John is an artist who never finishes what he starts. He expects much from himself, but never believes he's capable of pulling it off. His routine is disrupted when his friend, Paul, shows his paintings to an art dealer, Tony. Tony offers John a show with the theme of "unfinished art." John is torn; excited by the prospect of his first show, but uncomfortable with its accidental nature.
| The Unfinished Artist still frames
The Unfinished Artist was my first collaboration with longtime friend, Josh Lehman. Having gone to school for journalism, Josh is a strong and seasoned writer of both story and dialog. When it came time to transform his narrative into a visual medium, I guess I fit the bill in terms of someone who could help with that.
Thankfully, the challenges we'd run into during the making of this film wouldn't be script-related, but logistical and budgetary. I say thankfully, because script problems will persist through the final film unless taken care of at some point–the earlier the better. The problems we'd have to overcome however, just required some creative thinking, patience, and determination.
We filmed over the course of several months, working only on weekends. Nearly everyone involved on the production had day jobs and weren't doing this project for the money, so we had to get everyone onboard to standardize and sacrifice their off-time in service of the film.
The fact that we didn't have much wiggle room in the budget was of less concern to me. Being fresh out of grad school at the time, and having attended San Francisco State's filmmaking program, I was used to working with few resources, I just hadn't really had to apply my frugal movie-making techniques to a project of this length to this point.
By now, this production is just a vague collection of visions and moments in my memory, but I don't recall any production-ending events. Once we were in the flow of production, it seemed like second nature to load up every Saturday and Sunday morning to go film somewhere in San Francisco. As the film has a few scenes with an arguing couple, we had a bit of trouble from annoyed neighbors here and there, but that was the extent of it–lucky for us.
For the technophiles out there, The Unfinished Artist was filmed on a Canon 60D, a camera of modest means, even for the time, and a hodgepodge of vintage stills lenses. Our lighting package consisted of mainly practical light sources and paper lanterns to augment them where needed.
If you like smart dialog, tormented characters, and San Francisco when artists could still afford to live there, this film might be for you. If you decide to watch it, I'd love to have a conversation about the making of it. It's not often I get a chance to share war stories about obscure ultra-indie films I've worked on, so please give me the chance ;).
The Unfinished Artist is available to watch right here, right now, by simply clicking the play button below. I hope you enjoy.

Mark Diruzza – "John"
Cassandra Clark – "Alyssa"
Zaire Ali – "Paul"
Gina Won – "Erika"
Arthur Scappaticci – "Tony"
Key Crew
Josh Lehman – Writer, Director
Sarah Flores – Co-Producer
Edgar Velazquez – Co-Producer
Mackenzie Mathis – Cinematographer, Colorist
Aiko Terui – Editor
Steve Loveless – Music
Nathan Conant – Gaffer, Camera Assistant

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