Q: Now that you have brought on Skye Rentals as a sponsor, you talk about base camp a lot. What is it and why is it so important?

November 21, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under Mail Bag

Now that you have brought on Skye Rentals as a sponsor, you talk about base camp a lot.  What is it and why is it so important?

Brandie D.  St. Louis, MO

I’m glad you asked this question Brandie because I feel like it might be one of those questions that a lot of people don’t know the answer to, but are too afraid to ask.  I didn’t know what base camp was until I had done a couple of films early on in my career as an actor.

Base camp is the location or area set up where everyone gathers away from the actual set.  It’s like the conference room in an office building if you will.  It is the area where you set up your craft service table, have your walkie station, have some tables set up for people to take a seat for a minute, it might be where you hold extras, etc.  The reason for base camp is so that you have a place for people to gather when they are not needed on set.  If you are shooting at a convenience store for example, you probably wouldn’t have enough room for all of this to be staged inside the building (unless there is an entirely different room) because you will be seeing everything in the shot.  So, you would probably set up base camp in the parking area.

Sometimes, base camp is a drive away from where the actual filming is taking place.  An example of this would be if you are shooting on a large ranch and power for base camp is near the house on the ranch but your actually filming the scenes off in the woods somewhere, you would set up base camp near the house and drive people to the location where shooting is occurring.

The reason base camp is so important is that this is the area the cast and crew come to eat, check in for the day and get their assignments, have the daily meeting, ask any questions of production they might have, grab their walkies, etc.  If you are filming on the side of a road or off in the woods or at a location too small for the entire crew to fit, then you need this area as a gathering place.  It is important to have it to keep order and let everyone know what’s going on.

That is what we are talking about when we talk about Skye Rentals.  I love these guys because they provide everything you would need to have a successful base camp.  I know it sounds silly, but having a table and chairs and some tents or heat lamps makes all the difference in the world to how professional your shoot looks and feels.  It may not seem important, but if your crew knows you took enough time to set up a base camp that has at least the basics, they are going to understand that you take your job seriously and they will treat the production a little more professionally and that will show up on screen.

Episode Ninety-Two: Tech in Film

November 9, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under episodes

As technology advances, the options for independent filmmakers increase significantly, which can make picking a camera or a digital release platform very difficult and overwhelming. Filmmaker Andrew Robinson joins us to talk about everything from selecting the right camera for your project to working with Hulu as a release platform and home theater technology.


Andrew Robinson- Director

Andrew Robinson’s career in Hollywood began eight years ago creating advertising and marketing campaigns for some of the industry’s biggest films and television shows. Upon graduating from The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California Robinson took a job at BLT & Associates working for clients such as ABC, TNT and CNN. Robinson left BLT and went to work for Shoolery Design and their primary client CBS, helping with the launch of the hugely successful CSI: Miami for Jerry Bruckheimer.

Following his time at Shoolery, Robinson worked for Crew Creative Advertising in their theatrical advertising department. During his first three years at Crew Creative, Robinson worked on various hit films, including Harry Potter, Superman, Jarhead, The Island, Rambo 4, Happy Feet, Dodgeball and The Dukes of Hazzard to name a few.

Robinson returned to television advertising as co-creative director of the newly formed Network Department at Crew Creative. While serving as the department’s co-creative director, Robinson oversaw the launch of TNT’s The Closer, Tyler Perry’s House of Pain, A&E’s Mad Men, and FX’s Dirt and Rescue Me, among others.

Robinson’s advertising and film work has been seen all over the world and has been covered by The Daily Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, LA Times, CNN, Fox, KTLA and more.

During his five years at Crew Creative, Robinson found time to write and direct the feature film, April Showers starring Kelly Blatz (Disney’s Aaron Stone), Daryl Sabara (Spy Kids), Illeana Douglas (To Die For) and Tom Arnold (True Lies). April Showers was released by Warner Brothers in the spring of 2011.
Currently, Robinson is hard at work on his next film Love in Training, which will begin production in 2012.

Andrew Robinson’s Website

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The Sum of All Parts

November 8, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under Writing Method

The Sum of All Parts

A fractal is geometric shape that can be broken apart into infinitely smaller versions of itself. They look like this:

Photo by Idea go.

Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

They show up in land formations, on some animals, in lightning and in frost patterns. They should show up in your screenplays.

How does a screenplay work like a snowflake, you ask? Well, apart from the fact that it’s unique and its existence requires you to often be cold and transient, the 3-act structure that guides your whole screenplay should also guide each scene.

Your characters should be different at the end of your screenplay than they are at the beginning. At the beginning of your movie, an inciting incident forces the character to act. At the first act turn, they should make a choice that fundamentally changes their trajectory. At the end of the second act, they should, because of their own actions, be at their worst so that they can be redeemed by making a new set of choices through the third act.

Each scene should work this way as well.

The changes and choices will be on a smaller scale, but the same emotional movement should apply.

Your character should be different at the end of each scene than they are at the beginning. If they are not different in some way that means that they’re not changing. And that’s boring. If your character is happy at the beginning of a scene and then, regardless of what happens, is happy at the end of the scene, that indicates that either nothing happened or that your character doesn’t have the ability to react to things that are happening. Also, if your character isn’t changing from scene to scene, then it is unlikely that they will be able to change as a person when you look at the whole screenplay.

Each scene should have an inciting incident—something that makes this scene necessary. Whether your character is answering a phone call, introducing themselves to a new customer or planning how they’re going to jump off a bridge, there must be something new that is happening that your character is reacting to.

Your character should take action. Even if the character chooses to be inactive, the character must do something. The character can choose to answer the phone…or not. They can choose to be nice to the customer, ask the customer a question or throw food in the customer’s face. Or they can use tripadvisor to find the perfect bridge.

Something must happen in each scene that is new or different. The phone call can be from someone unexpected, or from someone expected but who’s delivering unexpected news. The customer can deliver a present, detonate a bomb or propose. All the bridges in the country, your character learns, have been washed away.

Your character must have a physical and emotional reaction. They may hang up the phone, call the police on the customer or decide to start building their own bridge. Whatever they do, they must feel differently at the end of the scene than they did at the beginning. If they were happy before the phone call, they must now be embarrassed or defensive or scared. If they were bored before the customer, they must now be titillated or sad. If they were content before the bridge searching, they must now be determined or vengeful. Whatever the change is, it needs to happen so that the larger change can happen by the end of the screenplay.

Episode Ninety-One: Super Post

November 2, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under episodes

When tackling post-production you want to have someone on board that knows the ins and outs of managing your post-production team and who is familiar with working with a number of different film formats. It’s also extremely important to work with a supervisor who is an expert in film deliverables in order to handle all the requests you will receive should you be lucky enough to work with a domestic or foreign distributor.


Anthony Gore-Post Production Supervisor

I have been the Executive in Charge of Post Production for the independent film production company, The Bubble Factory for over 11 years.  Most notably on the films: Playing Mona Lisa (2000), Bad Girls From Valley High (2005), The Devil’s Tomb (2009) and Creature (2011).  My other post production credits include the Adult Swim hit TV series Childrens Hospital and the cult classic television show, Sordid Lives: The Series, as well as the critically acclaimed independent films, West Of Brooklyn and Revolution Green. Currently I am supervising the independent film For The Love Of Money starring James Caan. I am a graduate of Rutgers University and I am an active member of the Motion Picture Editor’s Guild and Producer’s Guild of America.

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Episode Ninety: Connecting With an Audience

October 26, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under episodes

One of the most important things to consider as you’re making your movie is how you’re going to connect with an audience. Whether it be a niche subject or a broader family film, you must know who your audience is and how you will find them. Jon Reiss of Think Outside the Box Office joins us to share his pearls of wisdom on the topic.

Jon Reiss- Producer/Author

Named one of “10 Digital Directors to Watch” by Daily Variety, Jon Reiss is a critically acclaimed filmmaker whose experience releasing his most recent documentary feature, Bomb It with a hybrid strategy was the inspiration for writing Think Outside the Box Office: The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution in the Digital Era, the first step-by-step guide for filmmakers to distribute and market their films.  In that book he created the concept of the Producer of Marketing and Distribution (PMD) in order create a new crew member who would be in charge of a film’s audience engagement and release.

