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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Storydust of real lives

It's quite famous, but worth a mention.

The pain and joy of everyday lives, by the people who are living them. One sentence feelings that are sometimes more powerful than our scripts.

Go to the postsecret blog.

Here's some more...

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

New event

This event is similar to Power to the Pixel. Go if you can. If only because Pete Buckingham is such a passionate speaker on digital distribution.


Tuesday 11 December 2007, Watershed, Bristol, UK

A one-day film conference presented by South West Screen
Book now for South West Screen’s upcoming conference 'Film: The Digital Future' which is bringing a pool of experts to the region to explain how best to embrace and exploit the ongoing digital developments within the production, distribution, exhibition and marketing sectors.

More speakers have now been confirmed including Simon Oakes from Hammer, Teun Hilte from Content Republic, Marc John from City Screen and Pete Buckingham from UK Film Council. New speakers are being added to the website regularly. Quite simply, there is no better way to get the lowdown on the changing landscape of digital film.

Click here for full programme details

Places are £50 including lunch
To book contact Watershed box office on +44 (0)117 927 5100

Monday, November 26, 2007

Discussions on Hope

There is an interesting discussion about my film Hope going on over at CampFire. The film is secular, but the discussion is religious. Interesting. They also have a pdf download that can be used to help children discuss the film. All quite cool stuff really - and it's great to see your film through the eyes of others.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

New way to raise money - piggybacking!

Anchorman Ron Burgundy

Here's a great idea from legend Nick Scott (he of the super 8 films) for a way to raise funds for a film.

Nick is raising cash for his new film - by using someone else's film. And having a damn good time doing it. He runs great nights out for film fans. He has already made a success of The Dude Abides - a fun night out for fans of The Big Lebowski.

Coming soon is a similar night, but focused on Anchorman. So if you believe that Ron Burgundy tells it as it is - get on down there, have a rockin time and support a film maker. You know it makes sense and a warm feeling in your tummy is guaranteed.

Start Time: Saturday, December 8, 2007 at 9:00pm
End Time: Sunday, December 9, 2007 at 3:00am
Location: Kingpin Suite, Bedford Way, London, United Kingdom

Facebook event page

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See more about Nick's films here.

Monday, November 19, 2007

2 examples

Following on from my recent blog posts - here are 2 short extracts from Screen International this week. Just to show that I'm not on a one man ranting crusade...

The first is from Agustin Almodovar who produces for this brother Pedro.
"We make business our ally. There's no difference between the making of a film and its commercial exploitation. Pedro and I approve each commercial venture associated with the movie.

John Sayles

The second story concerns John Sayles. An indie film veteran he says...

"You've noticed in the last five years that independent movies live or die in their first weekend, and they can't survive that way. Most of our films took three or four weeks before people started to talk about them. Our films play to people over 30. Those people don't go the first weekend. It was clear to us that some new way of getting these movies out has to come around"

John solution is what he calls 'a grass roots political campaign'. it involves a touring band. Marketing wise, he targets specific local areas that have blue-grass music fans - the topic of his new film.

What's clear is that if, as a low-budget or indie film maker, you don't have an exciting plan for distribution you may as well not shoot the film. Just as much as if you didn't have a script.

If you're a scriptwriter then stories that will appeal to passionate fans (e.g. Sideways for wine buffs) are going to be much more appealing to these new producers AND you can offer added value as an expert in that field due to your research.

Its a new world of niche marketing and niche films. But its 100% there for the taking. By all of us. People who will miss out in this new world are - writers who 'just' write scripts and are scared to get involved with production, film makers with no marketing ideas, big films who want to appeal to wide audiences (but they'll look after themselves anyway) and lastly - people who don't want to get out and meet the audience.

Picture of Almodovar brothers fromhere. Picture of Sayles fromhere.
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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Words AND a picture!

One of my favorite cartoons. And that sort of insight has to be one of our peers. It is! It's by Alan Parker and is from his book Will Write and Direct for Food. It feels like a companion idea to storydust - passion sand! An easier to read extract from the cartoon below.

Monday, November 12, 2007

People who love Circumference - episode 7

I hope you've checked out the feature film 'Four Eyed Monsters' which is an experiment in distribution on-line - as well as a romance for the myspace era. If not, its above.

