EDITOR’S NOTE: If you’re just joining us… this is the second entry in a new “filmmaker diary series” which will follow writer/director Tahir Jetter as he embarks on his inaugural journey into web series production, which, as he states below, should provide readers with some “insight into what it’s like to make a quality, long-form production at a relatively low-budget.” Tahir joins previous S&A filmmaker diary series feature contributed by Matthew Cherry, and Pete Chatmon – both that, based on your reactions on this site, as well as your emails to me, many of you found very valuable. And I believe that Tahir will continue that tradition, and that there’ll be something in this series for everyone (whether you’re a creative, lover of the web series format, or just a passerby) to be “edutained” by. So, without further ado, here’s Tahir’s second of several 9 entries. If you missed Entry #1, which includes a look at Tahir’s project, click HERE to read it.
The Hard Times Journal Entries
In September of 2012, I was still working as a Driving Production Assistant on a show for the FUSE Network, freelancing as a personal trainer and trying to get All The Wrong Places, my feature film, made. Juggling.
Watched Sex, Lies and Videotape, the other day. Started watching Hard Eight, two nights ago.
Both are two very strong features by some very strong auteurs. I realize that the indie world really really really likes auteurs (duh) and so if I’m going to try to succeed in this world, I’ll have to develop a really really strong sense of style.
I need to watch a lot more movies, man. But one thing is certain–this film [All The Wrong Places] needs camera movement, camera movement, camera movement. I don’t give a fuck what we have to do to make it happen, I don’t care if we have to rent multiple cameras to minimize our schedule–camera movement is going to be essential. This joint has to look crisp.
Today is September 3rd, 2012. What a great birthday yesterday was. Seems like every Fall I have a project in the queue, and that is something that is starting to feel awesome. It’s a real privilege to be able to make art, point blank period. This year, though, I’m going to start making moves to get some money out of it. We [my colleagues and I] are all far too talented not to start making a profit off of the things that we can do.
So first—[we release] Frisk in the fall (and I’m going to push and pub the shit out of it) maybe we’ll get back into Sundance, again, who the hell knows. Then, I hope and pray to God that I can get this film (All The Wrong Places) up off the ground, next year, next April. The shit has been gestating in my mind for soooooo long, man. It’s finally feeling ripe, and beautiful and ready to bloom. Then, the webseries, Hard Times, which is brilliant and awesome and going to be cool in its own right, and should get us a shit-ton of publicity if we execute it right. People will have never seen a story like this, before, man. [At least not with Black folks.]
Frisk – September 2012-September 2013 – Festival Runs
All The Wrong Places – April 2013-Jan 2014 (Sundance Premiere, God-Willing, Release in Late 2014 and Get Bought for a Good $1-2Mil)
Hard Times – May 2013-April 2014
It’s a lot of stuff to do, but at the same time, I totally think that we can get it all done. It’s so damn doable.
Even with this supposed production/post-production budget of $300-350K, I’m like, for the kind of film All The Wrong Places is, you’re getting a tremendous value. There is nothing else in the market that’s like this, right now, it’s a good film, and I am targeting what is probably the most heavily media-consuming/underserved demographic, in the country. People will pay attention. It’s just a matter of when. I’m trying to get this film shot, next year, damn it.
Just like in retail sales, personal training, and all this other stuff, I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to approach a good number of people [financial prospects] just to get that budget in. But maybe not. I know a few millionaires. (Sort of. Like two.) But still, 300-400K for a whole, entire feature, with a cost of maybe…$300K to get it in the can?
50 people x 6K
30 people x 10K
20 people x 15K
10 people x 30K
5 people x 60K
3 people x 100K
1 person x 300K
It’s totally doable. And what’s great about this movie is…again, it’s not this obscure-ass artsy piece (I mean, I do intend for it to be artsy in certain ways) but it’s not obscure. It’s fucking accessible as hell, it’s entertaining, sophisticated, and again, this market is incredibly underserved.
