Above: Casimir Nozkowski’s badge photo. When attending IFP’s Independent Film Week choose a badge photo that is slimming. Even if you are making a mean face.
Cas is an independent filmmaker and internet stuff-maker. He has been screening films with Rooftop since our inaugural year in 1997, including such movies as Store!, Bodega and Pants Problem. Cas was one of three Rooftop alums we placed in the IFP Project Forum, as a way of helping our filmmakers further their careers. Cas brought to IFW his debut feature screenplay Killer, in which high school politics are magnified exponentially as seniors, waiting to hear from colleges, blow off academics and dedicate themselves to playing a game called Killer. Watch for that film down the line. In the meantime, Cas created this pitch about his IFW experience:
* * *
Executive: So what’s your movie about?
Filmmaker: Okay. So my script is called Independent Film Week. And it takes place at a weeklong conference in New York City where industry people (production companies, producers, agencies, distributors, etc) pick filmmakers with movies in various stages of production (scripts – full finished features) to pitch them on their projects.
I’m calling it an action romance film. No one gets hurt and no one falls in love. But there’s a high-tension speed-dating quality to the pitches that makes me think: RomAction. It’s a RomAction movie! I invented that genre. Also, there are comedic elements that I think really surface when you get this much nervous energy into a room. Plus, it’s character-driven – while not being archetypal. In other words, the characters are accessible and familiar but they’re not clichéd. These aren’t cigar-chomping executives and indoor sunglass-wearing alcoholic screenwriters. Everyone’s actually hard-working and really just trying to communicate ideas in a concise manner to each other.
Executive: Interesting. Do you think it’s an indie or more mainstream? Is there any movie that you think it resembles?
Filmmaker: That’s a great question. Two great questions, actually! Well, I think it’s about conversation. It’s not dialogue-heavy. But there is a lot of dialogue. And I think it’s about the rhythms of that dialogue, that conversation, how we communicate with each other. I’d say it’s My Dinner With Andre meets Shaolin Soccer. With just a touch of Sunset Boulevard. And maybe a scoop of Videodrome. It’s got an indie sensibility but it really requires a mainstream execution.
Executive: And what’s your background?
Filmmaker: Well, first off I’d like to talk about the picture on my badge. What do you think of it?
Executive: You look kind of tough in it. Kind of angry.
Filmmaker: Exactly. My girlfriend suggested I submit it for my badge photo because it looked slimming. But I’m making a mean face in it. And then when I actually picked it up and started wearing it, I felt like it was sending a message: this guy means business. And he looks slim! The hard part is: I really like the polo shirt I’m wearing in it. So now I can’t wear that polo shirt because it might create a vortex effect. Especially, if the photo on my badge was of me wearing that shirt and also a badge with the same photo. You know, like it goes on forever? Anyway, I went to a liberal arts college.
Executive: How does the movie end?
Filmmaker: It’s a cliffhanger. But a happy cliffhanger. You should feel like there’s all this possibility. You should feel like people are able to express themselves and people listen. You should feel nervous at first. You know, when the movie begins, who knows what’s gonna happen? Who knows what people are gonna be like? But then as the conference goes on, you find that the people who are involved on both sides are good people, looking to make interesting things. And the conference gives you that opportunity. I also think there’s a really cool subplot that I want to flesh out where the filmmakers actually get to know each other. Even though you might have started the movie thinking they’re each other’s competition. In fact, the twist is that they turn out to be on the same side and excited to talk to each other, compare notes and just hear about other people going through what they’re going through. Also, I should mention that I’m considering making it as a rap musical.
* * *
Read other Rooftop Filmmaker Interviews!