So Here's The Story...

I freakin' came to L.A. to make movies. And like just about everybody else comin' to town, I ended up doing just about every thing but that. Somehow I rolled my '67 VW into the low budget nirvana of 1983 Hollywood, a place absolutely overflowing with opportunity, and completely failed to get work in production…

Instead I kept scoring jobs in post production—I worked the night shift at a film lab under a maniac with a long fingernail who snorted brown heroin all night long. A real #welcometohollywood moment before the internet was a thing. Good times. Did a tour working for Roger Corman and watched my supervisor kill a fish to Get The Shot and wondered if the rats that chewed through my phone lines at night were really the disgusting Star Director looking for snacks during night shoots. Edited a bunch of shitty direct to video movies in the 90's, of which only half made the leap from VHS to DVD and even less than that to Blu-Ray. Actually, I did work on one good movie… and it was shelved and never released. Somewhere along the line I went from editing trailers to fill the gaps between features to just editing trailers. That was a good gig for awhile. Crazy money. Crazier hours. It took a toll. Next thing I'm noticing everyone around is miserable. I'm miserable.

Didn't I come here to make movies?

And one morning I'm surfing Reddit and come upon the /r/filmmakers forum. There were all these DIY threads—how to film on a DSLR camera, how to make your own stabilizer, how to make lights from tupperware and LED strips. And I start thinking, 'Hey, I could do this.' And that was that. It percolated for a long time as I clicked and clicked and did my research in slow circles to an inevitable decision.

I was going to make a movie.

So I got together with Pedro and pitched the idea and that was that. I started outlining and soon enough writing in fits and starts. I finally broke though and pounded out 45 pages during a stint at a trailer house that had me sitting doing nothing for a fucking month, 'just in case we need you.' Like I said, crazy money. But I brought in my MacBook and started writing. Every day. All day. And I got into it. And I dug it. And after about three months we had a big fat, 129 page rough draft that we revised and sent out to about seven friends to get feedback. They hated it. No, seriously. I mean, they fuckin' hated it. For a few of them that changed the way they acted toward me forever, because in their eyes I had failed and you stay the hell away from failure because that's what you do in Hollywood. So much so that many of these people won't even talk to me anymore. I know, right? But here's the thing:

They only people who liked it were the non-Hollywood people.

No kidding. And they'd get caught up giving me notes. They were engaged. I knew we had something. So, back to the grindstone. Another two drafts until we staged a table read. We put up a casting notice and ended up looking at, I don't know, easily 800 auditions and paid $25 each for a bunch of actors to come to the house and read the third draft (That's, like, Hollywood bullshit numbering. I think it was closer to our eleventh draft at that point.). Anyway, that was a wake up call. You really understand your script's weaknesses when you listen to actors running the pages. It's like a shovel to the face. The whole time I sat there thinking: This scene repeats what happened ten pages ago. How does that character know about that? We were moving along at a nice clip and then hit a wall at page eighty. Why is there so much fucking profanity? Who the fuck swears like that? Why is the female lead crying all the time? I'm a terrible writer, I hope the actors don't notice. Afterwards, I put my head down and tore into the next couple of drafts. That was tough going. Every little change became dominoes falling. It felt relentless and endless. But it became better and tighter and on point.

And then one day it was time to start. The next thing I knew we were looking into permits and insurance and buying lenses off eBay from Japan. We begged, borrowed, and bartered for locations. We got over 10,493 submissions from our casting call and I know Erika and I saw over over three thousand of those on our stuttering DSL which hiccuped every clip, turning hours into days. About a month later we booked a room in H'wood and had auditions (Cast In Hollywood. Nice guys. Check 'em out.). Some of the actors from the table read are in the movie. We hired crew off StaffMeUp and got ourselves the micro-budget version of Seal Team 6 1/2. Everyone did double and triple duty. And I did everything else. Practically. I probably did too much. It's a lot. I co-wrote, produced, directed, lit the film, operated the camera, ran to the store after wrap to get props, took the behind the scenes photos, assistant edited myself, and punched out sides and call sheets well into the wee hours. I got about four hours of sleep a night. It's the hardest thing I've ever done. Well, the second hardest. My kids are really giving me a run for my money lately. But four weeks later we wrapped.

We made a movie.

I know, it's crazy. For two years everyone around me has snickered that I'm having a mid-life crisis or something. It doesn't feel that way. I mean, I'm not getting hair plugs, buying a sports car, and macking on twenty year olds at Edendale Bar. I just decided one day that I didn't want to be disappointed anymore. It's a powerful feeling. To do something you want to do. When everyone around you seems stuck in the mud of modern life. And you now what? I did it. And I didn't do that badly, if I do say so myself. So, I can tick that box on my bucket list. If I can get through ordering at In-N-Out without repeating myself fifteen times and ride a genetically engineered dinosaur like a cowboy, my pail will be empty.

What about you?

© Michael Thibault 2015, All Rights Reserved. May Not Be Printed, Published, Posted, Transferred, Or Duplicated Without Permission.