Monday, December 19, 2011

Here is a link to the PDF'
"The Business of Selling Movies"

Hollywood Profits: Quantitative Drivers of Motion Picture Profitability

Sticking points: - From 1980 to 2000, production costs rose by 600%, marketing spend by 800% - ROI for under $10m film outperforms films with budgets over $10m. According to another article from Strategic Finance magazine March 2008, marketing is still one of the key factors contributing to film's success: - Viral marketing for 1999 release of "The Blair Witch Project", an independent film that cost $60K to produce and bought over for $1m by Artisan Entertainment. AE spent $20m for marketing and distribution. Worldwide gross box office is $249m. - Cost-Revenue association indicates that marketing costs are much more strongly associated with revenue streams: 10% change in production cost (say better quality) results in 2% revenue change, while 10% increase in marketing budget results in 10% increase in cumulative box-office revenue. Film rating is another contributing factor. R rating will have lesser audience than PG rated films. Distribution channels are another huge chunk of cost. Based on above alone, one can connect the dots of why "straight to DVD" releases are becoming a lot more popular. One another interesting observation: Netflix's profit sharing model for independent film producers. In a nut-shell: a low budget film releases to DVD to be "distributed" by Netflix. Clever low-cost marketing techniques pushes up rental revenues that are split by both parties. If successful, consider re-release or sequel at main stream.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Whoever controls the image & information of the past will determine what & how future generations will think; and, whoever controls the information and images of the present, will also determine how those same people will view the past. 
--George Orwell, 1984
Link to top 40 on-line video producers Statistics;

Friday, November 25, 2011

Filming Under Fire

Exclusive behind-the-scenes look at acclaimed documentary "Hell and Back." 

I really like this video because it outlines the best way to set up a 5D for remote shoots.
Just click on the link below and it will take you to the video.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Viral Video and the Shift to Consumer Control

A big shift is happening across all media. Now consumers are in control.
They can choose to watch whatever they want, whenever, and on whatever device. This shift in power to the consumer can be unsettling to brands.  The traditional model with broadcast media enables a brand to get more "airtime" if they spend more.  But with consumers in control to choose, they will naturally gravitate to the highest quality or most "viewable" content. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Head of Lionsgate Joe Drake

Joe Drake delivers a five part presentation on indie film financing.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Film Funding 101

Film financing is one of the most difficult and least understood challenges facing a producer and it is fraught with perils for the unwary. Many independent film producers find themselves caught in its legal and financial morass. Given that most film producers do not want to use their personal assets to fund their films. The most important issue for many producers is how to finance their film project with OPM (other people’s money).
The methods of financing film projects are as diverse as the film projects themselves, the most common ways being; “debt” (borrowing money); “equity” (selling membership interests); or a combination of both (a production support agreement). If the producer has a track record of successful film production, then additional sources such as “pre-sale” of film distribution rights or studio financing are available. There are also producers who merely package a project and assign the rights to another, better financed, production company. However, for most independent producers film financing is limited to debt and equity.
Financing a project with debt is that such agreements require the payment of a sum-certain, with interest, on or before a specific date
The other major source of funds, equity financing, is problematic because a securities offering memorandum and full disclosure is required under the securities laws and notice filings are required by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) Violations of the SEC requirements and the applicable Blue Sky Laws carry both criminal and civil penalties.
A business plan IS NOT a Private Placement Memorandum. A business plan and a securities offering memo serve very different functions. In order to safely comply with these laws, a producer should work with an attorney who is familiar with both entertainment and securities regulation.
The following is a summary of some of the issues that arise when preparing a private placement investment offerings 1. No General Solicitation. 2. Accredited investor requirements . 3. Disclosure requirements. 4. Filings.
For more information on SEC filings;
As you might expect, an essential part of any request for financing is for the producer to develop a credible budget and production timeline. Without both of these documents, prepared by someone with experience in film production, the producer should not undertake any serious fundraising.
So, how do you solve the Producer’s Paradox? One possibility is to start with a short film. The technology is the same and the logistics are the same, just in micro. Work up to a feature film project. A short is far less expensive, allows you to develop an understanding of the difficulties you will face with a feature film, allows you to develop relationships within the industry and it can become a calling-card for potential sources of funds.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Directing, Some Times Less is More!

