Archives for posts with tag: indie filmmaker

The film Bounty Killer was gory, splattery, occasionally beautiful rubbish [intentionally, I think]. The brilliant part is how it managed to get made at all.

Excerpted from an article written by director Henry Saine:

My advice when things are going slow getting your script made: start drawing.

The artwork doesn’t have to be great, it doesn’t even have to be artwork, just collage photos together of your vision, whether it’s a big grand epic or an intimate story between two people. The best way for investors to understand your vision and your passion is to give them some graphic representation of your tone, your emotional core — your story.

You can shoot a short, but better yet, just make a trailer. A trailer can sell the whole movie, not just a scene. Its all artwork and it will get people to read your script.

People love artwork.

The article details how BK caromed from one step to the next:

– a drunken idea between two friends

“Its brilliant. It’ll be about Enron ending the world.”

– an utterly rejected script

“…we couldn’t get anybody to read it, much less back a movie with the wacky premise.”

– a cartoon pitch rejected by Samuel L. Jackson

Jason, Colin and I came up with a highly energized pitch that involved lots of concept art. For our little dog-and-pony show, we even donned yellow ties that our criminals wore in the cartoon. Our highlight was sitting across from Samuel Jackson who was looking to do more animation after “Afro Samurai.” His reaction: “So let me get this straight, I just go around killing white people?”

“Whatever you want to do, Mr. Jackson, we’re just surprised to be sitting here.”

He passed.

Everybody passed.

– a short film and trailer, funded by Wal-Mart

“Walmart was connected though their investors, and to sell the comic book on their shelves it needed to be clean. Walmart was, if I were to embellish, helping fund our project about the evils of giant corporations.”

– a feature-length film starring Eve — I mean, Gary Busey.

But things started moving faster, and before I knew it, I was on set wiping chocolate ice cream off Gary Busey`s suit for a movie based on a comic book I hadn’t finished yet.

They say directing a movie is like painting in a hurricane. True. And doing it in 18 days is like being strapped to a runaway train flying off the rails through that hurricane. You just hold on and try to throw paint on the canvas.

– …and finally, a comic book:

“Over four sleepless days… I drew, inked and lettered a 90-page graphic novel.”

Ultimately:

The comic book was done, and now the movie, already based off a comic book, was now based off a comic book — with pictures.

You can shoot a short, but better yet, just make a trailer. A trailer can sell the whole movie, not just a scene. Its all artwork and it will get people to read your script.

People love artwork.

And on that note, I’ve got quite a bit of drawing to do. Perhaps you do, too.

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The Internet was designed as a robust communication network — not as a commercial medium. “Data” can be anything passed between two computers. It just so happens that music, books and movies can be digitally encoded as “data”.

Since the Internet is merely a network (not a market), and can transport any data via its networking protocols, is the Internet also cannibalizing all forms of data, including music, books and movies?

All future generations will potentially be able to download any accessible data for the price of an Internet connection.

Life is short. The creation of anything valuable requires time-intensive work. This effectively shortens your lifespan by the number of hours it takes to finish a project.

Many children now learn to use file-sharing apps and networks before they learn the scarcity and value of time. Time, energy and effort are never free, but many people who are not “creative” seem not to recognize the potential value of time unless it has an hourly wage attached. If they did recognize time’s value, how would anyone seriously claim that someone else’s creative work could be free?

Given the scarcity and value of time, the mantra that “information is free” is immediately shown as false. Massive corporations can afford to use major marketing and PR to their advantage; hence, they will survive and get bigger. Individuals and independent artists/scientists who are working after-hours from their garage simply cannot compete with companies that can pay to have their upcoming products spammed across millions of screens, billboards, radio channels, and Internet advertising platforms (including paid ads on social networks).

More importantly, the farther a company’s reach, in terms of marketing, the smaller percentage they have to earn in order to turn a profit.

Imagine that you can realistically hope for 5% of people to buy your work after they hear about it.

At $7 per copy, an indie film made for $100,000 would need 14,285 viewers to recoup their budget. You would have to reach approximately 285,700 people in order to break even if 5% of them paid for your film. To make a $100,000 profit would require over half a million people to know about your film. And that’s only if you could reliably identify a target group of people who might plausibly be interested in your particular work; otherwise, you might not even get 5% to care.

