'Lilith' feature article, Production Dossiers and THAT Dress.

As per the last entry, Lilith is now being featured on BlackMagic’s SPLICE community. The article is a nice summation of the thought process behind the film and the origination of the story. Features some tidbits that you won’t find in the 900 pages of text in this blog, so definitely check it out!

Click here for the article.

It’s been a slow week of blogging as I’m in full-press prep for the TV pilot I’m directing. Been busy putting together design documents for costumes, production design and cinematography. It’s part of my normal process - each department gets a very detailed dossier with my thoughts and photo references on each character and setting. On Lilith I generated almost 200 pages of reference material for my collaborators. These notes serve primarily as a starting point, and allows my collaborators to work independently of me because they all have a very clear idea of what I want. They always come back with something very interesting and intermixed with their own perspective and taste, which is most amazing part of collaborating. I’m generally flexible on just about everything brought to me, but there will always be certain elements that I want to remain just as I envisioned them. For this TV pilot it is one particular dress for my actress.

For those who have seen Lilith and listened to the commentary they’ll know that I’ve a particular obsession with designer Alexander McQueen, and everything I do has a McQueen creation in it. In Lilith it was the black lace leggings and black shirt-dress that Julia Voth wore in the film’s opening, and my costume designer Carla Shivener absolutely nailed it, and Julia totally rocked the look as only Julia can.

For the TV pilot I need a dress that oozes sensuality but doesn’t read as trampy. This is an elegant woman who has a very deep and meaningful sexual desire, and I really want to find a dress that is graceful but also smoulders with passionate fire. I knew McQueen was my designer to go to - he had this innate understanding of a woman’s body and soul, a tradition carried on by current McQueen head designer Sarah Burton.

The key is to find THAT dress. The one everyone can’t forget, the one that is in perfect harmony with the woman, her personality, and her body. After an exhaustive search I landed on it, and I just knew it was there. Like Kiera Knightley’s green dress in Atonement, which still haunts me to this day.

It was a McQueen silk chiffon halter dress in a brilliant mustard yellow that did it for me. I loved how it flowed and elongated the body, it’s pleats billowing like fire flames. My actress has a long neck and slender arms, and this dress would emphasize Elizabeth’s features amazingly. I imagine her with her hair up, a dazzlingly simple pair of hanging earrings and very simple makeup. It’s all about being in that moment.

A dress like this has to be like magic, and like any magic trick there has to be the reveal - the prestige - and that happens with this dress when she turns around.

Elizabeth has an incredible body and having an open back is about as sexy a statement I can make with her. The reveal is calculated and paced, in fact I worked with the writer of the script and had an entire scene designed around her back. I have a thing for shoulders and backs - in Lilith I built an entire scene around actress Bianca Christians’ amazing, amazing back.

Now the journey begins - this McQueen dress is a very rare find, and if we can’t find it we’ll have to get a dress that approximates it. Not an easy task, but this is why costume designers are amazing artists. They can make your visions come to life from the most unexpected of resources, and that’s their gift. I can’t wait to see this all come together.

Again I apologize for the slow output, will try to fit in as much as I can between work schedules. Until then enjoy the SPLICE article and the other amazing articles on the community page. Thanks!

Everything Counts (Pasadena Rose Bowl Version)

Depeche Mode

101

Played 89 times

3rd Anniversary of the ‘Lilith’ Blog!

Music for a Black Celebration: Everything Counts (Live) by Depeche Mode.

Three years, 550 posts and 51k followers later and we’re still going strong. Frankly when I started this blog I had my own doubts whether or not I’d be able to sustain 2-3 original posts per week, knowing my penchant for writing a lot and that I insist on not repeating myself. I’ve tried to make every post meaningful, entertaining and informative, and I’ve hope you’ve enjoyed them.

