Writer/Director Dan Adams Tells His Story; What's Yours?

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by Tambay A. Obenson
September 25, 2013 12:04 PM
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Recapping... I did this in February of last year (2012), and got a few response, so I figured, a year-and-a-half later, with the site's audience now larger than it was back then, that I'd try it again.

I know that a significant chunk of S&A's audience comprises of actors, actresses, directors, DPs, editors, etc, etc, etc. Some are able to earn a paycheck utilizing their artistic and/or technical skills; others - and I'd say the majority - are what we've labeled the proverbial *starving artists*, working diligently, relentlessly, struggling to climb this incredibly steep hill, trying to reach some pinnacle of success - whether personal or professional. And still others exist somewhere between the former and the latter.

Where do you fall? And, as the title of this post states, what's YOUR story, and would you like to share it with the rest of the world?

Think of it as an extension of the successful S&A Filmmaker Diary series we launched almost 2 years ago. I'm looking for your individual stories of struggle and/or success, regardless of what rung on the ladder you are currently on, after all, not only is S&A just a source for news, its goal is also to become a community of cinema lovers where we can all share/debate/discuss/learn/teach/commiserate/etc.

Here's your chance. You might learn something; you might teach someone something.

What's YOUR story? You can email me (obensont@gmail.com). You can submit your story in any format - written, or even documented on video. I'll post as many of them as I can. Substance and presentation are key for consideration. 

And be sure to attach a photo (large size) for me to include, and if you have samples of your work, include them as well.

It could be a story about a current situation you find yourself in; or it could cover several days, weeks, months, or years of your career. It could be that you just want to vent your frustrations; aspects of, or people in this business that piss you off; aspects of, or people in the industry that encourage you. It doesn't have to be all negative, nor all positive. We're complex people, and so I assume our stories are as well.

In today's post, writer/director Dan Adams shares his story:

My journey as an indie filmmaker began back in 06 after working several years in the music industry. A Jersey native, my background was in music and video production and my education started with an Associate Degree in Music Business from the Art Institute of Philadelphia. My time at Atlantic Records (in their video production department) gave me insight into the world of prominent video directors such as Hype Williams and Nick Quested. I saw how video treatments were written and submitted to the labels artists. I saw video production costs, the ruff cuts, the final cuts, and on some occasions I was able to be on set as the plans were made reality. This experience inspired me to enhance my own creative writings (at that time was only songs and short stories) and develop them into screenplays. So I decided to go back to film school in Jersey City, NJ because I wanted to know the ins and outs on how to direct the content I create.

My time in film school allowed me to produce my first directorial project back in 2007, a web series talk show called “Tonight's the Nite”. I was fortunate enough to utilize the school's black box theater for my location, my media department’s film equipment, and my fellow classmates became my crew. I put out a casting call and I casted a host, co- host and band leader and a live audience. With my music industry connections, I was able book guest like Atlantic recording artist Wynter Gordon. I was very glad with the outcome esp since this was the first time I had put on a headset and barked commands from a control room.

My next project was documentary of the 08 election entitled "

My next project was documentary of the 08 election entitled "The Day The World Changed". I was in the streets of Jersey City, NJ with my host and my sound man. This was true guerilla style filmmaking at its best. I was behind the camera while we interviewed dozens of voters and various polling stations. I was also able to secure interviews from prominent NJ politicians such as Newark, NJ Mayor Corey Booker, and Jersey City, NJ Mayor Jeremiah Healy. The icing on the cake was seeing it aired on local access cable in NYC a few months later.

Flashforward to the summer if 2009, I'm in development for my first narrative short film and in year 3 of film school when I get diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. This was a major setback that could have killed hopes and dreams of being a successful filmmaker.  But, I would undergo a successful surgery to remove the dreaded cancer and during my 6month chemo treatment I would shoot my first short film I wrote entitled the "Spirit of Eve", a pyscho drama about a woman who becomes possessed by a biblical character.

None of my cast or crew knew of my condition or what I was going through. I wanted the total focus to go into the production of making a great product. Luckily, I didn’t need radiation and my treatments came in the form of pills. I would take several pills a day scheduled at 2 weeks on and 1 week off for six months. There were side effects but I was still able to schedule my film shoots and prepping’s around my treatments.

Success - I make it through the shoot which was spread out over two months with no major setbacks or delays. I would go onto arrange my first film screening which was held in NYC summer of 2010. This would be the first time I saw a mass amount of people viewing my work on the big screen. This was an unforgettable experience that I hopefully get to re-live every time I make a film.

Soon after I would go into writing my first full feature screenplay I entitled New York’s Flyest. This coming of age story is about a life changing experience that changed a female crew from bad girls into humbled good girls. Over the past two years, I developed the story and screenplay, shot several test scenes, and amassed a solid social media following with over 6.5k on FB fan page and 1.4k on Twitter. http://www.facebook.com/newyorksflyestmovie, http://www.twitter.com/newyorksflyest

Currently, the screenplay is an official selection in the 2013 Urban Media Makers Film Festival, my first accolade as a writer.

As with all indie film productions, I’ve been through my share of struggle and sacrifice as all of my productions thus far have been self-funded and sometimes shot guerrilla style in the streets of NJ & NYC. But through it all, my experiences have taught me patience, perseverance, and persistence. I’ve crawled for five year’s self-funding my own productions and now I’m looking to walk by having my first full feature film (New York’s Flyest) financed with a healthy production budget. As I finalize all the financing for my New York's Flyest film, I've learned securing funding is the hardest process by far. Business plans, financial projections, proof of concept, and pitch meeting after pitch meeting fill my days until I can get back to being on set.

I love the creative writing process as it all starts with an idea or vision born from my imagination. I create the characters, the settings, the words, the emotions, the meanings, and tone. These elements are then made tangible through my creative writings(screenplays) and brought to life by talented actors and crew members(cinematographer, stylists, production designer etc.). As far as directing, I love it too. Being on set is where I can experience total creative freedom surrounded by other creative people who thrive and perform best when they can be free to explore and create. I get goose bumps sometimes seeing actors bring my words, emotions, and characters to life. In my creative world (my set) there only infinite possibilities and total freedom to be free.

You can follow my works here: http://www.youtube.com/danadamsfilms

You can view test scenes for my full feature film project here: http://www.youtube.com/newyorksflyest


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