I have come across a wonderfully inspiring short film about giving and wealth. My personal ideal that money isn’t meant to be hoarded is something I’ve struggled to get across some of the wealthier folks in my social circles but unfortunately few agree. I was floored when I saw this film. It hits home the message and solidifies my ideals and it’s all around good filmmaking. This gem comes to us from some incredibly talented filmmakers from Singapore.
Now that we’re in the middle of our second week of fund raising through Seed & Spark, I thought I’d send in an update and give the project another push. I have been in communication with the high brass over at Seed & Spark about the progress of this campaign. It turns out that their success rate on getting projects funded is 70%. That’s a good ratio (better than Kickstarter). I would hate for us to wind up outside of that 70% – so here is the second push for this particular blog.
Additionally, I wanted to thank everyone who has pledged to the campaign and helped spread it to their contacts. It means a lot. You folks recognize how important this film is for everyone involved and I’m beyond happy to see that. Thank you so much.
Direct Link URL: http://www.seedandspark.com/studio/spaceship
[reblogged from The Spaceship Production Diary]
It’s been a while since we’ve had a positive development with this film, but I’m happy to say the production diary will resume as things are picking. There will be a new crowdsourcing campaign soon, as well as the official one-sheet poster. Today, I am happy to announce the launch of our new 50 second teaser. I previously had made two teasers, but I was not happy with them and eventually pulled them. They didn’t tease anyone. This new one works and I’m going to let it sit and see how it’s received. I’ll include the link below, along with all the relevant social media links. Everyone from the film would greatly appreciate it if you could connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube & Vimeo and blast the trailer out to your friends and family. Indie film is a numbers game so we have to ask.
You can view the teaser here.
Eric, The Cast & The Crew of THE SPACESHIP
La Jetée (1962) is a twenty minute experimental short by the late Chris Marker, an influential French filmmaker that passed away in July of 2012. Utilizing black and white still images, Marker created a jarring science fiction tale focused around time travel that is both visually stimulating and thought provoking. Although the experimental narrative is only 20 minutes and completely narrated (with no real dialog exchanged between characters), somehow, fully developed characters seem to come through and a 3D world beyond the still photographs manages to jump off the screen.
La Jetée is the film from which the 1995 Terry Gilliam feature “Twelve Monkeys” is based on. It is a wonderful example of good experimental filmmaker, especially when it comes to narrative and dream sequencing.
La Jetée is a must study for any filmmaker or film enthusiast and is available via the Criterion Collection and online.
Recently I had a conversation with one of the supporting actors from my new film THE SPACESHIP, which is currently in post-production. We were talking about the various people we had worked with on the production, the cast and the crew alike, and all their various personalities. We talked about all the people who had a positive outlook for the project as well as those who didn’t think the project would go anywhere. The project is so big and the cast/crew so diverse, that there is no consensus. At one point during the conversation, I told this actor that so many of the people we brought on board had never worked on an indie film before and so they have no respect for what it takes to get these things off the ground. The actor gave me a puzzled look and quickly shot back “so what’s a take?” almost as if implying that it doesn’t take much. Immediately I realized just how out of touch many people are, who haven’t engaged in full time production duties.
Independent film making is one of the most difficult tasks one can engage in. You could know everything there is to know about telling a story in motion picture form, but somehow someway, things don’t always go according to plan. If I put my mind to it, I’m sure I could mathematically figure out exactly how to produce one of my most complicated scripts into an impeccable indie film, right down to the last frame and sprocket hole. But it wouldn’t work – if there’s one thing Vietnam taught us is that you could be the best of the best and know the ins and outs of your plan down to the teet, but the human condition will always interfere and fuck things up. Things do not work out the way they should – hardly ever. This is mainly because of two factors, communication of creative ideas and individual personalities. The communication of creative ideas has pretty much been taken care of, as there are all sorts of mechanisms that directors can use to relay their ideas to their creative team. Personalities on the other hand, are a whole different thing, especially when it comes from people who haven’t a shred of experiencing on the production side.
