Sunday, July 31, 2011

Not Since You Finds Its Audience Online

We just received our royalty statement from our Warner Bros. Digital Distribution deal for Not Since You and we are very pleased with how it has performed online. First, a big THANK YOU to our audience for buying and renting the film. We are so fortunate to have an awesome fan base.

I think all indie filmmakers should be embracing online distribution as I believe that is really where indie films will see the most revenue. We sold Not Since You all over the world in all different formats but it was digital distribution that stood out from the rest.

iTunes is wonderful for indie film. They make it very easy for their customers to either rent or buy a title and they have great Top 10 and Top 100 lists, on which Not Since You received a lot of great awareness. The downside to iTunes is that you need an aggregator to bring your film to iTunes. You can't just load your title on the site. So if you can't find an aggregator to take on your title then you may not be able to get it on iTunes.

Amazon isn't quite as wonderful as iTunes as I find films get buried on their site. However, they do send out email blasts letting people know about films in the genres they like and I've seen Not Since You being promoted many times. So definitely get your film on Amazon. The great thing is that you can load your film on Amazon yourself if you can't get an aggregator to take on your title.

Caution: wait to get your film on Netflix streaming since Netflix will only pay you a one-time licensing fee and once your film is up on Netflix, it will eat into your iTunes and Amazon sales. But once it's on Netflix, it's a great way to track reviews of your title. We have over 100 reviews on our Netflix page, the most of any online site.

Theatrical distribution is a loss leader but it can help drive ancillary sales so if you have the funds for it, many think it's smart to do. DVD distribution is dying as DVDs get phased out for online distribution. But you can still make money on DVDs. They are easy and pretty economical to make so keep on doing it until it is no longer cost effective.

There is still a market for Blu-ray as you really can't beat the image quality of a Blu-ray so I think those will continue do well until online distribution can present the quality of a Blu-ray. Most indies don't head to Blu-ray as it's costly to make them.

Television is a wonderful medium for a film. Not Since You is currently on Showtime and it has received a lot of attention from playing on that network. The attention can drive sales of the film and a larger fan base on your Facebook page and more. We are still seeking our free TV deal but I'm certain that will come through soon.

Loving the world of online. We just have to figure out the best way to monetize it!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Taking Time to Write

I really love to write. I come from a publishing background and have written nonfiction books and pieces for years. And I love storytelling. So I've been slowly inching my way toward screenwriting.

I have such huge respect for screenwriters. It's not easy structuring a screenplay nor is it easy writing dialogue. Everything about it screams "not easy." But I really do enjoy it. And I don't really care if I end up sucking at it. I will just keep doing it with the idea that the more I do it, the better I will get. And that some day I will get it right.

The chances are on my side that I will get it right as long as I keep at it. That's true for everything we do in our lives. We are destined to fulfill our goals and dreams if we work at them diligently.

It's hard to do it if we only apply surges of energy toward our goals every so often. We really need to do it every day. And that's "not easy" either. I can't tell you how many long days go by during which I'm ravaged from my producing and I say, I'll write tomorrow.

Well, that trend can't continue unless I'm happy with solely producing and look at writing as a creative outlet to be enjoyed when I have the time. And that's totally fair too. I could just write when I feel like it. But I really do want to get good at it and write and produce.

So I'm going to post this blog entry and get back to it! I'm currently outlining a new rom com and an historical film based on a true story. The good thing is that I have a writing partner so I'm not alone in this quest. I like company in what I do. And I love the company I keep. You guys are the best and make my career the best.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

When Do You Say "I'm a Film Producer"?

I remember when I was just starting out as a producer and hearing a lot of skepticism about when it's right to announce "I'm a film producer." I live in Los Angeles and you can throw a rock and hit a so-called producer. But when should you really say this coveted phrase?

Honestly, I would say this phrase once you have a short or full-feature script that you are officially attached to produce AND you are actively putting a team together and approaching investors.

Just searching for a script isn't enough, unless you already have a resume of producing films. Mid-writing isn't the moment either. True producing comes when you are ready to build a team to make a movie and find the money to make it.

You may balk at this but there has to be some sort of benchmark that a producer has to reach in order to be considered a true producer. You could search for or write a script forever. But committing to one when it is ready for the development phase and actively building the team and searching for the financing is the most appropriate time to say you are a producer. It shows you are truly committed to your role as leader of a production. There are exceptions to the rule of course. If you find the money to pay the writer then by all means, you are a producer.

It's true that producers attach themselves to pitches and help create ideas for movies. But for the first time you reveal to the world that you are a producer, I really think you should be at a phase that is further along. Once you are able to get pitches sold then you can say you are a real producer. If you can get a pitch sold without ever making a movie and remain attached as a full producer then by all means, you are a producer. You have surmounted the odds. You have earned the title!

Part of my reason for having a high benchmark for saying you are a producer is because producing is a really tough job and so many people throw the producing title around like it's candy and making a movie is not like eating a box of chocolates. It will kick your ass so hard you will need a box of chocolates at the end of every shooting day. So out of respect for what producers do, I have to remain steadfast in this belief that you need to earn the producing title.

Or maybe it's out of a sadistic tendency to want others to go through the pain I have had to endure before he or she can really say they are doing the same job? Maybe?!

It's sort of like saying you're a full professor before you've even gone to college. That would never happen. So why say you are full producer without having worked your way up on the development and production of other films and then been mentored by a producer into the coveted title?

In the end, this is my opinion. But it's based on over a decade of bearing the weight of multiple productions and wading my way through the ups and downs. I'm pretty passionate about my job and have such huge respect for producers. I hope those just starting out can understand that we were once where you are and we sympathize. It's tough and we know how hard it is to wait to take on the lead role. But, if you love it and can't see yourself doing anything else, it will happen and, if you take it slow, you will be ready.

