Seed & Spark | My First Observations

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I have a Seed & Spark campaign going on right now, which is lacking. Would love and appreciate anyone who can help me get the URL out to as many people as possible. As you all know, crowd sourcing art is a numbers game. Here is the URL: Visit & distribute the Seed & Spark URL: http://www.seedandspark.com/studio/spaceship

Below is an article I wrote for Renegade Cinema on why I chose Seed & Spark over other platforms.

-Eric

FACEBOOK     |     TWITTER

[Reblogged from Renegade Cinema]

I found out about the new website Seed & Spark from Sundance award winning filmmaker Matt Harrison, who suggested I check it out after I informed him that my work in progress sci-fi movie The Spaceship was currently on hiatus. I was skeptical at first, because I had previously tried all of the other crowd funding platforms and it has never worked out. Kickstarter? Forget it, unless you have a celebrity attached or serious PR people involved, this under connected filmmaker isn’t flying. When I met the founders of the now defunct website Passerby, they went as far as to feature an interview with me on their blog to help promote the funding campaign I launched with them. No dice. Good people but it wasn’t happening. It’s been well over a year and a half since then and they’ve gone under. IndieGoGo helped us out a bit, bringing us just under four thousand dollars to help pay off some of the bills from principal photography. But still, we never even came close to a quarter of what we needed to see the production home.

When I signed up and began plowing through the content on Seed & Spark, I was immediately floored by just how dedicated to the cause these folks are, they truly love indie film. Even their promotional video, which is featured on their main page, choked me up. For the first time, I feel like I found an organization whose mission is the same as mine: to strengthen the independent film community and ensure a future for the few of us that are willing to dedicate our lives to making films. I reached out to them and began working on my campaign, to see if maybe we could try something a little different – if the platform and the audience is influential in the final results. They’ve been incredibly helpful and hands on in the process of building up the campaign before it went live. Their staffers even went as far as to ask me to redo my pitch video – which I LOVED. It’s clear that they know what will work, what won’t and that they truly have my back in this. It is safe to assume that they’ve been this detail oriented with everyone who has submitted a project for funding and I do hope that this aspect of their service doesn’t go away. Treating the filmmaker as your client, in concept, is so unique and important to making these kinds of things work and I’m surprised no other platform has gone as far as these guys have in this regard.

… read more here.

Visit & distribute the Seed & Spark URL: http://www.seedandspark.com/studio/spaceship

[Reblogged from Renegade Cinema]

Sarah Jones & The Future of Film

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[Reblogged from Renegade Cinema]

There has been an enormous amount of industry press regarding the death of 27 year old Atlanta based Assistant Camera Technician Sarah Jones. Jones was killed in a train accident while working on the set of the feature filmMidnight Rider. Directed by Randall Miller and starring William Hurt, Wyatt Russell and Eliza Dushku, the film was in production in Georgia, but has been suspended until further notice.

According to sources, the crew was setting up to film a dream sequence that involved placing a bed on a set of live railroad tracks. Jones was killed and several others injured when a locomotive came through, destroying the bed and sending debris flying about the area. As a result of this absolutely unnecessary situation, work ethic and safety discussions have popped up left and right. Both union crew and non-union freelancers are pissed off beyond all possible recognition. As they should be. If you didn’t think crew and producers got along before, the teetering relationship between these two sectors are worse than ever. As this incident could be the start of rules and regulations and incredibly strict laws that affect the Future of Film and the ability of future filmmakers to create their works, it’s time for me to chime in.

…read more at Renegade Cinema

[Reblogged from Renegade Cinema

Seed & Spark | The Spaceship

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[Reblogged from The Spaceship Production Diary in its entirety]

Hey everybody,

We’ve launched a campaign to raise finishing resources through the website Seed & Spark. Please help us by contributing and just as improtant, spreading the word about our film and funding efforts. We’ve found the people for a Seed & Spark incredibly helpful and delightful to collaborate with and some of our peers have really jumped on board to get the word out. I hope you join us too!

-Eric

https://www.seedandspark.com/studio/spaceship

[Reblogged from The Spaceship Production Diary in its entirety]

Good Morning…

Eric Norcross filming The Long Island Project in Syosset, New York
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I just spent the past four hours walking around a very empty and extremely frigid lower Manhattan. The financial district between the hours of 1am and 4am is my favorite time to be strolling about NYC. In these hours I feel like the city belongs to me. All these skyscrapers, subway infrastructure and everything that goes with is there for me and only me. I can hear and see things that I might not pick up when the hustle and bustle begins around 6am. There’s a Chase Bank in relative close proximity to the Bowling Green where the door lock grinds loudly and the card reader consistently beeps – clearly these two security mechanisms are malfunctioning. This Chase branch has been this way for several years now. This is part of what I know of MY New York. It was broken when I was 29 and it’s still broken – even tonight, while I’m 32.

