Chapter 57 – Connections
by Leesa Dean
Last Friday evening I attended at movie/Q&A at the Tribeca Film Festival. It was a kinda of cool experience.
Initially, I was a little skeptical. The director, Charlie McDowell, is the son of noted actor Malcolm McDowell (Clockwork Orange!!!) and Mary Steenburgen (Melvin and Howard!!!). Ted Danson (yes, that Ted Danson) is his step-dad. The film was produced by indie/mumblecore biggies The Duplass Brothers and stars Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men). Did I mention he’s dating Rooney Mara?
With a pedigree like that, I instantly wanted to hate Charlie (ya know, Hollywood kid with tons of connections skates right in). But I couldn’t. Just because he has those connections doesn’t mean he’s without talent. And he’d be an idiot not to use what he’s got.
This guy went to AFI, did a short before (that I really like) and after reading a few of his interviews, found he really knows his stuff. Yes, I’m certain the star power of his family helped grease the wheels, but while I don’t know him, he really appears to take filmmaking very very seriously. So, I wish him well and think good things will happen for him based on his ability, not his heritage. He already got a distribution deal for the film I saw (which also was at Sundance), The One I Love.
The truth is, though, it is much much harder to get anyone to notice you unless you either have killer connections or were born into killer connections. If you have a film/tv show/web series that stars or is produced by a star or known big time producer, you’ll instantly get press and an audience.
I’m trying to build that way with all of the projects I’m working on by attaching star power (or relative star power) to shows I’m working on. Or attempting to. It’s a tough road to go down. There’s an enormous amount of competition. You REALLY have to be on your game to be taken seriously. And it’s nearly impossible to get meetings. But I’m hoping it’ll pay off in the long run.
The great Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes may have put it best: “When you think you got bread, it’s always a stone. Nobody loves nobody for yourself alone.”