Monday, December 28, 2009

This interview with Acting Coach Barry Papick sparkles with passion

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Goodbye Promise

A tale of two lives. That is the struggle of being an independent filmmaker. On the surface everything looks Lobster, with closer observation you will find Tuna Fish.

It is an insane world to live day in and day out as one who makes films outside of the studio system. It is also a terrifying and lonely place. I know my plight is no different than the thousands of actors, writers, musicians who flood the vast corners of Los Angeles and beyond. But this isn't the blog of those thousands of folks, it is my blog. And here I will share my realities, hopes, hardships and triumphs.

I can't help but think of the Film Courage interview with In Search of a Midnight Kiss Director Alex Holdridge where he says "In LA there is so much pressure put on this perception of your success that people do not open up about how scared they are about money." (Here is a quick video/audio clip of this quote

Another moment that captures this perfectly is when I shared the Red Carpet recently with an Actor from a prominent independent film. He said the whole experience was surreal because he has never been so broke. Yet here he was being interviewed, having his picture taken. It is all so glamorous.

I have spoken to dozens upon dozens of filmmakers over the past year and I have learned that yes they have made a film but they haven't necessarily made a living off of that film. Forget the living, they haven't even made anywhere near one year's salary.

The common perception is that anyone who makes a film has to be making money. In a few cases they are, but in most they are not. In my case, I have not made one dollar for Night Before the Wedding. Though, I should point out that the film is in the very early stages of making it's money back. I will not see any money until the film is paid in full. That of course is a great motivator for me to keep pushing and promoting it. Though it will very likely be quite some time before any money is put directly into my pocket or bank account. In the meantime it is an uncertain journey ahead. These present circumstances have me questioning what I am doing with my life.

All this leads me to my next film project. What am I to do? I have a finished feature film, but it is not paid for and I have made no money from it. On top of it, we all hear the screams and shouts that indie film is dead. Distribution models are collapsing, the economy still hasn't recovered, and getting money to make a film is as tough as it's ever been. Just in case you are on the fence about what the pundits say, allow me to clearly state that INDIE FILM WILL NEVER DIE! I could go on a side rant about this alone which would cover a full blog but I want to stay focused here.

I have chosen to not allow the circumstances around me to prevent me from growing as a storyteller. I have decided to embrace my current situation and go and make a film anyway. I will just embrace all of the current challenges and infuse them into my story.

Like I said, my path ahead is uncertain. I do not know if I can cross the threshold to become one who earns a living through my filmmaking. This through-line leads me to the idea for my next film. The lead character will be at a crossroads with his life's dreams.

I do not have time to write a full screenplay right now, so it will be an improv-based project that will rely on the talents of actors along with my story instincts and of course some creative editing.

The thing that makes this go is that I have my own camera. Though it is not an expensive one. I will once again use what I have...which is key. I own an HV30 so that is what I will shoot on. If I didn't have a camera, and I was determined, then I would borrow one.

I do not have money to pay a crew or for production equipment. So that means I will shoot it myself as a one man crew and I will embrace natural lighting.

I do not expect to 'wow' folks with this film. It will serve as an experimental, exploratory film that is certain to teach me a lot. I would rather keep working on films within my means than sit around waiting, talking about my next project.

With that, here is a test poster for the project that features Actor Gregor Collins. It is certainly not the final poster. Would love your feedback. What do you like about it? What do you dislike? What story do you see? What images come to mind? Is there anything you would do to improve it? Thanks in advance.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A New Way To Connect With and Build Your Audience

Building an Audience/Connecting with an Audience has been a hot topic for not just me but the entire movie industry. Guess what, I have something fun to share with you.

As you may be aware, Night Before the Wedding just screened in Columbus, Ohio. It was a screening that I knew I would not be able to attend. When brainstorming on the phone with our Social Media Manager, Angie Palmer of Skye Public Relations months before our screening, one idea I had was to do a 'Live' Q&A through my computer. We weren't sure if we could pull it off, get the proper permissions, etc. but it was something I really wanted to do.

Thank goodness that Angie is so resourceful and amazing at what she does. And thanks to some gracious folks at the Arena Grand Movie Theater in Columbus, the Mid-Ohio Filmmakers Association and again to Angie's dedication, we were able to test and eventually execute a 'Live' Skype Q&A from Los Angeles to Columbus following the screening.

I am not sure how often this has been done. I imagine plenty of times. For whatever reason I just haven't seen it implemented after a movie screening. Thanks to Actor Kevin Deen flying out to Columbus and documenting his whole experience, I now have the power to share with you what it was like for us to Connect with our Columbus Audience.

Immediately following our screening, I was projected onto the theater screen along with Filmmakers Gregor Collins, A.J. Rickert-Epstein, and Actor Michael Shaun Sandy. Although we were staring at a black computer screen, it was just a fun and fantastic experience to know that we were being seen and heard inside a movie theater a thousand miles away. Okay, I admit it was a little odd from our side of the equation. We had no idea how many stayed for the Q&A, or whether it was having any impact.

It wasn't until I was able to watch the footage that Kevin Deen shot that I realized just how powerful our Q&A had been. For you filmmakers wondering how you can connect, build, and grow your audience. The evidence can be seen clearly in this video. I believe this will be a big part of the present and future for ALL independent filmmakers. It is a no-brainer. It's something that smaller films which are screening in one theater at a time can accommodate with enough planning and effort. It gives smaller films a huge advantage over our blockbuster counterparts. Karen and I just went to see A Serious Man, but the reality of the Coen Brothers popping up on the screen right after the credits role and having a chance to ask them questions about their film just isn't going to happen.

I found out later that our Columbus crowd absolutely loved the interaction we had with them. None of them had ever experienced this before. It endeared them to us and to our film. We are now hoping to duplicate this with our next screening December 3rd in Washington D.C and beyond.

Please share your thoughts, ideas and reactions.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Piracy, Is it a good thing??? (Jamin Winans INK illegally downloaded 100,000 times in 48 hours)

I was absolutely stunned this morning to find out that Jamin Winans and Kiowa Winans INK was illegally downloaded via bit torrent sites like Pirate Bay (INK was the #1 downloaded film ahead of major Hollywood releases) over 100,000 times.

We just had Jamin and Kiowa on our Film Courage radio show this past week. Their interview has shattered all records for our show from most listens, most downloads, and most page views. All of this in it's first week online. I believe it is a MUST listen. It is an in-depth case study on the money it took to make INK, their decision to retain the rights to their film and self-distribute and even highlights their deals with Blockbuster and Netflix.

Here is the interview: Jamin Winans and Kiowa Winans on Film Courage

So now, just two days away from wide-release on NOVEMBER 10th, 2009, on iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, Blockbuster (they even have Region 0 DVD's where it can be seen anywhere in the world) the pirates come thieving.

INK packs the house at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood on June 10th, 2009

This news has been sinking in all day. On one side it absolutely infuriates me and on the other I am completely overjoyed. I was on the phone with Jamin about 2 or 3 weeks ago and we talked about piracy and bit torrents. We know there is nothing we can do about it. To combat piracy, Jamin and Kiowa have done all they can to make INK available through all major outlets as fast as they humanly could. There is no major studio behind this release. As a matter of fact, if you listen to our interview with Jamin and Kiowa, you will hear them say that up until November 10th all DVD orders are being handled by them right from their house. This is their dedication to get their film out to their fans as soon as they can. I can tell you this, Jamin never imagined that his film would be so popular as to be the #1 illegally downloaded movie anywhere. He was obviously concerned about it being pirated but this is absolutely insane.

