First off, thanks to everyone for your interest in this project.
My name is Justin Berger — I’m the writer/director/producer of Black Betty.
I have officially launched the Black Betty Blog as of today, December 12, 2010 and it is my hope that this will be your behind-the-scenes source for everything having to do with the project.
I’ll be posting thoughts, photos, videos and rants as I work my towards completing this film.
I’ll kick things off with explaining how this idea came to be in the first place.
To make a long story short I first decided I wanted to make movies when I was 8 years old…
Just kidding. Well, I’m not kidding that I wanted to make movies at that age, but I’m kidding that we’re going to go that far back.
About 3 years ago I was involved with an independent film project as a publicist. It was my first REAL taste of Hollywood and I started meeting people and learning the ropes so to speak and I realized how relatively easy it was to make a movie.
Now, a lot of people will say, yeah right, Justin. But honestly, it’s not that difficult — at least not compared to what I always imagined.
To me Hollywood was this unobtainable dream — a place where you had to be on the inside to really make anything happen. I guess in some ways that’s always been — and still is — very true, but what I learned was that just about anyone with an idea and the ambition can make a movie.
Is your movie going to reach cult status like Star Wars or Reservoir Dogs? Probably not. Will it make you millions of dollars and rival movies made by Michael Bay or Steven Spielberg?
But, that’s not really the reason I ever wanted to make movies. Sure, it would be nice to be on par with those filmmakers, but at the end of the day I want to tell a story — which to me is what filmmaking is all about.
As I was saying, 3 years ago when I was involved with this indie film project it really pulled the curtain back to me and made me realize how I could make a movie just as easily as anyone else in Hollywood. I mean, after seeing some of the shit that gets produced, it surprises me that more people aren’t out there trying to make movies.
So, upon my “epiphany”, I sought to make my own movie.
I started thinking of ideas and scripts and storylines and characters, trying to decide what my movie was going to be about.
I had two very strong ideas that I started writing scripts for, but eventually let them fall by the wayside as they just didn’t have the interest that I was looking for.
So about a year ago I started thinking about a female action hero. Someone who was bad ass but very realistic. A chick who could kick ass with the best of them, but didn’t rely on super powers or fancy gadgets to do it. And as I thought about this character and who she would be and what the story would be about the idea sort of took a life of its own.
Black Betty, as I’m sure most of you probably know, is a song title. It was made popular in the 70′s by a band called Ram Jam. The song itself however is actually an old blues song that originates way back to the 1800′s as a prison work song. I learned this the way anyone these days gets their information: Google.
I always loved the Ram Jam version of the song. It’s very driving and just a kick ass song.
The more I thought about the song and the title, Black Betty, the more I sort of just associated that title with my character. The energy of the song and the name, Black Betty, was to me a perfect fit for this character I was developing in my mind.
So I did my research and I only discovered one other movie called Black Betty — a low budget Vampire flick that was released years ago. Upon further research I discovered a comic book character with the same name as well. Since the comic character nor the Vampire movie really had anything to do with my idea or concept, I decided to move forward with the name.
The domain name, blackbetty.com, was already taken, so I opted for the next best thing — blackbettymovie.com.
I bought the domain, created a logo (below) and put up a placeholder. I grabbed the Facebook and Twitter names as well and started Tweeting about the movie.
This was all soon after I started writing the script.
Now, I had started on a script a couple of years ago for one of my other ideas — before that I had never written a script in my life.
I got Final Draft, did some studying up on script writing via the internet and by the time I began writing the script for Black Betty I felt confident enough I could do it to at least make my own film. I figured if it wasn’t technically correct it didn’t matter because I’d be directing the movie regardless. I just needed to get my story down.
A couple of months after I started writing I finished my first draft. It was about 100 pages — the average length for a feature film — and needless to say I was pretty proud of myself. Mind you this was a first draft and was chock full of plot holes, bad dialogue and filler, but still, it was a finished script. It was an accomplishment to me that I cherished.
I wasted no time registering the script with the WGA and printed up copies to give to some of my friends in Hollywood to read through and get some feedback on.
During that time I already began re-writing the story, changing characters, dialogue and key scenes. Each time I went through the script I wasn’t happy with it and would always change some part of it.
At this point I don’t know how many revisions have been done on the script, but I’m about 80% finished with a story that I’m pretty happy with. The remaining 20% is being worked on as we speak and in the meantime I’ve already began pre-production on a Black Betty short film. The short will be specific scenes from the script put together into a 15-20 minute version that I’ll be submitting to film festivals and gaining some exposure for the brand.
Ultimately I’d love to see a franchise born out of this character and already have an idea for part two.
The past year has been very productive without a doubt, however I’m positive that 2011 will be even moreso.
I’ve already cast the lead for the short — Alexandra Heard — who will play Black Betty. She is an unknown and this will be her first real acting gig. I met her on a music video shoot and the more I got to know her the more I felt she was perfect for the role.
Currently Alexandra is doing some fight training to prep her for one of the scenes we’ll be shooting. Being a dancer she already has the agility and stamina to do it, I just want to make sure when we start shooting she knows what she’s doing and it looks good on camera — also so we can make sure nobody gets hurt.
So that’s the story. If you’re here you must have some interest in the project, and so I ask that you keep checking in as the film progresses. Please mention it to your friends, post about it on Facebook, Twitter and on your blogs. I don’t expect you to just take my word for it, which is why I’m making the short in the first place.
I want to be able to show you guys my vision and give you something to get excited about.
Until the next blog, here’s a photo of Alexandra Heard (aka Black Betty).
Follow Black Betty on Facebook and Twitter to keep up-to-date on the latest news, photos, videos and behind-the-scenes exclusives.
I’m very excited about this project and I hope you guys can share in that with this blog. Thanks for reading and for the support!