Posted by Kelli Joan Bennett
Day 54. On Day 6, my lack of common sense to ask for directions when I need them came up. I wrote, “This entire experiment in thinking outside the box inside the box and creating from what I have is all about asking for directions and listening to and receiving directions.” The biggest element to me pulling off my feature films is the helmer AKA the director. This will be the most important “direction” I ask for all year. As far as I’m concerned, besides having a brilliant blueprint—the script—the director is the key to the film being an awesome, entertaining, festival accepted movie or a pile of poop. And I have to pick the right one for each project because, well, I don’t know how else to put this except that they’re magical—the good ones anyway. It’s like they do nothing and yet everything. Filmmaking takes a village but without a visionary leading the charge, you’re screwed. You might as well be making Debbie Does Dallas because it will suck.
My options are pretty plentiful. No, Ridley Scott and Michael Bay aren’t knocking down my door but, “but what I really want to do is direct,” the classic joke in Hollywood, couldn’t be truer. Except for me. I’ve never been drawn to directing. I have no desire to be a director. I’m not even sure if I really know what the fuck they do except nothing and everything. And I certainly don’t know what makes one director magical—of the Kathryn Bigelow, Jane Campion, Nicole Holofcener, Catherine Hardwicke, Nancy Meyers, Mary Harron, Nora Ephron, Kasi Lemmons, Sofia Coppola, Sanaa Hamri, Penny Marshal, Amy Heckerling ilk—and what makes one end up Jack Horner from Boogie Nights. But I plan to figure it out! Part of it may simply be getting the opportunity. Which reminds me that a huge part of my year long experiment in prolific creativity is to not only give myself an opportunity to produce, act and write feature films but also, everyone else who works on my projects the same—a chance to create, grow and shine.
Opportunity plus vision plus magical-ness equals what I’m looking for! I’m not going to sugar coat it, I expect my directors to be happy, fairy dust sprinkling wizards with the two nickels, home made lighting kit and wheel chair dolly I’m offering them to create from. Yes, I’m asking a lot and technically you could say that’s too much pressure. Well what if we pretend it’s not pressure it’s belief? Whoever I choose to work with as my director I will unconditionally believe that they are magical, they are a visionary and after this experience, Steven Spielberg will be knocking down their door to direct his next producorial effort—of course, they’ll turn his ass down because they’ll want me to produce their next masterpiece…a girl can dream.
The main reason this is coming up now is because I’ve been sitting on the first draft of my first feature film project for over two weeks now. I’m making notes and considering the myriad directions we can go in. I wrote about it on Day 37. So, now my plan is to have my director be a part of this development process from the first words on paper draft to make sure it’s possible to pull off what is written and to create an aesthetic vision and a clear plan for telling the story visually–storyboards and a shooting script–along the way. And in the spirit of full disclosure and because I’m meeting with my first potential director this weekend, I came up with my list of top 10 questions/expectations I have for my directors:
1. Is this project a match for you?
2. Do you really have the time to give your every waking free moment, your weekends and your sanity to this project?
3. What is your take/vision for the direction the script should go in?
4. I expect you to be excited about this opportunity. I can’t coax you into this experiment you have to want to do it. It will be intense but also intensely fun.
5. I expect you to come to the table with everything you’ve got: creativity, connections and wildly abundant enthusiasm—I’m positive we can pull this off because I believe in you, your magic and your vision. You need to feel the same way.
6. I need whoever directs to be fully on board and ready and willing to do whatever it takes. And I mean whatever it takes. Lies will be told, laws will be broken, lives will be in danger but we will make this movie. (Note to self: budget for insurance.)
7. I expect the director to either be a shooter or bring an amazing shooter to the table with them or be able to romance, bribe or kidnap a brilliant DP to come on board to work with them on the film for the love of the project.
8. I expect the director to edit the film or bring an amazing editor to the table with them or be able to romance, bribe or kidnap a brilliant editor to come on board to work with them on the film for the love of the project. I’ll be able to “help” with the editing but I think I’ve made it clear, even though I’m technically editing my ass off right now, I’m not really an editor.
9. I expect you to be fearless, positive, insanely creative, magical and visionary for no pay just copy, credit, meals and an ownership percentage in the film. We all know the latter actually means something. Yes, I have ocean front property for sale in Missouri, too.
10. If our movie sucks, I will blame you. You can blame the screenwriter. Everyone else can blame me for picking you two in the first place.
Until tomorrow, create from what you have…and make a top 10 list, they’re so much fun to do!