I am not a part of any bit torrent sites, so I am not familiar. How common is it for an Independently financed, independently made, and independently distributed film like INK to be in such demand through piracy??? Can you share with me any other specific examples? Is INK in unique territory? Is it just the INK phenomenon?

In our phone conversation, I was telling Jamin that I believe INK is going to be huge when it hits DVD. I never suspected this and I know that Jamin and Kiowa have to both be floored, both positively and negatively.

100,000 legal downloads is enough to instantly take Jamin and Kiowa out of debt. They would be able to pay back their investors which is something they are adamant about. This would immediately send them into the black. For those of you who are not aware, Jamin and Kiowa spent at least a year in pre-production, 80 days in production, almost two years in post-production, and almost a year semi-theatrically distributing the film across the country.

They have now received the ultimate validation on their work. Screw all the distributors and gatekeepers who said no to 'INK.' As a matter of fact Kiowa just wrote a great blog about this very thing on their DoubleEdgeFilms.blogspot site. It is one of the best film blogs out there. If you go back to the first blog and read through, you can be right in the passenger seat with them from the beginning of their the distribution journey.

I just want to urge all of you to see INK, but do it right way. I want to see Jamin and Kiowa Winans continue to make films. Let's support them in a way that enables them to do just that. Buy the film from their site where they offer an amazing package of an autographed DVD/Blu Ray, T-shirt and Poster for $34.99, or you can get INK from Amazon, Blockbuster, Netflix, or iTunes.

There has been tremendous discussion on piracy happening at the INK Facebook Fan Page
(The least some of you who illegally downloaded the film can do is 'Become a Fan')

So what do you think, is Piracy a good thing? Is it going to help Jamin and Kiowa more that they have received all of this 'free advertising?' Is this the best thing that could have happened to them? How does it make you feel?

Friday, November 6, 2009

My Film Courage Blog featured on 'Film Independent' website

The biggest thing to ever happen to my blog happened several weeks ago after the FIND Filmmaker Forum that Karen and I attended. On a whim, I stayed up late that night to write my thoughts about the weekend seminar.

To my surprise, I ended up being contacted by the folks of who sought permission to republish my blog. Of course I jumped at the opportunity. Not only did they republish this blog in their Blog section, I found out later that they also had my name on the homepage of their site. This is certainly a big thrill for me. It's a huge leap for me as I continue to fight my way out of obscurity.

Here is the link to my recent blog on the Filmmaker Forum on the Film Independent Website

Paranormal Activity - The 100 Million Dollar Movie

(Note - I began writing this blog a few weeks ago and meanwhile Paranormal Activity has taken the box office by storm. Going to see if I can iron out some of my thoughts on this modern day phenomenon and finally post it albeit weeks too late.)

Paranormal Activity popped up on my radar in early to mid-September. Initially I was aware of it, but I just kind of observed it from a far. Thrillers and horror films are not usually in my palate. I respect the genre, it's just not one that draws me in.

What's funny was that around the time that Paranormal Activity was floating in my subconscious, I had a great ghost story exchange with a few friends. Every so often, I seem to get into these conversations where everyone starts telling 'real-life' ghost stories. On this occasion my mind was slowly churning on a naturally based ghost movie. Not horror, but thriller. Actually similar to what Paranormal turned out to be. Who knows, maybe a scary thriller I will one day tackle.

Well, just as these ideas were lightly floating in my head, I finally decided to investigate Paranormal Activity further. As I began to investigate Paranormal, I could already see that it to had some tremendous word of mouth already in place. I told Karen that day that I wanted to bring the filmmakers on our Film Courage radio show as soon as possible. I said if we can get them on, we will conform to their schedule. I had a sense from what I was seeing that this movie could do very well. I thought it would perform better than indie sensation Humpday which made $400,000 in limited release. Keep in mind, I came across this movie before it began it's theatrical run. Everyone I was telling about the film had never heard of it.

And now look what it has done. The right movie at the right time with the right marketing strategy. It is amazing that it sat on the shelf for 2 or 3 years before being resurrected this fall.

When I first saw the trailer I thought it was clever. It's not the first time I have seen audience reactions, lines of people, commentaries, etc.

As I sat back and reflected on the trailer and it's impact on me, I wasn't thinking about the film's content. For whatever reason, I was thinking of a roller coaster.

How often have you seen that? A movie experience that is more like boarding and riding a roller coaster than seeing a movie. I will explain. Most often, movies are made as a passive experience for the movie-goer. They are allowed to peer in the window glass of the movie screen, to observe, to be shown other worlds and other ways of life. It is rare that a movie not only allows you to look in through this magical window, but puts you into the world of the story and allows you to participate. I believe this is a function that is underutilized in the grand world of cinema. This interactive ingredient of Paranormal Activity to me is the backbone of it's success. This gives it a word-o-mouth edge that most films do not have no matter what the budget. It is the secret that makes Paranormal Activity not just a movie to see, but to experience. The same way we do not someone to tell us what it was like to ride on some colossal roller coaster. We want to experience it first hand ourselves.

It certainly helps that a horror film can have the anxiety and adrenaline build-up we often face before boarding a roller-coaster. We anticipate a unique thrilling experience.

I believe we are going to see quite a few 'copycat' ideas and films attempting to capitalize on what they believe to be the Paranormal Activity formula. If they are wise, they will be cognizant of the 'roller coaster' appeal that was marketed and delivered by PA.

On another note, because my instincts were correct and because we acted so fast, we were able to book the Executive Producer (the director is unavailable as he is shooting his next film) of Paranormal Activity on an upcoming show of Film Courage (November 22nd). Can't wait for this one! Going to be an early Thanksgiving gift to all of us.

If you have any questions you would like to ask the Executive Producer of Paranormal Activity, please leave a comment with this blog, or email us at, or interact with us 'live' on November 22nd via Twitter (@filmcourage).

Sunday, October 11, 2009

FIND Filmmaker Forum ' 09

I really feel blessed to have had the opportunity to attend this past weekend's FIND Filmmaker Forum. The event was packed with great panel discussions. I was able to attend "Following the Money Trail," "Sweet and Low Budget," "Cultivating Your Audience," "Has the Dust Settled," "The International Market Place," and "New Uses for Film Festivals." Here's the full schedule with all of the panelists

The forum certainly has my mind stimulated. I would love to be able to attend an event like this every month. To be able to soak up the ideas, to stretch my mind...

I will admit that the environment is intimidating. I was exposed to a lot of bright and passionate people. These folks love film. They live and breathe the business of film. Each night I returned home feeling somewhat inadequate. It can actually be kind of depressing. It is fierce and it is competitive. Maybe I should say ultra-competitive. The film business is not for the feint of heart. At the same time it is inspiring to see so many people who live and die the film business.

With that, let me put together a few of my insights gathered and/or crystalized from this weekend.

1) Make no mistake, this is the film business. Very little talk of making artistic films. The collective mindset was on creative, original works that make money.

2) "Drama" is not an attractive word when selling your film. Of course they still sell, but if you can be creative in categorizing your film...and not using the word drama, you may be better off.

3) This next point is something I mentioned on my Film Courage radio show this morning. I've always had it in the back of my mind that I would have to chase down distributors, gatekeepers, key decision makers at studios, etc. There was kind of a throw-away comment by one of the panelists where he stated that without you really hunting them down, at some point key decision makers will see your film. It was just something that really stood out to me. The film world is really a small community. Movers and shakers in the industry love film and they all know their business. Bottom line, don't worry about the critical people seeing your film. If it is a stand-out film and if you focus on getting it to your audience, eventually the machine will find you.

