This website represents true indie filmmaking.
The digital movies of the last decade promised to open up the avenues for indie filmmakers, but they haven't; because the discipline of 35mm filmmaking is gone and with it all that great know-how of making narrative films.
All the great writers of America -- Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Hemingway -- they all quit in frustration; nobody could translate their vision into moving images. The best filmmakers left Hollywood and moved to Europe, and now we have a new generation of filmmakers that don't know what film is. It's all digital now; it's a different form of visual arts; all the rules are out the window -- flash cuts, unjustified angles, fantasy and imagination displayed through the ability of digital manipulation. There's no rhyme or reason now in the portrayal of life.
Commercial cinema has now taken over the industry. Art is relegated to the film festivals. In the end, commercial interests and advertising are the ruination of entertainment.
If there is a ray of hope, it's in the comeback of Kodak and its continued manufacture of film stock. As long as there is film, there's hope for artists working in the 2D cinema and the big screen. Film is real; digital is virtual. Classical filmmaking is the medium of artists, it's like painting, sculpture, music and literature.
For me, if it's not on film, it didn't happen.
Dec. 17, 2013
Film is Back!
Long live film! Kodak will continue to manufacture film. The company restructured successfully and is out of chapter 11. The art of film is getting revived, as filmmakers are shooting film again.
Sept. 3, 2013
In order to maintain artistic integrity of their movies, filmmakers should be aware that originating with any other medium but film will result in loss of control. With digital, a series of editors take control of your project and make the kind of decisions that only the movie director used to make in the past. Too many people take over a production now with digital, and so the movies lose their artistic integrity. With the loss of film, the world of the movie director will come to an end. So if you still believe in the type of films you used to see in cinemas, stick with film and encourage everyone in the business of filmmaking to shoot film.
July 12, 2013
Soon the great majority of cinemas in the world will be screening only digital movies. At first this seems like a disaster for 35mm filmmaking, but for those of us who love the look of 35mm film and the art of telling stories with celluloid, we don't have to come up with four thousand prints in order to have a theatrical release. All we have to supply now is hard drives. We can still shoot 35mm, which is cheaper than shooting with professional digital cameras; but we don't have to compete with the major studios for making 35mm prints.
We are going to have the opportunity to create the most artistic films by sticking with film as a creation medium.
Feb. 12, 2013
The discipline of shooting 35mm film will always be the critical factor in judging the value of a motion picture film, as long as there are theaters and movie screens. Such filmmakers as D. W. Griffith, Sergei Eisenstein, Satyajit Ray, Akira Kurosawa, John Ford, Federico Fellini, Luis Bunuel, Alain Resnais, and Ingmar Bergman all practiced the art of making movies with a 35mm camera. It was an art form based on a set of photographic principles, directing actors and editing conventions that produced a unique form of entertainment and cultural experience for world audiences. Once 35mm film disappears the art of filmmaking is going to languish. There will only be mass audience movies that make the most money at the box office.
Dec. 18, 2012
The obsession with digital is affecting the true filmmakers' ability to produce great art. I visited the Cine Gear exhibit on Paramount Lot a few days ago. There were thousands of digital cameras and one lonely Panavision film camera. It was a crying shame.
What are they going to do with all these digital cameras? There are so many cameras and formats that there is no way for any discipline to grow out of all this redundancy. The end result is bound to be an avalanche of boring movies. The technology is destroying the ability of the artist to create unique art, and uniqueness is what art is about.
The only way to preserve one's sanity as an artist is to go back to film and shoot with a simple film camera. At least the films are going to be photographically consistent. We are used to seeing good photography in movies. That's common ground for audiences and filmmakers alike. And on top of it film is cheaper now, not just the cameras. Shooting an entire feature film with a film camera is now cheaper than buying one professional digital camera.
June 6, 2012
Originating on 35mm film protects the indie filmmaker against bootleggers. At first it could not be predicted that the digital technologies were going to destroy the distribution market for indie filmmakers, but now it is clear that it is impossible to protect a digital movie once it leaves your computer, no matter how cautious you may be. The major studios possess the technology to encode a digital production so it cannot be easily bootlegged; but even they do not always succeed. The best way to protect a movie, especially a feature film, is to shoot it on 35mm film and then release only low quality or small file digital samples of the work. That means no festivals and no submission of an HD version of the movie to anyone or anywhere. If somebody wants to distribute your movie, and they pay the agreed upon advance, then go ahead and give them lab release. Until then, there is no need to expose your project to theft. Obviously, major studios are not going to steal your movie; they are going to invest millions of dollars in marketing, so they are not the ones you have to worry about. This relates to those filmmakers who want to have a shot at a theatrical distribution someday and possibly end up with a library of films that amounts to something.