As a consultant, Reiss is unique as one of the only filmmakers who works with other filmmakers throughout the world helping them devise strategies to release their films.  Reiss has worked with IFP, the Sundance Institute, Screen Australia, Film Independent, Creative Scotland, The South Australian Film Corporation and numerous film schools and festivals to devise ways to educate and help independent filmmakers in the new economic landscape.  He has conducted over a dozen TOTBO Workshops over three continents in the last year and is the year round distribution and marketing mentor at the IFP Filmmaker Labs. He also teaches at the Film Directing Program at Cal Arts.

Reiss is working on two more book projects: the first is devoted to the PMD, the second book takes the structure of distribution and marketing outlined in TOTBO and applies it to all the art forms. Reiss is also a regular contributor to Indiewire, Tribeca Future of Film, Sundance Artists Services, Hope for Film and other publications.

For more information go to: www.jonreiss.com

FB: www.facebook.com/reiss.jon

Twitter: www.twitter.com/Jon_Reiss

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Q: What’s the best way to get names attached?

October 24, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under Mail Bag

Q:  What’s the best way to get names attached?

Aleisha Gore via facebook

There is no one-way to attach talent and attaching talent can be a daunting task.  The one thing you must have is a good script. It helps if it’s not your director’s first film and if you have some work you can show the agent.

The standard process is to send your script around to agents and have them read it and see if it’s right for their talent.  If you can go through the manager you may have an easier time of it but getting people you don’t know to read your script is a challenge. I know this sounds pretty gloomy, but I just want you to be prepared.  I have sent out scripts from directors that have worked with pretty big names and it’s still a challenge to get a response. There are a couple of things you can do to hedge your bet though.

1.   NETWORK.   You may be thinking “but how do I network with Brad Pitt?” and my answer would be, you probably don’t. But, you might network with his agent or assistant or know someone who knows someone he is close with. You may also know someone who has worked with the talent you’re looking to attach and don’t even know that they struck up a great relationship on set and are now buddies (contrary to popular opinion, people who have the actual relationships with the stars don’t go around bragging about it) so mention your desired talent to everyone you can think of without being obnoxious about it.

2.   BE PROFESSIONAL.  This may seem like a no-brainer, but I am not just talking about showing up for meetings on time and answering your phone properly (very important things BTW), I am talking about having a well put together script and a well put together plan. Why are you planning to attach this talent? Meaning, are you doing it just because their name is Brad Pitt? Have you put any thought into what the actor might get out of it? If you haven’t, then you should not approach them until you can answer these questions and have a well thought out, professional plan including a script that has been read by people other than your mom or best friends, a script that is well formatted and a script that has been proof read for spelling and grammar.

3.   HAVE THE MONEY.  Using an actor as an attachment in order to raise money is a very common practice in this business.  However, if you have a great script, have done some networking and have a plan you might not need an actor attached to raise the money. Sometimes newer filmmakers make the mistake of attaching talent too soon and/or attaching the wrong talent for the role and project. If you can raise the money before casting it will give you a lot more to work with. If you know how much you are wanting for an actor, you can always raise just that amount and do a pay or play deal with the talent. That means they get the money whether the film is made or not.

4.   CONSULT. Make sure if you are looking to attach talent that you consult with a professional. Someone who works in distribution and knows what “names” are actually worth attaching early on. You would be surprised who actually moves the needle when it comes to sales.  Also, the talent that means something to a US audience might mean very little to a foreign audience and the bulk of your sales money will be foreign.

Whether you attach name talent before hand or during, the most important thing is making sure you cast people who are right for the role and who will benefit the project.

Episode Eighty-Nine: The Sound Edit

October 19, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under episodes

You may have heard it said that sound can make or break a film and wondering how that could be possible. More than likely you’ve seen a low budget movie and known that something wasn’t quite right, but you couldn’t put your finger on it. Chances are, the sound was shotty. Shaun Burdick joins us to discuss the different jobs of a sound editor on small and large scale movies.


