The website for our indie motion picture project EVERYBODY SAYS GOODBYE–The Story of a Father and Son has been updated. Please visit http://AFatherAndSon.wordpress.com
The website for our indie motion picture project EVERYBODY SAYS GOODBYE–The Story of a Father and Son has been updated. Please visit http://AFatherAndSon.wordpress.com
THE INTERNET NEEDS TO BE FREE
That’s not a statement about pricing, it’s a statement about democracy.
This is what is commonly referred to as “Net Neutrality.”
The following blog post keeps evolving since its original posting in 2010, because the concept of “Net Neutrality” (or the attempt at a more popular term, “The Open Internet“) is vibrant.
UPDATE AS OF APRIL 23, 2014
I guess it’s time to say goodbye to the many independent online film distribution companies who offer streaming and downloading of independent movies. The F.C.C., in a complete turn-around on the principles of Net Neutrality, just announced that they are abandoning the principle that Internet users should have equal ability to see any content they choose. The F.C.C. plans to allow Comcast, Verizon FiOS, etc., to negotiate separately with each content company – the BIG, WEALTHY, EXCLUSIVE companies like Netflix, Amazon, Disney, Google – to have them pay for good video delivery.
Aside from the democracy of the Internet, that does not look good for the competition of small distributors, nor for indie filmmakers themselves, whose voice will not be allowed on those company’s libraries of titles.
This subject is currently getting louder. By the end of March, 2014, it heated up in a war of words.
If you remember that there once was a glimmer of hope for more sustainable financing for innovative small business (and, for my concern, an indie film industry) through “Equity Crowdfunding” as demanded by the JOBS Act of 2012, the fact is that it’s not going to happen. It’s already far past the Act’s imposed deadlines because the concept is anathema to the entrenched and self-interested bureaucracy.
Instead of becoming a ‘big brother’ to the dynamic and egalitarian donor crowdfunding process that helped the art of indie film continue through the Great Recession and the Great Digital Disruption, the SEC and FINRA bureaucracies have delayed it and gutted it by turning it into a ‘little sister’ to mammoth elitist and exclusive brokerages.
A key element to kill the hope of equity crowdfunding: “the SEC decided that the financial statements should be provided in accordance with US GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Procedures). That is expensive…” and beyond the capability of most small business start-ups.
Equity crowdfunding will be nothing more than an easier way for the well-to-do professional investors to invest money in large corporations, but will not be an open door for the common citizen to participate in rebuilding America’s economy. There will be no widespread job creation, just as there hasn’t been since the Act was signed years ago. The dreams of the JOBS Act and its Equity Crowdfunding have been swallowed up by the bureaucracy and entrenched self-interests of the professional funding elite.
Say goodbye to the crashed dream of Equity Crowdfunding helping rebuild America through small business creation (including a healthy indie film industry infrastructure.)
By the way, if you are the type of person who believes entrenched anti-citizen bureaucracy can be swayed, you can let the SEC know your opinion about allowing Equity Crowdfunding to be accessible to all citizens by emailing your statement to firstname.lastname@example.org
Also see my original assessment, “FILMMAKERS, IT’S 2013. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR JOBS ACT IS?“
OK, here’s my 2¢ about the political hysteria against Hollywood movies and state incentives used to entice movies to their states:
A political contingent shows disdain toward Hollywood, and therefore incentive plans, and does it through such pronouncements as those from e21, which, of course, says it’s “nonpartisan” but which is openly hostile toward any existing government action and on the path of the tea party and its positions. Likewise, such political contingent will dismiss the research of legitimate organizations such as EY (formerly Ernst & Young Accounting) while wholly believing in the partisan blathering of any number of ad-hoc websites, most of which don’t understand filmmaking and the choices for spending production dollars.
The thing is, when looking beyond the partisan Hollywood bashing, I am not a fan of the proliferation of the myriad state incentive plans. Of course, I am also not a fan of the political posturing that is against Hollywood for a wrongly perceived liberal bent and a wrongly perceived everyman millionaires.
What used to be a valid business strategy — not much different than those benefits given companies such as Walmart to entice them to come into a city, or to sports teams to build a stadium, or to auto makers to attract them to one area over another, etc. – has been polluted by hyper-politicizing based on our society’s tailspin into hyper-partisanship and the loud clanking drumbeat against “liberal Hollywood.” And, there have even been a couple incidents of flat-out wrongdoing by some of the principles offering the incentives–corruption, who woulda thunk?? (Yes, some think that’s only Hollywood. Yep.)
