Archive for the ‘General Resources’ Category

Passion First Funding Portal Announced

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

A new equity-crowdfunding film financing company, Passion First Funding Portal was announced this week at the Sundance Film Festival. It is one of the first new financing portals established from the relaxed rules by the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (a.k.a. JOBS Act) that permit general solicitation of accredited investors; think of it as a Kickstarter/IndieGoGo-type site where “qualified” contributors get a financial return on the success of a film.  Its founder, Rich Guay is a veteran producer behind several feature length films and documentaries (Ghostdog: The Way of the Samurai, Kinsey, Dogfight, etc.).

Passion First Funding Portal is a new and exciting way for experienced filmmakers and accredited investors to meet and explore the opportunities for working together. This is all being made possible by the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, a piece of federal regulation that is intended to open up traditional capital markets to emerging businesses.”passionfirstfunding.com

Passion First is currently awaiting approval of by the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and will be launched in the upcoming months. If you’d like to get more information and receive updates, go to their website: passionfirstfunding.com

Vimeo Offers Crowd-Funded Indie Filmmakers Access to $500K Marketing Fund

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Vimeo just announced at this year’s Sundance Film Festival that they are launching an Audience Development Fund ($500,000) for qualifying films that have raised a minimum of $10,000 through a crowd funding platform like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and Seed&Spark. Vimeo will give qualifying filmmakers a minimum of $10,000 in marketing services – plus a free, one-year subscription to Vimeo PRO, in exchange for an exclusive digital premiere distribution deal on Vimeo On Demand.

While crowdfunding has changed the game in getting films made, Vimeo is taking the next step supporting filmmakers to get their work seen and purchased on Vimeo and across the web,” said Greg Clayman, general manager of audience networks.”  [source: Variety]

This announcement comes shortly after the company made several improvements and updates to its video player which include “in-player purchasing” – where anyone can quickly rent or buy a Vimeo On Demand work directly from an embedded trailer.

Filmmakers who meet the funding criteria above and are interested in being considered for the Audience Development Fund can email Vimeo at this address: crowdfunding@vimeo.com.

First Annual ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

The 2013 ScreenCraft Screenwriting Fellowship is now accepting entries until January 15th, 2014. In this – its inaugural year, the fellowship’s goal is to advance the careers of screenwriters through ongoing consultation and introductions to key entertainment executives and talent representatives. Plus, several other prizes – like a $1,000 stipend, round-trip travel to Los Angeles and meetings with “hand-picked” development execs and industry reps from Warner Bros., Lionsgate, Fox, etc. (see full details and terms).

This is not merely a contest; it is a chance to enter an intensive program meant to foster relationships with industry professionals. With this first-annual fellowship, we aim to cultivate a growing community of visionary screenwriters with meaningful connections to industry veterans and mentors.” – from screencraft.org

The Fellowship award recipients for both television and film will also be acknowledged at the WGA Awards ceremony on Feb. 1st, 2014 in New York.

Check out all the details at ScreenCraft’s official Fellowship site.

Interview with Writer/Director Nathan Ives on his DIY Grassroots Theatrical Plan

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Every independent filmmaker has to face the innumerable challenges in every phase of making their film – which usually forces them to a ‘do-it-yourself’ solution.  Nathan Ives, writer/director and producer of It’s Not You, It’s Me is currently ‘DIYing’ his theatrical distribution by renting theaters and taking his film on the road.

Writer/Director Nathan Ives

I had the opportunity to ask Nathan about his marketing plan to tour his film.

Filmlinker: You have a unique diy/grassroots approach to theatrical distribution – booking theaters and charging the audience whatever they’re willing to pay. Was this initiative part of your original business plan that was presented to your investors?

Nathan Ives: It wasn’t, actually. I think I originally had the ‘build it and they will come’ attitude that a lot of indie filmmakers have, it’s hard to admit, but I think my basic idea was that I would win Sundance, my career would take off, and Weinstein would buy the film outright for ten times the budget. I now realize that’s not a marketing plan, it’s a lottery ticket at best, a losing one since we didn’t even get accepted to Sundance. The original business plan outlined the more traditional model of selling to distributors, domestic and foreign, based on the cast, etc.

