7 Key Trends Filmmakers and Screenwriters Will Embrace In 2014

Way back in the good ole days when I started Raindance ('92 to be precise) we screened on 35mm, bought expensive ads in Timeout and printed and mailed thousands of leaflets.

We don't do any of that now. It's all changed, and many of the changes have happened very rapidly.

The biggest and most profound changes include
- the UK tax structures - currently the most beneficial to film producers anywhere
- transmedia and cross media storytelling
- changes to the internet

I wrote this out in quite a detailed article on the Raindance website. You can read 7 Key Trends Filmmakers and Screenwriters Embrace here

14 Trends Raindance's Filmmakers Will Track In 2014

Isn't it amazing how quickly time flies? Having waited a whole year for the 2013 British Independent film Awards, they have come and gone so quickly that it's as if they didn't happen.

In the Raindance office we joke that the Christmas season officially starts the day after the BIFAs. Looking ahead to the New Year there are a host of new innovations and big game changers that our fabulous intern, Tekle Baroti has put into a succinct and entertaining article so good that I wish I had thought of it.

Whatever your politics or creed, there are indeed 14 Trends Raindance Filmmakers Will follow In 2014

Are British Films Any Good

I hear all the time about how British films lose money, how independent filmmaking is dead, and that British films aren't half as good as the films made on the continent.

But is that true?

One thing that is certain: I and the entire Raindance Film Festival team will be glued to our seats at this Sunday's British Independent Film Awards. Why? Because we think British film is the toast of the continent right now.

For our filmmaking colleagues who couldn't get into the crammed and squashed event we are pleased to announce that the event is telecast from 7:30pm on Sunday December 8th.

Once the BIFAs are over, we are heading back to work sifting through the tons of submissions already arriving for the 22nd Raindance Film Festival.

The Revolution Won't Be Televised!

When this year's Raindance Film Festival launched Britain's first web fest 'way back in September 2013, film industry eyeballs rolled and rolled.

But the success of the webfest, both in terms of audience engagement and content proved to me at least that web series are here to stay. Then just this week Harvey Weinstein announced he was funding a TV series: Ten Commandments for television. Not exactly a web series, but a series that most in America will watch online courtesy of Netflix.

Then out of the blue comes a terrific summary of how and why the web series is going from internet consultant and online researcher, Jo Geaney.

Jo Favoured Raindance Film Festival for a couple months in the autumn of 2013. Read her engaging, informative and amusing article The Revolution Won't Be Televised: 4 Reasons The future Of Filmmaking Is Online.

Raindance has  several interesting events coming up:

Mike Fly's Wed Series Foundation Certificate starts in Toronto on Thursday January 14th. It's 5 nights from 6:30 - 9:30pm

In London, we have two events:
Tanya Laird's Digital Marketing and Cross Media Storytelling on the weekend of January 18/19 2014

And Create and Market Your Webseries on Saturday March 15th from 10:00 - 5pm

Don't miss these great events.

When Viral Marketing Goes Wrong

Sunday morning, December 1st, I was jolted out of my daydream by my sobbing Florida intern Shannon Hemmings breaking the news to me that her favourite actor had just died in a car crash. "Would I like her to write a tribute article for our website?" she asked.

Although I have never been a fan of The Fast & The Furious I did agree, because Shannon was so passionate about it.

At 1:30pm the article arrived, and I shoved it onto our website, sent out a tweet to the @Raindance and posted a short note on Facebook. I totally forgot about it until 7pm when I was doing a sneaky catchup on my emails and noticed that nearly 300 people were looking at the www.raindance.org website.

To cut a long story short, over 125,000 people read Shannon's article over the next 48 hours, crashing our site repeatedly and clogging our emails. All that traffic came from those two postings. I just looked at the page now and it's had over 13,000 Facebook likes. Wow.

While getting traffic to one's website is the goal of every internet marketeer, and an indie filmmaker's wet dream, this one has definately backfired in the busy busy run up to this weekend's British Independent Film Awards (we founded the BIFA's, remember?). Do I wish I had never agreed to this popst. Tyhe better part of three days now with no emails and only a partially operating website.

So, if you are A Paul Walker fan, please do NOT read Shannon's excellent tribute article:
In Memory of Paul Walker: 5 Things You Might Not Have Known. It will stop me from getting emails. And I need them urgently!