Jan. 29, 2012
The Longevity of Film: The technology is changing all the time; if you want your film to look like film and end up maybe getting a theatrical release, shoot film and save yourself thousands of dollars in plugins and digital color correcting. And in the process you may end up losing control of your own movie (somebody else is going to edit your movie, choose which shots to use -- having access to all the dailies, another person is going to decide what colors to use and the look of your movie is going to undergo the kind of transformation that you won't be able to recognize your own movie) -- it's like firing yourself as the creative force behind your own film.
For heaven's sake, shoot film and stay in control; you're the director, the driving force behind your vision. If you don't look out for your interests, who will?
Rawstock is your link for buying 35mm film stock, short ends and long ends. All film is tested and passes Kodak fresh film specs.
About some of my work:
About the articles: If you want to read more about my independent filmmaking philosophy, please visit my indie filmmaker's page. To read about rawstock or buy short ends, visit the Rawstock page. There is no telling how much longer we can make 35mm films; the technology is fast disappearing. In the near future there might be no film in existence or labs to process it. To read about my evolving world of independent filmmaking, read my essays on: Guerilla Filmmaking. Potential IPO - qualified investors only.
Farewell to Nothing
Digital filmmaking finally became the style of television movies. Digital editing equipment allows for infinite manipulation of images, fancy transitions and special effects. Film can now return to its classical beginnings as a unique art form, melding images and sound into one medium of expression.
Most television movies are now the vehicles for actors turned directors. Digital filmmaking is the perfect tool for these actors to do as many takes as they want, review their performance endlessly on the monitors during production and on multiple screens in digital editing bays. Sometimes it takes months before they're happy with their performances.
Before digital took over, it looked for a while that television was going to be the next medium for all movies. However, true filmmakers lucked out. Film can now be used for more artistic forms of storytelling, as it has been used in the past.
Although it is possible to shoot digital and transform the project into film, only movies originated on film have a cost effective way of being released theatrically. Shooting film to begin with allows for better results, and even 3D is easier to do than with digital cameras. Digital 3D cameras are still evolving; every six months these cameras become obsolete.
Moreover, Film will thus continue to be the medium of disciplined filmmakers.
June 20, 2011
35mm or digital, when to use what
Digital capture of images and sound has reached such a point of complexity that it should be considered a new medium altogether different from 35mm film production. It is true that filmmakers have managed to figure out how to imitate film to such a degree that it is hard for the audience to discern the difference once the movie is exhibited to them on TV screens, computer monitors, and even on theatrical screens; however, digital technology has very different characteristics which make it more suitable for a different form of audio visual presentation and artistic expression.
One thing for certain, digital technology will not last 100 years without a myriad of changes, unlike film which has remained the same for a 100 years. In fact, with digital capture, the cameras, recorders, playback machines -- everything associated with the technology -- will be obsolete within a decade or two.
It is silly to throw away millions of dollars on a production using digital cameras with which to imitate the look of film, when it is so much more practical to just shoot 35mm film. Many digital filmmakers are using shallow depth of field and other 35mm production techniques to make digital look like film. Shallow depth of field is useful mostly for close ups when the foreground is more important for the audience to focus on rather than the background. It is true that video cameras do not offer selective focus unless rigged with cinema lenses and adapters, yet digital filmmakers will shoot a whole movie using cinema lenses to make every shot look like it was shot on film. The expense and the inconvenience alone are not worth it, and the story does not gain anything by all these wasteful efforts.
Video technology is more suitable for a single camera operator going out to capture a story. Long depth of field, automatic focus and automatic aperture adjustment are all advantages of video in such situations. News stories for TV, documentaries, live performances, concerts, reality TV, Internet movies, and so on -- these should all be shot with digital cameras. However, multi million dollar productions with SAG actors should be shot in 35mm, where the artform is more developed, tried and proven, especially with millions of theater owners worldwide clamoring for 35mm movies.
