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Saturday, December 10, 2016

How I ended up working with puppets in space for most likely a year or more OR the start of my adventure with Matt Zoller Seitz's movie Space Rabbit

Space Rabbit storyboard panel
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Sujewa Ekanayake working on budget
for Space Rabbit with Stephen, one of director 
Matt Zoller Seitz's puppet friends
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Sujewa, Stephen the puppet, and Matt discussing the
budget for Space Rabbit
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Matt receiving advice from Stephen on how to budget 
for the needs of the puppet cast members

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Over 10 years ago a then little known film critic and filmmaker named Matt Zoller Seitz sent me his first feature "Home" to review on one of my blogs.  It was a pretty good first feature, and I kept in touch with Matt a bit over the years - easy to do thanks to Facebook and other social media.  About a year ago I ran into Matt on the subway in Brooklyn.  This was only the second time in real life that we hung out or met up - the first being back in 2007 during a film blogger meet up in NYC.  Anyway, at the subway meeting we briefly and quickly got caught up on news on our various creative projects and made vague plans to hang out in the near future and went our separate ways.  Months later, after realizing - due to a Facebook post - that we lived just a few blocks from each other, we met up for coffee at a diner in Bay Ridge to discuss filmmaking related things.  Prior to the meeting I did some Googling on what Matt has been up to and I found out that he is a prolific writer and has sort of turned himself into a unique public figure/cultural figure - with his own Wes Anderson art style portrait!


In the past few years Matt has accomplished the following and more:  "Matt Zoller Seitz is the Editor-in-Chief of RogerEbert.com. He is also the TV critic for New York Magazine and Vulture.com, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism. His writing on film and television has appeared in The New York Times, Salon.com, The New Republic and Sight and Sound. Seitz is the founder and original editor of the influential film blog The House Next Door, now a part of Slant Magazine, and the co-founder and original editor of Press Play, an IndieWire blog of film and TV criticism and video essays."  For the more, see his bio at RogerEbert.com.  At our meeting at the diner I told Matt about Breakthrough Weekend and the various other films and other creative projects I've worked on during the last few years and my plans for 2017.  On his part, other than his views on the political stuff that we discussed; related to the recent election, Matt kept going back to a movie project that he wanted to do - featuring puppets in space!


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Matt's puppets in space movie or Space Rabbit turned out to be an amazing, funny, possibly very entertaining and accessible project idea.  I came to the conclusion that even if the movie turned out to be a difficult one to make that it is a great idea to try to bring to life.  I gave my assessment on the project to Matt - what it may take to make the movie, possible ways it could be done.  A couple of days later Matt hired me to produce the movie; to get everything together for Matt/the director to shoot the movie and to make "the trains run on time"/make the production happen - something I've done several times in the past and something that I enjoy doing.  

That was about 3 weeks ago.  In that time we came up with a timeline for the project, started several websites & social media pages related to the project, had several script meetings, started collecting resumes and contact info for potential cast & crew members, created a budget and started planning out a fundraising strategy and a production strategy.  Space Rabbit the movie project has launched.  I ended up being a part of it because I like to try to make real friendships happen with interesting and good people I meet in the independent film world; I try to keep in touch with them - and I kept in touch with Matt over the years, and because, really, who would want to say no to working on a sci-fi space adventure featuring puppets? :)

More on Space Rabbit soon, at this blog, as we get things done over 2017 and 2018.

- Sujewa

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