This past Saturday was the final festival screening for my first narrative feature film, Read Me, bringing to an end a very long journey.
It began in April of 2013 when I had just wrapped production on a feature film called, Fat, dumb and happy, directed by Banks Helfrich in which I was the assistant director. It was the second low-budget indie feature I had assistant directed for Banks in just two years, making me begin to wonder why I wasn’t directing my own feature by now. Before working with Banks, the thought of directing a “narrative” feature film just seemed out of reach and too expensive to even consider. However after working with Banks and the uber talented producer Aviva Christie, and being a part of a super streamlined production process, it suddenly seemed like something I could pull off.
I clearly remember sitting on my old beat up leather sofa in the living room with my laptop trying to think of what I could write a film about. The saying “write what you know” kept going through my head. But what did I know?
Having Dyslexia, and struggling all throughout school, I knew what it was like to have problems with reading and writing. Maybe I could write about a guy who can’t read. But is that interesting? I didn’t care, I started writing anyway. I sat on that old sofa and wrote the first scene of, Read Me, without stopping. Watching the completed film now, I realize that the first scene in the film remains pretty much exactly how I wrote it that first day.
• April 2013 – started writing
• May 2014 – got funded through Kickstarter
• October 2014 – went into production
• June 7th, 2015 – held our first cast and crew screening at the Enzian
• March 18th 2016 – premiered at the Queens World Film Festival in NYC
• October 22nd 2016 – had our final screening at the Orlando Film Festival
On November 15, 2016, I will release the film on DVD and through Amazon. That will essentially be the final step for me. Three and a half years ago I decided to write a film about a man who can’t read, and in a few weeks from now anyone with an internet connection will be able to watch it.
It’s hard for me to view the film now and see anything but the flaws and all the things I would do differently if I were to make it today. However I am incredibly proud of what we were able to pull off with only $15,000 and a seven and a half day shooting schedule.
One thing stood out to me as I watched the final screening this past weekend. In one of the film’s final scenes between Ben (Daniel Wachs) and Clark (Timothy Neil Williams), the two men are sitting on a sofa having a conversation. We shot that scene in my house and ironically Daniel Wachs is sitting in the exact position, on the same beat up old leather sofa that I sat on when I began writing the script.
I had that sofa for over 10 years, and held onto it probably longer than I should have simply because I thought it would
look good in the film. Needless to say, not long after we wrapped production we said goodbye to that poor old sofa for good.
It’s funny how when we have things for a long time we start to see nothing but the flaws, and it’s not until those things are no longer with us when we realize just how perfect they actually were.
Sure, my film is not perfect. Just like that old sofa, there are plenty of flaws. But who really wants perfection anyway? Maybe the things that we think aren’t perfect and on the surface may seem a little broken down are actually just nice and broken in. And maybe, every little piece is exactly where it is meant to be.