And if you want to see what the BIFAs are all about, and want to see James Nesbitt MC the show, you can catch it online, for FREE from 8pm on Sunday December 8th right here.

Film Content Envelopes

Film Content envelopes

What? A film content envelope?

Here's what I mean.

Should you have a film on Youtube, you could go straight out and say "Click on this Youtube link" and hope that people would click on the link and go through to your movies. This is how most poeple try to get someone to look at their work.

There is another way, and that is to create a film content envelope. by that, I mean to create an article and embed the link within the article. You could, for example, write an article called "10 Best Docs Of The Year" and make sure that  your documentary is one of the ones listed.

Of course there is peril attached. Before you can successfully do this, you need to follow the 10 Commandments Of Film Content Envelopes

If Your Job Sucks, Make A Film Instead

I know you need to keep at the dull and boring day job - you've got a landlord, right? Well, according to the latest addition to the Raindance team, Rob Levanthall, there might be an alternative: make movies instead! Even if you don't go to film school.

Whay not take a few minutes out of your stressful day and read what Rob's suggestions are. They might make you laugh too, as well as inform.
Read: Your Job Sucks: Make A Film Instead!

Raindance Filmfestival 2013 Sizzle Reel

This year's festival is nearly a month away - and fading from memory quicker than a handover. I was given this sizzle reel by filmmaker James Arden and it's brought back fresh memories of the 21st Festival this afternoon - and pleasant they are.

I hope you have a spare 63 seconds to watch the 2013 Raindance Film Festival Sizzle Reel, and even better to be the first to comment on YouTube.

Raising Film Dough? 3 Ways To Derisk Your Film's Finance

With the 21st Raindance film Festival done and dusted, and with record breaking crowds and an astonishing 600 filmmakers from 5 continent attending, we learned a lot about filmmaking - often by just hanging out in the lobby of the swanky VUE Piccadilly Cinema.

What were most filmmakers talking about? From Carlos Cuaron (yes the bro of the Famous One) to film producer Julian Assange (yes That One) to filmmakers attending Britain's first Web Fest, the question always was (and is): Where's the movie money.

It get's a whole lot easier to raise money if you can offer potential investors some ways to protect the downside.

Here's a bunch of ways you can de-risk your film's finance:

If I Was Looking for film Work, I'd ...

When I started out in the film business I didn't have any training, I had no film school background and I hadn't been to university. I painted sets for nine years in Toronto, and I was a runner at the BBC here in London for two years during the last year of Monty Python.

But what if I was trying to break in now? What are the 3 most useful jobs, the 3 hardest crew members to crew in today's digital age?

Read my article: The 3 Key Jobs No One Can Fill

Theatrical is Dead - Long Live Theatrical

lets Make Movey From Self Distribution Of Movies
Jon Reiss is filmmaker (Bomb It, Better Living Through Circuitry), , author (Think Outside the Box Office) and media strategist who works with filmmakers, companies and organizations to help them utilize the most recent techniques of direct film distribution and audience engagement. It was Jon who coined the acronym PMD: Producer of Marketing and Distribution – a term widely used for this new key film industry job.

I have met Jon Reis, author, filmmaker, entrepreneur several times and admire his work. He has carved himself a niche as the go-to person for advice on ‘self distribution’ – a term he and I agree is derogatory. Better to call it distribution. But distribution handled by the filmmakers themselves.

Jon’s current crowdfunding film campaign has just ended successfully. He has written a series of wonderful articles about how filmmakers make money in movies in an age of abundance.

In Theatrical is Dead – Long Live Theatrical, Jon goes through 9 different ideas and techniques to create live events which he sees (as do I) the way forward in 'self distribution.

Filmmakers Stay Cool In Heatwaves - 10 Ways

I have grown to hate the hot weather here in London. A week on consecutive 30+ degree days is enough to make one's blood literally boil.

So here I am - the founder of Europe's largest and oldest film festival, the biggest independent film festival in London - sweating like a circus act.

the it dawned on me - Independent filmmakers stay cool! They are cool!

read 10 Reasons Independent Filmmakers Are Cool

What Filmmakers Can Learn From Tour De France Cyclists

Believe it or not there are 4 important things that filmmakers can learn from the professional cyclists running in this week's Tour de France!