4) The decline of the US economy and the decline in the DVD market means less money to talent as costs are slashed. Actors are seeing their salaries reduced.

5) Self-distribution is not viewed as an ugly step-child. In many cases, it offers the best opportunity for lower budgeted films to make their money back.

6) Right now the 2 million dollar to 10 million dollar picture is dead. In most cases, there is not a viable way to make this money back in today's market.

7) Lots of buzzing about "Paranormal Activity." Not so much the film itself, just the marketing and buzz swirling around it right now.

8) There is certainly a break in the film distribution model. Everyone is trying to figure out what the new model is going to be. There are so many factors that go into this. Piracy, windows of time from theatrical to VOD to DVD, amount of films in marketplace, social networking, Netflix, TV, etc.

9) Newspapers are in big trouble. How long will it be before Movie Studios stop paying for full page movie ads in newspapers? With the shift from newspaper reading to the internet, does it make sense to dump money into the costly newspaper ads? By the way, those Full Page movie ads are a significant part of any newspaper company's budget.

10) Thumb factor. We are entering a new era where many movies can be made or broken through a twitter posting or text message seconds after walking out of a screening. That's pretty scary.

11) It was wild to hear Director Arin Crumley touch upon what I was writing in my last blog. The idea that many of us independent filmmakers could sustain ourselves with an audience/fan base of 1000 people. In my last blog I wrote that I am working on building a fan base of 7500. Of course my goal is higher than 1000 but the core idea is the same. Of course I have no where near 1000 fans so maybe I should start there first. : )

12) My Film Courage radio show has yet to make an impact in the independent world. Not one person came up to either Karen and I regarding our show. Though this isn't anything to complain about. Though on the bright side, our show is gaining in popularity. We are currently averaging over 500 page visits per week. This is a nice jump from averaging 50 page visits a week when we started.

13) Lastly I want to leave you with the main thought I take away. To me the main through-line to the whole weekend is that it comes down to identifying and building your audience. Underneath it all, no matter which part of filmmaking you are talking about, it boils down to audience. Who's going to see the film, how are they going to see it, why are they going to see it?

I would love to get some of your reactions to some of the points I have posted here. Do you have anything to add? Anything you disagree with?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How To Build Your Audience

Fellow filmmaker and friend Gary King wrote a great article this past week for New Breed which is a spin-off from Workbook Project where a collective of uber smart and talented filmmakers share insights and experiences from the front lines of independent filmmaking.

It is a site I check in with as often as I can. It is a great way to get a pulse of the latest happenings from those who are in the heat of battle...fighting the same filmmaking fight I am.

Gary's latest entry is entitled "Find Your Audience So They Can Find You." In my mind, there is no tougher hurdle in the world of independent film than finding your audience. We do not have a mega-budget of millions of dollars for Television Advertising, Radio Spots, Full Page Newspaper Ads, Billboards, etc. In Gary's article he is getting a discussion going on what steps an independent filmmaker can take to overcome our greatest challenge.

Screening of Gary King's New York Lately

The truth is that this is no easy task. This dilemma is the one that causes me the most sweat and equity. It is this skyscraper of an obstacle that makes me question myself the most. Whether it be my intellect, my talent, my art, my passion, or my love.

As a storyteller, as a writer, as a filmmaker, as an artist...I can say that it starts with me. I am trying to please myself first. To tell a story, to make a film...that would entertain me. Then beyond that, I want my work to connect with an audience. I seek to be validated. To have another person react to my work. They do not have to love it, they do not have to sing my praises.

Really what I am working towards is for others to discover my work and to have it leave an everlasting imprint. I want my work to affect my audience to their core...where from that moment forward they will come back for more. Whether it is that film, a new film, or an older one.

For years now I have made films and I have worked on building an audience. From firsthand experience, I can say that on most days it just feels insurmountable. All these years, all the time and all the energy and I have built a very modest audience. Please allow me to say that I wouldn't trade you for anything. To those few of you who are loyal readers of this blog I am graciously grateful. To those of you who are champions of my work I owe so much. Thank you. I am hoping you will be there to see my work grow and evolve.

I know why so many various artists ease on their passion towards their art. Why so many filmmakers stop making films. I believe it has less to do with the creation of art, with the actual making of a film. It has to do with finding one's audience. To satisfy that inter-personal connection we crave as humans. It is the fuel we must have to survive as artists.

I believe only in rare circumstances can an artist live a normal healthy life, and be okay with their art never connecting with their fellow people. It is late and maybe I haven't put enough thought into, but I welcome you to contradict this point I am making.

I am trying to imagine the stage performer who is perfectly content playing to an empty house, the athlete who doesn't care about displaying their physical gifts and talents to a jam packed arena, and the happy filmmaker who spends two years meticulously crafting a film just to watch it alone in his/her basement.

This leads me to my personal task at hand. What is the current audience I am trying to build? Is it millions of folks? Maybe someday, but not right now.

Do you want to know how many people I have in my 'dream' audience? 'Dream' referring to the amount of peeps that can help set me free. Maybe not set me free, but I would be ecstatic to reach. I have an exact number. A goal that I am trying to attain. Without putting any judgement on it, I am going to write 7500. This is something I realized on a train ride up to Santa Barbara to see Jamin Winans film INK. As I stared out the window and watched the moving landscape scroll by, contemplating my life as a filmmaker. It hit me that I do not necessarily need millions of people to see my work.

With my film, Night Before the Wedding, my goal is to reach 7500 people. If we can do that, then the film will be a success. Whether or not we can do that, I do not know. This is what I am striving towards. Whether it is achievable or not, I can simply say that I haven't gotten there yet. So I will continue to be creative. I will continue with my passion. I will continue until I surpass 7500. And I hope you will be here as I do.

I have quite a few ideas on building an audience. Some secrets I would love to share with you. Though this information is premature as I do not even have an audience of 7500 people yet. Perhaps one day soon.

Having said that, here is my final thought for you. The only ideas that matter are the ones you execute.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I love the discussion...

It looks like this little blog of mine is gaining in popularity. Though comments may often be scarce, I am seeing signs that quite a few folks come across these words.

So often I have written here without the slightest murmur. It's as if I am talking into a CB radio, sitting back and praying for someone, anyone to answer back. I guess it shows that if you can hold steady with an idea, somehow hold onto one's belief system, that maybe with enough effort you can make an impact. Just maybe you can be heard.

I am grateful to not be alone. There is a certain sense of comfort to know that these words are not wasted. At the same time, as I write these words, I have to block out the fact that you will actually read them. I am really just trying to dive deep into my mind, or maybe my soul, and find a way to have these thoughts pour out in an honest and truthful way. A way that I can learn and benefit from. And in the back of my mind, ideally for you to benefit.

I know I am not always clear in my thinking, in my ideas, and in this blog. With all this in mind, I first want to touch on my last blog entitled 'With Rejection Comes Fuel.'

It is certainly true that this latest rejection (referenced in the previous blog) stung. I just want to point out that by no means am I putting all my eggs in the festival basket. My stance is that the
festivals are nice and they can be a tremendous asset to filmmakers. They can help us with credibility and raising our reputations. Though, through my own due diligence and conversations with one filmmaker after another, I have learned just how political the festival landscape is right now. I am not going to wait around for anyone's approval. I came to that conclusion many months ago. Me and my crew are going to organize our own screenings. (If you want to help coordinate a screening with me, please do not hesitate to contact me) I am not going to chase the festival circuit. If anything, I am going to make them chase me. It is my responsibility to build the audience for my films. If there are festivals out there who want to ally with us, then we will kindly promote them with all of our might. We may see that happen a few times in the upcoming months. If it doesn't happen, it will not break us.

