Category Archives: filmmaking

How to be a real, not fake ally

Assalam alaikum!

Something I wrote on Twitter on Friday gained much more attention that I expected.

Here’s what I said:

  • I am considering quiting the film industry. I am tired. Racists have gotten me down. I was offered my first TV writing job earlier this year. Only to find out the show was built on the backs of Muslim women. (thread. Unfortunately).
  • I went to a support group for emerging female directors. Only to be interrupted by the white women in the group. I’ve had meetings with people in power. Who only have apologies and promises for the future. The future is now. The future is me.
  • I look at my projects and I feel optimistic. They’re beautiful. They deserve better.
  • I look at myself and see a tired woman with a broken heart. I look at the industry and see far too few allies and far too little chance for me to break through. No more of this. I’m done here.

As you can imagine, there was a lot of “Don’t quit!” “Try harder!” And a lot of “The world would be poorer without your voice.”

The world is poorer because it doesn’t give a crap about my voice. Not just mine, but a whole load of people, from what I can see.

I wrote a Twitter thread in response. But it didn’t thread up. What’s up with that, Twitter?

Anyway, as I expected, that thread got much less response than the first ‘woe is me’ thread. People love to see a Muslim woman cry but won’t do the work to make sure she doesn’t cry again.

So here’s my thread. Telling myself before anyone else what it means to be a true ally.

  1. The most wondrous thing people with privilege do is throw their hands and say ‘What can I do?’ I’ve heard that at least three times from people in power in the last few months. It literally makes me see stars.
  2. We should all check our privilege. I’ve got mine – I’m hetero, able-bodied, married, living in a Western country. I have almost no accent in English. I have a college education. None of these things have ANYTHING to do with my ability to do my job. But somehow people more readily believe I’m competent because of them. Still I am where I am today.  I’d have probably given up much sooner without these privileges.
  3. I’ve been creating for years. The moment I share my trauma, everyone loves it. Don’t just elevate our trauma; elevate our joy too. 
  4. Patterns are hard to break. If our brains are neuroplastic, surely our industries can change too. It’s a man-made system and made for men too; it’s up to you to unmake it. 
  5. Racism is a white person’s mess. Not my job to clean it up. But because my brother charged me to leave the world better than I found it, here I am.
  6. Give people credits. No credits = this never happened. Credits = a resume. Credits +money = a professional career. Aim to give us professional careers.
  7. Upskill. Creativity is a toolbox. Share your tools. You’ll likely find underrepresented people have been doing unofficial and unaccredited learning from books, YouTube videos and seminars for years. This doesn’t mean that learning isn’t valuable.
  8. Look at your life and your career. Find the gaps. Find the spaces.
  9. Listen to us. We’re angry and we’re sad. Don’t be defensive. There is no longer any defense or any excuse. All of this information is on the Internet for free. All it takes is a Google, but here I am, like a helpful Sri Lankan housekeeper, cleaning up your mess. Again.
  12. Work ‘with’ us. Not ‘over’ us.
  13. Your Mileage May Vary. 
  14. Please donate to this family. We all need each other in this brutal world:!/  
  15. Please watch my film. If it gets to a 1000 views, I might be able to get an associate membership from the Australian Director’s Guild! 

Anyway I’m taking an extended break and trying different things. And trying not to cry too much.

But I know nothing is forever and things change.

Don’t binge-watch.