Read them here: Four Things Filmmakers Can Learn From the Tour de France Cyclists

Why I Get Up In The Morning

I am really lucky - I love what I do, and I am always meeting the most wonderful and talented people you could hope to meet.

Every once in a while I am forced to sit down and put some of my thoughts to paper - something I have come to dread. And tonight is no different in that respect - it's a deadline for the rewrite of my Lo To No Budget filmmaking book - a book written 11 years ago now!

Go figure! I had to write a reason of where I think filmmaking is going, and how little ole me (and you) fit in.

Want to read what I came up with? Read My Filmmaker's Manefesto.

7 Simple Ways Filmmakers Can Impress

In the near month since I have returned from the Cannes Film Festival I have wrapped the shoot of Love.Honour.Obey, marked Raindance postgraduate film degree papers, and nearly finished the rewrite of the Lo To No Budget Filmmaking book I wrote ten years ago.

It hit me this damp and cold London June Sunday afternoon that there are some pretty basic ways that filmmakers can make themselves look really good (even if they aren't).

I'm not entirely sure what prompted this thought, or what chain of events conspired to drop this idea into my head.
But here it is:
7 Simple Ways That Filmmakers Can Impress

Cannes Film Festival Kicks Off

On Tuesday about 4pm I get a call from a researcher from the BBC and responded to a series of questions about the relevance of festivals and Cannes in particular. of course i told her that Cannes is by far the largest of the festivals and that the larger breakout festivals like Raindance help filmmakers find distribution. I told her that of the 101 features at Raindance last year, 43 managed to get some form of distribution as a result of their screening at our festival.

She asked me to wait for a minute 9it was five minutes in fact) and then came back to ask if I would be available and willing to go to the Beeb (Auntie as she is affectionately known by Brits) to answer the questions on air.

Being the media groupie I am, I agreed and the next morning showed up at the lavish BBC Centre in Portland Place, duly had makeup and all and was led to a TV studio deep in Aunties bowels.

And then I waited. having been told we had a 8 minute slot, there was something called "Breaking News". Seems like France had just announced that they were in recession. Presenter Aaron Heslehurst kept shouting to the control booth "How long is this report?". we finally got on air for just over 90 seconds. You can see the interview here!

10 Questions About Sales And Marketing Filmmakers Need To Answer

In the run up to the film festival I notice the same questions from filmmakers arising time and time again. And the most repeated questions are the ones that one would think could be easily answered: They deal with digital rights, film sales and distribution.

I thought I would put together a little check list, and my advice and answers in tehehope that it will help you out the next time you are cornered by an investor or by a grumpy festival programmer like me!
Read: 10 Questions Filmakers Should Know About Rights Managements And distribution

3 New Rules Of Film Publicity

In the good old days, ie: before 2007, one wrote a press release and then had it distributed to newspaper and magazine editors. After the press release was faxed, or even snail-mailed, one anxiously chewed one's finger nail, and maybe even telephoned a follow up call to see if there was any hope of your press release being included in the publication you were pursuing.

Now of course, the social media brats with their new-fangled ways of reaching audiences have changed the rules of film publicity. Changed beyond recognition I might ask.
want to know more?

Read: 3 New Rues Of Film Publicity

Big Film Marketing Ideas For Filmmakers With No Bucks

These days everything costs money. I was at a film seminar the other day where an independent filmmaker with a £30,000 ($45,000) budget film was being told they needed to spend that much again on marketing.

True, but what if your name isn't Mr Big Bucks and you still need to get your film out there?

I put together some ideas: 16 Big Marketing Ideas for Filmmakers On A Budget

8 Deadly Mistake Filmmakers Make That Kills Their Careers

As your filmmaking career starts to grow, it’s crucial that your actions don’t strangle it in its infancy.

By avoiding the mistakes that so many filmmakers make you have a far greater chance of succeeding well beyond the first 2 years of the launch date of your career.

I should know: I have made each of these mistakes myself!

Read: http://www.raindance.org/8-mistakes-filmmakers-make-that-kill-their-careers/

I Meet The Queen

The Queen invited me, George Lucas, Christopher Nolan, Eric Fellner, David Hare, Tessa Ross, Rebecca O’Brien, Tom Hooper, Col Needham, Leslie Phillips, Derek Malcom, Idris Elba, Edgar Wright, Minnie Driver, Helena Bonham Carter and 284 of her best movie friends to Windsor Castle for a special celebration of the British film industry last night. Here's pictorial proof of me shaking the Queen's hand.

