Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Roger Corman

Okay it's no secret that I'm a huge admirer of Roger Corman. I believe he has kind of sort of retired now, but at 80 he is still the man to beat when it comes to his track record of movie production. Corman directed early on his career, and his films include "The House of Usher" "Little Shop of Horrors", and "The Raven". These are just three films that he directed & produced. In the late 60's and early 70's Corman created his own studio that feed the drive-in circuits, and eventually the video market, which was to come later. Corman brags that he never lost a dime on any of his pictures and the reason he didn't is that he is a good businessman. Yes folks after all it is called show "business". He's done many interviews and has been honored at a number of festivals, and it is only now that I truly understand what Corman did. He has said in recent interviews that the number of films available to distributors has increased, due to the decrease cost of production equipment. The smartest thing you can do is NOT making a picture. What? You say. NOT make a picture? Isn't this about filmmaking, and making films?

Well yes Virginia, this blog is about making films, but it is about making profitable films, and films people actually want to see. Corman risked nothing during production. He had his cash already from advances given to him by distributors who knew how to target the movie they were making. When you make a film you have to say, "what is your target audience?" Who is going to see this film and better yet who will most certainly buy this film. As I've said before the market is fragmented, and there are many niche markets out there. Horror, action/adventure/ thriller, erotic thriller, comedy and so on. Before doing your film examine trends, and see what's selling and what's not. That's not to say that you can’t and shouldn't make your film about "surfing dogs", but you better know the audience who will pluck down their hard earned cash for your DVD. That's where the specialty markets exist, and if you keep your cost down during production and make it cheap enough then maybe you'll be able to re-coup your money back.

Okay so you've heard all this and still you’re fired up about making a film. Great just remember that the film doesn't end when the shooting stops or even when the cutting stops. I'll try and go into a little more detail on what I'm doing and whether I'm successful in marketing my film. If you already made your film like I did then it's time to take stock in who might be your audience and if there is any cross over interest in the film. There are several avenues to go, and you have to decide which is best for you. What do you want to get out of the deal? That's the basic question here, and one everyone should ask themselves.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Cronenberg Returns

Okay so he may have never left, but tomorrow his film opens "History of Violence", and the word is that it's really good. Hype or truth you'll just have to see it to find out, but Cronenberg has been a big influence in my development as a filmmaker. His films are visceral, and yet they have a point to them. In my teenage years I saw his films such as "Rabid", "The Brood", and "Scanners" and ate it all up. To put it mildly Cronenberg was not for the timid. I remember when a magazine called "Cinefantastic" came out and he was on the cover. I ate up the article and read and re-read the article inside promoting his film Scanners. It was there that I saw a picture of a young Cronenberg filming something with an actor in a bath tub. "From the Drain" was one of Cronenberg's earliest films when he was a student, but I became fascinated with the idea of going to school for filmmaking. I eventually did, and Cronenberg was one of the filmmakers who for better or worse got me hooked on the world of filmmaking. I also became fascinated with the world of 16mm film production. I had always used Super-8 or even 8mm, but never 16mm. It was only in film school that I began to pick up my first 16mm camera and actually shoot some shorts. I loved the width of the film. No more squinting at little super-8 frames. No more mickey mouse editors. Now I was working on flat-beds, and movieola's. This was the big time, and when I heard that George Romero edited in 16mm, and that the "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" was filmed in 16mm I knew that this was the professional leagues. It was then that I wanted to make a feature after doing several shorts, but it took a long time to get from here to there, and a lot has changed over the years. New technology, and different distribution arena's have popped up. To say it was better then then now would be wrong. A lot has changed, but the way you tell a good story hasn't, and that's all that counts. I was trained in the technical way of making a film, and I am pretty good at that, but now you need to know a lot more such as marketing, sales and sell through. All things that you pick up through time. Seeing Cronenberg reminds me of the simple days of saying "hey! gang let's get together and shoot a film". In a way it hasn't changed, but it's gotten a lot more serious, but still that can do spirit still exsists in me, and sometimes it is as simple or as complex as I make it out to be.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Shut up or put up!

