Jumat, 01 Februari 2013

Making a Low Budget Movie $2-4 Million - One Lawsuit And You're Busted

While living out in Southern California I've been asked by many young up-and-coming filmmakers to invest in their movie projects. After speaking with them off the record, and in passing, as well as after I had turned them down, many of them had told me that they spent more time chasing money to get their film made than they actually felt they would making the movie. That's unfortunate, what's most troubling is that it costs so much to make a movie these days, even a so-called low-budget film.

Of course, most filmmaking artists are not business people, they are in it for the pure enjoyment of their artistic creative genius, not just to make a profit. Yes, of course they dream of one day getting rich and having enough money that they can fund their own movies and not have to try to chase down venture capital, still, each year the major universities in Southern California graduate a tremendous number of moviemakers with their degrees. They learn cinematography, and a little bit about the business, and try to stay up with real world changes in technology, something that's becoming more and more difficult as all of the industries technology seem to be merging into one.

Even though I hadn't invested in any of these movies, and it turns out that it was a good thing because most of the ones I was invited to participate in did not pan out, I do recall a few of these movies which actually were in the final stages of production, but were riddled with lawsuits from investors, screenwriters, actors, or people that claimed to have been hurt in the production trying to get on disability and some pocket money. The reality is when you're making a low-budget movie you are going to need twice the money you think you are, and it will probably take you two or three times as long as you figured in your business plan to complete the project.

Even if you complete the project near or on budget, generally you are broke and you don't have the money you need to market the film. That's a big cost too, and probably the most important part. Not long ago I was talking to a film and movie agent, now a cinema professor emeritus, she explained to me that it was surprising how many people don't realize that the movies which do get made, well, it doesn't have much to do with the quality of the movie, quality of the screenwriting effort, or quality of the talent.

More or less it is those movies which have the most capital, and/or the most friends in the right places to get the ball rolling. Please consider all this and think on it.

Movie Ratings and Award Bias Due to Box Office Results - A Challenge For New Players

As Sundance 2013 begins, I've spent some time contemplating the challenges of new entrants into the industry. Producers, directors, writers, and all the key players of these lower budget movies are surely under the gun when it comes to mass-market appeal and public credibility. It is amazing to me how much the marketing and publicity of a movie determines whether it makes the A or B list in Hollywood. A well-financed movie with big backers and big names tends to do well as long as it has a lot of money for marketing and publicity pushing up behind it.

Interestingly enough, the movies that we recommend to our friends are usually the popular movies, the big box office movies, and thus, the winners of the game. No one wants to recommend a movie which bombed out at the box office, even if that movie was incredible, artistically perfect, and completely notable. But if only the big well-financed movies which make the A-list get high ratings then what does it say for the new players, all those young kids with incredible talent and genius coming out of film school, do they even have a chance, a chance do dance, in the sun or should they pack their bags a run?

While they are in their mental prime they may have the ability to produce incredible movies, and even if they don't have the experience, they make up for it with that creative genius. But if no one sees their movie, and if they don't get the money they need to do it right, it will never have the chance to make the A-list, or even have the synergy it needs to make a big. Sure, many of the movies from the Sundance Festival in 2013 will go viral, and they will get some publicity. However only a few of the movies coming out of the Sundance will get the recognition, awards, and credibility they need to jump the gap, or even have a chance at making the A-list.

Not long ago I was listening to an audio cassette program "Counseling Clients in the Entertainment Industry - Film and Television Financing, Production, and Distribution" and one of the speakers was explaining how critics determine which movies they would watch to rate, how they would rate them, and even the award bias seen within the industry itself; Oscars, Emmys, and Academy Awards.

If your film doesn't make the A-list, and if it isn't a big budget movie, the odds are stacked against you. How unfortunate indeed, but you must not give up, you must prevail, so give it all you got. I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.