An Interview With Ted Bonnitt

Ted Bonnitt created something of an indie sensation last year with the self-produced, self-distributed, and practically self-exhibited feature documentary Mau Mau Sex Sex, a loving, witty tribute both to the days of grind-house exploitation films, and to two of the elder statesmen who pioneered the genre Dan Sonney and Dave Friedman. It was a particular pleasure for me to see his film get out there, since I've known Ted for a long, long time. The interview, conducted in front of a class of...

Make Your Business Plan Irresistible

. . . which brings me back to the Business Plan. It is this colorful document, positioned at the head of the Memorandum, which will go most of the way toward getting you the money necessary to produce your film. For some, particularly those with a proven track record, an elaborate investor presentation might not be necessary. But for first-timers, or for those who don't make films that often, like myself, it's a major consideration. I've been doing it for over twenty years. On Burt's Bikers, a...

Chapter

Remember how, in Forrest Gump, the title character buys a shrimping boat in order to keep a promise he'd made to his dead friend Bubba Gump has never shrimped before, but Bubba, an expert shrimper, has told him everything he knows about the craft. Armed with this knowledge, Gump heads out on the water and quickly learns, as he tells us in voice-over You know what Shrimpin' is tough. So is filmmaking. Despite what Roy and I had initially thought about the script, in reality Sweet Life was not a...

And Mr Noname

This is what marines are trained to do in the face of adversity. How do you react when the terrain differs from what you see on the map When the enemy (or worse, your supposed ally) behaves in a way that is unexpected When the battle plan you've laid out suddenly and simply no longer applies You can cry and curse your luck, fold your tents, and retreat. Or you can adapt, improvise, and, hopefully, prevail. If you're planning on making a film independently, without the safety net of a studio's...

An Interview With Richard Dutcher

Not so long ago, homeless and financially-strapped high schooler Richard Dutcher was living out of his beat-up '71 Mercury Comet. Later, he and his wife maxed out their credit cards to get his first film off the ground. (All they had left was their gas card, and they would buy their groceries at the gas station.) It took five years to complete this first film, which didn't break even. However, with his second feature, God's Army, despite the naysayers, Dutcher found he had a hit on his hands,...

Chapter Three

One of the most frequently asked questions I receive as a screenwriting teacher is, Where do you get your ideas The truth is I'm not much of an idea man. I rarely come up with a story purely on my own that I feel is rich enough with potential to sustain a feature-length screenplay. But if you pitch me an idea I respond to, I'm pretty good at building on it, expanding it, and carrying it through to its conclusion. (This is why I've always worked with a writing partner, one whose strengths...

Ien I Thought I Was Out I Pulled Myself Back In

Sixteen years ago, I get this call from an ex-student of mine at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. Rocco was the best screenwriting student I'd ever had. He was by no means great, but then again he'd only been a student. Twenty years old maybe. With a writing partner named Rico Rocco and Rico. They'd better not have been writing anything but comedies with that alliterative moniker. I was on the last few days of a grueling twelve-and-a-half-week shoot as screenwriter producer of a low-budget...

The Development Pitch

Put yourself in an investor's position. It doesn't matter if your potential investors are friends, family members, or people one step further removed (though with development, it should ideally be no more than four or five investors, and they should be people you know) They are going to carefully consider what they are being asked to do. And what you are asking of them is to invest money several months prior to, and outside the reality of, your project. Their five or ten thousand doesn't...

An Interview With Michael Ellenbogen

At the time of this writing, Michael Ellenbogen informed me that Margarita Happy Hour, his latest feature film, had been held over in New York City. This is good news, and difficult to achieve for an indie producer. It has gone on to open in Chicago Washington, D.C. Gainesville, Florida Austin, Texas Los Angeles and Albany, New York, and was released on DVD video by Wellspring on August 20, 2002 it has also just completed two screenings in the Cannes 2002 market sponsored by Orange World Film...

Stolen Location

It's infamously hard to get approval to shoot in the subways in New York. The city doesn't want people down there, getting in trouble. There's a lot of dangerous electrical current in the darkness. I visited the location of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three back in '73, while Robert Shaw was filming his character's death by suicide on the third rail. An entire subway station had been commandeered by the film company. A subway car sat idly at their disposal. Shaw had completed a second take...

The Sweet Life

The Cast OUR HELL'S ANGEL FROM HEAVEN Joan ett, who plays the rale of Slierry the Biker Roommate in The Sweet life, was born in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, and moved with her family first to Baltimore and later, when she was twelve, to Los Angeles. In LA., passionate about Rock and Roll, she met song writer Kari Krome, and together they came up with the idea of a five-girl, teenage band playing the kind of aggressive lock that until then had been reserved only for guys. Dubbed The Runaways and...

Collaboration Agreement

AGREEMENT dated as of_,by and among ROY FRUMKES Frumkes , address , ROCCO SIMONELLI Simonelli , address , and BILL CHEPIL Chepil , address . 1.1 The parties hereto are collaborating in the writing of a book the Book and screenplay the Screenplay based upon autobiographical, anecdotal and other nonfiction materials the Materials furnished by Chepil pertaining to Chepil's experiences as a New York City police officer. 1.2 Subject to Paragraph 1.3 of this Agreement, the parties intend to negotiate...