What Kinds of Film Should You Make

James Duval on Mano a Mano

James Duval on Mano a Mano

I always hear that you should do a horror film. I have often given this advice myself. I still think it is good advice but the world is changing. With the rise of the little to medium platforms and the requirements of nearly every film doing a multi-platform release. That advice may actually no longer be as accurate as it was in the past.

I think much of what is right really depends on what your personal agenda is – Now all of this is assuming you have already made at least one. Your first film need only serve the purpose of being a first film. The only advice I would give on a first film is how long should it be. Don’t be in the situation where you almost have a feature. If it is a short great, if it is a feature it has to be at least 70 minutes long. Also, if you think you do want a chance at getting it out into the world, do not include logos, copyrighted images, copyrighted music etc… in your film. If you do and you are doing it for artistic reasons, don’t expect anyone else to be able to get your film out.

Now you have made your first short or feature (remember 70 minutes minimum), you want to make another movie. I think it is now about where your heart is. There is making films for business reasons, and then there is making ones to show you are a director/write or producer. Both Business and the heart can now lead you to becoming a studio director. Passion will always lead you to making a better movie – assuming you know how to make a movie. If you do not know how it will lead you to getting through the process.

I know what I see when I view directors films and as a partner in Continuum Motion Pictures I review many films. I look for something that says this persons vision is special, he sees the world differently. Things like angles, effects and sadly even story can be fixed by bringing other people in. It is about that little quirk that exist in every great director discovered or undiscovered.

Continuum Motion Pictures Presents Zombies Vol. !

Continuum Motion Pictures Presents Zombies Vol. !

I love horror and science fiction films. It is my go to place. I think the genre allows for a lot of latitude and creativity. Dramas require a real understanding of the story as you are showing people the lives of other people and they have to be believable. I have seen very few well written dramas on the indie side of things. It is hard to fix it on the set with a drama. Additionally the actors need to be top notch. They have to transform. In horror and other action based genre’s much of the time your actors just need to react. Now when you do get a great horror film it is always acting plus story and great directing.

Coming of age films: Hmm love them most are really bad. Why? The person who is telling them rarely has come of age. I almost think you need to be over 35 to even have a chance to make one of those work from scratch. Though I have seen exceptions. And in those cases the directors and the writers have been over 40 in their hearts. What ever you do in this genre, do not be cliche and that is hard.

Your personal story: Probably not interesting. I don’t even think mine is and I am over 50 years old. Lots of people think their lives would make a great story. Yes if you fictionalize it. Some of the best bio-pics have very fictional moments to capture the essence of someones life. Also very few people can truly hide their personal story in a fiction environment.

I was once told that nearly everyones first films were about their sexuality or their politics. I have found this to be consistently true. It is probably best to avoid both and explore the world as an astronomer explores the night sky. There is so much out there why would you want to stare a the ground. Have fun with life and its possibilities.

Now Shock and Awe: After the 60s and early 70s it becomes a little hard to shock. Oh you can gore it up and their are many people who love that. You can surprise people by putting someone in a shocking position and it can work. But it only works if the story is solid. Gross out is easy at every level. Put your efforts into a solid story.

These are just my opinions of course. Let no one dissuade you from the film you want to make. Sometimes it really is this is the only film you could make. It is always better to be making a movie than not. The suggestions I am making are if you actually have a choice. Shoot within your resources and never apologize for that. If all you have is one room, hell make it the best one room film you can. I have seen some. It can work.

Next, keep track of reality. If it is your first or even second film, well it is only your first or second film. Just keep working to get better. Watch great films, it will help. And most important BELIEVE.

James Duval

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2014 And Going Strong

I personally had the chance to spend the beginning of 2014 with my family. This was a rare event for me. I am usually spending most of my time here in California working either to get a film made or to get a film out. Lately I have been spending much of my time with social media. Why well it is the age of meanness to some degree. People read something online and well it must be true. It has become such and issue that I believe it was an ATT commercial that talked about some girl believing her date was French because she read it on the internet. With the lack of honesty in advertising or action these days any company has to prepare for the inevitable bad info on the net. I try not to focus on this too much instead focus on positive things. Like my family and the success of my two sons. The success of our company Continuum Motion Pictures, but at times it just is honestly hard.

I can say this. Filmmaking like high school has its good moments and its bad. It has its bullies as well as the kids who stand up for the other kids. And it has it gossip, and the internet gives free reign for people to believe lies and half truths.

So here is a statement: I love making movies. I love helping others make movies and honestly I am pretty good at it. I love getting movies out and we are definitely good at that and getting better. I am fortunate, the intelligent and the professional seem to recognize this.

At times like many of you I do get depressed working with people or sometimes against the efforts of not nice people, but it keeps it clear to me, to quote a wonderful teacher and mentor in my life Bonnie Gartshore “Cowards destroy and you don’t strike me as a coward.” I see a lot of bravery in filmmakers trying to do the impossible. I rarely see cowards. I hope I never become one.

