Not now. The distribution world has changed dramatically. And what about all these new terms like 'hybrid' distribution and trans media?
So you get swept into the swirl, don the all-black wardrobe, start wearing sunglasses day and night, and before you know it you are committing The 7 Deadly Sins of Self Distribution
Have been through this 13 times now (since 1998) one gets to meet a lot of filmmakers. I have to ask:
Are You Making These 4 Deadly Film Mistakes
It's relatively easy to become a festival darling: Just become an indie auteur complete with dark glasses and a black wardrobe.
If your time is precious and you want to sneak preview a few film industry insider tricks, read our article: How To Fake Being An Indie Autuer.
Watching all of the films and meeting and talking to the filmmakers made me realise how often screenwriters don't bother to learn about the important role of the producer and the filmmaking porcess.
I put together the 10 Things Screenwriters Should Know About Filmmaking
Interesting in the middle of the Raindance Film Festival to meet so many filmmakers from around the world.
It reminded me of coming back from the Cannes Film Festival this spring where I ran into two veteran British film producers who between them had produced nigh onto 60 features, been nominated for or won several Oscars and who by any standard are considered to be highly successful.
They both were very negative about the future of the film industry and the prospects of making films like they had been over the past thirty years. ‘Independent Cinema’ is dead they argued.
I beg to differ.
So I just wrote the 7 Challenges Facing Independent Filmmakers
The Guardian really made my day today with a terrific little write-up.
And the Times too has a good review.
And what about this? Urban Junkies - Agenda - Raindance Film Festival Opening Party - definite value for money.
Looks like all the hard work from the past year has been worth while!
Veiled threats of ban or even legal action stand against a record number of our selections. There’s definitely something in the air this year. Many are fearful: afraid of where the UK film industry is directed and afraid of funding cuts. Globally, those in power are also afraid of people sharing their thoughts, opinions, ways of living, loves and fears. Prejudices and politics seem to be taking aim against the arts, and we’ve felt the tremors more than ever this year.
So we've put our foot down. We're committed to sticking to what we feel the festival is about and we’re thrilled to bring you the best independent films of the year. Whether you (dis)agree with them, are enthralled, titillated, maybe even disgusted, we’re certain there’s plenty to feast upon and open your eyes to, and even more for you to fall in love with.
Join us for what we feel is the most daring, original and imaginative Raindance festival line-up to date, hosting a wealth of films that are captivating, thought-provoking and scandalously provocative. We hope you can share with us this magical and powerful world of cinema and embrace its ability to mould and change our environment for the better.
After all, we’re all eighteen, shouldn't we be able to make up our own minds?
Here are my Top Ten Picks
We are so lucky to be able to use the Apollo Cinema Piccadilly for the festival - the staff are great, and the building itself first rate.
Today we installed the vinyl posters to the exterior of the cinema, designed by Dominic Thackray using our wonderful campaign image donated to us by the incredibly tallented Gee Vaucher.
I arrived at the cinema at noon - and the 2 installers from Onward Display came with their ladders.
And about an hour later, presto - finished.
We won’t tell, as long as you follow @raindance_fest on Twitter.
We’ll keep you updated with the latest indie film news, how-to film tips, Twitter-only contests and a whole bunch of other goodies in 140-character morsels.
Not on Twitter yet? Preview our Welcome page at Twitter.
Social media is becoming a big part of any filmmaking package.
While there I met so many talented and successful filmmakers, all clamouring to work with filmmakers from other countries.
I was interviewed by one of their glamorous journalists the day after I got back to London.
Read my interview titled:
In Praise OF Low Budget Filmmaking
Well regret no more, for Christian Bell, one of our fabulous interns has put together a comphrehensive list of over £6000 ($10,000) of legal filmmaking/editing/screenwriting software.
Read and download his Zero Budget Software Suite and want no more for software.
With the programmers busy and quietly mulling over their difficult choices, I have been freed up to do some thinking on how Raindance Film Festival is going to position itself this year.
We have already received our new campaign image, courtesy of Gee Vaucher [Banksy's muse]. Our New Festival Image
The new cinema advert has arrived and we are prepping it for our internet premier next week. London attendees to the Boozin N Schmoozin event at Envy will get to see it first.
