Top 3 Tools Getting Lez Bomb Made

I recently taught a class to aspiring filmmakers. It was a wonderful experience that gave me time to think back on Lez Bomb’s journey and the conversations I’ve had this past year in Q&As. From the filmmaking perspective, the 2 repeat questions are:

“How did you get Lez Bomb made?”

“How did you get the cast and team?”

I thought I’d boil down the 3 most useful tools that helped Lez Bomb jump from page to screen.

#1     I spent 6 years trying to attach a director & star. With no money came no luck. Investors wanted to meet the team. I hit a wall and decided I was the team. I created a proof of concept that would showcase what that would look like. Additionally, I wanted the proof of concept to demonstrate audience in a tangible way.

I made Girl Night Stand with NO money:

I was introduced to Trish Bendix and she kindly released Girl Night Stand in 2015 on a blog she wrote for. I had a specific audience in mind with Girl Night Stand, and by partnering with a writer who served that audience I was able to focus the release. I initially released the short on Vimeo, where it’s views reached over 500k. All the press links were linked to Girl Night Stand’s Vimeo link. People were ripping Girl Night Stand off Vimeo and uploading to YouTube. To prevent this from happening, I uploaded Girl Night Stand to my own YouTube page, where it organically reached well over 3 million views. While the YouTube views climbed, an online fan reached out to inform me someone had uploaded the short film to a site in China where it had also gone viral. I was able to connect with the site in China and do a video Q&A with their audience.

All this to say – once you can demonstrate audience to an investor, it makes the conversation much easier. I had analytics and information about the audience, how they were watching, and which press pieces were most impactful. This information was incredibly valuable. It also demystified the idea of getting press, and how valuable or invaluable that can be. I was astonished to learn which hits were actually impactful, and which fell short.

#2     Even with the viral success of Girl Night Stand, it was hard to get people to read the script. I simplified the process by trying to tell the entire story in 5 minutes with clips from other movies & shows that I felt would demonstrate the tone and feel I was going for:

Creating this video was wildly helpful. Future collaborators could easily hit play on a coffee or lunch break, before committing to read the entire script. By grabbing their attention in a noncommittal way, I found it much easier to hook their attention and get them to eventually read the feature. Additionally, this became an exercise I used to explore tone and dive into the various tropes I wanted lean into with Lez Bomb. I was able to revisit many of the films that had inspired me, and it forced me to ask myself how I could push the LGBTQ narrative forward while nodding at some of these films/shows and leaning into the nostalgia of them to create something that felt familiar, yet we hadn’t yet seen.

#3     Now that I had whomever’s attention, the single most important element was the script. Making sure that script was as strong as possible. I spent years crafting the script, and I had many incredible teachers & mentors along the way. Write, write, and then write some more. And then continue rewriting until you have the script you want to show. Take the craftsmanship seriously.

Go out and make your movies. I hope this helps!

Lez Bomb in Theaters Tomorrow

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Lez Bomb’s been an eight year journey from the first word on the page, to its jump on screen. As we roll towards Thanksgiving, my mind darts to my mom saying when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, you spend so much time preparing the meal, then everyone consumes it in 30 minutes. Lez Bomb took 8 years! Tomorrow we release in Theaters & On Demand. All that time, all that build up, then it’s consumed like a 30 min Thanksgiving feast. Well, 90 minutes. I’m beyond grateful for this journey, and can’t wait to share this meal with those near and dear to my heart.

To catch Lez Bomb in Theaters, visit this page for all theater cities, times, and tickets.

If you want to pre-order the film and get it on your computer tomorrow: Pre-Order HERE

Finally, I found this video of when we wrapped back in December 2016 in the freezing New Jersey cold. In the words of my mom, “Everyone’s in 15 layers and you’re in that stupid dress.”

 

Fair Lila Films

There’s a quote from the Bhagavad Gita that reads [accordingly to this particular translation] “You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions.”

With intention and effort we work and strive. But there are countless externalities that come into play that determine the results of our actions.

I’ve spent the past few months coming up with the concept for my production company name, logo, and animation with the fantastic [I could not recommend more] Zoe Filutowski. I bounced the name “Fair Lila Films” around with my lawyer, wife, family, friends, managers, whomever would listen. The word ‘fair’ in the title is taken from the motel my grandfather built and my mother’s run for the past 27 years. I like the word ‘fair,’ because there’s karmic implications within it. And Lila, well – it’s my favorite sanskrit word, which has many meanings, but to keep it brief – “divine play.” Seeing this world as a divine play, where we’re all playing our part.