Make your movies and make your dreams happen. No one can stop you no matter your past or what people may assume is your past. Your friends will stick by you and if not, well we all know what that means, they were not your friends. When you succeed there will be those who talk about “how you got there” and why they have not and then there will be those that simply respect you. Be good to yourselves and most important be kind and gentle with yourselves. There is quite a bit of love out there, plug into it and BELIEVE

James Duval

The Making of A Movie: Mano a Mano – Continuum Motion Pictures

Danny Torres CEO: Continuum Pictures

Danny Torres CEO: Continuum Motion Pictures

We began the project Mano a Mano a while back. It seemed at the time that it would be a pretty straightforward project.  Well that is until Bruce, the pick up truck, began to behave like Bruce the shark, in Jaws. We went through five tires, a battery, were towed out of the desert nearly every day we shot with the truck, caught on fire and just sometimes stopped working.

Mano a Mano is the story of a group of Latin immigrants crossing the Arizona Boarder illegally. Shortly after crossing they run across two Minutemen in a truck who begin to hunt them down. It is a thriller in the tradition of Spielberg’s Dual and El Norte.

We were lucky our two leads Mesindo Pompa and Luis Villafranca both are phenomenal actors.  They brought rare depth to the characters, which is one of the reason the film is getting as much pre-release attention that it is.  I myself James Duval and Austin Anderson play the Minutemen. I think we may have be typed cast based on our looks.

Matt Dyer writer/director and Danny Torres producer/DP ran the show.  It was a definite group effort on all parts. The entire Continuum Pictures team was involved from its inset.  We would leave LA at 4am and drive out to Apple Valley every day.

The film is a testament to the actors and crew’s dedication. It has definitely been quite the journey.  Bruce broke down at least three times on the way to the location. Can’t really complain. When you see what we put Bruce the pickup truck through it is amazing it survived at all.

We chose to shoot Mano a Mano in Spanish. The script was originally in English, but as we moved into the material, it was obvious that this film had a voice and that voice was the voice of the people crossing the boarder.

Unlike many chase movies, the film takes the time to explore the reasons for the crossing beyond the standard cliché statements on immigration.  Mesindo Pompa’s character is driven by his own past, while Luis Villafranca’s is driven by a dream.

Danny Torres, the son of immigrants from El Salvador,  found a way to guide this film as a DP and Producer that has kept the film fresh and new.  When Matt could not be on the set, Danny would take the helm. This is definitely a team vision, down to the dialogue.

Danny Torres

worked with Matt through many drafts before giving his green light. It has become the flagship project for Continuum Pictures and its move into the studio system.  It shows how a little company started in the San Francisco Bay area, can come to LA and actually make a movie.

Mano a Mano Temp Poster

Mano a mano directed by Danny Torres CEO Continuum Motion Pictures

Continuum Motion Pictures since mid 2007 as of this date has completed five features from pre to post, Convict directed by Austin Anderson, The Absent directed by Jason Durdon, Sabor Tropical directed by Jorge Ameer, Ocean Front Property directed by Joseph Neibich and Mano a Mano.  Additionally Continuum Pictures has reposted House of Adam directed by Jorge Ameer,  posted Ten Cents Short directed by Austin Anderson, and many short films.

Mano a Mano represents a leap in Continuum Pictures production ability. These lessons now take us into our next slate of projects. The whole team moves forward, with us recasting Mesindo Pompa and Luis Villa Franca in roles, as well embracing a new set of directors from our team, Quan Tran, David Scruggs, P. David Miller and Tyler Ross.

Danny Torres CEO Continuum Pictures & Austin Anderson

Danny Torres on location

A movie is often a metaphor for the life experience of its director.  Mano a Mano has become that metaphor for us as filmmakers and as a company. The Continuum Pictures team has learned along the way, you really have to want to be here and do this for it to work. Mano a Mano is the journey of two men who want to really be here. It is a reflection of the American Dream and the difficulties in finding it.

Response by Danny Torres Continuum Motion Pictures Producer

Continuum Motion Pictures CEO Danny torres on location.

Continuum Motion Pictures CEO Danny torres on location.

When I was in the fourth grade, I did something stupid. My teacher, in an effort to instruct my class on how to properly write correspondence, had everyone write a letter to a sixth grader. I was randomly assigned a particular student who was a bit unusual, but overall a nice kid who had never done a thing to me in my life. I, in an attempt to be funny or playful or perhaps not even knowing what else to write, proceeded to compose a letter to this student where I called him weird, odd and an assortment of other things that were honestly, mean and undeserved. Two days later, my teacher started the day by lecturing to my class about what had happened, though she refused to name the student who had written the letter. She stated she wanted everyone to know about this act of cruelty and that she would deal with the offending student later in private. As she continued on explaining how what I had done was wrong, I raised my hand, and then simply said aloud, “I did it.” I ended up apologizing to my teacher, the student, and the student’s teacher. I don’t know or remember why I wrote the letter and I don’t know or remember why I admitted to my class that I was the one who did it, and to this day, I regret any harm I may have done to that student. But the two things I learned that day were—one, learn to treat others well; and two, my teacher respected me for having the willingness to admit to my mistake.