I know, dude, this is a really strange thing for a filmmaker to say, eh?
Look, cinema is a DARK DARK art okay? You can get people used to all kinds of dehumanizing nonsense by showing them IMAGES of it first.
No one knows this better than Muslim hijab-wearing women.
And I’ve been studying and working with cinema now a good ten years. Yeah I’m old. Never you mind how old I am! Just kidding, I’m 34 this year. Growing old is a privilege.
The standard method of creating, at least the way I’ve been taught, is to have a theme.
What is a theme, you ask, assuming you are one of the many lambs my kind lead to slaughter.
It is the ‘meaning’ of the film/show. The question we try to explore. Its essence. Its beating heart.
The more robust the heart, the better the show/film. The more the theme permeates every aspect of the film/show’s existence, the more enjoyable it is to watch. You feel like you’re in good hands. You relax. You enjoy the ride. You binge-watch.
You turn off your thinking brain.
Don’t do that, my love. You’ll drive into a ditch.
Because films and TV always have to leave out SOMETHING. That something is usually something really important.
This is because neither form can tolerate that level of complexity (at least not yet). The real world has multiple layers to it. The world in entertainment can only have a few, otherwise it would cease to be entertaining and just life. And nobody wants to watch life.
The most important questions is…what is the creator of this piece of art leaving out?
Take for example the show Dark.
It is essentially about the inevitability of destiny. This is not destiny delivered from God. It is genetic destiny. Sons are doomed to walk in their fathers’ footsteps. We cannot escape our family’s trauma. We cannot outrun grief. We simply cannot let the people we love go. Even if we escape to another time period. Even if we escape to another dimension.
There is no God in Dark, only time. Which no one worshiped, but everyone tried to control.
There is also no therapy in the world of Dark. Which, given some effort, could have solved all of its problems. But then what do I know?
You see? In order for the TV show to work, you have to leave out something. The creators of this show chose to leave out joy, hope, trust, the acceptance stage of the grieving process, etc.
If I hadn’t stop to think, I wouldn’t have recognized that.
So now what do I do?
I make du’a before I read or watch something, even if it is only a tiny Youtube video or article. (Or at least I intend to. There’s so much content everywhere, that mindfulness will take some practice).
I ask Allah (God) to show me what the creators have left out. I remind myself that all power belongs to Him and we will all return to Him. I confirm that He is the only One who can change my condition. This is a affirmation of my values.
I also try not to watch things for too long. I make notes every so often on what I like and what I hate.
Dark is a beautiful TV show. It was densely and thickly plotted. I loved that time was a tight knot and I loved following along as each strand unravelled.
But as I’ve said above – no God, no joy, no love that doesn’t immediately destroy itself. What a well, DARK, way to live.
Anyway, this is what I do or try to. Be interesting to hear what you think.

The lazy person’s guide to learning film-making

I know, dude, the pull is strong. To run away from it all and enter a secret garden with a whole lot of other crazies like us and make movies. Wild films. Subversive films. Offensive films dripping with sweat, crap and blood. REAL films with real talk.

And spend our time speaking with and looking into the faces of people who GET IT. My God, that would be a relief.


Let me tell you what stopped me.

The money.

That’s pretty much it. It costs almost as much to learn film-making as it did to go to medical school. Guess which one my parents would rather I went to. 15 years later, it was a priceless decision.

Right now, you’re thinking, ‘Everything good costs money. I’d sacrifice an arm and a leg for my dream.

You’re right; everything good DOES cost money. I just don’t think film school is worth it. Here’s why.

  1. You know this but I will say this again. I have clinical depression. In my early twenties, I also had anxiety. For me, that showed up as perfectionism, an all-or nothing mentality. If I had studied film, I would have told myself that I HAVE to get a job in the film industry. There being none in Dubai, I would have ended up in LA. Or Vancouver. Or some place with a hub. I would have done one of those assistant jobs that would have eaten me alive. I would have been suicidal. Again. Not fun.
  2. If I had ended up in Dubai in another industry, again, that would have been uber-depressing.
  3. What I ended up learning in uni was film theory. This. Was. Gold. Why? Because I never  thought for one moment that films didn’t have cultural or political impact. Out and about on social media, I often hear, “Why can’t films just be entertainment? Why does everything have to be political?” As a film theorist, we had moved well beyond that tired debate. Every piece of art had meaning. There was no question. It was our quite enjoyable work to figure out what that meaning was. As a filmmaker, I am never going to simply make a film and assume it ‘means’ nothing. I already know it carries weight in the universe, so I choose my work carefully.
  4. This leads to my next point – meaning matters to me. Meaning = story and theme. Story and theme are CHEAP. If I had gone to film school, I could have fallen in love with form over content. And form i.e. production value is EXPENSIVE. VERY EXPENSIVE.
  5. And lastly but to me the most important point – film schools tend to be very white. If I had come of age as a filmmaker in a white racist institution, I would have internalized that racism. As it is now – I’m learning film by making films. I make the films I want to make. I write with confidence, knowing from experience (not a diploma) that I’ll figure out a way to make it. I’m more generous because I feel less insecure. I’ve realized my own power. As I said, not going to film school may well have been priceless. All of this doesn’t change the fact that it may take decades and a few box-office smashes before the film-making industry looks and me and thinks, ‘That’s a filmmaker’ as opposed to ‘That’s a deluded creative.’ But I don’t agree with that notion myself.
What have I lost by not going to film school? Two things….
  1. Quick and focused knowledge
  2. Contacts

I can get both of those with time and patience.

