Tangible North

Film students graduating

Film students graduating

If you’re a film person, there’s a chance you are stuck in a work related life limbo. In a way there’s a tendency for non-committal, gypsy style life choices based in an obscure hope that you’ll land in LA. And not only make it to LA – make it work in LA – with important jobs on features and knowing famous people.

When people tell me. “Move. Don’t look back.”
“Cream rises to the top.”
“Water meets it’s level.”
“You should have done this 10 years ago.”

I’m split between agreeing with them and wanting to hit them. From a technician standpoint a lot of this is true. You go. Make a contact, work a job, make more contacts, couch surf a little, land a show, get an apartment shared with a bunch of other people, work more shows, slowly carve out a life again. Of course there’s the chance that shows will require you to travel – maybe a lot. But that’s your life. You work in the movies.

From a writer/director standpoint the idea of moving away from my film community and starting back at the PA level for 18 hour days again doesn’t really excite me. They were right. I should have done that 10 years ago.  Which means I would have needed to go to film school in California. But those weren’t my choices and I don’t regret that. I’m a Minnesotan, a Minneapolis filmmaker.

Over the holidays the infamous GRAPEGATE outrage has proven to us that no one really has any idea what we like or what we’re like. If you go HERE and scroll down to Minnesota – the NYTimes thinks our favorite holiday recipe is Grape Salad. WTF is a Grape Salad you ask? No one knows. Hence – #grapegate. At the heart of this disconcerting fact that people think we like this Grape Salad – because some big know-it-all said so – is the idea that we don’t really have a concrete national identity. We’re kinda like the oatmeal crust on the top of the mushy apple crisp that is “MIDWEST.”

Minnesota

Minnesota

There are Minnesotan’s that are pushing for a rebrand in how we see ourselves in relationship to the rest of the midwest. THESE people think we should secede from the idea of the vanilla-farm girl-middle of the country and stand out as NORTH.

I recently read THIS article about our cinema here in the north. It’s a nice voicing of something I’ve been struggling with for a while.

How to evolve from partial child to full on adult. More specifically from the film school graduate mindset to the film professional lifestyle.  How do I successfully choose the path that will suit me?

I think the answer lies somewhere in our reimagined national identity. We are not Nebraska. We are not Michigan. We are the hinterlands. Arya Stark and her direwolf Nymeria. The frozen lake that extends for miles into the small horizon. We are the long quiet drive on black ice. We are the blood and guts on your bumper from a fatal deer crossing.

 

Going to the mall.

Going to the mall.

Just two bro's out having some fun.

Just two bro’s out having some fun.

This is something the Cohen’s have known for decades.

This is something I’ve drawn on, in my own little way, for years. My amalgamation of 3 years of my life’s work LAKE LUTEFISK explores the weirdness in the winter. (That link is currently the only place to see it. If you want to see the third installment “FOREWARN” which no one has seen – skip to 13:00)

That being said. I’m at a place where spending significant (or more than $30) dollars on short films seems kinda dumb. It can be a black hole for resources if you let it. In the same vein, waiting on any sort of grant if you’re looking to shoot a narrative is a sucker bet. I don’t mean to be a negative Nelly – but there’s no money for narrative filmmakers. It’s either new media (apps/games) or it’s documentary. Sad face for me.

While it may seem like I’m taking steps backward and dumbing down my filmmaking – I recently made a short film for the cost of 5 pizzas.  It was me, the talent and his cat and my gear. That’s it. We shot for 2 days.  We ate the prop pizza when we didn’t need it anymore. It was fun. I was also able to try new things – like take the time to string together the edit – on location – to make sure I got everything I needed.  I guess you can call this continuing education.

And most fun of all – I wasn’t waiting to make a film because a grant didn’t come through again. Perhaps this is where my head should have been all along. But here we are. I’m toying with an idea of an homage series with friends. Just actors and a small crew prostrating themselves to Bergman, Polanski or … Tony Scott? (wink wink Joe)

I’m excited again. No more scripts with monkeys and giant Burton style factories – just people being people in rooms that I or a friend can get for free. The art is making that relevant. Not mumblecore, just cost effective stories with really great actors. The world is our oyster.

My mind is liberated.

I’ll post the link to SNOWED – my most recent film – after it screens at Z-fest.

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Here’s a kickstarter vid I made that assisted the comedian Corey Adam to achieve his funding goal. AWESOME.

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Here’s a video I made with parents on my iPhone during our XMAS on the DEATHSTAR themed holiday. My parents are so rad.

Fun in the woods of Deer River. Some hats. Some booze. Way too much food.

Fun in the woods of Deer River. Some hats. Some booze. Way too much food.

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