Seed & Spark | Following Up


[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]

Seed & Spark | My First Observations


I have a Seed & Spark campaign going on right now, which is lacking. Would love and appreciate anyone who can help me get the URL out to as many people as possible. As you all know, crowd sourcing art is a numbers game. Here is the URL: Visit & distribute the Seed & Spark URL:

Below is an article I wrote for Renegade Cinema on why I chose Seed & Spark over other platforms.



[Reblogged from Renegade Cinema]

I found out about the new website Seed & Spark from Sundance award winning filmmaker Matt Harrison, who suggested I check it out after I informed him that my work in progress sci-fi movie The Spaceship was currently on hiatus. I was skeptical at first, because I had previously tried all of the other crowd funding platforms and it has never worked out. Kickstarter? Forget it, unless you have a celebrity attached or serious PR people involved, this under connected filmmaker isn’t flying. When I met the founders of the now defunct website Passerby, they went as far as to feature an interview with me on their blog to help promote the funding campaign I launched with them. No dice. Good people but it wasn’t happening. It’s been well over a year and a half since then and they’ve gone under. IndieGoGo helped us out a bit, bringing us just under four thousand dollars to help pay off some of the bills from principal photography. But still, we never even came close to a quarter of what we needed to see the production home.

When I signed up and began plowing through the content on Seed & Spark, I was immediately floored by just how dedicated to the cause these folks are, they truly love indie film. Even their promotional video, which is featured on their main page, choked me up. For the first time, I feel like I found an organization whose mission is the same as mine: to strengthen the independent film community and ensure a future for the few of us that are willing to dedicate our lives to making films. I reached out to them and began working on my campaign, to see if maybe we could try something a little different – if the platform and the audience is influential in the final results. They’ve been incredibly helpful and hands on in the process of building up the campaign before it went live. Their staffers even went as far as to ask me to redo my pitch video – which I LOVED. It’s clear that they know what will work, what won’t and that they truly have my back in this. It is safe to assume that they’ve been this detail oriented with everyone who has submitted a project for funding and I do hope that this aspect of their service doesn’t go away. Treating the filmmaker as your client, in concept, is so unique and important to making these kinds of things work and I’m surprised no other platform has gone as far as these guys have in this regard.

… read more here.

Visit & distribute the Seed & Spark URL:

[Reblogged from Renegade Cinema]

Sarah Jones & The Future of Film


[Reblogged from Renegade Cinema]

There has been an enormous amount of industry press regarding the death of 27 year old Atlanta based Assistant Camera Technician Sarah Jones. Jones was killed in a train accident while working on the set of the feature filmMidnight Rider. Directed by Randall Miller and starring William Hurt, Wyatt Russell and Eliza Dushku, the film was in production in Georgia, but has been suspended until further notice.

According to sources, the crew was setting up to film a dream sequence that involved placing a bed on a set of live railroad tracks. Jones was killed and several others injured when a locomotive came through, destroying the bed and sending debris flying about the area. As a result of this absolutely unnecessary situation, work ethic and safety discussions have popped up left and right. Both union crew and non-union freelancers are pissed off beyond all possible recognition. As they should be. If you didn’t think crew and producers got along before, the teetering relationship between these two sectors are worse than ever. As this incident could be the start of rules and regulations and incredibly strict laws that affect the Future of Film and the ability of future filmmakers to create their works, it’s time for me to chime in.

…read more at Renegade Cinema

[Reblogged from Renegade Cinema

Seed & Spark | The Spaceship


[Reblogged from The Spaceship Production Diary in its entirety]

Hey everybody,

We’ve launched a campaign to raise finishing resources through the website Seed & Spark. Please help us by contributing and just as improtant, spreading the word about our film and funding efforts. We’ve found the people for a Seed & Spark incredibly helpful and delightful to collaborate with and some of our peers have really jumped on board to get the word out. I hope you join us too!