Here was the response from Double Edge Films to my last blog which I agree with one hundred percent.

We could go on for days and days about festivals but you have to remember that the quality of your film is not measured by the number of festivals you get into. This is a huge area where filmmakers fall down and feel bad about their projects - don't give into it. You are exactly right in that likely a good deal of films don't even get watched and it's often a "I know someone" game.

We're in a new time where you can pretty much bypass the festival circuit all together if you're willing to put in the hard work to get your own theatrical screenings. If there are some festivals out there that want to show your film, then of course you send it in because the end goal is having the film get watched. Just keep in mind that it is possible to bypass all of the "gatekeepers" in this business and go direct to the audience. Emerging film clubs like the Annapolis Pretentious Film Society and others are also coming onto the scene. My point is - there are so many other options out there these days so don't spend two minutes feeling bad about festivals!

It was then great to see CFalls piggyback those words

Getting into the festivals and getting a distributor is not our goal, it's getting people to watch the movie via theatre, DVD or download.Also, It's not so good to be a festival-type film. Look at any Sundance schedule and tell me how many movies you've heard of. There are two main benefits to festivals--getting audience feedback (and it's really tough to get honest feedback vs polite comments), and having a fun ego boost. Both are nice but don't serve the ultimate goal.Didn't get into bigger ones? Fine. Screen at smaller ones, get your quotable comments, awards if you're lucky, then move on and get to your audience.

Producer Paul J. Alessi with Karen and I outside the Film Courage Studio

And I love this comment from David (@indiemoviemaker) from my recent Film Courage Radio Show interview with Producer Paul J. Alessi on the subject of 'Deliverables'


Love the show but the deliverables spot frustrated me. I have 2 features to my credit now. Sure, "Deliverbales" are so important if you are selling to a distributor. The route I took with my first film required all that and it was in the budget, but 99% of filmmakers get shafted by distributors these days, so the new diy approach is the no brainer route now.

Sure, you still need to make sure you have contracts, clearances, watch what you are doing when you are making the film, but in most cases now you are not delivering to a distributor in the diy route. No, sorry, you should not being going that route as its not smart unless you have the next "blair witch"

My point. I got put off so many times with my second film because partner says we cant go ahead without film unless we get another 100k for all this other stuff. So I lost three years of my life trying to raise more money.
I done my own thing, shot the movie with nothing, I am doing diy, and the movie is heading for profit direct to an audience without any distributors.
And most important of all, I am getting noticed by the industry for the next projects. Point is, "Action" is the most important thing in this business, and anything that stops that is a negative force.

The worst that can happen is your left with a movie you cant sell, but you can show to the industry what you can do, as long as you make it cheap enough without investors.

There is enough reasons in this biz for people not to "move". This interview could stop others that are new to the biz from moving.

I get his point, if you are doing a film for distributors, but at the start, it should be just get the movie made with diy in mind

@indiemoviemaker (on Twitter)

I wholeheartedly agree with what David is saying here. I believe all independent filmmakers should begin with the strategy of self-distribution. Though I must say that I believe it is crucial for filmmakers to make themselves fully aware of 'Deliverables.' It's something so many of us are in the dark about and it was something Karen and I wanted to shed light on.

Once again, I hope you benefit from these words. And just as importantly, I want you to know that I benefit greatly when you participate in this dialogue. I love the discussion.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

With Rejection Comes Fuel

I probably shouldn't write this latest blog. I have been advised against writing about any more film festival rejections. And you know what? In this instance, I do not care. This blog is an opportunity for me to get my feelings out and at the same time provide you a glimpse into my world.

This latest rejection stings a little too much for me not to write about it. And if you are reading this and you begin to believe that my film must not be any good, then so be it.

This latest rejection causes my thoughts to race in various directions. My first thoughts are to question my talents and my film. Maybe it just isn't that good. That is despite it's sold-out world premiere and enthusiastic audience. Maybe those around me prefer to lie to me rather than tell me the truth?

I could be delusional.

My thoughts then drift to whether my film is a film festival film? This I am not so sure of. Whether it is or it isn't, I believe it is worthy. I expect acceptances, not rejections.

Then I begin to remind myself of why I am not actively pursuing the festival route. Getting into a few more festivals would be a wonderful bonus, but it is not a top priority for me. Though I suspect that NBTW will play its share of festivals before it is all said and done.

I would like to be higher on the festival circuit, but as I talk with more and more filmmakers I learn that it is not a battle I really am going to invest in. So far, the festivals have shown that they do not need me. So I must show that I can move forward without them. Eventually our worlds may merge or I may just discover a brighter path on my own.

I am not bitter about this. I have just come to learn about the realities of film festivals. There are certain facts that we filmmakers must face when it comes to festivals. One is that your film may never even get put in a DVD player. This is a more common occurrence than you may think. Another fact is that those connected to festivals are the ones being accepted. I can tell you almost every filmmaker I speak to about their festival premiere tells me that they knew the festival organizers. By the way, I am no exception, it is true in my case as well. The bottom line is the percentage of 'cold' feature submissions that get into festivals, especially the larger ones, is extremely tiny and in many cases, 5 percent or less. If you disagree with me, I would love to hear your argument.

Other thoughts that go through my mind have to do with marketing and promotion. Anytime a festival rejects me, I think about all the promotion I would have done to push the screening and the festival. I view it as a loss for the festival. Though, as I mentioned, these festivals are doing fine without me.

Believe it or not, buried underneath this rejection is great news. The wonderful news actually came before the rejection. For those of you who follow NBTW on Facebook, you are already aware that very soon we will be announcing details of our first screening outside of Los Angeles. The film will screen in Ohio in October. I send a big thank you to Angie Palmer of Skye Public Relations for arranging this upcoming screening.

Also I am gearing up for my second feature film entitled Goodbye Promise. So I will not be pushing one film, I will be pushing two. My hope is that the two films will feed off of one another and together they will help me expand my fan base.

Lastly I just want to give a quick shout out to Filmmaker Jamin Winans who I had the great privilege to hook up with on his visit to Los Angeles this past Friday night. He was in town, in celebration of his film INK receiving a theatrical run in LA courtesy of the Sunset Laemmle 5. Congrats Jamin and Kiowa and your whole team behind INK. You have certainly earned it.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Fans Taking INK to the Next Level

There is an extraordinary thing happening in the world of independent film right now. A new model for independent film distribution is emerging. Of course this has been evolving for some time now. Yet there is one story that hits very close to home for me.

As I am trying to figure out what to do with my first feature, Night Before the Wedding. I have had my eyes on the developments of Jamin Winans, Kiowa Winans, and the cast/crew of the indie phenomenon INK. I believe this passionate and courageous filmmaking couple and their team is at the forefront of where indie film is going.

I have gotten to know Jamin and Kiowa fairly well, as they have gotten to know Karen and I. This synergy has carried over to the casts of our respective films. INK cast members had a strong presence at our NBTW World Premiere last month. That love has been reciprocated by my NBTW cast members, many of whom have seen INK twice.

It's hard for me to understand why in the collaborative world of filmmaking that so many involved in independent film are so selfish. Most are out for themselves. You see few examples of independent artists championing and curating the works of others in the same shoes. The reality is that making it in indie filmmaking is so difficult, so strenuous, and so back-breaking. You would think that we independent filmmakers would know better when it came to marketing and promotion. You would think that we would know that we cannot make it alone.

