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Posts Tagged ‘indieWIRE’

“The advice I give for filmmakers starting out is don’t wait for me. Don’t wait for the industry… It’s a mistake to wait for Hollywood to tell you you have a good idea. If you have a good idea, try to make it on your own as cheaply as possible… on your phone.”
Producer Jason Blum (Whiplash, Get Out, Paranormal Activity)
(His Blumhouse Productions focuses on making films in the $3-4 million range)
IndieWire/SXSW: Low-Budget Producer Jason Blum on the Secret of His Success by Paula Bernstein

Related Posts:
“Don’t try and compete with Hollywood”—Edward Burns
How to Shoot a Feature Film in 10 Days
10 Low-Budget Filmmaking Quotes
Shooting a Feature Film in a Coffin
Aiming for Small Scale Success First

Scott W. Smith

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“I often say to people: ‘You absolutely can make movies. The idea of having a career in the movie business is a very, very different thing.’ That’s just dollar and cents. A garage band can release their music for free on the web make their money by gigging live. You can’t do that as a moviemaker. People have to pay for the movie, not to see you talk about it. There’s a pretty big generation of people who are just so used to getting things for free. It’s really hard to make money back on a movie now…Moviemaking has gotten a lot more democratic. If you’re just starting with a credit card and a bunch of friends, you can make a movie. You don’t have to buy film stock and develop it anymore. But getting it distributed is really tough, and one of the reasons it’s tough is because everybody else can make a movie.”
Two-time Oscar-nominated writer/director John Sayles (Lone Star, Passion Fish)
Indiewire interview with Eric Kohn

Related posts:
Thinking in Pictures (John Sayles)
Screenwriting Quote #60 (John Sayles)
The ‘Piranha’ Highway
Writing for Low Budget Films

Scott W. Smith

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“Science has failed this world.”
From the H+ trailer

“Humanity goes offline. Survival goes on.”
Tagline on H+: The Digital Series website

Back in the good old days of 2005 a new website emerged on the Internet called You Tube. The user-generated website quickly became a place to upload everything from young people lip-syncing songs, to dogs chasing their tails, to teenagers complaining about their parents. A year after it was launched Google bought You Tube for $1.65 billion. A good return on the initial $11 million investment.

I remember in 2007 trying to convince a client to put a video we produced on You Tube and them saying, “We don’t want to be associated with that.”

Fast forward to today—August 8, 2012—a whole seven years after the first short video aired on You Tube and see how the website has evolved. Is there any group, any brand, any business, any company, any politician who doesn’t want to be assoicated with You Tube? You Tube has launched careers. Where would Justin Bieber be today without You Tube? It’s even damaged a few careers. The bottom line it has impacted our culture and its influence can’t be ignored.

Today happens to be the launch of  H+:The Digital SeriesA big budget series developed specifically for You Tube. In a day and age when more people would rather give up their TVs than their computer, this appears to be a glimpse into the future. And the producers are not just looking at a North America audience.

“Through YouTube we have a potential worldwide base far greater than any other content platform. I want anyone with an internet connection to be able to experience this world.”
Producer Byran Singer
Indiewire article by Valentina Valentini

Yes, that’s the same Bryan Singer  who directed The Usual Suspects and X-Men. We’re a long way the “Evolution of Dance” and “Charlie bit my finger.”

 “When you watch something on TV or in a theater, you have to wait to go to the fan boards to speculate. The YouTube channel platform allows us to centralize the viewing experience so the audience can simultaneously watch, comment, question, and even re-watch along with a worldwide audience.”
Bryan Singer

That quote would make David Lynch roll over in his grave—if he were dead. Lynch has been vocal against movies being watched on cell phones. I can’t imagine he’d like the idea of people commenting and interacting with each other during one of his movies.

Commenter 1: That is one ugly dude
Commenter 2: They need to apologize to elephants for calling him the elephant man
Commenter 3: LOL
Commenter 4: I know what I’m wearing next Halloween
Commenter 2: You’ll have a better chance at picking up a girl

No one said the future would look pretty. (In fact, can you think of any futuristic film where the future looks bright? Mad Max, Logan’s Run, Blade Runner, Metropolis, Children of Men, Fahrenheit 451. )

I don’t know how many viewers H+ will get today but I’m going to put Lynch down as a no-show. Will you be watching? Personally, I’m interested in seeing what the future looks like.