[Reblogged from The Spaceship Production Diary in its entirety]

Good Morning…

Eric Norcross filming The Long Island Project in Syosset, New York

I just spent the past four hours walking around a very empty and extremely frigid lower Manhattan. The financial district between the hours of 1am and 4am is my favorite time to be strolling about NYC. In these hours I feel like the city belongs to me. All these skyscrapers, subway infrastructure and everything that goes with is there for me and only me. I can hear and see things that I might not pick up when the hustle and bustle begins around 6am. There’s a Chase Bank in relative close proximity to the Bowling Green where the door lock grinds loudly and the card reader consistently beeps – clearly these two security mechanisms are malfunctioning. This Chase branch has been this way for several years now. This is part of what I know of MY New York. It was broken when I was 29 and it’s still broken – even tonight, while I’m 32.

I thought a lot about my time here tonight – my entire time since I moved to this town on that fateful Labor Day weekend in 2003. Fresh from Maine, without a dime in my bank account – like most major decisions in my life, I didn’t take the financial aspects into consideration. If I had, I wouldn’t be here. Somehow, someway, it all has worked out in one way or another. You see, I moved here with the promise to myself that no matter how hard, complicated or crazy it got – I wouldn’t regret anything I did while I lived here and I wouldn’t let any kind of fear dictate my decision making. RISK IS KEY. Being an independent filmmaker in New York City has always seemed like such a special thing and IT IS. It’s not easy and you’re not guaranteed ANYTHING. Too few people ever have or ever will understand why it’s so important. It’s just that this is something that some of us HAVE to do. It’s the mother fucker at the top of a bucket list chock full of impossible shit and holy shit! I’ve made some films! I’ve screened some films! I’ve helped filmmakers get their films going, inspired other filmmakers, volunteered in service to the indie film community and encountered the kinds of people I never thought I’d mix up with. I did it all in NYC! I did it all as a New Yorker! As a New Yorker, I’ve lived in four of the five boroughs, in some of the wealthiest and poorest neighborhoods and for all of it I am grateful.

I’ve worked with some of the most kick ass people and some of sleaziest individuals on the planet. I’ve interviewed senators, assemblymen, district attorneys, heads of state and even convinced a sitting congressman to improvise a cameo for one of my old no budget movie projects. This guy, he was hot shit, the Illinois congressman that went after Clinton for the Lewinsky thing. Henry J. Hyde. Can you believe that? For all these years I forgot about this and it just hit me tonight – WOW! I’ve had commercials go to air here, in Long Island, Connecticut, upstate as far as Rochester! I’ve never even been to Rochester! On top of that, video spots I’ve directed have appeared on those small screens in the back of the NYC taxi cabs. That’s so weird but cool and to put this into perspective of where I came from, just a few years ago… WOW!

I lost all this for the past year or so because, well, I’ve been pre-occupied. It’s this monster project, THE SPACESHIP. You see, it has driven me batshit crazy. Some of you close to the project know first hand that “batshit crazy” is the understatement of the year. This bastard is as big as my move to NYC. It has all the same risks and cockups and doesn’t guarantee much of anything, at least not for me as a writer or director. But that’s okay. It’s one hell of a project and unlike everything that came before, I’ve really stuck to my guns on so many aspects of it: technical, aesthetic and approach. I’ve lost a lot of trust, friendships and credibility as a result of how this project has been handled so far and that’s okay too. You see, all these inconveniences, pains and emotions are a distraction. They’re meant to be, a distraction, created by fear and none of it really does anyone any good. These fears won’t exist when this is all over because all that will matter in the end is the final result – the finished film. Few will remember any of the cockups, the late checks and the hard days and those that pine over it or base their future professional decisions based on their experience with this project and with me should rethink what they’re doing with their lives.

