X

Looks like you are a new visitor to this site. Hello!

Welcome to Hope For Film! Come participate in the discussion, and I encourage you to enter your email address in the sidebar and subscribe. It's free! And easy! If you have any suggestions on how to improve this website or suggestions for topics please don't hesitate to write in to any of the blogs.

You can also follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

(If you keep getting this message, you probably have cookies turned off.)

March 30 at 11:47am

Pricing DIY DVDs & Other Fetish Items

Adam Chapnick twittered about NeoFlix’s  DIYFlix blog posting about most popular pricing techniques for their clients.  It ran counter to my instincts as I would have thought more gravitated to the high and low end, but by far the most popular price point is $15-$20.  The DIYFlix blog itself has a pile of good advice & food for thought, so check it out.

Some of the best advice in this category comes from the example of HELVETICA.  As Scott Kirsner points out in his indispensable right-of-the-moment guide to building an audience (Fans, Friends, & Followers) “Selling just one thing is old hat”.  
Multiple versions and merchandising is the way to go.  So much more can be done with this.  By all means there should be multiple versions of all films, with different additional content, commentary, even cuts.  Why is that we only get the dvd with the film, and maybe a t-shirt or action figure?  If fans want to show their appreciation for a work there should be something more substantial.  One of my favorite pieces of film fetish paraphernalia is this: Brendan Dawes’ Cinema Redux print of Kubrick’s 2001 The film is reduced to one image from every second of the film in high resolution.  Each row has sixty frames in it.  
Why can’t we have more beautiful works derived from the films we love?


  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
March 27 at 12:03pm

Prepping Your Film For Distribution

Jason Brubaker has “Prepping Your Film For Distribution” in current edition of The Independent.  It’s all good advice and the equal attention paid to self-distribution demonstrates the reality-check that has finally seeped through the layers of denial most indie filmmakers have held on to for too long.  I wonder why “getting pick up” is even looked at on even ground with the DIY approach.  Let’s face it, the odds are practically 1 in 400 that your film will be picked up by a major distributor.  The time to start to prep for self-distribution is now, not later.

I recognize how getting your film made is an all consuming task.  Yet, I am struck time and time again how filmmakers don’t recognize that  ”prepping your film for distribution”, reaching out to your audience, and marketing your film BEFORE you shoot, all significantly increases your odds of getting picked up.  It’s like wearing the right clothes before you go to the bar.  It shows that you are serious.  It shows that you are going to do everything possible for people to see your film, that you will give your all to get your investors money back.
Back in the Good Machine days, and every day since then, we have approached delivery like production.  If you arrive at a film festival having done the due diligence that Jason discusses, your chances have acquisition are improved.  Every distributor has had the nightmare of the unclearable  or undeliverable film — and they will avoid the repeat like the plague.
We have had our films bought or financed because we showed how the film could be marketed, where the audience was and what they responded to previously.  We didn’t wait until the movie had screened to address this. We thought long and hard about this before we shot anything.  Waiting until your movie is done to approach these issues is going to hurt your prospects.
I am also of the firm belief that thinking about these aspects, whether they are marketing, legal, or delivery issues, makes your film better.  It focuses the thought.  It requires choices to be made.  There is no excuse not to do everything that is raised in The Independent BEFORE you even approach investors.  Take Jason’s advice to heart, but do it sooner, much much much sooner.


  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
March 25 at 12:29pm

The Chaos Scenario

I found Bob Garfield’s AdAge article “The Chaos Scenario” filled with clear and precise observations — an effective summation of this media biz moment.  Although it is ultimately geared for the ad biz, it speaks to the prospects of mass media in general.  Itmight has well have been subtitled “The Sky Is Falling, Part Two”, yet, as may be my way, I find it ultimately hopeful.

