Seeing how this is my first blog, here at MovieMaker, I gotta confession to kick this thing off: I know nothing more than you do. I am not some stuffed-shirt and, no, the title of this thing was decidedly not my idea. I preferred it be called “WTF Do I Know?” but somehow that didn’t fly. “Shiv or Get Off the Director’s Chair” left the MM editors perplexed…. But you get it, right? Tell me you get it. And then there was “Fucking Pigeons,” but that was too vulgar, with multiple obscure meanings. (Can you guess them?) So, they chose Marlett & Me, and there ya go. If it helps, just think of me as a very undisciplined Labrador crapping out your necklace or whatever.
But back to the point: I don’t know anything more than you do. Moviemaking is an art (a big, expensive, collaborative one, but still an art) and there is no “more or less” knowledge to an art. Certainly one can be more experienced and knowledgeable about techniques and skills, but the art is the art, for art’s sake. Ars gratia artis, eh MGM? But the path to getting your art communicated to your audience—that journey begins with an understanding of another kind: That of business, people and strategy. We still must be concerned with Ars est pecunia, or “art is money.” Your purpose for being a moviemaker is your own, as is the story you must tell. And your style of producing or writing or directing… all yours, too. But there are some tools and hints that just might help you get your art where you want it to be: In 50-foot anamorphic glory in a darkened room full of people and popcorn.
Perhaps I might be a bit more driven, a bit more tenacious than you in some ways. I am not 21, eating Ramen noodles in a West Hollywood apartment, knowing that if my horror flick doesn’t get made, or get me laid, I can always do another. No, I am 44, with responsibilities far beyond myself. I’m a screenwriter and first-time film director (though I’ve sold many scripts, none to date has been produced,, and over the past eight months I’ve taken my film, Of Kings & Cowboys, a $20 million-plus indie action/drama set in the world of polo, from idea to early pre-production. The word “idea” here is subjective, as I’d written and sold the script eight years ago, and finally got it back under the terms of that agreement due to the producer having it G-writer-ruined and then just sitting on it. It needed time in Script ICU, overhauled with my now more-seasoned eye. And I had several other projects in the wings. So I gathered them all up, formed BlueRun Productions last May, blew the whistle and started the train going. Yeah just that simply… and that’s kinda the point.
So, back to this blog. Marlett & Me. (Sounds like one of my more heavily schizophrenic days.) As I said in the print column (Buy the Winter 2009 print magazine. Flip to page 20-something. Read. Repeat.), I want this to be an exchange of ideas, plus a few serious points and maybe some lessons learned in the trenches. The editors want me to talk about financing a lot, and yeah I will. (See next entry for starters.) But I’ll also wax on about building and defending your “perceived image,” using the Internet effectively, building a kick-ass business plan (digital!), making your script ready for the fly-over states, getting to top floors of agencies through basement windows, etc.
And I really want your feedback, questions, complaints. This is “Marlett & ME”, right? That means YOU have a job here, too. So email me at . Stir something up. Let’s go! Ride on.
David Marlett is a writer and director currently producing and directing the feature film, Of Kings & Cowboys. Marlett’s desire to direct and control his own work led him to create BlueRun Productions in 2007. He’s been acting for most of his life, and is also a non-practicing (“recovering”) attorney and CPA, with 20-plus years experience consulting and managing a wide assortment of companies in industries spanning from healthcare to entertainment. The Winter 2009 issue features his first installment of a new print column, Marlett & Me, with this sister blog on MovieMaker.com.