Shaun Burdick- Sound Editor

Shaun Burdick is a Los Angeles based Sound Designer. A graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design’s MFA program, he got his start working on Jamil Walker Smith’s directorial debut Make a Movie Like Spike… as the film’s Dialogue Editor. For the past ten years he has leant his talents as a designer and mixer to various theatrical productions and independent films around the country.  His most recent credits have included Re-recording Mixer on the independent documentary Empty Hand: The Real Karate Kids, Sound Designer for The Night Shift, TV pilot Jalama Beach, Mother’s Red Dress, Of Silence and additional audio design on the video game Supremacy MMA. In February 2011 he was nominated for the MPSE Verna Field Award for his sound design work on the short film En Route. Currently Shaun is serving as the Sound Designer/Re-Recording Mixer for the independent feature 29000 Wishes. 1 Regret.

www.burdicksound.com

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Episode Eighty-Eight: Selling Your Film

October 12, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under episodes

Many people have lofty dreams of making their own film “masterpiece”. It’s a nobel pursuit to throw caution to the wind, forget all the naysayers, and make your movie the way you want to do it. That is of course unless you have investors that are expecting to be paid back. Join us as we talk to ex-sales agent and founder of The Film Collaborative, Orly Ravid, to hear about her experience that led her to create this fabulous organization whose tag line is “Filmmakers First”.

Orly Ravid- Founder of The Film Collaborative (TFC)

Orly is a 12-year industry veteran whose experience in film ranges from festival programming to acquisitions &  domestic licensing and distribution, as well as business affairs, foreign sales, and digital distribution. In 1998, Orly joined veteran boutique foreign sales company Amazing Movies & Highland Crest Pictures and launched the company’s Art House domestic distribution label.

Orly then joined Maxmedia, producers of Chen Kaige’s Cannes Selection Emperor and the Assassin and the Miramax/Dimension release The Others starring Nicole Kidman. At Maxmedia Ravid worked in production and development and created FilmFixx, the company’s domestic distribution arm that launched with the highly controversial film Baise Moi. Orly subsequently consulted for various independent distributors and filmmakers under her own label, Ravid Film Consulting. In 2004 Orly launched Wolfe Releasing’s foreign sales, theatrical, and digital distribution arms and handled its acquisitions and business affairs.

In 2010 Orly founded The Film Collaborative (TFC), the first non-profit organization devoted to the distribution-education and the distribution of art house and documentary cinema. The Film Collaborative since its launch has worked with over 100 filmmakers.  It has consulted on distribution for films such as Sundance Winners GasLand and Contracorriente (Undertow), Revenge of the Electric Car (Tribeca), SXSW Winner Weekend, to name just a few.  TFC specializes in splitting rights and helping filmmakers navigate digital distribution, and it created the first ever Digital Distribution Guide (TM) utilized by filmmakers and industry alike.  TFC was commissioned to write a report on the topic for uniFRANCE to help its sales agents to navigate new media and has advised Sundance on its new “artists services” digital distribution initiative. TFC is releasing a book about distribution entitled Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul that will be available in multiple digital formats and in paperback as of September 19, 2011.

From 2007 -2009 Orly served as VP of Acquisitions and Distribution of publicly traded Berlin-based Senator Entertainment. Orly regularly moderates or speaks on panels at Sundance and other film festivals regarding new technology and digital distribution. Orly served as a Programming Associate for documentaries at the Sundance Film Festival and as Programming Consultant for Palm Springs International. Orly has served on the Board of Directors of Outfest Los Angeles Film Festival. Orly earned a B.A in English Literature and Film Studies at Columbia University and graduated with honors.

The Film Collaborative Website

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Episode Eighty-Seven: Music in Film

October 5, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under episodes

It’s hard to imagine a movie without music. Music is one of the key elements in filmmaking and is  used to help set the tone of a film as well as supplement emotional arcs of characters. The topic is vast, but we attempt to scratch the surface with composer Paul Spaeth and music manager Susan Thampi. In this episode we discuss budgeting for music, licensing, and working with a composer to score your film.


