Wednesday, 5 December 2012

L.A. Blog 3

(by Rishi Thaker)

Rather aptly, I feel like I am already a quarter of the way along to my journey to Mordor. Not that I am depressed and of heavy heart like young Frodo was all the way through the Lord of the Rings, more that I have been here 3 months, this is an epic adventure for me and the weight of success does hang around my neck just like that ring. However, being here is just what I wanted even though the obstacles to that success are huge.  I guess the fact that the Hobbit is out next week just got me excited!

'Devil's Grip'
It’s good to see that while I am here everyone back home is busy and getting on with things. Dan gave me the news of the positive reception ‘Devil’s Grip’ received at the festival last month. If you went along then I’m sure you’ve spread the word and if you didn’t, find someone who did and receive the spread!

This month has seen an intense part of my scheduling executed as the follow up to the American Film Market has been non-stop. Hollywood, Burbank, Sunset Blvd, Santa Monica (etc…) no longer represent these mythical places with more history than Middle Earth as they are now regular stops. It’s funny how you build up such places on a pedestal and when it becomes your home you realise that you have every right to etch yourself here along with the most well-known celebrities on the planet. After all it’s only a place inhabited by humans and I’m just another one (no better, no worse).

It’s difficult to report on the exact work I am undertaking as I am going through a period which will determine the shape of my entire visit. To that end the better the quality of my output over the next couple of months, the more likely that success is going to come. For me the AFM was a great opportunity but the most important part of that opportunity is now in the aftermath. I hope to be able to give you significant news in the coming months but at the moment there’s work to be done (from writing scripts to building business plans to developing production strategies) and I am glad to be a part of it. Fingers crossed that it all comes together.

The weather here is still great (sorry). I can’t believe it’s December and it’s hotter here than at home in August! However what’s funny is that when it does rain here (which it did for once last week) everyone goes crazy. They all panic and the freeways jam up. What normally takes me 30 mins to drive took 2 hours because of the widespread panic from the locals. And it was for what we’d consider light rain. Hilarious now but not when you are sitting on the road waiting for them to figure out that their cars won’t break because of the water!

Today I’m taking a break in the evening and going to see Bruce Springsteen in concert here in LA. Those of you who have read previous blogs will now be rolling their eyes at the prospect of reading yet another series of paragraphs of why he is the greatest and no one else (yeah even Muhammed Ali). But I’ll stop there so you can stop rolling your eyes.

Christmas is around the corner and I hope you all have a great time this year. It’ll be weird sun-bathing on Christmas Day - sorry, too much?  I’ll also be watching Django Unchained which is released then too! Here’s to a great 2013 (provided the world doesn’t end before like some of you keep telling me). Keep smiling.



Tuesday, 13 November 2012

L.A. Blog 2

(by Rishi Thaker)

Well well well, the second month out here comes to a close and what the hell have I been doing since the last blog? Behold:

I have continued ahead with finding a foreign sales rep to take on ‘Slaughter’. There are potential options to explore here but more work to be done here before anything is certain.

American Film Market I also attended the American Film Market last week. That was a great experience. It’s rather like the market section of Cannes where you have hundreds of film production/distribution companies all trying to do business and buy the best films out there.
'Slaughter Is the Best Medicine'
I was there to raise financing for the next project (as well as ‘Slaughter’ into the foreign markets) and settled on two projects in Stickmen Pictures armoury. I then pitched these left, right and centre over the four days I was present. I spoke to well over a hundred individuals so the seed is definitely out there. Met some really interesting like-minded people here (I’d encourage you all to attend similar events that may occur in London from time to time).

However as nowadays we are living in a Buyers’ Market, it is the distributors who have the upper hand. There are so many films out there, that a Buyer can stipulate a niche request and then watch multiple producers fall over each other in a bid to supply. It’s cut throat but that’s the way the film industry world works. However with what we achieved so far there is a good foundation to try and break in. All we need now is a bit of luck.

So plenty of follow-up sessions in the coming weeks. I’m on the front foot so I will try to keep pressing.
Stickmen Pictures
I also managed to get myself a little work experience as well over the last month. I worked for a producer to learn a little bit about how it gets done in Hollywood. It certainly was an eye-opener. It’s amazing what defines ‘professional’ in different industries. I had built a picture of this with my 10 years in the corporate sector, but the rules change on a daily basis in Hollywood. It’s been interesting to observe and I can see how things come together on a larger scale. Now that I have seen it first-hand, I believe securing our first piece of investment will really enable Stickmen Pictures to play amongst all this. There is nothing to fear. If we can find someone to share our vision of providing quality entertainment then off we go! We certainly have the talent (cast & crew) to mix it with these boys and girls over here! We obviously still have much to learn but we definitely know enough to grow to be an outstanding competitor.

