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

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.




#ACTORS NEEDED for “The Murder of James Dean” shooting in early September in #Hollywood and #Fresno.

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


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” — A Venom in the Blood



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



Michael R Barnard photo 500 px


How Is a Filmmaker Consumed by a Passion Project?

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

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

[read more…]




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)


May 26th was a uniquely exciting (and perhaps exhausting) day for TV lovers. At midnight, Netflix released a brand new season of Arrested Development – more than seven years after the show was cancelled by Fox. The show’s return represents a key component of Netflix’s emerging original content strategy and is the fourth show released by the over-the-top streaming service this year (at a total cost of more than $150M). As such, I thought it would be a good opportunity to pause and evaluate the economics of this strategy and hypothesize what success might look like. In doing so, we can also better understand the role of original content (is it intended to drive net adds, reduce churn, stabilize content costs etc.) and the impact of their controversial decision to release entire seasons at once. This will also tell us about Netflix’s future and management’s POV on this future.

The Value of Netflix to the Consumer

Though inexpensive on the whole, Netflix’s service does not offer materially cheaper entertainment than that of traditional cable TV, costing approximately $0.0024/minute versus cable’s $0.0035/minute. alt="NFLX3"

This is interesting for two reasons

1. Despite being commercial-free and infinitely more flexible than live linear TV (in terms of time, content and screen), Netflix is unable to command a price premium for its entertainment service

2. Average time spent watching Netflix per user is up more than 10% year-over-year. However, with prices still $7.99 a month, Netflix has not benefited from this increase in customer value (directly, at least, as it would improve word-of-mouth and perceived value). Increases in both the quality and size of its content library content quality is no doubt a major driver for increased usage, but this has contributed to a 16% increase in quarterly licensing costs ($1.355B in Q1 2013).

This matters because it means Netflix may have limited means to raise prices – and when it does, they will still lag customer value growth. As the instant decapitation of Qwickster demonstrated (among many other lessons), Netflix’s customers really do control the relationship.

MORE … click here to continue reading.

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

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

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

Reposted by permission from Ivey Business Review

(Originally posted April 30, 2013)

A Netflix Original Series: HOUSE of CARDS

It is a great time to be a lover of television. Content, for one, has never been better. Not only have many declared today the “New Golden Age of Television”, some such as Vanity Fair’s James Wolcott, have gone as far to ask questions such as if “anyone thinks The Artist (which had recently won the Academy Award for Best Picture) is better than Mad Men?”. The rise of digital distribution and portable, media-focused devices has also fundamentally increased potential “demand” for this content. The ability to watch content whenever (and wherever) we want means that we can watch more shows than was realistically possible when we were tethered to 2-3 hours of “appointment TV” per night (and we could watch only one show per primetime slot). Not only does this save older shows, such as The Sopranos, from irrelevancy after airing, it opens up the creative medium. Hyper-serialized shows such as LOST and Game of Thrones would not be possible without the ability for viewers to easily catch-up on a missed episode (or “marathon” past seasons). Digital-only distribution (such as Netflix’s House of Cards) has further freed creatives to pick scene lengths or runtimes based on the needs of the story, rather than the need to cut to a commercial break every 4-7 minutes or fill out an hour-long timeslot.

Market behavior clearly illustrates the New Golden Age hypothesis. Movie stars are increasingly moving to the TV screen (from Ewan McGregor or Zooey Deschanel) and many TV stars are bigger celebrities than most movie actors (such as Kim Kardashian, regrettably). TV budgets have also exploded. Game of Thrones costs upwards of $60 million for a 10-episode season and many hour-long dramas at the Big Four broadcasters can cost $40-75 million per season ($2-4M/episode). Content has also become an increasingly important differentiator for cable networks such as HBO and AMC, which traditionally focused on films and one-off specials, but are now defined by and dependent on hits such as Girls and The Walking Dead.

MORE … click here to continue reading.


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


This is the start of a list that will, I hope, build based on input from writers and others with knowledge of the agencies. For now, I will try to update the list and keep it focused on Los Angeles and New York City area agencies.

Please add names, contact information, the agency’s preferences, and other information that could help writers who seek representation.

Please post comments.
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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.

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: [_]$ [_]$$ [_]$$$!



How to Start Writing a Screenplay

TYPEWRITER Photo by Florian Klauer

Photo by Florian Klauer

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 or 12), 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.
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My Bumpy Road Through “Hollywood” — THE MOVIE THAT NEEDS TO BE MADE

After working in television, radio, and video since high school, I eventually pushed myself into the indie film biz, which suited my creative and entrepreneurial nature. That involved me acquiring scripts and novels of other writers and trying to make them into movies. [UPDATED, see end of blog posting.]
Continue reading