Hundreds of terrible movies are made every year because studio executives are soulless monsters who look at numbers and demographics rather than exhibit any real love of film. It always hurts my soul to see some of the absolute crap that is churned out by studios, and anyone who goes to the movies knows the difference between sitting through a boilerplate cliche-filled two-hour waste of time and experiencing a film that is a labor of love. From Tarantino to Scorcese, Whedon to Goddard, a creation by someone who truly loves film and loves entertaining is a film that will sit with you for the rest of your life.
That’s why I’m really happy to be able to bring this interview to you. A friend, Liz Rizzo, is a director from Los Angeles who is currently working closely with a team of producers, cast, and crew to make a movie free from studio influence. That film, Missing Miranda, is relying on Kickstarter to raise the $65,000 necessary to turn their dreams into a reality. Kickstarter will only take money from the donors and provide it to Liz and her team if they raise the full amount by August 11th. Even if it’s only a dollar, any donation will help make a movie that is built on a foundation of love and respect for the medium of film.
Tell me about Missing Miranda and the fundraising you’re doing, but without using the words “the”, “with”, or “quantum physics”.
Liz: “Missing Miranda” is a feature-length romantic comedy we’re hoping to shoot in Los Angeles this fall. It has a micro-budget of $65K all in (yes – all in, including Kickstarter fees, fulfillment, and post production), which we are trying to raise through crowdfunding on Kickstarter. Crowdfunding isn’t quantum physics, but it’s pretty challenging. Oh, shoot! I broke the rules.
Crowdfunding is definitely the future for small business of all types and I’d love to see them overtake the stuffy VC models that still dominate the chances of success for any entrepreneur.
Can I be in the movie? I have the ability to act in various roles, including “Fat Man Eating Dinner in Background”, “Bearded Guy Looking On Incredulously” and “Naked Dead Body on Gurney”.
Liz: Absolutely! Having you in our cast would definitely up our production value! I see you as our Padawan (yes, seriously), or we could just cut to a shot of you slipping into a back room at the video store. You know, whichever role feels more natural.
Okay, but can I have a trailer? Just tell me when to be there and I will be.
Once this gets funded, made, and you win a shitload of awards for it, what’s next? What would be your next dream project (after this one, of course), and who would you want to work with?
Liz: Right now I have an action web series I’m dying to shoot called “Zero Sight,” written by Michael Patrick Sullivan. Dream casting is Jasika Nicole from “Fringe” as “Alex” and Kevin Sussman from “Big Bang Theory” as “Baxter”. I also have another romantic comedy feature called, “My Imaginary Boyfriend” written by Julie Anne Wight. And in my wildest dreams I direct a film version of “The Legend of Korra” starring Paris Jackson.
Michael Patrick Sullivan is an old friend and a fantastic writer. His “Mastermind” was excellent and you should check it out if you haven’t seen it yet.
What made you guys decide to go the Kickstarter route rather than other, more traditional routes like selling organs or giving blood every week for 10 years?
Liz: I’ve been really excited and fascinated by Kickstarter since the beginning. You know, as a blogger from back in the day, I’m just really an Internet evangelist. I love the wild, wild west of it, and I love to break the rules everyone’s so quick to try to set for it. So to be able to jump into a Kickstarter campaign for “Missing Miranda” has really been a dream come true. A really geeky Internet dream come true.
What is Missing Miranda about and why would I want to watch it?
Liz: “Missing Miranda” is a tight little film and it’s funny and it’s full of modern characters rushing through their world, trying to connect with each other. And, maybe this is just my personal filmic love, but I am crazy for films where we meet new faces. And I don’t always want those films to be super artsy indie films. I’m a huge fan of films from the 70s. It wasn’t about stardom and often it wasn’t really about being super artsy; it was about interesting people doing interesting things in interesting stories. “Missing Miranda” is a fun little film centered on a waitress with aspirations of becoming a fashion designer and an architect under the thumb of his demanding boss. They meet, connect, lose each other, and through the mysteries of fate, meet again, as they start on the paths they were both meant to travel. What that means is, it’s about both of them having an encounter with each other that gets them thinking. And that thinking sets them onto new paths. And those paths start to cross, but they don’t know it. It’s only when they find their own ways, individually, that they find each other again.
Well-written films about people doing normal things that aren’t madcap adventures always appeal to me. I can’t wait until I get to see it, and I’m confident I will.
