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.

Minggu, 27 Januari 2013

Movie Producer Start-Ups Should Not Forgo The Power of the Web

Not long ago, I met a really smart start-up entrepreneur over coffee. His project is called; "Get Lost" and I thought to myself after he told me the name that telling your customers to "get lost" may not be such a great marketing plan, but it turns out in his case it actually is. Perhaps this is similar to a travel agency where you only make money by sending your customers away, on vacation that is!

Aurelio Ocampo Jr., the entrepreneur I met, is now the director of the Webisode "Get Lost". What is a webisode? Well, it's simply a short online video usually in series or a part of a larger grouping of videos. Anyway, I'd say he has mastered the art. How so you ask? Well, let me explain what he is doing and why, and how he is gaining video views online as his firm gains friends and influences people. Indeed, there is also a rather important social aspect to all this too, he is helping people lose weight and prevent onset diabetes too.

As he explains it; "Our main objective is to find locations that take people of any physical condition away from inactive lifestyles and into more active lifestyles. One important aspect of the show is that we find these places through recommendations from locals. This being said, the show is not restricted to outdoor terrain since places like museums, botanical gardens, historical places and art locations can also be part of the exploration."

Now then, I'd like you to consider this for a moment because here is a filmmaking entrepreneur who has found a very viable niche that virtually no one else has tapped into. Best of all, it is working, and local advertisers are graciously participating, and why wouldn't they? Incidentally economic development associations, chambers of commerce, and many other local nonprofit groups are glad to get involved.

This also brings a substantial number of new viewers to see what's going on, and how their local area is being portrayed, as well as getting them off their butt and giving them an idea of where to go locally, while at the same time promoting their city to others in nearby areas, or even tourists who come and spend their dollars in that community.

Lastly, can you think of any better experience for a movie producer or director? This niche he has tapped into is virtually unlimited, and although it is not an easy road to hoe he's definitely made inroads and seems to have a perfect formula, all garnered through trial and error. And isn't that really what entrepreneurship and moviemaking is all about.

He is bringing ingenuity, innovation, and merging multimedia. This is the future. Indeed I'd like you to please consider all this as you search for your own profitable niche in multimedia entertainment while you harvest the power of the web.

How to Create Monsters

Imagine if police in a major city were to uncover a plot in which a serial killer was found to be planning to use the Internet to unleash a cult of followers who would also engage in serial killings. Imagine further, if police found as evidence an ice pick impaling a woman's eye.

Such a revelation would be enough to dominate the headlines at least for a couple days even in our sensationalist culture. It would unleash calls for limiting the use of weapons employed in the planned crimes. It would give rise to endless commentary and futile soul-searching by those who would ask how society failed the unfortunate individuals involved. And then all would fade into the background without resolution.

The above mentioned plot was not uncovered by police. It is, however, the plot of a new television series that premiers this January on Fox television. The 15-episode series called "The Following" has in its first show the image of an ice pick impaling a woman's eye. Apparently the show would have been even grislier had not the network itself stepped in and insisted that the program conform to certain "guidelines." The producers were asked to tone down a slit-throat scene.

"The Following" is not a particularly exceptional program; it is one among many such shows that producers hope will boost ratings. Not even the recent massacres seem to have hindered its release. For producers, it is blood and gore as usual.

Such a program should raise questions as to the higher purpose of the arts, what lessons are to be learned or what values are being imparted to the audiences. However, the media admit no high purpose to the arts they produce. They claim such programs are there to entertain or amuse. It's just entertainment. "The Following" is a thriller that must produce thrills. In a society where the sense of horror is dulled, programs must present ever more grisly scenes to produce its thrills. Media claim they are simply following the market.

Such groveling to base instincts is not the purpose of the arts. Art is used to express the spirit and beauty of a culture. Today, the arts, if they can be called such, are made to produce sensations and thrills. Arts should inspire and uplift. They now fascinate and degrade.

The object of the arts should be toward those sublime things that should serve to inspire society toward the good, true and beautiful. A culture turned towards the sublime uplifts those who would otherwise detain themselves with the purely ordinary and common. Art should draw individuals outside themselves in wonder, and so opposes the inward egoistic vices that drive people to disgrace. Such inspiration makes men capable of dedication, admiration and great feats.

Modern programming does the opposite. It serves to break down the barriers that separate men from the horrors of their basest acts and instincts. It encourages and glorifies the breaking of taboos, conventions and morals. Despite denials from the media, these programs do impart a wrong message and a macabre agenda that tends to the bad, the false and the ugly.

In the soul-searching over how America has become a land of violence, people ask how it is possible that society has produced individuals capable of such monstrous crimes. Part of the answer lies in the fact that television and media have become the how-to manuals of those who become monsters.

Future Holographic Projection Movies - Turn The World On Its Head, What Is a Good Ceiling For?

In the future, your living room will become a virtual-reality playground for multimedia entertainment. It will include holographic projection and spectral imaging. Why do I say this you ask? It's simple, because as the founder of a think tank, we spend quite a bit of time looking ahead into the future, and we are hardly alone. For instance, IBM has invested $5 billion over the next 5 to 10 years on holographic projection technology. If you doubt it is coming, believe me it is, and it's coming to a living room near you. Okay so let's talk about this shall we?

