(Back to the Future) BTTF Behind the Scenes

OMG. There are few ‘guilty pleasures’ of mine greater than ‘Back to the Future’. I own it in every format imaginable and I watch it – all 3 films – at least once a year. Sad but true.

So I just about had a bird when I saw this article. New interviews with Bob Gale (co-writer and producer) and Dean Cundey, (director of photography) feature in this article.

when this baby hits 88 miles per hour… you’re gonna see some serious shit


NoFilmSchool.com founder Ryan Koo talks about his start and site evolution

I love NoFilmSchool.com. It is highly educational and informative. Especially for people starting out and using DSLR’s to shoot video etc.

Here’s an interview with founder Ryan Koo. He shares how he started and how he grew the site. His story, in essence, has a theme that I know so well from internet marketing – get a list of subscribers. A list is pure gold.

I love his story about BSing his way into a graphic designers job. To be honest, that is how I got started in the software business!

Also to note is that in this interview he says they will move from WordPress… as of right now they haven’t.

‘Trading Places’ – Behind the scenes with the key players

Last Christmas Business Insider  – hey, if you can’t trust BI to write about film who can you trust?! – came out with a really good feature piece on what of my favourite movies from the 80s, ‘Trading Places’.

The piece shines because of the participation of the principals – Director John Landis, Writers Tim Harris and Herschel Weingrod and Actress Jamie Lee Curtis. They talk about the writing, casting and making of the film. It’s a good, honest, behind the scenes view.

Can’t find a job as a cinematographer? Blame Bobby Bukowski!

Bobby Bukowski worked on five films in 18 months – which has to be some sort of record.

Over at indiewire.com they have a pretty good interview with him that covers his favourite DOPs and his love of digital…and much more.

It’s a great read – and nice to see things from the guy behind the camera, and I don’t mean the director.

From Kickstarter to Kicking Ass – Zak Forsman on ‘Down and Dangerous’

Recently I’ve been talking to a LOT of independent filmmakers. All of them – all of ‘us’! – have the same goal: Create something great and get it seen by as many people as possible.

Zak Forsman is no different than many of the filmmakers I have spoken to, at least as far as the goal is concerned. The differences – of which I am sure there are many – lie in that Zak has had great success with his indie crime thriller ‘Down and Dangerous’.

Recently Zak ran me through the story.

Zak’s primary platform for fund raising was Kickstarter. Some have had great success with it – many have not. Zak put together a very successful campaign by focusing on his core values. Not giving away gimicky rewards for the various levels of donation, but running on a simple theory of delivering a fun, entertaining crime thriller full of action.

Zak’s Kickstarter Campaign

Through Kickstarter he raised $35,000 and an additional $15,000 outside of the platform. That was the entire budget – production and post – covered through backers.

I asked Zak where the money went to – a question often asked by new filmmakers trying to figure out budgets. The top 4 items were ‘food, cast, crew and locations. Shooting over 36 days in 24 locations food was essential to keep the crew going. Around $10,000 of the $35,000 production budget was spent on food.

Zak had a crew of six, with himself as the ‘writer, director, cinematographer, make-up artist, stunt choreographer, and armorer’. In post Zak handled visual effect, sound effects and did the 5.1 mix himself in ProTools. With post production time on his side, without a doubt learning all these skills saved him a whack of money.

When the movie was complete Zak focused on sales.

First came theatrical rights, sold to Artis Entertainment. Zak viewed theatrical as a loss leader – it’s primary benefit being that on the VOD release they could tag the movie as ‘Now Playing in Theatres’. VOD buyers like to think they are ‘scooping the market’ and getting something in their home that the other putzes are having to get out to see.

VOD rights went to Gravitas Ventures, who handled getting the film onto iTunes, xBox, playstation, vudu, Amazon Instant, YouTube,  Netflix and Hulu. Also almost every North American cable and satellite provider bought in, exposing the film to a potential 100 million VOD subscribers. In the first six weeks they sold 10,000 copies of Down and Dangerous

I asked him about the new players, the outliers, in the online VOD world – like Distrify.

so much time goes into negotiating this stuff that i have to let the untested, niche and developing platforms fall to the side for now. there doesn’t seem to be enough revenue to be made there because so few viewers are using them. my philosophy is to go to the platforms where the people already are, rather than exert more energy trying to lead them to something new. 80% of our VOD sales were through cable and satellite. 18% were through iTunes. and the remaining 2% were from all the others like amazon, xbox, etc

BluRay/DVD rights went to Origin Releasing.

At the time I spoke to Zak international rights were out to a sales agent, with deals already sewn up in Turkey, Benelux, Scandinavia, and Mainland China.

Looking at the numbers, it’s easy to see that Zak’s battle has been successful. He made his own indie feature got it out in front of a paying public and, I imagine, made his money back and more. That is all any producer/filmmaker can ask for.

Oh…and he made a pretty good looking film too!

Find Zak at his website and follow him on Twitter

You can find Down and Dangerous on iTunes

Big Cast, Small Budget…’Love is Strange’ goes theatrical (in more ways than one)

A new film is going into limited release on the weekend in the USA. Called ‘Love Is Strange’ it is from Ira Sachs, who has had good success in the low budget drama sphere with films such as ‘Married Life’ with Pierce Brosnan and Chris Cooper, which took in $2.8 million in theatrical box office receipts.

There’s a couple of short articles over on Backstage.com (an actor-focused website) talking about the cast – which is pretty amazing! – and the making of the film.

It’s a little annoying when a film is touted as low budget but no number is given!

Read lots more about this film here

‘Sharknado 2’ or, ‘lunch for a day’

Good little interview from ComicCon with some of the actors (including Judah Friendlander from 30 Rock!) and director (Anthony C. Ferrante) behind the ‘sequel of the year’ – ‘Sharknado 2’. The film is relatively low budget. As Ferrante said:

The budget for our entire movie in the budget of craft services on the Superman movie for just one day.

And the film was shot in just 18 days.

Crowdfunding Your Film

Half the time I feel like I could just embed Indiewire.com and be done with it. Here’s another interesting article from them about Crowdfunding. I think a lot of people who use these don’t think about all the other stuff they need to have ready in order to take advantage of it. This nice little interview with the Toronto filmmakers behind documentary ‘The Dog’ give some invaluable personal experiences.