Saturday, June 29, 2013

"Aftermath" Rising

It’s on!

I have not made a blog post for such a long time but that situation is going to change soon.

If everything goes according to  plan, my-on-again-off-again-from-Philly-production-company-to-L.A.-production-company-and-back-again feature project Aftermath is on again, in Philly, later this summer. Aftermath is Mean Streets meets Stand By Me.

As a longtime student/fan/practitioner/teacher of low-budget independent filmmaking, I have spent years and years not just watching low-budget indie films.  From Blood Simple, She's Gotta Have It and sex, lies & videotape in the '80's to Reservoir Dogs, Slacker, The Brothers McMullen and Clerks in the '90's and almost everything else ever since then, I have been carefully studying the production methods and marketing strategies that made these films successful.

After college, I had the opportunity to experience an incredible study in contrasts when I went from working on a low-budget indie film crew to going to work on a big budget studio film with only one day off in between. I saw such ego and excess on the set of the studio film that I made a commitment to conscientious, fiscally responsible filmmaking practices in my own work: to make meaningful films that rely not on throwing money at the screen but on connecting with the audience.

It took a few years to put together my own first film. I was casting, shooting, editing and whatever else I needed to do --- from cooking for the cast and crew to chasing down locations.In 1995, my film The True Meaning of Cool won an award from The American Film Institute.

Being an AFI award-winning filmmaker opened some doors. Since 2006, I have been hired to write or doctor over 40 feature film screenplays, shorts and documentaries. I teach screenwriting at the University of The Arts and Drexel University in Philadelphia and work on projects for people all over the country.

With the explosion of digital filmmaking, anyone can make an indie film and far too many marginally talented people are making far too many bad films.  I decided to take a scientific approach to writing a screenplay utilizing all of the lessons I learned over the years, to write an innovative, inventive screenplay that could  be shot in 1 to 2 days for little to no money and avoid all the narrative and technical pitfalls that plagued so many micro-budget productions. The film could not merely be cheap; it had to be entertaining and accessible, something that would appeal to both an art house crowd and a mainstream audience.

The resulting screenplay is a story of a group of young buddies who commit a random act of violence and set off a series of events that quickly spin further and further out of their control, testing their friendship and, ultimately, leading to the revelation of a shocking secret.

The film has six characters, one location and takes place in real time.

A colleague of mine, Joe Stinson, who wrote four screenplays for Clint Eastwood (including the line "Go ahead, make my day"), read Aftermath and said to me, "You manage to break almost every rule of screenwriting and still wind up with a screenplay that works and could be a really revolutionary film."

After years of trying to produce the film myself or with other local producers, I optioned the screenplay to an L.A. producer who had been after me to sell the rights to it for three years. The production company was ultimately unable to put it together and let me retain the rights.

So, that history brings us to now. According to current statistics, at any given time, there are four to five thousand independent films being produced in this country. Of those, only 1 to 2 percent will ever be distributed. Aftermath is now titled Stomping Ground. Here’s looking at you, 1 to 2 percent.