My Bumpy Road through “Hollywood” — THE BLENDED SCREENS: WHY SHORT FILMS?


Above the common question “How long is a short film?*” should be the more significant question, “Why a short film?”

Good short films are enjoyable and moving, with stories that can have an impact as strong as good feature-length films or powerful TV series. You can laugh, cry, and be inspired watching a good short film.

But, why a short film? Long considered a sad attempt to mimic the more robust and legitimate feature length film, shorts have often been given … well … short shrift.

Those were the old days.

Today, the entire environment of content, what I term “The Blended Screens,” is changing.

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The Present Threat to the Internet


TIGER Photo by Paula Borowska

Photo by Paula Borowska

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.

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


FLOCK OF BIRDS Photo by Fré Sonneveld

FLOCK OF BIRDS Photo by Fré Sonneveld

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.
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Corporate Conglomerates Battle to Regain Gatekeeper Status


CITY Photo by Oleg Chursin

CITY Photo by Oleg Chursin


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.

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


BLANK COMPUTER Photo by Alejandro Escamilla

BLANK COMPUTER Photo by Alejandro Escamilla


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:
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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.

VIEW INFOGRAPHIC

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

 

Crowdfunding and “Hey Zach Braff STFU and pay for your own movie” [UPDATED January 2014]


STFU ZACH BRAFF

STFU ZACH BRAFF

Why is there controversy about projects such as Rob Thomas‘s VERONICA MARS and Zach Braff‘s WISH I WAS HERE going to crowdfunding for the money to make their projects?

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.

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THIS IS THE SECOND ‘GOLDEN AGE OF TELEVISION.’


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

The JOBS Act of April 2012 is a Failure for America.


THIS IS A MAJOR JOBS PROBLEM AND NEEDS OUR ATTENTION:

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!

 

FILMMAKERS, IT’S 2013. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR JOBS ACT IS? Part 1


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FILMMAKERS, IT’S 2013. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR JOBS ACT IS? Part 1 of 2

Michael R. Barnard

Michael R. Barnard

Written by Michael R. Barnard

Michael R. Barnard is a writer and filmmaker who has been researching the American JOBS Act since it was first proposed. Barnard is currently working on creating an independent feature film, A FATHER AND SON. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is the author of the historical novel NATE AND KELLY. Find him on Twitter at @mrbarnard1, Facebook at michael.barnard and LinkedIn at michaelrbarnard.

This article is an overview and observation, not legal advice.

 

SUMMARY: The independent film industry in America is not enjoying the growth that would be expected from the surge in the quantity of indie movies being made. The American JOBS Act, passed in April 2012, offers hope to reinvigorate the independent film industry.

 

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FILMMAKERS, IT’S 2013. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR JOBS ACT IS? Part 2


1

FILMMAKERS, IT’S 2013. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR JOBS ACT IS? Part 2 of 2

Michael R. Barnard

Michael R. Barnard

Written by Michael R. Barnard

Michael R. Barnard is a writer and filmmaker who has been researching the American JOBS Act since it was first proposed. Barnard is currently working on creating an independent feature film, A FATHER AND SON. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is the author of the historical novel NATE AND KELLY. Find him on Twitter at @mrbarnard1, Facebook at michael.barnard and LinkedIn at michaelrbarnard.

This article is an overview and observation, not legal advice.

 

SUMMARY: The independent film industry in America is not enjoying the growth that would be expected from the surge in the quantity of indie movies being made. The American JOBS Act, passed in April 2012, offers hope to reinvigorate the independent film industry.

 

           In Part 1, we discussed the reasons behind the difficulty raising equity investment. Continue reading

THE UNIVERSAL FILM ACCESS POINT


How will independent filmmakers fully embrace digital distribution for maximum value? It’s a new world, and the old methods cannot be squeezed and twisted to work in it. There will be a new approach to bringing indie films to the audience.

Old Movie Theater

Old Movie Theater

I call it the UNIVERSAL FILM ACCESS POINT.
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Coffee joints for Writers & Filmmakers in NYC & L.A.


This is just for writers and filmmakers! =}

Writers and filmmakers are often hauling their laptops to coffee houses for writing and working. In New York and Los Angeles, there are many such places, but sometimes they are difficult to find.

Let’s build a list of coffee joints where we like to work.

Besides, we all love the adventure of finding a new place to hang out.

I recommend that you copy the info below, then paste it into a comment to this blog posting and let us know your recommended hangouts.

I’ll start adding some that I’ve found in both cities.

Here’s the form to copy and paste.

CITY:
Name:
Street:
Phone:
Website:
Twitter:
Facebook:
WIFI: [_]Free with purchase [_]Unlimited time [_]pay
AC outlets: [_]Many [_]Precious Few [_]none
Crowded: [_]Always [_]Seldom [_]Never
Atmosphere [_]chatting [_]boisterous [_]library
Crowd: [_]writers [_]tourists [_]mixed
Menu: [_]pastries [_]sandwiches [_]full menu
Price: [_]$ [_]$$ [_]$$$!
Comment:

Google

 

President Obama signs JOBS ACT; its Equity Crowdfunding may rebuild indie film biz.