Film-making can be quite cheap if I use my tools wisely. And storytelling is free. I’m not slowed down by my lack of a formal education and the contacts it might have yielded. In fact, I’m like a kid in a candy store.

I’m always looking for more and better resources for learning how to make films. I’m going to start a page on here with my favorite resources.

Please share any that have been particularly helpful to you.

How to make your dream film a reality without selling your kidney or giving someone a blow job

Assalam alaikum!

So you wrote a script. I already know it’s amazing. It came straight from your soul. It feels like lightning on the page. I do not doubt that it is.


This is the part that will hurt, so let me hold your hand – be prepared to make it yourself.

In fact, the more fiery and human it is, the more likely it is that you will need to be this baby’s midwife.

I know you already know that. That’s why you set it in one location.

But I also know that in your gut, you’re hoping someone is going to love it enough to make it their own. You’re setting the bar low enough so that your script has a wider pool of suitors.

It’s alright. You can say it.

No one is going to marry your script.

I mean, I can’t say for sure. But I can make an educated guess. You know how I know that? Because you don’t have any produced credits. Even if they are crap, they are worth their weight in gold.

But you can’t get produced credits without someone loving your writing. And then deciding to produce it. Then taking it through development and pre-production. Then production. And the last and most important hurdle – post-production.

That’s a lot of love. Who’s going to love that script that much except you?

(To be fair, there are a few people. But the person who has to start the love train rolling is you.)

I gave up on being only a screenwriter. I now call myself a filmmaker because I will do whatever it takes to get a film I’m passionate about made.

Why did I give up on writing, something I’ve done since I was six years old?

  1. I was spending too much money for not enough results.

I spent about 200 to 500 dollars a year on competitions, courses and writing-related stuff. The more desperate I got, the higher that number went.

I spent much more than that on films. The budget for my first short was 2350. The second was around the same.

However, the first led to the second being commissioned by Blacktown Arts. I got a grant of $2000. So that covered most of the budget. It is also a proof of concept for the project, I’ve been gnawing on for close to a decade now, Whose Wife Is It Anyway.

Do you know what it’s like to see characters that have been in your head for eight years come to life? To borrow Mastercard’s tagline – it’s priceless.

Just Food played at the Lonely Seal International Film, Screenplay and Music Festival. And it’s a semi-finalist at the Made in the West Film Festival this year.

Now those are results.

  1. I got precisely nowhere.

Well, not nowhere. But all of the movement that happened in my career happened at the same time. In the summer of 2014 just before Isa was born.

I got into the second round of the Sundance Screenwriting Labs. Plus, Geoff LaTulippe selected me to be one of his #sixweekspec ten.

And since that time….a good three years later, the needle has not even moved a single jot. No, not even quivered.

Now you might be thinking that perhaps my screenplays weren’t that good. I would have liked to have known that. Anyone who wants to master a craft needs feedback to do so. None of the contests I entered gave me feedback. Only one of the courses did.

Now you might also be thinking, that since I only write Muslim female protagonists, that the industry is racist, sexist and Islamophobic. I will not disabuse you of that notion.

  1. I got very poor feedback.

I am actually pretty grateful for this.

A few times, the feedback I received was demeaning, even pejorative. Some people were definitely on a power/privilege trip.

Other times, the feedback was tough, no doubt, but still loving and kind and encouraging. People said to me, “Yes, there is a problem. But you definitely can fix it. Here’s a few ideas, take ’em or leave ’em.”

Those few disappointing conversations taught me what good feedback looks like – lovingly honest, not brutally honest. We want to elevate both writer and script, not crush both.

  1. Writing was tough on my mental health.

I often had severe bouts of depression. Usually preceded by the constant rejection. It was less the rejection and more the feeling that I had no way to measure my success that got me down.

  1. Even if I were to become a professional screenwriter, it appears I’d still be doing oodles of free work for little or no actionable feedback. It’s just that unlike now, I’ll be getting a paycheck once in a while.
  1. The change I want to see starts with me.

With all of the above in mind, the question became like a clanging fire alarm in my brain. Why am I doing this? Why am I writing films? Because I love films. And there aren’t many with people that looked the people I love i.e. my family. Ordinary everyday confused complicated wonderful weird Muslims.

I waited and waited and watched and wrote. But it became apparent that, unless I made them, my children will grow up in a world much like the one I did.