One of the truly satisfying parts of this blog is the interaction I’ve had with young filmmakers over the years. I’ve had both student and beginning filmmakers who are readers of this blog send me scripts, ask for business advice on fundraising and crowdsourcing, and even a few who just needed a sounding board for the natural frustrations that this business fosters. There are eleven young filmmakers from this blog who I regularly keep in touch with, all of whom started their relationship with me by simply sending me a message.

Of course what made me want to help these specific eleven is that they demonstrated the sheer passion, drive, dedication and work ethic that it takes to make it in this business. When they share their thoughts with me, they let me know of the work they’re doing and the efforts they’re making to be better. Their efforts, energy and desire to succeed motivates me as much as this blog motivates them. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement. Maybe we can devise a name for this group someday.

This blog continues to grow and I continue to grow along with it. If you’ve been with me from the start you’ve seen me through a feature and two short films, and I’ve got my next feature on the way, which I do hope to be writing about shortly. I’ve wondered whether I should re-brand this blog to suit my next feature, but I’ve decided to keep it as ‘Lilithfilm,’ because the spirit of ‘Lilith’ is the spirit of how I want to make films, and I don’t ever want to change that. I cherish the freedom I had on ‘Lilith’ - the freedom to express myself without censor, the freedom to make films on my terms, the freedom to make mistakes by my own hand. That is the spirit of ‘Lilith’ - the spirit of independence.

As we start year four of this blog I want to continue to discuss our craft and the evolution of it. As I review my old posts I can see that I’ve already modified my thinking and approach to writing, directing and producing. There are missteps I made on ‘Lilith,’ on ‘7x6x2’ and my other films, moments that have opened my eyes to new techniques and ideas, and I will continue to share my findings. In that sense I want this blog to slowly evolve from a document of filmmaking into a filmmaking lab, where we experiment with ideas and bounce them off one another. I hope to bring more young filmmakers into the fold and expand beyond eleven dedicated artists, people who know that filmmaking is so much more than buying a DSLR and expensive gear.

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Filmmaking is a fine art, a craft and a way of life. Our goal is to become professionals, where we have something unique to say and we get paid to say it. If film is in your blood, then you live for it and know what you must do to make it happen. I’m just happy to be by your side on your journey.

Lastly, I’ve had the great joy of not only chronicling my own growth and experiences as a filmmaker on this blog, but I’ve also had the tremendous privilege of watching my fellow ‘Lilith’ collaborators grow and spread their wings as well, and they have in spades. They are as much a part of this blog as I am, and on behalf of myself, Julia Voth, Bianca Christians, Lili Reinhart, Nancy Telzerow, Jeremy Kendall, Spencer Kim, Lauren Ondecker, Damon Taylor, Faroukh Mistry, Kristen Adams, Eric Morrell, Will Brooks and Alap Momin (aka dälek), Chris Stangroom and the rest of the insanely talented artists that I get to call dear friends in the ‘Lilith’ family, we thank you so much for three years of continual, loving support.

Your humble director,
Sridhar.

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Peace.

My reel.

So after three different versions and grappling with the philosophy of what and what not to show, this is my final 2013 reel.

Besides Lilith there are some real deep cuts in here, including footage from my first feature, 19 Revolutions and a ton of sneak-peek footage from 7x6x2, my collaboration with graphic novelist Paul Pope. Enjoy!

Sridhar Reddy Directing Reel from Sridhar Reddy on Vimeo.

We’re all going to die today…

…or was that last month? I keep losing track of our supposed Armageddon days. I suppose now is the time to give you a ‘live today / everyday like it’s your last’ speech but hey that’s kind of maudlin and fey. It’s been a tough week, what with kids getting shot, kids getting killed in Pakistan drone strikes, kids getting shot in Chicago’s South Side for the past umpteen years with no news coverage, kids getting maimed in the countless civil wars in Africa, kids getting sold as sex slaves in the Middle East, and just basically kids getting the blunt end of every adult dysfunction we can dream of.

