The comedy short film “The MURDER of James Dean”


We are filmmakers; actors, director, cinematographer, crew members, producers. We are coming together from across the country – New York City, Fresno, Los Angeles – to make a smart, entertaining short film that you and Hollywood will enjoy. Join us on Indiegogo at https://igg.me/at/TheMURDERofJamesDean

I’m Michael Barnard.

The rest of our cast and crew are experienced in their field, as actors, cinematographer, crew, and need this opportunity to move up in Hollywood. As soon as you give us the green light, we will make commitments, schedules, and go into production on “The MURDER of James Dean.”

With your greenlight, we will produce a high-quality short film to submit to film festivals and share online. We have the right screenplay, we have the right people, we even have the right equipment. We need you to give us the greenlight so we can go into production and make “The MURDER of James Dean.” We hope to keep you entertained and happy, both with your participation in the production, and with our gifts of appreciation for your support. The film’s message of inclusion and struggle will touch people. And when fame comes, you’ll be with us.

It’s a comedy short film about real human emotions. In “The MURDER of James Dean,” Michael, a down-and-out, over-the-hill screenwriter struggles to regain his footing and the life he knew in Hollywood. It’s the struggle everyone fears.

At the same time, Raymond, a young wannabe film producer struggles to finally open a door of opportunity and a career in Hollywood. It’s the struggle everyone goes through.

Michael and Raymond are from different backgrounds, different ages, different cultures. Both strive to make their own future, using the other as a stepping stone to their goals. That’s the game everyone plays in Hollywood.

A wild conspiracy theory about the death of James Dean brings these two together. There are lots of conspiracy theories in the world, and both recognize this one as a great story that could be made into a great movie.

They have a unique connection to an elderly lawyer who was in Dean’s circle of friends long ago and claims to have proof of the conspiracy. He wants to finally spill the beans, and will tell only Michael and Raymond.

But, it doesn’t go well.

As they struggle to make it work, then watch the opportunity slip away out of their control, they battle each other. Anger, frustration, and fear boil to the surface as their Hollywood game unravels.

In the end, they finally recognize the human relationship that’s more important than the Hollywood games.

Michael is older, a white guy in his late 50s, treated like an over-the-hill has-been writer by Hollywood. Michael is stuck in Fresno after everything falls apart for him.

Raymond is younger, an Hispanic guy in his early 20s, treated like a silly kid from the wrong side of the tracks by Hollywood. Raymond is trying to get out of The Bronx.

Lucy is Michael’s older sister, and she’s just not having his failed ass hanging around her family home in Fresno.

Pat, black, 30ish, and filming partner B.J., black, 20ish (any gender M/F/T to be cast), get sucked into pursuit of the story when asked to film an interview of the man with the conspiracy theory.

And there’s that guy with the conspiracy theory…

Short films are calling cards, door openers for the film/TV business. Commercial and profitable opportunities for short films are still quite rare; the purpose of short films is to entertain audiences and to introduce the filmmakers, cast, and crew to the film/TV industry. A well-done short film can prove to the Hollywood gate-keepers, producers, distributers, and money people that the people who crafted a good short film can be trusted to make a bigger production. That’s the goal for those of us crafting the short film comedy The MURDER of James Dean.

(From “Short of the Week’s Andrew Allen on How to Make the Most of Your Short Film“)

The screenplay has already attracted awards-attention, which is rare for short film scripts. The people involved in the project have experience in production and need to expand their opportunities to go further. With The MURDER of James Dean, we will make an entertaining film that can be competitive on the film festival circuit and online. If the film attracts attention at film festivals and online, as the screenplay itself already has done in contests, we can expect audiences to enjoy it and Hollywood gatekeepers to open up to us. (Filmmaker Michael R. Barnard is in post-production, doing audio fixing, on his current short film “THE CAMERA,” and his previous short film, the ‘no-budget, one-day, one-location, two-people’ “HOT CAR” – consider it R-rated – has been viewed on YouTube more than a quarter-million times.)

For talented actors, a lead role in a well-made and popular short film can open up big opportunities in larger films and TV, expanding careers.