That is something I have come to realize and that is why you have witnessed me reach out and connect with filmmakers like Jamin and Kiowa. Like Gary King, Paul J. Alessi, A.J. Rickert-Epstein, Jeff Grace, Steve Nguyen, Laura Russo, Rich Mbariket and a slew of others. Learning from them has been invaluable to me as I attempt to seek out the best path for my film career.

Having said that, if you are a filmmaker, I encourage you to not only promote your work, but promote the work of other independent filmmakers who's work you love and admire. Make connections with other filmmakers. On a very small scale, I have seen the results of my efforts in promoting INK. Some people have even gotten confused and thought the film was mine. (Jamin and Kiowa would probably argue with you that I am being too modest with the impact I have had. : )

What is that you say? You have no time? Well, if you have time to promote your own work, you can easily take a few moments and promote the work of another. Retweet a message on Twitter. Post a trailer on your Facebook page. Email a link to some friends. Encourage others to see the film in the theater or on dvd.

And if you are afraid that you will just be wasting your time. Please know that I have experienced an amazing return on 'investment' from my effort in promoting the work of others. I am often amazed by the generosity, as well as the lengths other filmmakers have put in for me during these early stages of promoting NBTW.

It is so easy for me to get a little off-track. This blog began because I wanted to highlight the current path of INK. It is one that I encourage you to learn more about and study. Fortunately, Jamin just wrote an amazing blog where he recaps his distribution strategies and why he has made some of the choices he has made. I believe this is a must-read, especially if you are a frequent reader of this blog. So, without further delay...

PS - Their blog is one of the best ones out there. Subscribe today.
PPS - And even bigger news, INK earns a theatrical run in Los Angeles beginning Friday September 11th. Jamin will be on hand for a Q&A that same night at the 10:15pm showing. I cannot recommend the film any higher. I truly hope you have the opportunity to see it in a movie theater.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Birthday Blog

I am celebrating my birthday today. Honestly, for many years I have not been into my birthday. I tend to keep it low key. I am content keeping it small. I guess you can say I am in a better place right now, so I am being a little more open with it this year. My friend Paul J. Alessi wanted to reward me for helping him out with his recent Los Angeles so he set up an encore screening of Night Before the Wedding which sold out it's World Premiere at HollyShorts on August 11th.

The screening that Paul set up for me just happens to fall on my birthday. So it makes tonight's bonus screening that much more special. Everything before and after our NBTW World Premiere has been a big blur. There is a lot I am involved with right now so it is difficult for me to keep up.

Cast and Crew from Night Before the Wedding

Let me start with the World Premiere which I have not been able to write about. We were thrilled to have such a successful event. Tickets sold out the day of the screening. It ended up being standing room only in the back of the theater. It was an extraordinary night. The turn-out and support that we got was such a thrill for me, the cast, and the crew. We were each touched by those who joined us on that night. It is a great start for us and our small film.

The crowd was into the film itself as well. There was a lot of laughter and at the very end, the audience really seemed to connect with the messages of the film. There is this one part of the film that I always believed would go over well in front of a larger audience. My intuition proved to be true as many in the theater will literally broke into applause as that scene came to a close. That provided me with a memory that I will long remember. Something that occurred to me a couple of days after the screening was that I have never had so many people come out and see my work. Although I often wonder if anything I do ever has an impact, this was some form of proof that interest in my work is growing. I am certainly thankful for that.

Living out here in Los Angeles can be difficult. There are so many distractions and the grind and cost of living here do in a lot of people. In that vein, the birth of my second feature is now in the works. In the last few weeks, not only have I been preparing for the NBTW World Premiere, I have also been in Pre-Production on Goodbye Promise which is going to be an experimental, exploratory, improvisational film that I am working on with Actor/Producer Gregor Collins. It's the story of a man who hasn't been able to fulfill his dream and is less than 7 days away from calling it quits.

The inspiration behind 'Goodbye Promise' is that I don't know what is going to happen with Nigth Before the Wedding or with anything I am doing. I certainly have my self-doubts that I battle on a daily basis. I want to explore some of these thoughts and inner conversations I have with myself. The constant struggle of what the heck am I doing here.

We have just finished with casting which has it's share of awe, fun and awkwardness. I am feeling good about the casting decisions we have made and I am looking forward to keeping the creative energy flowing. Another aspect of 'Goodbye Promise' that I haven't touched on is that part of the idea is to have a scaled down production. There will be no crew and no lighting. Just me, my actors and a camera. It is going to be a challenge for me, one that I am certainly nervous about. There is potential for this project to be something that really strikes a chord with it's audience and at the same time it can be a total disaster. There is no script. Like I said, this is not going to be easy. No matter how it turns out, it is going to be a valuable learning experience for me and one that I will grow from.

The rest of the year is going to be busy. Most of which I am going to spend editing. Karen and I are having a great time doing our 'Film Courage' radio show on LA Talk Radio where we interview other filmmakers. It has been such an education for me. Every week I am able to pick the brains of those making a career for themselves in film. If you are a filmmaker or someone involved in film, I certainly encourage you to listen.

To make things even crazier, Karen and I are also planning to Create and Executive Produce a reality-based Web Series that should be fun.

I am doing my best to stay as active as I can and to keep putting things out there. In recent weeks, Karen and I have been covered by 'Behind the 4th Wall,' have been interviewed by 'Steve Nguyen Flip HD,' interviewed by 'BiPolar Nation' and featured inside of Studio City Lifestyle Magazine.

This is the first time I have kept so many things going that it is hard for me to keep up with promotion. I just feel that urgency and a sense that it is do or die time for me. I hope with this kind of action that things will begin paying off.

With that, I am off to celebrate at least for one night. Be back with you soon.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Night Before...Night Before the Wedding

This blog wouldn't be much of a blog if I didn't write my thoughts on the eve of the World Premiere of my debut feature film. And with that, I begin writing this at 12:27am. Let me calculate that for us. If I am not mistaken, I am now 19 hours away from standing in front of what I hope will be a sold-out crowd at the Sunset Laemmle 5. It is certainly a scary proposition, though an exciting one to be sure.

I was on the phone today with several of my actors. Half-jokingly Frantz Durand told me he was going to throw up. Michael Shaun Sandy, who is one of the biggest and most intimidating actors you will find, confided to me that he is nervous, yet thrilled. Karen and I interviewed Actors Johnny Giordano and Chad Davis on our radio show yesterday where they were both candid about their acting journey's. Both admitted how hard it is for them to watch themselves on-screen. This is a common sentiment amongst all the actors I know. They have a very hard time watching themselves on screen.

With that in mind, I am a little uncomfortable finally releasing Night Before the Wedding to the public. It is unlike anything I have done. Those who know me closely will very likely be shocked by the film's content which could easily be summed up as a cross between me and Howard Stern. As I wrote the script and as I went through the process of making this film, I have often found it hard to believe that I was the one responsible for bringing this thing to life.

Overall I am feeling pretty good. This is an exciting time for me and I am doing my best to cherish it. Believe me, I went through years of feeling I didn't have what it takes to make a feature film. Years of struggle and self-doubt. Not that the struggle or doubt has gone away. It hasn't, yet these days I keep myself busier than ever before. Also I have really focused in on the things that I need to do. My mind is constantly gravitating towards the bigger picture and what I have to do to get there.