Danny Torres speaking to Cameras at IV Film Festival

Danny Torres speaking to Cameras at IV Film Festival

As you may or may not know, there is currently an individual anonymously posting things about me online under the guise of different people. I know who the individual is, but I will not name them here or at any point publicly because frankly, what purpose would that serve? Would it not just maintain a perpetual circle of malice? In the film industry, you will come across a lot of people, some of whom you will love and some of whom you wish to part ways with as you simply don’t mesh. But unfortunately, there are times that you meet people who have become embittered and hardened by the difficulty of this industry, and in truth, it is hard. To quote Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it.” But unfortunately, rather than just continue pushing forward, people feel the need to place their anger, frustration, and dissatisfaction on whatever or whomever they feel has wronged them, whether legitimate or not.

Gossip and innuendo can be fun for people. There are magazines, websites, and TV shows that all profit off the gossip of many a famous people. Now, I am certainly not famous, far from it, but I do understand that part of human nature that derives some type of satisfaction from seeing a person being torn down, giving way to a dark sentiment inside of us that secretly says, “my life’s not great but at least I’m doing better than that person.” And yet, the same people willing to tear you down are the same people that perhaps once sung your praises. I can’t speak for everyone, but I rather learn about people by speaking with them and meeting with them than by judging them based on what I read in a magazine, or saw on some news show, or, God forbid, read about them on the Internet.

Now, with my particular situation, am I to assume that this person thinks that my success is growing to the point where he or she needs to spend as much time and effort to try and debase me? Or do they simply not trust that when people meet me, or speak with me on the phone, or interact with me in any manner, they can’t make a judgment for themselves as to whether or not they wish to work with me? If anyone ever wishes to ask me about my dealings in the industry or the business relationships I have taken part of, I’d be more than willing to have an open, honest conversation. I’m not hard to reach.

Now, I don’t wish to address anything written about me because honestly, it’s not worth dignifying. However, there is one matter I do wish to say something about and it is this—I was once accused of taking a sum of money from an investor with a time, place and amount stated. I’d just like to be on the record of saying that I love telling that story because at the accused time, I was in the sixth grade living on the other side of the country. That’s the fun of the Internet—anyone can write anything about anyone. In the words of Mark Twain, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Then again, he also said, “Most of what’s on the Internet is true.”

And finally, to the person who keeps writing things about me, I just have this last thing to say to you: Thank you. Thank you for spending so much time thinking about me and my company and my business partners. It’s nice to know that I have not been forgotten. I’m sorry for the fact that I can’t pay you the same compliment, outside of writing this, as I spend my time, energy, and day working on moving my company forward by producing more movies and helping other filmmakers have the opportunity to distribute their films to the public. I honest to God wish you the best of luck on your own projects when you finally decide to spend your time working on those, instead of trying to defame my reputation. By posting on the Internet. Anonymously. Like a fourth grader would.

Continuum Pictures Open Message to Our Internet Stalker

Thought I should Reblog this.

Continuum Motion Pictures

Open message to our internet stalker: Just want to acknowledge the years of internet creative writing that you have done. We also want you to know that everyone we work with is aware of it. That is a lot of people. It is funny you use fake emails and fake names, even pretending to be female in your writing. People know the truth and they know who you are, including your name and project. People know we make movies and get them out,  which is why they still work with us. More importantly, they know we treat people well and would never post anything anonymously about them on the internet. We would never pretend we were someone else.  We are proud of the Continuum Pictures name, which is why we use it everywhere.

 

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The Absents Continuum Pictures : James Duval

On Set of the Absents: P. David Miller workingOn Set of the Absents: Murder on setOn Set of the Absents IMG00092On Set of the Absents: Killing SceneOn Set Mano a Mano IMG00120On Set of the Absents P. David Miller working 2
On Set of the Absents: William Romeo, Mike Boyer, EJ ScalziOn Set of the Absents JC2_8502On Set of the Absents: Wes Scarpias Torie TysonOn Set of the Absents: Torie Tyson and Wes ScarpiasOn Set of the Absents: Torie TysonOn Set of the Absents: JC2_8332
On Set of the Absents: Matthew DyerOn Set of the Absents: Camera at workOn Set of the Absents: On set with lightsOn Set of the AbsentsOn Set of the Absents: Monitor 2On Set The Absents 811W2201
On Set: TICB Danny, Paul, camera

The Absents which is now titled Cider Springs Slaughter: Is Continuum Pictures horror film releasing in 2012. It was produced by James Duval.

Via Flickr:
Continuum Pictures: The Absents directed by Jason Durdon, written by Danny Torres, Taylor McPartland, Produced by Danny Torres and James Duval: Continuum Pictures