Written by Michael R. Barnard for ReelGrok.com “Where Filmmakers Get It!”

ReelGrok.com "Where Filmmakers Get It"

ReelGrok.com “Where Filmmakers Get It”


President Obama  signed the JOBS ACT into law on April 5th, 2012. Called the ‘‘Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act,’’ the goal is to increase American job creation and economic growth by improving access to the public capital markets for emerging growth companies. It will make it easier for small businesses to raise money so they can create jobs and rebuild the American economy by amending the Securities Act of 1933. It can have a profound impact on the independent filmmaking industry.

President Obama said, “We are a nation of doers. We think big. We take risks.  This is a country that’s always been on the cutting edge. The reason is, America has always had the most daring entrepreneurs. When their businesses take off, more people get employed.”

That’s a boost the independent filmmaking industry needs. “I think we’ll see the $1 million range and down to $100,000 or so flourish with this new model,” says entertainment attorney Gordon P. Firemark.

The American Jobs Act

The American Jobs Act

READ MORE AT REELGROK.COM “WHERE FILMMAKERS GET IT”
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Filmmakers and Email versus Social Media


As filmmakers, we need to grasp how to reach our audience and let them know our film exists, and communicate how the film might interest them. This used to be the jurisdiction of distributors, but that old world is in turmoil and may be dead. With filmmakers scrambling to figure out the theoretical pathways of DIY, DIWO, rent-a-distributors, four-walling, etc., they find themselves needing to grasp some basic marketing concepts.
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Piracy.


Online piracy became a phenomenon about a decade ago with music—triggered by smaller files via MP3 and faster downloads via broadband.

The record companies jumped on it with the “big stick” approach to the problem, tossing consumer piracy to their Legal Departments, which led to lawsuits that destroyed the companies’ credibility and goodwill. Handing the problem to Legal Departments proved the old saying, “To a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”
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My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” — Is the INDIE FILM BIZ dead or not?


Did the Pythons have the indie film biz in mind when creating their masterpiece, Monty Python and the Holy Grail? Aside from the buffoonery of this so-called business, what else could have inspired the great scene, “I’m not dead”?

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My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” — Crowdfunding reveals vibrant new class of citizen funding.


Crowdfunding has great promise. And, it has exposed a vibrant new class of citizen funding.

In the spring of 2010, in comments on Jeff Steele’s Film Closings blog at http://filmclosings.com/2010/04/new-method-indie-financing/, I publicly assessed crowdfunding as having the potential to generate a normal maximum of, say, $5,000 if one spent all one’s time on it. Then, that leapt forward to the potential normal maximum of $15,000 to $20,000. Now, this year, there have been reports of reasonable numbers of fundraisings over $50,000. This is merely an anecdotal assessment, but those are numbers I now see reported.
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YouTube and the new indie distribution world


YouTube took a huge step forward recently in a move that could have implications for indie filmmakers. [“What’s bigger than 1080p? 4K video comes to YouTube”

YouTube now handles video resolution all the way up to 4K, which is currently the high-end projection resolution for theatrical display. In fact, most theaters have digital projection of 2K.

This isn’t something you’ll use soon. 4K is the largest leap made in video projection history.
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FREE IS NOT WORTH THE PRICE, PART 2


Continued from FREE IS NOT WORTH THE PRICE, PART 1

We are now feeling the impact of that un-analyzed, self-serving desire, “I want it FREE.” The impressionable college generation coming of age at that time threw away moral discernment in the face of the “free on the Internet” mantra and nearly destroyed the music industry.

Yes, the Internet itself must be free. The recent announcement by the FCC that it is switching its official support from the old era of broadcasting to the current era of Internet access is welcome and profound news. The Internet needs to be freely available for the exercise of democracy.
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FREE IS NOT WORTH THE PRICE, PART 1


The New York Times reports on the malaise hitting the very-important-to-Hollywood trade papers, especially Daily Variety. [“Trade Papers Struggling in Hollywood”]

Daily Variety is suffering the fate of many news publishers (even the New York Times), but attracts attention because of its reactions to its problems. This important trade paper recently fired staff critics, now favoring freelance critics. The paper is also one of the first to duck behind a paywall.[definition: “paywall”] You can no longer read the entire paper online free.
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What is Twitter?


The evolution of the Internet is thus:

BBSs begat AOL and died. AOL begat Social Media (first offspring: Friendster) and died. Friendster begat MySpace and died. MySpace begat Facebook and died.

Elsewhere, Personal Journals begat blogs and died. Blogs mated with Social Media and Cell Phone Texting, mutating into “micro-blogs” (first offspring: Twitter).
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