Feb. 25, 2011
35mm filmmaking now costs less than digital
The speed of change in digital technology seriously impedes the ability of an independent filmmaker from buying the cameras and the editing equipment required for professional level work. Every few months the cameras and the formats change to the point that it's impossible for any individual from making a profit with their production. Even the post production houses can barely keep up with the technology. Many of them go bankrupt. No studio can afford to keep updating its equipment, so the only people making money are the manufacturing companies. The whole art of filmmaking is threatened and what remains for the indie filmmaker is to simply rent the cameras and the computers to do the job. The cost of making a theatrical movie with digital technology now far exceeds 35mm filmmaking and film completion.
Dec. 26, 2010
Bootleggers Attempt to Hijack the Entertainment Industry
Quality considerations aside, it is much easier to steal a filmmaker's work if it is generated on digital media. Once a project is in the hands of the editors, the producers that put up the money and the distributors who will repay the investments of the producers end up with the control of the movie. The filmmaker no longer has the control of the negative, because there is no negative. The 35mm negative film is therefore the essential element of the filmmaker's possession of his or her project. In the days when a filmmaker owned the negative, the distributors needed to get a written permission to access a movie's negative elements at the labs. The investors and the financiers, regardless of their credit on a movie as producers, had no control of the negative, this according to contract. They could not take out the negative from the lab or request masters; only the filmmaker had that authority, as only the filmmakers owned the movies outright. Today everything has changed as a result of the digital madness that we are experiencing as filmmakers. The filmmakers and the directors have lost control of their projects as soon as they are in production. This is why it is essential to return to film as the medium for generating movie projects. The filmmakers must never relinquish the possession of their negative elements. Any copies made for editing, therefore, should be of much less quality; just for the purposes of negative cutting and matching of the originals.
Once your movie is completed on 35mm, as filmmakers we need to ensure that our digital masters do not end up in the hands of the distributors without a substantial advance to cover the cost of production. This is to guarantee that the distributors do not file for bankruptcy and tie up the movie rights in the courts in perpetuity. Many filmmakers have lost all their investment and ownership of a movie once the masters are out of their hands, because the movie audiences have been brainwashed that digital is just as good as film.
Furthermore, with the advent of 3D many producers are even claiming that 3D is the best medium of production and exhibition. The art of the two-dimensional cinema is being swept aside without so much as a thought as to what constitutes visual art.
Moreover, it is essential for filmmakers to preserve the art of filmmaking by shooting film and finishing on film so digital does not wipe out 35mm film releasing for a few more generations. Right now the unions and the multinational conglomerates own the movie business. Filmmakers cannot even rent a theater and screen their movies anymore without getting a clearance from the American Motion Picture Association of America, the rating organization which is supposed to protect the public from obscene or violent movies, but which overcharges for the rating service to the point of many indie filmmakers being unable to screen their movies in 35mm -- most theaters demand a rating certificate in the US now before any movie can be shown. The projectionists union used to play this role in the past, but once the filmmakers sold their movies to a distributor and received some money, the distributors used to pay the fee for the union label. Now in addition to that the rating association must also attach their label before a movie can receive a wide release. So finally the studios and major conglomerates have again choked out the indie filmmakers from reaching their audience; but not if the filmmakers shoot on film and retain the ownership of their movies. There is still the foreign market and once the indie filmmakers can get enough money from the foreign market, they can pay the distribution fees and get their movies out. My advice to young filmmakers is: at no time should you as a filmmaker lose control of your negative elements. Use only professional and reputable labs for all your work.
Dec. 1, 2010
Exploitation of Indie Filmmakers
Many indie filmmakers are exploited by distributors and financiers who rip-off their movies and give them nothing back in return. The only reason some of these filmmakers get their movies into distribution is that they are either first time filmmakers or they are unaware of the way the scammers work. It is not the excellence or the artistic integrity of these movies that make them attractive to the rip-off artists; it is the exploitation potential of these movies. Therefore, the foreign market distributors and the financiers of these movies are always looking for horrible movies, the movies depicting horrors of life and death, erotic sex that skirts the boundaries of decency, and disgusting violence that falls within the realm of the corrupt. These are called "genre" films, because they are generically horrific, pornographic, and excessively violent.
