BIG STARS WON'T SELL YOUR GENRE MOVIE
And even if you DO have big stars in your indie movie? Distributors still won't pay for them. They'll offer you no higher a royalty than the other director who had a lower budget and no stars+. This is how it works.
Remember how Hollywood used to hue and cry over "Piracy" killing the movie market?* Remember when theaters used to run those idiot announcements, featuring some poor but sincere shmuck asking people not to pirate movies so he can keep working? "I just wanna keep working."
The joke there, and most of the audience knew it, was that Mr. Set Designer wasn't going to find work anyway because the Big Studio folks who made his PSA were shipping his job off to Budapest or Romania.
NO BIG STARS.
Jamie Lee Curtis became a name because of John Carpenter's HALLOWEEN. Hell, John Carpenter became a big name because of this movie.
"I would shoot in the Czech Republic over the States any day. There's no unions here, so the dollar goes a lot farther. You can film with kids without the same kind of strict regulations and hassles you get in the U.S."
- Eli Roth (CABIN FEVER, HOSTEL)
DVD sales are down as much as 25% for some studios. O' Whotta mystery! Do these benighted numbskulls not understand the correlation between lousy theater box-office and lousy DVD sales and rental?
Currently in production is a movie based on the game BATTLESHIP*. Battleship was and is a board game for kids. They could make a war movie, but no, they are making a movie based on a game where your ships remain static and you plug their holes with plastic. You think that's bad? They are making a View-Master movie. A freaking movie based on the View-Master^ toy! Watch for SLINKY: The Movie, next. Seriously. They think there is an audience for this? They can't see the difference in audience potential for View-Master and a toyline and popular long-running cartoon series like TRANSFORMERS? REALLY?
These days, the Horror Thriller model in Hollywood is to put out crap, made for cheap, and make profit on the low return. What they actually get in addition is audience disapproval. What they actually get are genre fans who distrust them. Genre fans distrust Dimension Films and are learning to distrust Lionsgate. The top executives at companies like Paramount, Lionsgate, Universal, and Disney, are losing their jobs over making such stupid decisions. The Weinstein Brothers are about to lose their own company for the second time in two years. And yet, they are being replaced by people who are following the same formula and wonder why it isn't working anymore.
It must be someone's fault. It can't possibly be Failure of ... the MEME!
THE EXPERTS ARE NOTICING
MAY 3, 2013
17 Things About The Film Biz That Should Significantly Influence Your Behavior
Ted Hope is an independent film Producer. His films have received some of the industry's most prestigious honors: THE SAVAGES (2007) earned two Academy Award nominations; 21 GRAMS (2003), two Academy Award nominations and five BAFTA nominations; and IN THE BEDROOM (2001), five Academy Award nominations. Ted holds a record at Sundance: three of his twenty-three Sundance entries (AMERICAN SPLENDOR (2003), THE BROTHERS MCMULLEN (1995), and WHAT HAPPENED WAS . . . (1994)) have won the Grand Jury Prize; no producer has won more. Two of his films, AMERICAN SPLENDOR (2003), and HAPPINESS (1998), have won the Critics Prize at the Cannes International Film Festival. Ted is currently the Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society.
Continued at NoFilmSchool.
JANUARY 7, 2013
7 Deadly Sins Of Self Distribution
Elliot Grove founded Raindance Film Festival in 1993, the British Independent Film Awards in 1998, and Raindance.TV in 2007. He has produced over 150 short films, and 5 feature films. He has written eight scripts, one of which is currently in pre-production. His first feature film, TABLE 5 was shot on 35mm and completed for a total of £278.38. He teaches writers and producers in the UK, Europe, Japan and America.
Continued at Raindance.
The Horror Thriller meme is over 40 years old. The Horror Thriller / SciFi meme says that your movie must have big stars. It was wrong when it was invented. Hitchcock proved it in the 1960s (in PSYCHO he killed off his big star first. The studio had a fit) and so did Stanley Kubrick with 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. Spielberg proved it in the 1970s (JAWS had zero big stars. They became big stars because of JAWS.) and so did Tobe Hooper with THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, George Lucas with Star Wars, Ridley Scott with ALIEN, Wes Craven with THE HILLS HAVE EYES, THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, William Friedkin with THE EXORCIST, John Carpenter with HALLOWEEN and so many more. Spielberg proved it again in the 1980s with POLTERGIEST, Craven with A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, John Landis with AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, Joe Dante with THE HOWLING, and so on.
It was proved still again in the 1990s with THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR, THE FACULTY, and so many others. By the 1990s, Steven Spielberg was so big his name could sell a movie, so he didn't care if he had big actor names or not (though JURASSIC PARK had no A-list actors at that time. Samuel L. Jackson became big because of JP and PULP FICTION). And if you want to talk about big budget features with big stars that tanked, oh man! SPHERE, THE HAUNTING, MIMIC, THE RELIC, END OF DAYS, the list is extensive.