For talented crew in positions such as Director of Photography, Makeup, Sound, and other positions, proving themselves with excellent work using minimum resources can boost a career in film/TV production.

The MURDER of James Dean is likely to be published on IMDb, which is the de facto standard for film/TV credits, making the cast and crew visible and validated to the industry.

These are the reasons for cast and crew to volunteer as a labor of love and an exercise of their artistry to make a good short film. We offer a stipend to each member of the team. The size of our stipend depends on the success and over-funding of this crowdfunding effort.

Filmmaker Michael R. Barnard already owns the production gear necessary for good production of a short film. The equipment package is efficient and good quality; a Sony A7 full-frame mirrorless camera with 50mm f1.8 and 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 lenses plus various adapters and filters, coupled to an Atomos Ninja 2 4:2:2 ProRes recorder and monitor; a Comodo VB-1850 Orbit camera cage for shooting action on the run, a Rhino 48” camera slider, Tascam DAR with boom and microphones, various LED lights, and lightweight camera support and grip equipment. The filmmaker also already owns an editing system running Adobe Premier Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, and more for post-production.

Of course, we have an award-winning screenplay.

Filmmaker Michael R. Barnard has years of experience in film/TV production, including low-budget run-and-gun production. Research the filmmaker’s résumé, LinkedIn, and IMDb. (To be very frank and personal, my career got very bumpy after the triple-whammy of the Writers Strike, the Great Recession, and the death of my passion project. The Writers Strike destroyed my job on a new FOX TV Network series; the Great Recession destroyed signed contracts for me to produce three more feature films; and, my passion project, the feature film screenplay “EVERYBODY SAYS GOODBYE—The Story of a Father and Son,” died after more than a decade and a half of many ‘almost there’ efforts.)

Support us. This is the time.

We are now in an era when human relationships collapse under the shadows of differences and games played, and we need to return from that, to see the humanity in the relationships that surround us.

Spread the word, please. Indiegogo has great tools to help you share this.

In the practical sense, the deadlines for submission to top-tier film festivals, such as Sundance, where I’ve worked for a decade, SXSW in Austin, and others, are rapidly approaching in September. We need to have The MURDER of James Dean completed as soon as possible to submit to those festivals. That gives us only a few weeks to gather the green-light funds for production. It’s very doable, if this crowdfunding campaign succeeds.

This is the process for good short films. They are a work of love, a work of artistry, a work for opportunity for the future. Short films are not made to pursue commercial success. Crafting a short film that audiences love is the sure way to gain new audiences, career opportunities and potential for success with feature films and TV shows.

Your support will help create a wonderful movie and new careers. The fundraising campaign will be on Indiegogo soon. You can preview the campaign right now by clicking here.

Thanks!

 

#CASTING CALL

#ACTORS NEEDED for “The Murder of James Dean” shooting in early September in #Hollywood and #Fresno.
See https://igg.me/at/TheMURDERofJamesDean

ALL ROLES: Volunteer work for career advancement (short will submit to top-tier film festivals). Daily cash stipend depends on success of crowdfunding campaign, plus transportation/lodging, meals, IMDb credit.


MICHAEL, lead.

Experienced #male actor, 50ish white male, distressed about being an over-the-hill screenwriter now ignored by Hollywood, stuck in Fresno California after everything falls apart for him. Scenes will shoot in Hollywood and Fresno in early September, probably 4 days of shooting.


RAYMOND, lead.

Experienced #male actor, early 20s, ethnic (*not* looking like James Dean), distressed about being treated like a silly kid trying to get out of The Bronx and into Hollywood. Scenes will shoot in Fresno in early September, probably 2 days of shooting.


PAT, secondary lead.

Experienced actor, 30ish African American any #gender, thuggish-appearing wannabe filmmaker brought in to videotape an in-home interview. Scenes will shoot in Hollywood and Fresno, probably 3 days of shooting.


B.J., secondary lead.

Experienced actor, 20ish African American, any #gender / #genderfluid / #transgender, working with PAT to videotape an in-home interview. Scenes will shoot in Hollywood and Fresno, probably 3 days of shooting.