Boozin' n' Schmoozin' Monday 12 July 6:30pm
Next weekend we are teaming up with some of our old acquaintances Emo Philips and The XX and are presenting a series of film workshops at the Lattitude Festival.
Next week is historic for Raindance: we are kicking off events in New York and Toronto
In New York, we have the first in a series of Wednesday evening filmmaking classes - starting with a Legal Paperwork class
Legal And Business Structure For Your Film Project: Getting Started The Right Way
Toronto continues a very successful series of panels with filmmakers, also on Wednesday - the Anatomy of a Reel series features the first 10 pages of the script of Excited, followed by the reel from the film, concluded with a Q and A and networking.
Anatomy Of A Reel - Excited
So Im thinking how far can one go with self promotion.
Have I used any of the 5 Myths of Self Promotion?
Can I tempt you to read
The Secret History Of The Raindance Fatwa [published tomorrow at noon]
So I asked Jane-Marie - one of our fabulous new interns, to whip up a useful resource guide, which she promptly did.
Enjoy Raindance's TV Writer's Resource Guide
Then I read Darren Aronofsky's Scripts.
And Im off to Brussels for Raindance's Writing Low Budget class Monday/Tuesday
Worried about the "Double-Dip"?
Don't worry! Recessions are actually great news for screenwriters and filmmakers!
Read: 5 Reasons Why Filmmakers Don't Fear The Double Dip Recession
I know how you feel - because I have done it myself countless times. Then awaited the response.
The entire Raindance team is watching movie after movie this fine summer weekend.
You can still submit your film to Raindance.
The No Excuses Submission Deadline is June 18th.
Hope to see your short, feature or documentary at Raindance
So in keeping with Raindance style, here’s 5 Things I Learned While Reading the Above Mentioned Book on a Very Long Transatlantic Flight.
The first is an article titled The 4 Habits of Successful Filmmakers.
The second is a unique problem solver. The ultimate way to shift the buck: I am definately going to hang this one on the office wall tomorrow.
Ho hum. Back to watching submissions for this year's Raindance Film Festival.
Went to see the Henry Moore exhibition at the Tate Gallery - OMG.
I used to work for him as one of 40+ technicians amany moons ago.
I've written a piece I call Lessons Filmmakers Can Learn From Sculptor Henry Moore
I'm still meeting tons of Cannes newbies who are making the same mistakes year after year.
Here's a list of lessons independent filmmakers can learn from Cannes Film Festival
Should you ever want to come to the Brussels Short Film Festival (and I highly reccommend it) there are 2 hidden secrets about Brussels that you should remember before you alight in this fascinating and dynamic city:
There are 2 thing that are virtually impossible to find: Cash Points, and toilets. Hilariously - at every party or soiree event I would be told on arrival what the toilet facilities. I was even drawn maps and shown arrows point o a variety of convenience points in private property and further. Once that detail was out of the way, parties are pretty much the same as elsewhere.
Why Brussels Short Film Festival?
There are 4 reasons filmmakers should attend film festivals
The World's Top 100 Festivals For Shorts
Raindance Film Festival
1) Be Brief
2) Stick to Concept
3) Make use of Pigeon-Holes
4) Keep it Original
Pixar is able to, time and again, craft compelling stories, which strike us in a very emotional and pure way and take us on a journey most other films don’t even come close to offering. The stories repeatedly appeal to both young and old and never seem to disappoint.
Whether you are working in the same league as Pixar or on an independent level there are many things you can learn by studying Pixar’s craft.
Read a Pixar script!
We were discussing how filmmakers approach journalists, or not, when this journo launched into a tirade.
I made notes as fast as I could and then typed it up:
10 Ways Filmmakers Annoy Journalists.
- James Burbidge: 5 Things I learned about Film from Song Lyrics: Its a look at what a filmmaker must think when hearing meaningful songs on the radio and how those little memorable lyrics could fit in his next movie.
- Sarah Romeo: Music Rights: The costs and licenses needed to put a great song at the right moment of your movie. Includes some low-budget options.
- Charlie Burroughs: Top 10 Songs Performed by Music Characters: The best scenes where characters become artists and belt out the lyrics of famous songs.
Filmmaking as a career is difficult enough without having to constantly be looking over your shoulder to see what others are saying about you on the internet.
