What are you most proud of?

Lately I have been taking a lot of meetings and it feels like during each one someone says to me, “send me links to content you produced that you are proud of.” I feel like that is sort of stupid and here is why. Even if creatively I have not been on board with everything I have produced, I am certainly still proud of the piece or my involvement in it. Sometimes your original idea gets watered down by a brand or perhaps you had to take something out in post for time.  As a producer, there isn’t anything I have created that I am simply hands down not proud of on some level so to ask me to send me something I am proud of is not really what I should be sending.  Maybe ask me, “what is a piece you produced that is completely your vision; what is something you produced that you enjoyed making and why or even send me a link of some of your latest work.”  As a producer, if you are not proud of the work you are doing, then what are you doing exactly?

This dove tails onto another topic of discussion I wanted to bring up on this blog… what does a producer do anyway? Here is the thing I have worked many years as a producer wearing about a million hats because that is what we as producers do whether in TV, film or digital.  We are idea crafters, deal makers, wranglers, thought provokers, schedulers, budgeters, managers, contract negotiators… we shoot, we write, we edit,  we craft story, we find great places to eat and drink (connoisseurs of food and drink if you will).  We interview, we connect, we drive long distances to find the best place to shoot, we find great deals, we make great deals, we make not so great deals just to get something we believe in seen, we hustle and we hustle and we hustle every single day.

Yesterday I shot a spot with a brand. I brought in my crew, and I gave my feedback on what I thought the brand would need in order to get what they wanted for the piece they ultimately decided to create in house.  I have been working for months to try and work with this brand and I brought in people that I have worked with for years, who I trust would deliver a great product. I directed the shoot, crafting out the best shots with my DP based on the vision the brand had. The brand ultimately did some of the heavy lifting I would normally do and it showed. Brands are not producers.  They are marketers, they are financiers and have an idea of what they want. Sometimes they have people internally to execute and sometimes they do not, most of the time they have an agency of record. I was hoping to be the person to help execute the brand’s vision, but ultimately they brought me on to shoot content for a day, content they decided to craft internally with their own post-production team.  I was a little disappointed as my role began to shrink and shrink, but was happy for the work. Then at the end of the shoot, the brand team thanked me for my work and asked if they could get my crew’s information.  My heart sank. After months of tirelessly contacting the brand for an opportunity to work on what I thought could be an amazing and smart campaign, to then work and develop on a one off video concept to then at the very end be told nice job we want to rip off your team, I was disappointed.  Producers put the pieces in place, they execute soup to nuts and make sure that everything that could go wrong… doesn’t.  It is no easy task… sometimes brands have great teams in place and sometimes that don’t. So to all brands think about the stories you want to tell and who you have in place to execute. Find the right people, the right team to tell the right stories and don’t ask us as producers if you can steal the team we worked hard to put together=).

So what does all of this have in common… what am I most proud of? I am most proud of not backing down, telling good stories and having the balls to fight hard whether it is with brands, other producers or people in the entertainment industry in general…I work hard not to get screwed, and to be compensated fairly for my work… what is the one thing I am most proud of as a producer, what’s my proudest work… staying in it and moving forward in my career… I think that is what all of us as producers should be most proud of!

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I want to make your project!

Those four words are probably the best four words I can hear, for about 2 seconds. Then I realize that just because someone says they want to make your project, it doesn’t mean it will happen… ever…

Yesterday I met up with an old colleague at his office. He is someone that has always been very supportive and someone who believed in me when I was going through a period in my life when I wasn’t certain about whether I was going down the right career path.  We got to talking about what we were both up to now and he mentioned a project I co-created a few years ago. “I want to make that still,” he said.  My heart leapt for a brief moment at his statement and then I came back down to reality. Though very flattering that he still thinks of my project and would want to find a way to make it happen, the truth is it may be something that will never see the light of day.

Now to be clear, this isn’t ANY project to me. This is something my old business partner and I created and pitched time and again. EVERYONE loved it, EVERYONE me met wanted to make it, but we just couldn’t find all the pieces to put it together to actually MAKE it happen.  Don’t get me wrong… I am and will always pitch this project to whoever will listen. I will always hope deep deep down this project will get made come hell or high water. However, the difference between a few years ago and now is I am far more realistic about the odds of actually ever getting something made. Also to be a bit more specific, the project I am referring to is a TV show.  It’s period, set in the late 60’s/ early 70’s and a similar idea saw the light of day, but then crashed and burned because frankly it was terrible. It was poorly written, laughable actually, and the characters just weren’t interesting or were so over the top it didn’t even make sense. When the show made it to air I was heart broken because all I kept thinking was OUR project was better! THEN when the show was cancelled I was even more heart broken because I knew we wouldn’t have a chance in hell to make this show for quite a long time.  Even now when I talk about our TV concept I get,  “ohhh so it’s like _____ which got cancelled.” And of course I want to scream out, “NOOOOOO! It’s absolutely nothing like ______. If you actually read our treatment you would see that you nit whit.”

