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Michel Massicotte

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Life or Something Like It
by Michel Massicotte   
Rated "PG13" by the Author.
Last edited: Saturday, August 30, 2008
Posted: Saturday, August 30, 2008

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What you can expect as an indie producer working in Ottawa, Canada

Life or Something Like it


Greetings from an out-of-pocket indie producer. You should find bits of the following experiences more funny than useful, but a voice is a voice. Working without grants presents challenges when you draw inspiration from George Lucas and James Cameron but create on a credit card budget (Sorry, the cliché seemed appropriate).


Creativity, networking, and a willingness to learn are key factors for an introverted  producer to succeed. Without the combination, ideas may as well be jotted and stored in a folder labelled as “Dust Magnet”. The 1st  16mm film is accomplished with help from the local film coop. Creativity fuels the story, and motivation drives you to the shooting script, but a burning passion encourages the use of the phone. You call underground newspapers for maximum exposure, and kiss the credit card. If auditioning children, prepare to talk to the mother after a brave child contacts you. Remember, you are working from 0 credibility. After several no-shows, your friend nudges, “hey! What about my niece!” Perfect fit.  Try scouting locations before casting, or be prepared to rewrite story to fit by-laws.  Permission is denied for closing suburban streets unless the community benefits or your name is George Lucas. Grants are nice if you qualify and if the judges believe you can tell a story within a minimum time frame. If not, expect to hear: “No grant. No story can be told in less than 2 minutes.”  But you get the last laugh when the film is screened at a gala and 2 festivals.


The 2nd movie is digital with help from film coop (again) and local video coop. With this medium you can dream bigger on the same credit card. Confidence builds with praise for the 16mm film. Use it for leverage in networking. The risks are bigger now, but that goes with the game. The shooting script is written, story set in the future, and casting complete.  Weeks pass, life happens, and important cast members quit a week before shooting begins. Thank God for family and business partners who accept to substitute. Forget applying for a grant. Too much work involved for the potential rejection. You learn to build a PC for editing, borrow related software and learn to use them. People in the FX industry will not work for free, and your project will be an octopus to handle. Eight months later the computer breaks down with too many intangibles to fix. You buy a Mac, software, and instructional videos (better day job than a few years before). You find big support through the Internet. Monster marketing idea besides the festival route: a web site. Family provides a “how to book”. You learn HTML code, buy a domain name, shop for cheapest host services, and make yourself official two months later. Networking to a local rock group provides the potential for an original song to end the movie. Life experiences and passion for the craft help cope with the shyness. You go to a function now and then, but they seem surreal. You listen in on conversations, but all sound like code or “insider information,” not applicable to you. Life becomes a blur for switching between the monotony of the day job and the craft. Sister takes a course in multi-media, talks to the teacher about her involvement with your movie. The teacher invites you to talk to the class about your experiences and progress. Months later, your site is listed with at least 3 major search engines and you upload clips on various social sites. You write more code for uploading storyboards and a slide show.  Requests pour in from small companies wanting to be linked to your site, and you receive word, through e-mail, from a guy in California disappointed at not seeing the trailer ready for your current project. You sigh, knowing hours and hours of work are ahead to complete it. Then a comforting voice from upstairs calls out “good night,” and wakes you from a trance. The same voice you put in your 8mm movie years ago. You stretch, return the wish, and then hunch again to the monitor, finger clicking the mouse, mind buzzing.

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Reviewed by Regis Auffray
I love movies. I do not know much about what goes on behind the scenes. I did play "Doc" and "Gladhands" in a local production of the musical, "Westside Story" last year. Your article is a lesson for me. Thank you. Love and peace,

Reviewed by Katie Gabrielle
Like your article, chock full of useful information and a bunch of attitude. hey the world is full of attitude. I admire that quality and I am sure it serves you well in life. Don't know much about film but I do watch alot of classic movies. Good writing and directing is the key. The whole film industry fascinates me. Please write more and Welcome to the den!!! Glad you are here!!
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