Archive for the ‘DIY’ Category

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.

Enter the Imagination Series Film Competition

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Bombay Sapphire and the Tribeca Film Festival have once again launched the Imagination Series film competition. The competition was first launched last year in an effort to give five filmmakers a chance to have their own short film produced, using a script written by Academy Award-winner (Precious) – Geoffrey Fletcher. Check out all the “Year 1” winners (here).

Adrien Brody Celebrates Imagination At The 2013 Tribeca Film Festival

 

The concept (Written by Geoffrey Fletcher):

The following screenplay contains just the dialogue and very little description. You may imagine its characters, its location(s) and its events in any inoffensive way that you wish.

You may add a scene in the middle with your own dialogue of up to 3 minutes in length. The dialogue for the beginning and end are set. The total film should be around 5 minutes in length.

Your characters can be any combination of people, creatures or objects, real or imagined. Feel free to place these characters anywhere (Earth or otherwise), in any time period (past, present or future) or in any genre (comedy, thriller or otherwise) using any style or production technique (live action, animation, photography, drawing or otherwise) that you wish to use.

When you come to enter your treatment you will be asked to enter a written overview (maximum 1000 words) and the dialogue for the central scene.

Good luck!


Here’s the script –

Before you enter, be sure to see Geoffrey Fletcher’s Hints and Tips.

You must enter ASAP because the competition closes on August 4 2013. Geoffrey Fletcher and Adrien Brody (plus other panelists) will then select their four favorite creative concepts. A public vote will decide the fifth winner. Then all five winning concepts will go into production and get to be presented at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2014!

Top Filmmaking Pinterest Boards and Pins

Saturday, May 18th, 2013

At this point in time, everyone’s probably heard of Pinterest — the pinboard/scrapbook photo-sharing website that allows users to create theme-based “boards” by “pinning” image or video collections found on the web. There are a lot of Pinterest profiles and boards dedicated to film/cinema/movies, but I’ll only focus on the ones that are specific to filmmaking. Here are the best ones I found…

Cinescopophilia (cinescopophilia.com)


Ted Hope (film producer)


dbykov (art director, designer)


Abelcine


Shootblue (digital cinematography equipment based in London)


Tierible (Thierry Saint-Paul – Filmmaker, Cinematographer)


The Black and Blue (Evan Luzi – Camera Assistant and author)


Red Rock Micro (sells cinema accessories)


Roger Duck (video producer, web developer, and marketer)


Peter Feuersenger (digital producer)


Ben Mallaby (Director and Cinematographer)


MORE USEFUL BOARDS:

What If Seed&Spark Is Successful?

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

There’s been a lot already written about Seed&Spark. My first thoughts on S&S are that it’s a very interesting take on the whole crowdfunding landscape with an angle on a ‘fair trade’ filmmaking movement. The “wedding registry” wish-list is also a unique set up that gives an alternative to a cash donation. That makes a lot of sense since filmmakers will have an endless list of expenses that will use that cash. Any donation of meals, locations, loaning equipment, etc. will go a long way for a tight indie budget. Some contributors may find it easier to provide a needed service or product – rather than straight up money – times are tough. Additionally, Seed&Spark will offer a distribution outlet (80/20 split) – with 100% of the rights maintained by the filmmaker. Plus, they have a bonus (a.k.a. “Spark”) that incentivizes and rewards their consumers/moviegoers/fans to join and watch as many films as possible. Great ideas all around – right? Absolutely!

Then I had some additional thoughts on this… comes in as more of a question: what if this type of service succeeds, really succeeds and becomes the go-to standard for all indie filmmakers? Let’s think about this for a moment… it would be great, wouldn’t it? I have been looking at a lot of different filmmaking services and websites since I started working on my first feature, Nothing Without You. Through that process – I started Filmlinker. I usually gravitated to whichever service was applicable to that stage of production we were in – i.e. screenwriting, financing, pre-pro, production, festivals, distribution, etc. Back to my question – what if this type of service succeeds and becomes the go-to standard for all indie filmmakers? I think it would cover ALL the stages – from start to finish of what independent filmmakers are looking for – making a film, getting it to an audience and sustaining a creative career. Remember when YouTube first launched (before Google bought it)? YouTube now supports several video creators.

