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Confessions of a Working Director - 2/25/2009

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The making of a movie is the culmination of chaotically disparate resources, material, and human effort.  Getting control of this chaos and turning it into a good motion picture is perhaps the second most complex endeavor I can think of.  (The first would be organizing a major military action, such as a World War... or perhaps navigating airport security these days.)

Some people think making a movie is simply a creative effort.  It is that, but without logistical and engineering skills, creative intentions will never reach fruition.

One of the most necessary evils on any movie production is money.  If this part of the project falls through - or if it is poorly spent - it kills the whole production.

On other people's movies, I've seen financing materialize and then evaporate.  A project gets the green light, and then suddenly, the project doesn't exist anymore.  I've also seen the opposite happen.  Money is secured, then misspent.  The result is a 100 million dollar Hollywood turd, or a half-million dollar adequate indie film that still makes you wonder "where exactly did they spend all that money?" ...or the result could be a film that falls somewhere in-between.

Wicked Pixel Cinema tends to operate outside of this scenario altogether.  Raising the budget is always the most difficult part of any production.  Generally, our final financing dollars are not secured until the movie is nearly finished editing.  So, when the money isn't there, instead of our project evaporating, we simply push forward and keep shooting.

Furthermore, we've learned how to make our movies look more expensive than they actually are.  When we were discussing DEADWOOD PARK with various distributors, I would always get asked what our budget was.  I always turned the question around and asked them: "Having seen the movie, what would you guess the budget was?"  Veteran industry professionals always guessed high when estimating DEADWOOD PARK's budget (guessing anywhere from 10 to 60 times our actual production costs).  Not once did anyone guess correctly or low.

Perhaps this is the "wrong" way to make movies.  When our movies look more expensive than they actually are, people assume that financing is no problem for us.  (People don't come to your rescue when they don't think you're in trouble.)

Furthermore, because our movies don't look as poverty-stricken as they actually are, we are met with very baffled expressions when we ask someone for a $50 or $100 contribution to the budget.  Even when we're holding fund-raiser events for our movies, people who assume all filmmakers are rich give us confused looks.  Worse, when we ask for $50 or $100, some people assume our film is a low-rent b-movie piece of shit, because "real" movies can't be made on $100 contributions.  It is a very awkward situation for us to be in.

Awesome things with large price-tags (like feature motion pictures) can be procured via small donations and investments.  Darren Aronofsky (director of THE WRESTLER and REQUIEM FOR A DREAM) launched his career by making an award-winning, critically-acclaimed indie feature financed primarily with $100 investments.  The election campaign of our new and improved U.S. President pulled in a record-breaking dollar amount, half of which was made up of donations less than $200 each.

So what we are trying to do is achieve something awesome with RATLINE, but our high-roller investors have left us high 'n' dry.  We are nearly done shooting, just starting editing, and we're trying to scrape together the cash to finish the film, and erase the debt this film has generated.

The cast and crew working on this movie have sacrificed a lot, and they've worked long, arduous hours to get the movie this far.  We keep an eye on each other and support each other when stress levels rise - but support from the outside is also helpful.  For example, the wonderful folks at FEARnet.com have shown us a tremendous amount of support, which I am very grateful for.

Another jolt of encouragement came from Mr. Ian Jane of AVManiacs.com.  Ian has always had our back, and has always done whatever he could to promote our product to the horror fans.  He went above and beyond for RATLINE though.

Ian flew in to St. Louis (on his own dime) to play a small part in RATLINE.  He plays a drug dealer who gets shot in the head and is on screen for only a couple of seconds. 

The fact that Ian was willing to come to our set for such little screen time showed me, my cast, and my crew how much faith he has in us, and how much faith he has in RATLINE. 

While exhaustion, long hours, and never-ending location problems pushed our stress levels higher and higher, Ian's show of support reminded us that we're doing something really cool here.  More than Ian knows, I'm sure, he replaced some of our stress with fresh enthusiasm, tenacity, and pride in what we're accomplishing.

Check out Ian Jane's set-visit article here.

Our success as horror filmmakers is dependent on people like Ian... and YOU, the viewer and supporter of indie horror.  Without you, we do not exist.  We want to give you a chance to directly contribute to RATLINE... and like Ian Jane, be a part of something exciting.

A financial contribution to this production will earn you a spot in RATLINE's credits.  Your contribution could qualify as an investment in the production.  And most importantly, you the horror fan would be supporting truly independent (non-corporate, non-watered down, non-insulting-to-your-intelligence) horror filmmaking.  And some of the hardest working artists toiling in the independent horror trenches today would be very appreciative.

If you have an interest in attaching yourself to this movie - and seeing your name in the credits - please consider contributing some financial support to RATLINE. 

We set up a donation / investment page for RATLINE.  Check it out! 

We are a group of individuals who are extremely passionate about making inventive, smart, thrilling, high-quality horror.  With RATLINE, you'll get all that, and some buckets of gore too!  We are fans of this genre as well as filmmakers (oddly, many horror filmmakers are not horror fans).  We are working hard to make a movie we're proud of - and make a movie you'll be proud to have in your collection. 

Thanks for reading.

Eric Stanze

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