LUCY, day player.

Experienced actor, 50ish white #female, Michael’s older sister not having his failed ass hanging around her family home. Scene will shoot in Fresno. probably 1 day of shooting.

 

Submit headshot/resume to Casting ( AT ) TheMURDERofJamesDean ( DOT ) com

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The comedy short film “The MURDER of James Dean”


We are filmmakers; actors, director, cinematographer, crew members, producers. We are coming together from across the country – New York City, Fresno, Los Angeles – to make a smart, entertaining short film that you and Hollywood will enjoy.

I’m Michael Barnard.

The rest of our cast and crew are experienced in their field, as actors, cinematographer, crew, and need this opportunity to move up in Hollywood. As soon as you give us the green light, we will make commitments, schedules, and go into production on “The MURDER of James Dean.”

With your greenlight, we will produce a high-quality short film to submit to film festivals and share online. We have the right screenplay, we have the right people, we even have the right equipment. We need you to give us the greenlight so we can go into production and make “The MURDER of James Dean.” We hope to keep you entertained and happy, both with your participation in the production, and with our gifts of appreciation for your support. The film’s message of inclusion and struggle will touch people. And when fame comes, you’ll be with us.

It’s a comedy short film about real human emotions. In “The MURDER of James Dean,” Michael, a down-and-out, over-the-hill screenwriter struggles to regain his footing and the life he knew in Hollywood. It’s the struggle everyone fears.

At the same time, Raymond, a young wannabe film producer struggles to finally open a door of opportunity and a career in Hollywood. It’s the struggle everyone goes through.

Michael and Raymond are from different backgrounds, different ages, different cultures. Both strive to make their own future, using the other as a stepping stone to their goals. That’s the game everyone plays in Hollywood.

A wild conspiracy theory about the death of James Dean brings these two together. There are lots of conspiracy theories in the world, and both recognize this one as a great story that could be made into a great movie.

They have a unique connection to an elderly lawyer who was in Dean’s circle of friends long ago and claims to have proof of the conspiracy. He wants to finally spill the beans, and will tell only Michael and Raymond.

But, it doesn’t go well.

As they struggle to make it work, then watch the opportunity slip away out of their control, they battle each other. Anger, frustration, and fear boil to the surface as their Hollywood game unravels.

In the end, they finally recognize the human relationship that’s more important than the Hollywood games.

Michael is older, a white guy in his late 50s, treated like an over-the-hill has-been writer by Hollywood. Michael is stuck in Fresno after everything falls apart for him.

Raymond is younger, an Hispanic guy in his early 20s, treated like a silly kid from the wrong side of the tracks by Hollywood. Raymond is trying to get out of The Bronx.

Lucy is Michael’s older sister, and she’s just not having his failed ass hanging around her family home in Fresno.

Pat, black, 30ish, and filming partner B.J., black, 20ish (any gender M/F/T to be cast), get sucked into pursuit of the story when asked to film an interview of the man with the conspiracy theory.

And there’s that guy with the conspiracy theory…

Short films are calling cards, door openers for the film/TV business. Commercial and profitable opportunities for short films are still quite rare; the purpose of short films is to entertain audiences and to introduce the filmmakers, cast, and crew to the film/TV industry. A well-done short film can prove to the Hollywood gate-keepers, producers, distributers, and money people that the people who crafted a good short film can be trusted to make a bigger production. That’s the goal for those of us crafting the short film comedy The MURDER of James Dean.

(From “Short of the Week’s Andrew Allen on How to Make the Most of Your Short Film“)

The screenplay has already attracted awards-attention, which is rare for short film scripts. The people involved in the project have experience in production and need to expand their opportunities to go further. With The MURDER of James Dean, we will make an entertaining film that can be competitive on the film festival circuit and online. If the film attracts attention at film festivals and online, as the screenplay itself already has done in contests, we can expect audiences to enjoy it and Hollywood gatekeepers to open up to us. (Filmmaker Michael R. Barnard is in post-production, doing audio fixing, on his current short film “THE CAMERA,” and his previous short film, the ‘no-budget, one-day, one-location, two-people’ “HOT CAR” – consider it R-rated – has been viewed on YouTube more than a quarter-million times.)