As ad revenue has supported both our culture and the drivers to our culture, and since the days of ads having any sort of mass impact are over, the old way of the media biz is over.  We have witnessed the colossal drop of stock value across all forms of media companies (well, I guess except Netflix).  They will soon be all changing dramatically.  It is going to be a long haul before the new model is found and grows stable.  It is the end of the world as we know it (which happens to be one of my son’s favorite songs of the moment — another sign of the happy apocalypse fantasy…)
It’s well worth reading and pondering.  Among it’s many great quips:
The future is bright. But the present is apocalyptic. Any hope for a seamless transition — or any transition at all — from mass media and marketing to micro media and marketing are absurd.

Mass media thrived on the economics of scarcity. The internet represents an economy of unending abundance.

The audience doesn’t imagine that all cars want to be free, or that all toasters want to be free, or that all paper towels want to be free, but it somehow believes that all content wants to be free.

Wenda Harris Millard, co-CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia: “Advertising simply cannot support all the media that’s out there.”

The average price of reaching 1,000 households with a 30-second spot in prime time, according to Media Dynamics, has jumped from $8.28 in 1986 to $22.65 in 2008 — but effectively more like $32, because between 150 and 200 of those 1000 households use DVRs to skip past the ads.

Glenn Britt, CEO of Time Warner Cable: “People are saying, ‘All I need is broadband. I don’t need video (aka “cable”).’”

Rothenberg,president of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, details, “Today the average 14-year-old can create a global television network with applications that are built into her laptop. So from a very strict Econ 101 basis, you have the ability to create virtually unlimited supply against what has been historically relatively stable demand.” — So the biggest online publishers, with all their vast overhead, have no more access to audience than Courtney the eighth-grader.


  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
March 18 at 4:13pm

The Future Of Film


Sorry to disappoint you, but I don’t have the answer as to what the future of film is.  

A lot of people though do have some good ideas as what the future may hold and what it is needed, from the small step to the big picture.  I got to sit down with a nice group of very smart people while I was at SXSW and talk a bit about what I might be.  Scott Kirsner who organized the breakfast has put the whole conversation up on his blog.  The other participants are:
filmmaker Lance Weiler 
conference organizer and producer Liz Rosenthal
technologist Brian Chirls
outreach guru Caitlin Boyle
 filmmaker Brett Gaylor
producer and Filmmaker Mag editor Scott Macaulay


  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
March 13 at 10:12am

Peter Broderick’s Distribution Bulletin

Few have done as much to articulate the new paradigm as Peter Broderick.  Step by step he’s been laying it out clearly for filmmakers to walk away from the corporate grip and make it work for themselves.  If you want to be free to tell stories on any subject in any manner, you have to change your way of thinking.  A regular dose of Peter’s wisdom helps us all keep a clear head.

My only complaint is Peter doesn’t publish his Distribution Bulletin as frequently as I would like to read it.  Luckily, a new edition just hit the internet so we can all calm down for a day or two.  This issue Peter tells us of the The Age Of Stupid and the their crowd-funding model.  Don’t miss it.


  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
March 12 at 10:25am

A Producer’s Contribution (Part 3 of 3)

Recently on this TrulyFreeFilms blog, Michael Walker of Pangofilms asked why more producers don’t invest in their own movies. This part three of my attempt to answer Michael. Parts One & Two can be linked to at the bottom of this post.

Each movie requires outreach into the aforementioned communities and careful discussion with them to build the audience for the film. My partners and I are lucky in that we have been able to make quite a few films; with each film we forge new relationships with theatre owners, bookers, journalists, festival programmers, and audiences. Each new project asks us to reinvest the relationships we’ve previously developed. I have no money to invest in my film projects, but I have my history, and personally, I find that priceless.

My experience and my relationships are my capital — the investment I make in every project I do. To miss that part of the equation is to forget that cinema is an ONGOING dialogue with the audience. It is not a single movie, although with each one we hope to lift that conversation up to a new level of passion, thoughtfulness, and aspiration. Each project we take on requires a considerable investment, one in which the profit will be likely be cultural at best, one in which the profit is still going to leave me wondering how to afford to take on the next movie, although with each new project I will be richer in terms of experience, and hopefully relationships too.