In independent film making, there are people who are way down there (points to the floor)… and waaaaay up there (points to the sky). I consider myself in between. Every time I finish a project and see it through to the festival circuit, I feel slightly elevated. In my personal opinion, anyone who has produced an indie film and has plans to do another, exists in this middle part of the spectrum, mainly because of their willingness to go through it again. That part is so huge. Every production has people who are way down there – like so far down, they don’t stand a chance of ever coming up. Those people are bad for indie film, we don’t need them. Those are the people who complain about every little thing, who are afraid to leave their comfort zone and just accept things the way they are. They are the people who don’t care about the project or the other people on the project and isn’t in it for the end result, unless that end result is an enormous paycheck. They’re involved because they have false ideas on what they can take from it and when they realize they’re not going to get what they want – they concentrate their efforts on shutting it down and ruining it for everybody. They’ll keep you on your resume as long as they have to and then remove you the first instance they can, because in the end, their careers will likely be commercial oriented. These people appear in all departments all across the board and have shown up to every set I’ve ever been on. They’re like pebbles in the shoes of every truly independent filmmaker out there The individual people will likely only appear on your set for one project and you’ll never see them again – but similar folk will always pop up in the future.
When I decided to dedicate an enormous portion of my life to motion picture storytelling, I did so with the assumption that I wouldn’t make a lot of money – but with the hope that one day I could, that is, if I developed my skills enough that someone would see value in what I can do. Whatever happens, I’ll always be of the opinion that indie film isn’t and shouldn’t be about money, and if you’re in it for the paycheck, you’re ALWAYS going to be disappointed, no matter who it is you’re working for. I learned this back in high school when I made my first movie and I’m dumbfounded that there are so many people who don’t seem to get it. The only production related jobs I’ve taken strictly for the paycheck were corporate commercials for product brands. When it came to indie films, PSA’s and other important or artistic based endeavors, I always took the job on its own merits and worked out the compensation later because to me, the compensation was the least important part of my reasoning for engaging in these projects. Some projects I turned compensation away, in exchange for creative control (which so many of my vendors would NEVER do). As far as I’m concerned, everyone should operate this way – unfortunately most people don’t and often turn work away because budgets are too low or making money is more important than artistic integrity.
Indie filmmakers shouldn’t be treated in the same way studios are treated, whether it be by cast, crew or the unions. Most of the indie productions you’ll work for aren’t insured, have no benefit plans and aren’t even union signatories. This should tell you everything you need to know about the nature of the production. Don’t get me wrong, by all means, it’s not a bad thing. I prefer the smaller, under financed productions for a lot of reasons. Money destroys – it doesn’t create, especially when it comes to art and you can see that very clearly in the structure currently dominating the Hollywood industry. This brings me to the area of financing, which probably deserves a dedicated article as well. The people I mention as being “way down there” tend to believe that just because a filmmaker is unable to acquire financing, that a film doesn’t deserve to be made – a Darwinian mentality so to speak. Obviously this is not my belief structure at all and my goal with this blog, Film Anthropology, is to promote the creation of film and art, regardless of resources and to work towards changing the mentality of those that are responsible for the support of the creative types who engage these projects head on. Many of us can do it alone if we have to, but prefer not to. I’ve been accused of being arrogant and that by not raising “proper” funds on some of my projects, that I don’t “truly” care about said projects. Clearly I disagree. These are the words of people who have not attempted, and will likely not attempt, to produce their own independent film. If they do, they’re the type who will only do it when the conditions are “just right”. But what they don’t realize is that the conditions will never be… “just right”.
In his Anti-100 Years of Cinema Manifesto, acclaimed experimental filmmaker and founder of the Anthology Film Archives, Jonas Mekas, once said: “The real history of cinema is the invisible history: history of friends getting together, doing the thing they love.” I couldn’t agree more and live by these words every time I jump into a production – whether fully financed, penniless or crowd funded. Film making will always be about friends getting together to tell a story.
You have to wonder what’s going through a filmmaker’s head when they choose to burn their relationship with a film festival because they don’t like the venue of choice for their film, or the quality of the projector or the size of the screen or the fact that it’s not a surround sound auditorium – or one of the hundreds of other reasons I’ve seen filmmakers go crazy at festivals. As an alumni of some amazing film festivals, on top of being a contributing programmer and director of several festivals here in the city, I feel I have enough experience on the issues of filmmaker/festival etiquette. Over the summer I’m going to publish a series of articles here on Film Anthropology to talk about my experience as a filmmaker working in the festival circuit on both sides of the festival system. I want to elaborate on how filmmakers should work with the festivals to make their screenings top notch – but to also help them understand when they are asking for too much. The goal here is to learn how to take what the festival is offering and to make the best out of it.
