The Alchemist & The Filmmaker ? Part 1 of 2

September 24, 2016

Guerrilla Filmmaking

Last week I was talking to my good friend Tim Beachum about new scripts I had completed, current projects, and future films I wanted to shoot. The conversation moved from talking about filmmaking to a book he had recently read called, “The Alchemist.” I am confessed book junkie, but lately I have not been in the mood to read as much. My mind has been consumed with looking to the future for that next screenplay to write or movie to make.

I had never heard of “The Alchemist” and politely told Tim I did not have the time to read it. It was a complete BS excuse. The reality was I was mentally drained and frustrated that Slice Of Americana Films projects were not coming together as fast as I wanted them to. The goal was to fund, produce, and distribute two to three independent films a year in-house.

Sources of funding disappeared when the economy crashed and burned. Film investors for indie projects became scarce. The executive producers for two films that were going to be shot back to back had to pull out after already spending $ 15,000 on early preproduction. The commercial buildings they built in Southern California sat empty with no tenants. This changed their cash flow dramatically and the projects were now dead.

Last Friday a copy of “The Alchemist” arrives as a gift from Tim with a note that said, “Sid, you have to read this book as soon as you get it!” I put it on my desk without even reading the back cover. Instead I chose not to be productive at all and spent the weekend burning off steam to relax.

I felt somewhat better after raising a little hell, but was not looking forward to another round of pitching to new investors for the next two movies. My mind had already been geared up to get on set, roll cameras, and make two entertaining movies. Now I was back at step one of financing. I really felt like that first deal had been a total waste of time and energy. At the end I had accomplished zero and was not any closer to the goal of producing two to three movies a year in-house.

Sunday I finally started reading “The Alchemist” and could not put it down. I finished it that night. I immediately called Tim to say thanks for sending it. He told me, “Sid, no problem amigo. I wasn’t going to let an excuse keep your mind stuck in the mud.”

Funny, how life works sometimes. The unselfish gesture of a friend had a positive mental impact that came at a point when I needed it most. I would have never read this book if it had not been sent as a gift. It turns out this story shined a light on what I was overlooking lately as a filmmaker.

The story author Paulo Coelho told in “The Alchemist” spoke to me. My personal take on the theme for me is this. Everything I had done from writing my first short story as a teenager to having movies distributed has been part of my own creative journey.

I had a renewed appreciation for all the knowledge of screenwriting, directing, and producing I have learned and continue to learn as I pursue what author Paulo Coelho describes as a “Personal Legend – the path we decide to take that fills our heart with enthusiasm. It is the path of our dreams.”

I have learned many important lessons, both good and bad, from actors to distribution companies I have worked with in the film industry. I am now more grateful for having the opportunity to have been in the position to live and learn through those experiences. My creative and business mindset has been changed for the better.

This is part 1 of 2. I will continue my story of how reading “The Alchemist” inspired a new perspective on screenwriting, producing, and directing films if that is your Personal Legend, like it is mine. This is indie filmmaker Sid Kali typing: Fade Out Part 1 of 2 of The Alchemist & The Filmmaker.


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