Archive for August, 2007

Let the Public Finance Your Film

Monday, August 20th, 2007

All independent filmmakers will struggle with finding financing for their projects. We all have that same jealous dream when we hear what the big studio productions spend and what we would be able to produce with just a fraction of their multi-million dollar budgets. Last week, I had those thoughts when I saw the amount of equipment, trucks, crew, etc. that encompassed east midtown Manhattan during the production of Adam Sandler’s latest film. According to the MPAA, in 2006 “the average cost to make and market a major MPAA member company film was $100.3 million.”

What if the funding process was democratized, allowing the public to vote on what they want to see by supporting it financially? Now, more than ever, indie producers are taking their projects to the public for financing. Here are a few endeavors worth noting:

+ Fund-A-Frame was the name and method that produced the “first ever frame-by-frame funded film,” titled, The Study Of Bunkers & Mounds In A Temperate Climate (Relatively Speaking). Director Sebastian Michael literally sold single frames of his film. Investors received a high-resolution (HD) jpeg file with their name and the time code printed on it. For an additional cost, the frames can be printed on quality photographic paper, encased in a wooden frame and signed. The film premiered at The 60th edition of the Locarno International Film Festival earlier this month.

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Open Source Filmmaking

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

The culture of “open source” has evolved beyond software; it’s now a serious trend in filmmaking. The original open source encyclopedia, Wikipedia defines this culture as “where collective decisions or fixations are shared during development and made generally available in the public domain.”

Here are several examples of open source filmmaking projects:

+ Elephants Dream is an animated short film built/produced entirely by open source graphics software like Blender. It’s billed as the “world’s first open movie… with all production files freely available to use however you please, under a Creative Commons license.”

+ The Echo Chamber Project is an open source documentary that critiques the mainstream media’s coverage of the war in Iraq through collaborative techniques. They describe themselves as “an independent filmmaker’s ‘YouTube’ combined with ‘Wikipedia’ for serious journalism.”

+ OpenSourceCinema.org is another collaborative documentary project. This one covers copyright in the digital age.

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The Sopranos Ending Secrets from the Guy Who Shot It

Saturday, August 11th, 2007

The final episode of The Sopranos [IMDB info] certainly caused a lot of controversy from its impassioned fans with how their beloved series ended (I’m assuming that everyone’s seen it). I find it to be a huge credit to David Chase [IMDB info] to be able to evoke such reactions from his creation. Stephen Pizzello, American Cinematographer Magazine‘s executive editor, interviewed the man who shot that last episode: Russian-born cinematographer, Alik Sakharov, ASC [IMDB info]. Sakharov reveals that the ending had specific influences from Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey [IMDB info] and Coppola’s The Godfather [IMDB info]. He also diffuses the rumor that there were alternate endings shot.

Here are some of the highlights from the Alik Sakharov interview podcast:

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Video Podcasts: Promoting Your Film During Production

Saturday, August 4th, 2007

Many filmmakers are producing video podcasts – chronicling their production experiences. This used to be done for the purpose of adding material for the DVD package. Now it’s taken another and arguably more important role of promoting their film before it’s released to the public. By building an audience before the film’s release, filmmakers are creating a fan base that gets engaged in the production process from the very beginning. This is done by making this footage immediately available though their websites and viral distribution mechanisms like YouTube and social networks like MySpace. Here are three examples of films which used this process – in 3 budget parameters: Big Budget film – Superman Returns, Moderate budget film – Clerks II, Low Budget film – Four Eyed Monsters.

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Indie Sex – An IFC Mini-Series

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

IFC will debut an interesting mini-series tonight (8/1/07) – at midnight, on the subject of sex in film. Sure it’s been done before – but not quite like this. Particularly on how there are different standards in independent films and studio films. The four parts to the series are aptly titled for what they will cover: Censored, Taboos, Teens, Extremes.

The series’ website also has some great video extras. I’ve highlighted this one because it’s the most applicable for this blog:

“How to direct a sex scene?” (Interviews with some indie directors, including Lee Daniels (Shadow Boxer) [IMDB info], Jamie Babbit (The Quiet) [IMDB info] , and John Cameron Mitchell (Short Bus) [IMDB info] – explaining their experiences directing sex scenes).

Watch all the video extras here.