With the exception of only a handful of festivals, most film fests operate on a break even budget. This is why most of them are registered non-profit entities. Some don’t even have 501c3 status because they cannot afford to go non-profit. Many first time filmmakers entering the festival circuit are unaware of this and are often baffled by how so many festivals don’t have the bling and media attention as some of the majors like Tribeca or Sundance. The festivals I primarily work with are boutique at best, or local screening series’ that specialize in the exhibition of actual independent cinema.
Yesterday we wrapped the 7th Annual Manhattan Film Festival, by far one of the toughest I’ve worked thus far. MFF is one of the most filmmaker friendly festivals I’ve encountered, which is why, after attending as a filmmaker last year, I jumped on board to help them out this year. Last year the festival had a crop of really amazing personalities and this year was no different. The films and filmmakers were absolutely remarkable. This year, MFF was the first festival for a lot of new filmmakers and so a lot of confusions came up from filmmakers who had never been involved in the festival circuit. While this is something I am proud of, it’s also the cause of a lot of problems because there isn’t a concise expectations manual for first time filmmakers and what could go down at any given time at a film festival. With that, keep in mind that no two festivals are the same and so you’ll need to use the opening couple of days to get to know the event, the planners and volunteers and gauge the best way to “work” the festival that your screening at.
In this article I want to talk about information dissemination. It’s important to understand that most boutique festivals are run by two or three people tops, with a huge dependency on volunteers. Many break even at the end of the festival, others go into the red and are often financed by the organizer’s personal funds. Because of this there is very little resources available to disseminate information to the public on all the various aspects of the event. This includes the screening schedule, filmmaker PR, all the various venues that the festival requires for the screenings, panel discussions and so forth. This is why many festivals look for filmmakers who are working heavily to promote their work and their screenings. One of the things fests look for when programming are filmmakers in tune with the latest social media or have gained attention in other ways, either in the press or in the blogosphere. Obviously this isn’t make or break – I see plenty of films this year that haven’t been covered at all by the media, but it’s important that a good number of the filmmakers understand something about promotion.
This also ties into festival communications. Don’t expect the organizers to get back to you off the bat, and when they do, don’t expect the answer you want. While festivals do their best to please the artists they program, it’s not always possible to keep 163 people equally happy. Everyone has their own ideas about their work and what a festival should be and it takes a special kind of person to accept a festival as it is and just roll with it. This is what I call “working the festival”. Being able to work a festival regardless of its resources and operations is the kind of person a filmmaker operating in the circuit should become – because when you start to stress out because a festival isn’t allowing things to go your way, you’ll just end up making a fool of yourself.
The Manhattan Film Festival has released a video of filmmaker testimonials, featuring selected filmmakers from the 2012 season. Included are: Phil Nelson (Festival Director), Eric Norcross (Caroline of Virginia), Mark Blackman (Welcome to Harlem), Kristina Harris (Diminished Chords), Erik Peter Carlson (Transatlantic Coffee) and Chloe Elaine Sharf (Nora).
The video was produced to build support among the independent filmmaking community in the hopes of discovering works that would otherwise not be submitted to the festival. MFF’s regular deadline ends February 25th, 2013 so filmmakers have time. The late deadline is March 18th and WithoutABox users can submit up until April 8th. For more information visit MFF’s website at: http://www.ManhattanFilmFestival.org and find them on Facebook & Twitter.
Direct Link URL: http://youtu.be/3Hv-dsVutFY
Guest Blogger: Lamont Jack Pearley
FILMMAKING TUTORIALS: Turn your home computer into a production and post-production suite.