Crowdfunfing sites like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter have facilitated the financing possibilities. The current filmmaking technologies have brought production costs way down. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) has allowed filmmakers to communicate directly with and grow their fan base. There’s a plethora of self-distribution choices (VHX, Vimeo On-Demand, IndieFlix, Distribber, etc.) and many more that seem to launch everyday. All good – but Seed&Spark is combining all these services into one.

Let’s root and support this type of initiative. The future can be now.

Free Producer’s Master Class with Ted Hope and Christine Vachon

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Chris Jones – who runs workshops at the Guerrilla Film Makers Master Class just made available the 4-hour Producers Master Class seminar, titled, American Independents Day in London with veteran indie producers, Ted Hope [IMDB] and Christine Vachon [IMDB]. They’ve both produced 68 films each – so they obviously have a lot to teach us.

You can get all four hours/parts HERE (for free) – all you have to do is register an account on their site.

Here’s the first hour:

Here’s some of the eye-opening insights that they discussed:

What is the film business? The film business is about people keeping their jobs. That’s the most important thing by anyone who is employed in the film business. Not getting your movie made. Not getting an audience for your film…”  — Ted Hope – On how to strategize the production of your film – knowing their primary agenda is an advantage on how to approach it with your project.

Filmmakers are still seeing the web [production or distribution] as the second best [option] or a failure – the same way that they looked at TV a few years ago… now it’s astonishing how many A-list directors are directing their first television pilots… Scorecese with Boardwalk Empire, Jonathan Demme, David Fincher… it’s no longer a ghetto if you’re in director jail.” – Christine Vachon  – In reference to producing and distributing to the web.. Vachon uses Vuguru as an example of a web production company that she’s currently working with on some projects.

Here’s the outline of the first part/hour:
[framed_box]
0.20 Introduction of Ted Hope & Christine Vachon
1.30 Killer Films and how Christine started producing films.
4.30 How to find an audience for you’re film.
6.30 How to produce lots of films regularly & why its important to make the right choices.
9.20 The making of a horror film and how to make a B movie.
13.50 Why ignorance is bliss and how direct contact with industry professionals pays!
16.00 Lessons learnt and why its important to go out to film festivals.
19.05 The film Super and how to negotiate your terms.
20.40 How fear is the key ingredient to making films & why its good to keep an open mind to do things in a different way or platform.
23.35 Online film platforms and the benefits from distributing online.
27.25 The importance defining a brand & how to make a living out of making films.
31.30 Ways of getting an audience for your low budget film & the importantance of communicating through different platfroms.
34.50 Why you can expand your brand into different genres & how it is easy to get trapped.
36.30 How to find the right producer for you & why its about finding the right fit for that project.
39.45 Why it’s important to play the long game in working with collaborators.
43.00 How collaboration teams are the way of the future & why you should have a wide range of collaborators.
46.20 Legal issues and how to get your project permitted.
49.00 How online video on demand services have changed the model of distribution.
51.25 How does online platforms effect the way we tell stories.
53.00 Why making content for platforms like Hulu can benefit your career.
[/framed_box]

Get access to all the four parts/hours at americanindependentsday.com.

Photo above from Andy Wright of Evermore Films (who attended the seminar and wrote about his experience here).

Self Distribution via Vimeo On-Demand

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Vimeo recently announced the launch of their self-distribution on-demand (VOD) platform that will allow filmmakers to sell downloads or rent their films to the public. It’s available now through their ‘PRO’ service ($199/year).

I’ve been looking at all the self-distribution options for the feature film I produced and co-wrote with director Xackery IrvingNothing Without You. As we come to the last leg of the Festival phase of our film (next screening to date at the Sarasota Film Festival – April 6 & 7) we’ve come across several options. There are many ‘pay-wall’ type options similar to what Vimeo is now offering – but I think they all do not have the same brand cache and audience that Vimeo brings to the table. Plus, Vimeo’s revenue share is unmatched with their 90/10 split favoring the filmmaker.

