Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Alternative Markets

Technology is moving faster and faster these days and new ways of distributing films are coming into existence each and everyday. So with more households having broadband capability the way a filmmaker distributes his or her film is beginning to change. The digital arena changed when films could be digitized, and placed on the web. I see more and more companies that want content, and like the VCR market of long ago there is a hunger for all types of films. What one market can so selectively target your movie to the it's target audience then the internet. Enjoy horror movies, go google it, or maybe you like romance, try You'll find a number of films that may interest you, and most all come with previews. That way you can see if the film is to your liking or maybe isn't. So why hasn't this revolutionized the industry? It's all about technology, and on what different platform will manufacturers decide on. Right now HD (high definition) is the catch phrase, but in time technology out paces itself faster and faster. At some time it's all about getting it small enough and affordable for the average consumer. When this happens and it will. All I can say is watch out. Wired America is on the horizon. Comcast is already doing this with their movies on-demand. Your TV won't just be a TV. It will be a hybrid of the computer and the television. People will show their family pictures on their big flat screens in the living room, and they will all be plugged into the internet. Networks will see their audiences dwindle to more entertainment choices to the consumer. Some say it is already happening with the explosion of "gaming", "blogging", and even "podcasting". I won't shed a tear for the networks because they are already actively seeking alternative markets, so they will catch up, and they will be your competition. The one thing that filmmakers have an advantage is that they are less incumbent with no bureaucracies as networks or studios have. Filmmakers can respond quickly to market trends quicker then the big behemoths, and there will always be an audience for alternative programming. If one can contain the costs of doing these programs one might just have an audience and a paying audience at that.

So the world is wide open, and it's all on the horizon. It'll change as technology changes, but the filmmaker must remember it's the content that is king. No interest, no audience, no audience, no revenue, and with no revenue there is NO further product. It just got a bit simpler, but yet it's quite complex. Happy filmmaking!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Welcome to the Machine

So I usually am a skeptic, but I do have to say that the digital realm excites me. Not only as a filmaker, but also a movie lover. It's no secret that I'm not your typical movie goer. I like films with a more personal slant. Sure I love the blockbuster films that Hollywood makes, but there are also a number of films out there who were made by people who really care, and who really love cinema also. But the unfortunate thing is that most avenues in mainstream distribution are closed to a lot of us. Maybe it's a film with no stars, or it doesn't have the proverbial chase scene that is seems to be a requirement for most mainstream films now-a-days. So your film doesn't get into festivals or doesn't get that distribution deal because of one thing or the other, so what's a person to do?

Well with alternative distribution markets opening up each day, and broadband becoming more and more entrenched into homes a new avenue of choices opens up for the filmmaker. One only need to create a website and open a merchant account to sell your movie, but again that's only HALF the battle. The other part is marketing, and that is the key. The old saying that: "alone we cannot win a fight, but in numbers we are invincible" holds some truth in the digital age.

What if there was a place where you could go and get different types of movies according to subject matter. That not hype, but content was king. Would you go there? Would you buy product that you could download and view later? Podcasting is already happening, and a number of podcasts have become very successful. But content isn't free, and artists do need to be paid, so what is a person to do?

The proliferation of websites that will soon be providing downloads of films, shorts, and even select documentaries will become more and more a reality. The market is out there, but it is still developing. Your film that hasn't played anywhere outside your own small hometown or city can now be sen by millions AROUND THE WORLD. Your audience grows, and as more and more people download your product a certain percentage goes right to you. Not the studio, but you.

It is every filmmakers dream to make a film. By going this route you may ensure that you keep on creating films, and possible make a career out of it without ever selling out your content or your vision, and if successful how long will you think it'll take old Hollywood to come knocking at your door for help in making successful films for them?

The world is wide open, and you can believe what you want, but I believe that it is a very interesting time we live in, and something that will soon transform an industry that hasn't changed in some time now. Remember what happened to the dinosaurs. They didn't evolve and so they died. Filmmaking and film marketing needs to constantly evolve, and it is doing so with the help of a proliferation of technology.

So welcome to the machine my friend, and sit back. We're all in for a wild ride.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Join a Revolution & go broke?

I just came across an article in the NY Times entitled "Join the revolution. Make movies. Go Broke". It's written by Charles Lyons, and it uses two examples on how some young filmmakers are making their film, yet not breaking through. I've always said that for every success story there are a hundred unsuccessful stories about making films. It is interesting what these filmmakers are doing to attract an audience. Several have gone through the festival route, but both have yet to pick up distribution. This only confirms my belief in the narrowing of the markets for select films. Horror movies, romance films, sci-fi films, and even fantasy films all have a special niche audience, and though their are markets to sell your product to those who are interested the competition for that audience is fierce. Make no mistake you have a BETTER chance of selling your movie to an audience that will appreciate your film, but it is getting harder and harder to attract that interest with all the other films out there competing for the same dollar. So if you get a chance check out

Personally I am still in the process of acquiring an audience that cares. In today's world a filmmaker must be part artist, but also part marketers. I even feel that there is a market for short films here. With a promise of extras, and commentaries a short film can find it's audience if it knows where to look, and that after production the filmmaker has some capital to spend on marketing the product. The digital market is wide open, and I kind of look at it as the "wild west". Anything goes as long as you draw a audience & you can profit from that audience. I see niche filmmaking getting more and more selective as more and more product enters the market arena, but I guess only the strong will survive or should I say the shrudest will. One thing is for sure. They didn't cover this in filmmaking school when I was there!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

It's the story stupid

So after going back and looking what I've written I can see where confusion can set in. Is he a traditionalists or is he another DV filmmaker, and all I can say is that what ever works. I have shot a lot of film through the years, and I do love the quality, and the texture film has, but with that said I have to say that if you can only get your hands on DV equipment then you might as well use it.

