Friday, December 19, 2008

Beginnings of Pre-Production aka Thank You Val Lewton

So I'm really at the beginning of what I'm sure will be a long process to make an independent feature film in HK.

I've checked with film labs. I've gone over my equipment. I've compiled a small budget. I've even built a poor man's steadicam with plans found on the Internet from the famous Johnny Chung. By the way, he has become a youtube superstar lately with his 3-D subvert tutorial of the Nintendo wii.

I got the parts from a hardware store in Aberdeen and was able to put together the poor man's steadicam in a couple of hours. I can't believe how well the poor man's steadicam works. If only I'd had this when I was shooting FREE COUNTRY. Oh well.

Anyway, all I need now are actors. And more importantly, some idea, a story to hang scenes on.

I have really nothing as of yet, just a bunch of unrelated ideas and sketches and lots and lots of notes. So I spent part of the day looking for inspiration in the classics.

What do I mean by classics?

I read the screenplay for the Val Lewton-produced classic, THE SEVENTH VICTIM (1943). I've seen this film a few times, including once at a screening with live organ accompaniment at the classic restored movie house off of the Stanford campus in Palo Alto.

I'd forgotten a lot of details from that film. The only scene I remembered was the unforgettable famous scene with the gang of pacifist Satanists. (It's really in the film.)

I couldn't believe some of the things I was reading. It was one hell of a screenplay and gave me some good ideas.

I don't know much about Val Lewton except that he was from the Ukraine and was the apotheosis of the low-budget producer but with a knack for storytelling and mood setting. I remember being so impressed after seeing CAT PEOPLE (1942) and BEDLAM (1946), which was one of his bigger-budget pictures. You can't help but recognize the talent despite the unbelievably low production values in some of his films.

Anyway, this is a start. We'll see how it goes from here. I do miss NY though. That's a city that's filled with actors

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