BARNARD’S LAWS


Barnard’s Law No. 1
The greatest need of man is not food, shelter, or even sex. It’s the need to re-write what another has written.

Barnard’s Law No. 2
It’s not the idea. It’s the execution.

Barnard’s Law No. 3
Dinosaurs never see it coming.

Barnard’s Law No. 4
The responsibility to communicate is upon the communicator, not the listener.

Barnard’s Law No. 5
The job of children is to play. The job of teens is to deceive their parents. The job of adults is to slay their demons.

Barnard’s Law No. 6
Clarity is the soul of communication.

Barnard’s Law No. 7
Life is full of grand plans that suddenly need to be fixed with duct tape, and that’s okay.

Barnard’s Law No. 8
Be succinct. A short PowerPoint slide with just ten bullet points was good enough for God.

Barnard’s Law No. 9
In any group, the majority will misunderstand much of what you’re sure they understand.

Barnard’s Law No. 10
Hysteria breeds where context is ignored. Looking at results of history without knowledge of history leads to poor judgment and prejudice.

Barnard’s Law No. 11
The Internet demands of everyone that they be outraged by everything. It then amplifies it.

Barnard’s Law No. 12
Everyone else’s mess is far worse than our own mess. Roommates, especially.


My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” — A Venom in the Blood


Twenty years ago, I bought a book.

In producer-speak, that means I acquired the rights via option to make a movie from a book. I knew a TV news reporter, and she had made contact with a reclusive author who wrote a book she thought I might be interested in. Actually, “reclusive” is too weak of a term; we both had determined that the author was in hiding. Contact was difficult and cryptic. Nonetheless, he and I got on the phone, and he figured that I would be someone he’d like to work with to get his book made into a movie, and I liked the deal, too. We sealed the deal without ever meeting.

Daily Variety: Barnard buys 'Venom' rights

Daily Variety: Barnard buys ‘Venom’ rights

The book was A VENOM IN THE BLOOD. It was a New York Times bestseller about our nation’s only husband-and-wife serial killers, told by the cop who busted them.

Wow. I gotta tell ya, THAT is a damn fine pitch. It got me in the doors at various studios (this was back when I still had some clout anyway, when there were still a few people in Hollywood who thought of me as “someone to watch”). I took that pitch to places like TriStar, Republic and other studios.

For me, it was an ugly subject. I had to research serial killers and try to assess character arcs and motivations and such in order to create a compelling screenplay from the novel. I learned a lot about serial killers, and to this day feel dirty and creepy whenever the subject comes up. I learned, for instance, that most serial killers – from Jack the Ripper to whoever shows up on the news tomorrow – are driven by sexual problems, and often target prostitutes. Most of us, myself included, didn’t know that, because the popular media would be too polite to report that the victims were prostitutes (that’s beginning to change now that there’s less stigma attached to prostitution).

There is an evil and perverse logic to that, I discovered. When one considers sex to be power (and many do, rather than an act of shared intimacy or something tremendously fun), and one validates one’s own life via sexual conquest, then the notion that having sex with someone who ultimately still demands money rather than showering the aggressor with adoration can be seen as a triggering event. Sex is seen as power, and then killing is seen as even more power.

Throughout history, and throughout the future, authorities every few months determine that there is a serial killer behind what appeared to be random murders. (Serial killers, unlike “spree killers,” have methodologies that are not readily apparent and are usually spread out over long periods of time.)

Quite sick and perverted.

That’s what the studios thought, too.

My timing was bad. While I was working out the screenplay strategy and pitching the idea to studios, they were reeling from a public backlash to Oliver Stone’s NATURAL BORN KILLERS, which had been generating a lot of controversy for its bold showing of senseless killing. No matter how logical and interesting the pitch was for A VENOM IN THE BLOOD, they all said, “Oh no, nobody’s going to do another serial killer movie.”

Drama-Logue - Barnard buys A Venom in the Blood

Drama-Logue – Barnard buys A Venom in the Blood

Eventually, everything I had worked on all came to naught. The one-year option I had on the rights to the book expired, and I could not track down the author anywhere to try to renew them because he was, I understood, in hiding. It didn’t matter that studio reluctance would likely mellow after a few more months. I could not regain the rights to the book.

I lost everything I had been working on.

Timing is everything.

But, I still have one of the best pitch lines ever: “It’s the New York Times bestseller about our nation’s only husband and wife serial killers, told by the cop who busted them.”


Do Indies Deserve a Shot in California? [updated]


#DoIndiesDeserveAShot?

Congratulations to our state for AB 1839, the California Film and Television Job Retention and Promotion Act of 2014 that has been sailing through the State legislation process.

