Friday, March 03, 2006

Film School 101 (Hollywood style)

While perusing Filmmaker's Magazine website they had a post about M. Night Shamalayan's budget for his last film "The Village". This is courtesy of the people at Smoking Gun's web site. It's no surprise on where the money went, but it's interesting to see how Hollywood produces their mega-hits. Can Hollywood be called the American version of a sweat shop? All the above the line money as compared to all the below the line expenditures. I'm sure everyone was paid handsomely for their services, but having worked on some low budget films, and seeing how the pie is divided one can make an argument that Hollywood certainly pays for it's stars, and that one can say that there is a lot of fat one can cut from the budget. But that's Hollywood. Glitz, glamour, sex. It's what they sell, and they pay for it. Is it any wonder that Hollywood keeps re-making old films or re-inventing them instead of coming up with more original material. It's too damn expensive, and when one factors in marketing , and advertising costs just to get a movie out there it's any wonder Hollywood can even survive on what it does, but it does.

You'd think I be anti-Hollywood with all this, but I can't be. I look on and marvel at it. Only in America can an industry not only survive but flourish in the quest for entertainment dollars. How much can audiences stomach before they begin to rebel. I think it's happening already. Just yesterday I read that a studio was going to release their films on pay-per-view while at the same time releasing the film to certain theaters. Studios are already competing for your entertainment dollars, and in the future they will have to compete harder and smarter for the almighty dollar. Maybe budgets like Shamalayans' will be scaled back. Something has got to give, and the cost of making a film still is expensive when factoring in marketing & advertising dollars. Is this an opportunity for the maverick independent producer to muscle in on some of that entertainment cash? Maybe.

I still see the big boys controlling the product pipeline, but there are ways for a filmmaker to do original work, and profit by it, and it all has to do with winning that audience. Get enough people wanting to see your film or even better purchase your film, and sooner or later the big boys are going to take notice. The sincerest form of flattery is to imitate, and that's what they'll do, and maybe just maybe they'll cut you a slice of the pie. After all the Empire does have it's perks. If you want any proof just take a look at the above budget. M. Night Shamalayan is a good and talented filmmaker, and he got there by getting good material produced. There is no reason why there can't be more M. Night Shamalayan's. Now get out there and write, produce, and direct.

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