By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
The founding five, as such, are in the process of incorporating, and have instituted dues ($100 for the six-month program), as much to weed out the pikers as to cover operating costs. And they are trying to balance the possibility of applying for and administering nonprofit grants against the much larger ambition of seguing into features and beyond. A showcase of Group 101 films is currently available at http://ifilm.com, and the community is reaching out to a whole spectrum of like-minded organizations in the interest of forming strategic alliances: to the Writers Boot Camp, to Exploding Cinema, to improv groups and theater companies. This year, they sponsored a short screenplay competition on the theme of "The Nick of Time," in conjunction with Words From Here, a Web site established by former applicants to HBO's Project Greenlight. The contest generated more than 200 submissions, the best of which are posted in the members-only area of the Group 101 Web site to attract collaborators. The site also has T-shirts, ball caps and stenciled mugs for sale. And there is always the possibility of corporate sponsorship -- say, by a major credit-card company, which would be appropriate inasmuch as independent filmmaking continually threatens to collapse the private-banking system.
But aside from whatever future markets ambition and innovation may reveal, there is, for now, the confidence that comes from having accomplished something -- especially in an industry that intimidates almost as second nature.
"You know, I felt that I was a great filmmaker five years ago," says Jeff. "I made a $70,000 short film that stunk. I made a $50,000 short film on credit cards. It took me four years to pay it off, and by the time I did, it was $70,000. It's a beautiful film. It doesn't make a lick of sense. But for $70,000, I could have bought a house.
"We're all so precious with our goddamn work -- we're gonna make this epic film that's gonna change Hollywood and our lives -- and I thought, 'My God, I'm never going to make another film, because I blew everything on that one.' But then this group came along, and it said, 'Here's a camera, go make a film,' and that's liberated me. I still haven't made a film that's on Spielberg's radar or anything, but I feel I could do that if I were handed the right materials, because the intimidation is gone.
"I've also learned my life is better in a way, because I've learned to take pride in this thing we've created, in nurturing this huge collective, which I find immensely rewarding. And I feel like I'm getting closer to being the filmmaker I've always wanted to be. When I get there, I'll find out that it's nothing like I ever imagined it. That's what this teaches you: Every time you think you know it, there's something else."
Group 101 will screen a collection of short films on Thursday, August 15, 7 p.m., at Fais Do Do, 5257 W. Adams Blvd.
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