I thought a lot about my time here tonight – my entire time since I moved to this town on that fateful Labor Day weekend in 2003. Fresh from Maine, without a dime in my bank account – like most major decisions in my life, I didn’t take the financial aspects into consideration. If I had, I wouldn’t be here. Somehow, someway, it all has worked out in one way or another. You see, I moved here with the promise to myself that no matter how hard, complicated or crazy it got – I wouldn’t regret anything I did while I lived here and I wouldn’t let any kind of fear dictate my decision making. RISK IS KEY. Being an independent filmmaker in New York City has always seemed like such a special thing and IT IS. It’s not easy and you’re not guaranteed ANYTHING. Too few people ever have or ever will understand why it’s so important. It’s just that this is something that some of us HAVE to do. It’s the mother fucker at the top of a bucket list chock full of impossible shit and holy shit! I’ve made some films! I’ve screened some films! I’ve helped filmmakers get their films going, inspired other filmmakers, volunteered in service to the indie film community and encountered the kinds of people I never thought I’d mix up with. I did it all in NYC! I did it all as a New Yorker! As a New Yorker, I’ve lived in four of the five boroughs, in some of the wealthiest and poorest neighborhoods and for all of it I am grateful.

I’ve worked with some of the most kick ass people and some of sleaziest individuals on the planet. I’ve interviewed senators, assemblymen, district attorneys, heads of state and even convinced a sitting congressman to improvise a cameo for one of my old no budget movie projects. This guy, he was hot shit, the Illinois congressman that went after Clinton for the Lewinsky thing. Henry J. Hyde. Can you believe that? For all these years I forgot about this and it just hit me tonight – WOW! I’ve had commercials go to air here, in Long Island, Connecticut, upstate as far as Rochester! I’ve never even been to Rochester! On top of that, video spots I’ve directed have appeared on those small screens in the back of the NYC taxi cabs. That’s so weird but cool and to put this into perspective of where I came from, just a few years ago… WOW!

I lost all this for the past year or so because, well, I’ve been pre-occupied. It’s this monster project, THE SPACESHIP. You see, it has driven me batshit crazy. Some of you close to the project know first hand that “batshit crazy” is the understatement of the year. This bastard is as big as my move to NYC. It has all the same risks and cockups and doesn’t guarantee much of anything, at least not for me as a writer or director. But that’s okay. It’s one hell of a project and unlike everything that came before, I’ve really stuck to my guns on so many aspects of it: technical, aesthetic and approach. I’ve lost a lot of trust, friendships and credibility as a result of how this project has been handled so far and that’s okay too. You see, all these inconveniences, pains and emotions are a distraction. They’re meant to be, a distraction, created by fear and none of it really does anyone any good. These fears won’t exist when this is all over because all that will matter in the end is the final result – the finished film. Few will remember any of the cockups, the late checks and the hard days and those that pine over it or base their future professional decisions based on their experience with this project and with me should rethink what they’re doing with their lives.

I have little pride – I don’t much care for it. I find it hysterical actually. I am especially amused when someone claims to be proud of something they have no control over, like their heritage or something. But I do recognize something about me that I am proud of, a couple things actually. The first is that I’m proud that I’ve stuck it out in NYC as long as I have. It has been an “against all odds” kind of thing. This past September was my ten year anniversary and although I didn’t get to celebrate it in style like I was hoping, none of it was lost upon me. The second is that I have never, ever, chosen a project, either client or personal, based on its monetary value (to me). My dedication to a project has never been commensurate to the capacity of a paycheck, even in the worst of times. Maybe that’s why I ended up moving around so much or maybe that’s why my client work is so eclectic. Who knows. Maybe it’s more than that or maybe it has nothing to do with anything. All I can say is that as hard as it has been, I don’t regret a single day of it. It’s like that broken security lock on the Chase Bank – it isn’t perfect, but it’s part of the experience I was after when I made the decision to come here.

It’s approaching 5:30am so I guess I should be getting some sleep now.

-E

Blood Sky at T. Schreiber Studios

Blood Sky at T. Schreiber Studios
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“There is an enormous amount of space for further experimentation and I’ve found myself left with the desire to see what else is possible with the material.” -Eric Norcross

Today is the first installment of what I hope will be a useful new series for many of my readers. In an effort to expand my understanding of the craft of writing, directing & acting, I have taken to including live performance as part of my studies. I’ve been reading, watching and dissecting various plays, performances of such plays and the theater world as a whole, to better understand the medium. Youtube has been a major part of this exploration, thanks to all of the friendly actors and producers who have put up videos of their productions over the past few years. I feel that by understanding theater and all the different approaches and techniques adopted by theatrical writers, directors and actors, I will greatly improve my storytelling abilities on screen. For many years I’ve required that the actors I cast in my films have some sort of theater experience and training. This policy was always meant to weed out the idiots who are trying to be movie stars from those who have an interest in the integrity of the craft.