I got a great email from Arin (half of the duo who made it) who says of Circumference "I did sign up and I do like the sound of the project and hope it comes out awesome and now I'm on your list so I'll keep track of when to see it. Nice work on the site but also consider some kind of an RSS feed."

Which is a good idea I think. In the meantime for all your Circumference news remember to check out Archie's blog.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ira Deutchman says more...

ira deutchman and robert altman

Ira has been making, marketing and distributing films for 31 years. He now runs Emerging Pictures. Last week I posted his views on the state of the theatrical business as he delivered them at the recent Power to the Pixel conference. Today I'm going to report on what he says can be done to get people back into cinemas.

This should be of interest to scriptwriters and film makers for the primary reason that writing or making a film for the cinema is very different than for TV or on-line viewing. And also it may give us some new and exciting opportunities for additional work!

He says...

Here are 5 ideas to make going to the cinema a better idea - and also more commercially sensible.
  • Bring down the cost of marketing. It costs more to market a film than it does to make it. So slash your costs and the ticket price with more targeted marketing.
  • Offer variety. Don't have 10 screens at a multiplex but only have a choice of 4 films. Be creative in scheduling.
  • Offer better 'extras' than a DVD - more live events and talks. This doesn't have to be a Q&A with the director or writer. How about a talk by a local expert, either film expert or subject expert if the film is about an issue. Or use 2-way webcams to hook into a big 'star' Q&A anywhere in the world.
  • Reduce cost of distribution - 35mm film prints are expensive. Expense means producers are afraid to take a chance - and so will create low-risk products like sequels. Reduced costs means less fear and more variety of films. So essentially we need to find a way to dump film prints.
  • Reduce prices. Ideas like those mentioned by Peter Buckingham in his talk. Ideas like sponsorship and subscriptions. But prices need to fall to make sure empty seats are reduced.

My solution - a new low cost digital projection standard for independent films. Called i-cinema it is of a slightly lower quality to the full-on Hollywood digital standard (1.3k instead of 2k) but is simpler and based on current, ready-to-go technology.

Digital projection has no prints so it's easy to be flexible in both the location and the scheduling of screenings. It's also cheaper. And a more flexible screening timetable means a more targeted and local (ie cheaper) marketing strategy can be used.

I say...
I feel pulled in 2 directions by Ira's i-cinema proposal. It makes sense to allow independent film makers easy access to this technology so that they can benefit from the reduced costs. The Hollywood DCI standard is great, but will there be a high digital 'tax' put on the price of using it? Hollywood won't want their old 35mm chums to miss out! However will 2 standards confuse cinema chains who will decide to keep the old 35mm system instead - for fear of buying a 'betamax'?

More important for us as writers and film makers will be our role in these add-ons that Ira predicts. Writers should be excited about getting involved in new marketing ideas - they should be demanding a role in these, not walking away. And they should be first to put their hands up to volunteer for these extra Q&As. Actors find it hard to attend due to the nature of their work. Writers less so.

Changes such as these should force film makers to say 'how can I use this?' and not 'why should I fear this?'

Let's embrace them and use them to get nearer the audience.

Photo of Ira with the late great Robert Altman
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Friday, November 09, 2007


Didn't win the Young Professional award. I was too young. But, with my colleagues from my corporate life, we did win Team of the Year as you can see from the clip above. I filmed it - hence why I'm not in it.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


I'm off to the e-learning age awards tomorrow. To see if I win Young e-learning professional of the year. No sniggering at the back. Will post results as soon as I can.

Just got back from meeting Danny, Lucy and Martin. Always good to meet writer / bloggers. But what I feel is that its always good to meet people. What's fantastic is to hear about people's lives and their adventures, not just their careers.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Pitching - a new angle

Here is a new take on pitching. This clip is from Dragon's Den on BBC2.

It doesn't really relate to pitching as we writers may know it. It more relates to producers pitching to investors. But still worth a look. While some TV Lies may mean we don't see the full picture what is interesting is that none of the 'dragons' questions are about the story.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Ira Deutchman says...

ira deutchman

Ira has been making, marketing and distributing films for 31 years. So he knows his stuff. I won't name all his credits now, but here is his IMDB page. He now runs Emerging Pictures which is a distributor for independent films that specialises in use new techniques in getting films seen. He says...