I really feel like this past year has been a do-or-die time period for me. Kind of a put-up or shut up situation. That has caused me to accelerate my efforts. It is part of the energy behind Karen and I beginning our Film Courage radio show on LA Talk Radio. It is also in that spirit that I have been in Pre-Production on my second feature film, Goodbye Promise, even before my first one has screened. I am actually jumping into the casting process shortly after the World Premiere of NBTW. I anticipate being able to begin filming in September. If everything stays on schedule, I very well may have what I call an Inspirational Trailer online in late September or early October. Will certainly keep you up to date on those developments.

Let's rewind back to me walking the Red Carpet at Opening Night of HollyShorts, which if you read my previous blog, you would know was my first time having such an experience. It certainly wasn't what I anticipated, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a blast. We started out in this massive line waiting to get on the carpet. I was joined by cast members Karen Worden, John Keating, Mopreme Shakur, Sarah Ronaghi, and Gregor Collins. All of us except Mopreme were making our first trip into this kind of spotlight. Finally we got near the carpet. We all watched Ben Lyons being interviewed by E!. Then next thing you know I turn to talk to someone, look back and Gregor was being interviewed by E! and moments later he is pulling Mopreme into the interview. After that we were all on the carpet, amidst the chaos, not knowing what was going to happen next. From what I had heard, we would walk across the carpet and the various media outlets would select us if they were interested in interviewing us.

On this night, the carpet was too crowded to simply walk through. We quickly observed that if we were going to be interviewed by any of the press on this night, we were going to have to initiate it. Thankfully Gregor, was up to the task. All in all, we ended up with 6 video interviews, from E! to Indie Express to Naturally Savvy TV. As we got into it, it wasn't surprising that we had to hustle on that Red Carpet. When isn't it a hustle? I do want to make special mention of Lara Berman from Indie Express. She had done her research and was already familiar with Night Before the Wedding, which was a joyous surprise for all of us. She conducted a great interview as well. Check it out below.

Hollyshorts 2009 Red Carpet Part 2 from Indie Express on Vimeo.

That brings us back to this morning where I planned on spending a majority of my day hunting for a Blu-ray export for tomorrow's screening. Previously, I spent about a week investigating an HD Cam export. Trying to work out deals and barter arrangements but no one would bite. The standard HD Cam was out of our price range. All the post-houses I contacted were stubborn and wouldn't budge on their prices. Then, I found out on Friday that Blu-ray was another option and would be in our price range.

Then a miracle happened, as Gregor worked the phones, he contacted Dave Rosen of Absolute Post. Dave wasn't able to take us on under such short notice, but he referred us to Salem Rabadi of New Generation Media Services ( who was willing to work with us and our budget! Salem came to our rescue and provided us an HD Cam export a day before our World Premiere. Here I was getting nervous about being stuck screening on DVD because we weren't able to make any magic happen. In addition, DVD's are more prone to have problems. Salem was super cool and our savior. I plan to thank him and Dave tomorrow night in addition to this space. So now we will screen on glorious HD Cam.

I have never seen my work screen at a legitimate movie theater. I am certainly going to grow as a Filmmaker tomorrow night watching my work on the big screen, especially the fact that it will be on HD Cam. Thank you again Salem.

As this blog comes to a close, there is one last thing on my mind. And that is of the outpouring of love happening. I feel the love as I ready for bed for the night. Outside my circle I am not sure how much awareness there is of the Night Before the Wedding screenings tomorrow. I can say that within my circle the support has been phenomenal. Whether it's friends from the east coast calling me to tell me they wish they were here, letting me know they are here in those locally who have already bought their tickets and cannot wait to come out and see the film. Let me shout out to David Mullin, Neil D'Monte, Sal Vernali, Johanna Park, David Spaltro, Gary King, Jamin and Kiowa Winans, Scott Mossman, Robert Katrini, Steve Kreiztin, Bryan Carter, Benjamin Pratt, Angie Palmer, David Estes, Darrell Womack, Sam and Dina Hasson, Parrish Gocha, Matthew Prater, Chris Kelly, Eme Ikwuakor, Jessica Duffy, and Brian Durkin to name a few. We have sold more than half the tickets for the 7:30pm showing, and we have a ways to go on the 9:45pm showtime. My hope is that we will sell-out the 7:30pm which will then force late arrivals to buy the 9:45pm tickets so that we can have two strong showings. Please wish me luck.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

On the Eve of HollyShorts (What I Have in Common With Demi Moore, Eli Roth and Kirsten Dunst)

The Opening Night of HollyShorts 2009 is set to be another fantastic extravaganza. The film festival has grown tremendously in just 5 years. Festival organizers Theo Dumont, Daniel Sol, and Erica Sardarian work on the festival year round and it shows in its development.

Tomorrow is going to mark my first appearance on the Red Carpet. It is quite a surreal thing for me. Honestly, I could easily do without walking the Red Carpet. It doesn't matter to me the way it does to so many people who seek fame. What I seek is to be a working director. To earn my living through the films that I make.

The truth is that no one knows who I am. So as long as people do not know me and do not know my work, when a Red Carpet opportunity comes along I am going to seize it. I am going to embrace the experience, have fun and live it up. I want Night Before the Wedding to succeed and we will not have a better opportunity to promote than what we will face tomorrow night. All the major media outlets will be on hand. Though they are there to interview Demi Moore, Kirsten Dunst, Eli Roth, Jason Biggs, Jennifer Love Hewitt, not David Branin. Though that is nothing for me to be concerned with now. As I said, I am just going to go out and have some fun and soak it all in.

The hardest part so far was decided what to wear on such an occasion. Karen loves HollyShorts and she wants us to get really dressed up. In my mind, I am thinking it is going to be hot, so I wanted to dress a little more casual. Guess what happened? I bought a new suit today. If you can guess how much I spent on my suit today (if I didn't already tell you : ), I'll send you a Free DVD Copy of my short film Shoot-Out.

I am not sure what shirt I am going to wear with it, that's one of my main tasks for tomorrow. Guess you will know when photos begin popping up online.

I have been juggling various NBTW pitches and ideas in my head. I am trying to anticipate some questions that may be asked. Of course it could get really embarrassing if no one wants to interview us, so I do not want to get too far ahead of myself. Though I have to be prepared just in case.

I hope to have a whole new batch of red carpet photos and stories from the to share with you very soon. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Immersed in Fog

I was a wreck today. Maybe not a wreck, but it was certainly one of those days where I battle my own demons and insecurities. A day where I question myself. Where my inner voice screams out, "What the hell are you doing with your life?"

Things are not bad in my life. I am however feeling stressed. I am overwhelmed. So often there are a million things I want to get done on any particular day. And then I get stuck on one minor task or another. You can guess the rest.

Today is one of those days. I sit here at night and I feel unaccomplished. I would love to only report the exciting and glamorous things that are happening as I move forward. It is not my intention to bring you down. At the same time, I need this as an outlet, a release. Maybe you will find some kind of comfort to know of my struggle. So I write these thoughts. I am attempting to find truth in my journey. To get out of my head and just let words pour out from my soul. When we can do that is when the real magic happens. I am not sure if I have ever reached that pinnacle here in my blog, though it has happened in my scripts.

This reminds me of 'The Right to Write' by Julia Cameron. A book I read years ago, where she advocates 'Morning Pages.' Simply allowing yourself to write in a stream of consciousness without any censoring first thing in the morning.

With everything I work on, it feels like it takes a mountainous effort just to build a mole hill. Seriously, most days seem to have no effect on the bigger picture. Somehow, I have to block it out and keep finding a way to move forward. And when one way is closed off, to find another way. I choose to have hope and faith, even if it doesn't make any sense.

