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Confessions of a Working Director - 1/4/2010

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I did not take much time off on or around Christmas weekend, as my workload was just too mammoth.  December 2009 was pretty chaotic.  With Ratline in post-production, I'm working hard to set up my next feature.  I starve enough being a filmmaker.  I'm not interested in starving even more due to a bunch of down time between movies.

There are two companies I'm talking to who have expressed interest in collaboration and providing financing for my next feature.  All of my previous films have been financed one buck at a time via private investors (an agonizing, and not always successful process), so of course I'm very interested in doing this correctly - for the first time - and partnering with a company that can provide support and resources that I don't have access to.  I'm enthusiastic, partly because the above-mentioned starving ain't no fun, but also because I know my movies will be better with proper financial and other support behind them.

In recent years, multiple companies in positions to provide proper funding for a feature (or so they said) have talked to us about doing so - but all of those deals fell apart about ten seconds after discussions started.  You may be shocked to learn this, but the entertainment industry has a lot of fakers, bull-shitters, and bunglers within its ranks.  That said, however, I recognize that I'm not the only filmmaker in the world seeking what I'm seeking.  I'm sure many of our deals over the years, with honest and competent companies, fell apart because it simply wasn't my turn.

Even the tried-and-true technique of attaching name actors to a project has failed us.  Before Ratline, we tried to get a film called Seizure made.  John Saxon, Adrienne King, Jim VanBebber, and Zelda Rubinstein all officially signed on to be in the movie.  It was sad to hear that Zelda, after kidney and lung failure, was taken off life support.  (As I type this, I do not know if she has passed on yet.)  Her backing of me and my team was, and will always be, sincerely appreciated.  It is a shame we could not lock down the financing for what would have been her final film.  It would have been an honor to work with her.

Today, discussions continue with the two companies interested in working with me on my next project.  It is still too soon to divulge any more detail than that.  We are all still in the "getting to know one another" phase... definitely not the deal-making phase.  So anything - positive or negative - could happen at any time with all this.  At least I can be thankful that I've progressed farther with these two potential production partners than I've progressed with any others in the past - so that's one thing keeping my sanity somewhat intact.

These deals don't magically come together on their own.  Well, at least for me they don't.  So even at this early stage of things, I'm pouring a lot of work into making a deal come together.  This is especially stressful and exhausting, given my Ratline workload, and everything else that piled up on top of me this December.  Who the hell got me into this position of being under a such a ridiculous and overwhelming workload???  Oh, yeah, right - it was me.

In addition to the labor detailed above, we launched a new website for Wicked Pixel Cinema.  Feast your eyes on it here.

Also on my December work slate was a nice stack of writing assignments for this very website.  Keep your eyes peeled for them!

On the Ratline front, in addition to two days of pickups shooting, there was a lot of progress in the areas of sound design, music score, and securing songs from a variety of bands. 

In the midst of all this work, I found time to do a voice-over for Jim Mickle's film Stake Land.  My role is a news radio announcer, and I deliver grim details similar to the apocalyptic news reports on the radio and TV in Night Of The Living Dead.  In addition to my other duties on the set of Stake Land, I was all geared up to also go before the camera and contribute a cameo-sized part.  The producers had offered me one, but last minute production issues prevented it from happening.  I then suggested that I voice this news announcer role, and to my pleasant surprise, the producers and Jim Mickle were very enthusiastic about it.

2009 is officially behind us.  I'll be honest, it was a very rough year, and it left me and my team battered, exhausted, and suffering a bit of shell shock.  However, I'm a big believer in "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" and "scars build character."  I've been working extremely hard to make the coming year more rewarding for me and my team.  2010, you will not kick my ass. 

I think it is finally my turn.

Thanks for reading.

- Eric Stanze

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