I have little pride – I don’t much care for it. I find it hysterical actually. I am especially amused when someone claims to be proud of something they have no control over, like their heritage or something. But I do recognize something about me that I am proud of, a couple things actually. The first is that I’m proud that I’ve stuck it out in NYC as long as I have. It has been an “against all odds” kind of thing. This past September was my ten year anniversary and although I didn’t get to celebrate it in style like I was hoping, none of it was lost upon me. The second is that I have never, ever, chosen a project, either client or personal, based on its monetary value (to me). My dedication to a project has never been commensurate to the capacity of a paycheck, even in the worst of times. Maybe that’s why I ended up moving around so much or maybe that’s why my client work is so eclectic. Who knows. Maybe it’s more than that or maybe it has nothing to do with anything. All I can say is that as hard as it has been, I don’t regret a single day of it. It’s like that broken security lock on the Chase Bank – it isn’t perfect, but it’s part of the experience I was after when I made the decision to come here.

It’s approaching 5:30am so I guess I should be getting some sleep now.


Festivals & Filmmakers: Here is

FilmFreeway Header

Reblogged from | Festivals & Filmmakers: Here is

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 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]

The Case For: Rhythm Thief


Far-Rockaway-650x400A new installment of my column “The Case For”, in which I make my case for why certain films deserve better treatment when released to home video, is live on Renegade Cinema.  This week I make my case for the 90’s indie classic RHYTHM THIEF.

This is indubitably one of the most obvious choices for a Criterion pick-up thus far. Rhythm Thief is a Sundance winning filmby Matthew Harrison (dir.Kicked In The Head, Spare Me, My Little Hollywood). The film is one of the many gems discovered in the 1990′s and helped launch the careers of both the filmmaker and his actors. A study of the NYC underground filmmaking community, Harrison’s 1994 gritty masterpiece is overdue for a serious and well thought out reissue. 

[read more at Renegade Cinema]


Indie Film Expose: Should You Sign With SAG-AFTRA?


French stage and early film actress Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet, ca. early 1880sOften times when I’m talking with first or second time indie film directors, a question I often get is whether or not they should go SAG on their next project.  To become a union signatory as an independent filmmaker is a tough choice, mainly because there are so many questions that, it seems, so many other filmmakers have different answers for.  To top it all off there are also an enormous amount of “what ifs” that come along with becoming a union signatory, especially of the actor’s union: SAG-AFTRA.  After decades and decades of horror stories, it’s no wonder the decision to hire union actors continues to weigh heavily on each new generation of independent filmmakers.  In an effort to quell the noise that comes with asking such a question, I think it’s important that filmmakers have access to all the various experiences that their peers have had over the years – but especially more recently, since the merging of SAG and AFTRA; because its the question of becoming a signatory of this new organization, SAG-AFTRA, that now matters.  But it isn’t just all experiences, there is a specific type of experience: that of the truly independent filmmaker – the person like you and me who doesn’t necessarily have the clerical resources that the big studios have, or the union itself for that matter.  It’s OUR experiences that matters the most because it’s how they dealt with us that can best give a filmmaker insight into how they themselves might be dealt with.

My First Encounter

In 2008 when I founded my production company Norcross Media in New York, the goal was to specialize in YouTube videos for clients in addition to producing short and experimental films for my own entertainment.  My LLC became a signatory of the union so that I could shoot one the first short films to be produced under the NM name.  The actor I had in mind had recently joined the union and at the time was a good friend so I made an effort to do it “by the books”. Unfortunately my dealings with them were utterly scary and it had occurred to me that I really wasn’t ready to be dealing with a bunch of lawyers (which is essentially what they all are in that office) when I myself didn’t have lawyer.  So I elected to cancel my signatory status.  They punished me, of course, by forcing me into a three month hiatus from engaging in any production work under the NM name.  I obliged (officially :oP) and moved on to create many short films as a non-signatory.  I even continued working with the same actor (unofficially :oP).  Some of the projects did well, as far as online hits go, all of the works you’ve probably never heard of and through it all I started to acquire client projects and things were off to a pretty good start and remained so for quite a few years.  Eventually Norcross Media, with no thanks to the union, began producing commercials and PSA’s that found their way to broadcast on local and national television as well as theatrical.  My work was everywhere (and still is).  Last year one of my PSA’s ran on those little TV screens inside the NYC taxi cabs – that was a pretty cool project, if not unique.

