I have a friend, we’ll call him Nate (not his real name), who is a filmmaker. Nate made an low budget horror film that he’s been trying to sell. I gave it a look and he did a decent job for the his limited budget. Not a great job, but a good job. No stars, obviously, and nothing terribly original, but he chose the horror genre and an equally marketable sub-genre. Is it sellable? That’s what he wants to know. Well…maybe. He’s not going to get Lionsgate or Miramax to pick it up, but he can probably get a smaller company to take it. Will they get it into Redbox or Walmart? Probably not, but there can be life in video on demand – and that’s a big enough arena where he could possibly see a profit (if the distributor doesn’t screw him over).
So, what was the biggest drawback with his film, he wanted to know? Keep in mind I’m big on constructive criticism, here. I don’t go to a filmmaker with a complete picture and say “I wish you’d gone this direction with the story….” If there are little changes that I think are possible, I’ll thrown them out. I’ll point out issues with the audio that need fixing. I have no problem with berating bad titles. I have no problem telling a filmmaker he really needs to cut 20 minutes from the picture to make it tighter. This is a surprisingly common issue among first-time filmmakers…they spend all this time writing, then all this time shooting, then all this time editing a scene and have so much invested at that point they can’t bring themselves to cut it. But I digress…there are plenty of problems with virtually all indy films, but only a handful are even worth mentioning since the vast majority are beyond repair. Nate’s biggest problem was, fortunately, an easy one – his poster sucks balls! It’s terrible. The thing that bothers me the most is that there’s no way any person wouldn’t know this…but I see it ALL the time. Continue reading
A filmmaker wrote me a few days ago. The producer (a first-timer, I’m sure) emailed me with an inquiry in regards to her film which was just completed. I followed the link to the website to learn a bit more about the project.
The site looked slick, sharp and professionally done. Always a good start. It’s amazing how many filmmakers fuck this up right out of the gate. It shouldn’t be hard to fathom that most people are going to equate “shitty website = shitty film”. Most websites suck and were put together by a filmmaker with no graphic artist skills who spent a few hours reading up on Wed Design 101 – and it shows. Last week another producer wrote me about another film. His site was set up like a novel where you click to flip through the pages. Each page (actually 2 since it was like a book) was accompanied by the sound effect of pages turning and a sound byte from the movie. Very annoying actually and not easily navigatable. The visitor had to view the pages in the order the web designer set them up whether he wanted to or not. The problem…it was a 52 page “book”. I didn’t even make it half way. Why does your film need 52 pages to get a distributor hooked? I don’t want to see 300 stills from the film.
This latest filmmaker had a nice looking site, so their first check was in the positive box. Their first BIG negative was their title. As I’m always careful not to throw people under the bus, I won’t tell you the actual name of the film, but there was a equal sign and a squared sign in the title. Yes, in the fucking title. As an example (not the actual title), it was something like Lovers = (Friends)2… I don’t even know how to type a squared symbol in my blog program! Continue reading
A filmmaker, Joel (not his real name) approached me this week about this project. This happens often and I’m always willing to hear people out. If you’ve been following my posts, this is the guy who shot a film about 5 years ago that still isn’t finished…seems they’ve been working on audio forever. It took Wagner 26 years to complete his The Ring cycle of operas, so maybe 5 years to finish post on a film isn’t so bad.
Joel has three projects he’s pushing. The main one is a comedy set to be shot in Canada. One the surface, it looks pretty good, aside from being a comedy… With a $2.5m budget, taking advantage of Canadian tax credits and incentives, only $900k is actually needed to make the film. Not bad. The script is by Harland Williams. Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know the name, but you’d recognize him as a comedian and character actor. I recognize him from my days as a blackjack dealer at the Hard Rock where the cheap bastard played at my table for 2 hours, won over $800 and tipped me $1.50. That’s right – $1.50. What a piece of shit. Like all areas of life, we remember the great and the shitty, the big tippers (Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Keifer Sutherland) as well as the cheap bastards and assholes (Louis Gossett Jr, Jennifer Lopez, Tiger Woods, Harland Williams). But I digress… Continue reading