Be patient. Work hard. Support those around you and they will support you. Love what you do. Be positive. Respect the work of everyone. This is your life. Take care of it.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

No Budget Filmmaking at Its Best

I have to give props to the Polish Brothers for taking No Budget Filmmaking to the extreme. I love it!

And I love that they do both studio and indie films. That is my dream. I will always make small films even if I get the opportunity to make large ones too. They are just too creatively freeing to not do them.

Here is the trailer to the new Polish Brothers film. I will be watching today. Congrats guys!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Keynote on Indie Film from Graham Taylor

Great speech from WME's Global Graham Taylor. Check it out here.

Take Me Home Finds Home in World Cinema Section of the Chicago Film Festival

Gosh, I love our film Take Me Home! I'm so happy others like it too. We just learned that we have been accepted to the World Cinema section of the Chicago Film Festival in October.

Being from Detroit, I grew up driving the 5 hours to Chicago to enjoy the amazing Windy City. I really can't wait and I'm so happy Take Me Home is getting such a wonderful reception. We had a great time making the film. It was truly a labor of love. And when something is borne of love, it has to succeed, right?!

If you are in the Chicago area, please join us for the Chicago premiere of Take Me Home!

Here's the super awesome trailer our editor created:


Monday, July 4, 2011

Shooting a Documentary on the Keystone XL Pipeline

We are currently shooting a documentary on the Keystone XL Pipeline. It's a very controversial topic as many believe we need the pipeline for jobs and less dependence on Middle East oil. And others believe we absolutely will ruin the environment with increased greenhouse gases and irreparable damage to sensitive regions and taint our drinking water for oil that will be shipped most likely to China and raise our gas prices.

I am not a radical documentary filmmaker. I normally shoot narrative films about love and relationships. I have chosen to work on this documentary because as an American, I feel that I don't have enough information on what is truly happening in my own country. Why are these pipelines being built from Canada to Texas? What are the impacts socially, environmentally, politically? I wanted answers myself. So Leslie Iwerks and I took on this journey.

I want to be clear that I am not taking sides on this issue. I truly want to present what we find and then we can all make our own decisions.

We are trying to be as unbiased as possible and present the issue from all sides. We want to provide a film so all Americans can see what is happening and decide for themselves what should happen.

It's not easy being balanced. Many pro-pipeline politicians and companies will not get on camera. The EPA and the State Dept will only give us written statements and off the record comments. What I'm finding is that it is very difficult to be unbiased when making a documentary. We are doing our best.

We interviewed landowners in Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana, along the proposed pipeline route and the current Keystone I pipeline route. We rented a car and drove the route. I think we put about 1,000 miles on our car in one week.

These landowners could be me or you. They really are good people, despite most being put on hateful landowners lists by the pipeline corporation and lambasted by pipeline proponents. The Keystone I landowners saw the destruction firsthand and are dealing with the leaks that have occurred to date and the Keystone XL landowners fear what they believe to be inevitable destruction of their land and water and livelihoods.

These landowners are truly trying to protect the land and their family. They say they are willing to negotiate and talk it through with the foreign pipeline organization but they have said they have been given no opportunity to have their voices heard. Instead they are harassed to sign easements for little money that in the end will be used to fix their land after the pipeline is put in. They are making no money and dealing with the destruction of a portion of their land while the pipeline organization will be making billions per day once the pipeline is working.

Overall we found the largest issue from all of landowners to have been how they were treated and harassed by land agents and threatened with eminent domain. One was even told that if she signed her easement they would do their best to keep her son from going to Afghanistan. That gives me the chills.

To look at the other side, we also interviewed a union representative who is for the pipeline for jobs. He was a really great person and truly passionate about making sure his members have jobs. He makes a very strong argument for his position. Every day he deals with members who have no jobs. That is his reality just as the landowners and the oil industry and government have theirs.

I do want to say that most of the landowners are actually for a pipeline and less dependence on Middle East oil. But when land agents show up on their land and tell them to sign over an easement to the foreign pipeline organization or they will invoke eminent domain and the land will be taken anyway, the landowners are immediately put on the defensive. They are feeling threatened and unprotected by the government.

As an American, I do feel the landowners have a right to be heard just as I would expect that right if it were happening to me. And at the same time the environmental impacts along with the social and political impacts should be considered as well.

We realize America is addicted to oil and we need it. Our goal is not to ignore the need for oil and jobs. But we also don't want to ignore the impacts to the environment and the landowners who are feeling attacked and threatened. There were many tears from hardworking farmers who help to feed the world as they feel threatened with eminent domain from a private interest and foreign company. Let's listen and protect them too. And when we finished filming, a leak occurred in an oil pipeline that spewed oil into the Yellowstone River this past weekend. It was quite a punctuation mark on our shoot.

We want to make this film to bring public awareness to this topic to all Americans. I can honestly say, I had no clue about this pipeline until the National Wildlife Federation called us and asked if we would look at this issue. How many other Americans are like me? A lot.

Let's get the information out there so we can all ring in on what is right for this precious land of ours. Let's get to the bottom of this pipeline. Is it being built so oil can get to China and our gas prices will actually rise and not go down? Or is it truly being built so we can get away from our dependence on Middle East oil and help stem the wars and bring jobs to America? Does it really have to be built through the Sandhills in Nebraska and through our largest drinking water source - the Ogallala Aquifer? What is really going on? I'm not sure we will ever really know if we can't get the right access but we need to try. For America's sake and our own.

If you are interested, here is our IndieGoGo site for more information: http://www.indiegogo.com/Keystone-XL-Pipeline-Documentary.

After this shoot, I will need to make another rom com!!