The Search For Investors

SAG-AFTRA defines an Ultra Low Budget feature film as one costing less than $300,000. Stay under that marker, and your required pay for professional actors is drastically minimized. Raising $300,000 is a lot easier than raising $1,000,000 (it’s a lot easier than raising $350,000, actually).

So I’m currently developing an Ultra Low Budget horror feature, with the hopes that my production company can attract investors at this price point. Horror is the most reliable genre in feature film; thus, the potential return on investment becomes markedly higher. That can sweeten the investment pitch we make. (If you’d like to read the pitch I asked ChatGPT to author, click here. It’s pretty convincing.)

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This Can’t Be Real

Professional news bulletins (i.e., blog postings) were easy in the years I served as a full-time professor: I’d be speaking at a conference, on a panel or broadcast radio/podcast segment; producing an extracurricular event (that I was also promoting publicly); or just commencing a new academic year and teaching a new slate of courses (worth a mention, at least).

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From Synapse to Script

Feature film screenplays generally run 80 to 120 pages (it’s a simple metric: one page = one minute of screen time, approximately). Unfortunately, their narratives are not “born” fully formed. There is no single path to developing a screenplay: some build the story via (physical or onscreen) index cards; others build the story via the writing of one or more outlines; some try to bull their way through the script by writing it from “FADE IN” to “FADE OUT” (the latter is not an approach I recommend). Combinations of these approaches are pretty typical.

I’ve developed screenplays solely via index cards, but more recently, I’ve been favoring the writing of treatments (which are more detailed prose outlines that can run 20-40 pages). The treatment provides a trustworthy roadmap for me while I write the screenplay: I can maintain momentum, and avoid getting hopelessly lost, by following the treatment. It requires a lot of the treatment: the more detailed it is, the more I know where I’m going.

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2022 and Optimism

Almost immediately after my wife and I were vaccinated early in 2021, we booked a trip to the Yucatan peninsula for the end of the year: feeling that the pandemic would definitely be waning by then, and travel would no longer be a concern.

The joke was on us, of course. Delta. Omicron. We got our boosters the second we were eligible. And maybe the best way to escape Omicron after all was to head to the jungle in Campeche.


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Vista Bella Films, continued

And now we round into the Fall: the pandemic anything but gone, a woman’s right-to-choose in peril, authoritarianism relentlessly gnawing away at a fragile and imperfect democracy…

MovieMagic Screenwriter Title Page Publisher screenshot

But pontificating via social media is not my thing. I write screen stories. So an update on that tale…

Continue reading “Vista Bella Films, continued”

Vista Bella Films

vbf_prospectusJust a check-in as Spring hastens towards Summer…and as the pandemic seems to be waning (I hope everyone’s gotten vaccinated or has a vaccination appointment on their docket)…

As you may know, my production company — Vista Bella Films — is pursuing independent financing for the production of low-budget feature films set in New Mexico and to be made by New Mexicans. We continue making (slow) progress towards completing the funding for my feature film screenplay 2-WAY (a screenshot of part of one slide in our investor prospectus deck accompanies this post). We hope to be in production prior to the end of the year. The pandemic certainly slowed our progress, but it feels like we’re now picking up momentum with our private equity offering (SEC regulations require that I say no more). Continue reading “Vista Bella Films”

Pandemic Life

The pandemic can literally make each of us invisible, given the near-obliteration of public life and social activites. And writers historically will tend towards invisibility anyway, if they’re in the middle of a project.

So as we move fully into 2021 (President Biden’s inauguration seeming to be the real marker for a new year and new beginning), just a brief update on my professional doings. (The photo is from an earlier time when outdoor dining was still considered “safe”. Mask off, champagne ready.)

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2-WAY’s Progress Towards Production

You might be wondering, “How does an independently financed feature film move towards full funding and production during a pandemic?”

Specifically, my feature film 2-WAY (which I’ve written and am executive producing).

Well, I’ve got the answer.

Check out 2-WAY‘s Indiegogo site (NOTE: the campaign itself ended in Fall 2019–how time flies!), and click on the “Updates” tab on the page. You’ll get caught up on the latest news. Or, you can click on the screencap below.

(And while we make continued [albeit slow] progress on 2-WAY, I’m hard at work on a new feature film screenplay that we’ll be looking to independently finance later in the year. This is assuming we can ever get safely back to production in New Mexico.)

Academic Pandemic

undefinedConcluded a second year as Visiting Professor in the Film department of Ringling College of Art+Design. Needless to say, this was not a typical year in academia. Mid-semester, everybody picked up and went home on the (wise) prompting of the College, to escape the rapid spread of the coronavirus. Undergraduates completed their courses on Zoom.

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“Bite the Pen” Podcast Guesting

Missing Halloween or Día de Muertos already? (Of course you are.) Well, you can get back into the Halloween spirit by listening to the Halloween episode of the Bite the Pen podcast, where my 2-WAY co-producer Claudio Ruben and I opine about 2-WAY’s Indiegogo campaign and also have some fun discussing Tim Burton’s classic Beetlejuice.

These are the final days of 2-WAY’s Indiegogo campaign, and if you haven’t taken a look to see if you can support the endeavour, I humbly ask you to give us consideration. We have Longmire star Bailey Chase attached as the lead; 5-time Emmy winner Dyanna Taylor attached as director; and if all goes well, we think we can be competitive in some top-tier film festivals. But we’re 100% independently financed, and your support makes a significant difference in moving to production.