I've come across people that cannot overcome the technology. Should I shoot with this camera, or should I shoot with that camera. The excuses are numerous, and the time you consume is your own. If you can't go one way, go the other way. I'm not a fan of DV because of it's small size, and it abysmal compression problem. But with anything this will be overcome someday and then they'll be another set of obstacles that you need to address. Remember it's the story that is important, and how you convey that story. A lot of problems I see in DV features are that they cast their friends in roles that should be inhabited by professionals. I read all the advertisements for films that say NO PAY, and I cringe. If you want a superior product you need to have extraordinary performances, and the only way to do that is to hire professionals. You would be surprised to see how much a professional will want in payment. After all work is work, and if you provide maybe a percentage of the films gross as an incentive you'll have a lot of good actors banging your door down to star in your feature.

So it isn't the equipment as much as the quality of the work. Don't sweat the technical. Sweat the important stuff like story, character and plot. They're a lot more important in the long run.

So I hope this clears up where I stand. I'll shoot film anytime I can because I've worked with it, and I'm familiar with it, and it projects great, but when I have to I'll go the DV route. Both have their challenges, but both offer me unlimited possibilities in telling the story.

So stop making excuses and get out there and make YOUR film. It's what filmmakers do ultimately.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

HD or Not?

So as I do more and more research into the digital realm I'm thinking HD is posed to explode. Already companies such as Sony and JVC are getting into the act and putting out HD camcorders for consumers. Not long ago one would never think about making movies on a prosumer type camera, but it's being done, and with some good results. Most all non-linear editors now are beginning to support HD, and with more and more HD cameras out there more films are going to be shot in HD. The image is superb, and you can't beat the quality for the price. So I'm sure there will be a flood of product in the near future touting HD quality. A lot of films will be awful, while some will break new ground.

I'm currently writing a project to be done digitally. Something quick, & fast, which I can finish digitally. HD is holding my interest, but I need to do some more tests, and coming from a film background helps. I know how to light a scene, yet doing it in HD is somewhat different, but similar if that makes any sense. Blacks aren't as rich as I'd like, and the image has a tendency to be blown out easily. So the experiment continues. All I can say is that the possibilities of manipulating the image becomes endless when shooting digitally. As Robert Rodriguez say's in his interviews of late. The filmmaker can now have the power of a whole studio behind him just by going digital, and all he or she needs are the tools, which are available to all. How long till Rodriguez and others begin to bypass the studio sysytem and get the BIG bucks for themselves. Like I said the digital realm is unique and it's a great leveler in the game of filmmaking. So here's to more experimenting, and more production.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Seconds can be a son-of-a-B#*@*!

So here I am struggling to get my film noticed, and at the same time trying to write some new material. If you think making your first feature is hard try making your second. There is no shortages of ideas just shortages of capital. I want to be realistic about getting another film done, but after finishing your first feature you're a little more jaded and a lot more realistic. The scars from doing battle are all too real and you have the bumps & bruises to prove it. The honeymoon is over, and you now see filmmaking in a new light. No glory, no movie stars, and no wild parties. It's all an illusion, and making a film is one of the hardest things you can do. Even after making your film your battle is not over because then it comes time to sell it.

And when it comes to selling you're film you'll find yourself swimming with a lot of sharks. It's a buyers market out there, and there is a lot of product out there. A lot of it is bad, but make no mistake there is also a lot of good out there, and sometimes it's being at the right place at the right time that really makes or breaks a filmmaker. I swore I would write here what I felt and what I've experienced throughout the making of this film and my continuation of trying to become a successful filmmaker.

Maybe this all sounds like sour grapes, but it is what it is. One cannot give up, and one cannot just lay down and die. I love storytelling, and I love the cinema. It's my feeling that everyone has a story or two to tell, and with digital video now the field is wide open. The internet also provides you with a market that has yet to be fully exploitated.

The words that an old projectionist once told me that still rings true to me is "KISS": as in "Keep it simple stupid". No truer words have ever been spoken, and so I find myself stripping away the complexities of filmmaking, and getting to the heart of what filmmaking is to me. Hopefully I'll come up with something I like. Till then the struggle continues.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Improv & good acting

Style. What is it? All artists struggle with their style. What is it?, and how is it unique from all other artists work. I guess that's where I'm at now. Working on different projects and trying to find MY style. It isn't easy figuring what to say least how to say it, so there are a lot of starts and stops. It's simple though. I adore film or as some call it "the cinema". There is a lot of crap out there, and trying not to contribute to that crap can be a angst type of proposition. So you write, and photograph, and write some more, and photograph some more, and see where that takes you.

Like I said before filmmaking is a collaborative art, so there are many cooks who stir the stew. Sometimes this isn't such a good idea, and at other times it is a brilliant idea. I'm somewhere in the middle. Good writing sells itself, but so does good acting, and with acting one needs to have certain freedoms, and not be too constrained by the script.Of course creating such a work can be a frustrating endeavor. How much of you do you put into it, and how much do you let someone else play with your material. It's all a matter of degrees, and something I'm finding a bit nerve wrecking.

But when one is faced with strict realities in the production, and producing of a film one has a tendency to create good art, and hopefully that's where this leads. Of course good art has to be about something, and has to have an audience. One needs some sort of hook, or some exploitative element that makes the piece interesting for a wider audience.

SO the endeavor continues. I'll get back to you on how successful I become.

Till then stay creative.