Another thing that leads me to feel an air of confidence is the reading I have done out here. I have read many scripts (and will continue to do so) that are currently in development (they have been backed and are going to be made) and noticed how varied they are in terms of quality. I have read really great scripts (watch out for the Elijah Wood film that opens end of 2013/early 2014) and some really awful scripts (with actors such as Gerard Butler attached to them). We have scripts in our arsenal to compete with these.

So if we can marry our imagination with what the buyers want then we could have a way in. Keeping positive!

If all this hasn’t kept me busy enough then I have been writing a couple of new scripts in conjunction with others (different genres to what I’m used to) and continuing with networking events (will be in Hollywood tonight actually! Sounds great but I believe some of you would get a greater kick out of all this than I. I’m just playing a game better appreciated by others!).

Devil's Grip
Also, well done to Dan and his team for making a short film called ‘Devils Grip’ – a good little horror flick. There’s always merit in making ‘something’ happen and that’s exactly what they did in a short space of time. I’m pleased at the desire that still exists in Derby and it supports the excitement of what Stickmen Pictures is trying to achieve. Wish Dan plus cast and crew all the best with the festival in London (the film is going to be shown in a competition for those of you who don’t know. If you fancy going with Dan and cronies to have a good night out in London give him a shout. He’ll give you the details). If you can’t go please view the film and feedback.

Finally, as the temperature finally cools a little here (similar to UK August weather but without the rain – actually nothing like UK Aug weather but what I’m trying to say is that it’s still warm – just not as warm…) and I reflect on progress so far I just want to say thanks to everyone who is supporting me through all this (even those that don’t really understand it). The pressure to do something out here is phenomenal but always offset knowing that I’ve got all of you right behind me. Thank you.

Monday, 8 October 2012

L.A. Blog 1

(by Rishi Thaker)

Well I have been in the good old US and A (a la Borat) for 3 weeks now and I guess I’m due to give you guys an update. In a nutshell there have been meetings and sessions in Universal City, Studio City, Century City, Burbank and even Malibu.  I have met with industry professionals on ‘Slaughter is the Best Medicine’, financing for the next project and general networking.

Circus Road Films
Dan and I are glad to announce that Circus Road Films will be Stickmen Pictures' official Sales Agent representing ‘Slaughter’ for distribution in North America. This means that Circus Road will now take over duties to get ‘Slaughter’ out into distribution in North America. They have a great reputation for doing so with their portfolio and we believe that they are the right group of individuals to take our film forward. This has also opened up opportunities to find an international agent and we will continue to work in securing more deals for ‘Slaughter’.

October will see me preparing for the American Film Market (in early Nov), make some decisions about work experience offers I have, and continue to build my relationship with the money men of this world as we finalise what our next project will be. It’s still early days and there is a lot to learn in this place. LA is a fascinating place and if you want to find a way in film this has got to be the place to do it. However it can also be unforgiving so you’ve got to have your wits about you otherwise you’ll get steam rolled by the juggernaut of people trying to get ahead in this place. Amazing.

Outside of our film making aspirations I have managed to find a team to play ‘soccer’ (urgh!) for. The footballers here are very technical (most are South Americans) but not as physical as at home. I’ve somehow ended up being the most physical player on our side??? Those of you who have played with me will know how backward a statement that is.

The weather here is boiling. Has not dipped below 30 degrees celsius since I’ve been here.  Strangely it has motivated me to eat a lot of burgers (have had about 9 so far, that is almost 3 a week!). 

Finally, I’d like to wish my beautiful fiancĂ© a happy anniversary. It’s been 6 years ago today since we decided to get together and ‘see what happens init’. What did ‘happen’ was a roller coaster of half a dozen years that we seemed to have packed in a lifetimes worth of enjoyment. Being with Asch is like sprinting naked through London during rush hour. Pulsating, much to dodge, lots of sights to catch and everyone can see what’s going on even if they don’t totally understand it. What a great 6 years and can’t wait to see what the next 6 bring. Thanks for everything Amika, you are truly the best.