For talented actors, a lead role in a well-made and popular short film can open up big opportunities in larger films and TV, expanding careers.

For talented crew in positions such as Director of Photography, Makeup, Sound, and other positions, proving themselves with excellent work using minimum resources can boost a career in film/TV production.

The MURDER of James Dean is likely to be published on IMDb, which is the de facto standard for film/TV credits, making the cast and crew visible and validated to the industry.

These are the reasons for cast and crew to volunteer as a labor of love and an exercise of their artistry to make a good short film. We offer a stipend to each member of the team. The size of our stipend depends on the success and over-funding of this crowdfunding effort.

Filmmaker Michael R. Barnard already owns the production gear necessary for good production of a short film. The equipment package is efficient and good quality; a Sony A7 full-frame mirrorless camera with 50mm f1.8 and 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 lenses plus various adapters and filters, coupled to an Atomos Ninja 2 4:2:2 ProRes recorder and monitor; a Comodo VB-1850 Orbit camera cage for shooting action on the run, a Rhino 48” camera slider, Tascam DAR with boom and microphones, various LED lights, and lightweight camera support and grip equipment. The filmmaker also already owns an editing system running Adobe Premier Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, and more for post-production.

Of course, we have an award-winning screenplay.

Filmmaker Michael R. Barnard has years of experience in film/TV production, including low-budget run-and-gun production. Research the filmmaker’s résumé, LinkedIn, and IMDb. (To be very frank and personal, my career got very bumpy after the triple-whammy of the Writers Strike, the Great Recession, and the death of my passion project. The Writers Strike destroyed my job on a new FOX TV Network series; the Great Recession destroyed signed contracts for me to produce three more feature films; and, my passion project, the feature film screenplay “EVERYBODY SAYS GOODBYE—The Story of a Father and Son,” died after more than a decade and a half of many ‘almost there’ efforts.)

Support us. This is the time.

We are now in an era when human relationships collapse under the shadows of differences and games played, and we need to return from that, to see the humanity in the relationships that surround us.

Spread the word, please. Indiegogo has great tools to help you share this.

In the practical sense, the deadlines for submission to top-tier film festivals, such as Sundance, where I’ve worked for a decade, SXSW in Austin, and others, are rapidly approaching in September. We need to have The MURDER of James Dean completed as soon as possible to submit to those festivals. That gives us only a few weeks to gather the green-light funds for production. It’s very doable, if this crowdfunding campaign succeeds.

This is the process for good short films. They are a work of love, a work of artistry, a work for opportunity for the future. Short films are not made to pursue commercial success. Crafting a short film that audiences love is the sure way to gain new audiences, career opportunities and potential for success with feature films and TV shows.

Your support will help create a wonderful movie and new careers.

Thanks!

 

The comedy short film “The MURDER of James Dean”


We are filmmakers; actors, director, cinematographer, crew members, producers. We are coming together from across the country – New York City, Fresno, Los Angeles – to make a smart, entertaining short film that you and Hollywood will enjoy.

I’m Michael Barnard.

The rest of our cast and crew are experienced in their field, as actors, cinematographer, crew, and need this opportunity to move up in Hollywood. As soon as you give us the green light, we will make commitments, schedules, and go into production on “The MURDER of James Dean.”

With your greenlight, we will produce a high-quality short film to submit to film festivals and share online. We have the right screenplay, we have the right people, we even have the right equipment. We need you to give us the greenlight so we can go into production and make “The MURDER of James Dean.” We hope to keep you entertained and happy, both with your participation in the production, and with our gifts of appreciation for your support. The film’s message of inclusion and struggle will touch people. And when fame comes, you’ll be with us.

It’s a comedy short film about real human emotions. In “The MURDER of James Dean,” Michael, a down-and-out, over-the-hill screenwriter struggles to regain his footing and the life he knew in Hollywood. It’s the struggle everyone fears.

