“MELVIN” NEGOTIATES THE APOCALYPSE (PART 2 OF 3)
We are the survivors of the apocalypse. We have gathered to exchange filmmaking horror stories, to discuss escape strategies, to compete with each other for limited resources and opportunities. The atmosphere, through countless panels, parties and pitches, is cloaked in uncertainty. Still, we are here. New York City. Independent Film Week.
And, honestly, I’ve never felt better.
My film Melvin, a small American drama without movie stars, is—if the formula is to be believed—facing a daunting, dare I say, Sisyphean climb (the IFP logo is spot on) ahead into the world.
Here’s how it has gone down:
Industry Person: Tell me about your film; what are you doing here?
Me: Well, we have a near-finished film. It’s called Melvin. It’s an intense character study about a young man unraveling…and it’s about what he does when he finally comes undone.
Industry Person stares at me, blinks.
Me: Yeah, it’s about a young guy who wants a lot more out of life. He has that itch, that suspicion, that belief that there’s gotta be more. He’s like Peter Parker, without Spiderman. Like Neo, without a matrix.
Industry Person: So it’s a superhero movie?
Me: Yes. Except without a superhero.
Industry Person: Oh. So, really it’s…
And somehow, we’re now talking about the same thing and we continue on from there… What a rush. We—my writing partner, Gregory Collins, and I—chestbump. We tell each other that we nailed it, that we killed it. And I guess that’s the point. No matter how uncertain the industry is right now, one thing is certain: There will be film. Because once you get over the fact that conventional wisdom about independent film financing, marketing and distribution seems to have been dismantled (at least for now), the signs of life are encouraging.
First of all, there was the IFP Labs Showcase Screening Tuesday night – 20 scenes from 20 films that you’ve never heard of (but most definitely will in the coming years) presented by Rooftop Films, which was massively attended. There are the success stories; movies like Winter’s Bone and Restrepo (Tim Hetherington spoke some serious truth that resonated with me in a big way). There are also the industry veterans partnering with relative newcomers (PJ Raval & Krisy Gosney come to mind) shopping provocative new projects around (Manhandled, in their case). And, of course, there are the industry experts rallying around the work to make things happen. Does Tasmanian-Devil-reincarnated-as-marketing-guru Todd Sklar even need an introduction? (I can say this because I consider Todd a friend and would be honored to be his Tag Team Wrestling Partner, just in case the opportunity ever arises.)
Melvin did well this week. I like our odds. I think we can do better than survive; I think we can thrive. And we’re taking serious notes, notes we’re going to put to work on upcoming projects. Gregory has a script called The Missionary Position (he’s a missionary kid from Kenya, but I don’t think it’s about being born again) and I’m doing my best to talk about the next one even as we finish this one.
I guess here is where I gush with gratitude, affirm my fellow filmmakers and express some serious excitement about the future, because, yeah, that’s how I feel. Rock’n’roll.
Look for me to share a few more words in the coming week or so.