It is not just that the indie filmmakers are being defrauded of everything they invest into these movies, it is also their hope of ever making it as legitimate filmmakers. Once they are dragged down into the abyss, most filmmakers can't get out of the hole. Some of these filmmakers become partners with these distributors and dig themselves into an even deeper hole.
With the technology of filmmaking having gone straight to digital for the sake of expediency and the monopolization of distribution, there is a new window of opportunity for the cinema artists to work in a revival of classic filmmaking using 35mm film as medium of both production and distribution. Even for digital release of movies and the Internet, 35mm generates better results in quality of image and cost of production.
Oct. 29, 2010
The Lessons of AVATAR
Regardless of the origination medium, the final output must be mastered to 35mm film for future preservation. This is in the case that the work is acceptable and of value. If a movie project fails utterly and is beyond salvage or is totally worthless, for whatever reason, then the digital media are more suitable and much easier to discard; a digital piece may be erased or written off without loss of further expenditures and without storage requirements. Also, if a piece is for training purposes and is obsolete within minutes of its recording, or if a work is for study purposes only that has no archival value whatsoever, digital is the best way to deal with the problem of accumulating unnecessary materials or records.
Therefore, for all artistic, legitimate or valuable productions, film is the only medium for mastering a movie or any filmed entertainment. There are some movies that require a myriad of special effects. These can often be produced only as digital productions, on account of their technical sophistication or the degree of creative manipulation or the morphing they require. Such movies like James Cameron's Avatar require so much digital technology that they would be too expensive to make using traditional Hollywood Industry techniques, and therefore only some of the scenes of AVATAR were shot in 35mm film. Those were the scenes that were live action involving actors, that were best photographed with film for best artistic results. The robots and the fake sets needed no special color tones to make them look human or to give them a natural skin texture; therefore, it would make no difference with what medium they were filmed, and here much time and expense were spared, to keep the budget within acceptable range.
Without millions of dollars committed to marketing in advance, there is no telling how any movie will do at the box office; therefore, even a movie like AVATAR, which has surpassed the 3 billion dollar mark in revenues, cannot be made without some risk.
However, when there is no risk involved, for artistic endeavors, such as works by established directors or experienced filmmakers, the only medium for the production of a major feature film is 35mm.
Aug. 29, 2010
Rediscovering 35mm filmmaking
It is best to stay with 35mm or rediscover it if you have been shooting digital for a while. Digital technology is going through a painful period as there are no standards for anything, cameras, editing or projection. Professional digital cameras are well over $100,000; anything under that they are prosumer cameras (in other words, amateur.) Digital editing equipment under $500,000 are again for the prosumer level of formats. Digital Projectors are over $500,000 each, and now with the addition of 3D Projectors and Satellite connected projectors, the whole field of theatrical screening is only for the multi-billion dollar movie industry. Indie Filmmakers are being squeezed out much more than the old 35mm industry days. In fact, the 35mm professional industry is now well within the reach of knowledgeable filmmakers. So stick with it or go back to it and save yourself; plus rediscover the brilliance of making movies in 35mm like the giants of the Golden Age of Cinema.
Aug. 5, 2010
The Naked Truth about Indie Filmmaking
As the digital formats proliferate, almost every new camera has its own technical specs and the non-linear-editing (NLE) systems are always scrambling to come up with new ingest presets to be able to capture and edit the never ending digital formats. With film nothing has changed from the beginning: 24 frames per second, whole organic transparencies that a filmmaker can see with the naked eye. What you see is what you get; you do not need a digital reader to analyze and play the images as 29.97 or 23.98 interlaced or progressive fields of video in varying sizes, squeezed and un-squeezed, raw or compressed.
The other major issue with digital movie production and the editing is that now with directors shooting hundreds of hours, the job of the digital editor is overwhelming; therefore, the editing team has grown now many fold: there is the supervising editor, the picture editor, the sound editor, the music editor, the CGI editor, the animation editor, the graphics editor, the titles editor, the colorist, the foreign language versions editor, the subtitles editor, etc. All these editors also have assistants. There are several stations and teams of editors that must converge on a single movie. What happens to the director's vision? Gone!