[Vimeo On-Demand] is completely open, so anyone with a Vimeo PRO account can create a VOD page, sell their work, choose their price, choose the regions they want to offer and the time that it will be available, make it look beautiful, then push a button that says ‘publish’… and it’s open to the world.” – Blake Whitman, the company’s VP of Creative Development.

You can read Blake Whitman’s full interview with IndieWire here.

Here’s the Vimeo On-Demand trailer:

20 of the Best Filmmaking Related Infographics

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Infographics are not only informative but also fun! They cover every topic from science to pop-culture (movies are prominent in this category – especially Star Wars– here’s one about how to defend the Death Star).

In maintaining the niche of Filmlinker, here are the best “filmmaking” Infographics (click on each thumbnail for the full picture):

“I want to make…”

Here are 4 great “I want to make…” infographics created by Canal+

Technical…

The next set of infographics are more in the “technical” side of filmmaking.

Scene Anatomy (Inglorious Basterds – Infographic by Jordan Anderson

First, we have a breakdown of a Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds. It dissects Scene 1 from 2:06-21:20.  It breaks down the shots, characters, dialogue, etc. – every detail you can think of in a fun, graphical concept.

Next, we have “Inside the DIY Filmmakers Toolkit” by Wistia.  The tools of the trade for every low-budget indie filmmaker.  From the handheld camera to the wheel chair dolly.  All in an interesting artful representation.

DIY Filmmakers Toolkit by Wistia

And… a graphical depiction of the lessor known crew positions on a movie set – by Oxymoron Entertainment.

Lessor Known Jobs in a movie by Oxymoron Entertainment

Even more technical…

Source: Awn.com

The next one is titled, “Machines in Movies.” It’s not the Terminator. It illustrates the computing power that is behind big-budget films (designed by Brocade).

What exactly is IMAX?  This one explains it all!

Source: VizWorld

source: sortable.com

Have you thought about making a 3-D movie? This next one titled, “3-D Bubble” explains its history (where its been and where its going), the business and how 3-d works.

Film Careers…

The next series looks at working in the film industry.

Source: FilmSource

Let’s start with a humorous look at “what’s your place in the film industry?”

source: GetInMedia

Here’s a more serious look at a career in film – from the folks at GetInMedia.com. It lists basically every professional job – and asks, “Where do you fit in?”

source: Yodi Group

And another… “Film Careers: Where to Begin.”

Film Industry…

Source: tdylf.com

This set covers business side of things – movie money, distribution, ratings, etc. – you get the picture (no pun intended).

First, IMDB – “By the Numbers” – (Facts and Figures About the Films that Populate the Internet Movie Database).

source: Dr4ward

Another “money” one – “Reel Dollars – The Flow Of Money Though the Film Industry.”

Next – “The Advent of Online Film Distribution.”

source: Yekra

And for the funny one from Collegehumor.com on “How Movie Ratings Actually Work.” Here’s an excerpt on what PG-13 actually means:

You can still show PG-13 movies on cable without editing them, making this a completely meaningless designation. Probably more violence than sex.”

  Historical…

The final 3 infographics will illustrate a historical look at the first filmmakers, how editing evolved and an interactive look at the history of film.

The The Lumière brothers, Auguste and Louis were  known as the first filmmakers.  This graphic celebrates their 150th anniversary and their contribution to Cinema.

Next is “Quick Facts: Editing – by The Art of Guillotine.”  This one goes through the “first cut” in the silent film days to the modern day.  It describes the different eras and the different editing styles that make up the art that is editing film.

And finally, I’ll end this post with “The History of Film: 2,000 Films, 20 Genres, 100 Years.” This is an interactive look at 100 years of film. Just click on the image and then scroll over the graphic for all the info.

 

That’s 20 infographics! Do you have one that I missed?

 

Mobcaster is Crowdfunding Indie TV

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Mobcaster is another crowd-funding site, but specializes exclusively on indie produced television content. It has it’s own online TV channel (Mobcaster TV) – which will broadcast the funded shows’ series and will share ad revenue (50/50 net split) with the show’s creators.

