Miramax has worked with many first-time filmmakers, including Todd Field [In the Bedroom], Tom McCarthy [The Station Agent], Jim Sheridan [My Left Foot], Kevin Smith [Clerks] and Quentin Tarantino [Reservoir Dogs]. As we all know, these filmmakers continued making great films and made a big name for themselves critically and commercially and it’s very possible one of the new filmmakers blogging for us will go on to have similar success stories. Follow them all here in our ongoing Emerging Filmmaker series and get to know today’s Guest Blogger, writer/director/producer, first-time filmmaker, Martin Snyder.
Q: Favorite Miramax film?
A: There Will Be Blood. A masterclass in everything.
Q: Most challenging part of making your first feature?
A: Dealing with all the issues and disparate personalities on set and keeping your cool. Always.
Q: Advice for people aspiring to make their first feature?
A: Don’t give up. If you don’t do it, it’s because you really don’t want to, not because you can’t.
Q: What type of work/films do you see yourself doing in 5 years?
A: Directing movies and commercials. Would love to make a thriller one day.
Q: Favorite quote
A: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
― Theodore Roosevelt
The first time I knew I was watching an “independent” film was Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction with that beautiful title card I have come to know and love: Miramax. I remember sitting in the movie theater in Miami with my mom, embarrassed that I was watching it with my mom, but astounded by the rawness and honesty of it.
I was sold. Instead of going to the new releases section at Blockbuster (yup, there was still Blockbuster), I was hitting up the foreign and indie sections, consuming everything I could from Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies, and Videotape to Malle’s Murmur of the Heart (blew my mind). Once Larry Clark and Harmony Korine’s Kids came out, it was game on. I was going to move to New York and be a part of the movies. At the time I didn’t know in what capacity, but I knew I wanted to do something. Coffee anyone? After countless internships in the film world, my first at Fine Line Features, watching everything I could from Robert Altman to Terry Zwigoff, writing screenplays and making shorts, here I am, years later having directed my first feature length movie–Missed Connections.
Missed Connections is a funny tale about a guy doing whatever he has to do to get the girl that he loves to like him back. And that guy, who pines hard for that girl, played by the amazingly talented Mickey Sumner, is Jon Abrahams, one of the actors in Kids [also in Miramax's The Faculty and Scary Movie]. I have so much respect for Jon’s talent, work ethic, and kindness. Without great actors, you cannot have a great film, or a great first feature making experience. The experience of which was unlike anything else I had ever had.
It all started with my co-writer Marnie Hanel and I traveling to Los Angeles to meet with the various studios. (I was so amazed that this was happening to me… I think I still have those special passes you get to drive onto the lot.) However, my abundant joy, was soon overshadowed, by the overarching message we kept getting, ‘it’s a great script, but we’re not sure we can make it.’ If it’s a “great” script, then why not, we asked? Finally, Deb Newmyer, who produced The Ugly Truth, among other movies, called me one day, and said I should make it myself. I hadn’t thought of that. Because how in the world was I, a first time director, going to raise the money these studios had told me it was going to cost. The truth is I didn’t have to. Tons of other filmmakers had done it before me. With some shaping to the script and all of the resources available in New York City, from low cost camera rentals to a receptive mayor’s office of film, the voyage began.
I found a great producer in Alison Palmer [read Alison's recent Guest Blogger entry here], who had experience navigating the independent film world. Not only did she help round out the necessary people I needed to get it done, but she gave me the fire (aka awesome pep talks) I needed to cast, raise money and go to everyone I knew from locations to music. This did not come without its share of pain. This is independent filmmaking: you get a group of people, hopefully more experienced than you, who are just as passionate about making movies, you don’t take “no” for an answer, and you don’t wait around for someone to say “yes”.
To say that I am overjoyed that my first film, shot in New York City, is seeing the light of day, is an understatement. I could not have done it without the countless writers and directors that came before me, my committed cast, talented crew, kind investors, and loving friends and family. Having an insatiable desire to make a movie, a positive attitude, and belief that you can do it, is the first step, but putting together the right people around you is just as important.
Watch the trailer for MISSED CONNECTIONS
What’s next for me? I just made a short film for UGG Australia at Coachella and I’m working on that next screenplay that I hope to one day have distributed by Miramax. If you want to shoot the shit, need advice, or want to hire me, please send me a message on Twitter at @snydermartin.
Missed Connections is released digitally today – get it now on iTunes.
More on Martin Snyder
Martin Snyder is a filmmaker and creative strategist. Missed Connections, his feature film debut as co-writer/director/producer, has garnered numerous awards on the festival circuit including the Audience Choice Awards for Best Narrative Feature at the 2012 Gen Art, Sarasota and Savannah Film Festivals. His next feature project is a comedy titled The Approval for Sunrise Pictures. Martin also writes plays, commercials, short films, music videos, and short digital content for agencies and brands. He graduated from Columbia University and currently lives in New York City with his girl and dog.