As a producer, we don’t look to make one film or five. I have made close to sixty films now and look to make at least the same amount going forward. Each of these films is a new start up, a new company, and a new product that requires I invest all the profits from my prior work into it — albeit not financial profit, but the good will that I have built. With each new film I take on, it all is put to risk; my collaborators could jeopardize it all. As I wade through this hazard filled swamp, I have my own ambitions too: I am constantly trying to improve my craft and expand my resources. I grow from working in all genres and budget levels. I grow from working with the new team we assemble for each project. Each director helps me see the world afresh, to recognize that there is no template for creation. And that is my personal profit.

I have mostly made what are called Art Films, but I hope to also make what some will call crass commercial crap. And I hope to continue to make what some will prefer to call pretentious arty farty wank. I hope to make works of truth and honesty and beauty. I want to make the populist crowd pleaser and the radical revolutionary call to arms. In each my investment will come from the alliances that were built on the prior journeys, the swarms of energy from the many, the donations of the devoted and delighted. If I can invest in a film, it will because of the investment in me that others have made. This is one Ponzi scheme that I think benefits not just those that play in it, but those that sit on the sidelines too.


  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
March 11 at 10:22am

A Producer’s Contribution (Part 2 of 3)

Recently on this TrulyFreeFilms blog, Michael Walker of Pangofilms asked why more producers don’t invest in their own movies. This is part two on my attempt to answer Michael.

Walker’s question of why producers don’t invest in their movies brings us back to the perennial problem that most people think that producing is just about raising the money. The first film that I raised the financing for was Hal Hartley’s FLIRT, even though I had already produced about ten films by then. Producing has always been about making the best movie possible and making sure that the audience for it, sees it. The money part of the equation is just the steps needed to get to the making part.

It seems like until the late ‘80’s producing was solely the province of the wealthy and privileged. Up until then it also seemed like those that could pursue producing in this country, had to do it the Hollywood way – which meant that if you succeeded presumably you quickly became more wealthy and privileged. Producing will never be a secure profession in America, but it is open to those who are willing to work at it and have something to offer – not just the wealthy and privileged.

I don’t have money to offer – and never expect to – but my partners and I do make considerable investments in all our films. When we consider taking on a new project, we anticipate it will be a three-year commitment at the very least. Although we have had projects like AMERICAN SPLENDOR that only go through a few drafts (and go on to get nominated for the Academy Award), we also figure that each project will have a minimum of fifteen drafts. Some have forty or more. Each draft represent reading time, discussion, notes, and generally a fair amount of emotion. The scripts themselves require research through books, websites, and other movies — more time, more energy, and more thought.  Even AMERICAN SPLENDOR was something that I had spent years developing before I brought to the writers, having already shot footage on Harvey & Joyce, secured the Letterman tapes, committed to a hybrid structure, and decided on the central theme of the project — when Bob & Shari walked into the office they were like a dream come true, the perfect peg to fill the hole: a couple who had written bio pics and made docs on off-center pop culture.

A producer gets no glory for the films they create and make. A producer’s name is rarely recalled for the work that others have enjoyed. A producer is the one that each side looks to for solutions, and thus one that has to sacrifice to bring satisfaction. When the film works, it has no bearing for the producer on future rewards, as it will the actors, directors, and writers. When things go well for a producer, it means more people seek them out, more people expect them to pick up the tab. The producers I know are creative collaborators who put their heart and soul into their projects, but never achieve the ownership that might lift their savings into real levels of security.

The demands on a producer don’t change due to their limited finances however. Each project is also a relationship, or rather several. The filmmakers, investors, and collaborators all have real needs and need thoughtful attention. The forays that we make to investors, cast, crew, distributors, critics, and fans all depend on different relationships that we have put considerable time and effort into. If we are going to survive, theses other relationships will need to extend far past the singular film. How well we service these relationships will directly reflect what fruit we can bring to subsequent projects. Each new film is a risk, where all this historic good will, this capital we have raised, is tested and re-valued.


  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print

This site could not have been built without the help and insight of Michael Morgenstern. My thanks go out to him.

Help save indie film and give this guy a job in web design or film!