Howard Hocks said something to the effect,
 "To make a great movie you need three good scenes and no bad ones"
Most beginning directors think directing is about control. 
That is completely wrong!
Directing is about responding.
Many times it is about what you don't do, than what you do.
It's about being present in the moment. Being able to respond in a fluid manner.
To the feeling of the scene, the location and what the actors are doing.
You don't need to have all the answers. Ego and Fear are the enemy of story telling. 
Intuition can be a valuable tool. Between your head and your gut, Go with your gut.
You should know what the hart of each scene will be. If you have that clear in your mind it should not be difficult to organize your shots around that concept.
It will also give you a good idea of what scenes are essential to your story, 
You never have enough time to get every shot you want. If you know the hart of each scene you will be able to allocate the lion's share of time to getting your essential shots.
Your gut should tell you when you have it right.
By no means am I advocating a lack of preparation.
Preparation is essential and becomes more so as your production budgets grow.
Never come to the set with out a thoroughly prepared shot list. 
But be flexible enough to deviate from the shot list if warranted.
At the very least, you will have a fall back plan if nothing develops organically.
Being prepared and knowing your time constraints, will give you the confidence and freedom to let chemistry develop.
Regarding actors, again less is more when dealing with actors.
Most beginning directors commit the cardinal sin of "over directing" when communicating with actors.
If you distill your job down to the simplest equation most of the time there are only two things you need to concentrate on. 
Protecting the actors ego and keeping them focused on the important elements of the performance.
If you can do this your actors will feel safe enough to take some risks with their performances.
Over-rehearsing can also be problematic in film.
You should not rehearse as though you are doing a stage play.
You don't want your actors performance's to peak before you get them in front of the camera.
In the end it's about catching magic light in a bottle!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Film Budgeting

Budgeting is an important aspect of film production.

During script development, filmmakers produce a rough budget to convince film producers and film studios to give them a greenlight for production. During pre-production, a more detailed film budget is produced. This document, which could be over 150 pages long, is used to secure financing. Multiple drafts of the budget may be required to whittle down costs.
A budget is typically divided into four sections: above-the-line (creative talent), below-the-line (direct production costs), post-production (editing, visual effects, etc), and other (insurance, completion bond, etc).



  • Story rights: The right to produce a film based on a play, novel, or new story. Can be paid from  15000/- to 100000/-
  • Screenplay: An A-list screenwriter can be paid 25000/- to 50000/- to write the first three drafts of a script.
  • Dialog writer can be paid 25000/- 50000/-
  • Director: minimum can be paid 250000/-( daily convense extra) for one movie up to 1st release , for a minimum of ten weeks' work. Traditionally, a director's salary is about 7 percent of the final budget.
  • Cast: An A-list actor can ask for anything from  200000/- to 700000/- (trailer, entourage, etc.). The rest of the cast, often come out much worse with many being paid the Screen Actors Guild minimum. Sometimes an actor will accept a minimal fee in exchange for a lucrative share of the profits;
  • Production costs: The cost of shooting the film including sets, wardrobe, location filming, hotels and transportation. The most prestigious productions will often employ the most successful, and therefore most expensive, crew, with the director of photography
  • Visual effects: if required can costs 100000/- to 200000/-
  • Music: The top film composers can ask for a six-figure salary, so of original music, could cost  500000/- with all expenses, rights etc.

The budget as an advertising tool

For blockbuster movies, high budgets are advertised to imply that the film will be worth watching. On the other hand, El Mariachiwas advertised as having a shoestring budget of $7,000. El Mariachi's actual budget including the distribution costs far exceeded $7,000. (It should be noted that the festival print of El Mariachi was in fact made for $7,000 - the additional budget expenditures came when the movie was picked up for distribution by a studio.)

