Sunday, March 27, 2011

Take Me Home World Premiere at Nashville FF


We are super excited for our film Take Me Home. It has it's world premiere at the Nashville Film Festival next month and we just secured our domestic and foreign sales agents. We will share it with the world at MIPTV and lock in our first foreign sales at Cannes - oh yeah!

This has been a long road for Take Me Home. I met Sam Jaeger (who is now on Parenthood) years ago - prior to his work on Eli Stone and Parenthood. He gave me the script to Take Me Home and I knew from the first read that I'd love to help make the film. I am so glad to have been a part of this film.

Well, many months later after we tried to raise the money more traditionally, we decided to take the leap of scraping the funds together from $5k here, $5k there. And we did it.

We then shot for 2 weeks one summer by driving across the United States from NYC to LA and then waited a year and shot the LA portion, cheating interiors, for 2 more weeks.

It took another year to finish the film and we are now ready to premiere and sell!

Whew!!! The life of an independent film is truly loooooooong. But I have to say it's worth every second.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Using 35mm Panavision Cameras in Indie Films

Miguel (our DP) looks through the Panavision eyepiece

Most filmmakers don't believe they can use 35mm on an ultra-low budget film. So when my director Sean Ackerman on The Diary of Preston Plummer said he wanted to use 35mm for a portion of the film, I thought, that sounds expensive!

And it may have been if Panavision weren't so supportive of new filmmakers. They go out of their way to help indie filmmakers afford to use their cameras. They have a New Filmmakers Program that allows you to check out their 16mm and 35mm cameras and use them for an extremely low check out fee. When I say low, I mean low.

So for Diary, we were able to shoot 35mm. Panavision worked closely with us to provide the camera and they even called up their friends at Kodak and helped us get film stock at an extremely deep discount. We had the camera shipped from Panavision NY to our location in Florida.

It was pretty incredible and our camera crew was over the moon -- geekily and lovingly using the camera each day on our 4-week shoot.

Panavision even sent us T-shirts. I have never seen a film crew scramble so fast to scoop up schwag. And we wear them proudly!

Thanks Panavision for allowing our tiny film to look so beautiful. Here is some raw footage as it came out of the camera (no color correction) with some commentary from Sean (our director). Enjoy!


video

Sunday, March 13, 2011

A Film Producer = Glorified Accountant

Yes, that's right. At the end of the day, after I've read scripts and books and dreamt of my next films, I am an accountant. A bean counter, if you will.

I'm pretty sure I work in QuickBooks more than I work in Final Draft or Movie Magic Budgeting.

Receipts, credit card statements, checking accounts, etc etc, fill my inbox and my brain as much as the stories I want to tell.

When I decided to become a film producer, I dreamt of being on set working with writers, directors and actors and the time I would spend premiering films at festivals or theaters with red carpets leading to them.

I don't believe I dreamt of having the recent QuickBooks software so I could track the financing on the multiple films and the LLCs that created them.

The troubling fact is that I still haven't taken a seminar on QuickBooks and I really need to. Instead I've fumbled around in it, making mistakes and the life of my real accountant miserable. I believe I was driven to tears in our last meeting, claiming "I don't know what I'm doing!"

For some reason, I have fought getting to know this accounting program. I think my fear has been that once I know it, it will suck me in forever and all my creative energy will seep away.

Well, quite the opposite is happening. By not knowing the program, I am making my life so much worse. Like anything, the more knowledge you have, the easier it is. So this year, my plan is to commit to really learning QuickBooks and embrace the fact that I really am a glorified accountant. Let the games begin!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Great "I Need Your Money to Make My Movie" Video on Kickstarter

I was a few espressos in this morning and doing my daily ritual of trolling the internet in order to keep up with indie film news when I came upon the upcoming indie project I Am I the film. Check out their Web site here: www.iamithefilm.com.

Anyway, I noticed they had a successful Kickstarter campaign in which they reached their goal of raising $100k and even surpassed it. So I thought I would check out their video. I'm glad I did. It's super charming and made me think, where's my wallet? And then I reminded myself that I too was a broke filmmaker. Hahaha!

Oh hell, maybe I can find another $100 (looks like they raised it to $150 - the T-shirt is worth it). I could use another Assoc Prod credit. And I'm a sucker for smart, hard-working indie filmmakers.

I wanted to share their video with everyone because I think it's super cool and were I to start another Kickstarter campaign, I would definitely try to steal their work. Are Kickstarter videos copyright protected? Shhh!

Should I be pissed that they have now set the bar so high for these videos? Hmmm.

I wish this team all the best. Looks like a great project. Good luck to them!

Here is the video:


Friday, March 11, 2011

Why Do People Take Breaks from Filmmaking?

Because it's physically and mentally exhausting. I love it with all my heart and soul but there are times when I need a break from filmmaking too.

I'm thinking about this today because I read that Steven Soderbergh has decided to retire after he directs two more films. Part of me understands, thinking of the countless years of ups and downs of the filmmaking roller coaster and long hours on set, with early calls and night shoots. If I see one more tub of Red Vines...

(I could use a nap or a Red Bull right about now.)

Then, the other part of me thinks: how can you SS? We all dream of having careers like you. And you're just going to walk away from it, like that? Can you give your career to someone else? I could shave my head...

But wait, it's his dream to walk away from. Oh right! Okay, I feel better now. Not really, but what choice do we have?

In all seriousness though, I really do applaud SS for not wanting to be so exhausted by his creative projects. And it sounds like he has some cool things to explore next.

It will be interesting to see if he remains retired. I still wonder why people feel they need to announce their retirement. What does that really do for your career? And what if you decide not to retire? Do you then announce you won't be retiring? I'm confused.

Perhaps they want the publicity? But is it good or bad publicity? I guess any publicity can be considered good.

I'm not going to worry about SS. He has two more projects that look amazing. And then he will dazzle us with the work he does next I'm sure. And if not, let's just hope he invested wisely in his 401k!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Sell Your Film on Your Web Site

Tons of us filmmakers sell our films on our Web sites (see ours at www.notsinceyoumovie.com or www.wonderentertainment.com or www.leslieiwerks.com). It's the best revenue source for the filmmakers as most of the money goes direct to the filmmakers when a DVD is purchased from their sites. We don't have to share the proceeds with other Web sites like Amazon, which is great!

One issue we have experienced though is that once our films hit Amazon and iTunes and Netflix, our personal sales dwindle to a trickle. Don't get me wrong, we love to see our films on these sites as it provides the film with greater exposure and sales. But it hurts to see the sales from our Web site flatline.

In the end, this is a good problem to have as it means your film is available to the world and gaining an audience. And you can do marketing campaigns to drive buyers to your Web site so all is not lost!