I didn't realize my last blog would reach so many folks. It has stirred up a lot of conversation as well as activity on Twitter and postings on other sites. Because there was great dialogue stirred from it. I would like to republish the commentary here where it is not buried. Besides for those that took so much time to share their insight, I would like to reward you. Thank you for sharing your commentary, it is really helpful for me and I hope for others.
Before I do so, I would like to thank the following folks on Twitter who shared the posting @Maria_56 @giamilani @iscamedia @ClaireLWasmund @kingisafink @jokeandbiagio @Migg @mediakaleid @ahedetoft @DesertVows @grking @norestrictions @davidspies @philontilt @StripedSocksPro @CitygateFilms @seanjvincent @FilmSpecific @adamchapnick @nicolasmladinic @Gulfi @Lenscapper1 Apologies to those that I certainly missed.
From Jenn Page, "great stuff and excellent timing for me. thx for putting this out."
From Craig Wilson, "It is funny to me, how only a handful of indie filmmakers give this thought process any consideration at all. One would think, it is obvious? But alas, I am wrong. Thanks for spreading this info David, may it inspire and influence the minds that will shape indie cinema in the future."
From Ben Hicks, "Some good points here but your key example of Robert Rodriguez (although inspiring) I feel is no longer relevant in terms of something we can compare ourselves to. I'll admit it takes this kind of spirit but it also reflects how much easier it was to get money for your films before the explosion of digital filmmaking. Robert Rodriguez knew he could sell his film on straight to the Spanish home video market for $25,000 but I'll bet you that today the Spanish home video market would pay much much less simply because there is more content to choose from. I bet that they would pay so much less that Robert Rodriguez might not have even gotten enough to pay off his film.
This is the problem we're all in now. No one is paying us for our work even though there is a big demand for it and in some cases are being seen hundreds of thousands of times in a matter of days.
The system is broken (sorry for the plug) but we're working on a new platform to try and fix all these problems that filmmakers face in order to sustain.
you can check out what we're working on at www.fandependentfilms.com"
My response to Ben, "Great to have your comment Ben. I am certainly excited to see what you have coming with FanDependentFilms.
With Robert Rodriguez, I know that market option is no longer viable. I reference it because I believe his mentality is key. Too many filmmakers are only thinking about how they are raising money for one feature film, rather than a series of films. It is no easy task to make money off of one film. If you are going to sustain yourself, it is going to take more than one film. I believe this perspective is essential. Common sense, yes, but as I look around the landscape of independent cinema I do not see enough of this mentality."
From Mark Harris, "Yep, it's really come into focus this past six months with THE LOST CHILDREN. Originally supposed to have been shot and edited by now, but we started absorbing all of this stuff and put the breaks on, and re-focused on audience building. Which will continue through production this spring, until the film's release in 2011, and beyond. But now I'm extremely happy we have a whole year to do this stuff, before the movie comes out."
From John W. Bosley, "My favorite line from FIELD OF DEAMS is from James Earl Jones' charecter. He said, "I'm going to beat you with this crowbar until you go away." For some reason every time we heard that line it made us laugh. Ok, I'm weird. But there's a point to bringing up that quote. Costner's charecter pursues connecting with Jones's charecter because it is needed to fullfil the goal. My new perpective on the film biz is that it's not REALLY about storytelling/filmmaking it's about cultivating relationships that are needed to for you to make your film. You could make the greatest film in the world but without key relationships you'll end up with a film sitting on your shelf gaining dust.
My father once pointed out to me the story of Tom Sawyer having to white wash the fence. I have pointed this story out to tons of people when it comes to filmmaking and building your career. I believe how it is applied is the key to your success in the biz.
Tom is told to paint the fence. This is his goal/project. But instead of complaining or even asking for help he instead greates a sense of "implied value" that draws the attention of his friends. By the end everyone is paying him to paint the fence for him.
My point: create some implied value right of the begining about your project. Find a simple, cost effective way that you can express who you are as a unique artist, draw in people and they will want to work with you because their inspired by the beauty of your artistry. And you don't have to break the bank in order to do it. This is what I am doing with The House: http://www.thehousefilmproject.com"
From Sheri Candler, "great post David. I hope you don't mind that I am NOT picking you apart. And I love everyone else's comments too. The audience building mentality is finally catching on!! YAY! and about David Baker's comment, he is right. This is going to be so much more work than just making the film. Many would be filmmakers will turn back and the field will not be as crowded as it is now. Guaranteed! Those who have an audience and continually cultivate it and feed it with interesting content will be the survivors."
