Fools by Martin Walker

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I get it.

I've been directing for quite some time. I've worked on theater projects of varying levels, with experience ranging from newbies to old dogs. That being said:

This weekend was like a dream come true for me. I've directed films before, but all of them have been on microbudgets. I mean MICRO. When that grip truck and the genny rolled up to the Cerritos Swim Center, I about died.

And we're not even close to "The Big Time".

This is why you need to raise a lot of money before you start any production, because every dime you spend on equipment and crew is worth the money. The team was top notch. They were professional, speedy, and all kick ass at their jobs. All I had to do is step back and direct. It was a fantastic feeling to trust that everyone was doing their jobs and doing them well. I just can't say enough good things about Leah and Brian's performance on set. They worked really well together and were so considerate of one another. It was a lot of fun working with them.

My roommate remarked the night before the shoot that I was awfully calm considering we were going into production the next morning, but it was because I felt very confident in the team and that everything was in place. And I knew I was right as soon as I got to the pool the next morning.

I will carry that memory with me for a while.

The rest of the shoot won't be as spectacularly easy, as I have to go back to my guerrilla filmmaking life to save the sanity of my Producers. I have to "get it done". I've made a promise not only to myself, but also to Christine and Lucy to see this through, and I will honor that commitment.

But every time I look at the pool footage I'll remember this past weekend and how for a fleeting moment I got to be somewhere on the fringes of The Big Time. It feels good, folks. Really good.

I'm sure there will be more just around the corner.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Diving Lessons- Taking the plunge

Well...I at home on Monday night the 29th of October and we have completed the first two days of Diving Lessons, which is being directed by Laura Somers.

I must say that everyone is just so pleasurable to be around and the spirit is so high on the production. I knew Laura was going to be a great director to work with, but I had no idea how good she would be with actors. She took me by surprise. Her tone, vocabulary, demeanor, and ability to get what she wanted was fantastic. I would have thought she was an actor at one point in her life because she really knew how to work with Shireen and I.

I am looking forward to continuing to move forward and to bring this piece to life. This role of Jim is exactly what I needed at this point in my life. Experience coupled with the right dialogue brings out truth and a world of secrets.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Notes from a Diving Board

We made it through our first day of production. Started the day at 6am. The 5-ton grip truck arrived and parked next to the 500 amp generator. Lucy and I started laughing (heck, that's better than crying, right?) and said we've come a long way baby. When this project first started, we thought that we'd each tackle a short to make it easier than making a feature on our own. However, it's turned out 100% more difficult and 4 times more expensive than we had originally thought.

The lighting guys started setting up the huge lights. Because we were shooting inside the Cerritos Swim Center, which is quite a large space, more light was required. About 2 hours later, our sound guy arrived with his equipment, and we were almost on our way.

Our crew was professional and there were no major snaffus. Even though we had 4 PAs who never showed up and caused us to be slightly under-crewed, everyone came together and pitched in. At one point, the fire marshalls stopped by to make sure we were complying with code, walked outside to look at our generator, and went along on their merry way. First day of production, and we weren't shut down!

Justin and Shireen looked great on screen together. And this was just the first day. Pool visitors were standing around watching us shoot, and we chatted with a few people. Shireen's mom stopped by to see Shireen in action. It was the very first time that her mom had been on set to see her work. Wow! Of all the movie sets that she could've visited, we were the one!

We're shooting again today, at 5pm, to do the locker room scene. Hopefully Lucy, our on-set photographer, will post some pics for y'all to see.


Saturday, October 27, 2007


About to leave for the first day of production. I can't believe it's finally here.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Top 5 Things To Do With Your Money Other than Blowing It on Making a Movie

So one more day before our first day of production. I woke up at 3 a.m. and couldn't fall back to sleep. My dogs were by my side, snoring. I thought, I wish I was a dog. After all this is over, I will post my top 5 lessons from this production. For now, here is my list of top five things that I could be doing with the $$ I'm blowing, I mean, investing, in this production:

5. Use it as down payment for a house. Oops, this is L.A., I mean, use it to pay my rent.
4. Get botox shots. Heck, I wouldn't have all these premature aging lines if it wasn't for this film!
3. Travel around the world, meet interesting people, experience different cultures, have fun rather than a constant foreboding feeling that I will never be able to pay off my debts.
2. Pay Ceasar Milan to whisper to my dogs. Maybe they'll stop snoring.


1. Get therapy to determine exactly why I'm doing this instead of #2-5 above.

Thank goodness Jenna came on board. We are crossing our fingers that this weekend will go smoothly. Note to all indie filmmakers: don't ever write a scene where water is involved. It will cost at least twice as much. Happened to James Cameron on Titanic, and happened to us here. In fact, don't even have any of your characters drink water.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Things Are Under Control!