From this point on, I’m now requiring it of myself, as a writer and director.

Tonight I had the privilege of experiencing an early performance of Blood Sky at the T. Schreiber Studios. It’s a wonderful and extremely experimental work by house playwright* Yasmine Beverly Rana. Set in rural Mississippi, the story involves the upbringing of a young girl named Joley, who is portrayed by three different actresses, all representing Joley at a different age (14, 18 and 30).

Directed by Terry Schreiber, the play features Kristin Eli Smith, Kelly Kolatac, Jimmy Alexis Cintron, Samantha Rivers Cole, Timothy Weinert, Victoria Guthrie, Brian Shaffer and David Hamzik. This season’s interpretation of the play is its second run since it premiered at The Looking Glass Theatre in 2003 (under the direction of Justine Lambert). Schreiber clearly has a lot of admiration for Rana’s work as the studio closed out their 44th season with Rana’s original play The Fallen and it’s clear in the execution of the material and his direction of his incredibly talented cast that he’s taken great care in bringing the play to life.

While this is not a play that would work well in the mainstream Broadway circuit, it certainly has a future of being interpreted and re-interpreted by some of the more “avant-garde” producers in the theater community, provided Rana is open and willing to let some of these cats give it a go. There is an enormous amount of space for further experimentation and I’ve found myself left with the desire to see what else is possible with the material. I’ve already begun making plans to see the play again at the latter half of its run and I will be following up this article with more information on how the play has developed over the past month.

The T. Schreiber Studios is about to celebrate its 45th season and I am pleased to have been able to experience some of the great things they are doing there. I urge anyone in the NYC area who has an ounce of interest in the performing arts to check out Blood Sky before it ends on April 6th. Lastly, the T. Schreiber Studios is dependent on donations to keep their theater operational. With rising costs, they need the public’s help more than ever. If you’re interested in making a donation, please visit their donation page at: http://www.tschreiber.org/the-studio/donate/2013-challenge/

Other Resources

More info at: http://www.tschreiber.org/

Purchase tickets at: http://www.tschreiber.org/productions/now-playing/

Check out the press release for Blood Sky

As usual – Looking Forward,

-E

http://www.EricNorcross.com

*May or may not be the “house playwright” – I couldn’t gauge whether the person I was talking to was joking or not. :)

No Budget Filmmaking

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[Reblogged in its entirety from Renegade Cinema]

No/Low budget independent filmmaking is a necessity for most filmmakers who want to produce work that will help break them and their friends into the film business, or at least, be recognized by what’s left of the film business. Robert Rodriguez, the king of no budget cinema and the master professor on how to avoid spending money on your indie project even goes as far as to feature a “Ten Minute Film School” on the DVD release of his breakthrough film El Mariachi. The audio commentary in and of itself is one example after another on how to cut costs down to zilch. Although I am a film school graduate, the Rodriguez approach has always been far more helpful and yielded far more positive results. I’m not alone.

There has always been a basic system in place, a journey so to speak, that every filmmaker attempts to traverse: a filmmaker gets a bunch of people together, all with different talents and interests and all of them go out and make a movie. This is one of the hardest activities in the world to engage in because a lot of these kinds of projects are achieved through trial and error and generally go against the grain of society’s normal functions. Those with the knowledge and experience to make life a little easier for these cats only work for financial compensation. More on that later. So let’s say that the movie does find its way to completion. That movie enters the festival circuit and wins a few awards or at the very least gets an honorable mention, which in this day and age is considered an award in and of itself. This recognition is not lost upon distributors and soon the film gets picked up and everyone wins. Sure it’s an outdated, bullshit system that doesn’t really work as much as it used to, but the route is still possible and still attempted by many independent filmmakers.

It would seem that the production culture of some of these smaller films have driven the “professional” and “working” freelance community to the point where there is now an unofficial and unannounced war against these no/low budget filmmakers.  It would seem that, at least in the big cities, anywhere a filmmaker can go to find help with his or her project is being taken over by freelancers who are crying fowl, engaging in vicious attacks against the filmmakers. An example of this is the decreasingly popular website Craigslist,  where both no budget and low budget filmmakers can list their projects and production needs for any and all to respond to. CL even offers the option to list an ad as “Pay” or “No Pay”. It would seem that some of these pay only freelancers are sick and tired of sifting through the hundreds of no-budget calls for crew and the CL website has unofficially developed into a sort of anti-no-budget zone.

