But I Don’t Want to Make Another Short Film by @BurntPictures’s Chris Ivan Cevic

Left to Right: JT Mollner, Dee Wallace and Chris Ivan Cevic
 
 

A funny thing happened after I produced my last short film, I never wanted to make another.  I thought to myself “Chris, you had a good run, you’ve made three shorts, and all of them won awards, and all of them got distributed…you are done with shorts.”  It felt good to just say that, and by all accounts, these few years since I produced my last short film “Sugartown” with writer-director JT Mollner, I had officially put making short films in my rearview and was focused entirely on making features.  And it was really a good thing to do because the time had come to challenge myself with the one aspect of filmmaking that I would not come in contact with if I never made a feature film…the business.

 

Dee Wallace
Now I am not saying that making shorts isn’t a business, it is, but it’s a business model that I felt was largely insulated from the business of making films or entertainment and selling them in the market.  I also realized that though I am good at actually making movies, as a producer and line producer, the business of “getting films made” and “selling films to the market” was still something that was foreign to me.  That fact became painfully obvious once I started to talk to people seriously about the feature films I was developing.  It didn’t matter how many awards my short films had won or whether my short films were on iTunes, people still had problems trusting whether I knew what would make a successful feature film.  While experiencing difficulty getting financiers interested, I realized that potential investors need to see more.  If we were going to raise money, investors needed to trust me and JT’s vision, and for people who have primarily made money in other ways, that can be a bit challenging because they are often not able to know whether something they like on paper is something that would make a good film.

 

Gabrielle Stone

So JT and I had a really honest conversation about the walls we were hitting, and he mentioned that he had been working on the idea for a feature length script for one of our shorts…Henry John and the Little Bug.  Well, this lit a fire in me and I said, go write it…write it right now!  Not only did we need other scripts to talk about, but we needed something that showcased our talents and the story we were trying to sell.  So having a feature length script for a pre-exsiting successful short, was the perfect solution.  And so he did…he locked himself in a cabin in Lake Arrowhead for a week, and when he came out, Outlaws and Angels was born.  I just remember at the time feeling like this was a game changer, and it turned out I was right.   When someone wasn’t sure if what they were enjoying on paper would be a good movie, we would just show them the short and say “see, it’s a great idea!” And it worked!

 

JB Blanc
 Flash forward two years, and Outlaws and Angels is on the verge of becoming a reality as we have most of the money in the bank and are attaching lead actors.  Life is good, right?!   Short answer:  yes!  And yet for those who haven’t gone through attaching talent to a project before, it can take some time to really cast the right actor.  So we end up waiting…a lot, and so I couldn’t help but ask how long it took JT and I to get here.  Without sounding discouraging, I’ll just say…years.  Being the motivated guy that I am, I thought it would be smart of us to speed up the process on what we hope will be our second feature, so I asked around about how we could do that.  I got a response that shocked me from Rosanne Korenberg, my producing partner on Outlaws and Angels, who said “make a short film.”  What!?  But I don’t want to make a short film!  How can this be the way?  Won’t it be easier to make our second feature after we’ve made our first?  And she said…”maybe, but making a short will definitely help speed up the process.”  Well when I really thought about it, I realized that she was right. Just ask Zach Braff.  We all now know how hard it was for him to make his follow up to Garden State, which was a hit.  Being that we don’t want to crowd fund our second feature, we decided making a short was the way to go, especially since it had truly made the difference in getting what looks to be our first feature off the ground.

 

Robert Craighead

So we begin with story, and one thing we don’t want to do with the story is just pull some pages from the feature, we want to shoot a stand alone project…that exist in the world of the feature.  Our rationale is that we don’t want to be on set making a short film wishing we were making the feature.  And though we want to shoot the short in the same style we would shoot the feature, we also want to create a story from a singular idea, and not just cram a bunch of ideas from a feature into a shorter version.  With this approach, we feel excited as it gives the film an existence that doesn’t feel, pardon the pun, short changed.

 

 

And of course, we intend on taking all the lessons we learned from all of our past shorts, and even things we learned developing our first feature, and make the best film we’ve ever made.  So we started with the cast.  We attached screen legend DEE WALLACE (who played the mom in E.T.: Extraterrestrial, also Cujo, Rob Zombie’s Halloween, Grimm) to play the lead opposite her daughter GABRIELLE STONE (Speak No Evil, Zombie Killer), and we have rounded out the cast with two total pros who you’ve seen in tons of television and films over the years, JB BLANC (The Count of Monte Christo, Breaking Bad) and ROBERT CRAIGHHEAD (It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, All My Children).  We are going to be shooting on Super 16MM film stock because JT Mollner and our Director of Photography, GAVIN KELLY…a guy whose films have won Academy Awards, felt 16MM would be the best way to get the grainy raw look JT was going for that’s similar to The Wrestler and Blue Valentine.  Though we know shooting with name actors and shooting film stock instead of digital is going to make it a more expensive project, we feel it is truly going to elevate the project to the quality of picture usually reserved for the studios.  We intend to take this similar approach to production design, locations, wardrobe, makeup, props, and all other creatives departments so that we can have a film that harkens back to the the blue collar dramas of the 70’s.

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Though I began by stating I didn’t want to do another short film, I can honestly say that I couldn’t be more excited about a film period.  It is also my hope that shorts one day become a legitimate and profitable business model for filmmakers because going through this process has taught me that just making a film, short or features, is truly a gift and not to be judged.  All films offer filmmakers great opportunities for explorations, amazing challenges, and exciting experiences on the journey to becoming the best filmmaker possible.

PLEASE HELP US

Our hope is also that in making this film, we will also be creating a community where we can find people that want to join us on this adventure, where we can share all that we are learning and experiencing with people who love films and who love to see artists pursuing their passion.  We want to share FLOWERS IN DECEMBER because we know that making films has given us so much joy, and it is our hope that others will be able to take away a bit of joy for themselves by taking part in the process.  For those who are interested in joining us on this adventure, we are crowd funding for FLOWERS IN DECEMBER on IndieGoGo.com.

We are raising $25K, which is no small feat, so we truly appreciate if you can donate and/or help spread the word through facebook or twitter.  And if you are in LA, come join us at Bootsy Bellows in Hollywood for the closing night celebration of our campaign.  Details will be posted on our IndieGoGo campaign page in the next week.   Thanks and wish us luck!

JT

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BIO
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While always fascinated with film & television, Chris found his passion for the business while acting for years in television and feature films, such as CRIMINAL MINDS, DAYS OF DARKNESS, & BLED.  Chris’ passion for film and television eventually put him on the other side of the camera, where he produced and line produced numerous film projects, including THE EVER AFTER, SUGARTOWN, HENRY JOHN & THE LITTLE BUG, THE RED ROOM, and the upcoming western drama OUTLAWS AND ANGELS, as well as television, including HBO’s FUNNY OR DIE PRESENTS and THE RACE.  Chris has also produced numerous commercials for clients such as Paramount Pictures, Intel, Lincoln, Sealy, AcuVue, and more. As President and Head of Development at Burnt Pictures, Chris is responsible for strategic and development activities, as well as licensing of all intellectual properties, both original and acquisitions. .
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Chris holds as BA in International Finance and Banking from Franklin College Switzerland, and is an avid Florida Gator fan.

 

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