Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tennessee on DVD!

Super excited about our film Tennessee being release on DVD. I fell in love with the script back in 2002 and began working with the writer Russell Schaumburg on finding a way to make this film a reality. 

As is usually the case with an independent film, we spent years and executed many strategies to build a creative package of talent and find the financing. Finally in 2005, Lee Daniels came on board the project and brought the resources necessary for the film to be made. 

It took another two years after Lee joined the project for the film to go into production. In 2007, the film was shot in both New Mexico and Tennessee. The cast of Mariah Carey, Adam Rothenberg and Ethan Peck brought the characters to life and the film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2008. What a journey it has been! 

I hope you check out the film and enjoy it as much I have enjoyed being part of its creation. It is available at your local video stores, Netflix, Blockbuster, iTunes and Amazon

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Guest Blog: Leslie Morgan and 1 Woman, 15 Dogs & 1150 Miles

Independent filmmaker Leslie Morgan showcases the independent spirit. We are cheering for you Leslie! Keep us posted on your progress! Click here for the 1150 Project Web site

Here's Leslie's Journey. 

About the 1150 Web Series, Created by Leslie Morgan

Known as the last great race on the earth, the Iditarod is an 1150-mile sled dog race across the most dangerous and extreme terrain of Alaska. Fifty-eight year old Kathy Frederick is one of the oldest female rookie competitors to ever compete in this treacherous race and I, Leslie Morgan will be documenting her journey.

Kathy left a very cozy and successful life as a lawyer in Pennsylvania to move to Alaska to live out a lifelong dream of competing in the 2010 Iditarod. The race is the longest dog sledding race in the world and more than 1/3 of the competitors don’t finish the race. The web series will document Kathy’s journey the three months leading up to the race in March of 2010. You, the viewer will get to experience her journey with daily blog updates and web posts. Using live streaming, users can watch Kathy in real time and ask her
questions about her training. Will Kathy be able to fulfill her life long dream and actually cross the finish line? You’ll just have to watch what happens to find out.

Leslie's Personal Journey

I have had a few people curious about me, my background, who I am, why I am doing this so I decided to write this very personal entry to perhaps give you insight into who I am and why I chose to leave the comforts of Los Angeles, CA for the remote and rugged landscape of Willow, Alaska. This probably will be one of the longer written entries on this blog.

Last April my dear friend and business partner got very sick; we still don’t know what is wrong. No diagnosis has been made. I won’t go into too much detail as to try and respect his privacy.  However, I will say what was bad has gotten much worse and I have to be honest when I say I am not certain how much longer he will be here in this life. I am hopeful, but it has been an immensely challenging time and for the most part we had to go our separate ways. We worked together for about six years trying to build a business together and along the way he became my best friend.  Working side by side with someone 10 hours a day 7 days a week for six years can do that. Now we had our fights and our struggles, but we always joked that we were like an old married couple without the good parts of being married.  It is rare to find someone who balances you, but he was the ying to my yang, the peanut butter to my jelly and sometimes the oil to my water!

When he left in April to go to Atlanta to try to get better medical care, it was probably one of the hardest times in my entire life. It breaks my heart to even think about it and even now I can’t help but shed a lot of tears that he is no longer apart of my daily life. It is hard for me to truly explain unless you knew us, but the best analogy I can give is being without him has felt like I lost both my legs in an accident that was not my fault.

My business partner and I had a production company, films and television shows in development and right before my business partner got sick we almost got our first feature off the ground… that is until the financier pulled out. It was back to square one, but I was left to go it alone as he had to leave to try and get better. Throughout our time together we had a lot of almost there’s and it should have happened and we were so close we could taste it moments.  We had money for awhile to develop projects, we developed projects, we had money to make a movie. Then one day we didn’t have development money and we didn’t have money to make a movie. This was our cycle, the ups were way up and the downs were way down and suddenly we weren’t left with much and my business partner, worst of all, was not even left with his health. Every day for him is a struggle. Some days if he can make it out of bed he is lucky. I miss him terribly, but I knew I had to do something because his illness made me realize we only have so much time in this life and we better use it wisely!