So I've been scrambling to get my film distributed and seen.  I've decided to distribute it myself through FilmBaby.  I recently had the film put onto DVD by Discmakers.  I have no other recourse and I'm so done with the film festival route.  Now this may sound like a sour grapes, but the festival route is loaded with favoritism, and is just plain corrupt.  I could go on about this but even if your a local filmmaker it's hard to getyour film into a film festival that just happens to be happening in your own backyard.  It's all about the glitter, and glamour of moviemaking.  (Yeah right!)  It's about what stars can I impress or conjoul to appear at my festival.  Such things as giving awards out does the trick, or maybe just plain bribery.  I mean when a star has a film coming out, and their willing to come to a festival to sneak peak it to the public why the fuck not.  Even if the film is a piece of crap I still have the star coming.   Kiss, kiss!

Okay I'm bitter, but it's a reality s I deal with it.  I can't let the rejection get to me.  The few people who ahve seen the film think it a solid film, and somthing I should be proud of.  Well I am, and I'm so proud of it that I'm going to risk some more money to distribute it myself.  Hey! in for a penny, in for a pound.  I even added an extra to the DVD because a DVD needs extras.  So once more into the breach, and remember folks if you do a film plan on living with it for a very long time.  I'll be adding the address to the web site to my web site, and I'll even list it here when the folks at FilmBaby put up a link to a clip of the film, and how and to order the film from them.  Lot's more to do, so till next time.  Stay well, and stay independent!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Where's the film in filmmaking?

I've just read an article in this months photography that explains about video disks, and the filming on small portable hard disks. A lot of productions do this already as a time saver since most production house edit on non-linear editing decks. The tape is used usually as a back-up in case there is a problem with the hard disk. With the coming of blu-tooth technology more and more video can now be transposed onto a hard disk, or several disks. In the article the author re-examines the various different disk technologies around the world. For instance I had no idea that China is a big market for video CD technology. It seems that 75 million players were sold in China alone, and so there is a significant market out there that plays it's movies on this technology. Most of the world has converted to the DVD standard, but there still remains a lot of different technologies out there that consumers posses. Several weeks ago I heard Kodak was laying off over 900 workers from in Rochester plant. This was due to the effect digital storage has done to the photographic department of Kodak. So is film dead? I say not, but it's close to extinction. Why spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on filmstock when digital media is cheaper. Soon this will impact the movie market, and then once it becomes more cost efficient to go digital film will go the way of the dodo.

I'm an avid fan of film, and it's beauty, but even I have to wake up and smell the coffee. Film has a great latitude, and it is true that right now film does have an advantage, but the gap is closing. Digital will exceed film in clarity and depth soon. More and more manufactures of DV cameras are now making them with bigger color chips inside. This will give an image it's clarity, and depth that video lacks. Already a lot of film production houses are shooting episodic TV digitally. The compression rate will be the last wall that falls for digital, and when this happens and we no longer have compression rates such as 4:1:1:1, and instead have them at 4:4:4:4 more artists will begin to use digital.

I would ordinary say this is bad, but I can nolonger say that. More and more artists work with digital, and the final product looks better if not the same as if it were shot on film. As the filmmaking process becomes more and more democratic, and more and more people start using DV the more product the consumer will see. Some very bad, and some really extraordinary products will surface. It's like the early 80's with the advent of the VCR. There was a hunger for product out there because the consumer wanted movies to see, so all sorts of movies were quickly transferred to video, and marketed as new. Now with the advent of DV and HDTV they'll be more films to choose from, and a lot of product will become available to the consumer. It is a dawn of another era. The era of personal filmmaking & marketing. Hollywood will be playing catch up with the new technology that is arising, and movie making will become less about Hollywood and more about filmmaking as an art.