Indie Film Production: Financing essentials, getting it right

SECRET TO PRODUCING… (“The 9 Most Important Words”)
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If you want to Produce, or you want to be a Producer, and specifically you-want-to-Produce-a-Feature-Film-that-makes-a-PROFIT…

…then the saying is “Act like a duck. Talk like a duck. Squawk like a duck.” People will start thinking “You’re a DUCK!”

Now what do I mean by that?

Simple!

When referring to filmmaking there are 2 titles associated with Filmmaking. The first is the dumb one “FILMMAKER” (aka: stupid-dreamer) and the second is “PRODUCER” (aka: smart-professional).

It seems that everyone wants to be a Filmmaker.

Why? I don’t know. It’s a dumb phrase. Why? Because everyone knows what you are when you say “I’m a Filmmaker”. You’re telling everyone that (A) You are Broke, (B) You have no job, (C) you refuse to get a job and (D) You acknowledge that you are not going to date my daughter.

Why? I will not let my daughter date broke, out of work, dreamers.

The word “filmmaker” is so easy to say and throw out there. Now, let’s get real. You have seen anywhere between 3,000-10,000 feature films in your life and have any of them, EVER, had an Opening Title Credit that says the word “FILMMAKER”?

Answer is “NO”.

Opening Title Credits on feature films state PRODUCER… not Filmmaker.

Act like a duck, talk like a duck, walk like a duck….

Thus, from now on every time you meet someone and they ask, “What do you do?” Stand up straight. Be proud, “act like a duck” and announce that “You’re a PRODUCER”.

You will quickly notice something. That when you tell people “You’re a Filmmaker”, they’ll be polite and then walk away…. However, when you tell them that “You’re a Producer” they want to talk to you.

Now reality check: I know you’re scared to say “You’re a PRODUCER” (without blinking) because the person that you are in front of wants to talk to you and ASK A QUESTION.

Fear of dealing with “THE QUESTION” this person is about to ask will keep you out of the industry.

FIRST: “The Questions” that you’ll be asked.

1) “Oh really, what have you Produced?”
or
2) “Oh really, what are you Producing?”

“Sh*t”, they got you, what do you say now…. You “act like a duck and say the standard 9 WORDS that everyone in Hollywood has learned to say.”

Now, shaddup. Take your idea. Move your fingers. Type a treatment (to be posted Hot Tip). Register the treatment. Now, take that Treatment, block out your “Beat Sheet” (to be posted Hot Tip) and structure out your 40-60 scenes. Then take that “Beat Sheet” structure and write your Screenplay.

Again…Now shaddup…and move your fingers. Why? Because you are not a dreamer, you are a PRODUCER.

Happy Filmmaking, The Filmbay Team,
Filmbay.com
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Legal advice 103: Music Rights, clearance and funding tips

MUSIC & POWER… (“Hey how-about Music Power Brokers”)
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Got an e-mail from an Actor-Singer (highlight the word “singer”) who asked, “Why I don’t like singers & composers” with my response being “Huh?”.

Then I got, besides posting her song for me to listen to, what she desired was for me to give her a list of Deal-Makers in the music biz….who also are crossing over into TV & Movies.

I thought for a moment about the Simon Cowells, the Berry Gordys, the Paul McCartneys, the Jay Zs, the Hip-Hop moguls, even the “A&R” departments of labels and then I realized, once again, it is the attorneys that do the deals.

Once again “Its those attorneys”.

Phoned some friends and got a list of the top 5 entertainment attorneys for the MUSIC BIZ.

Here’s the list. The “Music Power Brokers”.

These are the Super-Super Heavyweights!

Want to be a Mega-Star, want to get Music Bucks for Movie Money Deals, need Investors, need Media Partners…..

Now, it’s up to you.

“You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make ’em drink”

1. DON PASSMAN
WHY: Wrote the book, the industry bible, “ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MUSIC BIZ”, In 90s negotiated two of the biggest label deals with R.E.M. and Janet Jackson
LAW FIRM: “Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown”
CONTACT: 132 S Rodeo Dr, #306, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
TEL: 310-777-4800

2. JOHN BRANCA
WHY: Collects Ferraris, Oversees Michael Jackson estate, consulting with SONY-EMI $2.2 Billion deal, reps 25-30 Rock & roll hall of fame artists from Santana, to Beach Boys, to Bee Gees to Rolling Stones
LAW FIRM: “Ziffren Brittenham”
CONTACT: 1801 Century Park West, #7, LA, CA 90067
TEL: 310-777-4800

3. JOEL KATZ
WHY: Reps music awards show “Grammys” & “CMA” awards and numerous legends like James Brown & Willie Nelson. Law firm is Atlanta based with 1,500 attorneys and 70+ in music biz. Must be some Music Legal Beagle who will help ya.
LAW FIRM: “Greenburg Traurig”
CONTACT: 1840 Century Park East, #1900, LA, CA 90067
TEL: 310-586-7700

Hope this helps all you Musicians, Singers, Composers, Arrangers and any of you that want to partner with a singer (hot reality idea), license a song or two or hire a mega-star singer to cross-over to acting. Prince tried. Sting tried. Streisand tried….

