London Town!


Just days before Blumenthal screens in Boston, I will be flying to London for the UK Jewish Film Festival. This festival is unique in that it screens not just in London, but throughout the country. In addition to its two main screenings in the capital, Blumenthal will screen in Leeds and Liverpool. I'll be attending one of the London screenings on November 6th at the Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley. On a personal note, I have a ton of family in this part of London, many of whom were early supporters of Blumenthal's Kickstarter campaign. I'm excited to be able to share the film with them on the big screen!

There will be a Q and A after the screening with me and the late Harold Blumenthal aka the live Brian Cox CBE. Fun fact: "CBE" means that Brian is a "Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire". After several years of Commanders complaining to the Queen that it took far too long to write their names, they came up with "CBE".

Click here for details:

I think the British take on the synopsis for the film is by far the best I've read. If you are in London or anywhere near London, come and see me and Brian Cox at the Phoenix on Wednesday, November 6th!

Getting the Movie to the Screen

Lately, I've received a number of requests for updates on the progress of Blumenthal. I must confess that I've abstained from blog posts for the past several weeks largely because I've assumed this period  to be a boring one for this site's audience. With all of the questions I've been fielding, I'm reminded that even the less "exciting"  parts of this process are of interest to other filmmakers and people who are simply interested in how independent movies are made.

The film is pretty much there. While a few sound and color tweaks remain to be done before our final layback, the movie is essentially finished. We finally have a polished product to start submitting to festivals and are pressing DVDs for that purpose. Once we have a premier date, we will finalize the mix and picture and output to HDCAM.

The festival strategy for Blumenthal is a simple and conservative one. We are aiming for upper-tier festivals whose programming tastes and industry marketplace might suit a film of this size and tone. The plan is to push Blumenthal into a premiere and distribution, but not spend too much time squeezing it into every regional festival that might screen it. Don't get me wrong, there are a wealth of benefits in garnering as many festival laurels as possible for a film. The trouble is that with few resources, that process can be extremely time-consuming and expensive. My producers and I feel strongly that as we go into the festival circuit, one of the best things we can do for Blumenthal is to keep making movies. Many of us are already onto other projects, some of which were made possible by our work on Blumenthal. That said, we still have a load of work and responsibility to see Blumenthal to its fullest potential.

Now is a relatively quiet time for the circuit, but fests will begin notifying by mid-summer and into the fall.  In addition to the submission process of sending off DVDs, my producers and I are pushing left and right to cultivate contacts in the indie-sphere to keep the film on people's radar and even establish personal contacts with as many programmers as possible.

There is little science to this part of the indie film business. There is a surplus of product out there and a tremendous amount of noise that we need to rise above if we want our movie to be seen. I do believe (I have to believe) that any good movie will find a way to be seen. It might not be at a multiplex near you, but at a minimum will be reviewed and consumable in other formats such as VOD and Netflix. As in any other industry, the formula for success is a fairly simple one: hard work, persistence, and luck.

I'm thrilled with the apparent anticipation of so many of you to see the movie. Friends, internet strangers, and programmers have been eager to screen Blumenthal and I suppose that bodes well. However, until we premiere the film, we are trying to keep the full-viewings to a minimum. In the interim, we are working on cutting a trailer together that we can share with the world to promote the film. I had taken a pass at editing a trailer several months back, but after a few days of work, I realized that was a terrible idea. Fresh eyes from a real trailer editor make all the difference in the world. Things are progressing well on that front, and I hope to have something up on the blog and site in the coming weeks.

In this relative quiet of creativity in the process, I've been immersing myself once again in screenwriting. I'm swimming in a few different projects at present with a TV pilot and two feature screenplays. My hope is that by the time Blumenthal reaches you all on-screen, we will be at work shooting the next film.

ADR in NYC from LA

Today was our first day of ADR for Blumenthal. For the uninitiated, ADR stands for "Automated Dialogue Replacement". Basically, if a scene has any audio issues that prevent the production sound mixer from capturing completely clean dialogue, then we go into the sound studio and the actor re-records their lines while watching the video of their original performance. ADR can also be used to tweak performance as well. In our case, the issues were solely technical as we did a great deal of filming on location in the streets of New York City (very loud). Most times, it's a simple line here or there that gets lost under a car honking its horn.

ADR is being done in New York while I am in Los Angeles. But, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I was able to participate in the process with my actors. With a direct dial-in and some video conferencing, I felt like I was in the room at Postworks with our super fantastic Sound Re-Recordist Josh Berger. We worked most of the day and got everything we came for.

All that's left is a little ADR for my character Ethan which I'll record on Friday when I'm in town. It was great fun working with the actors again. I'm so used to seeing many of them on-screen that it's weirdly exciting when the actual person walks into the room as says something other than what's in the movie. In terms of the lines themselves, we might have actually brought out some new stuff in the performances, too. Bonus!

Blumenthal Movie Still No. 1

Here is the first Blumenthal still we are releasing. This is the first of a series of stills that will be used for press purposes once we are ready to premiere the film. It will also likely be the lustre print that will go out to many of our Kickstarter supporters.

Saul Blumenthal sits in the theatre where his brother Harold died of laughter.

Meetings Abound

The screenplay for my movie, "Passing Harold Blumenthal", is finished. For the moment. After sending out drafts to various parties in pursuit of attaching producers and money to the project, I've begun meeting with any and everyone.

I am quickly learning that whether or not someone is interested in being a part of this project, it is always beneficial to meet in person and talk. If there is any shred relevance, I'll always push someone to meet and chat. Even if I know ahead of time that they are not interested in being a part of the project, there is always something to be gained. Often times, I leave the meeting having learned a great deal not only about the process of producing a film, but about my film in particular.

I have also developed a new policy of advice-seeking and fundraising: Never leave a meeting without a new lead. This is big. It is safe to assume that none of my initial contacts are going to be the answer to my prayers. Filmmaking just ain't that easy. However, I have to believe that at least one of them knows the person who would be the answer to my prayers. Or at the very least, knows the person who knows the person who would be. I am not a skilled fundraiser. But I know people who are. And that should be enough to get started.

The good news is that I have written a script that ensures I can make this movie on my own, if need be. I have developed enough contacts and earned enough favors that if months elapse and I have raised nothing, I can move into production myself with nothing but my camera, some friends, and my dog.