New Jersey filmmaker Chris Notarile said, “I believe that while it is improper to abuse or take advantage of free labor, a filmmaker should not be penalized for being resourceful and making a no budget film with willing participants.” Notarile went on to say, “If we just blindly crack down on all no budget productions, the only people we hurt are ourselves and our own community.” Notarile is correct. Without an outlet for filmmakers to inform the community that they are making a project and that they have a need for various talents, the very existence of independent filmmaking is threatened. Of course there are some that would welcome this depletion of projects from the pipeline. Another crewing website, Mandy.com, no longer allows for the listing of No Pay productions at all, unless it’s a short or student film.

Beanie Barnes for Salon.com, pretentiously wrote an article, labeling independent film as America’s “next Wal-Mart”, arguing that there needs to be less independent film made for the entire film industry to survive. “Anyone who says we need more of this, without offering any solution to make it better, is part of the problem.” Barnes wrote. “Many in the industry still refuse to acknowledge that film is subject to the economic laws of supply and demand.” For Filmmaker Magazine, John Yost tackled the subject of low/no budget indie filmmaking by taking on the no pay aspect, in his article The Microbudget Conversation, Unpaid Crew vs Underpaid Crew. Yost wrote, “It’s amazing how much of a difference even $50/day will make to some of us. Just knowing we’re not working for free goes a long way in making us more likely to give our best effort to some poor, inexperienced, yet passionate filmmaker. ” While there is a sort of wisdom and logic behind this thinking, and a great deal of collective examples of this, across many industries, this is only a fraction of the truth. In my experience and in the experience of others I’ve collaborated with, the animosity from crew members who weren’t my friends previous to the project, were nearly identical in both no pay and low pay productions. The common mentality with these specific crew members who were getting paid x amount a day was that they felt they were getting stiffed, regardless of the amount. They’ll always think you can afford to give them a little more and that’s problematic when there are so many other expenses on these projects than payroll. Going back to some of Robert Rodriguez’s comments on the El Mariachi commentary, “once you start spending money you’ll never stop” and this is absolutely true.

The other side of this is a much more serious problem. So many filmmakers are not capable of raising what the freelance collective would consider “proper financing” for their projects and some of these worker bees, while incredibly talented, are a bit sociopathic about this reality, insisting that if you can’t pay everyone to help you make the film then you shouldn’t make it at all. This line of thinking is incredibly dangerous, both to film and the art world as a whole. Many filmmakers take their projects very personally and some that I have talked to have no interest in having people on board their projects who’s dedication to the film is only commensurate with the capacity of a paycheck, or exists only when a paycheck exists. No money = no passion is not something that sits right. “You can pay a person to do anything” says one independent filmmaker who asked to remain anonymous, “anything goes, if the price is right. There’s something different about films made by people who are engaged in the project for reasons other than what they can get from it or whether or not it gets picked up.”

While I’ve dedicated my life to the pursuit of understanding and demystifying film through making films and writing about film, I have no intention of surrounding myself with people who’s hearts aren’t in the right place. With that said, I agree with both sides of the aisle because I am both an indie filmmaker and a freelance editor. How do you establish a peaceful balance with both sides when freelance film and video makers and pseudo journalists are rising up against the very existence of no and low budget filmmakers, even going as far as to relabel these cats as “bum filmmaker wannabees”, who also often become the victims of cyber bullying in the very forums where they post ads seeking out collaborators. How do you establish an acceptable balance when the hatred for one-another continues to grow. How do you establish a mutual understanding when these same freelancers are publishing media content like the spiteful and mean spirited video that has been gaining views on YouTube. It’s clear that a peaceful discussion among filmmakers and would be collaborators and service providers is desperately needed. Money is tight but we shouldn’t let that threaten the output of independent cinema. From a personal perspective, if I had waited until I had sufficient funds in place for all of my projects, I’d have no projects at all to speak about and I can safely claim that my truth is the truth for most filmmakers.

Bibliography: Salon | Filmmaker Magazine | Filmmaker Magazine |

[Reblogged in its entirety from Renegade Cinema]

50 Second Teaser | The Spaceship

Lauren Meley in The Spaceship
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[reblogged from The Spaceship Production Diary]

Hey everybody,

It’s been a while since we’ve had a positive development with this film, but I’m happy to say the production diary will resume as things are picking. There will be a new crowdsourcing campaign soon, as well as the official one-sheet poster. Today, I am happy to announce the launch of our new 50 second teaser. I previously had made two teasers, but I was not happy with them and eventually pulled them. They didn’t tease anyone. This new one works and I’m going to let it sit and see how it’s received. I’ll include the link below, along with all the relevant social media links. Everyone from the film would greatly appreciate it if you could connect with us on TwitterFacebookYouTube & Vimeo and blast the trailer out to your friends and family. Indie film is a numbers game so we have to ask.

You can view the teaser here.

Thank you,

Eric, The Cast & The Crew of THE SPACESHIP