Thursday, October 8, 2009

Marc Clebanoff on "The Pink Conspiracy"

What was your filmmaking background before you made the film?

MARC: THE PINK CONSPIRACY was my second feature film that I produced. I had made another small film, an arthouse drama called UNSPOKEN, that starred Justin Allen & William Sadler. I had attended film school at USC from 1998-2002 as well but my actual hands on production experience was pretty limited. I had had pretty extensive experience as an independent filmmaking consultant and line producer though and had worked closely developing projects with some prominent people like Michael Madsen & cult filmmaker Larry Bishop. I had also worked several years of feature development at Neil Labute's company, Pretty Pictures.

Where did the idea come from to make The Pink Conspiracy?

MARC: PINK was based on a short film I made my senior year of college. The original short film, titled "Conspiracy" is on the special features of the DVD. The idea of a guy being terrorized by all of the women and ex girlfriends in his life came from a joke between myself and a former girlfriend. Every time she did something that annoyed me I would joke that she was the leader of the conspiracy and that they probably got together and had meetings to plot against me. People thought the short film was a really funny idea so my co-writer and I decided to develop it into a full feature film.

What was the process for writing the script? How did you two share duties?

MARC: Obviously the general story came from my short film, which consisted simply of the main character stumbling upon a meeting of all of his ex girlfriends who were plotting to destroy his life. My co-writer Brian Scott Miller and I started with that concept and then fleshed out a story arc that exploited a lot of the actors and locations that we already had access to. We knew when we sat down to write it what our budget was going to be so we were very conscious of writing it in a way that was condusive to the elements at our disposal.

We spent a lot of time in a bar in Sherman Oaks called Pineapple Hill brainstorming and outlining the actual script. We wrote a lot of the sequences individually then went through them together to polish them up. At the end of the day, however, most of the film we can't decipher which one of us wrote what. It was a very fun and extremely balanced collaborative effort.

How did you fund the film?

MARC: Painfully. We had an investor who was going to give us a much larger sum for a different film. Unfortunately this individual took a huge hit from Hurricane Katrina and had to take a step back. We had some seed money from another source so we took that seed money and tripled it by means of 4 other individuals, all of whom we already knew personally - mostly friends.

What are the advantages of co-directing? Any disadvantages?

MARC: The advantages of co-directing is that like writing the script, you get to bounce ideas off of each other and take the best from both. The disadvantages are that occasionally you disagree about the way something should be done.

What obstacles did you have to overcome to make the film?

MARC: The biggest physical obstacle was that we shot during an absolutely vicious heatwave in LA. That definitely did not make for an enjoyable shoot. Other than that it was all of the obstacles you encounter working on a low budget: finding locations on the cheap, sometimes stealing locations, making our days, delivering for distribution, etc.

What did you learn from making the film that you have taken to other projects?

MARC: The biggest lesson I learned from producing THE PINK CONSPIRACY was how to structure your film in a way that's condusive to selling it. Now having produced and directed 4 of my own features, I've learned that buyers tend to only watch the first 10 minutes of a film. Therefore, make sure you have the most marketable elements in the first ten minutes. If it's an action film, make sure there's some great action. If it's comedy, make sure you kick off with something hilarious. Put your biggest names in the film early on. This also requires that you consider this during the writing process as well.

I've also learned that promotion is the key to success. You can have a great film, but if the public isn't aware it exists, it won't do business. Good Key Art is crucial as well. We had to do a photo shoot (out of pocket) because we didn't have good enough images from the set to create a decent cover. Cover art can make or break an independent film.

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