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March 16 at 11:07am

The True Of Heart Shall Triumph Time And Time And Time Again.

Did you notice what happened yet again last week?  The appreciation for diversity in our culture was demonstrated.  Or was it another vote against pure market forces as the driver of culture?  Depending on how you squint, you might have recognized it as either the proof of principle that a change is going to come, or a battle cry that is starting to build towards a universal “I am mad as hell and  I am not going to take it anymore”.  A downpour of bricks thrown with love towards a beast that maybe just won’t ever get it?  Hope or fear?  I think what I heard is that hope is here. [...]


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January 9 at 8:30am

How To Get Ready For That Film Festival

You are in, and now you have all sorts of wonderful problems — the kind most filmmakers wish they could enjoy.  You know, you have to do all the things you have to do for a film festival.  I have tried to collect the various blog posts I have written or have found written by others that will really prepare you.  There’s a lot more to be written.  But this is a good start: [...]


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January 7 at 11:15am

The San Francisco Film Society’s Great Sundance Hope: Ryan Coogler & FRUITVALE

Last year, the film that the San Francisco Film Society had supported with grants went on to great things.  Sure prizes and deals are not the only way to measure success, and really just getting a movie made is the real achievement — and hell, getting it into Sundance is pretty damn sweet.

I have loved what I have seen of Ryan’s work so far.  I also love all he has to say about the film. I also love the the film is about something real to us all; in this case the killing of Oscar Grant at by a police officer. If you haven’t checked it out this video already, I recommend you do so now:

 

If you’d like to read more about this and the original case it is based on, this HuffPost article includes many photos of the Oakland riots that followed after the officer was sentenced only for involuntary manslaughter for two years, minus time served.

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February 11 at 8:16am

Get Ready For The Indie Film Investment Deluge!

Let’s celebrate!  The prospects look good for a lot of smart money to be available again for appropriately budgeted indie films.  The key now being the “appropriately” part of the equation.

The days of Machiavellian moves to maximize an limited audience art film’s budget seem thankfully over — and as sad as I will be to seem some friends’ films become obsolete, I smell another golden age brewing.  Filmmakers and investors seem to have both embraced the “less is more’ ethos.  Expect may more films to be made in the lower than $5M bracket, and far fewer indie works in Mark Gill’s former sweet spot.  The large indie finance companies of 5 years ago, had to make films at higher budget levels in order to justify their overheads and salaries.  Those companies have crashed and so did the silly models of $20M art films.

The Film Biz is coming off two consecutive extremely robust film markets.  Toronto 2010 saw almost 30 deals close during the festival.  Sundance 2011 exceeded that mark.  Surely there were quite a few deals done post market too (I have not seen any reports to track this; let me know if you know any).  Coming off of two years where the prudent would not expect anything for US rights, this an exceeding positive change.  With a well produced and well positioned films, investors can reasonably hope to recoup — and then some.  Now the challenge for producers will be to be disciplined enough not to allow the budget creep to return.

There are other factors, beyond the sales market itself,  that heighten my optimism.  The [...]


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February 4 at 8:20am

Sundance Sales Dissection: Septien (Part Two)

Today’s guest post is from George Rush, producers rep and attorney.  Yesterday George started telling us about how he engineered the sale of Michael Tully’s Sundance At Midnight hit, SEPTIEN.  Today’s post concludes the dissection.

I had been to Sundance before with Midnight films and know it can be difficult to get good buzz.  Sundance audiences are not reflective of real audiences.  It is a mixture of film nerds, rich party people, and earnest do gooders seeking some culture.  I’ve found most people want to see the buzzed about stereotypical Sundance films—The Are All Right, Winter’s Bone.  These tickets are hard to come by.  However, midnight screening tickets are easier to come by and thus people get stuck with them.  They come in hoping for some culture and get blood and guts and farts.

I’ve seen packed houses at Midnight screenings pretty empty by the time the lights came up.  Because Michael’s film, SEPTIEN,  is so different, I felt a good number of the audience and some critics would dismiss it outright because it did not fit their expectation of what a Sundance film should be.  It sort of reminds me of a friend of mine who hates Wes Anderson movies because he expects Bill Murray to always play the Bill Murray of Ghostbusters.

Those who stayed, who bought in, would be massively rewarded by SEPTIEN, but there would be some naysayers.  So my feeling was Sundance was going to be a wildcard, with champions and detractors. [...]


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February 3 at 8:15am

Sundance Sale Dissection: Septien

Today’s guest post is from attorney and sales rep George Rush.  It is part one of two. George handled the sale of Michael Tully’s Septian to IFC’s Sundance Selects.

I have worked as a lawyer or a producer’s rep on hundreds of films over the years, and this experience has made me quite skeptical about the business model for independent producers.  The business is worse than it has been historically, but it is still the same very basic model.  You produce a film, a distributor exploits those rights.  You are good at creating content, they are good at marketing.  Hopefully those two things come together to benefit both parties.

I’m a hyper skeptic of producers essentially acting as their own distributors because generally they aren’t strong in both skill sets, and thus something usually suffers.  So I usually assume a producer is good at producing, and try to leave it at that.

Most of what I work on is low budget films with few if any stars.  Ten years ago, I considered a low budget film under two million dollars.  Today, I consider it under $500,000 and believe if you do something for a larger budget without a truly bankable cast, you are being reckless with your budget.

The distribution business has become tougher and they are paying less for content, and thus budgets go down correspondingly.  So how can you make something quality for under $500K—most people fail at this effort and there is a glut of so so films that just can’t compete with larger budgeted film—they are clearly inferior.  Indeed, most festival films in this budget range will never see the light of day beyond the festivals.  However, I don’t know how, but some people do.  It takes an extremely resourceful producer and director who is willing to take some chances to pull it off.

Enter Michael Tully’s Septien.   [...]


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January 28 at 8:15am

The Triumphant Return of Good Machine

Yes, it is true.  Good Machine is back.  But in a new and improved form.  Perhaps we should have done a press release, but I thought I should do it here instead.  Press releases are so yesterday.

If you went to Sundance, perhaps you noticed the secret stealth return of our so-called 90′s powerhouse.  Or if you were at the Golden Globes, it must have caught your eye.  Hell, even if you just watched the Golden Globes.  If you missed all that, certainly by perusing the Oscar noms, something should have caused a bit of stir.  I’ve been waiting for some sharp newshound to break with the story, but nope.  So here’s the real buzz… [...]


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