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The Indie Chronicles: From Writer to Director to… Who You Know


a blogumn by R.B. Ripley

whoyouknowYou may recall last week’s column in which I shared the tragic tale of the breakdown I had this past fall; The resulting crisis of not being able to translate story ideas in my head onto the page. So I set out to find a way of looking at cinematic storytelling from a fresh perspective and to do so, decided to direct.

Finally, a story was selected for this short film project. Naturally, it’s one of mine that started as a ten-minute play. Everything I write seems to start as a short play… IMBALANCE is a two-character, contemporary noir, psychological mystery set in Los Angeles: In the course of a day, a man and a woman’s mysterious past is revealed as one tries to blackmail the other.

Approximate running time will be 12 minutes. This project will operate under the SAG Low Budget/Short Film Agreement. The shoot was scheduled for the Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday after Thanksgiving (November 28 – December 2).

Hooray! Now, what the hell do I do?

Once the initial glow of having put a stake in the ground and publicly declaring my intention had faded, I was faced with what everyone who sets out to make a truly independent film faces – how the hell do you actually make a film?

And so before I was able to start directing and (hopefully!) discover a new well filled to the brim with fresh writing perspective, it suddenly dawned on me that I would have to create the opportunity for myself to direct this script. In effect, produce the damned thing. Producing? What the… I have no production department to rely on, no stable of production crew, no money. Suddenly, I felt like I’d taken a hundred steps backwards, negating the few small steps forward I’d taken up to this point.

When in a pickle, I list. Make lots of lists. This started as a vain attempt at organization when I was in college and has, over the years, become a compulsion. So, I sat down and made a list of everyone I knew in the business and what they did. To my surprise, after scratching out the 337 writers, I still knew at least one person who did each of the following:

§ Director of Photography
§ Costume Design
§ Production Design
§ Hair & Makeup Artist
§ Produce for film or television

I am a pretty independent person and have a tough time asking for help, let alone favors. But, even I, the hardheaded clown that I am, understood I would have to do just that if this project was going to get off the ground.