Kenneth Branagh presented her with a special BAFTA for supporting British film over the 50-year span of her reign. Kenneth Branagh told the crowd that due to her Olympic triumph the sovereign had already been sent many scripts. “Not all of them are fully funded,” Sir Kenneth said, “but with Your Majesty attached, they would be bound to get funding.”

Astonishingly the Queen and Prince Philip mingled with the crowd. I saw Prince Philip wandering along with a glass of wine and went over to him and thanked him for the evening and had a totally lucid conversation with him. Despite rumours to the contrary he is totally 100% there. Total respect.
Other members of the royal family appeared: the Duke of York; the Countess of Wessex; and Prince Michael of Kent.

The stories could go on and on.

My favourite moment was near the end when Derek Malcolm came over to me and told me wasn’t going to take the train back to London – could I find him a ride. By then I sort of knew who had driven and who hadn’t. The only person who was driving to Derek’s part of London was Helena Bonham Carter, and the two waltzed out arm in arm as the lights dimmed.
A happy and personally rewarding night.

Social Media For The Complete, Utter and Utter Beginner

Are you one of the independent filmmakers I know who hate and despise social media? Guess what? This isn't the want to succeed in today's world.

If you want an IMDB listing, or if you want to attract cast and crew, social media is the to go.

What if you want to crowdfund and get some money, you will need to get really really good at social media too.

Why not take a few minutes out and see if you are aware of the basics.

read: Social Media For The Complete, Utter and Utter Beginner

Attn: Star F*ckers: Robert Rodriguez Sells Out To Blackberry

The British film types, Shooting People and Little White Lies have been touting Robert Rodriguez's Project Green Screen as "This is an ultimate collaboration opportunity that gives YOU the chance to star, cameo or design elements of the finished film, from March 18th – April 17th"

Looking at the competition and the links and the structure of the competition I can only surmise that my mates at LWL and SP have sold out big time to Rodriguez, whom it appears has sold out big time to Blackberry in return.

I can't see any benefit to a filmmaker in getting involved in this competition, other than the self gratification of star fucking. Having run a great number of competitions myself here at Raindance (our first was with Nokia Shorts in 2003) I had to learn how to provide benefit to competition entries.

Unlike Rodriguez's competition, we never insisted that we, the competition organisers got 100% of the intellectual rights to the submissions. Never mind that the design of the Blackberry competition is meaningless, to ask for 100% ownership of the submissions is ego mania gone way too far.

Lesson learned: read the T's & C's before you submit.

I'd love to know your opinion on this: Email me.

Social Media Capitalism For Filmmakers

Since I started Raindance in 1992 there has been a seismic shift in how the industry works. Until a few years ago, I thought the digital filmmaking revolution only affected production. but no, distribution is how at the epicentre of a perfect storm that threatens to obliterate film distribution as we know it.

Some my find this disturbing and refuse to acknowledge this change with blinkered eyes. Others will embrace it and see this change as the perfect opportunity to carve a profitable niche for themselves and their careers.

The only way to really make this owrk is for filmmakers to think of themselves as capitalists.

Oscar Vs Oscar

There has been a lot of debate as to whether or not this year's Oscar films are better (or worse) than last year's batch.

Wer thought we would assign this interesting question to one of our fabulous interns - the American John Leahey, and he has come up with some scientific evidence that might just make you think.

Read Oscar vs Oscar

So You Want To Be An Actor?

Lianne Silano is one of our fabulous interns and is also an actress-in-waiting. She has really impressed the Raindance team with her hard work and willingness to accept some of the most boring tasks imaginable at Raindance - like emailing each and every inquiry for our popular Saturday Film School - 30 - 60 different emails a day.

Imagine my delight when she put together an article of the 10 main acting schools and built a new article on the Raindance Film Festival website. And all this from a passing comment that I couldn't really remember a few of the main acting schools.

Read her: So You Want To Be An Actor and get informed yourself.