Advise to anyone thinking of making a film

1. Hire a producer to work with your from pre to post and beyond.
2. Have your money in the bank before you start making plans.
3. Have a real budget based on MONEY YOU HAVE not MONEY YOU NEED.
4. Hire people you like and respect and who like and respect you.

My lack of blogging has to do with the big freak out I've gone through. I'll spare you those details because I am no longer freaking out. We brought Jenna Edwards on board as our Producer/UPM + whatever other hats she needs to wear.

Christine had been doing a bulk of the producing, especially the schedule (always changing) and the budget (not enough $$).

I met Jenna a few months back via one of our actresses Mari Marks (Sonny Vivian). At the time, Jenna was working full time at a post facility. She worked crazy hours, 5pm - 7am. Her schedule and mine never matched so we formed a relationship via emails and phone calls. She helped us out BIG TIME by getting us the club where our final scene takes place. We got this location super cheap thanks to Jenna.

Along the way, she's given us referrals, helped me with the permit situation. She was always there to answer any questions or just be supportive. All this, without meeting me. Jenna came on board at such a critical time and we are all grateful to have her. This has been such an overwhelming but also educational process for all involved.


Three Days Until the Big Pool Scene

Things have been incredibly hectic for us. We are scheduled to begin production on Laura's very important pool scenes this Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, we'll be shooting during the pool's operating hours, which means dealing with 500+ visitors. Add to that the fact that we'll have lighting concerns, i.e., electricity plus water, and this promises to be a very challenging weekend. On Sunday, we'll be shooting the locker room scenes. The pool required us to shoot after hours so that no naked women will be walking around and find a camera pointed at her. However, to make the locker room scene look realistic, we will need a few scantily-clad "extras" in various states of undress to be in the background. I believe our very own director will make a cameo appearance in the locker room scene--in what state of undress remains to be seen. I bet you Sydney Pollak/Scorcese/M. Night Shyamalan would never make that kind of cameo in their movies. Stay tuned.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Film Comedies and the Male Fantasy

Here is an interesting article in the L.A. Times today about the state of romantic comedies:,0,5703822.story

Is Hollywood relegated to making only Judd Apatow-kind of romantic comedies where the male protagonist is a "lovable" loser while his love interest is the perfect hottie? In other words, the only thing a man needs to bring to the dating table is himself, warts and all, while a woman needs to bring a perfect body, perfect career, perfect personality, and most importantly, enough inner beauty and non-superficiality to overlook the fact that her date's a complete loser?

In the first vignette, "Love 10 to 1", Jenny is a 29-year old virgin who is looking to finally lose her virginity by her 30th birthday. However, she finds it very difficult to meet the right guy. Yes, this film is a comedy about the difficulties of finding the "One". But this film is also about how one woman breaks free from her mother's (aka, society's) idea of perfection for her, and starts to truly live her life, on her own terms.

Love 10 to 1 doesn't speak for all women and their dating realities. However, it's written and directed by three women filmmakers, and this is our take on the romantic comedy.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Thoughts re Distribution and Marketing

I just spent the weekend at Film Independent's filmmaker forum. It was quite interesting, especially hearing about the various distribution avenues available to the indie filmmaker nowadays. In one forum, Rich Raddon, who is the head of LA Film Fest, asked the entire audience to stand up (there were about 500 of us). Then he had everyone sit down except for the 16 people standing along the first row. He said that of the 500 of us in the room, only 16 of us will ever get into Sundance. Then he had another 8-9 people sit down. He said that the people left standing (i.e., 7 out of the 500) represented the number of people who will actually get distribution. Basically, the odds are overwhelmingly against the indie filmmaker of getting distribution via the traditional channels.

At another panel, Peter Broderick spoke about "hybrid distribution". This is when the filmmaker may try to sell his/her film through the traditional channels while also trying to self distribute via their website. He was encouraging the indie filmmaker to find alternative means of distribution, because that just means that you will be able to make another movie, and so on. His presentation was one of the more positive ones at the conference in favor of the indie filmmaker.