Nonetheless, the overlooked fact about the incentive programs is this: IF IT WERE NOT FOR THE INCENTIVES, NOT ONE SINGLE PENNY WOULD BE SPENT BY ANY PRODUCER IN ALMOST ANY OF THOSE LOCATIONS. Period. The restaurants would not feed the crew, the hotels would not house the stars, the airlines would not fly everybody, the gift shops would not sell souvenirs to grips, the rental car companies would not rent any cars to any of the people responsible for a movie, the residents would not gawk at the stars and then brag in their tourist materials that the movie had been made there, etc., etc.
Hollywood would rather stay in beautiful California where we live and make our movies here.
For instance, Hollywood would not be in Louisiana except the state benefited from especially generous movie-making incentives in an effort to help them rebuild after Katrina (the IRS Section 181 provisions included expanded benefits to encourage shooting in Louisiana). It worked for them. Maybe it doesn’t work as well for everyone, but that’s the risk of business. If you’re an American, you understand that you have to take risks in order to get rewards, whether a cafe owner risks opening another location, a producer risks which movie to make and where to make it, or a city risks offering incentives to try to build a new filmmaking industry (which, by the way, means the capability to make corporate videos, commercials, web episodes, and many other productions besides “Hollywood movies”).
Raging that incentives are liberal and therefore must be failures is not changing the fact that they may work: they bring movie production to areas where movies would not be produced if not for those incentives. Those people look at incentives as if it were cash being shoveled into the pockets of rich movie people, ignoring the fact that lots of money must first be spent before any tax benefits — a percentage of the money spent – can be accrued by the production company. And, the people working on the movies are trying to earn a living, just as you are. The $20 million star is a myth, and even the highest paid star is just one person, while a few hundred people working on the movie are working for occasional union wages or less. And, they’ve been yanked from their homes to go to some far-away little town because of your tax incentives.
So, rage against the liberal tyranny, please! Kill all the incentive programs, please! Even killing them for wrong, reactionary reasons will at least help Hollywood stay in Hollywood. Thank you, everyone who believes in the evil liberal millionaire Hollywood! Kill your tax incentive plans so we can stay in OUR homes and work, hire OUR neighbors, eat in OUR restaurants, rent OUR equipment, and stay with OUR families.
Nice compilation of things sometimes overlooked.
Originally posted on Callam Rodya / Creative Work + Commentary:
When it comes to film work, actors have it the easiest. Don’t argue. You know it’s true.
In case you need a bit more convincing, consider this:
Don’t get me wrong, acting is extremely difficult (especially when you…
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The merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable is a powerful situation that has broad negative implications for society and for filmmakers specifically. It’s not simply a business issue, it’s a democracy issue.
The merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable is another deliberate attack on Net Neutrality.
I have begun to build a list of filmmakers and filmmaking resources with a social media presence on Twitter. You are welcome, please, to help build this list. Let’s make it into a resource that can help build the indie feature film industry.
On my way to Sundance Film Festival 2014, news broke (see “Federal appeals court strikes down rules protecting net neutrality” at http://www.latimes.com/business/technology/la-fi-tn-net-neutrality-federal-appeals-court-20140114,0,2138188.story#ixzz2qlsuWDSC) that made two problems painfully clear, and they will have a huge impact on filmmakers:
1) A federal court exposed the failure of our legislators to protect citizens rather than corporate conglomerates on the most important communications issue in modern history: the Internet and “Net Neutrality.”
2) The indie film industry is not taking seriously a subject of paramount importance to all of us, perhaps because it seems complex and doesn’t have a sexy name. (Would we have cared more if it had been termed a buzzword like “Red” or “4K?”)
Dismantling Net Neutrality means that the major movie studios will rule the Internet, while access to the digital distribution that indie filmmakers believe to be the future WILL BE CRIPPLED.
For instance, consider that NetFlix operates a battery of auxiliary ISP gateway servers spread around in order to appease corporate conglomerate ISPs who are dissatisfied with receiving “only” about $70 every month in Internet access fees from you. Also, YouTube, of course, operates through Google’s bargeloads of servers around the world.
They can pay that price.
What will now happen to the scores of SVOD/VOD digital distributors that you are counting on to deliver your short film masterpiece to your friends and fans? They will no longer have the same access to the Internet as they do now. YOU will not have the same access to deliver your movie on the Internet as you do now.
