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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Podcast 10: Web Series



In this month's podcast, myself and Danny Stack discuss...

  • A listener's question - does the '1 page per minute' rule always apply?
  • A listener's question - when you have a great short film should you go the film festival route or just get it online?
  • Cannes reflections - what did I learn from going this year?
  • Making a web series - what is our route to success? Danny talks about Liquid Lunch - more on his blog posts recently. I talk Mr Vista. And we are encouraged to find out what creepy things are happening to Karen Barley?
  • Reviews - the TV series, The Good Wife


Competition time - win Star Wars scripts and a place on a top course.

As ever, thanks to Moviescope for sponsoring the bandwidth. And thanks to IndustrialScripts.co.uk for the prizes. Sign up to their newsletter to hear about the other cool things they have coming up.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Reflections on Cannes 2011


In my last podcast with Danny Stack I talked about the two sides of Cannes; the festival and the market.

My time in Cannes is spent mostly in the market, meeting people and talking about possible projects. With about 25 meetings in 5 days I rarely get to see as many festival films as I would like, if any!

Here are my three specific thoughts on the film business following my visit to Cannes.

One: Comedy is in demand. 
There were the normal thrillers seeking distribution of course. But the people I spoke to were on the look out for really good comedy. Funny isn't easy of course. However, the demand is there, according to the completely random business people I spoke to, so time to push that comedy script.

Two: Remember your offline work.
Using online methods to spread the word and gain attention for your film is great. But don't forget the old 'real world' methods too. Only a few years ago you would see people in Cannes dressing up, doing gimmicks, handing out fliers - anything to draw people in. This year, I didn't see anyone. So the time is ripe to bring this kind of showmanship back. After all, it will easy to stand out if with no competition.

Three: Tax changes - but does it matter?
You don't need to know the details, and certainly I can't cover the new rules here, but recent changes to the EIS scheme mean this is a good time for private investors to put their money into film. Because the investment is written off against tax it means that even if the film is a total flop then the investor doesn't lose all their money, only the part after income tax.
However, sometimes this isn't always the great news it seems. Some investors will be offshore and so this benefit probably won't apply. However, as one producer said to me "Even with no tax help at all, the most anyone can lose is all their investment. The most they can gain is infinite"

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Why people will invest in your film.

This blog post is about crowd sourcing. Which, in the past, was called "having a whip round". There are a lot of producers trying to raise money in this way for their films, but I see two trends that are working above all others. Below are just two examples from the many out there.

With each example I have tried to outline what the investor gets back - at an emotional level. All films offer things such as "a signed copy if you invest $50". But the real, emotional, reason to invest is often different.

Type One: Super gloss for nerds


These films tend to be about the showmanship of cinema, they give you a chance to fund a spectacle. This taps into two emotions. The first is the 'being part of something bigger' feeling. This is the same emotional need that made rich patrons invest in large gladiator fights in Rome. You want to be part of something you could never do yourself.

The second feeling is harder to define. I can only call it 'a boasting of knowledge'. This is because you can follow the development of the film. Show it to people. And then tell them lots of details about it only you know. It is like the ultimate collectors edition. In a word, you can show off.

I think Linh Mai has done the right thing with his trailer for The Last Cause in not really focusing on the story and / or calibre of acting. Neither of the two emotions I mentioned above are gained from the story. It just has to look super cool.

Perhaps one thing missing for people who want to be part of something bigger and / or who like to get into the detail early is any pay off if and when the feature happens.


Type Two: A cause



These films aren't asking you to invest in a film, so much as you are being asked to invest in a cause. They are about an issue, a philosophy or approach to life.

Georgia's film is about Alopecia. As such, the people who invest are more likely to be investing out of an interest in the disease, rather than an interest in documentary films in general.

Here the emotional reason for investing is clear - it is about doing something. It is about getting a film out there on an issue, when perhaps there seems little else pro-active that can be done.


Your film...
Whatever approach your film takes, I think it is wise to consider the emotional reasons why people would invest. What are the deep reasons why they would help you to make your film? Are you giving them the right things back to meet those emotional needs?

Are you giving the investors access to bragging rights, to cool stuff?
Or are you giving them a feeling of moving forward in a cause?

This is what they have really invested in. The film is just the method.