Anyway, this seems a bit premature to talk about distribution even before we've made our film, but we've actually been quite conscious about marketing and distribution ever since we started talking about making this film. Making a movie is art, but it's also an extremely competitive business. In crude business terms, filmmakers are project managers of a manufactured product. And like serial entrepreneurs, filmmakers take huge risks every time they undertake to make a film. If a filmmaker is too much of a "creative" to worry about business details, then they better partner with a business-savvy producer. Lucy and I have brainstormed on various marketing ideas once we get the film in the "can". We have some crazy ideas which we would love to implement as soon as we finish with production.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

Burning The Midnight Oil

Today, I spent the whole day working on the film. Woke up at 8:30am and went location scouting with Leah and Onahoua. We went to this amazing photo studio/loft in Lincoln Heights, it's one of the best locations I found. Leah and I were there last night but we needed to see the place during the day. Kevin, the photographer who owns the studio let us hang out there for about an hour. We were coming up with shots, and having a great time. Onahoua and I took turns with the video camera documenting the journey. Then it was four, back to back meetings and at the end of the night I met up with Leah again to go over a few things for tomorrow's day of meetings. I got home at 12:15am!

I'm tired. I haven't had a day off in weeks. The last two weeks, I've been working 9-5 and then traffic and then movie meetings. Tomorrow my first meeting is at 12pm.What are the chances that I'll wake up early and go on a hike?

We are trying to rework the schedule. We are now acting as our own producer, line producer, location manager, and I'm sure a few other things that I can't think of because I am too tired. What happened to the directing aspect of this thing?

The next film I direct, I will have a producer, a casting director and INVESTORS. I will not attempt this thing again w/out $$.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

Wearing the Writer/Director/Producer Hats

We were talking today about the lessons we've learned from working on this production so far. Lucy said that she wouldn't act as her own producer if she's directing. I agreed. Producing a film is a full-time job and more. However, most low budget filmmakers don't have the luxury of hiring a producer, so they end up acting as producer/director and maybe writer as well. Frankly, this sucks. If you can find someone to help you produce your film while you focus on directing, and then agree to help them produce their film while they direct, that would be so much easier. I've spent the last three hours of my Saturday evening drafting various location agreements for the locations that we have. Next on my to-do list is to look over the other agreements that we'll need for the production. We'd like to have agreements in place for everyone involved in the production. What I'd really like to do is to work on my shot list. Yeah yeah, I'm bitching again.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Getting Insurance 4 Your Film - the smart & thrifty way

Production Lessons from the Love 10 to 1 team.

Getting Insurance 4 Your Film - the smart & thrifty way

While there are filmmakers who give no thought to insuring their production, we at Good Karma Films are of the belief that safety and protecting our entity comes first. Plus, Christine is an attorney and she wouldn't have it any other way.

We took turns calling different companies that would sell us an insurance package that includes worker's comp, third party liability, liability for equipment etc. The best price we got quoted was $2,200. One of the reps I spoke with suggested that for an extra $400 we should get insured for 1 year and we won't have to worry about insurance for our next project. Given how long this one has taken to get off the ground, I told him that we most likely would not have another project to go into production with. Then he told me of a very common practice among production companies - you can get another production to piggy back off your insurance. I asked him if he knew of anyone we could piggy back off of. He said he was not in that business and we politely ended the conversation.

I'm not sure if it was Laura or Christine but one of them placed an ad on craigslist and a few minutes later we had a number of responses from people willing to let us piggy back off of their insurance.

We went with a woman who has her own production company. This being such a small community we did our research and it turns out a few people we know have dealt with her and they highly recommended her. This woman has gone above and beyond, referring us to a number of resources.

She's only charging us in the hundreds to insure the film, saving us a ton of money we didn't have.

We've met so many people who are willing to help us out for free and others who are willing to work for us for very little money. But even with all these favors, it is still an expensive investment to make a movie.

I didn't go to film school, so I look at this film as my thesis film minus the expense of film school. I have friends who have spent in the high thousands making their short (usually under 15 minutes) thesis films. They are usually beautiful, artful, well crafted films but it'll take them years to pay off the student loans they financed their education and film with.

So, if I incur a bit of debt making this film I'm ok with that. I know I can pay it off in one year's time and hopefully Disney will come calling and my day job will be directing episodes of The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, That's So Raven, Hannah Montana, etc. Yes, I want to make films, as a matter of fact I have 4 books that I'd like to option, and I like my 9-5 just fine, but to quote The Beach Boys "Wouldn't It Be Nice...."

This is my very first blog

I think I may have visited this site everyday for the past month with the intention of sitting down to write something. Christine and Lucy keep asking when I'm going to contribute to the blog and since I'm new at this, the idea of my private thoughts out there for the world to read is a little intimidating. Which is strange thing for someone like me to say since I make my living putting my personal life on display for others to judge (although at least I've always been able to hide behind the facade of a "character"). I'm hoping that as I type today I'll begin to warm up to this blogging thing, much like I did the first time I sang karaoke. That was a bit daunting at first, but now you can't seem to get my big mouth off the mic. I'm quite satisfied with the notion of getting up in a room full of total strangers and singing (or screaming, if you will) my guts out.