Here’s an article about what just happened: “Why You Should Be Freaking Out About The End Of Net Neutrality” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/14/net-neutrality_n_4597831.html
Net Neutrality, which, hell, I will call “iNN” just to give it a sexier term (“InterNetNeutrality”) is much bigger than the damage done to just us indie filmmakers. Here is my article about the subject: “The Internet Needs to be Free” http://michaelrbarnard.wordpress.com/2010/12/01/the-internet-needs-to-be-free/
As indie filmmakers, we once again face the need to veer off our path of self-absorbtion, iconoclassism, and megalomania (all good things for making great films!) to squeeze out some very serious cooperative effort to help build an indie film industry infrastructure that serves all. Now. How will we band together to fight this battle?
Prolific indie film producer Ted Hope, who spent the past year as Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society, recently posted “Towards A Sustainable Investor Class: Accessing Quality Projects” as a call to build a healthy independent filmmaking industry. As always, he makes an astute and excellent comment about the big picture of indie filmmaking. We engaged in a conversation, and here’s my comment about the industry and investors: Continue reading
“Profit Participation” at the Hollywood Studios is impossible. (See “STUDIO SHAME! Even Harry Potter Pic Loses Money Because Of Warner Bros’ Phony Baloney Net Profit Accounting”) They are incestuous. Each of their stand-alone divisions siphons off all the money generated by each movie, deliberately leaving none for the Profit Participants.
I have worked in the studios, both as part of the studio divisions, and as part of individual movies. It is clear and simple how a studio demands a movie’s production buy everything from the very expensive in-studio divisions, whether snacks, sign making, props, construction, casting, studio space, trucks, crew, marketing, distribution, or whatever. Every division must show its own profit/loss, to feed into the overall studio, and every movie is obligated to make all purchases from the very expensive studio divisions. There are no bargains to be found on a movie studio lot.
That’s inevitable for the STUDIOS, which are huge corporate conglomerates.
BIG DIFFERENCE: It is NOT true for small independent producers.
It is not true, because I can go to a dollar store to buy snacks, I can go to a friend and borrow a truck, I can go to an up-and-coming talent to hire for advertising. And, I have no studio overhead, no fancy lot in Los Angeles, no fancy headquarters building in New York City. That’s a huge difference, and that’s reality.
A one million dollar indie movie that makes ‘only’ three million dollars from every market (box office, TV, online, etc.) could return more to an investor than a major studio blockbuster would return to a “Net Profit Participant.”
May 26th was a uniquely exciting (and perhaps exhausting) day for TV lovers. At midnight, Netflix released a brand new season of Arrested Development – more than seven years after the show was cancelled by Fox. The show’s return represents a key component of Netflix’s emerging original content strategy and is the fourth show released by the over-the-top streaming service this year (at a total cost of more than $150M). As such, I thought it would be a good opportunity to pause and evaluate the economics of this strategy and hypothesize what success might look like. In doing so, we can also better understand the role of original content (is it intended to drive net adds, reduce churn, stabilize content costs etc.) and the impact of their controversial decision to release entire seasons at once. This will also tell us about Netflix’s future and management’s POV on this future.
Though inexpensive on the whole, Netflix’s service does not offer materially cheaper entertainment than that of traditional cable TV, costing approximately $0.0024/minute versus cable’s $0.0035/minute.
This is interesting for two reasons
1. Despite being commercial-free and infinitely more flexible than live linear TV (in terms of time, content and screen), Netflix is unable to command a price premium for its entertainment service
2. Average time spent watching Netflix per user is up more than 10% year-over-year. However, with prices still $7.99 a month, Netflix has not benefited from this increase in customer value (directly, at least, as it would improve word-of-mouth and perceived value). Increases in both the quality and size of its content library content quality is no doubt a major driver for increased usage, but this has contributed to a 16% increase in quarterly licensing costs ($1.355B in Q1 2013).
This matters because it means Netflix may have limited means to raise prices – and when it does, they will still lag customer value growth. As the instant decapitation of Qwickster demonstrated (among many other lessons), Netflix’s customers really do control the relationship.
It is a great time to be a lover of television. Content, for one, has never been better. Not only have many declared today the “New Golden Age of Television”, some such as Vanity Fair’s James Wolcott, have gone as far to ask questions such as if “anyone thinks The Artist (which had recently won the Academy Award for Best Picture) is better than Mad Men?”. The rise of digital distribution and portable, media-focused devices has also fundamentally increased potential “demand” for this content. The ability to watch content whenever (and wherever) we want means that we can watch more shows than was realistically possible when we were tethered to 2-3 hours of “appointment TV” per night (and we could watch only one show per primetime slot). Not only does this save older shows, such as The Sopranos, from irrelevancy after airing, it opens up the creative medium. Hyper-serialized shows such as LOST and Game of Thrones would not be possible without the ability for viewers to easily catch-up on a missed episode (or “marathon” past seasons). Digital-only distribution (such as Netflix’s House of Cards) has further freed creatives to pick scene lengths or runtimes based on the needs of the story, rather than the need to cut to a commercial break every 4-7 minutes or fill out an hour-long timeslot.
