Monday, May 25, 2009

Tools For The Filmmaker's Craft: "Rebel Without A Crew" by Robert Rodriguez

From Wikipedia:

"Rebel Without a Crew (subtitle: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker with $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player) is a 1995 non-fiction book by Robert Rodriguez. Presented in a diary format, Rebel details Rodriguez' beginnings as a young filmmaker; his stint at a medical testing facility to raise money for a feature film; the making of that film (El Mariachi) for $7,000, and his subsequent experiences in Hollywood selling the film and going to film festivals promoting it.

Later editions of the book also feature one of Rodriguez' tutorials on low-budget filmmaking ("Ten Minute Film School") and the screenplay to El Mariachi.

Rodriguez' rags-to-riches story, detailed in Rebel, as well as his vociferous support of low-budget techniques (such as digital cinematography) to allow anyone to make a movie cheaply, have made him an icon of modern independent filmmaking."

There's really no excuse. The tools are already there, if we're willing to seize them.

Read, learn, and Get Busy!

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is off topic...but have you heard about the case at Harvard. It just reminded me of what your and Evia write about. The pull of the ABC is destroying so many lives. I mean you cant even escape it at Harvard, really its terrifiying. I am trying to protect my children but I just pray they never fall into that culture.

Lorraine said...

That's right Khadija. We really don't have any more excuses. The Internet has given us the world with the click of a button and it is up to our creativity to do the rest.

I know a young black female filmaker in Hollywood right now doing the same thing as Rodriguez and I believe she will also be in the big time and taken seriously as a Hollywood Insider. It's just a matter of time.

Thanks for posting.

Khadija said...

Anonymous,

No, I hadn't heard about the case at Harvard until you mentioned it. [I've more or less stopped watching the news. It's the same---the names change, but the fact patterns are the same.]

For those who haven't heard, here's the AP story about this incident:

"Black Harvard student: Racism part of campus ban

Tue May 26, 7:43 pm ET

BOSTON – A black Harvard University senior who lives in the dorm where a campus visitor was fatally shot says school officials ordered her out of the building and told her she could not graduate, singling her out because of her race.

Chanequa Campbell, of New York, is a friend of the shooting suspect's girlfriend, another Harvard student, but has no connection to the suspect or the victim, her attorney, Jeffrey Karp, told The Associated Press.

She was ordered off campus Friday with little notice and without being told why, Karp said. She was allowed to gather only a few personal belongings from her room after receiving a no-trespassing order, he said.

"There is no citation to the student code, no citation to any law, no citation to any facts," he said.

Harvard spokesman Robert Mitchell said in a statement that the school does not comment on an individual student's status.

Campbell, a sociology major, lived in the dorm where 21-year-old Justin Cosby, a former Salem State College student, was killed May 18 in what authorities say was a drug-related robbery attempt. Jabrai Jordan Copney, a 20-year-old songwriter from New York City, has been charged with murder.

No one else has been charged in the case, but authorities are looking for two other men they think were involved in the confrontation.

Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone has said investigators also were looking at the involvement of Harvard students before and after the shooting.

Copney gained access to the Kirkland House dorm with an electronic card key given to him by a student, prosecutors said. That key did not come from Campbell, Karp said. Campbell was at an exam and at work the day of the shooting and lives in a part of the dorm far from the scene.

Copney is being held without bail after a not guilty plea was entered on his behalf on Friday in Cambridge District Court.

Karp said he did not know of any other student ordered off campus because of the shooting.

Campbell told The Boston Globe for a story Tuesday she believed she was being "singled out."

"The honest answer to that is that I'm black and I'm poor and I'm from New York and I walk a certain way and I keep my clothes a certain way," she said.

Karp said Campbell was not available for an interview Tuesday. He would not say whether she had returned to her Brooklyn home or whether she remained in the Boston area.

In a report last month, a panel convened to look into whether campus police unfairly stopped black people because of their race said more work needed to be done to create a welcoming environment at the school, where 11 percent of admitted students are black.

In 2004, police stopped and questioned a prominent black Harvard professor who matched a robbery suspect's description. Then, in 2007, police responding to noise complaints asked leaders of black student groups holding a field day on campus to show their Harvard IDs.

Last year, a black campus worker who lost his bicycle lock key said an officer drew a gun on him after he tried to cut the lock off.

