Episode Ninety: Connecting With an Audience

October 26, 2011 by cindy  
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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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Episode Eighty-Nine: The Sound Edit

October 19, 2011 by cindy  
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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  
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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  
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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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Episode Eighty-Six: Wrapping Up Production

September 28, 2011 by cindy  
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For our last episode of our season about production we bring back the lovely and talented producer and author Eve Light Honthaner. Eve has worked in numerous production offices in the span of multiple years that she’s worked in this industry. We discuss the end of principal photography and transitioning into post-production.

Eve Light Honthaner- Producer/Author/Teacher

Eve’s career in the entertainment industry spans many years, primarily in the field of production management.  She’s worked in every capacity from PA to line producer and as a staff production executive, most recently for DreamWorks.  She’s worked on shows budgeted anywhere from $1 – $250 million and on projects that have been shot throughout the U.S. and internationally, including Titanic, Just Married and Tropic Thunder.

Eve is the author of The Complete Film Production Handbook and HOLLYWOOD DRIVE: What it Takes to Break in, Hang in & Make it in the Entertainment Industry.  And since 1998, she’s combined her many years of practical experience with a love of teaching to help others succeed in this fiercely competitive business.

In addition to the six-week course she teaches at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts each summer, schedule permitting, she does one- and two-day workshops throughout the country.

Eve’s Website- http://evehonthaner.com

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Episode Eighty-Five: Look of Picture

September 21, 2011 by cindy  
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Have you ever thought of everything that goes into creating the whole look of a film? We’ve brought in three experts to tell you all about it. From the placement of the actors, to the set dressing, props, costumes and make-up- all of these matter when deciding what’s going to be in frame.

Oneita Parker- Costume Designer

Oneita Parker has been designing costumes for film, television, commercials, music videos, and theatre productions for more than a decade with zeal and excitement found in everything she creates.  Oneita got her start in Hollywood designing costumes for several award-winning short films that toured the festival circuit. Oneita has gone on to design costumes for several award-winning features that have also received theatrical release all over the world.  Many times she has been blessed to work with such amazing talents as Samuel L. Jackson, Mink Stoll, Angela Bassett, Jazmine Guy, Courtney Vance, Don Cheadle, Corbin Bernson, Piper Perabo, and Catherine Heigle to name a few. She has worked with such great directors as Mark Webb, JJ Abrahms, Jamie Babbitt, Q. Alan Brocka, and Rosser Goodman among others. Oneita Parker got her start in the rag trade catapulting herself into college a week after high school, to pursue her dreams of being a fashion designer at FiDM in San Francisco.  After a year of straight A’s it was either Los Angeles or New York.  She chose New York and continued her education at the Fashion Institute of Technology majoring in fashion design and  textiles. Oneita Parker currently lives in Los Angeles with her lovely wife and three cats.

Oneita’s Website

Charles Haine- Director of Photography

Charles Haine is a filmmaker/entrepreneur who has been working in the motion picture industry since 1999.  After completely his MFA from USC in 2005, he has worked as a freelance director, cinematographer and colorist.  Since founding Dirty Robber in 2008, he has worked tirelessly to grow the company, expand it’s infrastructure and provide cost effective resources including arrange the deal behind their no-cost office space, and recruiting talented staff. As a colorist he has worked with Radical Media, 47 Pictures, Boxer Films, Arclight films and many others for clients including Ford, Jeep, Honda, Mcdonalds, Burger King, AMC, St. Jude’s Hospital, and many others, including several feaures, and numerous music videos.  As a director of photography has has shot three feature films, his most recent receiving distribution through Lion’s Gate, and has shot commercials, music videos, industrials and several short films. He also is an associate professor at Los Angeles City College teaching cinematographer and editing, and he teaches color grading, visual design and stereography at Columbia College Hollywood.

Dirty Robber Website

Michael Fitzgerald- Production Designer

After growing up in theater in Santa Cruz, California, Michael Fitzgerald moved to LA to attend UCLA’s School of Theater, Film, & TV. One of his first jobs was creating Cuba in LA for Josh Evan’s “Che,” where only a theater nerd would make with a tobacco plant out of lettuce, rope, paint and palm leaves.   Michael has created visual stories for directors including a hippie commune and teen punk world for Adam Sherman’s “Happiness Runs,” skate ramps, clubhouses, & a con man abode in Cosmo Segursons “Nic and Tristan, Go Mega Dega,” a bachelor pad loft and Seattle News station for Slamdance 2009 hit Blayne Weaver’s “Weather Girl,” Paris apts, Drag bingo, & and Silverlake artist duplex, in Jason Bushman’s “Hollywood Je T’aime,” a creepy house and a game that comes alive for “The Black Waters of Echos Pond,” and the comic book reality for a high school of jocks and geeks in “The Secret Life of Dorks.”  Michael had the challenge of building two entire New York apartments from scratch on stage for Slamdance 2010 hit “Four-Faced Liar”.  Currently Michael wrapped a 3D version of Fred Figglehorn’s next adventure for Lions Gate and Varsity Pictures and Maya Entertaiment’s “Without Men,” where he created a whole village from scratch starring Eva Longoria and Christian Slater.  Michael has also worked on two web series with Rob Pearlstein “Matumbo Goldberg,” with Anthony Anderson and Extreme Office for Samung Galaxy Tabs.  And spent the last year on Michael Kristoff’s “Live at the Foxes Den,” with Jackson Rathbone, Elliot Gould, Brian Doyle-Murray, Bob Gunton, and Jocelyn Donahue where he got to create an entire den/lounge from scratch..the Foxes Den!

