Seed & Spark | Following Up

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[Reblogged from Renegade Cinema]

It’s been 30 days since I launched my Seed & Spark campaign to raise fundingfor the post-production phase of my feature indie film The Spaceshipand as promised, here is my follow up review of the service.

The funding campaign didn’t make the required 80% minimum it needed to receive a green light and I’ll talk about this in a moment. First, I just want to give the people over at Seed & Spark props for the service and their killer efforts to make this campaign a success. They really went above and beyond the call of duty to help me get the word out.  They were actively tweeting, re-tweeting, favoring tweets and FB likes – and a few staffers even pledged (try getting a Kickstarter staffer to pledge – it won’t happen).  In the campaign’s second week, they elected my campaign to be featured as a “Staff Pick” which was incredibly generous and helped us gain some traction… Read the entire article at Renegade Cinema…

[Reblogged from Renegade Cinema]

No Budget Filmmaking

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[Reblogged in its entirety from Renegade Cinema]

No/Low budget independent filmmaking is a necessity for most filmmakers who want to produce work that will help break them and their friends into the film business, or at least, be recognized by what’s left of the film business. Robert Rodriguez, the king of no budget cinema and the master professor on how to avoid spending money on your indie project even goes as far as to feature a “Ten Minute Film School” on the DVD release of his breakthrough film El Mariachi. The audio commentary in and of itself is one example after another on how to cut costs down to zilch. Although I am a film school graduate, the Rodriguez approach has always been far more helpful and yielded far more positive results. I’m not alone.

There has always been a basic system in place, a journey so to speak, that every filmmaker attempts to traverse: a filmmaker gets a bunch of people together, all with different talents and interests and all of them go out and make a movie. This is one of the hardest activities in the world to engage in because a lot of these kinds of projects are achieved through trial and error and generally go against the grain of society’s normal functions. Those with the knowledge and experience to make life a little easier for these cats only work for financial compensation. More on that later. So let’s say that the movie does find its way to completion. That movie enters the festival circuit and wins a few awards or at the very least gets an honorable mention, which in this day and age is considered an award in and of itself. This recognition is not lost upon distributors and soon the film gets picked up and everyone wins. Sure it’s an outdated, bullshit system that doesn’t really work as much as it used to, but the route is still possible and still attempted by many independent filmmakers.

It would seem that the production culture of some of these smaller films have driven the “professional” and “working” freelance community to the point where there is now an unofficial and unannounced war against these no/low budget filmmakers.  It would seem that, at least in the big cities, anywhere a filmmaker can go to find help with his or her project is being taken over by freelancers who are crying fowl, engaging in vicious attacks against the filmmakers. An example of this is the decreasingly popular website Craigslist,  where both no budget and low budget filmmakers can list their projects and production needs for any and all to respond to. CL even offers the option to list an ad as “Pay” or “No Pay”. It would seem that some of these pay only freelancers are sick and tired of sifting through the hundreds of no-budget calls for crew and the CL website has unofficially developed into a sort of anti-no-budget zone.

New Jersey filmmaker Chris Notarile said, “I believe that while it is improper to abuse or take advantage of free labor, a filmmaker should not be penalized for being resourceful and making a no budget film with willing participants.” Notarile went on to say, “If we just blindly crack down on all no budget productions, the only people we hurt are ourselves and our own community.” Notarile is correct. Without an outlet for filmmakers to inform the community that they are making a project and that they have a need for various talents, the very existence of independent filmmaking is threatened. Of course there are some that would welcome this depletion of projects from the pipeline. Another crewing website, Mandy.com, no longer allows for the listing of No Pay productions at all, unless it’s a short or student film.

Beanie Barnes for Salon.com, pretentiously wrote an article, labeling independent film as America’s “next Wal-Mart”, arguing that there needs to be less independent film made for the entire film industry to survive. “Anyone who says we need more of this, without offering any solution to make it better, is part of the problem.” Barnes wrote. “Many in the industry still refuse to acknowledge that film is subject to the economic laws of supply and demand.” For Filmmaker Magazine, John Yost tackled the subject of low/no budget indie filmmaking by taking on the no pay aspect, in his article The Microbudget Conversation, Unpaid Crew vs Underpaid Crew. Yost wrote, “It’s amazing how much of a difference even $50/day will make to some of us. Just knowing we’re not working for free goes a long way in making us more likely to give our best effort to some poor, inexperienced, yet passionate filmmaker. ” While there is a sort of wisdom and logic behind this thinking, and a great deal of collective examples of this, across many industries, this is only a fraction of the truth. In my experience and in the experience of others I’ve collaborated with, the animosity from crew members who weren’t my friends previous to the project, were nearly identical in both no pay and low pay productions. The common mentality with these specific crew members who were getting paid x amount a day was that they felt they were getting stiffed, regardless of the amount. They’ll always think you can afford to give them a little more and that’s problematic when there are so many other expenses on these projects than payroll. Going back to some of Robert Rodriguez’s comments on the El Mariachi commentary, “once you start spending money you’ll never stop” and this is absolutely true.

The other side of this is a much more serious problem. So many filmmakers are not capable of raising what the freelance collective would consider “proper financing” for their projects and some of these worker bees, while incredibly talented, are a bit sociopathic about this reality, insisting that if you can’t pay everyone to help you make the film then you shouldn’t make it at all. This line of thinking is incredibly dangerous, both to film and the art world as a whole. Many filmmakers take their projects very personally and some that I have talked to have no interest in having people on board their projects who’s dedication to the film is only commensurate with the capacity of a paycheck, or exists only when a paycheck exists. No money = no passion is not something that sits right. “You can pay a person to do anything” says one independent filmmaker who asked to remain anonymous, “anything goes, if the price is right. There’s something different about films made by people who are engaged in the project for reasons other than what they can get from it or whether or not it gets picked up.”