Market behavior clearly illustrates the New Golden Age hypothesis. Movie stars are increasingly moving to the TV screen (from Ewan McGregor or Zooey Deschanel) and many TV stars are bigger celebrities than most movie actors (such as Kim Kardashian, regrettably). TV budgets have also exploded. Game of Thrones costs upwards of $60 million for a 10-episode season and many hour-long dramas at the Big Four broadcasters can cost $40-75 million per season ($2-4M/episode). Content has also become an increasingly important differentiator for cable networks such as HBO and AMC, which traditionally focused on films and one-off specials, but are now defined by and dependent on hits such as Girls and The Walking Dead.
There has been a battle going on in Hollywood for a while now that threatens to upset one of the premises of the entire film industry. You might think it must be about digital disruption, but it’s not. Is it about 3D? No. Maybe it’s about lack of creativity in an industry swollen with sequels, prequels, and comic book heroes. Nope. Is it about Steven Spielberg’s prediction that a few mega-flops will likely destroy Hollywood? Nope.
It’s all about who will get coffee for the producers. The unpaid intern.
If you have a driving passion to break into the industry (and who doesn’t? You wouldn’t be reading my blog if you didn’t.), there are few ways to do it. The Number One best, most reliable, undeniably greatest way to break into Hollywood? Become an unpaid intern.
(It used to be “work in the mailroom at an agency,” but that’s no longer true. Who sends MAIL anymore??) Continue reading
Originally posted on paidContent:
A week ago, a blog post by Jason Calacanis got the entire web video industry talking: The essay, subtly entitled “I ain’t gonna work on YouTube’s (s GOOG) farm no more”, laid out Calacanis’ reasons for declining a second round of financing for original content from YouTube.
But more importantly, Calacanis informed YouTube that it had better watch out, because he wasn’t the only person working on YouTube who felt this way, and:
Since YouTube doesn’t have to create any content, just aggregate it, they don’t need to worry about the individual profitability of any one brand. Things can be dying and soaring and going sideways throughout their ecosystem, but as long as they have a ton of traffic and control the relationships with advertisers, they win. (…)
Bottom line: someone needs to create a viable alternative to YouTube, even if it’s the top 100 channels on YouTube getting together…
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They may not have realized this but more than forty-six thousand individuals – many of them ordinary Americans with no prior film industry knowledge – had a direct bearing on what has been happening this past week thousands of miles away at the Cannes Film Festival. Not so much on the rain-sodden red carpet action, as on the business dealings that went on in the makeshift offices of the French film sales company Wild Bunch just a short distance away from that nightly fusillade of flashbulbs. For it is here that Zach Braff’s WISH I WAS HERE, a project only made viable by the $3.1 million that this multitude of individuals have pledged towards his total production costs, was being pitched to territorial distributors from around the world.
Without that Kickstarter-enabled contribution, Braff’s long-gestating project would have remained stunted by the same market forces that have conspired to prevent him from directing a follow-up to his 2004 indie darling GARDEN STATE for close to a decade. “I have almost no foreign value,” he explained recently to the L.A. radio station KCRW. “I had done a TV show for ten years that doesn’t count. Garden State did well overseas. But not numbers that are going to show up on their algorithm.”
But throw in $3.1 million of non-recoupable crowd donations and the business calculus becomes so much more attractive. What would have been a reported $5.5 million package requiring quantifiable box office stars to make the numbers work, is now transformed into one costing less than half that amount and with a cast of characters played by actors Kate Hudson, Anna Kendrick, Josh Gad and Mandy Patinkin that could be chosen on creative grounds, rather than their overseas economic values. A ten-year lost cause has, in the space of just 31 crowdfunding days, flowered into one of the hotter projects pitched on the Croisette – a feat made all the more astonishing when you consider there were a total of 3,340 new projects unveiled for the first time at this year’s Cannes film market.