My Second Encounter

Cut to last fall, when I began putting together the cast for one of my latest film projects.  I had been talking with a certain actor of note for some time about taking on a supporting role in the film.  We will call him Actor 1,  and I will go as far to say that I had considered him a trustworthy friend and I thought that his genre-cred was something this film desperately needed.  He had the fan base to help generate the first wave of what we hoped would be a kick-ass following.  Actor 1 was updated every week with the production status and sent new revisions of the script every month or as it pertained to his character.  He constantly sent me positive feedback and urged me to continue moving forward.  As January rolled around I sent him the semi-final shooting script and asked him to re-read it in full and to give me a commitment ASAP.  It was understood by the both of us that a commitment was needed, mainly because he is a union actor and we would have to produce the film under the SAG-AFTRA umbrella if he were to be involved. He read the script and told me to move forward with the union paperwork.  I talked with one of my producers on the project, who insisted that I Immediately begin the paperwork for signing our little movie to SAG’s Ultra-Low Budget contract.  My fellow producer helped me to understand it and it all seemed well and good – in fact the ULB contract seemed much more concise than the new media/internet video contract I had with them back in 2008.  The only restriction with this agreement was that it didn’t include home video, rental or internet – it is strictly for theatrical.  But that is okay, I thought, because we could always upgrade the contract later when we sign a distribution agreement for home video/rental.

The Betrayal

Flash forward to a week before production – paperwork has been submitted to SAG-AFTRA, I’ve personally e-signed all the forms and now have all of my attention on the creative part of the production. I get an e-mail from Actor 1 informing me that he’s backing out.  He’s no longer interested.  I was peeved (the understatement of the year) – in fact, I’ll just leave it at that:  I was PEEVED.  I called our SAG-AFTRA contact to ask them if it was too late to back out and the woman who had been assigned to our production was on vacation.  We were six days from the first day of principle photography and our union rep is away on vacation.  My fellow producer suggested we move ahead anyway and in her own usual way, seemed cool about it – made me feel like it was okay.  “We’ll deal with it when it’s time to deal with it”.  She also reminded me that we had to beat the spring before the big bloom came (to maintain the gloomy look of the film).  Whatever, we’ll deal with the paperwork shit later, after all, we had our signatory ID number and they gave us our contracts for the talents to sign – we must be on the right track! In an emergency re-casting we picked up Actor 2 – not notable at all but right for the role in that he was fucking crazy as a circus seal.  We signed him the same day that he auditioned.  We had him fill out the ULB contract and now I wish I had kept an eye on what he was writing because my lack of attention will come to bite me in the ass a little later.

Production Peak

Flash forward to the end of April – we’re four days from the end of principle photography and it has been a hellish shoot – on my day off I’m at the bank processing payroll when our SAG-AFTRA rep calls to inform me that they’ve received word that some of our actors have called in to report that they’ve been reporting to our set.  Ah, yeah, we’re shooting! She leaves the following message in a voice mail: “yeah, we haven’t actually received some paperwork from your production so unless I hear from you by the end of the day today, we’re calling all of your actors and ordering them to not show up. You’ll still be required to pay them for each lost day until this matter is settled.”  I went ballistic – I called her back, got her voice mail.  I left a message.  It wasn’t pretty.  It was so bad in fact that my producer had to deal with it because I couldn’t handle myself dealing with these heartless, bureaucratic slime balls.  She had all the paperwork into the union by the end of the day and we were fine… until one of our actors, Actor 3, complained that their check was late. Actor 3 was a day player who had shot his one scene on the first day of principle photography.  This was a guy I thought was on our side, he seemed so pro-indie, understood what we were going through as indie film producers and was, up until this point, a true sport.  This simple action of reporting us to his union gave me the feeling of betrayal… it hurt. Badly.  He actually had the audacity to text me and ask me how things are going with the production.  I hadn’t realized at that point that he was the one who had called into SAG so I confided in him.  Little did I know that he was laughing at me from the other end of the line.

