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Hello there.  My name is Marc Maurino, as the byline indicates, and close watchers of this blog might remember that a few days ago there was a post entitled “Why I’m Looking For a Producer at Independent Film Week.” That post just dove into what I’m looking for in a producer and was scant on background information about myself, because it actually started life as a letter I wrote to Filmmaker magazine editor Scott Macaulay a few weeks ago, in response to his query in one of his editor’s letters about an upcoming article for the magazine (yes, I sometimes write Scott really long letters.)

He suggested publishing the letter as part of my blogging for Independent Film Week, and there you have it; without, however, any of the nice introductory information that my fellow Independent Film Week bloggers have shared, so here goes.

I’m attending IFW with my feature script Inside the Machine, in the Emerging Narrative section, which is for scripts at the nascent stage, typically, like mine, without a producer or any financing attached.  Inside the Machine is a character driven crime drama about an undercover federal agent wrestling with family issues and personal responsibility while investigating a prison gang doing cartel robberies on the Texas/Mexico border.  As my earlier post indicated, I’m looking for a creative producer to jump on board with me and shepherd the project through production and distribution; I’m also looking for a talent manager that can help me grow my career towards writing and directing on assignment.  I’m also looking forward to just steeping in five days of the indie film world.

Though it’s known to those of us in the Project Forum, you might be interested in how we got here.  Back in April or May, I submitted an application which consisted of an escalating series of synopses—if memory serves, 25 words, 200 words, and 500 words, or something like that; plus a bio, an artistic statement, our screenplays, and what we would hope to gain from being selected to Emerging Narrative.  And about six weeks ago, I got one of the best e-mails in my life from IFP, saying I had been selected.  It was seven at night, I was still at the office, there was no one around, and I screamed.  Maybe even got a little choked up, but I’ll deny that.

Of course, the road to being able to fill out that application was lot longer than the process itself, and I’ll try to keep it short.  Studied English and cinema in college, PA’ed a lot and interned for Christine Vachon, and thought that I would follow the Quentin Tarantino path to directing, ie, get a job in a video store and write screenplays at night.  (I was in my early twenties, Reservoir Dogs had just come out …. somehow it seemed sensible at the time.)

Needless to say, that’s not exactly how it turned out.  I ended up getting a very real job, far outside the film industry, and sort of realized that in my early twenties, I had neither the skill, discipline, or life experience to write meaningful scripts.  The one thing that did happen, however, was that I kept writing at night, for years and years and years, and made a few short films.

A couple years ago, after cutting my teeth on two no-budget MiniDV shorts, I decided to step my game up and wrote another short script, hired a real DP and editor and sound guy, and the result was Trigger Finger, which played a bunch of festivals and won a few small awards.  A year later, I wrote another script, hired a bigger crew (same insanely talented DP, sound, and editor), and directed and produced All in the Game, a character driven crime drama about a cop investigating a homicide who wrestles with family issues and his relationship with an informant.  (Sensing a theme here?  If you said “Flawed men trying and failing”, you win!)

All in the Game went out to Sundance today (fingers crossed) and during the very long post-production on that film, I wrote Inside the Machine.

And so here I am, hours away from what I am hoping will be an exciting and fruitful week.  I’ve got meetings set up with producers and managers thanks to the great folks at IFP.  I’m incredibly grateful to them for choosing my project, and for going out there and getting these meetings set up.  They assigned Quentin Little to help me tighten my script a bit, which was very valuable, and he recommended I put together a look book, which I did.  It’s 25 pages of images of the world of the characters in Inside the Machine, stills from films I love, and stills from All in the Game.  Quentin told me that my type of film would benefit from a look book because I could subjectively influence a reader’s perception of what I’m trying to do; that was great advice, and I think if you see my book, you get a good sense of the world and aesthetic of Inside the Machine. (Think Aryan Brotherhood, Juarez cartel violence, the Dardenne brothers, and Laws of Gravity.)

If you’re around at all during IFW, please say hello, tell me about your film, and let’s get a drink.  If you’re reading this blog this week, let us know in the comments what you’re interested in.  I’m excited to meet other filmmakers, see what my new peers are up to, and to meet as many people who are making a living at independent film as possible.  Because being able to do that is what I want to do, and ever since I saw Do the Right Thing, that’s all I’ve wanted to do.  Here’s to hoping that IFW is a first step in that direction for all of us.

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