My work with Lion’s Gate Films is a storied adventure and one I’ll never soon forget as a filmmaker. Low budget filmmaking is always an adventure. In this case, it was an adventure worth taking. While I made it out financially unscathed and in one case, securing a six figure profit, the content I created wasn’t the best. The desire to shoot something should always come, as Walter Parkes from Parkes/MacDonald and Dreamworks, once said, ‘starts with the script.’
My first film, Kate’s Addiction, was made from the head space of “what will sell” to distributors. After receiving a Best Director award for my first commercial, Stop The Cycle for the American Lung Association, I wrote a thriller about a fatal attraction between two girlfriends. Maxing out 22 credit cards, I negotiated my way through the adventure of gorilla filmmaking. Shooting on film and two loaned cameras from Panavision, I shot an entire feature in 18 days. 18 days for a full length feature on location? Normally, a film with this kind of budget, a whopping $78,000, would be shot in one location. Not me. I went for it and risked a financial meltdown.
Missing the deadline for Sundance, I entered the very next film festival to see if I could make my money back. That festival was The Newport Beach Film Festival. I not only won the festival, but I sold the film to Lions Gate Films and Saban International the week following my win at Newport. The film would go on to net $4.1M in Domestic TV sales alone.
Not a bad return in such a risky environment of independent filmmaking. Most indie films never sell and become a very expensive calling card. Thankfully for me, that wasn’t the case for me.
My second job with Lions Gate Films was a total disaster and huge learning experience. The film should have never been made. The reason again, was written from my head and not my heart. I ignored the warning signs and kept going despite my better judgement. The script was a mess and desperately needing a rewrite or, better yet…a complete re-think.
I, again, am to blame because I ignored my higher consciousness that was screaming at me to stop. Thankfully, after a painful capital raise, the film sold. I actually think the film hurt my career than doing it any good. Lesson learned. I would never again ignore my inner voice.
This would mark the last time I write about crime and punishment. I am a better person for it, because I now choose to make content that enhances the lives of those who watch it, or read it. Simply, I am not great when telling stories of murder, mayhem and the lowest frequency of human behavior.