Karp said Campbell has not been formally expelled, giving her hope that she would be able to attend the June 4 commencement.

"Our hope and prayer is that Harvard will reconsider and allow her to graduate," he said, adding later that Harvard has "made it clear that their position is intractable."

He also left open the possibility that Campbell may take the school to court.

Campbell fears her future has been put in jeopardy, her lawyer said.

"This has besmirched her academic reputation," Karp said.

Blogger is acting strange again, so I have to split my reply up into several posts.

Khadija said...

Part 2 of my reply:

RESPONSE: I remember how furious I was as an undergrad when other Black students and I were singled out by campus security to have our backpacks searched as we left the libraries, etc.

However...my friends and I did NOT associate with criminals. Now that I think about it, we didn't even associate with people who weren't also college students. We did NOT associate with anybody who had friends/relatives that were gang-involved, etc. We quietly excluded losers from our social circles.

We also didn't dress like hip-hop video criminals. Our range of clothing styles were basically the same as those among the White students at the time. From preppy to punk to new wave to grunge to the "standard uniform" of jeans and a t-shirt/blouse/Izod.

A couple of things stand out to me about this unfortunate tale:

(1) The invented, ghetto names (including of the BF student who's whining).

(2) The access (key card) that another (BF) student apparently granted to a killer.

(3) The apparent ABC self-presentation of the whining BF student: ""The honest answer to that is that I'm black and I'm poor and I'm from New York and I walk a certain way and I keep my clothes a certain way," she said." Really now, who wants to go to an Ivy League school to encounter ghetto bums? Who wants to be bothered with that?

(4) I would really be surprised if the "songwriter"-murder suspect is actually a songwriter and not an aspiring rapper. The reporter might have said "songwriter" out of political correctness.

As Evia has repeatedly pointed out, non-Blacks have a hard time telling us (normal, "survive and thrive" Black folks) from the "acting Black" mutants. I don't care about Harvard giving Miss Chenequa the boot. Good riddance to what sounds like bad trash. And maybe other "Sheniquas" will learn to STOP bringing ghetto trash onto that campus. That is, if they want to remain enrolled in Harvard.

I don't have much more to say about these sorts of news stories. There's very little left to say that hasn't already been said. These stories will continue to multiply unless and until WE change the cultural atmosphere that surrounds our children.
_______________________________

Lorraine,

No more excuses. The new technology has opened up ways to get around many barriers that were previously insurmountable.

You said, "I know a young black female filmaker in Hollywood right now doing the same thing as Rodriguez and I believe she will also be in the big time and taken seriously as a Hollywood Insider. It's just a matter of time."--------------------------------------------

RESPONSE: Good for that young lady! If she's persistent and resourceful, she'll make it. Like you said, it's just a matter of time.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Anonymous said...

It makes me so mad how they are trying to make her seem sympathetic.

Harvard is partially to blame for this. If you get a scholarship you should behave in a certain manner. They should not recruit someone who is obviously proud of ABC culture. They bend over backwards not to offend, sorry but some people need to be offended and told that certain behavior is unacceptable.

And you know what Black people, get ready. Segregation is coming back, you will get stopped and profiled because people can only take so much. Its sad what our ancestors went though and we just waste the opportunities given to us, including myself.

Southland Diva said...

Bought and read 'Rebel...' years ago. I thought the book was great. And while I am not a film maker, it was an excellent example about defining your goals and working to achieve them. Rodriguez is not the first and certainly not the last film maker to work in this fashion. I hope more film makers write about their experience. Demystification of the film making process can't help but inspire more people (young or old) to make their movies and/or tell their stories.

Khadija said...

SouthlandDiva,

You said, "I hope more film makers write about their experience. Demystification of the film making process can't help but inspire more people (young or old) to make their movies and/or tell their stories."---------------------------------------------------------

RESPONSE: It's in most people's interests to keep their particular fields as mysterious as possible to outsiders. However, there's always somebody who will "tell" about the mechanics of getting in/operating in that field. We just have to seek out this information.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Lorraine said...

Gina over at WAOD has followed up on your sounding the alarm (several of your blogs)today!