Now then, I know you are probably one of the hundreds of millions of Americans who now watches your TV and cable movies and DVDs on a large flat panel display. Consider if you will that 5 to 10 years ago those really didn't exist at a price point where the average American could even afford one. Today they are in nearly every home. It will be the same for holographic spectral imaging in the future. You might think this is all science fiction, but I guarantee you it is our future. Not only will it be used for living room entertainment, but also for simulation and training, and for education in our schools.

Okay so, this throws a huge loop in the world of filmmaking, it gets even crazier when you consider that much of the holographic projection will come from the ceiling, after all you can't put it on the floor without disrupting your furniture, and it will probably need to come from multiple points within your living room to make it work properly, and for you to get the full effect. This means your entertainment experience will fill the room, it might also cause couch potatoes to get a sore neck looking around at their new creative environment, and virtual-reality viewing.

Does this mean your living room will need to be rewired, that is to say you will need recessed holographic projection equipment in your ceiling? Yes, that might be required, or perhaps a set of mirrors can be mounted onto the ceiling to redirect the photons of light to create the images and the lifelike virtual-reality experience to allow you to suspend your belief system so you can enjoy the best entertainment system money can buy in the near future. Indeed if you'd like to discuss this at a much higher level you may shoot me an e-mail. Until then, I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.

Kamis, 27 Desember 2012

Using Music in a Mission Trip Video

You have had a great experience on a mission trip, and now you are excited to tell people about it. If you went with your church youth group, you probably need to share the story of the trip with the congregation, especially since they most likely paid for much of it. And if they did not help with the trip, perhaps by letting them know about the experience, in the future they will want to help!

The two best ways to tell people about your mission or service experience are by telling them stories about it or by showing them a video with your pictures (You did take lots of pictures, right?) Since you have all of these pictures, and hopefully some video clips, you can combine them into an interesting and engaging video by making a movie set to music. What sort of music should you use in a mission trip presentation?

A fantastic music source is anything that you actually did on the trip. For instance, did your group work with kids in a VBS? Use video clips from that. Children singing are always cute (at least for a little bit). If you want to use professional "radio" quality songs, look for songs that have a message that is relevant to your trip. If you had a specific Bible verse used as a message for the trip, look for songs related to that passage. Or there are lots of songs about mission or service to use in your presentations. Another idea is to use recordings of worship songs familiar to your church's congregation members.

If you are using recorded songs, remember that you do not have to use the entire song! It is easy in any good video editing software, such as Apple's iMovie or Microsoft's Windows Movie Maker, to split up the song and use just the relevant verse or chorus if you want to do so. If you split a song, make sure you fade between the songs. Do pay attention to volume levels as well, particularly over segments with people talking.

Remember, the music sets the tone for the entire video. By using songs with different tempos, you can make the video into a journey that takes your audience or congregation with you through your experience. Using a slow, meditative song might put your audience to sleep, but using a passionate, emotional song could work well if you have lingering images of poverty, homelessness, or similar themes that you want the audience to respond to. Be careful when going for this effect to not slide into cheesiness though. Uptempo songs with a clear beat work well also if you want to put your audience in a good mood, sharing the fun and exciting parts of your journey. Again, a word of caution here: Make sure that the words are still understandable to the audience. If they can not understand what the lyrics are, they will not get the meaning you hope for them to receive.

Daniel Flucke is an MDiv student at Wartburg Theological Seminary with passion for effectively using technology in ministry. Visit www.danielflucke.com to learn more.

Dispelling The "Macs Are Bad For Video Editing" Myth

Some people believe that Macs are bad for video editing because they're way too expensive, and because PC's are more common. While these do have truth to them, it's important to put them into context.

Macs are going to more expensive, it's a fact. However, they're not two or three times more expensive. Depending on what model you get, (ignoring the outdated Mac Pros) there's going to be about a $200 - $800 difference between the two. While this may be a deciding factor to some people, I would by no means consider this as "way more expensive." With that extra money, you also get OSX, a great and stable OS along with Apple's great support. The added cost may be a downside, but it's ridiculous to completely disregard Macs for video editing because of $250 extra.

The major NLE's (Nonlinear Editors) run on Mac: Final Cut Pro X & 7, Adobe Premiere Pro (along with the whole Adobe Creative Suite) and Avid Media Composer. So, in terms of software, Macs are just as capable.

Hardware between Macs and PC's is almost identical in many cases. They have the same Intel Processors, 16GB's of RAM and almost identical graphics cards. Since the hardware between the two is so similar, Macs and PC's can both be equally powerful. While the Final Cut Pro X release is very controversial, (some people are calling it iMovie Pro) there still exists a selection of powerful, industry standard video editing applications that you can use. Not to mention the vast improvements Final Cut Pro X has undergone since its initial release.

With all the specific details aside, do what works best for you. If you're on a super tight budget and don't like Macs, then by all means don't buy one. However, Macs are powerful video editing machines capable of everything their PC counterparts are capable of. One advantage Macs have is iMove for beginners. It's far superior to Windows Movie Maker, and is extremely easy and fluid to use, giving beginners the ability to make good looking videos without much technical knowledge. For more advanced users, it really comes down to budget and personal preference; some people love Macs, others don't. Both Macs and PC's can be really great, or horrible for video editing, and it is my opinion that they are about even in the broad scheme of video editing. Whether you're a Mac person or a PC person, it's just incorrect to call the other side unfit for editing video, they're both great.

Conner Productions Video Effects specializes in making high quality video templates for Final Cut Pro X, to help beginner editors craft the perfect effect into their videos.