The new editors are now fighting for jobs, which they must farm out to teams of editors in order to meet a release schedule. Sometimes the producer or producers are in charge of assigning the movie to editors. The editors must work out between them the tasks of editing and completing a movie. Then there are the release formats and the lack of standardization in the digital projection systems. Most of these digital movies cannot be successfully released as 35mm, because the formats have been messed up from the beginning.
Then there is the problem of piracy once a movie is assigned to international editors or special effects houses. There are so many elements of the movie floating in cyberspace and soon around satellites that a movie is literally gone with the wind before the producer sees a dime. As for the director, he is long gone as well; the only recourse he or she have theoretically is suing everyone involved with the release of the movie, and in several countries possibly, and who has the time and resources to do that? So the problem is terminal. This is why major studios still shoot 35mm film and keep a movie in-house and under wraps until the movie has been released. Even then digital technologies are there to bootleg a movie; but at least the studios have had time to recoup their moneys in the first weekend or few weeks of theatrical release.
This is also why it is so hard for independent filmmakers who shoot digital to make any money with digitally originated and edited movies. Therefore, it is more important for indie filmmakers to originate on film and edit their own movies themselves or with the help of trusted editors, editors who know their place in the hierarchy of the filmmaking process, editors who respect the "director's vision", editors who do not take over a movie and change it according to their own artistic impulses. It is different if the editor is also the filmmaker, of course, or if the editor is the producer who finances the movie and asks a friend to direct the movie, in which case the director becomes just the man or woman who yells "action" and "cut."
Moreover, shooting 35mm film allows the filmmaker to work within the artform and discipline of making a professional movie, according to established Hollywood and world cinema standards, with respect to Coverage, Angles, Framing, Direction, and all the other technical and artistic requirements of making a standard movie.
Not everyone who grabs a digital camera and edits their movie on a home computer is a filmmaker -- even though some of these movie makers end up making millions with their first digital movie. However, digital camcorders and NLE systems are wonderful training grounds for future filmmakers and even for serious filmmakers experimenting with various facets of film production; but these are the exceptional uses for digital technologies.
Wholesome 35mm film is for professional artists and filmmakers. If you are shooting a movie for theatrical release, do not be tempted with the excitement of using a certain video format for the first time. Use the new cameras to experiment with; or, use them for auditions, rehearsals, behind the scenes footage, etc. Trust your feature films and major projects to the tried and proven technologies, such as Kodak, Panavision, Arriflex and others who have the technical know-how and resources to continue providing the film industry with the best equipment for film production.
July 13, 2010
The proliferation of non-linear editing (NLE) systems has led to a mass exodus of young filmmakers toward digital filmmaking. This trend, if allowed to continue unchecked, will go on until there are no 35mm film editors left, and with it will be gone also the art of 35mm filmmaking.
Digital editing systems such as Final Cut Pro (FCP), Adobe Premiere, Sony Vegas, and AVID were designed for creating a marketplace for video camcorders and the video production industry. Their ultimate goal was to facilitate the production of television programming and commercial videography; however, digital cameras and editing systems have now replaced practically all facets of film production.
In the beginning the introduction of digital camcorders was a useful tool in education. Classes, seminars and events could be easily recorded and presented to students and teachers alike. Digital cameras were also handed out by the manufacturers not only to schools but to children of inner city neighborhoods. There was no need to teach movie making anymore; simply reading a brief manual was sufficient. Most of the cheaper cameras were practically point and shoot.
What has happened now is that even professional artists are beginning to find these small camcorders useful in working more intuitively and creatively, and as a result they are increasingly bypassing expensive 35mm habits of the Hollywood film industry. On a limited basis this style of filmmaking would have no effect on the professional levels of 35mm feature film production; however, the digital camera industry needed to be fed, its appetite is now voracious. Instead of selling a thousand professional 35mm cameras a year, the digital video camera industry can now sell millions of camera per year. The amount of money to be made is overwhelming. Then, all that video needs to be edited, and so the NLE software has now become a big industry also. Furthermore, digital editors and digital post production houses are inundating the cities of the world with digitally created movies and programming. Not only television movies but also theatrical movies are now being created entirely with digital equipment and software.
So what started out as a convenient way of making documentaries and educational movies, television news and sports broadcasting, infomercials and commercials, vacation time and wedding videos, and so on, has now taken over and transformed filmmaking into an industrial form of videography that is gradually destroying the art of film.
