Do we need reminding about shooting for low budget? Yes we do!

Ok, yes, there’s been a LOT of articles over the years that tell you a varying amount of tips (this article has 14!) on making your low budget film.

And yes, usually the things are the same.

But some of you (read: us) are not listening and keep retreading the same bald tires.

So I’m linking in this one.

Read, understand, absorb.

The battle is on for the very small screen

Exciting (for me) article over at Fortune magazine. Delving into the success of sites such as BuzzFeed that are fast-establishing dominance in the internet video world – over broadcast TV competitors.

It comes down – in part – to gathering metrics and paying attention to those metrics!

Some of this has been explored in books such as Contagious, by Jonah Berger, but it’s handy for those of us in this space to have an article specifically about online video.

Great reading for any content maker / filmmaker in these times.

BTW if you skip it because you think you’re a ‘creator’ and not a businessman, please proceed to your nearest government agency for a handout. Filmmakers have to be businessmen. Sorry.

Knocking down the walls of territories… a good thing or death to indies?

I’ve not been silent in my opinion that the concept to geo locking releases is hated by consumers. It comes about because a different company is responsible for each territory and some may take longer than others to release a film in their area (for whatever reason). Geo locking is (in my opinion) the #1 factor that drives piracy – people want a film (or worse TV show) they have no other access to.

So in Europe there is a plan afoot to put an end to this and to create Europe-wide licenses. Great, right? Well, now we see the flip side – pre-sales. As detailed in this article from the Hollywood Reporter, many mid-budget films rely on pre-sales to numerous territories to generate cash to make the film. Hence the term ‘pre’ sales – the film isn’t made yet.

There seems to be the feeling that if licenses are now Europe wide the combined sticker price is a) going to be lower than splitting it up and b) few companies will be able to stump up enough cash, thereby reducing the buying pool to bigger concerns who are probably making their own product and thereby less likely to buy from outsiders.

Faced with the possibility of, on one hand getting what they wanted, producers have come to the shocking realisation that there is no such thing as a free lunch! Whereas before the geo system was the reason that smaller areas were not getting films, now the absence of geo locking seems to be that smaller consumer interests will not be catered to.

I have to call ‘bullshit’ on this. I’m sorry.

What is now being said is that this is another move by multinationals to strangle the little guy. That prices and budgets will be driven down. That films for niche audiences will not get sold. That smaller communities will not be considered in programming.

In other words, the same shit that producers have been complaining about will continue. Which I find hard to believe. Maybe it will get worse for some and better for others. Maybe the consumer (who? what?!) will be happier because the film they want to see they can see right away and the piece of shit low budget dredge fest will not be available.

What irks me is the inability for producers to see that this is a natural extension of the current situation and if you want things to change then propose a solution. Perhaps another distribution method, or finance method, needs to be looked at.

When started growing other bookstores had a chance to take them down. The reason they didn’t? In essence because they could not re-tool their distribution from shipping to their stores to shipping to the customer.

Right now every producer gets a hard on for selling to Netflix/iTunes, which is the modern equivalent of getting a cinema distribution deal. i.e. nothing has changed, ever, in the cinema world.

I don’t have a solution, but, for the consumer – who is whom we should be servicing in this ‘film business’ of ours – will be better off. Or at least the majority will be. We need to focus on the customer. If we do that right then the profits might come but just because there is a gap in the market doesn’t mean there is a market in the gap.

Distribution is a fact of life. It is a free market economy. Prices go down for the majority and up for the minority. And you are not owed a living.

Sorry, I’m rambling.

Here’s your article.

On being a producer in these times…

I love this article. Mostly because it validates what I have been saying. 🙂

The article is well worth a full read, but, in short

  1. Master multiple disciplines – or if not master, at least be well aware of. Not just your area of interest, but all 4 keys areas: Creative, Technological, Finances and Relationship building (read: distribution!)
  2. Do stuff. Don’t take too long.
  3. Expect it to be a long slow lonely road.

For details, click the article below.

Great Collection of Videos from the Film4 Innovation Forum

I haven’t heard much being said about this, so, even though it’s a bit late I think it’s worth mentioning.

Back in 2014 Film4 hosted an Innovation Forum which did an indepth look into the films ‘Frank’ (which I love!!!!) and ‘20,000 Days on Earth’. There is a page about the event here, but, I want to hilight the below-linked article which summarizes the day and gives you a series of amazing video links to talks from the event.

This kind of insight into real-world experiences is hard to come by in this business.

Spielberg’s Duel: First time filmmaking gold

I am not embarassed in the slgihtest to raise my hand – both hands – as a lover of the work of Steven Spielberg’s work.

His first film was Dual, back in 1971, and he struggled with what all first time filmmakers struggle with: limited resources.

Over at (the most excellent, often quoted) Cinephilia and Beyond website is a very comprehensive article covering all the aspects of this film. They even include a PDF copy of the script!

The post mines heavily from the inciteful book about the subject (creating Spielberg’s career) and the film

If you like the article then definitely get the book. It is a film education in and of itself.

Make it Count: Visualizing Your Story

Stumbled across the very exciting blog ‘The Client Blog’ and their ‘The Art of Thirty Second Storytelling’. Principally focused on the art of the commercial every last word of this blog post can be applied to short films (and longer works) of any ilk.

It exciting, compelling reading well put together with loads of examples.

It’s all about thinking about WHY you are choosing the shot you are using (and from there, why are you combining these shots into this particular sequence). It should always serve your story.


Avoid the obvious: An Italian-Cambodian Gangster film

I’m very curious about the film “Hanuman: Year of the Monkey” that was released in Cambodia on Friday the 13th (of February, 2015).

Over at the Phnom Penh Post (great name or what!?) they’ve got a good write up on the film that definitely leaves me wanting more. Who would not be swayed by this quote:

It’s all unabashedly free of pretention, featuring as much sex and violence as the Ministry of Culture would allow, which means not much sex but quite a lot of violence.

Its a gangster film, which can be fun if they don’t just degrade into mindless torture.

I know nothing about the director – Italian filmmaker Jimmy Henderson, who lives in Cambodia. But, because his circumstances (a foreigner in a foreign land trying to make movies) might be similar to mine, I’m keen to track him down!

In the meantime, enjoy the article and the accompanying photo

Production Surges in the UK

I constantly read ‘the sky is falling’ type articles about film. So this one from Televisual makes a nice change.

It seems that production in the UK is up. And not just a smidge. The spend in 2014 was up 35% over 2013. Drawn in by the allure of the UK’s tax credit scheme, investors and production companies alike seem to be reaping the benefits. Of course, it’s not all rosy for independents: 85% of that many was spent across only 36 big international co-productions.

If you’re into the numbers, and want a further breakdown on who spent what and where then I recommend the article below.


The Future is still YouTube – big money piles in

Over at TechCrunch, Pete Borum

Borum talks about ad revenue and how perhaps you can swing this as an indie.

Required reading for those on the money side of the film production table.