27 May 2010

The Risky Business of the Black Lotus

by guest columnist Angelo Bell.  Follow him on Twitter.

To paraphrase  Tom Cruise's infamous line from Risky Business...
There comes a time in every filmmaker's life when he's got to say, What the fuck!
In my mind that means, Go for it! -- whatever it may be. For me, it means stepping out of my comfort zone and tackling a project that I couldn't possibly complete on my own. It means cautiously, then aggressively testing the waters beyond do-it-yourself  filmmaking.

In this industry where you are no more successful than your last film and no more exciting than your next project, saying What the fuck! means finding that elusive balance between art and commerce.
Legend of Black Lotus is my next film project, both in short film form and in feature film form. The short film introduces us to a fairy tale, the legend of an African American child born to an empress in Ancient China under the prophetic legend of unifying a war-torn kingdom. The short film is a means to an end. It was conceived as an invitation for mainstream studios to join me in the $4 million production of an epic fantasy feature film. The feature film is my pie-in-the-sky project, it is my Driving Miss Daisy, to quote Gene Hackman's line from Get Shorty.

Getting these films made will be like winning the lottery because the odds are stacked against me, but the pay-off is ridiculously grand. However, the truth is, all of my completed films have been like winning the lottery. It is a miracle that any of my previous films were started, yet alone completed.  The miracles have come not so much by my own hand but by being in the right place at the right time. I've met the right people (actors, DP's etc) who embraced the dream and gave me confidence that we could pull off miracle. I've met other writers who saw something unique in my screenwriting voice and encouraged me to have faith. All the pieces of the puzzle fell together, miraculously, to effect the end result -- a finished film.

So why not extend my efforts towards a grander finish? The odds of an independent filmmaker breaking through with a low budget film are virtually the same as an independent filmmaker getting admitted to the exclusive Hollywood club or finding funding for a film. Often, it is not so much an exercise in humility as it is an exercise in patience.

My film, Broken Hearts Club, which was recut as a six-episode series, has been limping along since 2009. After being rejected by 20 film festivals the film went on to screen internationally in Italy, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Back in the U.S., the film screened in Beverly Hills and South Carolina.  Broken Hearts Club was later picked up by AMGTV, ZillionTV, and Simple ME TV. Yesterday I received news that, miraculously, the film was selected by NBC Universal, as part of a pilot program to test new series in one of the network's largest regions, New York City.

To put these events in proper perspective it's important to note that I shot Broken Hearts Club nearly three years ago, in December 2007. In mid-2010 the film is finally seeing some true daylight.
With Legend of Black Lotus I had to say, What the fuck! Why not push the envelope of what I can achieve? Why not go against the grain of diy filmmaking and diy distribution and shoot for the stars? Sure, it's risky business, but if it doesn't work out in the end I can always go back to what I've managed to miraculously achieve in the past. If it does work I'll have new benchmark to base my future miracles on.

I'm currently crowdfunding the short film Legend of Black Lotus on Indiegogo at http://www.indiegogo.com/blacklotus. All are welcome to be a part of this epic journey into miracles.

| MH |

Angelo Bell is an award-winning independent film producer, writer and director. He is currently in post-production with a neo-noir action thriller, Resurrection of Series Rogers, and developing an independent epic fantasy, Legend of Black Lotus. His romantic-comedy, Broken Hearts Club, has toured internationally and will soon air on the NBC Universal television network in NYC. 


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