Happy Filmmaking, The Filmbay Team,
Filmbay.com
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New: Fix it in post? Simplifying Editing and Post (Post-Production)

POST-PRODUCTION IS EASY… (“The Simple Secret”)
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Post-Production, even though you, the first-timer, know nothing about the process is SUPER EASY.

The Shoot is the tough. Post is a piece-of-cake.

Permit me to explain.

When you are doing the shoot….You the producer, or you the producer-director or you the producer-director-writer are always overwhelmed. You are dealing with everything and everyone simultaneously every moment of every day.

You’re dealing with actors, crew, equipment, locations, props, food, weather, guilds & unions, sets, payroll, schedules, budgets, emotions, dramas, personalities, talent, art…. I don’t know how anyone handles their first feature film shoot….

But somehow you do…..

When in doubt (which will be all the time) always remember that no shot is so important that you go over-budget or behind-schedule to get it. For, if this shot is so important that it will save your film…. then your film stinks.

What saves your film is “Get it done”

Get It Done… On-Budget & On-Schedule”

So when in doubt (almost all the time) during your shoot, just ask yourself “Have I gotten a Master Shot” and if the answer for the scene is “Yes” then move on to the next scene.

After the shoot and you have inventoried all the equipment, with noting “M&D” (Missing or Damaged) and returned it. You will probably go home and sleep for 3 days.

When you wake up you’ll discover the “C&C” (Cast & Crew) have all gone, networked, and are on new jobs and you’re left to finish the film…by yourself.

It’s Okay. Just do everything one-step-at-a-time

Post is one-step-at-a-time. *Picture Edit, *Sound Edit, *ADR, *Foley, *Music, *Mix, *Music, *M&E, *Lab., etc.

The shoot is overwhelming.

Happy Filmmaking, The Filmbay Team,
Filmbay.com
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Filmmaker Legal Essentials 100: Insurance Help?

DEAL-MAKERS & POWER BROKERS (“The Biggest Legal-Beagles”)
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Attorneys have the power. Attorneys know where the money is? Attorneys know what the money wants? I hate attorneys but my dad a long time ago said “To be successful you gotta do what you don’t wanna do”.

What I don’t wanna do is work with attorneys. However, I desire to be more successful and as of today I am paying 2 separate entertainment attorneys to take my projects to the next level.

Last week I posted a list of 40 Power Attorneys that specialize on Talent Agreements for Writers, Actors & Directors.

Now let me give you some entertainment attorneys that specialize more with Producers, with each getting financing, or selling properties, or enforcing contracts.

So, I beg you, never ever again ask me for the name of an attorney because you believe someone stole your idea (Ugh). Here is the list. Google or Bing ‘em. Get their phone numbers and call.

Here is what they are quickly going to want to know or “sniff out”…
A) INSURANCE: whoever you’re suing is there an insurance company
B) ORIGINATION: Can you show Registration & Copyright proof
C) SUBMISSION: Can you prove you submitted it to them
D) SIMILARITY: This is the grey area. How do you show “it’s it”?

Good luck, but from now on you have the amazing list of entertainment attorneys that know how to sue and collect if you have something that you (A) own and have proof that you (B) submitted it to them and (C) it is similar and (D) there is an insurance company to negotiate with…

Happy Filmmaking, The Filmbay Team,
Filmbay.com
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New: Making a Reality TV show (how-to diy do it yourself)

REALITY TV…. (“Macho Men & Hot Chicks”)
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Reality TV Update. A couple of weeks back I posted a series of “seeds” (genres that work) on you coming up with new ideas for “Reality TV” series and remember….(A) Keep it cheap, (B) think about season 2 & 3, (C) the Network you’re geared towards and (D) a production company, to partner with, that has produced a reality series for that network.

He liked them and quickly set up pitch meetings with established production companies that did “Dog Whisperer”, “Hells Kitchen”, “Dog the Bounty Hunter”, etc.

I went. I pitched. I lost.

All they wanted to tell me was how “Project Greenlight” and “On The Lot”, film oriented reality series, both failed.

I wanted to tell them about how they were just “bubble-gum” shows about watching rich kids given a fair amount of money & a bunch of baby rah-rah speeches from the judges with no real-life drama.

Bottom-line. “Pass”. “Pass”. “Pass”.

Now, away from me and that dose of reality and back to you and your ideas.

Here is a genre that I forgot about that works…. MEN, MACHO-MEN, TOUGH GUYS. Never mind talent competitions and dating shows, they work but they’re tv network expensive while you are basic cable network cheap.

Reality Programming is a fun world. Plus, if the show doesn’t date itself it is a massively profitable world. And, I hope that you have learned a little from my experience… Get an idea; write & register it; get an agent; set up meetings & pitch and then….

… “Turn it over to God”. You can’t control anything.

