). Practical knowledge of industry standards as well as willingness to listen to honest feedback are certainly necessary, but I expect both of these when a student walks into the classroom or an aspiring screenwriter asks me for advice.  What I can teach is a process.

To read the whole post, go here: http://genrehacks.blogspot.com/2013/12/this-is-what-rewrite-looks-like.html

Monday, December 16, 2013

15 Predictions On The Future Of Indie Film

Another great post from the great Ted Hope:

I have written about the good things in indie film. I have done it quite a bit. I have written about the bad things, and more than several times there too.  I have written about the thinkers and doers who are shaping where we are (and will post that later this month).  I have examined the cultural changes, the realities of our industry, and provided recommended best practices. I examined why it is sooo slow to change. I would like to help us find our path forward; what more can I do to help?

To read the whole post, go here: http://bit.ly/18LXym8