I’m 47 years old. I have three teenagers. I host an early morning radio show. I have no money. Sure, I can pay my bills and find ways to pay for my kids’ extracurriculars. I started a business in 2018 and threw myself in a little more debt, because I’ve always dreamed of owning my own business. Although I am super busy and financially bipolar, I decided that now was the time to make a feature comedy about two guys half my age doing things I’d now be too tired to do. My story is not unique, because I have a friend named Steve Miller and he was in a similar boat. He boarded the boat a few years before me, having turned the big five-oh in December, 2019.
Not everyone experiences a mid-life crisis. Typically, guys our age are looking to buy those expensive toys to help them recapture their youth. I’ve seen dudes my age tooling around in a new sports car or dropping a brand new speed boat into Irondequoit Bay. Hunting trips, golf trips, buddy trips to Daytona, Bristol or even the Super Bowl, if they have the scratch. Steve and I? Nah. Let’s make a feature film – yeah! No problem! This road started in 2016 and we’re almost at the finish line.
Is it Too Late for Us?
The movie industry is changing, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed. Movie theatre ticket sales are threatened by the streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video and Disney Plus. The major studios are getting into the game too; better late than never! The old distribution model is also on its way out for us indie filmmakers. That is an entirely different post and more info about the industry trends can be found at IndieFilmHustle
You have a script, you get a famous person attached, you find an investor, you make your movie, you sell your movie to a distributor, you have a big premiere at a theatre and walk the red carpet. EASY PEASY! Nice try, but that only works in the movies. I’ve been listening to podcasts about people (presumably like me) who went from being a nobody with nothing to a Hollywood Player. But when you get down into the real details of their stories, you find out there was a rich aunt or they have a relative in the business or SOMETHING that gives them a leg up. Sure, there are rags to riches stories, but the protagonists in those stories are usually young. They live in their car and eat ramen for a year before their first gig, etc. I’ve heard plenty of those stories. Not a whole lot of those stories involve anyone over the age of 40.
Making a movie is hard. If anyone tells you that making a movie is easy, they are either delusional or they suffered a major head trauma. People who make movies for a living do just that: make movies for a living. They don’t have day jobs and there is a reason for that. Making a movie is a full time project. At first you can do things in your spare time, absolutely. You can write the script on nights and weekends and things like that, but once you need to start making it, everything changes. There is a reason that the credits at the end of your favorite movie is a mile long, ten miles if it is an action film or animation.
Making a movie takes money. Filmmaking is one of, if not the most expensive of art forms. When someone tells you they need ONLY $250,000 to make their movie, trust me, that’s a bargain. As you well know, not everyone has a couple hundred grand kicking around to INVEST in a film…and that’s on the very low end. The ones that do have that kind of scratch kicking around don’t typically invest in two unknown middle-aged dudes with a script and a dream. It just doesn’t happen. So, in a lot of ways, Steve and I had already missed our opportunity to make a film.
Thank you, Technology?
Cameras are small, cheap(ish) and digital. It’s no longer huge film cameras with expensive film stock (sorry Kodak). That means that old guys like us have access to the quality stuff. That also means that EVERYONE has access to that gear! So there is a lot of noise now. Tons of people are vying for their 15 million views. Kids want to be YouTube Stars and Instagram Influencers. Who doesn’t? I’d love for someone to pay me $10K just to post about how much I love their hemorrhoid cream (I’m taking meetings). So all of this means it is that much harder to stand out from the crowd. But maybe instead of trying to stand out from the world’s crowd, what if we just tried to stand out from our local crowd?
Home Town Heros?
We are not interested in “getting out of here” and making it in Hollyweird. I know, to some people that’s just crazy talk. But what if you could make a smaller, more localized movie and just stand out from the local crowd? This is what we want to do. But wait, there’s more! We’d not only love to create a local filmmaking business model that affords us the opportunity to crank out quality visual content, but we’d love to train more people to learn how. That too is a blog post for another day. We just want to tell visual stories as a day job. We don’t have to be big movie moguls, we just want to make our movies and help people follow their dreams, NBD.
Quitting Alcohol Is Why I’m Here!
It took me a while and a lot of transformation (and therapy) to get to where I am today and none of that would have been possible if I were still self medicating with alcohol. My stress was something I thought I should manage with vodka and beer. Learning about myself and learning better coping skills was what did the trick. I also used “This Naked Mind” by Annie Grace. It is a nice delve into the psychology of alcohol from a societal view that really enabled me to understand that I was just a victim of clever marketing and low self esteem. I thank my friends and family who came along with me to see me succeed and I am also thankful that I was able to disassociate myself with some very toxic people. Some people will hold you back and it is important for everyone to learn who those people are and to have the courage to walk away from them.
So Who Cares?
I care. Steve Cares. Our family and close friends care. It doesn’t matter if some blogger in LA cares. It doesn’t matter if a YouTube star or Influencer cares. We may be “over the hill” or something. But the point is, we didn’t listen to the people who thought we were crazy. We didn’t listen to the ones who told us we were doing it wrong. We aren’t working with the guys and girls who thought we were just a couple idiots trying to make some stupid movie. There are some people who may have refused to work with us because we didn’t have 1/2 the money in escrow or because we weren’t using an Arri camera. Those people won’t be with us when our dreams are a reality, but they will wish they were.
Peace and Love, always,