Just gotta approach mad people.
People I’m adding to the list:
– Maybe ________ (his dad invested in something?)
– Those Millionaires I don’t directly know (uber long-shot)
Truth be told, all of these people are long shots, but what could it hurt to see if I could get one of them in a room? The worst that anyone could say is “no,” and I have nothing but spacious off-days within which to try to engage prospective investors.
And if some of these people don’t want to fund the whole thing, then maybe they can fund part of it. Piecemeal. I’m not expecting $100,000 investments, although these would be nice, but I mean, if I have to do…a few 25K’s, here and there, a few 10’s, all I gotta do is get more and more people onboard.
$25K x 8 people is totally doable.
Here’s the deal: I have between now (Sept 3) and December 31st to get about….well, all of my production budget. So the more people I can hit, the better. I don’t know how much time I have to do all of this stuff, but I may as well take what I have and go HAM with it.
Sept 5 – Hit Up _______’s Assistant, See If He’s Free (or coming back from Toronto) (Put Pressure on A_______ to Read Script) – fuck it, do this tomorrow. Maybe try to Hit Up ______ –
Sept 4 – (cont’d) – Hit Up _______, _______, Wayfare,
Sept 5th (for real) – Hit Up ________, Remind K____About The Thing for Sunday.
Sept 7th – Mixing With Anthony – Hit Vlad Up, by This Point – Daniel, __________, Kaleb/Marc, for sure…HDCam Deck Hook-Up –
Shoot this new artistic statement + script draft to the Sundance Institute’s Writers Lab by Friday. FUCK.
September 29th, 2012
The thing about finding the right Producer is that you need somebody experienced, somebody who knows how to make talent deals and who knows how to oversee the whole production situation. Accounting, all that shit.
Somebody else can be out in the field, managing, but you need somebody that you feel is passionate about the shit and feels comfortable doing shit, all the way through.
[A Random, Naïve E-Mail, Sent in the Hopes of Getting Some Opportunities]
Subject Line: Yo, I Had a Film at Sundance, I’m an NYU Film Grad and I’d Love to Shoot A Dope Video for Kendrick
My name is Tahir Jetter, I’m an NYU Film Grad, and a Sundance alum and a huge fan of good kid, m.a.a.d. city, which I consider to be one of the top albums of the year.
I wanted to reach out to you in the hopes of seeing whether you might be interested in my potentially doing a video for “m.a.a.d. City”–I’ve got an idea for a dope ass low-budget video that could be shot in L.A. and I’ve got both the resources, connections and talent to make it happen in a timely manner.
Please check out the links to my short-form work here and feel free to holler back at me, if you’d like to see a treatment.
[Links to Work. Ha!!!!]
October 2, 2012
It’s Oct 2. I’m working as a Driving PA for this show on the FUSE Network.
I’m tired as hell, but who isn’t, these days? These days, “tired” seems like a common greeting. Either that or, “I’m busy.”
I can’t say enough about how badly I want this film [All The Wrong Places] to go off without a hitch. But this is the business of hitches. I just hope that I have the perspective to be able to determine whether or not this is a motherfucker I can latch onto.
Speaking of sitting, I think I spend 8-12 hours sitting, these days, as a result of this gig I have. I feel like that can’t be good for the body, but whatever.
Computers and smartphones, that’s where all the work gets done, these days. Just gotta stretch and work it out. More later.
Oct 2012 (Unspecified Date)
[A Production Schedule that I had drafted up, for myself, at the time.]
– Frisk – Finishing Up “Frisk,” my last short film
– All The Wrong Places – Develop feature length film
– Festivals – referred to when I planned to submit various projects to different festivals
– Before the Fall – Another Feature Film idea that I’d intended to develop, at the time
– Hard Times – The Webseries – the better part of the script that I still had in my back pocket
As 2013 approached, things would obviously prove to be significantly more challenging than I had ever anticipated.