AFM

We’ve been back from AFM for a few weeks now. What an experience!  First, Santa Monica was just fabulous. The weather was amazing and the food was fantastic. We had the best sushi I think I’ve ever had at Robata Bar.  But, what completely blew me away was AFM!  The Loews Hotel transformed its rooms into offices, removing the beds and replacing them with desks. As we walked the hallways, we took in all the different movie posters, making lists of what actors we were seeing over and over again.  We overheard big deals going down in the corridors and bars of the Loews.

Wildsky was there to chat with distributors about our feature film IN THE COMPANY OF MONSTERS.  We were prepared with our pitch complete with concept art and a one-sheeter for hand outs.  On the iPad we had Chris’ director reel, his latest short and the pitch deck.  Having these came in handy as we were able to show them off to the distributors we met with.  We also networked with a few other indie film makers from around the country.

Next steps – we are working on follow up meetings with a few key distributors to help solidify casting options for ITCOM and continuing on the path to raise capital.

My AFM badge!

 

Wildsky Studios at AFM

We leave tomorrow for the American Film Market in Santa Monica to meet with distributors and sales agents about our feature project IN THE COMPANY OF MONSTERS.  We’ve been busy working on our pitch deck and concept art in preparation for our meetings.

Here’s a sneak peak at one piece of our concept art –

Detectives Jack & Robert try (and fail) to save Mitch & Lily.

In The Company Of Monsters Table Read

Earlier this week, we had a table read for In The Company Of Monsters.  We were fortunate to find some really talented local actors and a small audience.  The table read helped us gauge the flow of the dialogue, the feel of the story and the anticipation of the audience.  It was fun (and nerve-racking) to hear the words from the script come to life. It’s one thing to read it in your head, but another to actually hear the words in real life. There were moments I was on the edge of my seat, even though I’ve read the script several times. The audience and actors provided us with some excellent feedback.

So, what’s In The Company Of Monsters about?

Detective Jack Towers takes his chance at redemption by going after a wanted cop-killer. But problems arise when they and others are quarantined together with a virus that temporarily makes people homicidal.

Our newest project – In The Company Of Monsters

We’ve been busy here at Wildsky over the last few months.  We’ve been working on our new project, In The Company Of Monsters, an action feature film written by our very own Chris Kohout.   We are so excited about this new project that we are heading to the American Film Market in November. AFM will give us a great opportunity to find distributors and sales agents that can take our film to market.

Along with being busy preparing for AFM, this past week we did a photo shoot for the one-sheeter for In The Company Of Monsters, with John Keatley, an amazing photographer.  We got a sneak peak at a few of the proofs and they were just amazing!

And finally, we are gearing up for a table read of In The Company Of Monsters, happening on Tuesday September 18th. A table read is an important event for us. We get to see how the flow of the dialogue feels and how the words written come across.  We are looking forward to seeing the world of In The Company Of Monsters come alive!

Checkmate accepted into 2 film festivals

We are happy to announce that Checkmate, an action short written and directed by Chris Kohout, has been accepted into the Action on Film International Film Festival and the Atlanta Shortsfest.  If you haven’t seen Checkmate yet, you can check it out on the Wildsky portfolio.

Final Good Guy Art

Theme

I’ve been enjoying Brian McDonald’s latest book, The Golden Theme. He has a real gift for looking past all the visible trappings of a story and seeing the invisible machinations the author set in motion. The ‘invisible ink’ as he’d say.

When we’re watching the latest summer blockbuster, it’s easy to be seduced by the great action, the beautiful people and the lovely explosions. I enjoy those as much as the next guy, but they alone don’t satisfy. The really great storytellers like Spielberg and Cameron know that you have to also have a theme. Something the movie has to teach us.

We’re hard wired to tell and receive stories. From the days of “I wouldn’t eat those red berries. I knew this guy who died from them,” stories are a great way to share important information. And not just survival wisdom. We also need social wisdom, like the lessons in parables. The boy who cried wolf has been around a very long time, because it tells us an important lesson. If you lie often, you won’t be believed, even when you tell the truth. Learning lessons like these help a society function and grow. And so like most useful things, they persist.

One of the things most movies lack today is a theme. Now theme doesn’t mean genre or plot. Theme is a truth that we can take away. It’s a lesson we can learn for ourselves, even while we sit in a dark room watching a screen. We can learn it, because we watch the hero learn it. And when we follow him on his journey, we also get the benefit he does.

Pilots do this when they sit together and trade stories of bad experiences they had in the air. When they sit in a hangar and tell the story to other pilots, and explain what they did to survive, everyone learns from one person’s experience. They call it “hangar flying”.

Good stories can do the same. We can be entertained, but also be learning something important from the character’s struggles. Usually the theme is something that our hero doesn’t know at first, but must learn before he can succeed.

At the beginning of Star Wars, Luke is not hero material. He hasn’t got the confidence in his own abilities to leave the farm, let alone start an adventure. He actually has to be forced to leave by circumstances. When his family is killed by stormtroopers, his decision has been made for him. But through the trials he endures, he is a changed man. Hurtling along the surface of the Death Star, he turns off his computers and uses his own abilities to deal the final blow.

We come away entertained, but also inspired. If he can rise above his circumstances and achieve greatness, then maybe we can too. Now compare the first Star Wars to the most recent ones. Despite the budgets, they don’t satisfy. Lucas forgot how to inspire us.

People enjoy a good diversion, but they love a good story. And among other things, that means having a solid theme.

In Live Rounds, I have a hero named Ronin. He was a man of violence, familiar and comfortable with it. Until one day, his wife is kidnapped, and he responds the only way he knows how, with force. But this impulsiveness gets his wife killed, and he turns away from that life. He reinvents himself. But he’s also lost something vital. The knowledge that sometimes we must do bad things to protect those we love.

Sound like a lesson to be learned? Yep.

So my story has him leading a team of bounty hunters who get in over their heads. And while he’s a natural leader, he’s lost that will to kill. Until he regains it, he puts those around him at risk. So the whole story is a funnel that is pushing Ronin to the point where he needs to make that choice again. And by being there with him along the journey, we get to learn this wisdom too.

Without the messy complications of homicide.

Early Good Guys

The first ideas for how to show the team.

Final Bad Guys

Here’s the final art for a group shot of Cole, Mileena and Jonathan having a fun night together.

 

An Interview with Brian McDonald

Brian is the author of two of the best books out there on story and theme: Invisible Ink, and The Golden Theme. I’ve had the pleasure of taking his class and chatting with him over coffee, and he really knows this stuff.

So when Warren Etheridge (another very sharp mind) had him on The High Bar, I knew it’d be great. They don’t disappoint. Insightful, funny, profound and sure to push mental gears in a new direction.

Check it out now!