Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Blessed with Obsession

“I have been either blessed or cursed with the capacity to pursue a single goal for six years.” This line comes from an email that I received from Ryan Bennett as he wrote about his first feature film Ramblin’ Round that will begin shooting in Maine around the middle of July.

The line connected with me because the ability to pursue a single goal is something that we can all relate too. We constantly watch athletes pursue single goals and I think that we forget that writers, artists and filmmakers have to achieve the same type of focus in order to succeed.

I have spoken with Ryan on the phone and exchanged several emails with him. In our communication I’ve been struck by this twenty-four-year-old’s intellect, enthusiasm and drive.

From his high school education at Maine Central Institute where he was a three sport athlete and captain of both the football and basketball teams for two years, to his film education at the Vancouver Film School and his work for Gosch Productions/Fun Little Movies in Burbank, California and Company 3 in New York, Ryan’s drive to produce his own film flourished.

In 2009 Ryan wrote, produced and directed the short film version of Ramblin’ Round that ultimately won the Maine Individual Artist Fellowship Award for the Performing Arts. Using that $13,000 grant as seed money, Ryan has been able to attract over $250k of in-kind support from Company 3, Sound One, Kodak and Deluxe.

Ramblin’ Round has also been selected to be part of Panavision’s New Filmmaker Program, which includes a camera package worth $240k.

He has formed American Whirlwind Pictures, LLC and with the support of the Finance Authority of Maine they are able to offer investors a 40% tax credit.

The combination of state grant, tax credit, investors and donations from family and friends increase the positive chances for Ramblin’ Round.

Ryan is bringing in actors and crew from relationships he has developed around the country and hiring local crew and local actors. There is an open casting call June 26th and 27th in Bangor. Follow the link for more information.

Success at anything in life is never guaranteed but just a like a great athlete, Ryan has followed a rigorous routine and surrounded himself with the best teammates to help assure the success of Ramblin’ Round and American Whirlwind Pictures, LLC.

Their success will also benefit the State of Maine and the visual media community.

I plan on following their process just like I follow the Red Sox. I’ll be cheering from the stands and trying not to drink too much beer.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Changing the Personality of the Film Office and Film Commission

In my last post I encouraged the Maine Film Commission and the Film Office to meet with the Maine visual media community through a Maine Film and Video Association meeting. This will take time to set up and individual schedules will prevent some film commission members from attending regardless of advance notice.

So how do we facilitate immediate communication that will lead to the visual media community understanding the goals and efforts of the film commission and the film office?

One simple step would be to list biographies of the film commissioners on the film office website along with their personal goals for the film office and the film commission.

For years I’ve implored the film office to do a consistent enewsletter to keep the film community involved and educated. I’ve seen a few but I haven’t received one for over a year and I can’t seem to find a place to sign up for one on the Film Office website.

Facebook and Twitter are used by virtually everyone in the visual media community. I did a search but I couldn’t find anything for the Maine film office or the Film Commission. Other film offices have had facebook pages for a long time. There is no cost and they allow for multiple lines of instantaneous communication that help to create a better sense of community.

A YouTube channel for the film office where local visual media professionals could help provide content would also develop sharing and camaraderie and promote the skills of Maine visual media producers.

Cleaning up the film office website database needs to be done. To my knowledge the professional database has not been updated since the $20,000 website went online back in 2006. If we are truly going to connect the visual media community, accurate contact information is imperative.

On the film office website information on festivals and competitions list three film festivals and no competitions. If you are tuned into the visual media community you know there are many more festivals and competitions in Maine and they all need support from the film office and film commission.

The Maine Film office is the only publicly funded visual media office in Maine. Here is their mission statement:
“The Maine Film Office is a division of the Maine Office of Tourism and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development. The film office helps bring film, television and other media projects to Maine; works to expand and improve Maine's in-state production industry; and helps all Maine made media productions succeed.”

The only way to make this statement a reality is to use the 21st century tools that are at their finger tips and change the personality of the film office and film commission.

My hope is that the five new members and the six existing members of the film commission will push to make these things happen to benefit of all Maine citizens.