Here’s the animation we landed on, music done by the amazing PT Walkley, who also was the composer for Lez Bomb.  In creating Fair Lila Films, I hope it always serves as a reminder that energy put into work & storytelling can only be done with focus, intention, and aiming for the stars. But in the release of the arrow, we have to let go, and trust the dust will settle as it should.

Tree Pose

Swaying in tree pose a few weeks back in yoga class, the teacher said “the standing leg’s your anchor and the bent leg’s just a distraction.” The standing leg provides your roots, your stability. That anchor’s always available, internally. Like in life, all the movement around that anchor’s just a distraction.

A tree is the perfect image for the concept of being grounded. When you think of a tree you imagine the trunk. It’s strong. It’s firmly grounded with roots that reach into the ground and take in the nutrients from it’s surrounding, and discards that which doesn’t serve it. As the tree grows upwards, it’s the leaves and branches that are swayed by the wind and the surrounding chaos of the environment. But the trunk stands firmly in place, unwavering in it’s conviction to be the most authentic version of itself.

Last night in acting class (I continuously study with John Dapolito), John went on an inspired tirade about the importance of staying grounded within your authenticity. Having vision, and leaning into that vision. Being so grounded within a point of view, that the many distractions and the shit-storm of opinions can’t knock you off balance. It requires the flexibility and openness to hear other points of view and learn from the ones that ring true, and discard the rest. It’s when we abandon our authenticity because of fear – fear of not pleasing people, fear of being criticized, fear of not being accepted – that stray from our truth out of fear, will always leave us feeling empty. Because it means we’ve allowed externalities to sway us off balance and away from our most authentic self. It’s impossible to please everyone. But we can always act from a grounded, internal place inspired by truth and authenticity.

It’s that truth and authenticity that gives each of us an interesting point of view, a lens through which we see the world. And it should be celebrated. In sharing those rich points of view we expand our consciousness, empathy, and capacity to enjoy this world in it’s vastness. Like a pride flag in all it’s colors, that spectrum of experience is what makes this world rich in color. On this rainy, snowy, NYC day, remember to stand firmly grounded in your roots, experiences, and authenticity, and remember the wind, sleet, snow, and rain’s just a distraction.

Book I’m reading.

Favorite song of the week.

Video I just finished and love.

Practically Titanic

I’m always looking for a story. My next script. What do I want to throw myself into for the next undefined amount of time? I’ve been thinking about Semester at Sea, and the semester I spent circumnavigating the globe. World travel aside, my semester on a ship was formative because the ship near capsized. Yes, near capsized. The weather channel even did an episode of Storm Stories on it. It was terrifying, I thought I was going to die, and choosing to spend months writing a script about the experience only to have to pitch it, followed by it being criticized (although some constructive), and developed, is masochistic on so many levels. Yet, I can’t get the idea out of my head. This sums up so much of the drama in my early 20s.

The amount of time it takes to get a script written, then hopefully taken from script to screen is seemingly limitless. It’s as vast as the ocean in which my ship near capsized. And in this business, every project’s near capsizing, always. Usually an idea takes hold of my consciousness and haunts me until I put it on page. And despite the chance of  capsizing, I might get back on this ship…metaphorically speaking.

When I tell the story about our ship being in the middle of the North Pacific, during winter, surrounded by 40 foot swells, freezing water, 116 mile per hour winds, and then getting pummeled by a 50-60 foot wave, it’s a crowd-pleaser. When I’ve met agents, managers, producers, development executives, whomever – in a scenario where it’s a meet-and-greet that feels like an hour of oversharing in which I’m trying to sound like it’s the first time I’ve ever revealed these inner secrets, stories, spilling the depths of my soul to make that personal connection, I like to casually drop in, “Oh, yeah, that one time I almost died.” It never fails, “WHY DON’T YOU WRITE ABOUT THAT?!”

So here I am, finally surrendering to the fact it may be my next script. Though, I want to approach it from a comedic angle. We’ve all seen Titanic. And our ship didn’t actually capsize. But the unfolding shit-show between the mayday signal and finally making it to safety 12 hours later is chalk full of comedy. Going through 12 hours fearing death, your mind goes through all the emotions. ALL OF ‘EM. At some point my mind surrendered, and there was nothing to do but laugh. “This is how I’m going to die?” I was also legitimately pissed it was nothing like Titanic. No romance. Nada. I was assigned to a guy named Brian, to hold on to me as the ship was thrust from side to side. He came up to my waist. I should have been holding on to him. AND, no one knew I was gay. I was going to die, and I hadn’t come out yet. It was my hell. Maybe it’s the coming out story we’ve yet to see.

