In the very first lesson for Werner Herzog in the Master Class program he has you read a book titled “The Peregrine“. He has you take note of the amount of detail he puts into following these hawks around for hundreds of pages, season after season – then asks you to do the same. Pick a subject and write for 20 pages about them. I chose the homeless population because I myself have been homeless and think I had an abundance of knowledge on the topic. When I was finished, I knew I wanted to make a film about the topic. Why waste the effort?
I didn’t want to do a documentary, because You have to be interested in the subject or intrigued by it in order to care about the topic of a Documentary. Having just finished my mini DACA documentary – I saw this first hand. I wanted to make a short. So I looked up shorts about homeless people online and most of them lacked anything real. Lacked substance or were full of what I felt like were clichés. Guy mistreat homeless man eventually guy witnesses him die. Homeless man saves a lady’s purse. A PSA. Girl falls in love with homeless man. Homeless man becomes well off and eats with another homeless person.
Most of these were short and had very little words and were called something like… “Homeless” or “Homeless ______”. I wanted to make a narrative film involving a homeless person. I had many of instances in my brain of things that happened while I was homeless, but those aren’t a plot. Then I stumbled across the video from Everyone Matters about Ronald Davis. The coverage is about his daily life in the street and one of the stories he tells is about not getting a job because he didn’t have a phone. That is when the conflict hit me. My main character’s intent is to make himself better but his obstacle would be not having a phone.
I went to Amazon for equipment. Most of which I will display in my Film Connection blog posts. But the photo of he Film City Rig is up top.
I went out to 76 Words in December, knowing that most of them would be let go at the beginning of the year, to scout for talent. Even if it was a producer, I knew I couldn’t do this alone. Carla, a producer and Mike my editing friend both said Tim Peck had a similar Idea. Tim was a tenacious fellow who edited for 76 Words and also shot some things as a 2nd unit director. I called him on the phone that day to see if he would be interested. He had a similar idea when he was in school and didn’t know if he wanted to make a documentary or what and had kind of let it slip to the back burner. So I told him I was actively looking for cast and I wanted to start pre-production soon. I have not qualms about handing over director duties to a guy who has the same passion as me. He wants to direct this material as much as me and is already doing freelance work (so he’s a bit ahead of me in skill too). Im okay doing AD work, and likely holding a boom pole. #Soundguy
I had an outline, we set a date to meet and I went to his house in early January. He loved my rig and my pitch. He threw a couple of ideas at me and they stuck, because I still didn’t have the screenplay all down pact. The story might have filled a good 7-8 minutes at that point and wasn’t fleshed out. I honestly made a big mistake and I started writing dialogue in the middle of writing the story. This lead to my first draft having some stiff words. It was very straight to the point, which I didn’t mind – but was unnatural.
I took an ad out in Craigslist for actors who might want to work for free. I let them know I might give them any role from the smallest to the biggest and when the script was done I sent them the 2 best, most realistic and touching bit of words that were in the script. I have 11 people inquiring and more asking every day. I am currently in meetings with them every day at the end of January. I have most of the locations scouted out and I plan to run and gun with no permits in the city of DC.
Herzog would be proud. I have 2 interiors that Im going to need permission to use. A food joint and a cellphone store. Im going to aim for a Metro PCS. We had our second meeting in Ben’s Chili Bowl and asked them if that could be our location. The owner said it depends on the script. So I decided to make the Food Store Manager character less of a dick, for a better chance. Ben’s is a DC landmark. After talking with my Film Connection Screenwriting mentor, I saw very clearly the shortcomings of my first draft and have reworked it. Currently I am waiting to hear back from him
With a bit or PRE still to go, I have to lock down Locations and Actors. I will also probably need at least one more go over on this script. Hoping to start shooting late February, like the 21st. Tentatively.