By the end of March, two years of hard work had culminated in the completion of the feature length action-drama, EYES OF THE ROSHI, starring Eric Roberts and Grand Master Adam Nguyen. WHITE BUFFALO: AN AMERICAN PROPHECY, the documentary I am producing with my brother, Richard Marten, will be completed by year’s end.
White Buffalo is the culmination of an odyssey of more than twenty years, which should provide an indication that creating independent movies is not all glamour.
Yes, there are red carpets with stars, flashbulbs, cameras, and lots of pats on the back. There are also cold nights, bundled in blankets in the back of your car, because when one chooses the path of the Indie Filmmaker – there may be much sacrifice in terms of personal income and lifestyle (the ends don’t always meet). We place our energies, aspirations, and finances behind telling stories… and hope our friends, family, and other supporters are coming along for the ride.
Why do filmmakers/writers/artists do it? Do they chase this elusive dream for money or fame? God, I hope not. These are the wrong reasons, because, most will be very disappointed. Maybe, because, once we get a taste of the dream, it’s in our blood, and we are professionally good for little else. The emotional satisfaction derived together with a collective gathered in the womblike darkness of a theatre cannot be replicated in a 9 to 5 situation. Communicating from a stage or screen, total strangers can be unified with laughter or tears, stirred up against injustice or just caught up in a fantastical adventure whose colors and sounds drown out the more pedestrian qualities of the workaday world.
Tasting this experience, this emotional connection with your audience, is addicting. Film-wise, stage-wise, every professional thought becomes invested in character and story arc. Making movies is not for the faint of heart. There will be insane challenges, rejection, and naysayers – even from your peers. You must learn to fend off, and then feed off the rejection, living Producer Robert Evans’ stirring words: “When your back’s against the wall, the impossible becomes possible!” Then, when your community begins to take pride in your accomplishments – big or small – it’s a welcome boost. It’s an oasis in a desert of critics; providing an occasionally needed emotional backbone for survival.
Some actors, directors, and producers have the dream of vacating this burg for the “big city.” Not me. My family came down from New York in the early 80’s. We had been vacationing in Williamsburg every year for Mom and Pop’s anniversary. (They loved American history, and passed that on to their four boys; sometimes known as ‘those Marten Brothers.’). We built Atlantic Film Studios, Virginia’s first full-service movie studio, in Suffolk. NAVY S.E.A.L.S., with Charlie Sheen was shot there, and other Hampton Roads locations. I raised my daughter here (my greatest co-production). My brothers and I distributed films starring Hugh Grant, Julie Andrews, those Redgrave Sisters, and Anthony Perkins…
I love this area. It’s been good to me, and my family. I want to bring Hollywood here. Our studio was dubbed Hollywood East when our father, Albert E. Marten, and Governor Gerald Baliles cut the ribbon at its opening. In my mind, L.A. is merely Hampton Roads West. So I’ll keep plugging away right here, thank you. Oh, don’t get me wrong; I’m happy for my movies to make it into larger markets, but I’ll continue to reside, and create, here in the 757 area. For those who discount the efforts of actors, directors, producers, and all the artists who have made a conscious decision to live and create here (because of course, if they were good, they’d be living in L.A. or N.Y.), I say, maybe we just like making the impossible possible. That’s called being an Independent.
For Eyes of the Roshi on Facebook, click here.