The TV and the news will demonize us. We will seclude ourselves in cultural enclaves and nurse an ever-growing list of resentments. We will live and die not knowing what it is to be heard or to be seen.

 That might sound rather dramatic but it feels like this has been going on for generations.

If pop culture is our collective unconscious, why aren’t the 1.8 billion Muslims of the world featured in it? Except in terrorist or victim garb? Growing up, when I didn’t see myself or anyone like me onscreen, I didn’t feel like my contribution to society would be valued. Which means I was either depressed or mad. Never healthy places to be.

I have a few friends who are doing very well as screenwriters, so I’m not saying at all that my way is the highway.

However even they wouldn’t disagree with some of the liabilities I’ve mentioned above. What do you think? Is it worth it?

Look, I’m not going to lie. Film-making is a tough gig. But dude. There are many many many upsides to it too. Plus, my roundabout jack-of-all-trades history is actually an asset in film-making. More on that in another post.

P.S. Are you Muslim? Would you like to see a Muslim not be a terrorist or a battered woman onscreen? If so, please fill out this teeny tiny itsy bitsy survey. It’ll only take 4 minutes but give me heaps of valuable information.



To my artist friends: 8 reasons not to pay for that next course.

I’ve wasted a lot of money on gurus, books and courses. I was panning for gold, looking for someone to tell me the secret password to entering Hollywood.

Here’s the things I wish I’d done instead.

  1. I could have made a film instead.

You can make an amazing 7-minute film with $1500.

PARTNERS from Joey Ally on Vimeo.

  1. Recognize that the best work for me was descriptive, not prescriptive.

They didn’t tell me ‘do this or die!’. They gave me a zillion examples of films I love doing this thing that causes this quality I love. It was more analytical than prescriptive.

And the best works came up with theories about why these works were so great. From these theories sprang a set of tools that would get me closer to creating a piece of transcendent art. That’s all most advice is – a set of tools that may or may not work.

  1. I could have made a film instead.
I could have made a killer 4-minute film for $700.

  1. Each screenwriting guru has a set of tools that might be useful for one set of issues but not others.
The Coffee Break Screenwriter became vital after I became a mom. Tim Ferguson’s The Cheeky Monkey has been my go-to comedy resource lately. I’m trying to figure out what I find funny, why I find it funny and how I can replicate that quality in every thing I do.
    1. I could have made a film instead.
I could have made a knock-your-socks-off 2-minute short for $400.

This is a whole series of-2-minute shorts.)

  1. Listen to interviews instead of buying their courses

Interviews take a lot of prep to do. And the best interviews are the meatiest interviews.

But also interviews are a great way to figure out if you’re on the same wavelength as someone. Because some people’s tools will work for you and some will not.

  1. I could have made a film instead.
I could have $0 dollars on a 1-minute short and still been better off than I was, looking for geese that lay golden eggs.

    1. Read their books instead of buying their course.

Books are denser in knowledge and cheaper. And I like reading. You can borrow a book from a friend or your local library. If you like it, you can buy it#bringbackreading.

What I’m saying is: I should have been more like my mother. I should have been stingier.  My mother would have tried every which way to get stuff for free till she couldn’t anymore. Then she would have paid the smallest amount of money she could.  Because I should be using that money to make films.

Create. Don’t just gestate.

(I’m not saying the above films cost that much money. I’m saying that it’s very very VERY possible to make a film of that quality with that much money with the right script.)
What’s your take on gurus? Are they full of BS, just another way to screw hopefuls out of money? Or are they a necessary and fruitful part of the industry?