After my meeting with my old colleague, after the hope we get to work together on something one day, good seeing yous and don’t be a stranger sentiments, I thought about the TV show that I spent years working on and more years pitching around town. I smiled to myself because whether this particular project ever sees the light of day and it is highly likely it won’t, deep down I know it’s a GREAT project. It’s a project that people would watch and come back to each and every week because it’s smart, funny, and unexpected. It’s a project people would talk about on Facebook or talk about the next day at work with their colleagues. It’s a project that SHOULD be made and like so many great projects probably won’t be…BUT I also know no matter what… I won’t give up on it either…

LONG time and what am I doing now

Just a quick update… I have not written a post on here since October 2010. A LOT has changed in that time and thought it would be good to update here just in case anyone still reads or wants to. I had started this blog in ’08/ ’09 with the hope that I would be producing a feature film within a year or two. Well that never happened. What did happen was the explosion of the web and web content and have since ventured into an Executive Producer role on several successful web projects working with such brands as Unilever, Kraft and Clorox to name a few big ones.  I am creating brandertainment if you will and proud of the work I have done. Like all producers, there are ebs and flows, ups and downs and after hitting several downs in film and television, I seemed to have hit my stride in web content. The interesting thing is for some reason there still aren’t a lot of us out there in the world so if you yourself produce interactive branded web content would love to hear from you and have you share your experiences.

Perhaps I should start this blog back up again… I do miss talking about my producing experiences and though I have never cracked the film/ tv code… I am certainly doing an ok job in the wonderful world of web…

 

slump

So after my last post about wanting to work on a new project I got a few people saying they would like to work with me. I am incredibly flattered, but I have to say the first thing I am trying to do is find the right story to tell. So I am writing. I am writing every single day. Sometimes it is incredibly personal while other times it is strictly business. I realized that my blogging here has waned because to be frank there hasn’t been a lot lately that has really truly inspired me content wise. The last film I saw that I enjoyed was SOCIAL NETWORK. I mean I don’t know how Fincher and Sorkin could have gotten it wrong. I feel like the combo was bound to succeed plus it was just a damn interesting story and the soundtrack didn’t hurt!

Making movies, television, web content has and will always be something I love, at least I think. Lately, however, my inspiration has been lacking. I have not felt connected emotionally to the content I was working on and decided to take a much needed break. I always vowed that I would not become the bitter and jaded LA gal and under no circumstances would I become like the “other” Leslie Morgan who I have spoken of and often mistaken for.

Who is this “other” Leslie Morgan? Well for those that are not aware, the “other” used to work for Laura Ziskin in the late 90’s and early 00’s. She was apparently a close friend to Ms. Ziskin and the story I heard was she went bat shit crazy, moved to Texas and was never heard from again. Now I don’t want to talk shit about someone especially someone who shares my name. So this is all speculation and hearsay. I have always wanted to meet the “other” Leslie and find out the really story… there is a story there for sure and one day I will be able to devote the time to it.

My point is that I never wanted to go crazy and move to Texas. I mean the moving to Texas is one thing, but I never wanted the entertainment business to drive me to insanity. Let’s say that lately, though I am not insane, I can understand why you could go insane. My own experiences have been fraught with a lot of almost happened and so close you can taste it moments. Even now a project that I thought was dead found knew life recently, just a small spark, but life just the same. However, the joy I once felt, the excitement and passion for this business has definitely waned. Part of it is entirely personal and stems from what has recently happened in my life that has cause me some sadness, ok a lot of sadness, a lot of heart ache, a lot of pain. However, much of it is also due to the frustration of banging my head against the wall time and again, not being able to have any control and giving everything I have to something with no results.

The industry to me is a lot like high school and I hated high school. For me I thrived in college. I was a big fish in a small pond and had the opportunity to really experience everything and anything I wanted. While high school was about being popular, who you knew, college was about what you had to offer. So there have been many a day I have felt like Hollywood was like being back in high school.

There are those that make it because they find their own way, these people are few, but I admire them for making it happen on their terms. More often than not those that make it follow the path, know the right people and stick around long enough. Sometimes, a lot of the time it is not about hard work. This has been something I have battled with. Timing, luck, talent, knowing the right people are the keys that unlock the door to making it happen.

I am still going to fight. I am still going to try, but just not right now.  For now, I am taking some time to regroup, and to enjoy the process of writing and simply creating instead of producing… and I promise as soon as my spark is reignited and something strikes my fancy I will let you know…until then…

Indie film are you dying?

Everytime I feel like the state of the independent film world is dying, something gives me hope. However, right now I just don’t know. I have been working in film on some level since I was 22 years old. I am now another year older and have stepped a bit further from the industry as I delve more into new media, web content, social media and marketing… I love film, I love talking to people about the industry, how to develop a business plan with an ROI and I love working with writers. I also feel like I was always really good at putting pieces together. My current job, yes I have an actual job now, consists of me being creative for a good 8-12 hours a day, every day. I have to say it’s been amazing, writing, making videos, sharing my views. However, I have to say I have missed producing, missed putting together projects, writing business plans, crunching numbers, talking to investors. I miss the business of film.