I wanted to post the friend's name to whom I referred in yesterday's comment. (I also posted this on WAOD). My friend's name is BJ Rouse and she is an up and coming filmmaker in Hollywood. BJ is struggling to make it in the industry and could use some much needed support.

She is making a movie to increase mental health awareness in the black community so it is a very worthwhile effort. Here is a personal request that she sent out and if any of you can help, and or pass this on, please do so.

Thanks you in advance.
Lorraine

May 12, 2009

Friends and Family,

We write to you today to request your support of a short film that is to begin filming in mid June 2009. The film, Queen Victoria’s Wedding, has been coined a mental health awareness piece.

The emotive story of Queen Victoria’s battle with mental illness, while caring for a teenaged daughter, was specifically written as a social awareness module to assist in educating the Black community of the affects of mental illness if left untreated.

T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh (“That’s So Raven”) is set to star with up and coming teen actress Nieko Mann (“Friday Night Lights”) in Queen Victoria’s Wedding. The film was written (and will be directed) by Cosby Program alum BJ Rouse for Rouse House Entertainment in association with Mighty Moore Entertainment.

Adding to the cast with Keymáh and Mann are co-stars Monica Calhoun (“The Best Man”), Dwayne Adway (“Bad As I Wanna Be: The Dennis Rodman Story”), Shenita Moore (“Grey’s Anatomy”), singer/actress Carmen Twillie (“Six Feet Under”), Tyreese Burnett (“Drumline”), Poetri (“House of Payne”), newcomer Todd Moore, and a special appearance by writer/director Antwone Fisher.

Our goal is to raise $6,000 over the next several weeks!

We truly need your support, and appreciate anything you might offer to help us get this wonderful project made. Wouldn’t it be exciting to see your name in our THANK YOU credits?!? :)…

Funds can be sent by way of mailing your check/money order to:

Rouse House Entertainment
P.O. Box 2494
Venice, CA 90294

Or, by using the PayPal link below:

Mighty Moore Entertainment
(a division of TKMO Worldwide Enterprises)
https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=5362899

P.S. The script for Queen Victoria’s Wedding is available upon request.

Thank you so much!

Khadija said...

Lorraine,

Thanks for the info!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

anna said...

Khadija, I just wanted to comment on marketing and visibility -- it's really important for independents to leverage the basics: a webpresence, an independent email, and a short narrative of themselves and their work. These are the fundamentals of the digital age, and will enable potential supporters to find and, well - support the artist.

I tried to find Ms. Rouse's site, or any information about the movie, and the only thing I could find was the open casting call. I searched under her name, "Queen Victoria's Wedding" and "Rouse House Entertainment" and couldn't find her, and
the paypal link was outdated. This is pretty common and unfortunate mistake with fledgling artists, but it's easily remedied.

Getting a webpresence can be done for under $50.00, including hosting, and there are tons of tutorials/guides on how to put up a basic page (even Word can be used to make a webpage), and how to be found on search engines. Even a free sites, like Blogger or LiveJournal would be better than nothing, although when there's a product to sell, an independent site, ad-free site is more polished and professional looking.

Khadija said...

Anna,

You said, "Khadija, I just wanted to comment on marketing and visibility -- it's really important for independents to leverage the basics: a webpresence, an independent email, and a short narrative of themselves and their work. These are the fundamentals of the digital age, and will enable potential supporters to find and, well - support the artist."-------------------------------------------------------------------

RESPONSE: This is critical! It might be a good time for aspiring authors to read about author Scott Sigler. I highlighted how he's using the new media (podcasting his books, etc.) in a post from 4/6/09 titled "Wildest Dreams Checklist: Are You Leveraging the New Media to Make Your Dreams Come True?" There are all sorts of tools available that make it possible to build an audience and keep in touch with them!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Lorraine said...

I will pass on this to BJ. Actually, I told her about your site so maybe she has already seen it. Either way, she will know. I thank you.

anna said...

@ Lorraine -- I figured out what happened w/the Paypal link -- if you pick it up from the main page, you get the entire link, but if you get it from the comment page, it's truncated.

www.tinyurl.com can be used to make long urls short, and easier to include on a webpage.

roslynholcomb said...

