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Confessions Of A Working Director - 7/3/2008


I'm not sure how many people read these journal entries. I suspect that, instead of the general horror fan, these writings are primarily read by those with a personal interest in filmmaking. Perhaps you are an aspiring filmmaker yourself. Going on that assumption, I'll point out something that is obvious to me, but may be less apparent to those of you not yet making your living in this field...

I've been writing these journals for FEARnet since October of 2007, the month my last movie DEADWOOD PARK was released to DVD in the U.S. If you've been reading these journals, you may have noticed that I have not yet started on a new project.

DEADWOOD PARK was completed in Summer of 2006. So what the hell have I been doing all this time? Shouldn't I have finished a whole other movie by now?

The marketing of a movie is extremely important and it is an area I have neglected in my early years as a filmmaker. Today, I have a very smart and hard-working staff who make sure the marketing gets taken care of. This includes my staff setting up interviews for me and sending me all over the country to horror conventions, all for the purpose of promoting our movies. So, for many months surrounding DEADWOOD PARK's release, my full time job was doing interviews for websites, magazines, podcasts, and radio, as well as attending so many conventions that they've started to become a blur. This marketing stuff is my least favorite part of my job, but I understand the necessity of generating awareness of the product. (If we ever lift the ban on human cloning, I'll make another one of me and send that sucker out to do all the promotion.)

Most of you, even if you ain't in the biz, understand all this. You know that directors and actors have to promote. If you're a Hollywood big shot, you are contractually obligated to do interviews and pump your most recent flick. If you are at the independent level like we are, you promote to survive.

What most of you may not know, however, is that a career in filmmaking includes more dead ends than produced films. After DEADWOOD PARK was completed, I took a much-deserved twenty-minute break, and then it was back to work, trying to launch our next production.

Between then and now, I wrote a screenplay called BUTCHER'S MOON and co-wrote with Jason Christ a second screenplay called SEIZURE. In addition to seeking financing for these two projects, we were also approached by another company to produce a film for them.

Yes, there are rumors drifting around about what my next project is, but most of that information was "leaked" prematurely. and other horror websites announced my next feature as SEIZURE starring John Saxon, Adrienne King, Zelda Rubinstein, and Jim Van Bebber.

Is it true that we've been working on such a project? Yes.

Are these fine actors really on board? Yes.

Am I still communicating with these actors about SEIZURE and moving the project forward? Yes.

Is SEIZURE officially in production? Unfortunately, no. We are raising the financing now. This is a difficult and often lengthy phase of any production. Especially today, when the economy is so terrible and everyone's money has already been deposited into their gas tanks. There is no guarantee that this movie will ever get made.

None of the projects we've been developing since DEADWOOD PARK have locked into place, so it is entirely possible that none of them will ever be produced. Months of work and thousands of dollars in development expenses later, we have nothing to show for it all. That's just how it goes.

I fondly remember the "good ol' days" when my movies were mostly or entirely self financed, dirt cheap, and produced entirely on our terms. We simply decided what to make next, and we made it. Back then I had a "day job" working first at a television station and then later for a St. Louis production company. With those day job paychecks, it didn't matter that there was no salary for me in the budgets of my movies. I worked hard to make each movie successful and profitable, but with my day job safety net income, my movies' profitability - or lack thereof - was not the looming specter of doom that it often is today.

If you are in this particular phase of your budding film career, with a day job safety net, savor it! Enjoy every last moment of it. When filmmaking becomes your day job, money will cause you countless headaches, ulcers, and sleepless nights. Also, most of your time will be spent developing projects that fail to find financing and are never put into production.

As an artist, this can be a painful emotional roller coaster. Many times I have poured my artistic all into a project, only to eventually back-burner the production or let it evaporate altogether. It becomes difficult to emotionally invest in each new project that develops, because in the back of my mind I'm thinking, "chances are, this movie ain't gonna happen." I try very hard, with each new opportunity that comes my way, to keep my enthusiasm and dedication up. When that one out of ten projects actually goes into production, I want it to be worth the wait.

Thanks for reading.

Eric Stanze