What Candy Crush Has Taught Me About Filmmaking

Like the majority of people looking for an innocent little time-passer, I got sucked into Candy Crush. Not like some people got sucked up into it. I only played on my iPod, never asked for or bought more lives, or longer play. I appreciated the 5 lives limit. After that, it was time to get back to work.

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I had certain rules about Candy Crush. I wouldn’t let myself go on to the next “adventure” until I got 3 stars on all levels. Only then could I proceed. Then, a “tooth fairy” started gifting me levels. Bless her for that. Not one to pass an opportunity, I would go off on the new adventure, then go back and do my best to conquer those single- and double-star levels. But, another gift would soon appear. Thus, there are a few two-star levels still on my game.

You need distraction as a screenwriter/filmmaker. It greatly helps the creative process, and soothes the soul during the talent- and funds-seeking process. I often play while writing to clear my head between scene. I play when I want to numb myself after a bad day, and am too lazy to get up and make a cocktail. Sometimes, though, I play just to play it. Right now, I’m stuck on level 288. That one’s a brat. But, I won’t give up. I’m not going to cheat it. I don’t even bother to get frustrated by it. Because I’ve learned something from playing this silly-game-that-makes-you-angry-at-chocolate and, funnily enough, it directly applies to filmmaking:

You just gotta be patient and keep on playing.

The thing about Candy Crush is that skill and strategy only take you so far. They help but, at the end of the day, it’s just about the dumb luck that comes from staying in the game. That might be hard to admit, but it’s true.

There’s always that point in the game when you’re on an annoying level with one move left; it all seems impossible so you think, “What the hell?” and just make a random move…then BOOM! Shit goes berserk. Everything lights up and blows up and, the next thing you know: 3 stars and a high score.

Or, you just play without thinking too much about it, knowing it’s a challenging level (I hate the timed games; I tense when I know the clock is ticking), and do better than you ever would have imagined with barely any effort. I scored 3,669,720 on level 252. That was a true, “What the hell/How did that happen?” moment, and it gave me pause.

That’s filmmaking in a nutshell.

You might have talent, a fantastic project, you might be skilled beyond measure, have connections, a plan, a meticulously crafted strategy — but, at the end of the day, it comes down to that stroke of luck, that come out of nowhere and blows you away. And you can only have that luck if you stay in the game.

I’m staying in the game.

And, the truth is, you might only get lucky once. Filmmaking is a much harder game. Then you can do is start again and play the best game you can. You never know when that luck might strike again.

Going on the Back Burner

We’ve entered into the blackout days of BLACK COFFEE. Our esteemed director, Mark, goes under contract with the NFL, not to play in the games, but direct/produce the Thursday night games. So, we have to go on hold until after the Super Bowl. This makes raising funds a little tricky. You can take meetings, make contacts, build relationships, but no one’s really going to let you bank a couple mil for eight months. We can only hope that we can have something earmarked.

Casting also becomes a challenge. Not too many actors are going to hold time for a film that may or may not be ready to shoot come March. But, in that time between now and then, I will get a further education. A doctorate in patience and plotting. I do want to make one thing plain, though:

We are going to make this movie.

Yes, I have said that before. Pretty much on an annual basis. Filmmaking is an extremely slow process. Well, making the film only takes a matter of weeks. Raising funds, getting cast, putting all the pieces into place takes months and, more often than not, years. Black Swan took eight years. We are still only in year five.

The past eight months have served the lesson of waiting. Waiting for actors to respond, waiting for investors to respond. All of this slows the process, but without the actors or the investors, we can’t do much. This is simply the dance that is done. All you can do is keep making those polite calls, sending patient emails, try to make new contacts, forge new relationships, and learn new skills.

The process of making this film, raising funds for it, will continue. My goal is to be in formal pre-production on February 3rd. Until then, here’s a little teaser.

This

This is what producing a film looks like:

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There’s nothing worse than a phone that doesn’t ring, except when an “Unknown” or “Private” call comes through, only for it to be a friend that recently decided to hide his/her identity. (Oh, how I wish we could do Private Call Block on cell phones.) The quiet time that shrouds the entertainment industry from Thanksgiving to after the first of the year and/or Sundance is, well, special. You can almost hear a pin drop. Or perhaps it’s the sound of frustrated tears falling.

While we wait, we are doing what we can. Some of which we can’t because we are waiting for answers, call backs, etc. But, all we need is that one call or email to get everything moving as quickly as we’d like. And we believe that will be soon.