We responded by informing our union rep that we didn’t have administrative support to keep up on a day to day basis and were cutting checks on the next off-day (which was quite literally happening that day).  The rep was very suspicious… sure, why shouldn’t she be?  “YES, We’re getting that money out right NOW.”  Well, it didn’t matter, the actor received his check within a week from his complaint and all went fine… until he started calling around to the other actors and eventually some of the crew to push them to file complaints against us.  “Is your check late? Report them to the union, don’t let these evil producers get away with…” blah blah blah – basically our best isn’t good enough mentality: money talks, fuck you pay me, no excuses, fuck you pay me, more excuses? Fuck you pay me…  If they’d bothered to actually listen to me, while also having a heart, they would actually understand what was happening.  It still baffles me to this day that this one day player had made a valiant effort to shut our production down because his lousy hundred bucks was a few days “late”.  Out of a cast of 40 people he only got one bite – Actor 2, the crazy as fuck beans replacement who took the roll originally earmarked for Actor 1 during our emergency recasting had called into SAG to complain that he should be paid for certain days that he did not work because he had been “guaranteed” those days. We tried to argue it but SAG wouldn’t hear it – with all the cock-ups we’ve made, why should they believe us over someone who understands the system a lot better?  Why should they believe a couple of ignorant producers over an actor who has figured out how to weasel out every cent from these ridiculous contracts?  Yeah, we paid the fucker for days he didn’t even work and eventually paid him for overtime he didn’t earn because his union decided he was more important than the very people who were employing him. Oh and because we didn’t supervise him when he was filling out the ULB contract and the bastard wrote in a number in the “guaranteed days” section, without asking me whether or not I was willing to pay him for a gauranteed number of days. Why ask when the answers will obviously be “NO!”?

In Retrospect

So what is my suggestion?  Let me put it this way:  I decided to never go union again – at least, not if I’m legally responsible for the financials of the picture.  The union and the people they “protect” aren’t worth the headache.  Unless you’re producing a studio picture with other people’s money (meaning corporate money, not friend or family money), avoid SAG-AFTRA at ALL COSTS.  They do not exist for the truly independent filmmaker – they want money productions and essentially punish producers for not having enough of it. They’re not good people and here’s the worst part (which they didn’t disclose to me until it was too late) – all the union actors have to sign a new agreement to modify the contract should we get distribution beyond theatrical.  With all the bad blood between us and Actors 2 and 3, I doubt they’ll play ball which means we may have the best indie sci-fi film that will never be seen.  Not a fun scenario, esp. considered the amount of money paid out to all these people and the organization itself.

It’s more likely though we’ll run the festival circuit and if we’re lucky get theatrical, leak the film to fans to generate a demand and then hire an entertainment lawyer to deal with the bullshit. I figure we’re looking at a good ten years before the film is actually available, especially since I’m now on my own with it.  At this point SAG-AFTRA has yet to list this particular film as a union film in their database, regardless of the massive amounts of money we’ve sent them and their actors. All the paperwork is complete, all the pay has been issued, all the deposits have been made and the pension contribution too.  You figure these guys could at least make the effort to gives us the stamp of fucking approval!


If you decide not to heed my warning and go union anyway, beware of a certain group of actors who have made their careers off taking advantage of new indie producers who are ignorant of the SAG-AFTRA contracts, or union laws in general.  Do NOT let them fill out their own paperwork unsupervised and watch them like hawks when they sign in and out on set each day.  It was our trusting of some of these actors that forced us into a position where we had to pay money we didn’t actually have the budget for.

