As I typed the first lines of our script, I knew there would be challenges beyond the technical but didn’t care. After leaving a six-year marriage & suffering from an annihilated heart as well as all the near-death experiences — imagined & real — that accompany rediscovering oneself at 35, there wasn’t much else to lose. I committed to sharing the cinematic dream at all costs. In terms of money, it cost somewhere around $800.
The most expensive line item for the film was an electric hot dog cart ($380 including bottles for ketchup & mustard). I remember a bright-mooned March night wherein I opened a pair of internet pages: one was my bank account & the other a website retailing electro-mechanical culinary devices.
… And what about rent?
Yeah — what about it?
The “vintage” hot dog cart showed up a week later &, on a lovely sunny day in late April, was filmed in Scene 6 (“The Memorial Service”) at a beautiful church off Chemeketa Street.
Worth. Every. Dollar.
I’ve been homeless since May 11th when I had to leave my apartment near downtown Salem, not due to skipping rent, but because of a severe mold issue that made it uninhabitable. I wasn’t prepared for the steep costs of moving into a new place &, with my regular work season at a close, cash income was rapidly dwindling. With a cast & crew of 25 (as well as several contributing local sponsors), killing the movie in favor of a regular job & normal living conditions was not an option.
“Sshhh, young man. This is all completely normal,” croons the reassuring, ancient voice of Dr. S. D. Planchkin, a reknowned historian of filmmaking who I just made up for the express purpose of justifying it all. “It’s like cards at the casino… Without being independently wealthy, you’re bound to lose your shirt & any sense of self-worth. To truly live, one must accept the possibility of death at any moment, by any random consequence. Including your own crappy movie.”
I had to keep the project alive. Myself, too.
I’ve sold any possessions of value — mostly equipment from my music recording business — to eat, pay child support, & finance our film project. My back hurts from sleeping on different couches night after night. Everything I need to live is smashed into a small suitcase or the laundry bag. There hasn’t been time to shave so I’ve got a nameless beard as an itchy travel companion. Any bills that get paid are by sheer grace of the mighty Film Gods who rule their domain with little pity for those who stoop so low as to pray.
None of this matters, tho, because when I finish this movie the right people will finally notice & I’ll be able to recoup the losses… Right?
“Nay!” proclaim those ever powerful Film Gods in a final unison. They demand I hurl my life into the Abyss of Unknown Outcomes.
And despite my own personal socio-economic apocalypse, I must admit to feeling more driven & fulfilled than during any previous point in my life…
Six days a week my son & I spend three to four hours together in the morning. He regularly plays with the slate now residing in my van along with some other production gear. A spritely toddler of two years & some months, he asks about visiting “Papa’s house” almost every time we’re together, gifting me the warm desires of a fair-haired & dark-eyed dreamy child. I divert his attention by setting up toy trains at parks in place of my poisoned apartment. Immediately after bringing him to daycare, I eat lunch & take out the editing computer for a long date.
We have three weeks to finish the edit (including sound design, color-correction, & ADR) before the late-June premiere & I’ve finally reached that creative saturation point (which is normal, apparently) where everything feels dumb as hell. The Beast of Ennui, borne of watching the footage a thousand times, claws at the door of my imagination, thirsting for my discipline. An onslaught of distractions belt out a siren song chorus. Now I’ve gotta fight myself, too.
Obstacles are everywhere — inside & out — to be ignored, evaded, negotiated, or destroyed. But the movie must be made!
So join us on Saturday, June 22nd for an intimate world premiere at f/stop Fitzgerald’s Public House in Salem to see how it all turns out, eh?
A brazenly self-centered funeral planner. A bereft and histrionic fiancé. An adulterous pastor with truly resplendent hair. A MAGA-hat-wearing, French-speaking, vegan hot dog stand owner.
It might sound like something out of a wine-fueled comedic nightmare, but in actuality these characters drive four of the myriad plotlines of SPLENDID FUNERALS, LLC, a new independent movie written and produced by Salem filmmaker Adam Lansky.
Just as in his award-winning film BLACKFIИGER: Misery Loves Company, Lansky’s signature absurdist style is the undercurrent of this dark comedy. But beyond the overt ridiculousness that takes place, it’s the subtlety of the characters and their plotlines that drives the film forward. “One of my least favourite human behaviours is the willingness to capitalize on times of tragedy, which naturally makes it something I need to laugh at,” said Lansky. “Everyone who watches this film will love every character but not want to be a single one of them. It’s painfully funny.”
Adam Lansky, seen above acting as Alan in “All My People”, is an independent filmmaker since 1994. He is better than when he first started. Contact via [email protected]