FL: How do you approach prospective theaters with this “pass-the-hat” approach – i.e. do you need to share the revenue or are you totally four walling?

NI: When I came up with idea, I just did a Google search for ‘independent theaters in NC’ and started cold calling them about rentals. I’ve found that a typical theater, on a weeknight (they typically won’t rent on weekends) runs between $250-$800 depending on size, location, etc. I’ve learned, that for the model to work, I can only spend about $300 and still cover my rental costs and maybe a little extra for gas via passing the hat and DVD sales. I’ve also found that as I’m able to get out 50 or so people, theaters are willing to cut deals for additional rental nights since they do well on concession sales.

FL: Are you also screening your film at other, non-movie theater venues?

NI: I’ve screened at some colleges, I’ve also been speaking to college film classes, but that’s about the only non-theater stuff I’ve done.

FL: Have you used any theatrical on-demand services like Tugg or Gathr? Any other useful resources that you can share?

NI: I haven’t used Tugg or Gathr. I’ve mainly been trying to get exposure through media, blogs, newspapers, radio, etc. – I’ve found it to be the most effective. I will also come into town a day or so before a screening and walk the streets handing out fliers, but really engaging each person I give one to, telling them a little about the film. I send people to my website to the ‘special event screenings’ section where they can reserve tickets through Brownpaperticket.com which captures their email addresses.

FL: What’s your goal with this initiative – i.e. recouping your budget, exposure for marketing your film?

NI: I have a number of goals with the tour. First and foremost is to make the money for my investors, by driving VOD sales, so I can then make my next film. I want to build the ‘Mule Films‘ brand. I want to build a substantial email list of indie film lovers. Over all I want to build a sustainable business model that will allow me to continue making films until I eventually keel over.

FL: What’s the next phase of your distribution approach? Are you going to use an aggregator or do you have a “DIY” VOD plan?

NI: I used Bitmax in Los Angeles to get the film on iTunes and Amazon, I found them to be excellent and the cost was $1,250 and they didn’t take percentage of sales. I’m still early in this marketing plan, and think it will take six months or so to see if I’m truly driving VOD sales. Just a quick note that the process takes 6-8 weeks from giving the aggregator the film and it being released on iTunes.

FL: Are you also submitting to film festivals? Have you screened at any festivals?

Ives at Naperville Independent Film Festival

NI: We took the film to several festivals, recently won Best Actress (Joelle Carter) and best Director (Nathan Ives) at The Naperville Film Festival outside of Chicago. While I enjoy the festivals, unless it’s on of the big ones, I think they’re more social media fodder than anything else. In my opinion they do little to help recoup your budget, and it can get quite expensive to enter festivals at $40-$100 per entry.

FL: What’s worked well in this initiative and what hasn’t worked?

NI: Well, I’d say that I’ve definitely found media outlets to be the most effective way to get people in seats. Walking the streets with fliers is less effective, but I still think has value in just getting the word out. The Q&A’s after screenings seem to be quite popular and really give people that personal touch and something to remember you by, I think that’s very important in building a following for future films. Spending more than $300 for a theater definitely does NOT work. Stay away from small towns, it’s hard to get people out. I’ve found mid-size towns, think Raleigh, NC or Charleston, SC to be best. If there is a college in the area, all the better, I’ve found when I speak to a college class, word gets around and I get a number of students out to screenings.

FL: How have you utilized social media to spread the word on your film?

NI: I keep daily updates on Facebook and try to keep Twitter updated a couple of times a day, but I think there’s is simply too much content on most of the social sites and it’s very difficult to engage people over the long term. I think an email list is far more powerful. That said, keeping up with social media is definitely important and gives someone a place to go to learn about the film. Oh, and on the email list subject, use a company like Aweber.com to hold your list, that way your emails will mostly stay out of spam folders and you get great analytics about how many emails were opened.

FL: Any final thoughts – words of wisdom that you can share from your experience that can help other filmmakers?