At the same time, Raymond, a young wannabe film producer struggles to finally open a door of opportunity and a career in Hollywood. It’s the struggle everyone goes through.

Michael and Raymond are from different backgrounds, different ages, different cultures. Both strive to make their own future, using the other as a stepping stone to their goals. That’s the game everyone plays in Hollywood.

A wild conspiracy theory about the death of James Dean brings these two together. There are lots of conspiracy theories in the world, and both recognize this one as a great story that could be made into a great movie.

They have a unique connection to an elderly lawyer who was in Dean’s circle of friends long ago and claims to have proof of the conspiracy. He wants to finally spill the beans, and will tell only Michael and Raymond.

But, it doesn’t go well.

As they struggle to make it work, then watch the opportunity slip away out of their control, they battle each other. Anger, frustration, and fear boil to the surface as their Hollywood game unravels.

In the end, they finally recognize the human relationship that’s more important than the Hollywood games.

Michael is older, a white guy in his late 50s, treated like an over-the-hill has-been writer by Hollywood. Michael is stuck in Fresno after everything falls apart for him.

Raymond is younger, an Hispanic guy in his early 20s, treated like a silly kid from the wrong side of the tracks by Hollywood. Raymond is trying to get out of The Bronx.

Lucy is Michael’s older sister, and she’s just not having his failed ass hanging around her family home in Fresno.

Pat, black, 30ish, and filming partner B.J., black, 20ish (any gender M/F/T to be cast), get sucked into pursuit of the story when asked to film an interview of the man with the conspiracy theory.

And there’s that guy with the conspiracy theory…

Short films are calling cards, door openers for the film/TV business. Commercial and profitable opportunities for short films are still quite rare; the purpose of short films is to entertain audiences and to introduce the filmmakers, cast, and crew to the film/TV industry. A well-done short film can prove to the Hollywood gate-keepers, producers, distributers, and money people that the people who crafted a good short film can be trusted to make a bigger production. That’s the goal for those of us crafting the short film comedy The MURDER of James Dean.

(From “Short of the Week’s Andrew Allen on How to Make the Most of Your Short Film“)

The screenplay has already attracted awards-attention, which is rare for short film scripts. The people involved in the project have experience in production and need to expand their opportunities to go further. With The MURDER of James Dean, we will make an entertaining film that can be competitive on the film festival circuit and online. If the film attracts attention at film festivals and online, as the screenplay itself already has done in contests, we can expect audiences to enjoy it and Hollywood gatekeepers to open up to us. (Filmmaker Michael R. Barnard is in post-production, doing audio fixing, on his current short film “THE CAMERA,” and his previous short film, the ‘no-budget, one-day, one-location, two-people’ “HOT CAR” – consider it R-rated – has been viewed on YouTube more than a quarter-million times.)

For talented actors, a lead role in a well-made and popular short film can open up big opportunities in larger films and TV, expanding careers.

For talented crew in positions such as Director of Photography, Makeup, Sound, and other positions, proving themselves with excellent work using minimum resources can boost a career in film/TV production.

The MURDER of James Dean is likely to be published on IMDb, which is the de facto standard for film/TV credits, making the cast and crew visible and validated to the industry.

These are the reasons for cast and crew to volunteer as a labor of love and an exercise of their artistry to make a good short film. We offer a stipend to each member of the team. The size of our stipend depends on the success and over-funding of this crowdfunding effort.

Filmmaker Michael R. Barnard already owns the production gear necessary for good production of a short film. The equipment package is efficient and good quality; a Sony A7 full-frame mirrorless camera with 50mm f1.8 and 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 lenses plus various adapters and filters, coupled to an Atomos Ninja 2 4:2:2 ProRes recorder and monitor; a Comodo VB-1850 Orbit camera cage for shooting action on the run, a Rhino 48” camera slider, Tascam DAR with boom and microphones, various LED lights, and lightweight camera support and grip equipment. The filmmaker also already owns an editing system running Adobe Premier Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, and more for post-production.

Of course, we have an award-winning screenplay.

