16 April 2010

thoughts

There's a long list of things I have to do today sitting next to me, but it's nice here on the porch (the evil cat is a little less evil on the porch) and I'm easily distracted.

What was I saying?

Right, some randomness for you, mostly film related:

+ If I was a betting man (and I am), I'd say the Indies for Indies series is a long shot to survive. Probably something like 30-1. If it does last beyond April, it'll be in a monthly format, and likely not until June.

+ I'll be in Maine for most of May, drumming up support for the Blanc de Blanc theatrical run. It opens May 14th. Tell your friends!

+ Ted Hope was in town last week, and confirmed something I've been saying privately for a year or so: it's not enough to just make a feature film, and you don't necessarily have to go all trans-media (honestly, I don't know that every story needs a video game), but it's pretty imperative that you work something into the production, and the most obvious way to do that is to make shorts that stand alone as their own stories.

I know what you're thinking, it's already hard enough to make a feature, now we need to make shorts? But think about it. You'll already have your cast assembled (since they'll be playing the same characters) and your crew and all your materials. So it's really just a matter of shooting an extra couple of pages. It's not like you're going to be making something 25 minutes long. Make 3-6 vignettes, each 3 minutes long, and roll them out for free on ye olde interwebs. They need to be connected to the feature, but not excessively. They need to stand alone.

Take Blanc de Blanc, for example. The obvious way to do this is to tell the backstory in those shorts. And if we'd had the time, that's exactly what we would have done.

+ You've probably heard about this whole panel-gate fuss, which somehow I got myself in the middle of on Twitter. It's long and drawn out and I won't go over the whole thing here, but here's the short of it:
  • Panels are annoying.  They help foster an industry of "experts" who don't know a damn thing.  So what?  Name me a profession that doesn't have that problem.
  • Yes, we'd all like to talk about movies and only movies all the time.  We'd also like to swim in money like Scrooge McDuck and eat lobster every day while being massaged by supermodels.  It ain't gonna happen.  Get your head out of the sand.
  • To tell filmmakers not to engage audiences prior to a release, as Michael Tully does, is stupid and suicidal.  Worse than that, it's arrogant and selfish.  Boo hoo, critics are tired of hearing about Kickstarter.  Well, we're tired of not having access to the resources we need to make the films you want to review.  At least we're trying to do something about it.
  • I've been trying to get films made for a long time and this I've learned: no one's going to show up at my front door and ask to see my films.  I've got to pound the pavement and work the social media outlets and basically bust my ass just to make a dent.  If that annoys some people like Michael Tully, so be it.  But last I checked, Tully isn't exactly calling me up to ask if he can see my newest film and write about it, nor is Roger Ebert or Peter Travers or anyone like that.  But do you know who is?  People I've built relationships with via social media like this one.  And thanks to them, my film has almost broken even.  How many films these days are breaking even?  Not many. 
  • At what point can engaging an audience possibly be bad?  I mean, unless you have a real hatred for audiences.  If so, perhaps you're in the wrong business.
So until the people who are tired of the conversation come up with something positive to contribute, like a solution, they can keep their opinions to themselves. 

+ There's a new model coming, I just know there is.  I just don't know what it is yet.  I do know this: if you want to sustain any sort of a career in this insanity, your films have to make money.  They just have to.  So if you want to make the most esoteric art film ever, great, but you've gotta do it for pennies, literal pennies.  Or you've gotta be willing to take a loss on your personal finances to make the films you want to make, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.  After all, it's your money.

But it gets a lot easier if you can break even.

Hence the appeal of crowd-funding.  Once you've gotten your funds, you've already broken even.  Anything above and beyond that is profit.  And if people like Michael Tully[1] can't understand that, then he's no better than the people who were convinced "the talkies" would never catch on.  We'll all take a field trip to the museum someday to see how they're doing.


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[1] I'm not really attacking Tully, who by all accounts is a nice enough guy, just using his name as short-hand for people who hold that view.

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