For many months I was pretty lost and didn’t know what to do. Some days I delved into work, working 14-16 hours a day on the projects we had together to try and make something happen on my own.  Other days I could barely get out of bed and when I actually made it out of bed, I felt like I accomplished something. At the time I had a business doing consulting work, that supported me, but I also began  freelancing for websites producing content.  During the summer I got to work on a really fun web show called NARROW WORLD of SPORTS for Berman Braun and produced a segment for as well. At the end of the summer an acquaintance of mine posted a link to a web site about a dog musher named Kathleen Frederick. I looked at her website and was drawn instantly to her story. While on the site I found this page…

Shameless Huskies Volunteer

As soon as I read about Kathy, her journey to compete in the 2010 Iditarod, saw those beautiful dogs, I knew what I had to do! I instantly e-mailed Kathy explaining how I saw her website and was interested in volunteering for her for three months, but there was one condition. I wanted to document her life as she trained for the Iditarod. I knew it was a long shot; I knew that she could say no, but in my heart I knew I wanted to tell her story. Here was a woman who was almost 59 years old, competing in one of the toughest competitions where even veteran competitors have to pull out. She had a dream and she was going for it. One woman’s website was an inspiration to follow my own dream in doing this project.  It was the perfect time as I had no other immediate prospects; I was growing tired of struggling to do my own work in Los Angeles. I wanted something that I could control, a project that was mine that I could solely  be responsible for. I knew that I had to do something because everything that I was trying to do in Los Angeles just didn’t seem to work out.

At the end of October/ beginning of November Kathy and I were able to solidify my trip out to Alaska.  When I first read about her I thought I should try and shoot a feature film. I scrambled to try and get a business plan together, find $, the things I would always do before. Then it hit me. Why not just scale it back; create a project for the web. It would be video posts (episodes essentially 3-4 minutes in length), pictures, written blogs and live streaming once a week. I would create an entire interactive project that could eventually turn into a feature or maybe put it on DVD or Blu-Ray. By scaling the project down, asking for donations and doing it all myself it seemed much more tangible.

In December, I put together a short proposal that I sent out to about 200 friends, family and colleagues. To my surprise I got enough money together to buy my ticket to Alaska, buy a small SONY HD handicam with some accessories and some winter gear. Kathy offered to let me borrow any outerwear I would need as we are about the same size so that saved me about $1000+ in expenses.

During this time I decided to take a web class over at Dogma Studios called WebTV Prep with Brian Rodda and Damian Pelliccione. The class focused on the ins and outs of how to create your own television show for the web. I knew a lot coming in, but the class allowed me to pitch the project to class and get feedback from other people in how to really make the project better. Everyone was incredibly receptive, which solidified I knew I had something.

In December I worked with my friend Josh of Untangled Solutions to get my website up and running. Around this time one of my clients left me so I was down to one major client, enough income to get me by through till June. The site launched January 4. The first week of January I packed a bunch of stuff, bought the camera, re-learned Final Cut Pro (I hadn’t edited myself since 2002 even though I had worked along side editors). Working along side and doing it yourself is quite different.  Then on January 13th I flew here and have been here and will be here till the end of March.

Two days ago that other major client decided to part ways as he was struggling financially… so when I get back to Los Angeles I will either need a full time job or a few new clients for the first time in five years.  Being alone in a remote place was not an ideal time to find out your life back home was falling apart. It is frightening, but instead of freaking out I simply have tried to focus on making this the best project it can be. Plus listening to Kathy’s struggles to make ends meet to follow her dreams puts everything back into perspective!  Also I will say this if you want to donate to the project it will help immensely. Simply click on the donate button up above near the middle right of your screen. Hey what can I say a gal needs to eat even in a remote part of Alaska=)

Yesterday I spoke to my business partner. He felt well enough to talk to me on the phone. He told me how proud he was of me; I was following my instincts and that something good would come of this. I told him that I hoped someday we could work on something together again, and ultimately the reason I came here was because of him.

I guess if even one person finds inspiration in this, by following their dream, doing what is in their heart in spite of the odds I succeeded. Plus hopefully you will become a fan of Kathy like I have.