NI: 1. First an foremost, raise as much money for marketing as you do for your film, you may win Sundance and not need it, but if you don’t, you’ll be glad you have it. 2. Before making your film think long and hard about your demographic and how you’re going to get people to pay to watch YOUR movie in the sea of other movies out there. What’s unique about your film or marketing plan? ‘It’s going to be a great film’ isn’t going to cut it. 3. If you’re making a 10K guerrilla film, I wouldn’t worry about a lawyer, if you’re raising money through equity investors, be sure to hire a good lawyer. 4. Only do films you’re passionate about, it’s far to much work to do something you don’t really love. If you’re only it for the ‘money’ there are FAR more sure-fire ways to make a buck. 5. Filmmaking can be a wonderful process, it’s a collaborative one, be kind to everyone, you never know who you’ll be working with or for down the road. 6. I’m glad to share what knowledge I have and help other indie filmmakers in any way I can, please feel free to contact me at nathan@mulefilms.com.

It’s Not You, It’s Me is about a serial commitment-phobe, played by Ross McCall), who struggles with his decision to break up with his near perfect girlfriend – played by Justified’s Joelle Carter). All the while, the couple has to deal with their inner voices – one played by Vivica A. Fox. Check out the trailer (below):

You can purchase the film on iTunes and Amazon.  I also encourage you to join their email list at www.itsnotyouitsmefilm.com, “Like” the film’s Facebook page and follow Nathan’s progress.  Show your support for a true independent endeavor.

The Unofficial Google Plus Film Festival Returns

Friday, November 1st, 2013

Call for entries are now open through November 4, 2013 for the 3rd annual Unofficial Google Plus Film Festival. The online, interactive short film fest will include several film panels – along with live Q&A sessions with the selected filmmakers.

Our live, interactive, global, short film festival allows you to attend and participate in a world class film festival from anywhere in the world! Accepting any short film or web series episode 25 minutes or less.

In addition we will be holding live local events all over the world and we are offering accepted filmmakers opportunities to create one in their hometown. Meet fellow filmmakers and showcase your film in front of a live audience.”
–from UGPFF.

All filmmakers can submit their short films or web series (25 minutes or less) through Withoutabox or directly at the official website – UGPFF.

Check out their intro video:

Even more info on their official FAQs.

Cameo Enters the Video App Filmmaking Market

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Cameo is the latest addition to the video plus social networking app market. As with every new release into this crowded marketplace – users will ask (in a whining voice) – what’s new and different than Vine, Instagram, YouTube Capture, and all the others? Answer: A lot! First, Cameo vids are cloud based – all videos are stored in the Cloud (for free). It does not use the space in your phone (unless you want the final product to be there). Nice, but what else you got? Cameo allows users to shoot 720p HD (mp4 format) videos on their iPhones or iPads (requires iOS 7) with up to three friends – giving users the ability to collaborate, in real time. They also have a fully functional editing suite and a library of effects like 16 and 35mm, colors and themes like Luminous, Analog, Pop, Chromatic, and much more.

Users can make 2 minute short films with 6 second clips at a time (this gives Vine veterans the skill-set to expand their limited 6 second creations). You can also trim the 6 sec clips to utilize the most relevant parts and edit them all together.

Check out their intro video:


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Cameo allows you to easily create beautiful short films on your own or with friends. Cameo is the first app to bring professional-grade video effects and styles to users of any skill level. Download now and get creative.

  • Unlimited video creation
  • Free professional-grade effects and fonts
  • Film in real-time with friends
  • Instantly share on Cameo as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr
  • 720p HD video is embeddable on any website or blog
  • Save HD videos to your phone so you can upload to YouTube, Vimeo, or Instagram
  • Cloud storage so video clips don’t take up space on your phone
  • Follow friends and other creators
  • Like and comment on each other’s Cameos

–from official Cameo page on Apple iTunes App store.
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You can download the Cameo app for free at the Apple iTunes App store.