Our tickets to Night Before the Wedding went on sale two weeks ago. Now with two weeks until the World Premiere, we have sold 55 combined tickets for our two screenings. The theater holds 198, so in two screeings we have 396 total seats to fill. That means we have sold about 14% of what we need to. I am hoping we will see a significant rise in the next week. Tickets are only $10, there is no service charge if folks order online. Each screening will feature a Q&A with the cast and crew and be moderated by Mark Stolaroff, founder of No Budget Film School. Also, let me announce here that I am going to give away free dvd copies of my film 'Shoot-Out' to those who sign onto our mailing list. I know it is going to be a fun night.

I have been purposely avoiding watching NBTW so that I can watch it with fresh eyes and hopefully with a full audience on August 11th. It's an experience I will cherish. For years, I have been deep down in the struggle. Immersed in fog, I wasn't sure if I could ever finish a feature film. I would doubt myself daily. You can say I have had many days like the one I had today. Maybe, just maybe, it is almost time for the sun to break through...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Jubilation Vs. Anguish

I know things have been quiet here on the Blog front. It actually pains me that I have not been able to write here as often as I would like. I had jotted down a few ideas that I hoped would turn into blogs, yet those never manifested.

Here is an update on my first feature film, Night Before the Wedding.

It is set to World Premiere at the Sunset Laemmle 5 at 7:30pm and 9:45pm on Tuesday August 11th. Of course this is a day I am extremely excited about, and at the same time I am petrified.

My purpose in making Night Before the Wedding was not just to make my first feature film. I wanted to create an entertaining movie with it's share of surprises. A film if done right, would get people talking. The challenge was to do it with limited resources and one location. Another focus was to deliver a film that would feature some fun characters and top-notch acting. And at the end of the day, I wanted to display how much I have learned as a writer and as a director.

Making this film has been the most grueling and demanding project I have ever taken on. The challenges and hurdles never seem to end. It is the degree of difficulty that makes me appreciate and respect the task of completing a feature film. I am proud of what I have been able to create. Yet film is a collaboration. I am so grateful to the team I have in place. All of my producers, all of the crew, and my hard-working cast. And everyone who has helped over the past year, I thank you. Completing this film would have been impossible without your contributions.

Now just over the horizon in less than one month, an audience of more than 10 people will see the film (I hope). There is pressure to fill the theater. Will there be enough interest? Do people really want to see this film? Will they pay to see it? What if no one shows?

Our aim is to sell out both screenings. Can we make that happen? How do we get people to come out?

Beyond getting people to the see the film, the fear is how will the audience respond? Will they react favorably to the film? Will they tell their friends to see it? Are they going to bad mouth it? Who's going to Twitter and Facebook their friends about it? Will they say anything at all?

I try to block this stuff out of my mind and just stay focused. Deep down my belief is that most will enjoy the film. I know there will be detractors and those who trash the film. Being criticized is nothing new to me. I am ready for the criticism.

The priority is just to keep making people aware of August 11th and getting them to come out and see the film. What happens from there is what happens.

Though in the back of my mind, I must admit that I wonder if my life can change. Am I close to getting paid to make films rather than paying to make them? Will Night Before the Wedding put me on that path or will I be exposed as someone who doesn't have what it takes. That is where my true fear lies. That is why I hope we can get you and your friends to come out and see our film. That is why I hope it will resonate with you as a human being. Maybe I will be blessed with the opportunity to make more films and build a fan base of people who want to see them.

Thank you for accompanying me on this journey. I should have ticket information where you can buy your tickets in the next couple of days. I leave you with this World Premiere promo video that I shot with Actor/Producer Gregor Collins.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Night Before the Wedding to be 1st Full-Length Feature Premiered at HollyShorts



"The truth is that, ultra-indie or not, Branin's Night Before the Wedding is a complex and deep work that easily transcends any initial impressions its subject matter might give."
J.C. Macek III, World's Greatest Critic

"David's ability to direct a group in a totally real and naturalist way was daunting. It reminded me a great deal of Robert Altman."
Jamin Winans - Director, INK, 11:59, Spin

Hollywood, CA (July 8th, 2009)— After many months of great anticipation, the racy and funny film NIGHT BEFORE THE WEDDING will finally make its world premiere. The setting in which it is doing so has many talking, as NBTW becomes the first full-length feature to ever premiere at the prestigious HollyShorts Film Festival (HSFF), a festival that, as its name suggests, is traditionally where the biggest short films in the world premiere.

“Hollyshorts has chosen to screen Branin’s gem of an independent film as a way to begin the process of showcasing our alumni growth, as Branin is a past Hollyshorts award winner, along with showcasing our growth as a festival to look out for” stated Theo Dumont, co-founder of HSFF. NIGHT BEFORE THE WEDDING will screen on August 11 at Laemmle Sunset 5 as part of the week-long events of the festival “I have long believed that NBTW would play best in front of a ‘live’ audience. Now that idea will be put to the test. I am so honored and humbled to be presented with this opportunity by HollyShorts, Theo Dumont, and Daniel Sol. Tuesday August 11th is going to be a night that I am going to cherish.” says David Branin, the film’s director.

The buzz around the film revolves around the topic of the film itself. NIGHT BEFORE THE WEDDING portrays a realistic look into what occurs at a bachelor party and how the celebration of a man’s “last night of freedom” can ultimately become the demise of his beginning. Film reviews have commented how this film has been able to set aside the “indie” judgment and make its way to the viewer’s eyes as a movie of great thought, superb plotline and strong realism. It is with that realism in mind that Branin decided to cast La’rin Lane, a real life porn star, as herself. The cast also includes John Keating, Gregor Collins, Christopher Guckenberger, Mopreme Shakur, Sarah Ronaghi, Kevin Deen, Chad Davis, Johnny Giordani and Kristen Sullivan.

For more information on the film please visit

The 5th Annual HollyShorts Film Festival will be held Aug 6-13 in Hollywood, CA. For detailed schedule of events, tickets, location, or more information, please visit

Press Contact: 22 Entertainment
Isandra Gonzalez


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

To Blog Or Not To Blog?

I apologize to my faithful followers and readers. In these recent weeks it has been harder for me to keep up with the various forces I have in my life. I have jotted down a few ideas for Blog Posts that I have not been able to fully write yet, and then new things keep happening and I find myself falling further behind.

Night Before the Wedding is just about done. We put in the final sound mix a couple weeks ago. I am going to finalize the ending credits today (just have to verify and add some new names along with some logos.)

The most exciting news that has happened that I haven't been able to report is that the Official Website for Night Before the Wedding is now 'Live.' Please visit the site and 'click' around if you haven't already done so.

Night Before the Wedding Official Site

All the thanks in the world go to Web Designer and Online Consultant Wendy Shepherd of Wendy got the site done in 1 week while entertaining family visiting from out of town. She is tremendous and a pleasure to work with.

The other exciting news is that we have finally been able to release the Official Trailer for NBTW. Now you can finally have your first glimpse of what we have been working on all this time. For the trailer we must thank Filmmaker A.J. Rickert-Epstein.

Night Before the Wedding is set to World Premiere in a Double Feature presentation courtesy of the HollyShorts Film Festival on August 11th at the Sunset Laemmle 5 located in West Hollywood, CA. Showtimes 7pm and 9:30pm. Ticket information should be available soon. I will keep you posted.

Things have been exciting on the Film Courage Radio Show front. We have some great guests coming your way in Filmmaker Steve Nguyen, Actor/Producer Jeff Grace, Filmmaker Lynn Shelton, Actor Johnny 'Roastbeef' Williams, Filmmakers from 'The Cove', and Actor Clifton Collins, Jr. just to name a few. There is so much happening with the show that we have created a new blog just to that. It is more likely to be updated by my lovely co-host Karen Worden. Believe this is my first time promoting it. We are hoping to get it up to speed and bring you behind the scenes with everything happening related to the show.