A good webpage or blog is crucial. I read as much as I can about marketing, and that's something they emphasize for writers. If someone reads one of your books and likes it, then they'll come online looking for your backlist. So, it's important that you have a webpage that has been search-engine optimized. (SEO). That's just a really intimidating phrase that means when somebody googles your name your website should be the first one to come up. There are companies that will do this for you for a fee, but really, it's quite a simple matter to simply send your website info to the various search engines. It's also crucial to post or blog as much as you can. Search engines work on an algorithm and you have to post fairly frequently to stay on top.

While it's not necessarily a bad thing for say, Amazon to come up first for your book, just keep in mind that Amazon is a company looking out for THEIR best interests, not yours. Your career is your responsibility. Just recently there was a major brouhaha when Amazon delisting thousands of books that were either erotic, or were gay romances. This meant that if someone searched for me there, they found my first book, but not my second. Considering that my first book has recently been re-released, this could've kept me from getting my 'backlist bounce.' Supposedly it was an accident, but you never know. They could get shanghaied by right-wing nuts any day. So, I make darned sure that my website and my blog are the first things that pop up when I'm googled.

In addition to a website and a blog, I'm also on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, GoodReads and Shelfari. I have author's pages up on GoodReads and Shelfari and a fan page on Facebook. Fortunately, I can link my blog to FaceBook, Twitter and my Amazon blogs. That way, I only have to update once.

The technology is amazing, and everything I do, except my webpage is free. If you want to find readers, I can't emphasize enough how crucial it is to have free materials out there so people can 'try it before they buy it.' I have an 'interview' with the band featured in my first book up on my blog. There's a teaser in the interview for a sequel. I have a mini-sequel to my first book at scribd.com and on my blog.

I know it seems like a lot, but it's really not. It can be a bit of a pain sometimes to keep up with all of this, but I can definitely see the difference in my sales and my 'web presence.' People have to be able to find you, easily and quickly. If I google you and find a broken link or outdated information, then I'm on to the next. You have to assume that your reader isn't going to take the time to hunt you down, especially when you're asking them to buy something. You have to make it as easy as possible. These people don't owe you jack, and you have to remember that. Make it easy, and give them something free and they'll keep coming back.

Khadija said...

Roslyn,

Among many other valuable pieces of information, you said "People have to be able to find you, easily and quickly. If I google you and find a broken link or outdated information, then I'm on to the next. You have to assume that your reader isn't going to take the time to hunt you down, especially when you're asking them to buy something. You have to make it as easy as possible. These people don't owe you jack, and you have to remember that."----------------------------------------------------------------

RESPONSE: This really needs to be stamped on a lots of folks' foreheads. Over the years, I've seen a LOT of "positive" artists AND "grassroots" community organizations that didn't provide any practical way for interested folks to find them. And then they wondered why nobody responded to them. {shaking my head}

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Shenita Moore said...

Hello All,

I am one of the producers for Queen Victoria’s Wedding. Long story short, we are still in need of donations to get our film made.

If you have interest in donating, please find the information below for your convenience. We truly appreciate anything you can do to help.

Rouse House Entertainment
P.O. Box 2494
Venice, CA 90294

Or, by using the PayPal link below:

Mighty Moore Entertainment
(a division of TKMO Worldwide Enterprises)
https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=5362899

Feel free to visit our FAN PAGE on FB for additional information about the project.

By the way, I was reading through your various comments, and it is unfortunate that back in late May, many of you were not able to find out more information regarding our project on the internet. In addition to being an actor/producer, I am also a web designer, so I am very well read about how beneficial viral marketing can be. :) My only guess is that the search engines had not yet crawled our websites/pages when our Press Release went out. My apologies for that. At any rate, we're out there now, so hopefully that will solve any problems with finding out more information about our wonderful project.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns please contact me directly.

Thanks so much!

Shenita Moore
info@mightymoore.com

Khadija said...

Shenita Moore,

Thanks for the info! Wishing you and your project much success!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

cool_splash1 said...

Everyone should definately read this book as well as What They Don't Teach You at Film School: 161 Strategies For Making Your Own Movies No Matter What and The The Genius of the System: Hollywood Filmmaking in the Studio Era (I mentioned this book on my blog) This is such a good book on the Old Hollywood Studio System. Somethings I wish we would have kept of the system(the good stuff)and leave out the bad crap.

Khadija said...

Cool_splash1,

Thanks for mentioning these books; they sound quite informative!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.