Thursday, December 5, 2013

Ariel: Diary of a Short Film - Episode 1

    Hello.  My name is John Hidalgo.  I am a film student at Austin Community College.  I am starting this diary to record my experiences while making my new short film, Ariel.  My hope is that it will give people an inside look at what goes on in the making of a short film.  It is also for those who may support me to see where that support is going.
    The idea for Ariel had been with me for about three years.  When it came to me I had already written, produced and directed a couple of student projects for Austin Community College’s radio, television and film program.  I knew that at some point in the near future I would produce it.
    Ariel came from a combination of things.   A long time ago I had gone through rape crisis intervention training through the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault to supplement assault prevention classes I was teaching.  I had been studying martial arts in the Bujinkan Dōjō system for quite some time.  My motivation for teaching assault prevention classes was partially because I wanted to bring more students into our class but also because I had a number of friends and family members that had been assaulted and felt pretty strongly about the subject. 
    There were other inspirations for Ariel.  Without giving too much away there were a number of lessons and concepts in the Bujinkan martial arts that I always wanted to see on film.  I should note here that the martial arts that makeup the Bujjinkan system come from traditional Japanese martial schools.  The movement while being very utilitarian is not particularly flashy and difficult to portray in film.
    I don’t recall exactly when I first had the idea for Ariel but once I did it was with me almost everyday.  Often, as I was on a long drive or laying down for bed, I would play the movie in my head, refining it and working out all the plot points until, in September of this year, it was ready to be written and written it was.  It seemed flowed onto the page.  While not perfect, I felt really, really good about it.  I have since shown it to some people and received good feedback.  I’ve got some rewriting to do but I feel the core of it is very solid.
    In October, I was busy as an intern at the Austin Film Festival and did not get to work on Ariel as much as I would have liked.  That being said, I was still indirectly doing work that would later be applied to what I am doing now.  Working at AFF gave me great insight into the world of film festivals.  I was also afforded the opportunity to attend the festival. There were a number of great panels but the one that really stood out was one on film financing.  At this particular panel was John T. Trigoinis, author of the book “Crowdfunding for Filmmakers” (see: ).  He had some great advice.  One of the nuggets he shared was to not focus so much on getting the money but instead focus on building an audience and, further, building a relationship with that audience.  He also advised taking great care with the experience the audience members had with being a part of your project.  I came out of the Austin Film Festival pumped up and ready to go.
    Starting in November, I started doing all the preliminary logistics that one normally does for a film.  I consulted with both the Texas Film Commission and the Austin Film Commission and found them to be extremely helpful.  I did some preliminary research about insurance and right now have my eye on Fractured Atlas.  I also started location scouting for which I still have a lot to do.  I am luck in that one of the locations is the dōjō where I used to teach.  That one was easy to secure. 
    Starting in November I started getting the word out about auditions.  Fortunately, from previous productions I had built up an extensive list of actors.  In addition to that I did the obligatory post, posted in a number of places on and made a posting on  Lastly, I got on, a new social media platform for filmmaking, and sent individual audition notices to every actor in Austin.  It paid off.  My original expectation was that I would be doing good to have twenty people respond.  As of today there are sixty-two people who have said that they are coming to the audition this Sunday.  Wow.  That was much better than I expected.  Now, with any audition, there is always a difference between the number of people that say they will come and the people who actually show up.  Still, that is pretty good.
    November was also when I started laying the ground work for the social media that will be used to promote the film and the crowd funding campaign.  I want to say for the record that I have just about overdosed on social media.  In the course of about a week I got a secondary Facebook page with the page for Ariel tied to it, a blog and three twitter accounts. There is also the before mentioned Stage32 account.  No joke.  Social media can easily be a full time job.  I got to the point where I have put it aside for the moment so I can focus on all the preproduction stuff that needs to be done.  Then, of course, there is the web site which right now is just the audition notice.
    There is so much to do.  The storyboards are only a quarter of the way done and the script needs revisions.  I still need to find the main location.  Furthermore, there is a pitch video that needs to be written, storyboarded, rehearsed and shot by the end of the month.  Of course, I’ll need to get the crew together to shoot said pitch video. I need to get to the bank make sure that everything is in place to receive the crowd funding and then get everything set up with Indiegogo. 
    If it sounds like I am complaining, I’m not.  I am very happy with the work I am doing.  It is work, but it is good work.  I am looking forward to the process and especially to see the finished film.

Please feel free have a look at the links below and follow Ariel on social media.

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