There is no escape from the internet and what people say about you. A filmmaker's online reputation is fast becoming almost as important as the films themselves. Another factor frequently overlooked by filmmakers is that the internet and social media has become a powerful marketing tool. The nightmare scenario is that a negative comment about you or your film will spread through search engines and social media sites like wildfire. Managing your online reputation correctly will enable you to take control of your reputation yourself. You can never erase negative feedback or comments. It's about creating, maintaining and managing the reputation you want people to have of you.
Step 1 Read the advice
Full details and photo
1. Write action, not description
Don’t think of writing description, think of writing action – movement. Describing an inanimate object is boring to write and boring to read. And especially boring to the reader with the chequebook!
Remember, your job is to inspire the entire cast and crew. One of the key people on the crew who has to visualize your script is the Production Designer. It is the Production Designer’s job to create the actual sets you have described. Sometimes the log line of the scene will do it:
INT: RAINDANCE OFFICE – DAY
Aside: Most screenplays are static and the scenes do not flow. Writing movement into a scene makes your script more interesting to read, immediately distinguishing it from ninety-fine percent of all the other screenplays in circulation.
From this simple line, the Production Designer will know to create a room with desks, telephones, and computers. The Props master will add further details, like the clutter and knick-knacks. Here is where you, as a writer with the biblical quote, can use your creativity to inspire.
It is not your job to describe the clutter, the furniture, and knick-knacks, unless required by the plot.
If the slug line says INT: RAINDANCE OFFICE – DAY the reader will imagine desks and office furniture. You do not need to mention them.
If the slug line doesn’t convey all of the information necessary, then you need to add some simple description.
INT: RAINDANCE OFFICE - DAY.
A puddle of water is growing in the middle of the floor.
Now we have some important information we need about start to get a more detailed picture of the set, but it is still openambiguous enough to allow for the collaboration of the Production Designer and Props Master.
Once you have all the necessary description of the scene, you move on to action. You are still writing description, but you are creating pictures with movement in them – your characters and objects moving in their world. By creating movement you will also enable the reader to visualise the scene. GettingAchieving visualization in your reader to visualise will enable himthem to seewatch your movie playing in his head.
You aren’t describing things, you are describing things happening. When we use our words to paint pictures, we are painting moving pictures – and that is interesting to a reader. Which means that you have a better chance of selling your script.
Hint: Action is the element between patches of dialogue.
2. Attention to details
There are times when INT: RAINDANCE – DAY is too general and tic. The reader needs additional information. The trick is not to bore the reader by completely describing the setting. This could lead you to an overwritten scene – one of the fatal flaws of scene writing (see overwriting below). Instead, find the one (or two) details that give us clues, and let the reader’s imagination fill in the rest.
INT: RAINDANCE OFFICE – DAY
Files and half empty coffee cups litter the room.
INT: RAINDANCE OFFICE – DAY
A lonely paperclip partners a vase of flowers on the boardroom table.
These are two very different offices. How is the first office different from the second? Imagine yourself as a Production Designer. What sort of table lamp would you use in the first place? How would that differ from a lamp in the second office? The carpet is different, the curtains are different, the pictures thumb- tacked to the wall in the first are very different from the lithos and expensively framed posters in the second.
Hint: Carefully select a detail which implies other details. Try to distil the entire situation. Then you can also sum up an entire room in one short sentence whilech giving clues to also explains character as well. Notice how there are two very different Elliot’s n the following two scenes.
3. Paint movement
If you describe people and objects as moving pictures, you can hide the descriptive passages within the action and, within the movement.
Instead of a boring, static still life, you give the reader the excitement of action. You can hide the description within the action.
INT: RAINDANCE OFFICE – DAY
ELLIOT slumps amongst the cluttered files and trash.
The reader is focusing on Elliot, and doesn’t even notice that you wroite the description of the office. No static words in this scene – just movement.
Hint: Good descriptive writing does three things at once: – it shows things happening, describes the location, and illuminates character.
4. High school English
Readers in the industry are accustomed to an easy read. The language used is of the same level as in a high school English essay. Avoid complicated words and convoluted descriptive passages.
5. Maximize your vocabulary
The key to economical and dynamic writing is word choice.