What I wish I could have said to my parents about filmmaking

Assalam alaikum dear parents,

I know you were terrified.
If it makes you feel any better, I was too. I had the nervous runs every day.
I mean, there I was, the daughter of Sri Lankans. From Sri Lanka! A tear-drop in the Indian Ocean! Most people don’t even know where the heck we are!
And here I was, telling you I want to make movies for the rest of my life.
Why shouldn’t you be scared? And angry at me for making such mad decisions?
You’d leave home at 7 am and get home past 11 pm every night. Just to send me to uni. And I was going into an industry where living wages aren’t guaranteed, even for mid-career professionals.
You’d raised me to walk with my head held high. And I was going into an industry known for its abuse of women.
Worse still – I wear a hijab. I may as well have been wearing a target.
I’ve been writing screenplays now for about 9 years. I’ve been a filmmaker for two. I’d like to tell you something – you were right. You were right about every. Single. Thing.<
You were right to be mad at me.
You were right to be scared.
All of your reasons weren’t judgments; they are facts. This industry doesn’t pay. And well, the #metoo and #timesup movement are testament to its treatment of women.
But please hear me when I say: If there was anything else I could have done, I would have done it. My other jobs gave me severe anxiety disorder.
I went to work every day with dread like a suffocating blanket. Every Sunday night, the chest pains would be so bad I couldn’t do much more than cower under my blanket.
Apart from the physical pain – those grandchildren you want? They weren’t going to happen. Not with my body like that.
But crap, who the hell do I think I am?
You ran from cages I cannot imagine so I didn’t have to live my life in them. I’m safe. I’m fed. I’m clothed. I’m sheltered. And now I want to make films.
Who does that? People who are free.
Safe minds dream. From those dreams spring art.
Why do you think there are so many white people in the creative industries?
Doesn’t that make you mad? It makes me furious.
But I want you to know how blessed my life is now. I still have anxiety but it’s much reduced. My chest feels expansive, not contracted. Yes, my work is hard. It’s thankless. It doesn’t pay very well. Or at all. There are times where I have felt such deep shame at my perceived inadequacies that I haven’t known what to do with myself.
But I know deep down that this is where I’m supposed to be. This is what God put me on Earth to do. Otherwise, He wouldn’t have given me joy. He wouldn’t have given me freedom. He wouldn’t have given me a head bursting with stories and ideas.
I love you. I always have. And I always will.

There are 1.8 billion of us. And none of us have any good TV. (Until now)

My dearest friend, assalam alaikum!

I should put my glasses on for this, right? Hold onto yours if you’re wearing them.

What?! You’re looking at your phone in bed?! Go to sleep, child. I’ll be here in the morning.

Fine. I’ll just tell you.

An idea has been knocking around in my head for quite a while. It’s wild. Well, no, not really. But it seems hard. Especially with what I’ve learned.

“What have you learned?” I hear you ask from beneath your covers.

I’ve learned that we Muslims don’t trust each other.

I sent a survey out a few weeks ago to three of my favorite Muslim WhatsApp groups. I loved them and they love me. I assumed.

I asked them very simple – absurdly simple! – questions about their viewing habits. I want to know what makes Muslims tick when it comes to visual content. These 60 or more people whom I already had a relationship with might be the easiest and most willing mine, right?


Maybe this means I need to work on my friendships. Fair assumption.

Maybe this means Muslims in general do not trust the mainstream media. This would explain why I got crickets when I asked the local Muslim community for help on my latest film. (To be clear – I wasn’t asking for money. I was asking for locations and discounted catering, if they were up to it. No one was up to it.)

This suspicion is understandable. I mean people like me made Homeland.
Fox News.
Donald Trump. (Yeah it was us.)

But it’s also distressing. And I’ve been wondering how to bring down those walls. What are your thoughts on why we trust each other so little?

Here’s what I think: we need to build a worldwide Muslim filmmaker network. Dare I say it – a MAFIA. Movies and TV could be a powerful dam to stem the tide of Islamophobia.

When you actually engage with a story, you’re inviting strangers into your house. You’re giving them a cuppa. You’re asking them where they’ve been. If we get more people to do that with Muslim stories, we may lose a few enemies and gain a few more vocal allies.

I mean take the LGBTQIA2s+ community for example. The fact that I even know that acronym means that, at least among the ‘liberal progressive’ media, people are sympathetic to the queer cause. I ask people for their pronouns before speaking with them or about them. Through shows like Queer Eye and Soldier’s Girl (Lee Pace is insane in this one), I was given a peek into the life of a transgender person.

Do people have that level of knowledge about Muslims? There are 1.8 billion of us!
Do people know what halal meat really is?
Do people know why or how we pray? (Watching Homeland, the answer is definitely no.)
Do people know why women wear the hijab and what’s the appropriate etiquette when meeting one in the wild?

Movies and TV could change that. But we need to band together to do that. We need to start trusting each other.

These are all ideas that Lena Khan, a fellow hijabi and filmmaker, has floated in her talks.