"All About Indie Filmmaking" Named One of 50 Best Blogs for Moviemakers by MovieMaker Magazine

I didn't even know my blog was up for MovieMaker's 50 Best Blogs for Moviemakers list. What a great surprise! Thanks MovieMaker Magazine

I started this blog as a forum to put all of the swirling info I gather in my daily pursuit as a filmmaker. Each blog post helps me to take time to really think about and dissect a facet of filmmaking. And I'm glad my ruminations are actually helping others. 

Most of what I do is by trial and error. No one handholds producers into creation. We are willed into existence, just like films are. When you are an independent producer, you really are independent and you need to feel confident that you can lead people through a major creative project. Much of that confidence needs to be a belief in yourself -- that you have what it takes to make movies, just like those other producers out there. 

As I keep building my own confidence, I will keep blogging about my journey and I hope you will join me and enjoy what you read.

MovieMaker is making a special offer to all the blogs on the list: A year of MovieMaker for $1 an issue. To access this offer, click here

Friday, January 22, 2010

Darius Goes West

Darius Goes West is an inspiring film about the journey of Darius Weems, who suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The film helps build awareness for this crippling disease and has won numerous awards on the festival circuit. I know the filmmakers and they are such a wonderfully supportive group of good people who are doing great things. And they made a great film. I had to share their story.

The Movie.

Accompanied by his eleven best friends, Darius Weems, a fifteen-year-old living with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), leaves home for the first time in his life. The rowdy crew sets a course for California where they hope to convince MTV to customize Darius's wheelchair on the hit show, Pimp My Ride. Darius Goes West been enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people of all ages all around the world.

The Movement
Darius Goes West is more than a film. The continuing story of Darius, his crew, and the tens of thousands of supporters they have met in their travels can be experienced on This site is continually updated with short videos, blog posts, and innovative initiatives that aim to affect a cure for DMD.

If you're new to DGW, check out the Blog, or join the Facebook group to see what you've missed. If you're a teacher or a student, be sure to check out the educational program. And If you are interested in having Darius or one of the crew members "Skype in" for a Q&A at your screening, please contact us.

DGW is a registered 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit organization. All proceeds benefit Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research.

For more information check out

Please post this as your status and help raise money for DMD research: 
IT'S THE FINAL PUSH FOLKS & I gave my status to Darius Goes West because the movie and movement inspire me, and because your free vote = $1 donated to DMD research. We've raised $11k in two days! Last day to vote! Vote here & make this your status

Monday, January 18, 2010

Indie Film Business Plans & Producer's World

I am putting the finishing touches on a new business plan for an independent drama I am currently packaging. I have a business plan that I use for my films but I have had to overhaul it to address the new changes in the business. 

No longer can I focus on the traditional means of garnering a return on an indie film. The old model of taking your film to a festival, hiring domestic and foreign sales agents, selling your film through their efforts and overseeing a release by the distributors who buy the film is no longer realistic -- even for the most successful festival pieces. 

I am putting much more emphasis on the creative team and the validity of the project as well as the grassroots efforts we will make in building an audience. Sponsorships from organizations and companies are going to be very important to explore. Instead of relying on distributors to release your film. We need to rely on ourselves to create the best overall plan for the release and find the means ourselves to get the film in front of an audience.

The onus is on the filmmakers' shoulders now more than ever. And if any of you are like me, you're propensity is for the creative, but we need to focus just as much on the sales/publicity/marketing/distribution side as we do story. And that is exactly what I am doing. 

I consider sales and distribution to be just as challenging and take just as much time and energy as finding the financing for my film. It sounds incredibly overwhelming and it is. The more the responsibility of knowing how to be an expert in every facet of making and selling a film, the greater the stress and time commitment a producer experiences. 

The producer credit needs greater protection now more than ever! Shockingly, I still experience others trying to take a producer credit when it's not deserved -- going so far as telling others they are a producer on the film, even when their deals state another title. That needs to stop. 

Producers need to build support systems as they navigate the new world of indie distribution. I see a huge need for indie film distribution consultants -- people whose sole purpose is to guide producers through a successful self-release of a film. It's just too hard and inefficient to be all things to all people. We producers need support as the weight of their films' needs continue to increase. Let's take it all one day at at time and we will get there. 