As terrifying the experience, it was the fear of death that created the panic and anxiety. Once I surrendered to the fact I had zero control, I was enveloped by peace. I’ve tried to remember that peace when life spirals out of control. We can’t control everything. I still struggle with that in my day-to-day. But I remember being hit by that giant wave, and it reminds me to surrender to the present moment, despite the surrounding chaos, and keep focused within that presence to make the best possible decisions moment-to-moment. Because that’s all we can do.

Maybe this moment’s about writing the comedic rendition of this. “Practically Titanic?” I’ll leave it here while I marinate on the idea further.

Book I’m reading.

Favorite recipe of the week.

Favorite song of the week.

Interior Design

Over this past holiday weekend, my wife and I redecorated our bedroom. Redecorate’s a generous way of putting it; we never decorated in the first place. Our bedroom was a mess of paintings and art thrown together to fill the big-white-wall when I filmed Girl Night Stand in the space years ago.

Sidenote – from one filmmaker to the next, don’t shoot intimate scenes in your intimate spaces. I digress…

Wikipedia defines Interior Design as “…the art and science of enhancing the interiors of a space or building to achieve a healthier and more aesthetically pleasing environment for the end user.” I’ve fallen in love with the term “Interior Design.” Through the lens of yoga, and trying to get a handle of our own interior workings through meditation, breath control, mantra, etc., our day-to-day’s the art and science of enhancing our personal interiors to achieve a healthier, and most definitely, aesthetically pleasing environment for the end user [you and me].

Our surroundings are a reflection of our interior workings, in many ways, self-created. The process of redoing our bedroom was a beautiful meditation on this. We had an idea, it seemed overwhelming, but it was just a matter of tackling the endeavor one step at a time, taking the images in our head and bringing them to fruition. The most simple way of putting it – turning our dream into reality. Interior design’s a wonderful demonstration of this concept, which carries through in all aspects of life. First, there’s an idea. Next, we have to figure out how to bring the idea into the world. Finally, we must take action.

I’ve been reading Ray Dalio’s Principles. Last night, as a perfect summation of the weekend, I read “Learning how reality works, visualizing the things I want to create, and then building them out is incredibly exciting to me.” By gaining control of our own interior, and seeing a life that matches with that interior, it’s up to us to take that interior design, take action, and externally design a life that matches with it. Through trial and error, slowly, your dream home (and life) take shape.

Book I’m currently reading: Principles

Favorite song of the week: Playground

Favorite recipe of the week: Southwestern Stuffed Acorn Squash substituting the sausage with Beyond Meat to make it vegetarian.

Eight Years of Lez Bomb

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After eight years, my first feature was completed yesterday afternoon. EIGHT YEARS! I realized I drafted the first version of the script that long ago, and it’s taken a near decade to make the film a reality. The editor, the sound mixer, and I listened for any last minute sound adjustments before we printed the mix. I was reluctant to say “Okay. We’re done.” But the moment came, and we finished.

Looking back at the eight years, I can see the many miraculous dots it took to connect in order to reach this moment. There were countless seemingly random encounters that led to relationships, that led to miracles and doors opening. But I think the most important factor in the eight years, was in fact, the amount of time it took to make Lez Bomb. Had I made the film eight years ago, it would have been a very different film. The first draft was confused, emotional, in turmoil, and jam-packed with all the emotions of coming out. What the eight years allowed was the necessary time it took for me to settle into my sexuality with comfort, pride, a sense of ease, and the ability to look back at the process through a comedic lens.

Coming out seemed one of the most difficult things I had to navigate. Dealing with expectations, my own being the loudest, and my future not matching with what I had imagined, was a challenge. But it ended up being the greatest gift. It’s through experiences that force us to confront who we are and what happiness personally means to our own unique soul that force us to grow into the best version of ourself.

Over the past eight years and well over a hundred drafts of Lez Bomb, I can most certainly say that coming out may have took some time, but was well worth the wait and reflection. It’s given me the strength to tell a story and hopefully spread a bit of love and laughter.