  1. Muslim organizations and businesses need to support local Muslim filmmakers. That means money. If not money, free in-kind services. If not that, free locations and free consultations on their areas of expertise
  2. We need to have grants for Muslims films, TV and web-series. See above: money. Film-making is an expensive business. A few less Audis, a few more films.
  3. We need to support each other with time, resources and expertise. And money.
  4. We need to recognize the value of using visual art to change things.
  5. We need to NOT sell out. We need to be as loud and as proud and as MUSLIM as we can.

What do you think? How can we create a thriving global Muslim film scene?

Okay. You can go to sleep now. With that bee in your noggin.

P.S. When you wake up, watch these shows.

Yes, my friends made them/are in them, but I have no affiliation with the projects. So many hijabis. Wallahi, it warms my heart.

5 Steps To Finding A Producer

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem

I have cried. I have bled. I’m sweated. I’ve fought. This script has cost me money, time and a whole heckuva lot of peace of mind.

But I’m finally going to do it. I’m going to make a feature. Specifically my ode-to-my-mother romantic comedy Whose Wife Is It Anyway.

For the few – or many – of you, who have never heard  me talk about it, this is the logline:

When her terminally ill mother asks her to get married before she dies, a Muslim female comedienne dives into arranged marriage again, but with a new twist – she tests her suitors with improv games.
Whose Wife Is It Anyway is like Bridesmaids but they’re trying to plan love badly as opposed to trying to plan a wedding badly.

What I need most right now is a producer. 

Where does one find these miraculous creatures?

This very long 27-minute article has a few tips. And I’ve decided to summarize it for you.

Finding a producer is like falling in love. (Oh. I thought it was going to be hard.)

When I am an established director with my own production house…pfft, I can produce anything I want in-house. Though I might go after certain producers to fulfill certain ends like funding or getting access to stars.

What is a producer’s role?

Producers will have to know the film’s value in the market. Based on budget, they can attract foreign and domestic buyers. Script, director and cast all have to be calibrated towards that goal.

However first time filmmakers’ films are rarely presellable. They are what is called ‘execution dependent’.

Producers have to think from the outset how to distribute if a traditional distribution deal does not happen. 

So what exactly does a producer do?

  1. Helps ‘make’ the film.
  2. Finds financing.
  3. Rides point on distribution.
  4. Also controls marketing.

These roles can be divided or shared based on each individual’s strengths.

I should think about what kinds of skills I need for my specific project.

I do need to find that creative soulmate though. This is a peer who’ll be with me in the trenches. 

Executive producers are good in the outset for money and for those extra credits.

To find a producer, take these steps.=

Step 1: Understand your project’s 

  1. Tone
  2. Genre
  3. Audience.

AND why? Why this genre? Why this tone? Why this audience?

Step 2: Look for comparisons.

What films influenced me to make this film? Reach out to those filmmakers.

  1. Who’s making the kind of film I want to make, especially in terms of size and scope?
  2. Which people are working in the region I want to work in?
  3. Which producer would be familiar with my mode of production?
  4. Who has experience attracting cast and crew?

It’s a good idea to follow these people on Twitter.

Watch their movies.
Read their press.

Consider the motivations of each producer.

We can discern tastes from Twitter, track record, etc. But also from the producer themselves or their assistants.

What we are looking for is not content similar to our film, but thematic and emotional similarities. 

Good resources: 

  1. Hollywood creative directory
  2. IMDB
  3. Industry mentors.
  4. Agents who are interested in my short films might facilitate meetings.

Step 3: Make a presentation package.

This includes a:

  1. Script
  2. Look-book
  3. Mood reel
  4. Director’s vision statement

I should know reference points in film, literature and theatre as well.

Personal connections to that person are always the best. This helps cut through the pile. Because birds of a feather flock together. 

Timing is key to meeting with producers. Festivals and markets are good – we’re taking a zillion meetings anyway. However, just going to film festivals to support other filmmakers is great too.

Other ways to meet:

  1. Producer speed dating.
  2. IFP Project Forum
  3. Sundance Film Lab.
  4. Film Independent Lab
  5. Filmmaker magazine.
  6. Tribeca All Access
  7. “Script development markets — i.e., CineMart, Sundance, IFP, Tribeca, Film Independent, Berlinale Talent Campus

Step 4: Submit: Follow submission protocols on their website.
If there aren’t any, email or LinkedIn.

Step 4: Send a reminder after a week. 

How to conduct electronic communication: 
Write a three or four-sentence email with logline. The email should describe what films they have produced that inspired me. What is it about their approach that beckons me?

If requested, send a 1-page treatment and look-book. 

