GTO 3987 on Mulholland

GTO 3987 on Mulholland

Monday, August 22, 2016

One spur-of-the-moment at a time

I commented on Facebook recently that the first rule of guerilla filmmaking is to be ready to strike anywhere anytime with whatever you've got and it is my observation from reading books by A-list Hollywood filmmakers and hearing them speak--most notably William Friedkin speaking at an American Cinematheque screening of his film The French Connection--even major motion pictures have an element of guerilla filmmaking in them. Friedkin had to resort to spur-of-the-moment renegade solutions to get the footage he wanted on the elevated train that culminated one of the most famous car chases in film history. I sat with Bud Smith, an associate producer and editor on another Friedkin film Sorcerer, and he explained to me what they had to do to get the famous swinging bridge scene that needed to be in driving rain (during a drought).

Every film I've made qualifies as guerilla filmmaking and, often as not, spur-of-the-moment. Even a film I did for Tropicana Orange Juice for the J. Walter Thompson Agency saw me experimenting and, in fact, I dictated the 'completed script' to them in Paris over the phone from my Hollywood apartment the day before I got on the plane to fly to Paris for the shoot. They did not know that I was dictating it off the top of my head. Everybody loved the script and appreciated the time and effort I had obviously put into it.

For some twenty years, I ran a repertory company for film and television which I had founded in Los Angeles. Modeled after the old Hollywood studio system, it trained actors in a technique I had devised, taught them about public relations, marketing, branding and other considerations essential to working actors. The purpose, of course, was to have a band of actors with whom I could make experimental and innovative movies whenever I wanted and who could deliver their 'brand' to the camera in whatever scene was created for them. Eventually, we had a roster of 100 actors and maybe a dozen writers and half that many writer/directors.

Though I dismantled the rep company some 15 years ago, it seems I've formed a new one without realizing that is what I was doing. I now have a troop of actors on the east coast that I have trained teaching Action/ReAction, PR, branding, marketing, etc. and, as an army, they are ready to go. Many of them have performed in one-man/one-woman shows I wrote for them which can be seen on Amazon. Last week, I began shooting a feature-length film in HD which will be given a 'film-look' before it is completed. The gift shop 'souvenir' clapper/marker the crew is using is an inside joke because it says 'Hollywood Production' on it--the actors and crew are in Washington, D.C. and I am on the set via a Skype connection directing from my apartment in Ireland. Hollywood is a state of mind...

I have worked with the actors as students and they have learned what they need to know to be able to deliver compelling performances 'anywhere anytime' because they have prepared for exactly that. The teaser clip here is from the first of three movies I am doing. I wanted to shoot a declarative shot that would present the theme of the film visually. Two other movies I'm preparing are currently in rehearsal--a screwball comedy about two ladies who lunch and a more serious piece about two women managing their break-up via a series of cross-country phone calls. They will start shooting within a few weeks.

The point of all this is that everything you do is predicated upon everything you've done. When someone says you can't make a film on the spur-of-the-moment, they don't understand how much time and preparation went into that spur-of-the-moment.

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