Other things to keep in mind: aside from paying your actors, you’ll also need to report to the union… constantly. You’ll need to pay in a deposit, which is several hundred to several thousands of dollars in addition to contributing a substantial amount to the union’s pension fund.  You’re looking at a few thousand dollars of money you’ll never see again. The union rep we were dealing with did not disclose this to us until we were signed on and I’m telling you: a lot more money is involved that they don’t openly tell you about until you’ve signed your film… it’s all fine print bullshit and it is a huge part of the reason as to why this particular film has stalled in the post-production stage. SAG-AFTRA’s dishonesty and lack of appreciation for what we do (or at least, are trying to do) is the reason we’ve been scrambling for more money that we didn’t think we’d need.  Because they’re crooks and not designed to work with truly independent filmmakers.


Shooting union doesn’t necessarily make you a professional, in fact, it made me the most unprofessional I’ve ever been on a film shoot – mainly because of their manipulative craziness. In final, all I can suggest is this: if you don’t have the budget to hire a union crew, then it’s likely you don’t have the resources to hire union actors.  In the grand scheme of indie filmmaking, you really don’t need either.

-Eric Norcross 11/20/13

Essential: #10 – El Mariachi (1992)


El MariachiRobert Rodriguez‘s debut feature film EL MARIACHI made the first installment of our top ten essentials list because it’s a wonderful example for any indie or student filmmaker on how to maximize your resources and use what you have.  In an age where every other indie filmmaker is saving pennies to purchase (or rent) the latest jib, steadying arm or dolly/slider gear, Rodriguez gave us all the results and more… and didn’t have any of that fluff.  In fact, he made it on 16mm film for a mere $7,000 which is so low budget that had he not had to pay for the film and processing costs, he insists the film could have cost as low as $600 to make. He recorded all of the film’s dialog on a consumer grade cassette recorder. On top of that, the DVD release of El Mariachi includes a valuable special feature called 10 MINUTE FILM SCHOOL in which Rodriguez breaks down how he was able to pull off making this movie with so little money.

The movie is also exemplary as an example of filmmaker dedication and being able to think outside of the box. Rodriguez literally sold himself to government experimentation to raise money to make this feature, subjecting himself to the whims of laboratory as a human test subject.  He assembled the movie using basic home video dubbing technology and later on re-cut the film and the negative when he had been able to raise more money.  Most filmmakers don’t and would never operate this way. This demonstrates dedication at the highest level and burn to succeed that so few seem to have. It’s also a great example of how thinking small can actually pan out for the better. Rodriguez originally produced the film with the intent of going straight to video in the Latin America video market and ended up premiering at Sundance along with Reservoir Dogs, thus launching one hell of a career and a kick-ass professional relationship that has spawned films such as From Dusk Till Dawn, Four Rooms and the Grindhouse Anthology.

El Mariachi is a must study and be sure to check out all the special features that come with the Special Edition DVD.

FA Filmmaker Profile: Matthew Harrison


Courtesy October Films

Matthew Harrison and Kevin Corrigan.

Recently Film Anthropology flew out to Los Angeles to interview filmmaker, artist and television director Matthew Harrison, about his life and career. From his roots in the New York underground art scene to his achievements at some of the world’s most influential film festivals, Matt Harrison tells all. He talks about starting out shooting super 8 as a child and winning his first award at the New York Downtown Film Festival, which encouraged him to bring up his game and how he went on to win the jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Matthew elaborates on working with Super 8, 16mm, his first union experience and how he came to work with Martin Scorsese on his feature studio picture Kicked In The Head.

Matthew’s film My Little Hollywood, which he shot in the mid-1990’s was recently completed and has spent the past year in the 2012 and 2013 festival circuit.



Direct Link URL:


Matthew’s Official Website:

About Filmmaker Profiles: This video is the first in a brand new incarnation of the Filmmaker Profiles series, a collection of interviews that Eric originally started at the Anthology Film Archives when he volunteered with the NewFilmmakers series.