JOB LISTING PERIODICALS
The following information is excerpted from First AD Committee Member Babu Subramaniam’s report on job listing periodicals. [UPDATED by Michael R. Barnard]
BASELINE Studio System (note: “I have found BASELINE (owned by the New York Times) to be the most extensive and and valuable to connect the dots with producers you may have worked for in the past. Most of the other subscription services appear to duplicate information originally appearing on BASELINE.” ~Babu Subramaniam) / $1500 per year (discounted rate)
BTL News’ Find Film Work / $10.00 per month
Mercury Report / $52.00 per month
Producton Alert / $130.00 per quarter
Production Leads (note: tracks very early development) / $299.00 per quarter
Production Weekly / $59.95 per month
Worldwide Production News / $50.00 per month
The following list of websites may help you with job searching. They were compiled by First AD Committee Co-Chair Mark Hansson from the CA Employment Development Department . [UPDATED by Michael R. Barnard]
Originally posted on INDIE FILM INDUSTRY NEWS:
More episodes will be posted soon, with experts Ira Deutchman of Emerging Pictures and Columbia University in the City of New York, Entertainment Attorney Hal “Corky” Kessler, Mike Nichols of AbelCine, and Duncan Cork of Slated.com.
The surge in Perks-based Donor Crowdfunding over the past few years was primarily built on the concept that creative projects dreamed up by common folks with more ideas than money could go to each other rather than impenetrable banks or brokerages. The popular site Kickstarter (one of many) started in 2009 with the premise that such ideas, ones that were still good ideas even though they didn’t have a promise of likely profitability, could be brought to the public to allow the average person to help make the ideas into reality by donating money. This is a broad concept akin to what wealthy benefactors would do in ages past, when they became “patrons of the arts” by providing money so artists could create works of art.
When looking at what I’ve termed “The Blended Screens” — the destruction of all the different ways that used to define what we were watching (it was a “movie” because it was shot on film and shown in a movie theater; it was a “TV Show” because it was shot on tape and broadcast by a TV station; it was “Home Video” because it was burned to VHS tape or DVD or Blu-Ray and shown on a machine in the living room; it was a “Web Series” because it was carried over the Internet and watched on a computer; etc., etc., etc.) — it becomes clear to me that THIS IS THE SECOND ‘GOLDEN AGE OF TELEVISION.’ Continue reading
Production is morphing into … what? Is it “filmmaking” if there’s no film? Are we “taping” a program if there’s no tape? Are they “films” or “movies” it they are viewed on a smartphone? Is it “Television” if it’s streaming online on demand?
The technology of production and the delivery methods are no longer pertinent to defining what creators do. We create. We no longer create things clearly defined as “TV shows” or “Movies” or “Web Series.” What we create is now going out on all of “The Blended Screens.” Some have called it “content” but I think that term is weak and too broad.
For me, I’ve decided it’s all “story-making” and that’s what I choose from now on.
America needs good jobs. Joblessness and low-wage jobs have crippled the survival and prosperity of millions of Americans, and are a drag on our entire economy.
The promise of the JOBS Act, signed into law a year ago and supported by the most bi-partisanship effort in recent history, is DEAD because the Federal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has failed to enact it.
The JOBS Act established a deadline of Wednesday, July 4, 2012, for the SEC to promulgate rules and regulations for the implementation of TITLE II—ACCESS TO CAPITAL FOR JOB CREATORS (commonly referred to as the “general solicitation rule“). The SEC missed that deadline. The agency did publish proposed rules for TITLE II on August 29, 2012, but has not implemented them. There is no anticipated date for finalizing the rules for Title II of the JOBS Act.
The JOBS Act established a deadline of Monday, December 31, 2012 for the SEC to promulgate rules and regulations for the implementation of TITLE III—CROWDFUND (commonly referred to as “Equity Crowdfunding“). The SEC missed the deadline, and has no anticipated date for the rulemaking to implement TITLE III.
AMERICA NEEDS JOBS! Hope from the JOBS Act of 2012 has been *crushed* by the SEC’s inaction and dismissal of the JOBS Act!
Find your representative here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
In the debate about digital versus film, Rich Lackey explains “dynamic range” …
Originally posted on Digital Cinema Demystified:
It’s been an embarrassingly long time since I’ve written a blog post, and so I logged in today and discovered a bunch of really good comments and questions have been left on my blog the past year or so. This one is a good one and so I want to post my response as a standalone article.
1) No question, film has better dynamic range than digital. Admittedly the difference is increasingly becoming slimmer. My question is, when film is converted to digital for special effects purposes, does it not lose that dynamic range? I read that digital typically has 256 shades of grey (lol!) but film is infinite. When the film is captured by the digitising machine and all, doesn’t it lose that range, and maintain that loss through to when it is spewed back on to film and shipped to cinemas?
There’s a few things in play here…
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