It took one hundred years to develop the language of film: how to write screenplays, direct actors, photograph motion pictures, perform as screen actors, and edit movies as visual stories for audiences to enjoy. The film director and the movie star became icons of American culture. Now millions of people all over the world without education or training are producing movies and posting them on the Internet.
With so much free entertainment on the world wide web, American movie studios and the entertainment industry as a whole has gone into a protective phase: protecting their industry against bootleggers and illegal forms of competition. Thus it is more difficult for new people to enter the Hollywood film industry; but fortunately many film schools are going back to teaching 35mm filmmaking techniques of cinema. Although some tools are digital (such as video assist on cameras and NLE demonstrations), the best schools are teaching the art of classical 35mm filmmaking using 35mm cameras and 35mm film.
This website will encourage the art of 35mm filmmaking regardless of the encroachments of the video and digital industries.
June 24, 2010
There are many websites and user groups that are posting wrong information on the state of filmmaking and the realities of distribution. Some of them are simply pushing their own agendas and their advertisers' products, which is understandable; but the indie filmmakers need to know that digital image acquisition is not at a professional stage yet. Only 35mm production can insure that the films produced will have a worldwide marketing potential. Digital is great for post production and encoding DVDs and Blu-ray discs. Also digital is necessary for website video clips and Internet trailers. In the future digital image acquisition may reach a stage that it can be used for many types of movies, even theatrical; but for now digital cameras are not up to the task of covering anything but the experimental or heavy use of computer generated images, news, sports, and impromptu events or reality shows.
35mm film production provides for proper exhibition of movies in worldwide cinemas in widescreen 1:1.85 and Panavision 1:2.33 formats. Digital cameras are not properly configured yet; the technologies haven't been standardized.
Please click on the Rawstock link on this page and read about 35mm film stock for indie filmmaking.
June 5, 2010
From a legal-ownership perspective, the safest format to shoot is film. This posting showed up today in user groups: posted by Eugenia Loli-Queru on Sat 1st May 2010 22:17 UTC, "You see, there is something very important, that the vast majority of both consumers and video professionals don't know: ALL modern video cameras and camcorders that shoot in h.264 or mpeg2, come with a license agreement that says that you can only use that camera to shoot video for "personal use and non-commercial" purposes (go on, read your manuals).
To read the full article, click here.
May 3, 2010
The Advantage of 35mm Film
35mm motion picture film is the best way to get professional results when shooting feature films. It is also the cheapest and best quality process of making 35mm theatrical prints. Digital is cheaper in the beginning, but editing and conforming to 35mm film standards cost ten times more at the end. This is when the distributors and agents refuse to make the 35mm blow-ups, and digital movies end up as DVD releases. Therefore, give yourself the advantage of shooting 35mm film and providing the distributor with the opportunity of booking your film in 99% of theaters worldwide that only have 35mm projectors.
Apr. 18, 2010
Catch-22 of Filmmaking
Everybody knows you canít make a movie without funding and you canít get the funding without a box office star attached; but nobody can get a star attached unless they have the funding. So itís a Catch-22 situation, right? Except if you know how to break out of it.
Email me about your movie project and I might just share my secret with you.
Protecting yourself as an artist
Shooting 35mm or shooting digital is the difference between making money or no money. Even if the film is the same (and it will never be the same,) you will never make a penny if you shoot it in digital. The distributors and exhibitors will take every penny. Finishing a digital movie for distributors costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, and even if it makes millions in the box office, the money will be out of your control. They will take whatever they want, and why would they give you any money? What, so you can sue them? But with film, the 35mm negative is in your hands and no one can touch it without your permission. So for a $15,000 to $20,000 investment in film stock at the beginning of production, you will control all the money coming in and you will decide on how much money to pay all the people who are part of your production and distribution team.
Feb. 24, 2010
Why Shoot 35mm?
It is natural and appealing for the artist to begin experimenting with digital and telling a story, or creating some visuals, without committing thousands of dollars at the outset to buy 35mm film stock. Working with a small digital camera presents one the opportunity to get into a project without the expenditure of any money, except for the usual money that is spent in living expenses anyway. In this way, the project grows and there is genuine excitement created online, let us say, a blog or a thread on a user group. After months and sometimes a few years of working with a project, suddenly it dawns on one that, hey, this can be a real movie that festivals might play, and that some distributor might be interested in picking this up, and there might be money forthcomingÖ And then it hits home: the production is amateurish and will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring it up to professional standards, and even then it is never going to look like a feature film shot on 35mm by a professional cinematographer.
