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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My bumpy road through “Hollywood” – PALLION THE YOUNG STALLION spec script for BoJack Horseman


My favorite show on Netflix is BoJack Horseman, which reveals a lot about me, since it’s a show about an emotionally dysfunctional has-been in Hollywood. So, back in January 2018, I was motivated to write a spec script for the show. I thought maybe I could replay the events decades earlier, described in My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” – There once was MOONLIGHTING, but hoping for a better result this time.

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The USA long ago outgrew the two party system.


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

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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BARNARD’S LAWS


BOOK Photo by Alejandro Escamilla

Photo by Alejandro Escamilla


By the way, throughout August I am raising funds to make an award-winning comedy short film.

Investigate “The MURDER of James Dean“!

Details at https://igg.me/at/TheMURDERofJamesDean


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.


MICHAEL R. BARNARD | IMDb | LinkedIn | Resume

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 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.

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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

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!

 

The latest on NATE AND KELLY the novel


NATE AND KELLY is a love story from a century ago, about today.

The novel has a strong, interesting narrative structure (essential for all media and what audiences now want). It is an interesting combination of fiction and non-fiction that works well with both the broad subjects of historical significance and its very specific, illuminating love story.

  • By NaomiA: “…a well-written book”
  • By CurtisB: “…captured my interest from the very beginning!”
  • By Mouse: “A story of hope, betrayal, survival, and love…shocking truth about evil and prejudice.”
  • By Phyllis L. Hinkle: “So well penned…makes you ponder the problems of society we live in today.”

NATE AND KELLY is a striking story of the type that has waned from our memories, the type of story destined for a massive resurgence –- a new take on old stories.
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Our chance to rebuild the independent film industry.


FILMMAKERS, this is very important:

WHAT CONGRESS DID
The house has passed the Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act which offers a tremendous opportunity to rebuild the independent film industry. The Act is designed to allow businesses to raise capital through crowdfunding. Under current securities laws, filmmakers can only ask for donations, and donors support the film without any participation in its potential profit.
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WAR. UGH. WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!


Here’s a macabre exercise, which could be intellectually stimulating:

Consider that France and Germany are slapping around Greece, and Greece reacted with a strong nationalistic response. (Today, Greece may rescind its own referendum on the bailout, but maybe not.)

How might historians in the future look back on today and consider this the trigger that started WWIII?
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Civil Rights Act of 1964


The following discussion started with this FACEBOOK post from Carey Borth:

July 2, 1964, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signs into law the historic Civil Rights Act in a nationally televised ceremony at the White House. In the landmark 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation in schools was unconstitutional.

The 10 years that followed saw great strides for the African-American civil rights movement, as non-violent demonstrations won thousands of supporters to the cause. Memorable landmarks in the struggle included the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955–sparked by the refusal of Alabama resident Rosa Parks to give up her seat on a city bus to a white woman–and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I have a dream” speech at a rally of hundreds of thousands in Washington, D.C., in 1963.
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My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” — MOVIES IN A BAD ECONOMY


Front cover illustration for the official souv...

Image via Wikipedia

You know that your favorite movies, and even ones you don’t like, exist in an uneasy alliance of art and commerce. Movies have the potential to be both emotionally and financially powerful; sometimes one, sometimes the other, sometimes both. They brew in a caldron of artistic expression, profit potential, and career possibilities. Some movies find life solely because of demand for profit, and some find life solely because of someone’s passion for storytelling. Some come together for any number of reasons between those two ends of the spectrum.

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Are Closed Cultural Tribes the Last Hope for Artists?


There is a culture war being waged. It is bigger than illegal copying or file sharing. It is the popular premise that controlling intellectual property is a waste. It’s all discussion and theory now, since nobody has proven pathways; there are no strategies yet that are backed with reliable metrics. All discussions are only speculation and contrived logic.

That makes it fun, in the face of the unsettling realities. But I think the protection of intellectual property is more important today than ever before.

All physical forms of expression of ideas are now at the mercy of the forces that destroyed every previous form of distribution gate-keeping, and at the mercy of the moral ambiguity that surrounds the ease of copying.
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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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Civil Rights


The premise of California’s Proposition 8 was that marriage cannot include same sex partnerships because that violates the sanctity of marriage. The presumption was that marriage has a static position and never evolves. It also feeds on fears that have been expressed as “gay marriage will destroy marriage” and “how horrible that gay couples could adopt and raise children” and many other fears.

Of course, these are flawed arguments. Yet, such premises and fears of the majority are echoed in every attack on the civil rights of every minority since our Constitution was written.
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