Happy Filmmaking, The Filmbay Team,
Filmbay.com
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Casting Agents, Agents and Actors as Cast 101 Tips

USA ACTORS & CASTING (“Screw NY-LA Middle-America Actors”)
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Hi Actors. Always remember, no one looks like you. You are unique. You are original and please, please, please stop getting those bloody expensive photos & headshots that don’t look like you.

Now that 40 of the 50 states have established their individual funding programs (Canada, which looks like America, 12 years ago gave 25% refunds to Foreign Producers to shoot in their nation) to compete with the equivalent area of Canada that looks like them.

ONTARIO (Toronto) looks like NY, Philadelphia, Boston, Atlanta.

BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) looks like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, San Diego.

ALBERTA (Calgary, Edmonton) looks like Texas, Oklahoma, Montana

QUEBEC (Montreal) looks like numerous foreign cities such as Warsaw, Prague, etc

NOVA SCOTIA (Halifax) looks like New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, etc.

Now, here’s the point.

40 of the 50 USA states, who have lost shoots to the equivalent area of Canada that looks like them, have now come up with funding programs approximating 20%-40$ of the budget to draw the shoots back to Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oklahoma, etc.

Thus, if you are an actor in one of the 40 states that has a funding program to attract big-budget shoots then when those big-budget shoots come to your area they will hire you.

Now, who knows about this.

1) Your FILM COMMISSIONER
2) CASTING DIRECTORS in Your State.

So, here’s a list of some Casting Directors in the secondary (non-California, non-New York) states.

Attn Actors: Want jobs? Do your homework. Contact your Film Commissioner. Discover what programs they have and who is coming from NY & Hollywood to shoot and the project had 40 speaking parts, with the LA/NY Production company bringing parts 1-4, but parts 5-40 are available.

Then find out who the local Casting Director is and get him/her your headshot (that looks like you) and now become….”a pleasant pain in the ass”.

Actors; write that down. “Pleasant Pain in the Ass” This is another phrase for be persistent…and bug your local casting director.

1) CONNECTICUT
“JOHNSTON AGENCY”
45 Grove St, New Canaan, CT, 06840
TEL: 203-838-6188

2) GEORGIA
“BLOC SOUTH”
475 Moreland Ave SE
Atlanta, GA 30316
TEL: 404-622-4116

“HOUGHTON TALENT”
919 Collier rd NW
Atlanta, GA 30318
TEL: 404-603-9454

3) LOUISIANA
“IMAGES MODEL & TALENT”
305 Rue Chavaniac
Lafayette, LA 70508
TEL: 337-406-2219

Happy Filmmaking, The Filmbay Team,
Filmbay.com
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Defining Low-Budgets (Filmmaking 101)

WHAT THE HecK IS LOW-BUDGET? (“$10K, $100K or $1,000K?”)
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Low-Budget, No-Budget, Micro-Budget, Ultra-Low-Budget; enough, enough. What the heck is everyone talking about, in dollars of course, when these phrases are thrown out.

Let’s talk numbers…dollars.

Hollywood (aka: Movie Studios), in their world of mega-budget movies, call Low-Budget $15,000,000-$20,000,000. And you hear them say on panels that the average Low-Budget feature Film today is $18,000,000+.

OK. To the “Big 6” (Warners, Sony, Paramount, 20th, etc) Low-Budget is (here’s another phrase) “Low 8-Figures”.

I love when they say “Mid 7-Figures”; “High 6-Figures”.

For Pete’s sake (by-the-by, who is Pete?) why don’t they just say the bloody number.

Hollywood Guilds & Unions each have individual agreements, that they call Low-Budget Agreements, with each having a different amount for Low-Budget.

Writer’s Guild used to call Low-Budget anything under $5,000,000.

Director’s Guild used to call Low-Budget anything under $1,500,000.

Screen Actor’s Guild calls Low-Budget anything under $1,000,000: then they have something that says anything under $500,000, then they have something that says anything under $200,000.

Yo actors, make your mind up.

Now let’s cut-to-the-chase. Stop this Bull Rhetoric and get to the bottom-line for you.

WHAT DO YOU… YOU KNOW YOU, the person complaining about I can’t make rent, the person who can’t seem to afford to keep your gas tank on full, the person who didn’t even pledge $20 to Filmbay.comon it’s IndieGoGo campaign because you said “Money is tight right now”.

So, if “money is tight right now” and you didn’t even pledge $29 bucks to Filmbay.comthen DON’T YOU DARE CALL LOW-BUDGET, $18 Million, $5 Million, $1 Million, $500K, or even $200K.

Remember, you didn’t pledge $29 bucks.

Take your bank account. No Bull. Look at that number. Now, that number is High-Budget, for you and to be real cut that number in half and…that, for you, is Low-Budget.

You want to call it Micro-Budget, No-Budget or Ultra-Low-Budget… I don’t care but now you are into reality and can plan a feature film…. A 90-page script, in real time, with a weekend shoot, and a HDSLR camera that is synchronized properly.

Happy Filmmaking, The Filmbay Team,
Filmbay.com
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