Speaking of people, can you introduce me to Emma Stone? Natalie Portman? Ke$ha?
Liz: Unfortunately, I don’t know any of those fine women personally, but I will tell you a story. Years ago my friend Vance came to visit me in L.A. And before he came, he joked that all he wanted to do was meet Lauren Graham from Gilmore Girls. I picked him up from the airport, and as we both love indie films, we drove straight to the Laemmle on Sunset. There was an indie film playing there starring Lauren Graham and also Julianne Nicholson who I love, so we picked that. It was the middle of the day, and I kid you not, effing Lauren Graham walked in to see the film. My friend got to speak to her after the movie.
So next time you’re in L.A., we’ll catch a flick. You never who you’ll run into here.
That sounds fantastic. I love Lauren Graham. I do plan on moving back to LA because I miss it terribly, but I’m sure I’ll visit before I move.
How did you and Deborah Sanchez meet and decide to collaborate? Have you guys seen eye to eye on everything so far?
Liz: I met Deborah Sanchez through my friend Cindi Rice. I go through the whole litany of it in this article I wrote for Film Courage, “Big Money, Little Film.” The amazing thing about us as a team is that we fill in each other’s strengths and weaknesses like puzzle pieces. It’s interesting, because our collaboration is relatively new, but so far we’ve had a wonderful give and take. We shot five character vignette videos for our Kickstarter campaign, and that experience has been very valuable in terms of feeling each other out and hitting the stride of our collaboration. I’ve been blown away by how well we work together, even through the dicey spots so far.
I’ve been lucky to be part of a great team of people in the past and when you collaborate with people with whom you have a connection, the product is exponentially better.
What is your favorite movie (or top 3)? Favorite guilty pleasure movie? What movie do you hate that everyone else loves? (For me, it’s the “Lord of the Rings” movies. Oh, and “The Incredibles”.)
Liz: My favorite movie is L.A. Story. When I fell in love with it, I had no inkling that I would ever make movies or live in L.A. It’s the tightness of it, and the magic of it that I love. My favorite guilty pleasure movie is probably “Down Periscope,” which is HILARIOUS and you should rent it immediately. Just every joke in that film lands and the ensemble is delightful. What movie do I hate that everyone else loves? Well, I don’t like questions like that, because as a filmmaker I know too intimately what it takes to make any film and how subjective it all is. But I will say that “Inception” is no “Matrix.”
I love L.A. Story and actually own Down Periscope on DVD. The emotion of L.A. Story grips me, and it makes me sad when I see Steve Martin doing things that don’t stretch his ability like that. And Down Periscope just makes me laugh. I’ve only seen Inception once, so I’d need to see it again to see how much substance is actually there.
Why do you love directing? Is it the power and control over your puppets who have to say and do what you tell them to? Or something else?
Liz: I was thinking the other day that a director who is fortunate enough to have video tap for their shoot, spends much of their day looking through a window at magic. (Video tap is a monitor that shows what the camera sees, and I’ll probably be personally funding and moving that around all day for myself on “Missing Miranda”.) Every director has a phase of production that is their favorite. Some directors love preproduction and many love post production. But my favorite part is principal photography – the shoot. I love the work of it and the rhythm. The machine, the people. Working with actors and crew to create the magic that ends up on the screen is what I love about directing. And directing is what gets me up every single day.
That’s how I feel about writing and doing comedy, so I know what you mean. And now, for our final question: Is there anything else you’d like to share? Like how you manage to make gray hair look so damn hot? Or, maybe something about the movie. Either way.
Liz: So let’s talk about about my hot gray hair. lol All I have to say about that really, is that I’m glad the younger people I work with don’t let it freak them out too much. I realized a while back that one can’t really be a director without the confidence to take risks and do what they believe works in any given situation. As for “Missing Miranda” what I’d really like to communicate is the importance of pledges at all levels. Even a $1 pledge is like a vote for our project and our team. It shows interest. And it makes our day. Thank you!
Thank you to Liz for talking about her movie! If you would like to be a part of movie-making history, even a pledge of $1 will get your name in the end credits of Missing Miranda, and higher pledges get even more levels of participation. Instead of buying that second cup of coffee, why not pledge $5 or $10 to help a dream come true?
You can pledge and read more about the movie, the filmmakers, the cast, and watch vignettes that have been filmed just for Kickstarter by clicking here.
To my fellow movie lovers and supporters of the arts – thank you!