During your first draft, you may write a dozen words to explain a situation. Later, you may hone it down to one or two words that explain exactly what you mean. You have hit two birds with one stone: – you create quick, easy-to-read sentences coupled with greater impact than your puffed-out original.
6. Avoid wimpy verbs
Elliot walks into the room.
Walks is not specific. Walks is too general. How many words can you think of for the word walk? Does Elliot limp in, stride in, jump in, sneak in, jog in, slide in?
If Elliot saunters in, strides in, struts in, strolls in, marches in, paces in, or bounces in, not only does this give us a specific type of walk, but adds to the action and character while removing clichéd words from your script.
7. Classified ad
Screenwriting is a very pared down and sparse art form. The challenge for a writer is to create the greatest possible impact with the fewest possible words. A novelist can spend pages and chapters describing the minutest of details. A screenwriter has just ninety to one hundred and twenty pages to get a complete story across.
Hint: Economy is the creative challenge.
Economy is not only the most important part of a screenwriter’s job, it is the most difficult to learn.
How do you learn lean, compact and dynamic writing?
One of my tasks at Raindance is to write copy for the various ads we use to promote the film festival. As you know, newspapers charge by the word. A good trick when you start to write a scene is to imagine that you are writing a classified ad for a newspaper, and that you only have a limited budget – say $10. This particular newspaper charges 0.75 per word. Try to see if you can describe the scene and leave yourself enough change to buy yourself a coffee! While writing or rewriting, I will take apart every single sentence and try to find a bolder, fresher, quicker way of saying the same thing. In a first draft, I might have six or seven words that end up being replaced by one. I try to recognize every time I have used unnecessary words or am beating around the bush. You will learn how to get directly to the point.
Try to write the scene description like you are writing a classified ad.
Hint: Scene writing is like writing a haiku where you have a very limited number of words. Try to use words that imply other words.
8. Find the emotion
Don’t describe how something looks, but how it feels. The Production Designer will decide how the set looks, the Casting Director decides on how each character will look.
The writer describes the attitude of the scene, the feel, and the emotion.
One of my favourite writers, William C. Martell, writes dynamic description filled that seeps with emotional resonance. Consider the opening of Hard Return:
EXT: URBAN JUNGLE, 2019 AD – EVENING
The wreckage of civilization. Crumbled buildings, burned out cars, streets pockmarked by war. Downed power lines arc and spark on the street.
This place makes Hell look like Beverly Hills…
Except the battered twisted metal sign reads BEVERLY HILLS.
Night is falling. Fingers of shadow reaching out to grab anyone foolish enough to be in this part of town.
The only time the future is mentioned is in the slug line. Every other word in this scene describes how the future, this scene, feels: frightening, ugly, and dangerous.
Did theyour skin on the back of your head crawl when you read this? Did you get a visual image of the scene? If you were the Production Designer, how many different possibilities would you have in order to recreate this scene?
Suppose you were an actor who had to walk down the street? How would you do it?
To make it as a screenwriter, one needs to become genre specific: to specialise in horror or thriller is better than being a master of drama.
Drama is considered too general a description. Better yet, successful screenwriters specialise in a mix of genres. For example, Edgar Wright (Shawn of the Dead) is a master of comedy and horror. Richard Curtis (Notting Hill, Love Actually, Bean) as a master of comedy combined with the love genre.
What these writers have done is created awareness of their specific skills, which enables producers to say "Who can we get to write this rom-com-zom?" Of course Edgar Wright's name will pop up because he is now known to be a master of that particular genre-blend.
As writers use genre, so too all filmmakers need to use the tool of genre to distinguish themselves from their competitors. Where writers have the 10 key dramatic genres to help them get noticed, filmmakers have no such help - were the use of personal genre becomes paramount.
Our life is the era of personal genre.
Everyone is competing to get work, and before you are hired, employers want to know what 'story' you are. What you are and how you use it will determine what jobs you get, who you develop relationships with, both personal and professional.
As screenwriters use genres to distinguish themselves, your personal genre is what will set you apart from everyone else.
Many of the filmmakers I work with get jammed on this point and worry that they need to develop a personal genre. It is very easy to overthink this key point.