Michael’s IMDB Page

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Episode Eighty-Four: The Union Show

September 14, 2011 by cindy  
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To go union or not to go union. That is the question. Line producer Mark Moran and production coordinator Molly Moran bring their expertise from working on numerous film projects in their 10+ years of being in the film industry to discuss all of the film unions including SAG, IATSE, Teamsters, DGA and the WGA. Their knowledge of working with unions is vast and impressive.

Mark Moran- Line Producer

Mark Moran has helped create a wide range of studio and independent movies, including 96 Minutes (Brittany Snow), Beautiful Boy (Maria Bello), 13 (Jason Statham), Spread (Ashton Kutcher), Pretty Bird (Paul Giamatti), Walk the Talk (Cary Elwes), Bee Season (Richard Gere), Basic (John Travolta), Secretary (Maggie Gyllenhaal), Sweet Home Alabama (Reese Witherspoon), and Novocaine (Steve Martin). He has produced features shooting all over the U.S. as well as in Canada and Eastern Europe.

Mark is a member of the Producer’s Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America. He has produced short films, web series, music videos, and commercials, as well as the PBS documentary Chavez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story, which won the IDA Award for Best Short Documentary and was short-listed for an Academy Award in 2005.

Prior to all this, Mark started a software company at age 17, launching him on a successful career designing and programming computer games in San Francisco, where he received a patent for a CGI process combining filmed live action with computer animation.

Mark graduated summa cum laude from Columbia University with a degree in literature & writing.

Mark Moran’s Website

Molly Moran- Production Coordinator and Accountant

Molly Moran is a film production coordinator and accountant. She began her career in 2004 working on indie features in New York, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. She then spent two years working for famed producer Barbara DeFina, who encouraged her to focus on production office work as the best training for producing. This led to her spending a year working on the Will Smith movie I Am Legend. In 2007, she moved to Los Angeles and has since coordinated features shooting in Georgia, Louisiana, and California.

Episode Eighty-Three: Directing with Varda Hardy

September 7, 2011 by cindy  
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As we near the end of the production season we circle back to the topic of directing. Varda Hardy started in this industry as a script supervisor and worked steadily until she made the switch to directing five years ago. Varda recently won $100,000 for her 1 minute film about Los Angeles for the On Location: The Los Angeles Video Project. Varda’s Kickstarter campaign for her new documentary Big Voice is the focus of this month’s Support from Start to Finish feature this month.

Varda Hardy- Writer/Director/Producer

I was born in London, England.  A year after I was born, my parents moved to Israel where my father served in the army.  My mother is South African and my father is Romanian.  He had moved to Israel to escape the communist take-over of his native land. My mother was on holiday in Israel when she fell instantly in love with the young soldier–my father.  I fell in love with “the movies” one summer night in Israel when I caught sight of A Man and A Woman screening at a drive-in theater nearby my window.

Following six years in Israel, my mother brought my older sister and I back to England where we remained for several years until we moved to San Francisco.  It was in San Francisco that I started to make my own 8mm movies with a camera my 8th grade English teacher Mr. Mohan lent to me. He believed that there is different kind of learners and some people learn best by making things…like movies.  He was right about me.  I love to make things, especially movies.  I lose myself in the creative process, the germs of ideas bubbling up like and catching on fire like lava rising from the mysterious inner earth.

Following San Francisco came a short stay in Los Angeles and then we were off to the “big apple”.  I went to High School at Dalton New York City, where I fell in love with dance and theater.  Then I went to Cornell University where I re-discovered my passion for filmmaking under the tutelage of Cultural Anthropology Professor Robert Asher.  Like Mr. Mohan, Prof. Asher believed in alternative forms of learning and expression.  He encouraged me to pick up an old super-8 camera to create a report instead of writing it.  I went to NYU for a semester where a screening of Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now got under my skin.  That’s when I knew I would pursue directing.

I studied directing at Cornell University, received my MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, worked as an assistant director and then script supervisor of numerous film projects both for television and theatrical until about five years ago when I shifted into directing.  My husband Patrick S. Bennett and I are enjoying raising two lovely daughters Paloma and Raven, the rest is icing on the cake.

On Location: The Los Angeles Video Project
Varda’s Website
Varda Hardy on Facebook
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Q: I am in my last year in Film school and am ready to pursue making a feature…

September 1, 2011 by cindy  
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Q:  I am in my last year in Film school and am ready to pursue making a feature. I know I need some sort of business plan or from what I recall you saying on the FILM METHOD PODCAST, a summary, to show accountants in order to prepare a professional business plan. Do you have any advice or any contacts to steer me in the right direction? Also, what should I tell lawyers when I approach them with a business plan or questions on how to approach this endeavor? How do I attract investors? and how do I know which ones mean business?