Even in the age of the Internet, a half-million is a lot of people. And the $100,000 covers only the production costs — not the years spent crafting the concept, bringing together a group of skilled people, and then managing the project.

Enter the Internet. You’ve sunk years of effort and $100,000 of funds into the film. Within days, someone buys your film, rips it, and posts it online. People who would otherwise have paid for it can now download for free because they’ve convinced themselves that accessibility is equal to morality. People who wouldn’t have needed a “moral” stance before doing the right thing (i.e. paying for a creative work) can now say that “information wants to be free” and thereby ignore the human cost entirely.

This is like a clerk leaving a jewelry store unattended, and as people crowd in to clean off the shelves, they get caught — then complain that “diamonds want to be free” or “I own the diamonds because this ring weighs practically nothing” or “this diamond ring sucks. I wouldn’t have bought it anyway, so now that I have it, I should be allowed to keep it”, or “it’s not fair. The jeweler didn’t make all these diamonds. He didn’t dig them from the Earth or cut and polish them. He’s trying to make a profit by selling them for more than he bought them. Diamonds want to be free. So beyond an arbitrary amount, he shouldn’t be able to make any more money from them. He should give them away for free to anyone who wants them.”

Making copies of data is “free”. Creating information — the meaningful shape of data that gives you science, films, music and songs — is never free.

A major studio can afford to buy exposure to millions of people and absorb massive losses in revenue in order to get five (or six, or ten) percent of potential customers to buy. So even in the Internet era, big players can make a tidy profit on blockbusters and superstars. And then the big players aim for the lowest common denominator in creating mediocre “safe bets” like yet another Transformers movie or another string of comic-book franchises rather than anything more risky or artistically viable than “Guardians of the Galaxy”.

Meanwhile, indie artists and scientists don’t have the luxury of such a wide loss-margin. The trick is in the percentages: five percent of everyone who looks at a screen that you can reach — that’s a far bigger pie if you can reach most of the screens. It’s practically nothing if all you’ve got is e-begging on Kickstarter and panhandling for “Likes” on Facebook.

Not every work is amenable to the “value add” that many are desperately trying to use to entice people to buy. “Buy my new album and you’ll also get to have a drink with me, only if you pledge [x] amount” is a ludicrous way to try to substitute for lost revenues over the span of a career. These are all strange ways to compensating for the fact that your fans are simply stealing from you, and refuse to even acknowledge it unless you sell them an “experience” that’s not so easy to download.

And that’s why I don’t get the idea that the Internet “should” make everything free, as if this were some kind of “natural” evolution. There’s nothing “natural” about telling people that** they shouldn’t be able to earn a living because their work can be made into a stream of data, and data “wants to be free”.

** …unless they work for a massive corporation that can carpet-bomb the planet with a marketing blitz, that is…

Life is short and nothing is free, unless you steal it. The definition of stealing is that someone suffers while another person gains from that person’s misfortune. The World Wide Web is over fifteen years old now. The lack of alternatives means that access to art and science is now, more than ever, the exclusive domain of large corporations that can thereby exert even more control over what is and isn’t produced, promoted and sold.

This is the larger issue that very few people seem to even see, much less care about.

It’s also hardly the outcome that anyone could tout as a benefit from stealing someone else’s work under the banner of “freedom”, but that’s exactly what’s happening. The problem isn’t only that information is “free” — the problem is that it still isn’t free (and never was, and never will be). Artists lose a livelihood, scientists lose funding, and corporations make a killing based on the greed of the average person’s desire to get something for nothing, while being conned into using fake moral arguments that also make them accomplices in the crime.

Sounds like business as usual? It may be. Only now thievery is instant, worldwide, and even has a convenient pseudo-moral ideology to rationalize it away, rather than inspire people to work toward a better approach that would give artists and scientists a way to make a living. You may say “screw the corporations” or not, but at the very least, don’t screw the little guy. Or maybe at the very, very least, don’t give him the short end while pretending to do the world a favor.