P.S. If you want some positive news for the future, I think these kinds of online shows will grow. And they’ll need screenwriters, directors, actors—the whole nine yards. Who knows what You Tube will look like in seven more years? Perhaps something like what Steven Spielberg predicted way back in 1999:

“I think that the Internet is going to effect the most profound change on the entertainment industries combined. And we’re all gonna be tuning into the most popular Internet show in the world, which will be coming from some place in Des Moines. We’re all gonna be on the Internet trying to find an audience.”
(Steven Spielberg in interview with Katie Couric on the NBC Today Show in 1999/ From the post Screenwriting Outside L.A. 101)

Scott W. Smith

 

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Now on the day that John Wayne died
I found myself on the Continental Divide
Tell me where do I go from here?
Think I’ll ride into Leadville and have a few beers
Think of “Red River” or “Liberty Valance”
Can’t believe the old man’s gone
Incommunicado (written by Jimmy Buffett, Deborah McColl, M.L. Benoit)

Until I started this Peter Bogdanovich thread last week I knew him as a producer/director/writer/actor/film historian/book author, but I didn’t know he was a blogger. He started Blogdanovich in 2010 and it’s hosted through Indiewire. Here’s a sample from his post Red River & My Darling Clementine.

“It’s still impressive as hell when you realize Red River was Hawks’ first Western (out of only five), that it was the beautiful and breathtakingly fine actor Montgomery Clift’s first picture (though released second), and that it was the movie which made John Wayne a superstar, the single most defining role of his career.  As Tom Dunson, playing a character nearly twenty years his senior, Wayne went from an attractive and reliable, though mild, young leading man to the tough, no-nonsense, usually unyielding, gruffly laconic loner he was to play most memorably for the rest of his career.

John Ford, who had rescued Wayne from B-picture oblivion with the director’s first sound Western, Stagecoach(1939), and then used him on three or four pictures in the ‘40s, was amazed:  ‘I didn’t know the big son-of-a-bitch could act,’ he said, and promptly cast Wayne in an even older role for She Wore A Yellow Ribbon.  In fact, Hawks told me, Wayne was always so identified with Ford, and Ford with Westerns, that people often thought Ford had directed Red River and would compliment Ford himself on the picture; and Ford, Hawks continued, always said, ‘Thank you very much.’  Yet when I asked Hawks if he’d been thinking of Ford while making the picture, he replied:  ‘It’s hard not to think of Jack Ford when you’re making a Western.  Hard not to think of him when you’re making any picture.’”
Peter Bogdanovich

That gives you a glimpse why Orson Welles once told Bogdanovich when asked who his favorite directors were, “I prefer the old masters; by which I mean: John Ford, John Ford and John Ford.”

If you’re not up on film history, have never seen an Ernst Lubitsch movie, don’t see what the big deal is about John Wayne, or if you—to use Bogdanovich’s words— think film history began with Raging Bull, check out Blogdanovich:

The Birth of a NationCity Lights, The Art of Buster KeatonO Rare Ernst Lubitsch,The Grapes of Wrath, The Philadelphia Story,  The 400 Blows will give you a good start.

P.S. What’s great about all of this is it continues what started on this blog in January after I saw Hugo & The Artist. Here at Screenwriting from Iowa, 2012 has turned into the year of film history appreciation. And if film history doesn’t excite you, I understand, I dropped the first film history class I ever took at the University of Miami. It’s people like Bogdanovich who can connect the dots for you.

Related posts:
Writing “The Jazz Singer”
The Founder of Hollywood

The Father of Film (Part 1)
You Tube Film School (Early Film History)
Mr. Silent Films
For the Love of Movies
Stagecoach” Revisted

Scott W. Smith

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Yesterday was an important day personally. I got a glimpse into the future. And, yes, it did involve illegal drugs.