It’s hard not to watch the news and think that this is a pretty shitty world we live in, in fact the news seems to make it a point to reinforce that idea by making things sound worse than they actually are. I know for every killing there’s tens of thousands of acts of kindness and compassion in this world, ranging from selfless service in Kolkata’s slums to the girl behind the register telling me to ‘have a nice day.’ But I have to admit, these instances seem to be diminishing over the years, as we seem to be buckling under the pressures applied by an adult, cynical world. We’re drinking the proverbial Kool-Aid, and the cracks are starting to show.

Maybe the Mayans were right in that it’s not so much the end of the world, but the end of civilization as we know it. They could’ve been off by a hundred years, but there’s a definite disintegration of all that was built before. I see people dying of cancer, mighty brick buildings being struck down and replaced with feeble, ready-to-break sheds, animals going extinct and no snow on the mighty mountains of Colorado.

If you don’t feel like blowing your brains out already (we can all-too-easily source an assault weapon from Wal-Mart to assist in that endeavor), hold on, hold on. Let’s think this through a bit.

Bad things happen. Every day. I can try to rationalize it as some kind of circle-of-life shit but it’s hard to do that in the face of injustice. A cute gazelle getting eaten by a cheetah is not injustice - there’s some basal purpose behind that act of killing. What happened last week and in Aurora, Columbine, Virginia Tech and basically all over the country was not done for survival or food, it was acts of deluded power, anxiety and illness.

The thing is that we can control and manage those things using the tools we have developed over thousands of years as a civilization. At this moment, more important than any one given law, legislation or gun purchase, the most important thing we have to embrace as a country is philosophy. We have to ask ourselves “why” and not so much “how” these things keep happening. And as cogent creatures we are fully capable of it.

I’m not so clueless as to suggest a complete ban on guns - sure I don’t like them but they have a role to play just as any other weapon does. War is a constant, we will have true evil forces in the future to dispatch, i.e. Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, etc.. You can’t just ask a Navy Seal to go into a compound and slit a tyrant’s throat (although I’m sure it can be done). But I recall a conversation I had with an old high school friend of mine who returned from two tours in Afghanistan. We were hanging out on the porch and I asked him what it was like over there. He said it’s pretty much what we think it is, but what was really bothering him was that he had shot someone in Afghanistan. A civilian who was suspect. There wasn’t any time to deduce who was friend or foe, action had to be taken, and he pulled the trigger. He told me that a part of him died when he puled that trigger, and that at that moment, his fear was what was propelling that bullet. I reassured him that he was fighting the good fight, but I also told him that as a civilian I could never relate to what he was feeling, only so much a sense of loss that accompanies a deep moral decision.

Fear is a powerful thing, and the end result of fear is ultimately loss. To live in fear is paralysis, and everything that is unknown becomes a threat, and what is known becomes suspect. The purpose of philosophy is to make the unknown a little more known, to give us a sense of context and meaning. Philosophy is not justifying something, it is merely contextualizing it. Where does a senseless act of violence fit into the greater whole of existence? What are the determining factors not for this guy to buy an assault weapon, but to want to kill in the first place? While I do think the access to an assault weapon and ammunition is a major problem, it is only one piece of it. Mental illness is a large problem, but it’s not exclusive to mass killings and homicides. There are plenty of people without mental illness who pull the trigger.

We must use philosophy to tackle anger, and to me, anger stems from one thing - resentment. When we harbor resentment - be it from loss or injustice - our anger festers and seeks release. The main way to deal with resentment is forgiveness, and to forgive someone is the absolute highest level of compassion that can diffuse any kind of powder keg of a situation. It lifts the burden of anger that can lead to irrational and immoral decisions. Forgiveness - even if the other side refuses to accept it - is the cure to violence.

To ask the families of the victims of the Sandy Hook killings to forgive the young man who killed their children is no small task. Even though he is dead. To ask them to forgive the people who sold him a high-powered assault rifle is just as hard. To show compassion and bring a universality to the death of their children, to place their tragedy alongside those of other families around the world, is to achieve transcendence and to help heal wounds of senseless violence everywhere. This is the essential starting point, and from there we can tackle guns and mental health. It would be impossible to do so with resentment and anger in our hearts.