Pitch Your Story to The Weinstein Company in Master Storyteller Contest

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

The Weinstein Company has partnered with Film.com and NextMovie to offer budding filmmakers a chance to pitch the company’s Development Executives your story via their Master Storytelling Contest.

The Weinstein Company continues to back huge successful films – most recently, “Django Unchained,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and Lee Daniels’ The Butler.  Here’s your chance to add your title among this group.

Get all the details here via one of the partners:

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Eligible submissions must be written treatments between 200 and 1,000 words in length, describing the premise and plot of your proposed film. The pitches have to be completely original ideas that have never been publicly published or submitted to any prior contests.

To enter, visit The Weinstein Company’s Facebook page or NextMovie’s Facebook page. After “liking” The Weinstein Company’s page, you’ll be able to access an entry form. The contest closes at 11:59 A.M. (EST) on October 3rd, so start writing! Good luck to all, and we hope to be reviewing your film and reporting on its Oscar campaign in the near future.

Source: NextMovie
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Click on the image below to go to the Weinstein Co. Facebook page.

Equity Crowdfunding, a New Financing Opportunity for Independent Filmmakers

Saturday, August 24th, 2013

Last year, President Obama signed into law the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act (a.k.a. “Jobs Act”) (full doc PDF). The Act “requires the SEC to write rules and issue studies on capital formation, disclosure and registration requirements.” Starting this Fall, the most import aspect of the Act relevant for indie filmmakers is the provision on Crowdfunding.

Current SEC rules restrict start-up companies (e.g. indie film productions) from seeking investors on a broad scale via advertising to the masses. That kind of offer would be considered a “security.”

The common dream of aspiring filmmakers often began with a script and some actors, and then an effort to raise money to make the movie by asking everybody to invest in their project. Ads were placed, bulletins posted, and Internet messages were spread asking for people to invest. The aspiring filmmakers then would be told how illegal that is, shocked to learn that they were offering “securities” which had to be registered with the SEC. They learned that any offering to the public of any kind of ownership in future possible profits is a security. That’s “equity.” – filmmaker, Michael Barnard

I remember several years ago Ethan Hawke and Civilian Pictures partnered up on a film project titled, Billy Dead – where an initial public offering was planed to raise $7.9 million by offering 900,000 shares of “Billy Dead Inc.” stock at $8.75 a share. Not sure why it didn’t come to fruition, but we can speculate that the complexities of SEC rules and regulations made it impossible to get this project green-lit by any attorney or accountant on the production team. Or maybe the SEC just didn’t approve it in the end.  You can read more about this endeavor here: SFgate and Money.CNN.

Now, Title II of the Jobs Act will allow filmmakers who seek funding to advertise investment opportunities on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and crowdfunding sites. Investors must be qualified or “accredited” to participate. The Hollywood Reporter explains that aspect…

Potential investors must be “accredited,” defined as an individual (or married couple) with a net worth of $1 million excluding their primary residence or an income exceeding $200,000 in the two most recent years ($300,000 for a couple). Under those rules, about 9 million Americans qualify.

Even “unaccredited” investors ultimately can participate via Title III, which should go into effect in 2014. Individuals with a net worth or annual income of $100,000 can invest 10 percent of their income, and those with a net worth or income less than that may invest up to 5 percent or $2,000, whichever is greater. (A filmmaker will be able to raise only up to $1 million a year per film from these investors.)” – from The Hollywood Reporter – ‘Forget Kickstarter: How Obama’s New Law Could Change Hollywood Crowd-Funding’

There are some equity crowdfunding startups that will take advantage of this new opportunity. Here are a few to check out:

EarlyShares


CrowdFunder


Slated


FilmFunder

I believe that the pros out number the cons on this whole “crowdfunding equity” scheme. Let’s take a look:

CONS: [list style=”list11″ color=”black”]

  • Still going to be complicated accounting.
  • No proven model for indies.
  • Big studio productions can still dominate/overshadow the independent film offerings.

