I have always been fascinated by experimental films or at least the idea of them. As an artist and a filmmaker I am drawn to stories that examine what makes us human. How we interact with each other. What makes us angry, sad, inspired, brave. I love films that explore the human condition. I also think that through different processes we can learn more about ourselves and in turn we can become better people in a more compassionate world. I remember reading In the Blink of an Eye by Walter Murch before I ever went to college. I always loved telling stories in this visual medium but I had never thought about it from this perspective. Why does a film have such an effect on us? Why does this medium work? Murch writes, “from the moment we get up in the morning until we close our eyes at night, the visual reality we perceive is a continuous stream of linked images.” There was brilliance behind his text. I wanted to make films that were extensions of our reality. I agree when he says, “the perfect film is as though it were unwinding behind your eyes, and your eyes were projecting it themselves, so that you were seeing what you wished to see. Film is like thought. It’s the closest to thought process of any art.”
While I watched my share of artsy and experimental films in college I really didn’t find one that spoke so clearly to me until I watch Dogville by Lars von Trier at the Sedona International Film Festival in 2004. This minimalistic film, segmented by chapters and plot points telling us what was about to happen, opened my eyes to a way of storytelling that more closely resembled theatre than film. Shot in a void with only a few walls of a set and a handful of props, great acting and a very powerful story, it pulled me in, horrified me and left me wanting to understand how he pulled it off. Now, Lars von Trier is known for his Dogme95 films and this one did stray from the rules a bit however it was unlike most of the films I had seen up to that point. Von Trier stated, “My supreme goal is to force the truth out of my characters and settings.” There is a lot about his Dogme95 manifesto that resonates with me and has remained in my head since. I could go on and on about this but the point of this musing is to get us to why I’m involved with 42 Seconds of Happiness. And there is a connection.
Thankfully because of social media and the webseries world I met Susan Miller and worked with her on Anyone But Me. Being connected with Susan online allowed her colleague, Christina Kallas, to somehow happen upon my blog. I’m not sure what it was that she saw on my site that compelled her to contact me – I suppose I could ask her – but all I know is what she saw, felt, experienced on my site was a clue for her. I was the right person to pull into the world she created around 42 Seconds of Happiness.
42 Seconds of Happiness is a scripted & improvised, narrative feature filmed cinéma vérité style. If you don’t know what that is think of it as an experiment where our actors all arrive at a location in character and live/interact in that state for a duration of time while guided by Christina Kallas through scripted plot points. We’ll shoot around the action as unobtrusively as possible. There will be no cutting, no takes, no tweaking the lighting, no make up or wardrobe. It will be us filming “real life” as it unfolds. Our own version of Dogme95 if I may be so bold as to compare our film to other films of this sort.
Of course as a producer I’m always looking at things from two perspectives. The logical side of my brain said ‘Oh no, a film that we love but with no funds in place. A huge challenge.’ The right side of my brain pushed back and said, ‘Of course we’re going to do this. It will be hard. It will be an uphill battle. But it must be created.’ With no money but a cast and a creator 100% behind the idea of this film after the series, I joined the team and brought my friend and talented director of photography, Jorge Luis Urbina into the fold.
What have we agreed to? Well, I’ve agreed to help pull this film through the fundraising process even though I feel I am close to exhausting my network on such endeavors. There are so many campaigns out there on IndieGoGo and Kickstarter and I have asked for support on numerous projects already. I know I’m asking the world… but I can’t help but try. Jorge and I have looked at the film’s budget from a very unconventional perspective. We’re ready to shoot this with little to no resources but a few things have to happen. We need a location to shoot, sound equipment and a sound mixer, and we need to be able to feed our cast and crew for the length of our shoot. Our absolute minimum budget for this is $5,000. Yeah, it’s nuts, I know. A feature film for $5,000?? I would have been the first person to tell you that it can’t be done. And I did. But you know what? It can. But only if people care and if we get some help from like-minded people. So far we have 55 donors and for that I am extremely grateful! The stark reality of our situation is however that we need more. Either a few hero donations in the thousand dollar range or many smaller donations.
Yes, this is a film that has no place in the world of studio films but it’s a film that has a ton of heart and has the potential to reach a wanting audience. So I implore my friends, family, colleagues, and far-reaching network online to lend a hand or a couple of dollars to this small but ambitious film. Our fundraising campaign ends tomorrow night at midnight, Sunday February 3, 2013 at 11:59pm PST. And we have improv-inspired perks that I feel are very unique and worthwhile.
Other things you can do: If you know of a farm-house, bed and breakfast, inn or the like that can sleep up to 15 people in the NY/NJ/Conn area please let me know. If you have a few bucks to spare, please donate. If you have a network of people, please help us spread the word.
This film is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the purposes of this Alliecine Production must be made payable to Fractured Atlas (via IndieGoGo) and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.