Going over budget

In the US film production system, producers are not allowed to exceed the budget. Exceptions have of course been made, one of the most notable examples being Titanic. Director James Cameron ran over budget and offered his fee to the studio. In other countries, producers who exceed their budget tend to eat the cost by receiving less of their producer's fees. While the US system is profitable and can afford to go over budget, other countries' film industries tend to be financed through government subsidies.


Though movie studios are reluctant to release the precise details of their movies' budgets, it has occasionally been possible to obtain (clandestinely) details of the cost of a films break down. 
  • Story rights and screenplay: $4 million
  • Producers: $4 million
  • Director (Jan de Bont): $5 million
  • Cast: $17.25 million
    • Angelina Jolie: $12 million
    • Extras: $250,000
    • Other (inc. Angelina's perks): $5 million
  • Production costs: $67 million
    • Set design and construction: $17.8 million
  • Visual Effects: $13 million
  • Music: $3.3 million
  • Editing: $3 million
  • Post Production costs: $1.5 million
Total: $118 million

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

  • Story rights (Carolco and Gale Anne Hurd): $14.5 million
  • Screenplay: $5.2 million
    • John D. Brancato & Michael Ferris: $1 million
  • Director (Jonathan Mostow): $5 million
  • Producers: $10 million
  • Cast: $35 million
    • Arnold Schwarzenegger: $29.25 million + 20% gross profits
    • Arnold's perks: $1.5 million
    • Rest of principal cast: $3.85 million
    • Extras: $400,000
  • Production costs: $58 million
  • Post-production costs: $4 million
  • Visual effects: $20 million
  • Music: $2 million
  • Other costs: $33.6 million
Total: $187.3 million
Source: [2]

Spider-Man 2

  • Story rights: $20 million
  • Screenplay: $10 million
  • Producers: $15 million
  • Director (Sam Raimi): $10 million
  • Cast: $30 million
  • Production costs: $45 million
  • Visual effects: $65 million
  • Music: $5 million
  • Total: $200 million
Source: [3]

Breaking down the script part 2

Breaking down the script

The process of breaking down the script occurs after the producer reads through the screenplay once. Then he or she goes back and marks certain elements that need to be taken care of before production, or even before pre-production can begin.

Marking 1/8's

Each scene, as per slug line, is measured into 1/8's of a page by its number of inches. Most pages of a screenplay are eight inches, so each inch is an 1/8, even if a page exceeds eight inches. The number of 1/8's is then marked in the top left corner of the scene, and circled. If a scene lasts longer than eight 1/8's, it is converted to 1. So, a scene lasting twelve 1/8's is marked 1 4/8.

Marking elements

To ease future production, assistant director marks the elements found in each scene. This process repeats for each new scene. By the end, the producer will be able to see which scenes need which elements, and can begin to schedule accordingly. The film industry has a standard for color coding:

Element color codes

CastredAny speaking actor
Extra (Atmosphere)greenAny extra or group of extras needed for the background.
Extra (Silent bits)yellowAny extra needed to perform specifically, but has no lines.
StuntsorangeAny stunt that may require a stunt double, or stunt coordinator.
Special EffectsblueAny special effect required.
PropspurpleAll objects important to the script, or used by an actor.
Vehicles/AnimalspinkAny vehicles, and all animals, especially if it requires an animal trainer.
Sound Effects/MusicbrownSounds or music requiring specific use on set. Not sounds added in during post.
WardrobecircleSpecific costumes needed for production, and also for continuity if a costume gets ripped up, or dirtied throughout the movie.
Make-up/HairasteriskAny make-up or hair attention needed. Common for scars and blood.
Special EquipmentboxIf a scene requires the use of more uncommon equipment, (e.g. crane, underwater camera, etc.).
Production NotesunderlineFor all other questions about how a scene will go, or confusion about how something happens.