Sherif R. , New York New York

Congratulations on almost being done with film school.  There are a lot of questions so let me break it down.

First, the accountant is not the person who typically prepares a business plan.  That is up to the producers or executive producers.  An accountant MAY help you with a budget, but even that is rare.  Lawyers can prepare what’s called an offering (Jon Cones is amazing at this http://www.johncones.com/index.html) and it is always a good idea to speak with an attorney about your business plan in general and get them to look it over before sending it out.

Some things you might consider putting in a business plan (for film, TV is different) are:

  • Synopsis
  • Treatment
  • Budget Top Sheet
  • Bios of the key players (only put bios that are helpful for investments.  If your cousin is acting in it and not someone who will bring money or fans to the table then leave them out)
  • Any talent attachments that you have (again, if they mean money)
  • Return on Investment tables
  • Any artwork/storyboards/location photos (that bring value to the project, if you are filming in your friends apartment then don’t put photos of it unless it is dynamic)
  • Your plan (if you are going to film in the town you grew up in because your father is the mayor so you can get everything for free, then tell them.  Basically, how are you going to make this film for the budget you have laid out?  Don’t reveal your entire plan, this section should be about a page.  Also, what is your plan for distribution?  Make sure you mention something about where you would like the film to go after it’s completed.  How are you going to complete the film?  These are the types of things that should be in this section.)

These are some things to consider, but every business plan is a little different.  There are some great books on the subject of raising money for film and one of my favorites is by Louise Levison (http://www.moviemoney.com/) and of course Jon Cones (mentioned above).

The last three questions you have cannot be answered without specific knowledge of the process.  Each film is different; therefore, each business plan is different.  The investors are going to be different so how you attract them will be different.  Some key advice for every project you do is…1. Ask as many questions as you need to in order to get an answer that makes sense to you.  2.  Be passionate, but not pushy.  3.  Be prepared.  This is not a quick process.  It’s cliché, but you only have one shot to make a good first impression.  Your business plan is your first impression.  Make sure it reflects you, your project, your passion and your professionalism. You are going to be asking people to fork over their hard earned cash.  Respect that by giving them a plan that is well thought out and well put together.

As for knowing who is for real, that’s a tough one.  I think most people think they can raise money when talking to you about it, but it is a challenging process.  Don’t give up and above all, trust your gut.

Episode Eighty-One: Writing with Todd Berger

July 27, 2011 by cindy  
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We wrap up our month of writing with writer Todd Berger. Todd has been a working writer in Los Angeles for ten years. He talks about everything from writing original scripts to pitching ideas to executives and working through multi-hour note sessions with producers. Writer Aydrea Walden joins the discussion as well.

Todd Berger- Writer/Director

Todd is an experienced writer/director who has been making films since he was a teenager. He received a film degree from The University of Texas at Austin where he wrote and directed the nationally syndicated television show The Campus Loop. He recently wrote and directed the the feature film The Scenesters, which played over 30 film festivals and took home Most Interesting Film from The Slamdance Film Festival, Best Screenplay from The Phoenix Film Festival, and Best Director from The Edmonton International Film Festival.  His feature-length documentary Don’t Eat The Baby: Adventures at post-Katrina Mardi Gras was chosen as the closing night film of the 2007 New Orleans Film Festival. He works as a screenwriter and actor in Los Angeles, with scripts currently in development at DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures, Jim Henson Productions, and The Disney Channel. In 2006, his script Chasing Christmas was turned into an ABC Family original movie starring Tom Arnold.  On screen, Todd has appeared in many recent commercials as well as an episode of the NBC comedy Parks and Recreation.

The Scenesters Movie
Todd’s Website

Aydrea Walden- Writer

Aydrea has written for The Seattle Times, the Now Write! Screenwriting book series, The Second City Los Angeles, iO West, Hawaii Film Partners, NBC/Universal, Highlander Films, Nickelodeon, and Disney. She also runs the satirical blog, The Oreo Experience–My Life and Times as a Super White Black Person. For more information about Aydrea or to contact her please visit her website at www.theoreoexperience.com

Jenna Edwards- Producer, Film Method Co-Host

For more information about Jenna Edwards please visit the About page. To contact Jenna you can email her at info@film-method.com

Lynda Lopez- Producer

Lynda Lopez started her career in film as a Production Designer working on student films with friends from art school where she was a Graphic Design major. She then went on to assist some very talented Production Designers on studio films while still working in various capacities on short films and indie films. Due to her fascination for all aspects of filmmaking, she has become more involved with the Production side of things working as a Director’s Assistant and Producer.

Lynda is currently working on a charity project for All Hands Volunteers, a non-profit organization that provides hands-on assistance to survivors of natural disasters around the world. For more information about Lynda’s project to help this organization please visit www.hands.org

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