Saturday, June 24, 2006

Parts 3, etc., "Sins"

Part two of the "sins" of filmmaking. For your dining and dancing pleasure. Oh, and this is a picture of Lucretia's "lair" with Olja Hrustic.

"Seven Deadly Sins of Filmmaking For Profit" Part II
By Ted Chalmers

Sin #3: CAST

While no one expects you to get a star. There are plenty of known actors that are eager to work for quality productions for the right fee. I would recommend that you look into getting at
least one recognizable name actor for one of the smaller roles of the project. To get an idea of who these actors might be, look in the market issues for Cannes Market, AFM or MIFED, to see the kinds of names that are being offered at these shows. Another good source is to peruse the local video store and look for the straight-to-video titles and see which name actors are featured.

While the proposed cast list is very standard in the business of independent filmmaking, most seasoned investors of film, including production companies, studios, distributors and even
private investors will require that your project be packaged prior to considering it for financing. A package is just like it sounds, a package of elements that are somewhat secured by
an agreement between you and the talent that should you raise your financing they are committed to the project.

This can also be a catch 22 as when you have cast attached firmly and all of a sudden you have an investor or source of money that requires that you need to replace one of these elements for some reason. If the agreement is firm you may be stuck with the package you have. In many cases, the agreement will have provisions to have an actor step aside in the event of replacement due to financing issues. This is a fee to walk away from the project.

Obviously, this is a very loose commitment. It is based on many, many factors falling into place. The agreement of terms can take months to negotiate and depending on the talent, can
include many odd requests that may be difficult to meet. The availability is also a big issue. Any good talent that you would want attached will be busy (that's why you want them).

Finding a time that agrees with their schedule and yours can be difficult. However, you can always let your investors know that your cast is subject to final negotiations and scheduling
and that if for any reason they must be replaced, you will make sure that they are replaced by talent that is of equal or greater value in the marketplace. This can be good as it is
usually a very subjective issue as to which actor would be equal or greater than the actor you have. So, long as the investor recognizes the name, it will probably be ok. But, in any event, you investor may require approval on a replaced actor on the package.

But there's still more - let's continue with Sin #4...

Sin #4:

Don't make black and white movies. I realize that in film school you get to see a lot of these classic old movies and there is sometimes the desire to pay homage to Welles or Hitchcock.
But, a B/W film will simply not sell in the overseas market and most likely will be hard to sell in the U.S., as well.

The reason Black and While does not work is because most TV channels around the world refuse to program Black and White movies. Why? Because they get phone calls from their viewers
complaining that something is wrong with the broadcast or their TVs. I am not joking! People pay a lot of money for color TVs around the world (far more than you or I) and they demand
color programming. I have a great action film that is black and white starring a well known star and I cannot sell this film for the life of me, purely on the one fact that it is in Black and White. Even in territories where he is a huge star, they get all excited, but when they find out it's Black and White .. they just laugh and shake their head. Even the Coen brothers prepared a color version of THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE for International. So, if you must go Black and White for artistic reasons, do it in post so you have a color version for economic reasons.

Sin #5:

Stay away from political or religious themes in your storylines. These are usually too controversial for many foreign territories. Other themes that are tough include alternative
sexuality. People just want to be entertained, not enlightened. So, try to keep the subject matter light.

On a similar note, filmmakers love to make movies about the thing they love the most, i.e. making movies. But, let me warn you against this. Outside of Hollywood, no one can relate to
this experience and you are better off with a story that is more universal in its appeal. I know, I loved THE PLAYER as much as the next guy, but how are they going to get it in other parts of the country or the world?

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