Getting a Movie Started: Step One – Team Building

On Set: Cider Springs Slaughter

On Set: Cider Springs Slaughter

I realize for many people this will be an “ox before the cart beginning”. I have always been told, find a project then find the team to make it. I know that can work. I also know that the world is littered with the bodies of unfinished films. By the way I define a finished film by; is it out there and people can see it.

Getting a film from point A to Z is almost impossible. It is easy to get people excited about a project. It is difficult to keep them excited when they find out that it is more work than it is fun. This is why I say building your team is the first step. You want to find people who are committed to the work that is filmmaking. You want people who see your project and you as a necessary step along the way to their dream of becoming something in film.

Another contradicting point: It does not matter if they know what they are doing. It matters are they willing to learn. Odds are you don’t know what you are doing either. Once you have a group who want to make a movie, find out what each person does know, or more importantly who they know that can help you a little bit along the way.

James Duval, Mustafa Waiz Dylan Kellihg (Delkha)

James Duval, Mustafa Waiz Dylan Kellihg (Delkha)

My first experience with this was with Devon Ryan. I was attending San Francisco State University with a friend. We met another young man there who had shot a short film. I had a script (which surprised him. I guess people had ideas not paper). He knew more than we did. We began our journey that lead us to meeting Devon Ryan a special effects guru, who had taught many people in the industry. I meet with him with my fairly standard slasher pick screenplay and asked, would he help us. He gave me a budget for the effects which we could not afford naturally, and then made an offer. If we gave his students the credits, he would do it at cost.

As I was leaving, he said I had learned the most important thing in making movies, Ask. And he was right. I ask lots of questions. What do you want to do? Do you know how to do it? Will you let us shoot here? Will you help us make a movie?

James DuvalEveryone wants to make a movie. It takes dedicated people at every point to make it happen. If you have them, you can make any movie. It simply takes time. You need to be excited about your movie. More importantly, you need to be excited about being able to actually finish the movie.

I quietly sneak out an help students on films and first time filmmakers. Usually the ones who ask. I don’t get to do it as much now, but I always have time to talk about how they can do it.

Continuum Motion Pictures The Team

Continuum Motion Pictures: The Team

Much of my team has been with me for years and I miss the ones who are not with us now. People get feelings hurt, or have girl friends or boy friends, sometimes both, parents and responsibilities that find them in life. These can get in the way. In the end it has to be about the dream and making the dream real.

Finding a team and sticking by them, makes the dreams more likely to become reality.

Jame Duval
Continuum Motion Pictuers

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 End of the World as We Know It-If Only: James Duval Continuum Motion Pictures

The End of the World As We Know It. If only.

James Duval Continuum Motion Pictures: Today the world was supposed to end by many peoples interpretation of the Mayan Calendar, and well as many of you noticed, it did not happen. So like us you are stuck with some assholes out there who do nothing but try to make your life worse. Maybe they are bill collectors, or neighbors, for us in the film business it’s the guy you met and you thought was cool.

James Duval 4th grade

James Duval 4th grade

Over the years we have helped many people get their first projects done. We have often taken great pride in this. Yet at times events occur that make you go, “do I want to know anyone else.” Often there is a reason people have not made it before. The problem is you discover why somewhere in production or post. Now, this is not to say that some people have legitimate frustrations, post can take a long time. Every movie is different. You just can’t edit it. You have to find the right editor and the right vision, and that is just the reality of postproduction. Anne Hall and Pulp Fiction are films that well took great editors.  On the indie side of things, it is just a long journey in finding a good editor. Some get this, other do not. The ones, who get it, sit quietly for the most part. Oh, they will yell at you or whisper in your ear their frustration and doubts, but they get it. Others on the other hand will see it as a betrayal, failure to do, etc… And they will not sit quietly as their film reaches the best conclusion, even though they have never done this before. No they will speak, write and chatter to the world like dying birds, squawking their mothers lies.

Near My Home in Alaska

Near My Home in Alaska

Now we have had to deal with this many times, and if you are making it in the film industry so have you. Actors you have replaced will write shit and say shit on the Internet. Directors you have tried to help will some how make you responsible for their dream, even though since working with you they have done nothing. Yet somehow the movie they messed up, and you are trying to fix will be your fault.

Being a producer, you volunteer for the abuse, this is why Producers probably get Best Picture in various awards shows. If you are making it as a producer and climbing out of the indie world, just know that other producer get it when people say something about you.