Onward to the 2000s and hit movies starring nobodies like AMERICAN PSYCHO (Christian Bale became a star because of this movie), IDLE HANDS, GHOST SHIP, SAW, EQUILIBRIUM (Christian Bale again. Miramax tried to kill it, still a hit), FEAST (Miramax tried to kill it, still a hit), DESCENT, SPIDER-MAN (Sam Raimi wasn't A-list until this. Is Kirsten Dunst A-list yet?), 28 DAYS LATER, HOSTEL, RESIDENT EVIL (Milla Jovovich's first major starring role). And of course, there was - and is - a huge number of genre movies with big A-List actors that tanked utterly.
The meme and the reality, decade after decade, have never been compatible.
So put it to rest. And while you're doing that, put this other one to rest: Your genre movie must have SEX. Follow the link to find out why Sex Won't Sell Your Horror Movie.
HOLY CRAP DUDE!
YOU'RE GOING TO START A CHAINSAW WHILE HOLDING THE BUSINESS END OF THE CHAINSAW?
Two major factors will sell your genre movie to the fans.
One is someone and something they've never seen before (so if you're still dry-humping NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, ALIEN, or SAW, you lose).
Two is fan recognition. Genre fans are more apt to go to a movie made by a director, writer, or producer (Stan Lee, Peter Jackson, Joss Whedon, J.J. Abrams, even a freaking composer or SFX man), than they are for a star. Celebrities are pretty much on the bottom of the list unless they've really established themselves in the genre like Dee Wallace, Lance Henrickson, or Robert Englund.
Writer, Director, and Producer, Eli Roth understands this. When he made CABIN FEVER, he relied solely on audience appreciation of his movie. Once that was established, then he could sell his second movie, HOSTEL, featuring a bunch of nobodies (Eli understands that Big Stars won't sell your movie - although he still thinks sex will do it), and the fans plus more audience would turn out. With HOSTEL II, Eli discovered that there was such a thing as Over-hyping your movie. He didn't discover that right away. First he committed the fan taboo of promoting his movie TO Horror Thriller fans by saying,
"Right now the R rated horror film is in serious jeopardy. Studios feel the public doesn’t want them any more, and so they are only putting PG-13 films into production. The only way to counter this perception is to get out there and support R rated horror."
- Eli Roth
Eli Roth Says R-Rated Horror Films Are in “Serious Jeopardy”
Eli Roth Reacts Badly To Hostel II Failure; Says R-Rated Horror In Serious Jeopardy
From an audience's perspective, the only way to counter the studio perception that the public doesn't want R rated Horror movies, is to make Damn Good R rated Horror movies!
Horror Thriller fans don't give a god damn about R rated movies. What we want to see is horrifying, thrilling movies i.e., we want to be scared and entertained! If you are trying to promote your movie by raving on and on about your pissant "R" rating, which more often than not features a quick tit shot and someone dropping an F-bomb, big freaking hairy butthole deal! What fans want to support is not a stupid freaking rating, but a good Horror Thriller movie!~
*The Music and Movie industry is tied together and both are out of Hollywood. The two sleep with each other every night, so let's talk about music piracy.
Piracy didn't kill the music industry either, although the music industry needed killing and the Internet did it - but from a new business model that the old industry didn't forsee.
In the old days, musicians would take tapes and records they paid to have recorded and pressed, around to various clubs, selling their music out of the back of their car. That's the way M.C. Hammer did it and he wasn't the only one.
As hundreds of recording artists can attest, the Hollywood music industry was one big theft organization, stealing from the performer. When performers realized that they could make more money selling their music online via iTunes, Amazon, hell even MySpace, they stopped worrying about the mythical fat recording contract: The likes of breaking even once you were actually signed, was akin to winning the lottery. When Napster came onto the scene in the early 2000s and gave away free music that didn't belong to them, the recording industry was in an uproar, but very few recording artists said anything. In fact, besides Metallica#, Dr. Dre, Garth Brooks, Sarah McLachlan, Christina Aguilera, Blink-182, and Alanis Morissette, I can't think of any established recording artists who complained. Only the first four artists I mentioned were big at the time.
Metallica Lauds Napster Ruling
Now circle back to movies -
If You Don't Pay, You're Not A Distributor
For the last few years, many indie distributors, even semi-majors, won't pay a cent for your low-budget indie movie. They want it, they want to distribute it, they will only pay royalties, tie up your rights for the next 5 years (or indefinitely if you are that big a sucker), and insist on making all advertising (and even editing) decisions. Yet they won't actually pay the indie film maker.
The indie film maker already assumed 100% risk just by making and finishing the movie. The distributor tells the film maker that the movie is good enough that money can be made off of it. Of course, if the distributor REALLY believed they could make money from your movie, they'd pay you an advance. So why would a "distributor" want your movie for nothing?
They don't think they can sell enough of it. Let's assume your movie has hit a few film festivals, it's done well, truly the audience is there for it. Your distributor won't pay because either
A. They don't have the capital! They really aren't connected as they would have you believe. They may have contacts to Best Buy, Walmart, and the like, but they don't have an ACTUAL business relationship. In short, they've got nothing.
