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January 2 at 8:15am

Cut your cloth, get out of development hell and make your films

“Making something out of nothing” is what filmmaker Mira Nair called the Filmmaking workshop that she was doing in the spring of 1999 in Cape Town South Africa.  The bulk of the students were from the black and “colored” townships way outside the city and traveled more than an hour each day for their two-week initiation to cinema. It was the dawn of the post apartheid years and they were pregnant with compelling and amazing stories that they wanted to bring into the world either through narratives or documentaries.  For decades, generations before them had their voices stifled, and they were fighting to finally become the narrators of their own history and had chosen filmmaking as their weapon.  And I was there to film that process.  “Show, don’t tell, make films that are accessible to you, be inspired by what’s immediate, cut your cloth”. [...]


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December 17 at 8:15am

Ads Could Save Independent Film: Part 1

There is little I hate more in life than online advertising. Dental visits, food poisoning, taxes; I hate ads more. That’s at least what I would have told you a few years ago, and I would have been right. I’d tell you that they were the worst thing to happen to filmed entertainment since online streaming began. You think anyone is going to risk sitting through five commercial breaks on Hulu to watch your random indie movie? Our overstimulated brains have a hard enough time keeping focused and interested as it is.

So what’s a cinephile to do? [...]


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February 7 at 2:30pm

Filmmaking with a Crew of One: Paolo Benetazzo’s Study

By Paolo Benetazzo

Push  The  Boundaries  of  Your  Creativity: How I Made the Film Study

Filmmaking  is  my  day-long  obsession,  joy  and  torment

When  you  can’t  see  the  line  between  fiction  and  reality,  filmmaking  becomes  your  lifestyle.

I  was  a  psychology  student  when  I  came  up  with  the  concept  behind  my  feature  film  directorial  debut  Study.  During  my  final   year   at   university   I   was   involved   in   a   number   of   film   projects,   including   short   films   and   documentaries.   I   didn’t   have   full   artistic  control.  I  had  to  compromise  my  vision  for  the  sake  of  the  team  and  that  was  the  only  way  to  get  it  done.

still1

When  you  don’t  want  to  share  your  vision  with  others  I  think  you’re  ready  to  make  your  full-­length  film,  no  matter  what  your   budget  is.  I  would rather  make  a  low  budget  film  instead  of  collecting  short  films  or  waiting  for  the  great  opportunity  that  might never  come.  It’s  going  to  be  risky,  painful  and  insane  but  that’s  how  real  indie  films  are  made.

I’m  a  self‐taught  filmmaker,  I’ve  never  attended  a  film  school.  Watching  films  along  with  real  life  experience  represents  the  film   school  par  excellence  in  my  opinion.  Films  are  the  greatest  teachers  of  all;  they  are  an  endless  source  of  learning.

The  Open  Screenplay     

Fascinated  by  the  study  of  psychology  and  its  impact  on  modern  life,  I  decided  to  explore  my  studies  in  a  feature  film.  Once  I graduated  in  Psychology,  I  moved  to  Ireland  where  I  started  writing  the  script  in  English.   [...]


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December 20 at 8:15am

Smash The Box! 10 Things I Wrote In 2013 I Think You Should Read

Working Away To Build A Better MousetrapNote: If you’d like to share this post, please use this shortened link: http://bit.ly/1cFNHfs

It’s not enough any more to think outside the box. I think we need to smash the box to bits.

We need a total systems reboot of the indie film infrastructure.  And I don’t think we can continue to wait and hope someone else is going to build it for us either.

I have been trying to help however I can help best.  Perhaps these posts can be your guide: [...]


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July 4 at 11:24am

They Found A Way To Kill Indie… But….

Was it for Independence Day specifically that Hollywood wanted to find a way to kill indie? Or is it just a symptom of a greater dis-ease?

Hollywood once was a city of dreams, but they have been making a different bed for some time now — and everyone knows it is draped in spreadsheets.  Yet, as evidenced by some recent statements, they too can still dream, and sometimes even of slaying the beast and recognizing what they really want.

Conspiracies are such a pleasure, because [...]


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May 16 at 8:30am

16 Recommendations For Filmmakers To Discover Best Practices For A Sustainable Creative Life

Note: If you’d like to share this post, here’s a shortened link: http://bit.ly/SustainCrtvLife

Two weeks ago at The San Francisco Film Society we launched A2E (Artist To Entrepreneur), a specific line of programming designed to provide filmmakers with the necessary entrepreneurial skills and best practices needed to have a sustainable creative life.  We launched with A2E OnRamp, a workshop to allow filmmakers to budget, schedule, and predict possible revenues for their film throughout the direct distribution process.

Before we rolled up our sleeves to start the practical, I warmed up the crowd with a series of short lectures focusing on what all filmmakers should know about the film biz, the current culture, and recommended best practices for themselves.  Last week I shared with you what we discussed about culture in general.  Prior to that, I shared with you what I felt we had to recognize and accept, at least for now, about the film business.

Today, I offer you my recommendations on best practices in times like these if you want to have a hope of a sustainable creative life as a filmmaker.  Don’t worry if it looks like there is more than you can currently achieve.  It is a process and you are not alone.  It gets better. We can build it better together.

  1. Focus on developing Entrepreneurial Skills as well as the creative.  The corporate distributors don’t need your work to the extent that they will ever value it as much as you will.  If you want your work to last, engage, and be profitable, it is up to you to be prepared to use it to ignite all opportunities.  Armed with a good story and good storytelling skills, you should be able to profit if you know how to take responsibility for your creation. [...]


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May 3 at 8:30am

17 Things About The Film Biz That Should Significantly Influence Your Behavior

Note: If you’d like to share this article, this is the short link: http://bit.ly/FilmBizRealities

On May 2nd, 2013, I launched the A2E (Artist To Entrepreneur) program at the San Francisco Film Society with OnRamp (The Direct Distribution Lab).  This is a pilot lab of a pilot program designed to give filmmakers the necessary entrepreneurial skills to achieve a sustainable creative life amidst this changing paradigm.  We will be working out some bugs but I hope to launch the second iteration as soon as possible (but to do so requires some support, both financial and otherwise, so if you know anyone or any organization that might be interested in advancing film culture and enterprise, please do send them my way!).

As part of the lab, we have a first day of big ideas and case studies that hopefully will give the participants the foundation for a design for living and thriving on their art.  As part of that I have prepared three brief lectures focused on what every filmmaker needs to recognize about the business, the culture, and their practice if they want to have a sustainable creative life.  Split between the three categories, I came up with fifty things you should know.  I will provide them to you over the next week or two, but I wish you all could have been there.   It’s always different when you are in the room.

Today, I will unleash what I think it is necessary to recognize about our industry if you are a filmmaker looking to survive from the work you generate.

It's Not That We Are Alone, It's That We Are Still Green

WARNING: taking any of these points out of context, could create unnecessary fear or depression. If you want to [...]


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