While I’ve dedicated my life to the pursuit of understanding and demystifying film through making films and writing about film, I have no intention of surrounding myself with people who’s hearts aren’t in the right place. With that said, I agree with both sides of the aisle because I am both an indie filmmaker and a freelance editor. How do you establish a peaceful balance with both sides when freelance film and video makers and pseudo journalists are rising up against the very existence of no and low budget filmmakers, even going as far as to relabel these cats as “bum filmmaker wannabees”, who also often become the victims of cyber bullying in the very forums where they post ads seeking out collaborators. How do you establish an acceptable balance when the hatred for one-another continues to grow. How do you establish a mutual understanding when these same freelancers are publishing media content like the spiteful and mean spirited video that has been gaining views on YouTube. It’s clear that a peaceful discussion among filmmakers and would be collaborators and service providers is desperately needed. Money is tight but we shouldn’t let that threaten the output of independent cinema. From a personal perspective, if I had waited until I had sufficient funds in place for all of my projects, I’d have no projects at all to speak about and I can safely claim that my truth is the truth for most filmmakers.

Bibliography: Salon | Filmmaker Magazine | Filmmaker Magazine |

[Reblogged in its entirety from Renegade Cinema]

Festivals & Filmmakers: Here is FilmFreeway.com

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Reblogged from RenegadeCinema.com | Festivals & Filmmakers: Here is FilmFreeway.com

If you’re a filmmaker or film festival that has grown disgruntled with the online submission service WithoutABox, you’re not alone. Thousands of filmmakers from around the world, including yours truly, have grown tired of the overpriced and appalling service the Amazon owned website provides and up until recently there hasn’t been any viable alternative. No competitors were willing to take WAB head on. Of course there has been the increasingly popularFilmmakers & Festivals Against WithoutABox, but the petition-oriented site which is more of a declaration platform, doesn’t provide any real world solutions to the problem. The status quo remained the same for many years: there had been no other trustworthy, online solution for filmmakers and filmfestivals to connect with one another.

Thankfully times are changing and the good news for all of us is that FilmFreeway.com has launched and acquired quite an impressive crop offestivals. The new service is in full operation and today I had the opportunity to interview Zachary Jones, one of the founders of FilmFreeway, about this very ambitious project.

Renegade Cinema (RC): What inspired the idea of creating the long overdueFilmFreeway website?

Zachary Jones (ZJ): FilmFreeway was created, quite simply, as a solution to a problem.  In our view, festival submissions were broken.  The industry was dominated by a market leader with grossly outdated, dreadful technology, a miserable user experience, backed up by an unfair, predatory business model.  We saw an opportunity to create a product that would make film festivals’ and filmmakers’ lives easier.  FilmFreeway was created to simplify and improve film festival submissions with modern technology with a fair business model.

[read more at Renegade Cinema]

DMW’s Future of Music Event – Coming Next Week!

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DMW MusicOn February 20-21, Digital Media Wire (host to Future of TV and Future of Film) combines Digital Music Forum East and West into one large event simply named DMW Music. The event will be taking place at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place, New York, NY. Film Anthropology will be in attendance of the event.

DMW Music still has open availability for music industry professionals interested in attending, along with 500+ of the most influential music and digital media leaders as they gather in Downtown New York to socialize, share ideas, do deals and learn about new technologies and services. This year’s event will be packed with great content, stellar people and a lot of companies that are new on the music-tech scene.

Register here: http://dmw-music.com/register/ For FilmAnthropology subscriber discounts, e-mail info (at) norcrossmedia (dot) com.

Future of Film Photos

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Here is a link to a Flickr set with the photos we took while at the FUTURE OF FILM SUMMIT in Beverly Hills last week. The photos were taken throughout the day to provide a broad perspective of what went on throughout the day at Sofitel.

The event was put on by Digital Media Wire and Variety and sponosored by a number of organizations (including Film Anthropology).

Direct Link URL to the Flickr Set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/norcrossmedia/sets/72157632220102662/

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Future of Film Summit Recap

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The 2012 Future of Film Summit in Beverly Hills was a busy, informative series of panel discussions that didn’t fail any of the attendees. Many Los Angelenos mixed well with filmmakers from all over the United States, including representatives of production companies in San Francisco, Chicago, Arkansas, New England, New York (yours truly) and a few international producers, specifically from France and Great Britain.

As expected, the most attended event of the day was the keynote discussion with Ralph Garman and Kevin Smith. The discussion revolved around Smith’s experience going from an indie filmmaker to a full fledged highly recognized Hollywood Director. Smith was honest in talking with the crowd about his “Cindarella story” and how the way he was discovered and handed a career is no longer an option for new filmmakers because they have to work harder for the recognition. Smith went on to make some poignant quotes, which we’ve not failed to
tweet and retweet, among our favorite is: “the audience will always take you further than someone in a position of power”.  You can read more on FA’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

-Eric M. Norcross
Via cellphone from Hollywood, California

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Follow Us December 5th | Future of Film 2012

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Hey everyone,

This is a friendly reminder to follow our activity on December 5th (this Wednesday) as we’ll be Tweeting, Facebooking and Blogging the topics of the day, live from the FUTURE OF FILM SUMMIT in Beverly Hills, California.  Trending topics will be marked with the hashtag #futurefilm.

This is relevant to all filmmakers whether you work in Hollywood or on the Indie Scene | the Future of Film affects all of us. The annual event is hosted/produced by Variety and Digital Media Wire.

-E