Susan Thampi- Music Manager

Susan has worked in all areas of the film industry including development, distribution, and both live action and animation production. A graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts and the Thornton School of music, she got her start in post-production at Kennedy Marshall productions, after selling her couch on craigslist to an executive at Warner Bros. She has worked on over twenty freelance independent productions in various roles including production designer, editor, and producer.  She joined DreamWorks Animation in 2009, and was named Music Manager for the studio in January 2011. That same month, she released her first solo classical music album entitled Chanson Boheme, a fusion of opera and world music. She is currently working on the animated feature Puss in Boots for DreamWorks, set to release in theatres on November 4, 2011.

Susan’s Website

Paul Spaeth- Composer

Paul Spaeth’s soaring yet poignant artistry has inspired admiration from a large and diverse audience. At MP3.com, upon reaching over 1.6 million downloads, Paul Spaeth was recognized as the Top Artist in LA and remained in the Top-Ten of Amazon’s download charts for months.

Evidence of his wide-ranging musical appeal began with winning the Pepsi-Summerfest Talent Search at age 15; as a solo pianist competing against rock bands. Since then, mentors such as Morten Lauridsen (composer-in-residence, LA Master Chorale) and film composer Christopher Young (The Shipping News, Spiderman 3) have praised Spaeth for his “innate talent” and rare melodic sensitivity.

Paul Spaeth rides the line between silver screen, stage, and concert hall with resounding success. Spaeth’s work in cinema has premiered at such prestigious film festivals as Toronto, Monaco, Naples, and Montreal. Since the premiere of his first orchestral piece at age 17, his award-winning concert works have been recorded by some of the leading artists of his generation. Spaeth’s artistry has inevitably attracted high-profile producers, agents and multi-platinum songwriters, and in 2003 he won the Recording Academy’s Grammy Scholarship Award.

Paul Spaeth attributes his success to his philosophy of the “numinous experience in music”: a clarity and directness that draws individuals to an intensely personal experience. As said by one listener, “The subtleties strike us honestly, driving to the core of who and what we are.”

Spaeth Music

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Q: How does one go about getting film production insurance…?

October 3, 2011 by cindy  
Filed under Mail Bag

Q:  How does one go about getting film production insurance and what are the costs to consider when budgeting for an indie film?

Ferdinand via twitter @filmmethod

There are several places to go for film production insurance.  The thing you have to make sure you understand is that production insurance is a very specific type of insurance and most insurance companies don’t carry it.  So, if you are filming something outside of a state that is used to having films there, they probably won’t have it.  You can get it from a state outside of the one you are shooting in and it will cover it.

I recommend talking to filmmakers who have gotten insurance before and see who they like and contact that agency.  Don’t be afraid to ask for a quote during the budgeting process, in fact, that is the best way to do it.  I would get a quote while budgeting from a few different companies, for budgeting purposes, pick the highest quote and then add a little more money to that line item just to make sure you can cover yourself incase the prices change between the time of budgeting and filming. Also, production insurance is not the same as work comp so be aware of that.  If you go through a payroll company, they will usually have work comp that you can get through them for a percentage.

You are going to need (at minimum) a policy that covers up to a million dollars on equipment and locations.  Most equipment rental companies will expect that and so will most locations.  You also need to make sure you understand that most insurance claims have a deductable per claim.  For example, if you break a light and you damage someone’s property at the same time, that’s two separate claims.  Therefore, the deductable will need to be paid twice.  So, budget in there for a few claims just in case.  Also, some of these policies don’t cover auto.  So, if you need to rent a grip truck, be aware of this.

When you do find the insurance company with the best policy for your shoot you should be prepared to show them your script and fill out a form that may seem a little strange to you.  They do this so that you can’t lie when applying for insurance.  For example, if you have animals, guns, stunts (even if it’s just one person falling down), etc., that will change your policy quote.   Don’t lie on your application just to save a few bucks because it’s not worth it.  Because if they find out you did have a dog on set and you didn’t tell them, they can legally deny your claim because it voids your policy.

Oh and don’t forget about E&O (Errors and Omissions) insurance while you’re budgeting.  This is an insurance that you will need to get once the film is completed.  You can get quotes on that in the budgeting process as well.

Don’t be afraid of the insurance process, it is there to protect you.  Your best bet is to get the quotes early so you have budgeted enough to cover what you need.

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