The fact is, you are your own unique personal genre, And because your genre is you, it is as unique as possible. You don't need to worry about genre blends or style - because you already are one.
The trick is to look at your core DNA and decide as a filmmaker - be it writer, director, producer, actor, cinematographer, editor, designer - and decide what is truly you. You then need to strip this message back to basics and learn to communicate your genre clearly.
Co-incidentally, the steps you take to communicate your personal genre to the outside world are very similar to the steps taken by marketeers and advertising companies seeking to communicate so-called brand values.
The 10 Steps To Creating Personal Genre
Resonance is that deep inner satisfaction you get when you know you have made the right decision. Get it crystal clear that what you are doing resonates with who you are. Once you are clear, and have 'resonance' you will work with a passion that with send a huge 'filmmaker genre' signal out ahead of everywhere you go.
To read the rest of 10 Tips to Creating A Personal Genre
There's a reason Christopher Walken would take a tiny 3 minute cameo in Pulp Fiction as, Captain Koons, a man who stuck a family heirloom (a gold watch) up his rectum for two years saving it for his fallen soldier's son one day. It's because Quentin Tarantino created what Josh Golding calls a "character to die for". Even though the role was small the scene and dialogue is so enticing that even a big name like Walken couldn't pass it up. The final result was a minor role in the large scheme of the entire movie performing one of the most memorable monologues in the movie.
Here is the monologue Golding is referring to: read it or watch it below.
Also make sure to check out the entire Raindance indie tip,
Characters To Die For.
Film bites -
- Did you know in the original script Speed Racer was Tarantino's first choice for cartoons to be watched by the little boy. Some sort of Speed Racer fetish because later Tarantino's character is wearing a Speed Racer T-shirt.
- I was in Wal-Mart looking for a copy of Cloverfield to buy last Sunday and I saw a alternative cover of Pulp Fiction with Christopher Walken among other characters on it.
- More about small roles in my free Raindance Indie Tip: Character you love to love
I do believe that as a filmmaker, and as an artistic entrepreneur, that he has had truly one amazing career.
I've put all of his screenplay PDF's together in one convenient place. Why don't you go over and grab them before some lawyer sends me a take-down letter?
And judge for yourself.
The Tim Burton Suite
In this film blog piece Indie filmmaker Todd Miro has spotted possibly the weirdest new trends in Hollywood films. Its the absence of many of our favorite colors and the dominance of TEAL and ORANGE. I'll grab one of his examples in the picture below of the new movie Hot Tub Time Machine. Read his entire rant here.
A must for Film tweeting fanatics -
FollowFriday is a crowd sourced recommendation engine for Twitter followers. The theory is that you would rather follow someone who has a recommendation, than following random people. Hash tags #FollowFriday were added to make the phrase more searchable on Twitter.com.
Rather than fill your Twitter account full of Fweets with loadsa names, we thought we would describe the people we recommend - hopefully making
the #FollowFriday, or #FF tradition a little saner and easier to follow.
See the list of Twitter accounts from film fanatics, parties, screenwriters, shorts and more.
Ever wonder why some people get sick after a 3D feature? Are Hollywood's newest mega-blockbuster killing you slowly? See how the body breaks down these feature length films in the article, Hollywood is Trying to Kill Us.
Avoid the 8 Mistakes Filmmakers Make That Kills Their Careers.
Last year's premiere film titled, "Home" is shot from the air over 54 countries for two years. Its goal is to give viewers a different kind of perspective of the harm humans can induce on the world. Here is the trailer of the festival.
Learn how to make a movie as a producer on a lo-to-no budget.
This quick piece highlights just some of the areas money can be pinched and still produce a quality film. Raindance Film Festival website is full of tips just like this one.
Here are 10 things you must know to be a great producer:
1. When listening to a pitch, focus on the probable structural problems embedded in the story idea. Every idea comes with them. You want to figure out now if they are solvable or not.
2. No matter how good an idea sounds at first, it will inevitably have elements that are predictable and generic. Ask yourself: What are some of the possibilities of this idea? Where can we take this that is more ambitious and hasn’t been done before?
3. Most story ideas, especially “high concept” ones, produce only two or three great scenes. You have to know how to help the writer extend the idea to a feature length script. That requires focusing on the opposition and the central moral problem embedded in the story idea.