7 Film Effects I Bet You Thought Were CGI

Believe it or not, ladies and germs, I am actually prepping my first feature in 6 years and one of the things I was worried about was whether to do practical effects or rely on CGI

I managed to convince Kelsey, one of our amazing interns to reesearch practical effects shots that everyone might assume were CGI and she has come up with some zingers - effects scenes that I didnt realise were real. And what is more, many of these smazing shots were conceived and directed by Raindance alumnus Christopher Nolan.

Have I got your attention now?

Don't thank me, thank Kelsey

Preparing For A Film Market

The European Film Market gets into full swing today. It's a great place to meet filmmakers, producers and financiers. It's also where you go to finance or sell your film.

How do you pay for all those coffees, to say nothing of the hotel and travel bills? And how do you prepare for a film market?

Read more here:
Preparing for A Film Market

3 Mistakes When Trying To Motivate a Micro Budget Film Crew

3 Mistakes When Trying To Motivate A Micro Budget Film Crew
Sometimes the criticism that I only teach filmmaking and don't actually do anything really stings. It's as if sifting through 4,000 festival submissions counts for naught. Or having 40% of the films we choose get snapped up for distribution. Anyway - enough of the moaning.

For the first time since 1997 I am about to embark on a micro-budget feature. I have made about 150 shorts since the last feature I produced in 2006 – but for this new one is really a back to basics 'home invasion movie'. I resisted another 'one room movie' for a long time because they are a dime a dozen. Having read and considered about 50 of these I have finally found one that will live up to the word "Raindance". More on that later - we are in the delicate casting process.

I was looking past my old notes and came up with some new ideas. Filmmakers trying to boost morale on no-budget shoots can easily destroy it altogether unless they avoid these 3 morale building mistakes:
Read: 3 Mistakes When Trying To Motivate a Micro Budget Film Crew

Steal My Movie Idea

I have been pretty silent the past fortnight - unusual for me. I was in Rome of the launch of Raindance Roma and on the 8th I am going to Berlin for their terrific festival and another Raindance party. It sounds glamourous but in fact it is very tiring - but fun!

My good friend in NYC Ronni Thomas has an interesting idea:

Since we are all pretty lazy and always bitch and complain how we thought of ideas first but were too lazy to execute them, why not just do what Steve Jobs, Bill GAtes and many other entrepreneurs do: just blatantly steal.

He then lists several hilarious movie ideas he would like you to stel - and I am serious:

Read: Steal My Movie Idea

5 Reasons The Recession Is Good For Filmmakers

Sarah Romeo
I know, you are thinking, not another attempt by Elliot to get people all gee-ed up!

Instead, let me introduce you to the bubbly Sarah Romeo, an ex-Raindance intern whose bright disposition and energy left a permanent mark on Raindance.

I was scrolling through the vaults and I found this article which made me smile, and which cheered me up on a bitterly cold January evening.

Take 60 seconds and read Sarah's 5 Ways Filmmakers Benefit From A Recession

16 Things Film Festivals Hate About Filmmakers

We are only 14 weeks into our 8 month call for submissions and DVD's are flowing in.

A quick rummage through the shelves of 2013 submissions reminded me of the 16 Things Film Festivals Hate About Filmmakers.

Some of the items on this list are so basic you'd wonder how anyone could, for example, not include their contact details.

Erm... Read and enjoy here:

How Rookie Filmmakers Get Work Without Experience

It was really painful for me to write this post.

I still get people saying to me: Show me your resume. Can I see what you have done. And this after over 30 years working in the industry.

Fortunately I have a body of work that can speak for itself. But what of the old conundrum: To get work you need experience. To get experience, you need work? Correct?

Young filmmakers, directors, screenwriters and actors have always faced this dilemma. And in today’s shrinking markets, established professionals like myself also face this on a daily basis. Whether it is to be laid off, or to be replaced by someone cheaper or simply made redundant by one of the new digital production technologies, older and younger film workers everywhere are constantly battling to make themselves marketable in a changing landscape.

My good friend Simon Hunter was waiting at his agents office in LA at the end of last year, when in walked Frank Durabont asking if there were any commercials going. Imagine that! An Oscar winning director of feature films trying to earn a bit from a lowly commercial.

Whether you are starting out, or whether you are established and trying to strengthen your position in the job market, you can get around the Catch 22 of work and experience by using some creative action and energy.

Anyway, here is How I Got Film Work Without Experience