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New York Times Article on DIY

Check out the New York Times Article on DIY:

Ride5 Media Group Contest

The Ride5 Media Group is having a contest for new filmmakers to earn $500 for a short film. They're a new class of creative agency. They offer clients customized media services, develop cross-platform products for their own consumer audiences and produce feature films.
A quick rundown of the contest: they are looking for filmmakers to create a short and creative film that can be shot on any type of equipment such as an HD camera, a cell phone, or even grandpa's Super8. The basic requirements are to incorporate their logo in the film and the length of the video must be under three minutes.
You can find more information along with their logo image here:

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Best Buy 90 Second Film Competition

Best Buy is once again looking for current and aspiring filmmakers to compete in their international 90 second film competition. The first place winner goes to Barcelona to meet with Jon Landau, will guest direct for Best Buy and receive $7,500.

More information is available here:

For Best Buy’s third international film contest, they are once again partnering with MOFILM (
) to invite filmmakers to complete a 90-second film showing how Best Buy – through the things they sell and the services they offer – help people achieve their dreams through technology.

Winners will receive the following:

·        1st place:
Meet with Jon Landau at the GSMA Mobile Conference in Barcelona February 15 (includes trip for 2 to Barcelona); guest-direct a spot for Best Buy; $7500 Best Buy gift card (or cash equivalent outside U.S.).
·        2nd place:
$3000 Best Buy gift card (or cash equivalent outside U.S.).
·        3rd place:
$2000 Best Buy gift card (or cash equivalent outside U.S.).
·        4th place:
@1500 Best Buy gift card (or cash equivalent outside U.S.).
·        5th place:
$1000 Best Buy gift card (or cash equivalent outside U.S.).
·        6th - 10th place:
Kodak Zi8 Digital Video Camera

Here are links to additional information:

·        Best Buy Barcelona Competition Page: <>
·        Best Buy Cannes/London Film Fest Competition winners & winning vids:
·        Twitter page: <>
·        Best Buy CMO blog post on MOFILM partnership 1: <>
·        Best Buy CMO blog post on MOFILM partnership 2: <>
·        Best Buy CMO blog post on MOFILM partnership 3: <

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Doing a Doc!

I'm still pinching myself. The end of 2009 was very good to me, which was super cool, and one big reason was meeting documentary filmmaker Leslie Iwerks. A colleague of mine told me Leslie needed some help on a new documentary she is doing and I jumped at the opportunity. 

Besides being incredibly talented (she directed The Pixar Story), Leslie's super nice and calm -- excellent attributes in a director (especially from the producer's perspective). So needless to say, I've been a bit busy between Leslie's projects and my own. But I'm loving it.

So for the next six months I'll be working with Leslie and then I am planning on heading to Amelia Island, Florida, to produce the film I've been wanting to make for over a decade: The Diary of Preston Plummer. I am super excited to finally be making Diary. It's a great script and I love working with the director Sean Ackerman. 

As we all know it's not often to find a sense of calm and security in your life as you navigate the world of filmmaking. I think I'll revel in it for a little while longer.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

For Your Consideration: Is Kathryn Bigelow a Female Director?

I saw this article on IndieWire and had to put the link here too. There is so much conversation at the moment about female directors, female films (by and about), etc., largely due to the success of Kathryn Bigelow's achievement with The Hurt Locker

It's a shame that it is inevitable that when a woman performs well and out of the box (by doing an action film) in Hollywood that her gender needs to be the core of the publicity. Yes, everyone: women are talented and we really can make successful films.

I really wish we could get away from making the discussions so much about gender. I sigh every time the discussion goes to gender. We are equals to men and we need to have our gender be a non-issue. What I do like is that Ms. Bigelow's success should help this goal of making gender a non-issue. Let's hope so because we should all be focusing on making great films no matter who is making them! 

In any event, I thought this was a good one to share. I read the headline and was immediately drawn to it with my angst of yet another article about gender. But Matthew Knott highlights the issue behind all of the gender discussion. Here you go: For Your Consideration: Is Kathryn Bigelow a Female Director?