Don’t act helpless.
Don’t act gimmicky.

After I find my producer:

  1. Rewrite script.
  2. Plan different budgets at different tiers.

Producer can get me into the room – but I’m the one who is going to have to inspire. 

What is a film collective? Directors and producers banding together against the system.

What if I just want to make a film with my friends?
This is a viable option. But that may or may not look good enough to move the needle.

Another possibility: Work with someone who has never produced but a) is passionate about the project and b) is super organized.

We can also work with a producer after the film is made to get good marketing and distribution plans in place.

If anyone has anything to add to this discussion, as you might have guessed, I’m listening VERY closely.


3 tools for the socially anxious filmmaker

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem

Have you ever been on a really terrifying roller-coaster? You know the kind that made you really regret letting your husband talk you into this? The kind that has you screaming and praying even before it started?

BUT… when it ended, you were actually sad to get off?

That’s what making my second film was like.

But leading up to it was a fantastic work-out of the ole emotional management system. Particularly of my anxiety disorder.

One never knows what’s going to happen on a film set. That’s why we’re always encouraged to back everything up and have back-ups of your back-ups. So my personal Balrog just luuuurrrvvved that.

Here’s a couple of things that worked for me this time around.

I avoided my tripwires, not my triggers.

My triggers are basically decisions, screens and other people. And I’m a filmmaker!

Can’t avoid those. And don’t want to avoid those.

What I looked for instead were my tripwires. How did I know I needed a break?

Usually if I found myself glued to my screen. Making excuses to not get up and get lunch or get some exercise.

If I found myself snapping at my husband and my son, that was a major trip-wire.

But the biggest one, I think, was starting to lose sleep. I knew I needed a day off when that happened. It was hard but it was necessary.

This process has actually really helped. I know that I can work hard when I need to. And I know that I can stop myself from going overboard.

I also tried to space out my triggers. 

My son’s schedule helped me stay away from screens a lot of the time – one of the many times that #momlife has been a blessing. I would try not to schedule too many meetings or decisions in the same day. No one is dying so usually nothing was that urgent.

And last but definitely not least, I tried to up self-care, not reduce it. (Spoiler alert: I failed) 

I’ll be the first to admit I’m the worst exerciser and still am. My meals got weird very quickly very soon too in the thick of pre-production. I’m talking doughnuts and camomile tea weird. But it didn’t help. So I’m telling you – it’s not going to help. It made me a whiny baby by evening. And I already have one of those.

Hope this helps. There’s more coming, once I wrap my head around life and film and post-production.

Being a filmmaker is a lot like being pregnant.

Take care of yourself, beautiful people.

Why Pride and Prejudice (2005) is absolutely perfect

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem
Because this movie rocked my socks off as always, even on the millionth viewing, I want to break down why it works. It is one of the few “I hate you, but by the end of the movie, I love you” movies that work.

I’m going to use notes on rom-com structure from this fine tome. 

Set up – what are each of the protagonists missing?

What he is missing is more readily apparent. He is obviously miserable. Perhaps lonely. A number of walls between his true self and his outward appearance. He doesn’t converse well with strangers, by his own admission later in the film.

What she is missing is more problematic to think about. She seems happy. But she isn’t like her sisters. She doesn’t like performing for strangers. She is constantly demeaned by her mother and others for being headstrong, bookish and plain (plain in Hollywood is Keira Knightley). Perhaps what she unconsciously looking for is a place where she can be herself and be loved anyway. But for that, she’ll need to give up her peace and quiet and that of her family’s as well. Something she, like her father, values far too greatly.

Cute meet

For him, it is practically love at first sight. It is obvious. Even to her. But he insults her instead. Like a damn fool.

Negging doesn’t really work in the real world, bruv. Just so you know. (I think he knows.)

What I love about this scene is that it’s apparent how vulnerable the falling in love has made him feel. How the walls almost immediately start to crumble. And he immediately armors up by insulting her.

She of course never lets him off the hook for his behavior. Not for the entire film.  Which is great fun to watch.

This is her usual teasing behavior but this time, it causes much more trouble than it usually does.

Sexy complication

This is either Jane getting sick.

Or Elizabeth finding herself attracted to Wickham, who is Darcy’s sworn enemy.

Jane getting sick leads to a very sexy hand-holding moment.

I always find it unbearably charming that he stands every time she enters the room. And doesn’t join Bingley’s sister in finding fault with her ‘wild’ appearance (that’s my girl). And did you see the way he starts when the footman says her name? Gah. It’s the little things, dudes. The little things.