I need a new project. I still have one I am in the process of finishing, but I need to collaborate on a project in a producing capacity. I don’t want it to be anything crazy; I can’t devote my time to producing a 1.5 million dollar feature nor do I want to. I think I want to find someone, a group of someone’s to collaborate on a short film project. I don’t want to produce a web series or a webisode; I actually want to find a great 5 minute story and produce a short film for next to no money or very little money. For a long time I have been focusing on so many big projects and many of them came so close. Now I want something small, something really tangible that can be shot over the course of a long weekend, a three day shoot max. 5-10 pages over 3 days, with limited locations, a few actors, that can be shot on a 5D (which I have access to). So if there is anyone out there in Internet land who has something like this let me know. If there are many someone’s who have something like this let me know that too. It’s time to do something small, tangible and just have fun. I would like to call it Back to Basics…

Is there such a thing as a soul mate?

So I saw this movie a couple weekend ago on Netflix.


It’s called TIMERS and it was written, directed and produced by Jac Schaeffer.  I am always impressed when a woman is a triple threat AND the movie is actually good.  I loved the direction and thought Schaeffer really captured the nuances of the characters.  Plus the cast was great and had fabulous chemistry.

So what is all the fuss about? Well the film is set in LA today and is about a device you can implant into your wrist called a Timer.  The device is essentially a clock that ticks down to the exact time when you will find your soul mate.  The protagonist, thirty year old Oona, played by Emma Caulfield, is stuck with a blank timer.  She dates in hopes of finding the one who will actually set her timer off.  However, all the dating can’t help her find the one until she meets a younger man named Mikey.  The only problem is Mikey’s timer says he is supposed to meet the one in a few months.  Oona must figure out whether she should go with the flow or let a determined destiny seal her fate.  The chemistry between Caulfield and John Patrick Amedori who plays Mikey is fantastic and this actor is definitely someone to watch with roles in the upcoming SCOTT PILGRIM vs THE WORLD and whose work was seen on GOSSIP GIRL.

Ultimately the film brings up some really great questions about whether knowing the future is actually a good thing and it was a great conversation with my friends after the movie and into the next day.  In terms of some of the writing choices towards the end of the film, I thought they were a bit of a miss, but the acting and directing definitely made up for it.  If you want to hang out and watch a cute flick I definitely reccomend it.  Plus I am all about supporting indie films that are somehow miraculously shot in Los Angeles!

Los Angeles you could learn a thing or two

I have been talking a lot lately about trying to do something about the film permitting here in Los Angeles.  Is it me or is it completely ridiculous that permitting is not done on a sliding scale based on budget? In these economic times wouldn’t the people of this great city, the “entertainment capital of the world” no less want to bring production BACK to Los Angeles. Well then, why not stop charging $1500 and more in flat fees to productions whose budgets are LOW.  Why not instead charge a fee based on either a percentage of the budget of the project OR a flat fee based on a sliding scale.  Here is an example.  Take Joe, he is an indie filmmaker who is self financing his short film for $20,000.  Joe really wants to film one of his scenes at a beach in Los Angeles County.  Joe can’t afford the $1500 fee plus the police escort at $122 an hour with an 8 hour minimum because then he won’t be able to cover his craft services!  So Joe decides to say, “F THIS!” Instead Joe takes himself, his camera guy, a sound guy, two of his actors, and a PA and films the scene he wants guerilla style on the beach as the PA keeps a look out for cops patrolling the beach.  So City of LA had you said to Joe, “Hey Joe. I know you have only a 20k budget so I will make you a deal, we will charge you $100 flat for the day to shoot here on our beach and since you only have a crew of 4 or 5 you won’t need a police escort.  Just sign this nifty piece of paper saying you will not prohibit anyone from beach activity in the area you are shooting in and that you will pick up all trash once you finish shooting otherwise we can fine you up to $1200.  With that, Joe,  you have yourself a beach for the day!” LA you may think, “Well who cares I only made $100 off of Joe.” I say that is $100 more than you had before because Joe just told you, the city of LA, to piss off and did things without you!

Now if a production has $100,000 or $500,000 or 5 million, you adjust the permit fee accordingly with a maximum cap.  So for example if X Studio is shooting a 55 million dollar feature, I think taking a larger permit fee is justifiable.  I don’t see why a $20,000 short film and a $25 million dollar feature are required to pay the same amount for a permit. Now I do understand having police on the 25 million feature, but again WHY would you need a police officer with a 4 person crew. PLEASE someone explain this to me.  You want to make MORE money LA county, well make the fees fair.  I guarantee more people would start doing things legitimately and I would be the first person to call up FILM LA and say here is my $100!  I know so many low budget projects whether they be film, tv or web content that just avoids going through the permit office altogether because the fees are ridiculous and no one wants to work with you. So I ask you the filmmakers of the world who want to shoot in LA, what do you think? If fees were done on a sliding scale would you be more apt to go through the proper channels? Let me know your thoughts!

I am serious. I do want to do something about this and would like to really rally some indie filmmakers here in LA to prompt some change to bring film production back into this city or myself along with others will just choose to keep leaving!

Oh and by the way, the video above is from the film HOME… check it out! It’s free on YOUTUBE.

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