Meet Kyle Alvarez. A young, ambitious Chicago filmmaker who is officially launching his first feature film: Easier With Practice, this Friday at CineVegas Film Festival in Las Vegas.
I learned about Kyle through an acquaintance. And I plan to follow his exploits because I’m sure his journey will be chock full of instructive lessons for other creatives looking to launch their work.
Film festivals are critical. Kyle explains, “We have two goals for the festival screenings. One is to get as many locals into the theater as possible, we want to sell out our screenings! Secondly, we want to make sure as much industry and press are there at the screenings too; they have a lot of options.” Ultimately, Kyle wants to sell his film for distribution. “But nowadays that takes time,” he tells me. With a glut of entertainment options strewn before movie-goers, distributors must be convinced the film will find its niche. “The buyers need to see the film with the right audience and get a sense of what the appeal could be,” Kyle tells me. No one expects a little indie production like this to find a mass market. Unless, of course, it explodes like Blair Witch did.
Kyle wrote and directed Easier With Practice, a film about a young writer on a desperate road trip to promote his unpublished novel. He also hustled financing. “We were lucky, in a way, that we financed the film before the economic downturn because there would’ve been no way to raise the money we did a year and a half ago,” Kyle says. “Otherwise, the biggest challenge was trying to get the industry to cooperate.” Once he had financing, Kyle says he had “this fantasy in my head that things would fall into place, but there was still a lot of struggle because most (actors’) agents don’t see the value of their clients doing low budget films, not to mention first time directors.” The ultimate challenge? Watching your back because no one else is in charge of what ends up on the screen. Kyle explains, “Owning that responsibility can be stressful, but it’s rewarding.”
The first-time filmmaker will find out just how rewarding when his film premieres this weekend in Las Vegas. Stay tuned.