B. They want to pad out their catalog of titles. The more titles they have the more they have to offer the likes of
Blockbuster cable, Crackle, Dish, Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, etc. A large catalog, like a good resume, can help a distributor land a contract. But a large distributor catalog, like a good resume, does nothing for the people within it. Your previous jobs gain nothing by being on your resume. Indie film makers gain nothing by having their title on a list of titles. In fact, be careful of your distributor's contract, because they may even want to charge back (charge you) for appearing on their catalog, as if that was some form of advertising.
Having your movie appear as a title on a distributor's catalog does nothing for you and your movie, it only serves the distributor.
The marketing shift that came to the recording industry is now hitting the movie industry and its name isn't piracy.
I truly hope Universal and the rest get their shit together with this major re-organization. I'm logically skeptical, yet hopeful.
Seriously, who among us DOESN'T want to see good movies again?
What's the difference between Stars and Actors? Actors know how to Act.
Even Paris Hilton and Chloe Kardashian were/are nothing more than Stars.
Do you have the chance to have a "Star" in your movie? Check their track record over the past ten years and weigh thir hits against their misses. Then decide if their worth their price. If they won't work for SAG-AFTRA scale iin your short, webseries, or low budget indie, then they don't like your script.
Either get back to work on your script or find another actor.
And never change your script for someone who is merely a "Star".
Caveat: I'm not singling out Eli Roth for any venom. He isn't the only one who feels or works this way. In 2007, a copy of his movie HOSTEL II was stolen, put out on various pirate websites, and downloaded so much that some established movie critics felt they could review his, as yet unfinished movie.
Obviously this was frustrating and Eli couldn't shake the feeling that the poor performance of HOSTEL II was partially based on the pirate copies floating around.
Then again, none of the Set Designers and other union types who "just want to work." were affected one way or the other by the piracy of Eli's film. It only affected people at the top, like Eli.
There was more to HOSTEL II's failure than pirate copies, however, as most fans want to see a finished movie, often in theaters but at least finished. I can't think of any fans who would be satisfied to watch an unfinished workprint and leave it at that. So I can't believe that watching an unfinished print of his film would keep fans, particularly Roth's fans, away in any appreciable numbers.
"Hype can be the best thing in the world, but too much of it can kill you. There's this weird balance between getting people excited to see the film, and not wanting to over-hype it to the point where they can't enjoy it because they've been told it's so great. ... The other danger is that people get sick of you - fast, and I know people out there are tired of reading about me."
- Eli Roth
Eli Roth is only being used in the context of this article because of his statements and what happened to him (I have to base my opinion on facts, after all). Also, unlike many indie film makers, he is now big enough to take the hit (from someone as small as me) and it won't hurt him.
There was a tidal wave of bad press about Metallica over their lawsuit of Shawn & John Fanning's Napster. To be clear, Shawn & John had a business model set up so that Napster could make money by freely distributing songs that belonged to others without allowing that artist to share in the money that Napster made. That's theft.
"I understand where they're coming from, but at some point when they were getting started, they just wanted to get their music out there. The MP3 format is one easy way to do that,"
- Nick Henning, Indiana University freshman and self-described Napster user and Metallica fan.
Metallica never had a problem with being able to "get their music out there", The band even encouraged fans to record their live concerts and freely trade those recordings with each other. Throughout Metallica's history, live bootlegs were plentiful. Fans back then were never kept out of a Metallica concert for bringing in a recording device: Metallica believed in their getting music out to the fans. What they didn't belive in was some thief letting the band work for nothing and using their work to enrich themselves.
Getting back to recording contracts. Let's pretend that there are ethical recording companies with competent business models. Assuming a company or companies like this exist, No recording company is going to pay a band that doesn't have a paying audience. Nobody wants to spend money on something they can get for free. Napster users knew that, but didn't like thinking of themselves that way: they deluded themselves into thinking they were Enlightened and Progressive! And believe it or not, they did this by pretending to be insufferably stupid. And by that I mean SO damn stupid that even a mentally handicapped person would listen to them and say, "That's pretty damn stupid!"
To ignore the fact that they were theives, these thick-skulled dimwits would anthropomorphize things into living entities, chanting imbecilic things like "The music wants to be free!"
Really? The music has feelings and desires? Perhaps it also has arms and legs and wears a hat? No doubt it goes out at night and dances with Mr. Peanut or the Scrubbing Bubbles?
No, what happened was this: The recording industry was wrong. They overcharged for CDs (when multi-million dollar movies sell on tape and high-end DVD for much less than a multi-thousand dollar studio recording, something is big-time rotten) and performed charge-backs on artists - making the artist pay for CD pressing and packaging, advertising, and a host of other dubious "work" by the studio (which is why most artists stayed out of the Napster flack: what was the point?). The recording industry was ripping off most of its artists in the same way that Napster was. Both were wrong, mp3 was right. Mp3 or direct sales was REAL freedom for the recording artist. The music industry lost. Shawn Fanning lost. Musicians won.
Metallica catalog hits iTunes