Friday, June 23, 2006

Sins of Filmmaking Parts I and II

This is from:

Ted Chalmers
Movie Plan Software
Tel. 1-800-416-9842

It's worth reading if you're working on low-budget movies!
"Seven Deadly Sins of Filmmaking For Profit"
By Ted Chalmers

Sin #1:

Shoot on FILM - Digital technologies such as DV and HiDef are enticing because they are inexpensive. But, ultimately the buyers are looking for features shot on film, at least 16MM. No
matter how much you save with the new digital technology, you are risking much more by not being able to deliver a film quality product. This will change over time. But, for now it
is too risky. Before you come to the conclusion that HD is so cost effective, please read the following I received from my Discussion List:

"24p HD is perceived as economical to producers used to the pure film process, because of the savings in intermediate stock and lab costs. Broadcasters have the opposite view. Many indie
producers who are aiming for TV distribution find DV quite attractive, and shot correctly (lit well), it can be pretty, indeed.

The caveats with HD are many, due to the proliferation of international framing standards. There are many traps for the unwary. It is very easy to get into a world of trouble shooting
23.976p and trying to edit in 24p, for instance (yes, such nasty "gotchas" exist!). Those that observe and heed the dangers fare well shooting "d-cinema" and burning back to film.

Post-production, dailies, and approval processes all benefit from operating within the digital environment. But it is crucial to know that "cheap" is not really on the menu for any quality
production, regardless of the efficiency of the format.

Careful planning and the willingness to spend what's necessary to ensure success is the best economy."

Finally, THE BLAIR WITCH phenomena was a marketing ploy that was backed by millions and millions of dollars of advertising making sure you heard about it. The fact is that if that film
was not successful in making you believe it was scary, then you probably would not have gone to see it. But regardless of whether it was scary or not, people went to go see it because the marketing did its job. I have seen hundreds of films try to emulate this formula for a film and failed miserably. This kind of phenomenon occurs very rarely and it would be unwise (not impossible) for any filmmakers to think they can re-create it.

This is absolutely critical! In fact, I cannot stress this enough but let's continue with Sin #2...

Sin #2:

We can't tell you what to make, but we can suggest you what is an easier sell. The hardest thing to sell is a "no name drama". Yet, consistently, this is what indie filmmakers produce over and over again. The market simply can not bear these products. With the exception of a few festival winners, these are next to impossible to sell. The next genre to stay away from is comedy. Any kind of comedy... romantic comedy, dark comedy, etc. Comedy is the kiss of death not only in foreign licensing but U.S. as well. The genres that do work include action, thrillers, sci-fi, horror, family, adventure and fantasy. Soft-Erotic used to work but has dried up with the rampant availability of hardcore productions.

Yeah, there are plenty of studio produced comedies that do well. But mostly here in the U.S.. Comedies, even comedies with huge stars, are not well received internationally because the
humor simply does not translate into other cultures. But, a comedy with Julia Roberts or Jim Carrey are going to do well because of the stature of their box office appeal. They still don't do as well as SPIDERMAN, however.

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