For more than a decade, film production in the state has been dropping, and has dropped nearly 50 percent. PAID independent film work seems to have disappeared entirely.
Continue reading


My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” — Consumed by a Passion Project


FILMMAKER Magazine

FILMMAKER Magazine

Michael R Barnard photo 500 px

 

How Is a Filmmaker Consumed by a Passion Project?

The following is a guest post from Michael R. Barnard, who is in the final days of an Indiegogo campaign for his film, Everybody Says Goodbye: The Story of a Father and Son.

For many years, I have been chasing a motion picture project that has completely consumed me. It’s called Everybody Says Goodbye: The Story of a Father and Son, and I first began writing the screenplay in 1998. Having come so close to making the movie a few times, I keep referring to this project as “a fish-hook in the eye” because it’s impossible for me to ignore and walk away from.

[read more...]

 

 


My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” — The Mean Streets


I spent a lot of time on the mean streets of Hollywood. I lived there, worked there, had friends there, I walked them a lot. My screenplay for the feature film EVERYBODY SAYS GOODBYE—The Story of a Father and Son is set there, in 1998.

The sketchy stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard between La Brea Avenue and Vine Street is a little nicer now, but not by much. There has always been a veneer of potential violence.

It’s a little different style-wise, too. Back in the 1990s, if you saw a couple walking hand-in-hand along this stretch, and that couple was of opposite genders, and if each of them were their original gender, then you knew they were scared tourists separated from their tour group. Continue reading


My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” — There Was a Recession in 1990


(originally published April 22, 2010)

There was a recession in 1990. Not as big as this Great Recession, but big nonetheless.A hallmark of the 1990 recession was that, for the first time ever, a recession had a negative impact on “Hollywood” [1990 news article]. Home video, cable TV, and video games had broadened the “biz” and brought commodity vagaries to the tightly-controlled movie biz. It was also the time of the burgeoning new indie film biz, which blossomed in the late 1980s. And I, of course, was trying to get a movie made. Continue reading


FILMMAKERS: BLACKER IS ‘THE NEW BLACK’


The NAB Show 2014 in Las Vegas is showing many new and innovate products and processes for indie filmmakers. Colors are becoming important, including black.

CIE 1931 xy chromaticity diagram showing the gamut of the sRGB color space and location of the primaries

CIE 1931 xy chromaticity diagram showing the gamut of the sRGB color space and location of the primaries

Continue reading


My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” — When Prince was king


A friend just now found and sent to me this post from  Prince.org, the Prince fan site that described how I pulled off the production of Prince’s ALPHABET STREET video on impossible notice! It is from the book, Possessed: The Rise and Fall of Prince by Alex Hahn. Funny that I’ve never seen this before.

I remember Prince stopping me in the hall outside his apartment at Paisley Park Studios with a big grin on his face, saying “All the people in Hollywood are freaking out. They say, ‘Prince went and made a garage video!'” He enjoyed that, especially since it was a full three-camera shoot with a complete crew inside his brand-spanking-new mammoth sound stage at Paisley Park Studios.

The video of ALPHABET STREET, which premiered on MTV way back when, seems to be lost online; it’s apparently forbidden from YouTube.

Here’s the story, from Prince’s manager at the time, Alan Leeds:

On the ‘the New P♥wer of L♥vesexy’ thread from March 30, 2012: Continue reading


FCC’s vision for an elite Internet for the 1% leaves common folks in the dust


FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler yesterday responded to the dismay about the proposal for an elite Internet path in his blog post, “Setting the Record Straight on the FCC’s Open Internet Rules“.

Image

The uncomfortable part of Chairman Wheeler’s discussion is his statement, “The Court of Appeals made it clear that the FCC could stop harmful conduct if it were found to not be ‘commercially reasonable.’” This implies the intractable presumption that the corporate conglomerates should hold sway over the allowed traffic on our Internet, a position to be expected from a former cable and wireless industry lobbyist (Wheeler). Continue reading


Updates for the indie feature film EVERYBODY SAYS GOODBYE–The Story of a Father and Son


The website for our indie motion picture project EVERYBODY SAYS GOODBYE–The Story of a Father and Son has been updated. Please visit http://EverybodySaysGoodbye.wordpress.com


The Internet needs to be free. [UPDATED APRIL 23 2014]


THE INTERNET NEEDS TO BE FREE

Yes, 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

Breaking news:

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.

See “F.C.C., in ‘Net Neutrality’ Turnaround, Plans to Allow Fast Lane

This subject is currently getting louder. By the end of March, 2014, it heated up in a war of words.
Continue reading


Equity Crowdfunding is dead for us. What’s next?