[/list]
PROS:
[list style=”list7″ color=”red”]

  • Having a stake in your success will make fans more involved/engaged in the promotion of your film via social media and word-of-mouth.
  • Profit incentive is better than that typical Kickstarter rewards – specially for indie films without any “name” stars.
  • Makes indie filmmakers rely more on the pitch video to sell their vision.
  • Opens up indie financing opportunities in a big way – you can do a lot with a $1 million dollar budget.
  • No proven models for indies – so you can be a pioneer of this!

[/list]

Time will tell if this will work and propel a whole new batch of independent filmmakers whose vision can come to realization through the help/investment of financiers who believe in the art (and commerce) of film.

App-Only Filmmaking – Trend, Gimmick or Evolution of the Medium?

Monday, July 29th, 2013

“Haunting Melissa” is a unique filmmaking endeavor created by producer Neal Edelstein (The Ring, Mulholland Drive) and Hooked Digital Media. The horror app-only film is specifically made for viewing on iPads and iPhones (iOS6). The episodic structure delivers chapters, piece-by-piece in an unexpected schedule – heightening the tension of the horror tale through push notifications. Because of the nature of the mobile device platform, the “film” exploits the intimate nature of how we consume sound in these devices – i.e. headphones  – emphasizing this traditional ghost story’s details into a modern digital era experience.

See the trailer here…

 

“Haunting Melissa” is an example of the evolution of mobile app usage in filmmaking. We’ve seen its use primarily as a second screen experience like in the Dutch film App (filmlinker article), Tender Loving Care, and in several TV shows like AMC’s Story-Synch features for The Walking Dead and The Killing.  Here’s a chart (below) from a Wall Street Journal article titled, “TV Networks Play to ‘Second Screen” that shows the ever changing, multi-tasking viewer:


       Source: WSJ.com

Hooked Digital Media is betting on this trend to grow and evolve into a new way audiences experience storytelling.

Expect original stories exclusively for tablet and mobile devices through app technology that reinvents distribution. The hyper and hungry audiences of today can expect edgy and innovative entertainment from some of Hollywood’s best and brightest creators… The way entertainment is absorbed has changed forever. So let us tell you a story.” – hookeddigitalmedia.com/about

Download the [highlight]FREE APP[/highlight] for “Haunting Melissa” in the iTunes Store now.

Screenshots of the “Haunting Melissa” app:

Prototype – The Search for the Next Great Filmmaker

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Prototype is an exciting new film competition from Break Media. The competition is looking for science-fiction, action and FX genre filmmakers. Eight finalists will receive $20,000 in production funding to make their short films. One grand-prize winner will be awarded a writing & directing feature film deal with New Regency.

The Phases

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[tab title=”Submissions”]

From now until August 31, submit your action, sci-fi, or effects-driven short film script; a treatment for the feature version of your film; and a sample of your directing work.

They will be evaluating projects on a rolling basis, so the sooner you submit, the sooner you’ll be in the running to receive $20,000 in production funding and the chance to win a feature film development deal with New Regency Productions.
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[tab title=”Finalist Selection”]
Eight finalists will be announced in mid-September and will be awarded $20,000 each to produce their short films.

Stay tuned throughout the production process for updates, photos and interviews from set and much more, all leading up to the premiere of the eight finalist films.
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[tab title=”Films Premiere”]
Tune in for the world premiere of the eight Prototype short films in Early 2014.

The films will be distributed across Break Media’s digital audience of over 70 Million viewers.
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[tab title=”Grand Prize Winner”]

They will announce the Prototype Grand Prize Winner in the Spring of 2014.

The winner will receive a writing & directing deal with New Regency Productions to develop their vision into a full length feature film.
[/tab]

[/tabs]

[source: BreakMedia]

 

The Steps

Here’s what you’ll need to submit:[framed_box]

  • Short Film Script – A five – ten page action, sci-fi, or effects driven short film script that is shoot-able for $20,000.
  • Feature Film Treatment – A 1-15 page treatment for the feature version of your short. A “look-book” that shows more of your vision is optional.
  • Directing Sample – A sample of your work – can be a short film, a reel, anything that shows us you can direct.[/framed_box]
[source: BreakMedia]

 

More Info:

 

Submit now!