4. Most of the time, the second draft is worse than the first. That’s because writers and producers don’t know that rewriting and development are a unique set of skills that must be learned, just like character, plot and dialogue. And the most important of this set of skills is knowing the proper order for development.
5. Good script development is all about fixing the structure and not the surface of the script. Dialogue is the surface. Deal with that only at the very end. Often it will fix itself as you work with the writer on getting the structure right. There are many elements involved in fixing story structure. But the most important is to make sure the main character drives the plot.
5 More attributes of a great producer
For the interview: Fear Net, by Joseph McCabe
Interview w/ Scorsese at Berlin also ft. DiCaprio and Sir Ben Kingsley:
Keep up with the Raindance Team now in Berlin at Raindance_Fest
Loglines are tricky things – distilling 120 pages of script into one sentence and imbuing it with the power to summarise, titillate and intrigue is a surprisingly difficult task. As a writer it can be hard to develop a good logline because you are invested equally in each part of your work – identifying the crucial story elements and leaving everything else out feels like you aren’t doing your script justice. But remember, a good logline is crucial to selling your script; in a covering letter, in a pitch, in the 30second window you have with an executive when you accidentally meet on the Great Wall of China. That being the case it is vital that you develop a good logline for your magnum opus, something with sizzle and pop, but also, crucially, something that tells the audience what the script is about.
Firstly – what is a logline?
The answers are linked in the description or quote.
...Ah, you'll lick this picture business,
believe me. You've got a head on you
shoulders. What is it they say? Where
there's a head, there's a hope?
Where there's life there's hope.
Excited, he counts out a bundle of bills and tosses it onto the back seat.
He starts to take the rag away from his chin but the layer pressed against his face sticks, its loose weave bound to his skin by clotted blood.
He pulls very gently and winces as blood starts to flow again.
He carefully tears the rag in half so that only a bit of it remains adhering to his jaw.
It's all a goddamn fake. Like Lenin
said, look for the person who will benefit.
And you will, uh, you know, you'll,
uh, you know what I'm trying to say--
I am the Walrus.
That Fucking bitch!
I am the Walrus.
Shut the fuck up, Donny! V.I. Lenin!
Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov!
EXT. FACING ROOF
We are looking through the telescopic sight of a high-powered rifle. The rifle sweeps up from BLANK'S body across the brightly lit room, and centers BLANK, still staring at the window, in the cross hairs.
Can you still make movies with hardly any cash?
Of course you can, bit it's a whole lot easier if you observe some basic simple rules, which I call, with a bit of arrogance, the 10 Commandments of Low Budget Independent Film
Learn more about the classic movie and its soundtrack.
The beauty of filmmaking today is that these elements can be put together relatively inexpensively, and with a small capital investment of money, and a great deal of time and passion, you could be on the road to a filmmaking career in no time flat.
Check out the 10 Things A Filmmaker Needs Every Day
Nothing sets the mood quite like music. Your film’s soundtrack can make or break the tone of your story, but acquiring the actual songs can be a daunting task. Read on for the ‘need to know’ in buying your movie’s tunes!
What Licences Do I Need?
If you have some tracks in mind for your film, the first step is to contact the music’s publisher—most singers and songwriters have little control over their own music, but their publishers will own almost all the rights. The best way to find out a publisher’s information is to look up the song you want on a site like Amazon, find the record label name, and find the appropriate contact information on the record label’s website.
Once in talks with the publisher, you’ll find out the different licenses you need to acquire. These licenses have different names depending on who you’re dealing with and where you’re making the deal.
Purchasing music rights in the UK or the US, you’ll usually need two licenses:
1) Publishing License - This one is from the publishers, or whoever holds the copyright to a pre-recorded composition. It gives you the right to synchronize a piece of music with your visual image. Some companies also refer to this is as a Synchronization License.
2) Recording License - by the person or persons who OWNS THE RECORDING. In many cases, actually frequently, this is a record label or recording major such as Sony, Warners, Universal, EMI, etc. To approach the Composer would be quite wrong unless the recording was an indy that the Composer had made themselves. However, for most commercially available music, it is a record label or recording company major that you are dealing with.
Some companies also refer to this as a Master Use License.
MUCH MORE TO LEARN FROM ROMEO