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.)

What’s next?

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 rule-comments@sec.gov

See “JOBS Act, Title III: A Brief Update on What’s Happening Behind the Scenes“)

Also see my original assessment, “FILMMAKERS, IT’S 2013. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR JOBS ACT IS?


What the hell is wrong with State incentives to bring in movies?


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.

Motion pictures lured away from Hollywood by tax incentive programs

Motion pictures lured away from Hollywood by tax incentive programs


How to Survive on Set Without Looking Like an Asshole


Michael R. Barnard:

Nice compilation of things sometimes overlooked.

Originally posted on CALLAM RODYA actor, etc.:

Callam Rodya as Roddy with 3rd AD Alex Pitzel slating the shot on the set of "Stalking by Numbers".

Callam Rodya as Roddy with 3rd AD Alex Pitzel slating the shot on the set of “Stalking by Numbers”.

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:

  • We’re the last ones called and the first ones wrapped.
  • There is a team on set whose sole job is to make us look beautiful.
  • They tell us where to stand, where to walk, and what to say, and they even put down little pieces of tape for us and print out our lines on little pocket-sized sheets to make it extra easy.
  • We get to stay warm in the trailer while they’re out there in a snow storm setting up the shot.
  • We usually get paid better.
  • We get all the credit.

Don’t get me wrong, acting is extremely difficult (especially when you…

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Corporate Conglomerates Battle to Regain Gatekeeper Status


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.

Continue reading


List of Filmmaking People and Resources


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.

 

Filmmaking

———–


Crippling Digital Distribution for Indie Filmmakers: the Death of Net Neutrality


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?


The independent filmmaking industry needs a new relationship with investors [UPDATED]


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. Not so for small indie producers.


“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.”


My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” — CROWDFUNDING SUCKS.


CROWDFUNDING SUCKS.

In the past two days, I’ve had some conversations that remind me that there is no “fun” in crowdfund. It is a necessary evil, borne of the collapse of the economy, possibly the only chance for the art of filmmaking to continue. That’s versus the marketing channel that is the current Hollywood studio approach, where a “movie” is whatever can be marketed.
A crowdfund campaign is all work, a harsh referendum on the person, spiritually debilitating and, of course, a death knell for a movie project more often than enabling. (Literally.) There is no fun in crowdfunding. It overtakes one’s life for a month or two.

BUT YESTERDAY…

Continue reading


Please read NATE AND KELLY


IF anything I’ve written has informed or inspired you, please consider reading my novel NATE AND KELLY  — available as paperback or ebook.

Also available in many formats at SMASHWORDS

NATE AND KELLY

NATE AND KELLY


From the Ivey Business Review: “Arrested Economics — Assessing Netflix’s Original Content Business”


Story-makers, the shift in the independent film industry includes new opportunities in what is commonly called “television.” The new creative opportunities are exciting. Here’s the second of two discussions about these new opportunities.

Arrested Development and House of Cards aren’t designed to deliver the metrics Wall Street expects, and this means a lot about how Netflix views its future.

Reposted by permission from Ivey Business Review

(Originally posted June 9, 2013)

A Netflix New Season: ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT

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.

The Value of Netflix to the Consumer

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. alt="NFLX3"

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.

MORE … click here to continue reading.


From the Ivey Business Review: “Original TV Series — The Illusory ‘Silver Bullet'”


Story-makers, the shift in the independent film industry includes new opportunities in what is commonly called “television.” The new creative opportunities are exciting. Here’s the first of two discussions about these new opportunities.

Streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon see original TV series as the path to success. It’s not. But consumers win.

Reposted by permission from Ivey Business Review

(Originally posted April 30, 2013)

A Netflix Original Series: HOUSE of CARDS

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.

MORE … click here to continue reading.


There’s a fine line between exploitation and opportunity in the film industry. [UPDATED AGAIN!]


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


Should YouTubers launch new platforms to compete with YouTube?


Originally posted on paidContent (old):

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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From Slated.com: “The new ‘soft’ money” for making indie movies


This is very important information for filmmakers seeking funds for their movie projects, and explains the approach that has been surprising and frustrating for those indie filmmakers who are not interested in ROI (“Return on Investment”) or the investment aspect of filmmaking. (See my earlier blog, “Crowdfunding and ‘Hey Zach Braff STFU and pay for your own movie’“)

This article, “The new ‘soft’ money,” is from the investment funding site (not crowdfunding site) http://Slated.com, a closed environment for experienced filmmakers and investors interested in filmmaking.

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The new “soft” money

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.

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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.

continue reading this valuable article on Slated.com

 


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