Mobcaster sells advertising around the series broadcast on Mobcaster TV and all Showrunners of such shows are entitled to half of our net advertising revenue. Because Mobcaster TV is dedicated to audience supported (and funded!) TV, Showrunners will have the opportunity for greater revenue participation than nearly anywhere else online!” – from mobcaster.com/faq 

Mobcaster’s biggest success to-date is a show called The Weatherman (watch the pilot episode here). It not only surpassed its $72,500 goal, but it will get a distribution deal with TiVo’s digital streaming service.

I watched The Weatherman pilot episode and it was really funny, well written and produced (by Dark Heart Productions). They are setting the bar pretty high for all the other proposed shows that will try to get funded through Mobcaster.

If you have an idea for a TV show – go ahead and pitch it (free of cost) to the Mobcaster audience. Follow their steps: Pitch -> Fund -> Produce -> Broadcast.

On My Block NYC Film Challenge

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

On My Block is a film challenge that brings communities closer together by inviting filmmakers to create short narrative or documentary (1-5 minutes) films on their NYC block . The only rule (besides being located in one of the 5 New York City boroughs) is that you can only use your neighbors within a one block radius for all the cast and crew of your film. Read all the rules and eligibility requirements here.

Also, check out their “Filmmaking Steps” for some production tips – like how to recruit your crew, Pre & Post steps and more.

Watch Ryan O’Hara Theisen, one of the co-founders of On My Block Films, explain the mission behind OMB Films and some of the benefits of being an On My Block filmmaker:
[framed_box]

[/framed_box]
Once your film is submitted and approved, it’ll screen online on the OMB Vimeo Channel. After Oct. 31st, it goes offline and the top scoring (most amount of Vimeo Likes) 30 films move on to Judges round. They’ll pick the final 15 which will be screened at a yet to be disclosed location in New York City.

Submissions are open until October 31, 2012. Submit your film now.

Free Filmmaking Course Offer – “Fundamentals of Video: Cameras and Shooting”

Saturday, July 28th, 2012

The good folks at Lynda.com are offering a limited time (July 28 – Aug. 10), no charge opportunity for everyone to experience one of their great filmmaking courses:  Fundamentals of Video: Cameras and Shooting. The course is taught by veteran filmmaker, Anthony Q. Artis – the author of the “Shut Up and Shoot…” filmmaking guides and an instructor at NYU Film School.  The length of the course runs just shy of 3 hours (2:58:00) and is appropriate for all skill levels of filmmakers. All you have to do to get this free access is go to their Facebook tab [highlight]here[/highlight] and “Like” them.

[notice]Please note that the comp offer only runs from July 28 – August 10, 2012[/notice]

[slideshow type=”nivo” width=”630″ height=”300″ effect=”random” slices=”10″ animSpeed=”500″ pauseTime=”3000″ controlNav=”true” pauseOnHover=”true”]

http://filmlinker.com/otherimages/Slideshows/lynda1slide630x300.jpg
http://filmlinker.com/otherimages/Slideshows/lynda2slide630x300.jpg
http://filmlinker.com/otherimages/Slideshows/lynda3slide630x300.jpg
http://filmlinker.com/otherimages/Slideshows/lynda4slide630x300.jpg
http://filmlinker.com/otherimages/Slideshows/lynda5slide630x300.jpg
[/slideshow]
Here’s the synopsis of the course from Lynda.com:
[framed_box]
Embark on the very first steps in the process of creating moving images. In this course, author Anthony Q. Artis, a veteran of the film and television industry, introduces the core ideas behind how video cameras capture moving images. The course covers foundational concepts of lighting, such as why light is important, what kinds of lights to look for, and where to put lights relative to a subject. In addition, Anthony discusses sounds, an often-misunderstood aspect of video, and shows how to properly set up mics and adjust audio levels on a shoot.

Topics include:
[list style=”list4″ color=”blue”]

  • Exploring the different types of video cameras
  • Understanding how to focus
  • Shooting with shallow depth of field
  • Understanding exposure
  • Using ND filters to correct overexposure
  • Using gain to brighten an underexposed shot
  • Choosing the right shutter speed
  • White-balancing a shot
  • Working with a tripod
  • Shooting handheld
  • Using a boom microphone
  • Setting up a 4-point lighting scene
  • Using corrective gels

[/list][/framed_box]
You can watch the course’s introduction video here (00:03:04).