How to Shoot a Feature Film in 15 Days (And Survive to See Profits).
I had run out of small talk, I said to Vito, “I can make a police
action thriller for [undisclosed, loss-leader, unbelievably bargain
basement sum here].” “How can you do that?” he wanted to know. “I do it a
lot,” I told him looking more sad than proud of the fact. “What would
the film look like?” he asked which told me that he was either
incredibly forbearing or had bitten off on a small piece of my implied
proposition. Time to offer him a larger bite, I thought to myself.
you’ll come down the hallway with me, I’ll show you.” This was a nice
trick to pull out of my hat, because it just so happened that my
producer’s rep had a suite down the hall and there, one of the films
they were pushing, was my latest movie Bleeder & Bates to be
seen. I escorted Vito into the suite, exchanged brief hellos with my
rep, appropriated a video player that wasn’t being used at the time and
racked up my movie. As I did so, I noticed Vito studying the poster for
Bleeder with its shiny, silver police badge, the Porsche Turbo (with
Martini racing colors), two guys with guns and intent to kill and two
women wearing what looked like Victoria’s Secret lingerie. This
arrangement of images piqued his interest even further. We watched the
opening of Bleeder.
After about ten minutes, Vito asked me to
scan ahead to the middle of the film, which I did. There we watched
another ten minute segment of the movie; possibly the sequence with the
Porsche Turbo racing along Mulholland Drive was in this section. Then,
he asked me to scan forward to the last portion of the film which we
watched taking in the enigmatic ending where a police commander is
shotgunned to death at the front door of his home by an assailant that
is implied rather than identified. “Let’s talk,” was all he said.
didn’t go back to his company's suite but, instead, found a sofa at the
intersection of two hallways and began our discussion. “When could you
start?” Vito asked. “In about three days.” I told him this knowing how
crazy that would sound to him. It reminded me of a scene from the film
Patton where Patton tells the command that he can pull out of battle and
move his troops in a winter storm a hundred kilometers to another
region and take up the fight again. Vito was just as incredulous as were
those Generals listening to Patton’s declaration. Vito needed an
explanation. “Vito, I founded a repertory company for film and
television,” I began. “We have about a hundred actors at any given time
whom we have trained and prepared for the roles we create for them in
the movies we make. Think of us as a studio from the old Hollywood
studio system with our own actors but without the overhead and real
estate and operating as guerrilla filmmakers.” I added that it was my
habit to write the script as we shoot the movie and went on to say that
if we required three days to start, it was only because I needed a day
to get back to Los Angeles. He began to see that I wasn’t quite as crazy
as he at first thought. “What kind of film would it be?” he wanted to
know. It will be very much like the one you just looked at; a thinking
man’s cop drama looking at the relationship between crime, law
enforcement and politics. If you liked what you just saw, you’ll like
what I do for you.
If you didn’t, we should stop now. Do you have a story in mind, he asked. No, but I have a title—Dead Right.
and I shook hands on the deal and he gave me his card asking me to call
his office in Los Angeles so we could set up a meeting to formalize our
agreement to make this movie together. Coming away from the
encounter, a friend pointed out that I had just made a deal whereby a
distributor, whom I had never met, would fund a film for which there
was no script and which, in the real world, isn’t supposed to happen.
It occurred to me that if I only did things that were supposed to
happen, I would be selling life insurance in the San Fernando Valley. “I
think he liked the title,” I told my friend
CAN I GO TO THE BRIDGE?
20 hours ago