We need to make our system more accessible to legitimately competitive political parties. (The “third-party” concept that we have today is universally acknowledged as ineffective, merely “a statement” to be made.) Our current political malaise is the result of trying to shoehorn the realities of diversity and prejudice in the USA into only two ages-old prominent parties. Continue reading
Since Middle School, I have been a writer, and was the editor of my school paper in Ninth Grade.
I began in television in high school and became producer and writer for the New Year’s Eve variety program “CELEBRATION” which aired on network affiliate TV stations in Minneapolis for several years. I then helped build and put on the air a new broadcast TV station, Channel 29, and became its Operations Manager as well as Writer, Producer, and Director for in-house programs and clients’ productions. Continue reading
THE MURDER OF JAMES DEAN is a comedy short film project from an award-winning screenplay by Michael R. Barnard.
A story like this will change their lives.
If they don’t kill each other first.
We are going to make this award-winning comedy short film. Tuesday October 24 is your day to help. Continue reading
I pulled together a list of contacts for various acting schools and teachers in “Hollywood”. It’s a list of about 80 contacts, and none have been vetted. I do not vouch for or know the quality of any of these.
The list is for YOU to start looking into, to discover who might be valuable for you as you move your career forward. All actors have different needs for training, so this is for you to figure out which opportunities might be valuable for your career. Continue reading
I said to myself, for quite some time now, “I gotta do SOMETHING.” Tired of projects failing, hating the junior high cliquishness of crowdfunding, realizing it’s been too many years. I sought the Holy Grail of indie filmmaking: two people, one room, one day.
So, at Thanksgiving time 2014, I took an inventory of what I had:
-A living room where I’m housesitting.
-An old car.
-A creepy old man.
-A couple storylines that had been ‘backstory’ for my failed passion project EVERYBODY SAYS GOODBYE–The Story of a Father and Son.
-Some connections in the acting community in Fresno.
-The upcoming SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL.
-A pathetic old computer that almost runs Adobe Creative Suite (I’ve used Adobe since 2001).
The result: HOT CAR. I finished it yesterday (damn pathetic computer!) and am bringing it with me for the fun of it when I head to SUNDANCE tomorrow.
“The worlds of an old man and a young man collide as each faces the end of his own life.”
It’s MATURE (language, nudity, sexual situations) and NSFW.
I hope you find it interesting and involving.
WHAT IS THE THREAT TO NET NEUTRALITY?
Millions of American citizens have flooded the FCC website with comments to let the agency know our demand for Net Neutrality. Many citizens are intimidated by this wonky and technical issue, knowing they do not fully understand the complex issues or its importance and urgency.
The threats to the Internet are real, and now newly-empowered scurrilous politicians, demagogues, and greedy mega-corporations are mounting huge campaigns to scuttle Net Neutrality so that the corporations can use their power over the Internet for political purposes, for demagoguery, and for profiteering.
There are a lot of screenwriting gurus. That’s because there are so many people who want to write screenplays and are scared to death about doing it wrong. It seems that, for every 100 people who are afraid of the number of brads that must be in a script (two), the typeface that must be used (Courier 11), the right software (FINAL DRAFT for $$, CELTX for free), and every other element that they think is the key to the magic kingdom of screenwriting success, there are at least a couple gurus who have all the answers.
That’s all good, but it seems to me, from the comments I always hear from people who want to start writing screenplays, the ‘take-away’ is always wrong. The wrong “rules” are assumed to be the most important.
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.
Barnard’s Law No. 13
Heroes run in the opposite direction than the rest of us.
Two decades 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.
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.
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
(originally published April 22, 2010)
There was a recession in 1991. Not as big as this Great Recession, but big nonetheless. A hallmark of the 1991 recession was that, for the first time ever, a recession had a negative impact on “Hollywood” [Entertainment Weekly, 2/22/91: “How will the recession affect Hollywood?”], [Den of Geek, 8/18/14: “How 1991 nearly broke Hollywood”]. 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
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
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.
Nice compilation of things sometimes overlooked.
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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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:
Prolific indie film producer Ted Hope, who spent the past year as Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society (as of June 2015, a Production Executive at AMAZON STUDIOS), 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
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.
If anything I’ve written has informed or inspired you, you will enjoy reading my novel NATE AND KELLY. Read the many reviews!
It’s dramatic historical fiction about the most fascinating year of the 20th century:
“Here’s the deal, father. The three of us and mom and Pamela are going to New York City. We are going to start a new advertising business there; the city is good for that. We are all getting a brand new start. It’s time for us to believe that the future will bring prosperity and wonder again.”
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.
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.
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.