Filmmaker Michael R. Barnard has years of experience in film/TV production, including low-budget run-and-gun production. Research the filmmaker’s résumé, LinkedIn, and IMDb. (To be very frank and personal, my career got very bumpy after the triple-whammy of the Writers Strike, the Great Recession, and the death of my passion project. The Writers Strike destroyed my job on a new FOX TV Network series; the Great Recession destroyed signed contracts for me to produce three more feature films; and, my passion project, the feature film screenplay “EVERYBODY SAYS GOODBYE—The Story of a Father and Son,” died after more than a decade and a half of many ‘almost there’ efforts.)

Support us. This is the time.

We are now in an era when human relationships collapse under the shadows of differences and games played, and we need to return from that, to see the humanity in the relationships that surround us.

Spread the word, please. Indiegogo has great tools to help you share this.

In the practical sense, the deadlines for submission to top-tier film festivals, such as Sundance, where I’ve worked for a decade, SXSW in Austin, and others, are rapidly approaching in September. We need to have The MURDER of James Dean completed as soon as possible to submit to those festivals. That gives us only a few weeks to gather the green-light funds for production. It’s very doable, if this crowdfunding campaign succeeds.

This is the process for good short films. They are a work of love, a work of artistry, a work for opportunity for the future. Short films are not made to pursue commercial success. Crafting a short film that audiences love is the sure way to gain new audiences, career opportunities and potential for success with feature films and TV shows.

Your support will help create a wonderful movie and new careers.

Thanks!

 

My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” — Starting Over. Again.


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

My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” — HOT CAR


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.
-Zero dollars.
-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.

http://youtu.be/P5zfhD2GSo4

I hope you find it interesting and involving.

http://imdb.me/michaelrbarnard
http://linkedin.com/in/michaelrbarnard

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


BARNARD BUYS VENOM RIGHTS - Daily Variety

BARNARD BUYS VENOM RIGHTS – Daily Variety

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.
Continue reading

My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” — The Mean Streets


CITY STREET Photo by Israel Sundseth

Photo by Israel Sundseth

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

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


DEAD CAR Photo by Kristian Karlsson

DEAD CAR Photo by Kristian Karlsson


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.
Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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


LONELY INVESTOR Photo by Alejandro Escamilla

LONELY INVESTOR Photo by Alejandro Escamilla


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

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

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

 

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!

 

EQUITY CROWDFUNDING RULEMAKING APPROACHES SOON.


I was at a seminar this week that purported to be about the new EQUITY CROWDFUNDING, but sadly, the panel was populated by finance professionals whose disdain for those of us who are not “high end, high net worth” made the panel useless.

These types of professional fundraisers, coming from the status quo investment community, are not willing to acknowledge that the true value of EQUITY CROWDFUNDING is the escape from the expense, time and headache of pursuing Reg D exemptions and PPMs (“Private Placement Memorandums”). They collect monstrous fees to create those, so they have no respect for those who pursue crowdfunding as an entry to the financial world. Continue reading

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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Just what the hell IS an “Indie Film?”


Everybody talks about “INDEPENDENT FILM” but it means different things to different people. There is not a consistent, clear definition for the concept.

How do you define “INDIE FILM?”

Aside from the famous definition used for porn—”I know it when I see it,”—what specific qualities define a full-length motion picture as “independent?”

Please answer the survey questions. They are about several different elements about movies that may or may not be part of your definition.

To help us understand how you determine that a full-length motion picture might be an “indie film,” please answer how each element may affect your opinion about a movie.

AND if you have comments, please post them here so we can start discussions.

Thanks!

More…“Indie Film” Survey

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” — The battle to make an independent movie


One of the odd things about being an independent filmmaker is the battle to get into production. Those of us who don’t have well-to-do families or impressive connections to powerful people have to cultivate other ways to fund the production. This is especially true today with all the turmoil in the indie film biz and the economy in general, but it’s always been true anyway.

When looking back on many years of trying to get A FATHER AND SON into production (at one point the title was EVERYBODY SAYS GOODBYE–The Story of a Father and Son), I realize there were many experiences that I call “a fishhook in the eye.”
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