I watched the documentary Cocaine Cowboys on immediate viewing online through Netflix. The movie has been out for few years but I had never seen it before. Having attended the University of Miami in 1981-1982 the topic alone was of great interest to me. It was impossible to live in Dade County in the 80s and not be acutely aware of the drug trade and the murders that followed in its wake.

In 1981 there were 621 murders in Dade County. (A record that still stands there.)  I distinctly remember the news at that time where each murder seemed more bizarre than the next.  One official on the documentary called Miami at that time, “the most dangerous place in the world.”  (In reality, I think Medellin, Colombia, as in the Medellin drug cartel, in the 80s  technically had the highest rate of murder per capita in the world.)

I personally didn’t see any of the crime (I was safely editing my first 8mm film in my Mahoney-Pearson dorm room) though it was hard miss all the Ferraris & Porsches kicking around Cocount Grove.  And it didn’t take much for a film professor to show us A Clockwork Orange and connect it to Miami. Stanley Kubrick’s futuristic look at a chaotic culture full of brutal violence and murder without remorse was a daily realty in Miami.

But as fascinating as that era was it’s not what caused my mini glimpse into the future. It was simply because I could watch the movie immediately online. Legally. While I have watched LOST online before this was the first movie I have ever watched online.

It was an epiphany of sorts. I had a flashback to standing in line to see the movie ET, 15 years of renting VHS tapes (and paying all those Blockbuster late fees), to marveling how Netflix revolutionized things by having DVDs delivered to your home. Supply & demand and distribution channels seem to be changing quicker than ever.

Now I’m a mid-level tech savvy guy and try to somewhat keep up with where things are heading. I edit every day on Final Cut Pro. I Twitter, blog, and use Facebook yet I just learned yesterday that the push this Christmas will be TVs that are interconnected to the web. This will make your TV more like a computer, stereo, photo gallery and movie theater all in one.  There you’ll link to You Tube, Twitter, Facebook and the like.

Just as people are dropping their land phone lines you have to wonder what internet connected TV will do to regular cable TV. If all you do is push a button and watch the movie of your choice, what will it do to DVD sales that have been in decline for a while? There’s talk of streaming videos the same day they open in theaters.

The battle is on. And some would say its getting bloody. On production as well as distribution.

Anne Thompson wrote a post on indieWIRE called Toronto Wrap: Indie Bloodbath were she said this year’s Toronto Film Festival marked the end of the old independent market.

There were few sales made at the festival leading producer Jonathan Dana to say, “It’s a massacre.”

Thompson explains, “Fox Searchlight, Overture, Summit, Focus Features, Lionsgate, Sony Picture Classics and Miramax all wanted to buy in Toronto. While they may buy later, at fest’s end, they walked away empty handed.”

It’s one thing for independents to raise the money to get a film made and to get it into the key festivals (Telluride, Venice, Tornoto & New York) but what happens to those film if they don’t get a distribution deal?

Thompson explains, “Most of the 145 films on sale at Toronto will wind up streamed, downloaded, and viewed on a small TV or computer or mobile screen.”

At the end of Cocaine Cowboys one of the ex-girlfriends of one of the drug runners asks, “What I want to know is what happened to all that money?” That’s what filmmakers are wondering these days.

Actually, Cocaine Cowboys may be a good template for the small and micro-budget films made outside L.A. It was produced by rakontur in Miami, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2006, got picked up by Magnolia Films and had a limited theater release ($150,000 domestic), then a cable run, good DVD sales, and eventually streamed onto my computer last night. Don’t know if anybody made any money along the way but I have read rumors that  HBO television is developing a dramatic series based on the players in the doc.

Hollywood in 2009 is not a more dangerous place than Miami in 1981, it just feels that way. I imagine the film industry is going to follow the path that Miami took after the city was declared DOA. It emerged as a thriving city and a land of new opportunity to those who embraced the change.

Side note: Cocaine Cowboys director Billy Corben (a University of Miami grad) has a new film coming out next month on the Miami Hurricane football team called The U.

Scott W. Smith

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