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!

Water with Lemon Production & Play

Photo by Cory Schwartz © 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I watched my WATER WITH LEMON pilot script come to life over the weekend.  The amount of work that it takes to write, raise money, cast talent, lock down crew, coordinate schedules and so on, is pure insanity.  It’s 9 months of labor for the birth of a frantic, monster baby, you can only hope will rock everyone’s world with laughter.

Oh yes, this is me and Paul Calderon who played POPS.

Photo by Cory Schwartz © 2012

The production process has a million moving variables, none of which you can hold too tightly.  The pre production process is filled with highs of excitement followed by lows of disappointment when those highs fall through.  In terms of a spiritual practice, the process is an ideal microcosm to work with.  But really, what process isn’t?

It’s important to find the sense of “play.”  In yoga class a few weeks ago, the teacher went on and on about animals and how scientist are confused why they “play;” there’s no future reward in it.  They wrestle, tackle, and laugh with one another for what seems to be for just the pure joy of the moment.

Through pre production, production, and then post, it’s hard to find this sense of play and joy within the moment.  It all feels like it’s for some promised reward in the future.  But that reward is a moving target, it’s non-specific, and it’s not actually promised.  There’s a potential, yes, but there’s no definite.  So why not play?  Drop the anxiety, anticipation, regret and such.  Just enjoy the process.

When my stress level went through the roof, the best advice came from my girlfriend who I bamboozled into sitting in the background as an extra.  She text, “make the best of this.” So simple.  Hard to remember at times.  But we should really make the best of every moment, dropping the past, forgetting the future, and finding the play within each moment.

WATER WITH LEMON

It’s time for a new web series!

As the fourth of July passed, I couldn’t help but reminisce about last year’s hot, sweaty, 4th of July shoot.  It was the first day filming PARKER & MAGGIE.  Mistake number one: shooting on a day everyone has off, is partying AND there are fireworks.  Sound was a challenge!  Number two? Get a make up artist – especially when people’s faces are sweating off.

A year has past, and I’m all the more wiser.  With that said, I’m bringing a new project to the table: WATER WITH LEMON.

Working in a restaurant can really suck the life from you.  It’s downright demoralizing at times.  I’ve literally taken 30 second breaks to cry in the bathroom, regroup, and get grounded.  BUT I’ve taken the experience and turned it into the inspiration for this web series.  The various bars and restaurants I’ve worked at over the past few years have served as inspiration.  The people I’ve encountered, worked with, argued with,  given attitude to, received attitude from, and wanted to punch, have been some of my greatest teachers.

Restaurant work feels like team sports.  Everyone bitches about the work, the boss/coach, and the demands.  But at the end of the team, the teams laughs about the struggles they endured together, and how NO ONE ELSE understands.

I want to bring to life the humor of that sentiment.  And so was born, WATER WITH LEMON.

Please “like” on FACEBOOK to keep posted on the project.

And most importantly, help this idea become a reality.  Become a backer on KICKSTARTER.

I can’t tell the story without your help, and I can’t begin to express my gratitude for those who’ve already supported.

COWBOY SPIRIT

I escaped NYC for the filming of COWBOY SPIRIT up in MA.  It was a blessing, a challenge, and a spiritual journey.

For starters, I stayed with my Aunt (the “witchy” one)- who offered to read my cards upon arrival.  That said, I was showered with angelic “messages” for about two weeks.

As for the filming, WHOA!  I worked with some of the most talented and interesting people.  The film is a Western, and I play…well, a bitch; a major antagonist.  I never thought I’d play the villain.  But hey, I’m from Jersey and I’ve been in NYC a few years working in restaurants so…there was a glimmer of “Bitch” looking to go up in flames, and just the role came about.

When I first read COWBOY SPIRIT it was hard not to detest and judge the character TORI.  But how do you embody a character you judge? Impossible.  So, I began asking all those questions involved in character study.  Where does she come from? What was her childhood like? Etc. etc.  We’re all creatures of habit and those habits come from our experiences and the memories around those experiences.  As filming neared, I focused on what experiences and memories would bring the character of TORI to life, from page to screen.  When filming began, I really had to separate myself…keep myself glued to my phone in between shots, and create that distance she seems to have with the rest of the world.

I thought about people I’ve met, in life, who ARE actual Tori’s.  Tightly wound, spoiled perfectionists out of touch with the hardships of life.  After exploring the character, I left set feeling sorry for Tori’s I’d judged in the past.  It’s A LOT of energy trying to maintain such an image;  a tightly wound spring ready to burst.

Cowboy Spirit reminded me why I wanted to be an actor and writer in the first place.  Both allow room to explore the spectrum of experience through characters, words, and story, and ultimately become a more compassionate human being, chipping away towards the core…the truth (whatever that means…I’m still searching…).

BITCH and all, it was fun as hell playing Tori.  Heck, It was fun as hell being on set, despite trying NOT to have too much fun (in character).  I had the pleasure of working with Rich Manley who plays the lead and ultimately, hero.  Um, he’s not only an actor.  He’s also a skilled martial artist and MAGICIAN.  Anyone who knows me is laughing.  They know he had me at “magician.”  I kept asking for card tricks.  Pretty sure he thought I was hitting on him until my significant other showed up on set.  “Show me some magic”

I also had the pleasure of working with Ayla Brown.  She plays the “good girl” my character dislikes.  She’s such a sweetheart in real life; I had to apologize after takes in which my character unleashes the bitch on her.  She’s 6 feet tall.  Her character’s supposed to be intimidated by my 5’5” self?  Couldn’t help but chuckle over this.  Listen to her music!  And “LIKE” her on facebook to stay posted on her upcoming shows.

COWBOY SPIRIT was an amazing experience.  I’d like to thank everyone involved.  It’d be too long a list to mention everyone.  There was a ton of hard work, passion, and soul on this project.  Written by Mike Allison, and directed by Bill Miller, COWBOY SPIRIT will come to life and remind the audience that we all have a life with experiences of our own choosing.  We’ll all take that final ride one day, and hopefully you’ll have created the experiences and memories that will lead you to the greenest of pastures.