For the all around ﬁlmmaker, you can turn your personal computer into a production suite, where you can create, write and produce your film and once shot, edit your footage, all with a virtual production ofﬁce and editing suite. All you need is a couple of key programs, the will and determination, along with a few trust worthy hard working industry professionals. Letʼs start with a program I hold dear to my heart: Celtx. This program takes the ﬁlmmaker, ﬁlmmaking team and ﬁlmmaking process to the next level because itʼs an all-in-one media pre-production program. Being able to produce documents for any type of visual media: film, tv and even theater. Celtx is great for the entire production process from script writing to story boarding scenes and sequences, sketch setups, character development, breakdown & tag elements, production scheduling and cast/crew reports. This takes a huge ﬁnancial strain off of the production because you donʼt have to rent a physical ofﬁce, but work, inform and interact with your team from anywhere at any time.
As we know, nothing worth having is free, however, I must say with a starting price of $4.99/month for 1 – 5 users, the Celtx Studio screams “Write it, Shoot it, Work it”. This is also very powerful because it saves time and the confusion of emails and phone calls and reduces the need for costly meetings and courier services. You are actually able to give live direction and feedback during project development and perform re-writes and tweaks in a collaborative screenplay in real time.
We must also discuss the late and great Final Cut Pro, the full studio suite, which will allow you to edit high quality high deﬁnition footage, color grade, audio clean up and sound design and mix/master your project to completion. Similar to Celtx, Final Cut Pro includes built-in tools that make it easy to work collaboratively, whether youʼre in the same building or on the other side of the world. By sending your video to the iChat theater everyone involved can see the same footage while you view dailies, select shots, and make edits. You can instantly switch the iChat view between clips and sequences as you talk and turn on a time code overlay to help identify speciﬁc frames. Again, can we say “Write it, Shoot it, Work it”.
Out of the main two programs you would need to make your computer production studio, Final Cut Pro would be the most expensive, however, once again we eliminate the cost of courier services and the like. Not to mention you wouldnʼt have to wait 24-72 hours to receive, digitize and make changes
To close out, I would also make sure to own an external drive of at least 2 terabytes and connect that to your computer for any projects youʼre working on. With all this in place, you now have a production studio all on your computer! Now go “Write it, Shoot it, Work it”!
Over the weekend I was asked by a fellow filmmaker, what I mean when I write or say “truly independent“. For those of you who have been following this blog or my work with some of the film festivals, I will often write or say something like “oh yeah, they show truly independent film” with a huge emphasis on truly.
My intention in integrating the word truly, whenever I utilize the term: independent film, is nothing more than a device to emphasize the level of independence involved in the production, while avoiding an emphasis on the monetary value of a film’s production (as happens with the term low budget film).
With the proliferation of HD technology, the line between independent film and low budget/no budget film is slowly but surely becoming blurred. There are some impeccable looking films out there that were produced without a budget – aside from the cost of an HD camcorder and some great locations and actors (who were probably all volunteers anyway). The independent aspect of it is when the filmmaker is just that: the filmmaker. engaged in all aspects of the production. Sometimes it’s one of two people collaborating but independent is as independent does. Not just a director with a staff working under him, which too, can be a production regarded as independent in the 1990′s sense of the term. I do not consider these movies independent though, even though they are produced outside of a studio, they’re still financed and the filmmaker is typically not doing all of the leg work on his or her own. It’s this level of non-studio film making that I refuse to describe as independent, but instead employ the term: micro-budget.
There needs to be recognition of these separate types of non-studio films within the festival and distribution systems, for no other reason than to allow each film to be judged on its own merits, whether by a festival jury or by the ticket buying public. It’s a mechanism that, at its core, would allow viewers to understand what the difference is between a multi-million dollar Hollywood film, a hundred thousand dollar low budget film, a twenty thousand dollar micro-budget film and a no budget indie. If we can begin to educate the public on this, then perhaps we can stimulate a bit of appreciation for the truly independent films – and maybe, just maybe, we might be able to create a stronger market for the work being created at the individual level.
I met Kristina Harris when she screened her short film DIMINISHED CHORDS at the 2012 Manhattan Film Festival. I initially reached out to her because both of our films featured main characters who were deaf and thought it would be cool to cross-promote our screenings.
A couple months later, while helping NewFilmmakers New York program their fall series, I happened upon her submission on the WithoutABox list and reached out to her. I set up DIMINISHED CHORDS as one of the opening films of FallFest 2012. It was only right that I interview her for the profile series.
Here’s Kristina Harris talking about her film: