At the time of writing this post (9/19/16), I, Brennan Robideaux, do not have an agent or manager; however, I figured this would be an appropriate place to detail the many ways I am going about getting representation. It may be months or years worth of updated blog posts, but hopefully, by the end of it all, I can give you the definitive guide as to how I (“I” is in italics because this method will clearly only pertain to me) got it. Maybe, just maybe, my story will help you get representation, too.
Alright, let me take you up to speed. As of now, I have worked in the film industry for six years. I started out as a cam-op filming high school football games for my local T.V. station. From there, I gravitated to an interest in short narrative and documentary work. I bought my first large camera with the money I made from camera operating for two years and set out to make a few shorts. I did exactly that. My first short was called Another Quiet Morning. A completely silent film about the morning of someone you don’t know is deaf until the end *spoiler alert. By silent, I mean dead silent. No music, nothing. My father and I thought it was brilliant; everyone else hated it. They kept trying to turn on the speakers wondering why there was no sound. It’s almost a psychology study to see people squirm having to sit in absolute silence for three minutes. Maybe I should make a film about that.
There were a few other small pieces here and there in between and plenty of odd jobs, but the next project I’m really proud of was a piece I directed, shot, and edited titled A Riehl Blacksmith. This short doc tells the story of Sam Riehl, an incredible blacksmith in southern Louisiana who was at the time, one of the youngest professional blacksmiths in the world. That film was the first one to ever get me attention and it was a bizarre feeling. It took home second place at the first annual Film Convert Cinematography competition and was also optioned by SoulPancake Rain Wilson’s YouTube Channel. It then went on to win the Smithsonian’s In motion editor’s pick.
Then I went to college, and this is where the story gets a little weird. I spent a semester there - mostly skipping classes and making a name for myself amongst the local filmmaking industry. I was starting to build a nice reputation for being a hard worker and a good camera assistant, plus people seemed to enjoy the films I was directing as well. So, in January of 2014, I dropped out of college. I still firmly believe that it was a great decision. One of the first projects I directed after leaving school was called The Cutoff. It was a short film about a man who was wrongfully convicted of rape and spent 17 years in prison, only to get out at the same time Hurricane Katrina devastated their hometown. The short came out seemingly well but had some glaring problems. It was so melodramatic, I have trouble watching it now. It also was simply too much story for a short film. It was like we condensed a feature into 17 minutes. No good.
With that said; however, it was good enough to get us into the LA Film Prize, a $50,000 short film competition in Louisiana. We ended up placing 8th overall and that was really exciting, but something really bugged me after that film was made. I had learned so much about making a film. I learned how to call up random people and ask for locations (we secured prison cells, courtrooms, two separate houses, a car repair shop, and a diner. All for free. I think it helped that I looked (and still look) like a fourteen year old. I also learned how to speak to actors to try and get the performances I’m looking for out of them. The problem was that I didn’t feel good about the film. I learned this about myself recently. I am completely afraid to fail. I hate it so much, which has really hindered me since making The Cutoff in 2014. I wasn’t happy with the final product and I felt like I wasn’t that good of a filmmaker. We also made that film by ourselves, super low budget with minimal crew. I figured after the success of it, more people would want to work on my future films, but that never happened. It happen because I gave up on myself a bit. I thought I wasn’t good enough and didn’t want to make bad products, so I just didn’t make anything.
I’m writing this nearly three years later more as a confession to myself than anything else. I spent the next two years still working my ass off in the industry; working on other people’s projects, but I wasn’t making anything of my own.
Let’s fast forward now to one year ago, to the day.
I never thought of myself as a writer. I always wanted to be a director, like David Fincher, who could distinguish great writing and find great scripts. It was October 2016 when I realized I was bullshitting myself to the highest extent. I figured out that I needed to do one of two things if I wanted to further my career. Start directing more films, spec commercials, anything. Or I needed to start writing. I decided to do both.
Now, I say I never thought of myself as a writer, but that’s not to say that I never wrote before. I always enjoyed coming up with ideas and stories. When I was younger, I had notebooks full of little stories. I even wrote a parody of The Office in 8th grade called The House. I also starred in it… We won’t go any further. Point is, I was writing, I just didn’t think I was good. Mostly because I didn’t read enough and my vocabulary was not big. See?
Nonetheless, I decided to start writing and directing more stuff. But about what? Tackling a feature film seemed like the tallest wall in the world, and I was nervous to try and climb it. That all changed when I went to a diner I frequented one night.
I won’t divulge into too much detail, but the gist is that a man approached me outside and asked if I was alone. He was short and very flamboyant as the diner was in the gay part of Bourbon street. I told him yes and he offered to pay for my meal. Of course, I was going to take that offer. We sat and talked, and this guy was easily one of the most interesting characters I had ever met. He thought I was gay and we kinda bickered back and forth because it reminded me of stuff I dealt with in high school, but ultimately, I was just intrigued by how flamboyant and free he was.
So, after dinner, I immediately went home and wrote fourteen pages that somewhat resembled our conversation. From there I began to slowly craft a longer story out of it. Over the course of October, I long-handed 110 pages. I wrote every night and would work on other people’s films during the day. When I wrote the last sentence, I couldn’t believe what I had done. I wrote a feature film. It was right there in front of me, and it was absolute garbage. I didn’t know it at the time, but looking back… Wow… If I ever become famous, I’ll auction the original hand-written draft off for charity. You’ll get to see just how bad I was at writing.
So, from there, it was time to revise. I knew there was a few screenplay competitions worth submitting to coming up so I needed to get it in tip-top shape! I typed up the second draft and it was only 92 pages versus the 110 hand-written. That wasn’t good since it was pretty dialogue heavy, so I worked on it for months trying to get it to a point I was happy.
By the 4th draft, I was ready to show it to a very select group of people. Only those whose opinions I really trusted and who would be brutally honest with me. The reviews came back positive, but with many, many suggestions to make it better. I was thrilled to know I had at least gotten it to a point for them finish reading it.
Okay, let’s skip forward a little more. I edited, edited, and edited. I was living in New Orleans and my rent was super expensive. My roommates never saw me because I was always writing. The problem of course was that I was making no money. I submitted it to a few competitions and the results were: Blue-Cat - Semi-Finalist, Scriptapalooza - Semi-Finalist, Nicholl - Quarterfinalist.
Needless to say, I was thrilled with those results, but I wasn’t exactly fielding calls from agents and managers, so I knew I needed to be proactive. Write more. Direct more.
The next project I did was direct a spec commercial for Adidas. I crafted 60 second piece about a guy in my hometown who overcame great adversity to become one of the greatest runners in the Nation. At 45, he has won nearly every masters he competed at and was the oldest male to qualify for the Olympic trials.
I'm still trying to get eyes on the video from someone at Adidas.