From Darrell Kiedo, "Okay, I for one think Robert Rodriguez (inspiring and viable today), the market has and always will be evolving, now same as when Robert Rodriguez produced his film that inspired soo many of us. Look, the studio's and powers that be have been trying to pay as less for more since Charlie Chaplin, and in talking to many Producers from Monster to Big Fat Greek Wedding (which were also independents by the way Nobody knows what a movie can achieve - we put the puzzle together and yeah market it, audience in mind, but 2010 has and is producing it's own Oprah effect in regards to the internet, social media and a world wide presence. I am producing a micro-budget movie and I am expecting a large following with the cast/story/ studio pickup(hopefully)/underground/ viral/ and web-based marketing. We'll see what happens but I think you guys are selling the market place short. Yeah, it's changed but it's always changing - We as filmmakers, actors, creators, live adapt & grow. We (the Dawn) shortened title, have a multi-international cast, two cities, A star-less but extremely talented cast, one of the best Independent production teams and Four Countries represented in this film. The possibilities are endless. Anyway that's my rant - It boils down to hard work which is why I'm up at 4:30am starting my day with this blog. The next 6 hours trying to raise money, the 4 after that with talent for film, the 3 after that connecting with more investors and potential sponsors. Sleep? Maybe after the Premiere.
(From Darrell Kiedo: Actor/Screenwriter, "Before The First Dawn" based on the Book "The Black Actors Guide To Not Working In Hollywood" by same available via Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble Bookstore or xlibris.com. Co-Produced with Glimpse of Dreams LLC. Producer Richard Jacob: 202-812-9906 Fax 866-593-7941 firstname.lastname@example.org for more info."
And finally David Baker. I am going to bolden one section here that really stands out to me in his commentary. I couldn't agree more with David's point.
"I think its paramount that we know our audience, who they are, where they are, how we will get to them cheapy or for free, before you even write your first scene.
I never really did that with my current film Mission X, as it was made for nothing as a knee jerk reaction to losing £500,000 for a horror film.
However, I knew my personal aspect to the story would still have to get an audience. But I also knew with hard work, in worst case, I could find my audience on thousands of military sites like airsofters, paintbllers, and other war movie lover groups.
Got the corman attitude of making a personal film, but wrapped in a genre. Just like horror that is easy to find groups of people, as so many horrors have been done. And of course it makes sense to do a sequel I had etc etc.
For my next film, Death Movie, the one I lost the £500,000 on. I got that money from the distribution proposal, not the script. The investors never even saw the script. They saw a simple pitch, and a mobile-drive-in roadshow concept, which will also partner with a lot of brands to do screenings this year.
My point is, I could NEVER even be inclined to write a movie, without knowing who my audience is, and how I will get to them. It is kind weird because for years after my first film, the problem was “How do I make the movie” Then “How do I distribute the content"
The distribution itself, is not really a major problem now as we know. At least to kick start yourself career on the first ladder. Now the problem is, how to I get those precise “eyeballs” to see my work for no money, or very little.
So every project I write now, has always had a brain storming session about how I get to my audience before I write. If I dont pull off the Mission remake, I will do a micro budget sequel, and sell it to the audience for the first.
And the 2nd one will have more viral wild action vidoes, so it might turn the first film into a prequel.
Anyway. I agree with your blog. I dont even think the future is about our films anymore, in terms of how we build a career, its from all the other potential revene streams that can spin off from it.
I hear a lot of filmmakers so desperate to make their first film, and I just know they are going to be in so much distress when they realise the REAL world in this biz. A world that really is only for the truly passionate, and 7 days a week until you die dedicated.
We all think we work hard, I thought I did on my first industry funded and distributed film, but damm, that was a slacker ride compared to the time I put it now, and I will have to keep this up until I die if I want this as a career.
On an upbeat note. I see it as a GREAT! Time. I can see the future. Its tough, but it should be to make a career out of a job like this. And agree that its not about the back slapping attitude of “I made a movie” Filmmakers need to be industrious. Get a bit of the Rodrguez attitude of cranking your talent out there, building a personal brand.
On a final note. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, and many other pioneers had a vision, when there was really nothing to invisage. A crazy vision they realised and made happen.
My point. If filmakers cant see the amazing opportunties ahead of us, then they should not be in this biz, as I hear too much downbeat stuff. But yes, agree, too many are living in lala land about the practical realities. Filmmaking is only one half.
Ok, too much yakety yaking from me. I'm off!
Love your blog, film courage, and I have no doubt I will love your movie too when I get to see it.