And you see in this moment? Ms. Bingley is making pretty obvious plays for him, but he chooses with his eyes.

The city girl/country girl dichotomy is apparent here. Though is it the virgin/whore dichotomy? That’s less apparent.

Wickham is definitely a complication. Though not particularly sexy. Like most of us, she’s looking for love in all the wrong places.

Hook (midpoint) – stakes-raising bonding moment. 

Oh but this is the clever bit.

Darcy proposes; she rebuffs him in no uncertain terms. And accuses him of ruining both her sister and Wickham’s life.

He writes a letter telling her the truth; about Wickham’s deceit of Georgiana Darcy, and his own mistaken view of Jane Bennet’s affections for Bingley.

Why does this bond them? It is after all a deeply painful moment.

Well a good argument is always rather sexy. Meanwhile an exchange of truths, even in very heated terms, is still a deeply intimate conversation, particularly for the walled-off Mr. Darcy. She tells him about her relationship with her sister; he tells her of his relationship with Bingley. And later his history with Wickham.

This shakes our Elizabeth to her core. What Darcy has said to her would shake her sisters to the core as well, but she prefers – not unlike her father – to keep the peace. A choice she will pay for later.

There are more small moments that show the gradual breaking down of Darcy’s defenses.

He admits her, in the most goshdarn endearing and adorable manner, that he is bad at talking to people.

He tries in an awkward but sweet way to have a conversation at dinner with Elizabeth. His aunt immediately cock-blocks him. He shows many signs of visible irritation as she lays into Lizzie. Something she could not have missed. Though Lizzie, always our girl, holds her own.

Swivel – Second Act turning point decision that lays tracks to climax. 

She and another aunt and uncle go to Derbyshire. Their carriage breaks down near Pemberley. Elizabeth’s aunt and uncle want to visit; Lizzie doesn’t want to, but decides to anyway. Against her better judgment.

In the course of visiting, she finds herself in the family’s private chambers where she spies Georgiana playing the piano. And Darcy come home to surprise his sister. They spot her; she’s embarrassed. He’s very gracious. But her heart has already been softened towards him.

Did the dirty great big house change her mind? The lake for miles? The tons of naked statues? More likely, the view of Darcy as a man begins to melt Lizzie. He is unfailingly generous, according to his housekeeper; plus, much like her, he dotes on his sister.

And here again is another one of my favorite scenes.

What I like best about this scene is the numerous times he says “I love you still” without really saying it.
Going after her in the first place instead of letting her go.
Asking if she had a pleasant trip.
Upset that she’d be leaving the next day.
Reassuring her that she hadn’t intruded.
“May I walk you to the village?”
Trying every which way to prolong the conversation.
Reaching the inn even before she gets there to invite her family to dinner, so that she might meet his sister. Lizzie is deeply troubled by this invitation.

Which leads to an exchange between the two, the only civil conversation they have the entire film. And also the only time Mr. Darcy smiles. My heart is mostly mush anyway, but this made it goo.

Dark moment

Lydia’s marriage to Wickham. Darcy tries to comfort Lizzie but is a man of action more than words. He leaves immediately without telling her what he intends to do.

Lizzie’s keeping of the peace has led to the precise opposite. Her family is almost ruined by scandal and her heart is broken by her own sister.

Joyful defeat 
When Lizzie finds out that her sister’s marriage is bankrolled by Darcy, well….not much left to say or do really. Other than propose.

There is a clash between two titans. The aunt and the prospective niece-in-law. Lizzie holds her ground and refuses to refuse to hook up with Darcy.

Note here – he didn’t stalk her. He didn’t try to convince her to marry him. He backed off UNTIL his aunt probably came home in a puff and said that that blasted Bennet girl must have the hots for him.

And then of course, is the best proposal ever.

The End.

Except in the US version, there’s this wonderful ending scene. Darcy is smiling. Elizabeth is teasing him but also at peace and in love. And you have that first kiss we’ve all been waiting for. Or is that just me?

I’d have to find the script to see if it was in the screenwriter who wrote in these gorgeous moments or in fact if it was fabulous acting and innate understanding of rhythm on the director’s part.

I must read the books again. And I must watch the mini-series. But I refuse to watch Lizzie kill zombies. I refuse.

Should I? I don’t know. I’m punch-drunk on Jane Austen.