Project Involve (LA): New Wave Cinema Shorts

A crisis!

We were called for a meeting with Josh Welsh, the head of Talent Development at Film Independent.

In the meeting, Josh announced that our Sponsors, particularly Banana Republic, have changed their minds and they want us to shoot films in the spirit of “French New Wave” instead of “Film Noir”. Groans filled the room in protest.

Our sponsors want us to shoot in an urban setting and use a city as a character. In addition to $2000 per film, “Banana Republic” are offering us the wardrobe, and they expecting us to not to use any other brands.

NBC/Universal are contributing $1500 to each project and offering their stages to use for the shoots. Cannon provides the HD equipment and Vanity Fair will hold the final party, where the films will be screened in front of the industry and the winner will get $2500.

All sounds good, but how do we write a NEW WAVE Script?

For that, a young film maker, Barry Jenkins, whose New Wave film “Medicine for Melancholy” is currently nominated for Independent Spirit Award, was flown in from San Francisco to talk to us about French New Wave.

Barry is a fun guy. He made “Medicine for Melancholy” for $12,000. He shot it with a couple of friends in the streets of San Francisco.

He got into film business by accident. While wondering around in his college, he was intrigued by “The Film School” sign. He walked in and applied.

In his first year at Film School, he realized that he doesn’t know anything about film, so he took a break, got a job at the library and started watching films. He soon realized that most films were booked out, except old French movies, that he later learned were called “French New Wave”. Those movies inspired him to make films.

He said that New Wave Style emerged from financial constrains. New Wave film makers couldn’t shoot a lot of cover, so they shot in long takes, and when it didn’t work, they cut it, which lead to the birth of “Jump Cuts”. They couldn’t afford dollies, so they shot hand-held. They couldn’t afford stages, so they shot outdoor. Ultimately, the New Wave Films were infused with free-spirited energy that Hollywood movies lacked.

New Wave Cinema was the style of choice for Barry, who didn’t have a budget or even crew, other than a couple of his friends. He wrote a script in a café, found a couple of actors on a casting website and shot most the film on location in his hometown, San Francisco.

In spite of all the troubles that besseted Barry’s production, he managed to complete his film and thereafter win prestigious awards in major film festivals around the world and get a distribution deal.

The chat with Barry was inspiring. I went back home and wrote 4 New Wave Scripts.

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