The world might very well end today, tomorrow, next week or nine million years from now. But to die with bitterness and acid in our soul is to disrespect the gift of existence and consciousness. I don’t want to go out that way, mad at the world and doing nothing to make it better. I accept that I will die, and so will everything around me. Nothing is permanent except energy, a shimmering field of it that constitutes the collective dynamic of what we are. We can control where it goes and how it is used, a gift bestowed upon our species, a gift we readily take for granted. That, my friends, is the root of our change.

But if the Mayans were right and indeed we all die, just know that I love you all - even the folks who made Twilight. You’ve made this world amazing and I’m blessed to share it with you. And when we wake up tomorrow towards a new day, let us renew our commitment to making the world an even better place to live in for us, for future generations, and for every being in the universe. Be well.

Lilies

Bat For Lashes

The Haunted Man

Played 499 times

Music for the Weekend: Lilies by Bat for Lashes.

I’ve hit the ground running as we gear up for our two-day shoot next week. Crew is locked, camera tests on Monday, casting and storyboards will be done by Tuesday, creature effects and production design done by Friday, and then out to the desert to shoot Saturday and Sunday into Monday morning. Somewhere in there I’ll find time to sleep and dream a few dreams.

There’s something exhilarating about shooting a picture without the benefit of time. A lot of our calls are on gut instinct simply because we don’t have the time for analysis. This is filmmaking by doing what simply feels right. It’s a new way for me to work, and I’m enjoying every moment. But then any time I get to create, I’ll enjoy it with all my heart. We’ve got some truly amazing collaborators on this project, artists who are willing to step up and help out because it’s just a really great script and high concept. And we all believe in it, wholeheartedly.

Have a safe, wonderful weekend!

Going back to Cali.

Going back to California to shoot this short. It’s my first time going to Hollywood to actually direct and shoot something, and not just go for financing/ scriptwriting. It’s a big moment for me.

I’ve got a backlog of questions and messages to answer, so those who submitted to me I ask for your patience, as I’m averaging about 19-hour work days for this past week and for the foreseeable month. But my blog will soldier on - I’ll do my best to keep writing interesting stuff and progress updates.

In the meantime please remember to support Lilith on its facebook page. You can download the film right away and/or pre-order your copies of the super-cool DVD. Your support is appreciated!

Alternate Lilith Trailer and new HD trailer!

So there’s an alternate 2-min trailer that I cut which has TONS of new footage from the film and music from the score by dälek. It’s on the ‘Lilith’ facebook page if you’d like to see it PLUS the new official HD trailer of the film!

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lilith/313092187396?ref=hl

Yes. This is my fey attempt to guide traffic.

BUT IT’S TOTALLY WORTH IT. GO GO GO GO GO GOOOO!

'Lilith' now available for DVD presale and Direct Download!

The day has arrived! After years of waiting and faithful following, you may now watch ‘Lilith’ as a direct download, playable on iTunes, Quicktime or VLC.

OR you can pre-order the DVD, which has tons of goodies that the download doesn’t have, including two packed commentary tracks by yours truly and Miss Julia Voth. Here’s the cover of the DVD (Region 0, NTSC), which I designed myself:

OR you can order both, if that’s what your heart desires!

You can order directly from the distributor by clicking here, or by using the following link:

http://store.nehst.com/lilithdvd.html

There will be select theatrical screenings of the film across the country in the coming months (‘like’ our Facebook page to keep up with dates), where you’ll be able to watch the film on the big screen and take in the full cinematic experience which we’ve worked so hard to achieve. This is a full independent release, so I really need your help to make this film a success. Watch it and help spread the word by ‘liking’ and tweeting the distributor’s page. Please reblog this post and help a brother out. It’s been a long time coming for this, let’s make it count!

Thank you so much for all your support, we’re only getting started!