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Monday, May 2, 2011

The Creation of "Catma 2011"

So, Jorge and I decided to break away from our normal busy weekend film-oriented chores, and just head out in the heat for sushi at Sushi-a-Go-Go and a walk on South Congress.  Of course, we always talk film. We always talk about projects, creatively and pragmatically. Nothing we really mulled over was that much different than usual, other than we decided to put aside our high expectations of a nice camera (for now) and embrace a "fuck-all" approach.

Let me elaborate.

Jorge and I have always felt that most aspiring filmmakers in this country are hindered by two things: the belief their immediate lives are not interesting, and the mental "colonialism" by Hollywood's standards and aesthetics.  As media consumers, we are so inundated by Hollywood films, that if our own films don't match in some capacity, they simply aren't good.  Even "indie" films can be incredibly expensive projects that are out of reach for most creators.  Obviously there are exceptions, but as most filmmakers do have even cheap camcorders, making a film can be a much simpler process if we can just let go of these extremely high expectations we place on ourselves as artists. 

So, as Jorge and I dug into some delicious crepes from a street vendor on South Congress, we decided that it was time to revisit the "Dogme 95" rules of filmmaking that were established in 1995 by Danish filmmakers, the most notorious of the bunch being Lars von Trier. The rules were meant to make filmmaking a more accessible process without the incredibly huge budgets most films require. While little rules were broken all the time, the end result was still achieved: new films with different visions, focusing on story not technological pomp and circumstance, shot on cameras my mom could figure out. 

So, laughing, we decided to begin the creation of "Catma 2011," as a humorous spinoff on "Dogme 95."  It's not a reaction to Dogme, but more to the economic realities faced today by filmmakers. Most wait until they get "greenlit," constantly searching for the pot of gold, shopping around projects, searching for investors.  Years will go by and a film never gets made.

Our goal: to empower filmmakers at whatever technological level they are, to use the vast amount of accessible and affordable tools we have at our disposal, to create simple but effective and compelling stories.  We are not against technology, we are for ALL technology, as long as one jumps into using whatever tools they have. It's about making good stories, cheaply, and exploring the dynamic life that is just outside our windows.

We haven't solidified the list of "rules," as this is an exercise for us as well.  But as we plan the feature we wish to shoot , we will propose and post rules we wish to try out. For now:

1. use whatever image recording device you have free access to, wether it be an EPIC camera or your iPhone video recording device.
2. you may certainly use elaborate post effects, as long as they are free. 
3. never ever botch on sound, but find ways to make your onset recordings sound clean and pro, for cheap. If there is ever any element of production you should spend on, it should be assuring you get the best production recording you can. 

Strangely enough, we've been getting some strange "hints" of encouragement, little coincidental discoveries in alignment with our new goals.  This weekend we discovered a filmmaker by the name of Joe Swanberg who creates large amounts of material which he directs, shoots, and edits himself, with a micro-budget. He literally just jumps into his work and does it. I have yet to see any of his work, but plan to attend the Alamo Drafthouse showing of Uncle Kent in June. 

In addition, we attended a birthday celebration of a friend, and as we all sat down to catch up over our recent film forays, our friend expressed the truth that so many filmmakers spend so much time trying to launch one project, that they lose out on other opportunities to work on other ideas.  And the myth of the success story. For any successful project an artist creates, digging deeper will reveal numerous other not-so-successful projects he or she made. 

So, essentially, filmmakers must continually be creating work, with whatever tools they have access to.  Why should the big boys in L.A. have all the fun? 

So, I will continue to put updates here on Catma 2011 and the film we are looking to make.

For now, let's just say we are researching good but affordable sound recording devices and mics to use on a boom. We'll be using my mini Canon Vixia M31 HD camcorder. It's the size of a kitten.

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