Continuum Pictures Logo Now, in our modern age, and please note a Mayan Apocalypse would have cured this, there is a definite no responsibility for what you post issue. Even with the latest tragedy in Connecticut, people abused the Internet and the suffering of those victims families and community. The Internet is like a loaded gun handed to every child and every childish adult. They can say things because well supposedly the constitution says they can.

James Duval letting it fly by

James Duval letting it fly by

My Company and I have had our share of stalkers and crap talkers. We even know their names. They should not check their email at the same location they post crap. Now we can pursue or we can create and leave them behind. This is the choice for many of you. Yes some people will believe the crap written or worse get scared and make coward’s choices. But in the end you have to believe in what you are doing.  We have a stack of movies and three films coming out in theaters that prove we know what we are doing. What do they have, just what they write.  You must never give power to those who would black mail you and besmirch your name. You must create and show the world you can do it.

We live in an age where what people post often drive the victims of their posting to harm themselves. We have seen this in the news also. It is tragic. It often seems we live in a world of fools. I have lost, “friends” because of what others say, but I have gained more.

In 2013 we march forward and I will blame my Mayan calendar for the idiots, stalkers and fools that still trail our success.  I am proud of my team, and those who don’t get it sadden me. Making movies is not easy. It is hard at the studio level and harder on the indie level.

I hope in 2013 we will still feel the bravery it takes to work with new people and to help them with their first projects. I look forward to creating and making the world better.

James Duval
Producer
Continuum Motion Pictures

#continuummotionpictures #continuumpictures #dannytorres #jamesduval #jasondurdon #news #update. #reponse

James Duval Senior, the man who taught me to forgive every one.

James Duval Senior, the man who taught me to forgive every one.

An Effort to Reclaim My Time: Continuum Pictures and Social Networking

With the Killers Mask from Cider Springs Slaughter

With the Killers Mask from Cider Springs Slaughter

James Duval Continuum Pictures: After years of being on the internet, I think the difficulties that I am having are actually more than norm, than unique to me. I do not  know anyone who is  really able to keep up with the expected flow of information that we are now supposed to share with the world. Because of this, I think most people are as ineffective as I am when it comes to the net and social networking.

Like everyone else i have multiple blog sites, emails, and social sites like facebook and linkedin. I left facebook a while back not because it did not work, but in some sense because it worked to well. It was great for keeping in contact with everyone. But as your contacts grow so does the flow of information, emails, messages , etc… Now as a producer i have two sets of  social networking obligations, personal and company. I found that I was not effective with either. I was able to obtain thousands of contacts, but to what avail. It is not like setting down with a person and having a cup of coffee. When you write a blog, there is no discussion, what you write is what you feel. And what you write has legal ramifications as well. When you have a conversation, you can discover how you feel as well as how the person you are talking to feels as well. There is very little discovery in social networking. I think people realize this and thus spend most of their time on the net grand standing and shouting out to the world, what they have accomplished or what they are doing.

This frustrates me and I know that it frustrates others as well, but it is now expected. You are no one if you are not on the net. Now this presents another problem. The net is filled with not nice people who, because somehow you did not make their dreams happen, or you disagreed with them, no say “SHIT” about you or other people. Being on the net is like being in high school again. The maturity level is not good.  It is a place where truth is twisted and weak minds buy into it.

Continuum Motion Pictures Producer

Continuum Motion Pictures Producer

So being on the net is often times not fun. We may actually be entering into a time where the first amendment actually hurts us more than it helps us. The internet is much like putting a loaded gun in everyones hands. We have seen this many times in the news lately, where people often posing as anonymous, or as someone else, have driven people and kids to suicide by what they have written there. Maybe free speech like a gun has legal responsibilities. Somehow people and the companies that provide them with a platform need to be held accountable.

So on this day, I have begun the process of eliminating some of the excessive numbers of sites I am involved with. No more facebook, and I am now giving google plus a serious look at also. Though I think I should learn how to use it before I quit it.  I am now consolidating my blogs to a single sites.

I know many of you want to do the same. I am trying to make a list of what I want to accomplish on the net, setting criteria and hopefully choosing a formula that allows me to really share, versus just grand standing and shouting like well most of us. I look forward to maybe telling people actually how to finance a movie, or finish a film. Maybe I can find time to talk about how our company has grown or dealt with the angry and frustrated along the way.  Maybe I can be candid, and form an opinion and then have it changed by someone else. That would be nice.

Thank you for reading my blog. Thank you for being good people. Maybe we can find a way to sit and reason together.

James Duval
Producer
Continuum Motion Pictures

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