I'm working on the New Orleans project. Rewriting, phone meetings, research, casting -- all very enjoyable work. In part, because New Orleans is so far away both geographically and otherwise, it doesn't seem real somehow. Being down there soon should help with that. Even so, doing something like this on spec is a daydream. How not to proceed other than acting as if this movie is going to get made? When in reality it's some words on a stack of paper. Of course those very powerful words conjure a story that compels me like nothing I've worked on before, evoking people and a place that I feel like I know in spite of the fact that I haven't been to New Orleans in nearly fifteen years. I believe others will also know that place as intimately once they read those words that Charlie and I have been writing. The doubts come in often enough - what makes you think this is so great? There are hundreds if not thousands of guys like you trying to get their movies made. How the hell are you going to overcome that? The thing is, I don't know if -- but I do know how and while it may be a steep climb, I feel like I have something that's worthy of carrying up the mountain.
As I meet some New Orleans actors through email and over the phone I really get excited. They have distinct voices and experiences yet we talk across the daunting divides of race and geography, speaking a language more common than I've often experienced in projects I've done in my own backyard. I thought I might feel like an outsider or that there would be a distance. So far that hasn't been the case. I think part of the credit goes to our insistence on meeting actors there first before trying to cast in LA or NY. We're also staunchly avoiding all the silly Bourbon Street-Voodoo-Gumbo-Mardi Gras-Big Easy crap that permeates every film set down there.
JFK and Down By Law, my favorite film depictions of New Orleans are not really about the city and only feature it anecdotally.
There's a great documentary about Katrina coming to Cinema 21 soon called Trouble The Water. Here's the trailer (talk about a voice!):