"With the advent of digital distribution there is simply no excuse for distributors to justify the current economic model".

Why does he say that? And does that mean he sees no future in theatrical? In this post I'll highlight Ira's points for why theatrical / big screen entertainment is hanging in there. In the next post I'll highlight Ira's views on how to lift ticket sales.

He lists 4 factors that influence audiences decisions on how they will see a film.
  • Convienience
  • The Experience
  • Price
  • Choice of films

Put theatrical cinema next to that list.
  • Convienience - low, you have to travel
  • The Experience - big screen is good, audience could be good, but could be bad, jury is out on quality of the cinema itself
  • Price - very high
  • Choice of films - average to crap

So why does it survive? Ira says 3 reasons. So here are his 3 reasons why cinema is still alive when economics say it should probably be dead or dying:
  • Theatrical releases still get noticed by the press. DVD / on-line doesn't.
  • A theatrical release is a great advert of the DVD - even for people who don't actually see it on the big screen
  • Film makers themselves - they love it.

I say...
I'd add one more thing to Ira's list. I think distributors themselves are as 'romantic' as film makers. If Ira was more of a hard nosed businessman he might conclude that he should dump screenings. But I bet he never would.

If you want more detail on these ideas then below is a video uploaded by Arin from the film2.0 project Four Eyed Monsters who was also in the audience at this talk.

Photo from Miami IFF.
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Friday, November 02, 2007

2 thoughts on free content

free dilbert
2 extracts from an interview with Dilbert creator Scott Adams.

Does free mean worthless?:
"A few years ago I tried an experiment where I put the entire text of my book, "God's Debris," on the Internet for free, after sales of the hard copy and its sequel, "The Religion War" slowed. My hope was that the people who liked the free e-book would buy the sequel. According to my fan mail, people loved the free book. I know they loved it because they emailed to ask when the sequel would also be available for free. For readers of my non-Dilbert books, I inadvertently set the market value for my work at zero. Oops... ...Free is more complicated than you'd think.

But if its free do you still own it?:
As part of the book deal, my publisher asked me to delete the parts of my blog archive that would be included in the book. The archives didn't get much traffic, so I didn't think much about deleting them. This turned out to be a major blunder in the "how people think" category.

A surprising number of my readers were personally offended that I would remove material from the Internet that had once been free, even after they read it. It was as if I had broken into their homes and ripped the books off their shelves. They felt violated. And boy, I heard about it.

Thanks to Hugh for the link to the interview.
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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Peter Buckingham says... (part3)

Peter Buckingham is Head of Distribution for the UK Film Council. He is also a friend of Circumference. In the final part of this blog trilogy I share some the solutions he offered during his speech to the 'Power to the Pixel' conference.

He says...
A final word of warning. In South Korea superfast broadband has seen a drop in cinema attendance and DVDs. Not because of piracy or peer-to-peer sharing of copies. But because people would rather stay in and do things on-line instead of going out to the cinema / watching TV. So we need to do something to make sure film / cinema stays in people's imagination.

The UK Film Council is doing something about it. We are committed to ensuring that:
People from around the world get to see British film
UK audiences get to see the best of World Cinema.

And now those goals can be achieved digitally as well as by using 'traditional' means. We are also investigating collecting figures to help film2.0 pioneers as a lack of detailed figures (eg british on-line viewing figures) is making business plans hard to deliver.

I say...
Thank goodness. Especially about the initiative to gather detailed and reliable figures. That would help us - a lot! When I met Peter in Berlin earlier in the year the UKFC had nothing and no plan. Now they have a plan and a goal. It's great. And it's not too late for the UK to be an exciting centre for film2.0

I also cringe at the arrogance of the cinema industry. A drop in cinema / DVD usage in South Korea? Well of course, it has to be to do with piracy and people ripping us off. Of course it is. It could never be because Hollywood films have become uninspired and if you give people a chance they will naff off and do something more interesting. Nah. Can't be that. Jeeeez.

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