Film Courage Radio Show Blog

Glad I was able to squeeze out this blog. There is a lot more I want to be able to share with you and will do so as soon as I can. I will leave you with one last bit of news that I am now in Pre-Production on a new Exploratory, Experimental, Improv Feature Film entitled Goodbye Promise that I am making with Actor/Producer Gregor Collins. For the latest info on this new project, please visit our Facebook Fan Page,

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

You Are Invited to a Special Screening of Jamin Winans' Latest Feature Film:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

7:30PM Showtime

Director, Crew and Cast Q&A to Follow

Egyptian Theatre

6712 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028


Jamin Winans’ INK is an intricately woven distorted time drama set among a "Snow White meets Nine Inch Nails" original score and highly unique visuals. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to see INK at American Cinematheque!

Winans’ urban fantasy film debuted at the 2009 Santa Barbara International Film Festival to rave reviews.

His short film, SPIN, has shown in over 80 film festivals and has won over 40 awards.

INK Trailer:

What others are saying:

"If you want to see something you've never seen before, INK is a must-see film." - Copernicus, Ain't it Cool News

"Epic in's a film that can stop your heart both with its story and with its look." - Cole Abaius, Film School Rejects

“Winans manages to morph the mundane and familiar into something utterly otherworldly, evoking the teeming atmosphere and dark imagination of everything from Terry Gilliam’s Brazil to Darren Aronofsky’s Pi.” – The Onion, Denver Decider

“Visually stunning…” – Santa Barbara Independent

Monday, May 11, 2009

Announcing the World Premiere of Night Before the Wedding

Night Before the Wedding is making it's way to the big screen on Tuesday, August 11th 2009 at the Laemmle Sunset 5 located on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. There will be two screenings, 7pm and 9:30pm. We must thank HollyShorts Festival Organizers Theo Dumont and Daniel Sol for sponsoring this special night.

Lock in the day now and we will let you know as soon as tickets become available. If you would like to be on the inside and get emailed ticket information before we release it publicly, please send us an email to with the Subject: August 11th Ticket Info.

Night Before the Wedding
is produced by Richard A. Jacob, Gregor Collins, Rose Coleman, Isandra Gonzalez, David Branin and Daniel Sol.

NBTW is written and directed by David Branin. It stars John Keating, Gregor Collins, Johnny Giordano, Sarah Ronaghi, La'Rin Lane, Kevin Deen, Chad Davis, Frantz Durand, James Anthony McQuillan, Zane Patterson, Kristen Sullivan, Christopher Guckenberger, Rhomeyn Johnson, Michael Shaun Sandy, Daniel Sol, Mopreme Shakur and Susan Boughton.

We just finished the Official Trailer this week. We hope to have that online very soon so you can see exactly what is coming your way.

For more on NBTW, please visit
You can also 'Become a Fan' on Facebook,

Sunday, May 10, 2009

How Do I Deal With Failure?

Before I get into the meat of this post, please allow me to thank my latest two 'Followers' Double Edge Films (Jamin and Kiowa Winans) and Coastal.

Failure fuels me. Rejection sharpens my focus. It would probably be wiser of me to not reveal what I am about to write...and yet I must. For this blog to work, I cannot only share the best of times, I must share all of my setbacks.

After I submitted to the Los Angeles Film Festival a few months ago, I continued my research and realized we were dead in the water. For a festival as big as the LA Film Festival, they hardly take any feature films like Night Before the Wedding. One with a modest budget and no big 'names' attached. But more importantly than all that is that we had no connetions, no direct ties to the gatekeepers at LAFF.

Bottom line was that unless we made connections quick, there was no way we were getting into that festival. We made the attempt, though not enough to make a dent, and of course we received our rejection notice.

But I had a backup plan. Submit to another festival that prides itself on discovering true indie gems. I am not in the mood to name this festival by name in this post. You can scroll down below to previous posts for those details.

Well certainly this indie festival would be one that we would get into. We even had two filmmakers contact the festival and put in a good word on our behalf. Another filmmaker who got his films into a handful of the Top Festivals bluntly said Night Before the Wedding was 'too good' for this indie festival.

As you have already suspected, we did not get into this indie festival either. That makes my film 0 for 3 on the festival path. What do you do when you strike out on Plans A, B, and C? Does it sting? Sure. Does it hurt? Yeah. Does it stop me? Absolutely not.

On one side, I wonder if my film is a 'festival film.' I wonder if it has too much profanity? There is a small part that wonders if my film is good enough.

Then there is the other side of me that probes deeper. Once again I ask myself, did they even watch the film? That doesn't last for too long, then my mind moves onto the politics.

And as I speak to more and more filmmakers, I cannot tell you how many times they tell me, the reason why I got into this festival or that festival is because I knew somebody. The part that pisses me off the most is the $30 to $100 entry fee to submit my film to these festivals. I can handle the rejections. I cannot handle blowing money in addition to essentially someone telling me that my film isn't good enough for their audience. That's money I would rather put into advertising.

For the time being, I am done with Festivals. I know I have a film that people want to see. The question is how many people? Well it is time to find out. In my next post, it is time to unveil the World Premiere of Night Before the Wedding.

We will do it on our own. We will show these Festivals who passed over our film exactly what we can do or maybe what we cannot do. I am tired of being passed over by these festivals. This is the film business and it is time for us to do some business. I do not want to wait around, playing the waiting game for these festivals.

My way to deal with failure? To not dwell on it. To keep my mind focused on what I can do. And to keep taking action.

It is my hope that you want to still see Night Before the Wedding despite these rejections. It is my hope to still have your faith and support.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

LA Film Festival Rejection (Night Before the Wedding)

I awoke this morning to find this message in my mailbox...

Dear Filmmaker:

Thank you for the opportunity to preview your film. We appreciated seeing your work, but I am sorry to tell you that it has not been selected for the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival.

Our selection process is very competitive, and many wonderful and deserving productions will not be included in this year's program. We wish you success with the film and hope you will keep us informed about your future projects.

Thanks again for your interest in the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Best regards,

Rachel Rosen
Director of Programming

I cannot say that I do not care. Yet I started to anticipate this news shortly after submitting. That feeling I had was the reason why in addition to the LA Film Festival, I submitted NBTW to Dances With Films, which doesn't have the prestige of the LA Film Festival but it prides itself on being an independent film festival for true independent films.

The way I take this current rejection is that me and my team simply could not connect ourselves with key decision makers at the LA Film Festival. And if you are not connected with these 'big name festivals', the likelihood of your film getting accepted drops considerably.

I have certainly learned from this rejection coupled with the rejection from the SXSW Film Festival. I am sure the day will come when one of my films gets into one of these 'big name festivals.' The bottom line is that these festivals do not break me. My end goal is to get the masses to see my film(s). Whether my films play at the festivals or not, isn't going to stop me from doing what I have to do to get people to see my work.

My view is that the current state of independent film has become too dependent on these film festivals. We have become too dependent on whether this small pool of festival judges approve our work. I am working on changing that. I am working on building my audience with or without the help of any festival I submit to.

With that, I should hear word from Dances With Films in the next couple of days. Other than that, I am done with the local Festivals. Any festivals after DWF will be outside of the Los Angeles area.

(Underneath this news, there is a silver lining. NBTW will be screening in Los Angeles in August. Going to wait on this festival news to clear, then update you with more details)