But this is the interesting thing about being an artist, folks. Pouring your guts out on paper for the world to see is crucial to making good work. And if you're lucky, you'll somehow get a few people out there who actually get what you're trying to explore within yourself. I've done things throughout my career that I thought were absolutely too personal and embarrassing to put out to the world. I once wrote a piece where I was a geisha possessed by Satan. I performed it in some tiny theater in the middle of Texas where the ending number became this enormous ritual that consisted of me washing my mouth out with a toilet brush. And when the dust settled and the audience filed out, I'm standing there covered in ketchup and a makeshift kimono, this big redneck Texan strides up to me and whispers in my ear, "I thought I was the only one who felt that way." And he gripped my hand and pumped it up and down with real appreciation. We'd somehow connected on a deeper level beyond our outward identities.

"Diving Lessons" is kind of like that. It's about two polar opposites who have been given the opportunity to cast aside their entrenched outer personas and have a moment, even if fleeting, to see inside one another to their very core. There's no fear of consequence, no need to impress, it's just love at its purest.

You ever hear that Lou Reed song, "Perfect Day"? I can't think of a better mirror to hold up to this script. He says "You made me forget myself, I thought I was someone else, someone good." We all have those moments when time just stops when we're with another person and those moments are golden.

It's so hard to get to that place these days. We're so afraid.

I hope Jenny and Jim can keep it going.

I can sense a real magic between Shireen and Justin, the two actors playing the roles of Jenny and Jim. You always hear the phrase "born to play these roles" thrown around. In this case, it's so true. I've never heard anything I've written flow so easily from an actor's mouth as these lines do from them. They love performing these scenes. The air crackles around them. They glow! I can't wait to see where we'll go once the cameras are rolling. I just know they're going to deliver so much more.

The song has ended and it's someone else's turn at the mic. I'll put my name in the rotation for another turn at this blogging thing.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Google Hearts Love 10 to 1 - at least today

Yes, what a surprise to see that when you type Love 10 to 1 on Google's search engine - WE ARE #1. Thanks to all the clicks that got us there.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Scheduling and Nightmares

Now that we've secured 95% of our locations, we met Friday eve to go over the scheduling again. Had to move a few days around, and hopefully all of our actors will be available on those days. I had a dream (or nightmare, rather) last night that my lead actress got a guest role on Heroes and told us that she won't be able to work with us during our production days. It was a frightening dream, probably more so than my nightmare several days ago when I was trapped in a house with terrorists and discovered their plans to detonate bombs across L.A. (had this nightmare even before the new season of 24 started!).

About The Three Shorts

Christine Le wrote and directed the 1st story Love 10 to 1.
The first story explores the life of a 29-year-old virgin, Jenny, who desperately wants to lose her virginity before her 30th birthday. As she encounters one loser after another on dates, Jenny pines after her boss, Dustin. While at her grandmother’s retirement home, Jenny learns a powerful lesson from her grandmother about sex and the meaning of life.

Christine Le (right) directs Shireen Nomura Mui (Jenny) & Justin Klosky (Jim).

Lucy Rodriguez wrote and directed Love Song.
The second story revolves around Shane, the lead singer of the L.A. rock band, Dirty Virgin. Shane has her pick of admirers but it’s her roommate Dustin she wants to be with. Shane confesses her feelings on Jackie and Jared’s show but when Dustin meets Cali, Shane’s shot at love starts to dwindle. With Dirty Virgin about to embark on a world tour, will Dustin realize that he’s the object of Shane’s affections? Will they risk their friendship to give this Love Song a chance?

Lucy Rodriguez & David Villar (Dustin)

Laura Somers wrote and directed Diving Lessons.
The final story picks up where Love 10 to 1 left off, but from the perspective of Jim, the guitarist of Dirty Virgin. Jim sees Jenny at a swimming pool, trying desperately to overcome her fear of diving. In fact, he finds out that she’s making a list of everything that she’s afraid of and trying to overcome them, one by one. He is instantly smitten and tries to convince her that he’s not just a rock star who ‘loves ‘em and leaves ‘em’. Can a rock star find love with a virgin?

Shireen Nomura-Mui, Laura Somers & Justin Klosky

Leah Anova is the Director of Photography for Love 10 to 1 & Diving Lessons.

Additional Cinematography on Diving Lessons by Erik Forsell

Matthew Boyd is the Director of Photography for Love Song.