Feb. 22, 2010Reality Check for Indie Filmmakers
The state of the economy has scrambled all efforts to make sense of how a filmmaker is supposed to make a living shooting movies. There is little money left for art and the filmmaker who is self-reliant is the only one who can reasonably survive. What that means is that a filmmaker has to find a way to make movies regardless of whether there is money or not. This thinking lends itself to filmmakers shooting footage and doing small modular films that can be compiled later into feature length movies from 83 to 100 minutes. However, a filmmaker has to think about getting some revenues from these movies. Therefore, it is essential to find a form of exhibition that yields some income to the filmmaker while still protecting the marketability of the movies for later exploitation, and the best avenue is a company like CreateSpace. CreateSpace.com is a subsidiary of Amazon.com and if you submit your movie to them, they will produce a DVD on demand for you that you can sell from your website and they will also put your movie on Amazon. The best part of this deal is that you as the filmmaker receive monthly revenues from DVD sales, downloads and rentals, while at the same time you retain the rights to all your movies and can pull your movies from the catalogue at anytime in the future.
Ten or twenty years ago, it was possible for a filmmaker to make a movie and somehow get it into distribution. The distributors would ask "who is in it" and "what did you make it for?" The first question was so they could sell the movie to foreign buyers or to video outlets. The second question was so they could pay as little as possible upfront for the movie. Frankly, the old model does not work anymore; film distribution has changed, and maybe it is mostly because of the Internet. Putting a name actor in a low budget movie does not guarantee theatrical distribution. Sometimes it does not guarantee any distribution, and it is usually no fault of the name actor involved. The best case scenario even does not work. For example, a filmmaker puts two or three name actors (e.g., actors that have a following on TV) and he proceeds to make a movie that some distributor or agent decides to work with. The end result is usually that the filmmaker does not see a dime for a couple of years -- if ever. The filmmaker is told that just the fact that his movie has been "picked up" by a distribution company and is "out on DVD" means that next time the filmmaker can capitalize on name recognition, that he can then be able to sell his other movies and maybe even get an advance from the distributor. Such filmmakers are even promised some advances on their next projects. So now not only they did not make any money on their first movie, they also lost their second project due to plagiarism and outright theft of their screenplay by other producers lurking in the shadows of this model of distribution (the previous victims of the same scam). Everybody gets ripped off, because the model simply does not work when the audiences are watching such websites as Youtube for free, and they can see everything as it is practically happening.
Gangster Movies & Coke give way to Horror Movies & Dope.
Gangster movies no longer reflect our culture; horror movies have taken their place. To the older generation, gangster movies are still the norm; but to the newer generation, horror movies resonate better with our times. They even have festivals for horror movies now. The foreign market is saturated with horror movies. Film producers have always hedged their bets with a little horror in every movie regardless of genre. It is like the realism of accepting that cancer is an incurable disease.
Jan. 17, 2010
Don't sell yourself short as a filmmaker. There are thousands of film festivals now. If all the festival audiences see your movie and your movie is a "festival" movie, who will want to see it after that? General audiences want to see commercial movies, they don't want to see art movies.
Submitting your film to twenty or thirty film festivals, whether they accepted it or not, is like releasing your movie without getting a dime. Yes, of course, it is a way to promote the movie and possibly finding a distributor; but what are the chances of finding a distributor anyway, and one who is going to pay you something upfront?
June 30, 2009
It is ironic that all the worthless films produced in Hollywood during the last fifty years have been produced by atheists or by those artists who openly attack the memory of Jesus. The festivals are full of films glorifying evil and portraying depravity for its own sake, and all these movies are nothing but refuse. The only films that reach the level of art are the ones that were either based on a Scriptural theme or to some extent glorified the Creator of the universe, Jesus or one of the saints. Great art cannot be based on filth.
And this trend is not unique to film but to all the other arts as well. There simply are no great novelists, writers or artists that have produced anything worthwhile outside of some sustaining faith in Jesus or the Creator of the world as we know him from the Scriptures.
June 26, 2009
There are several films in development on this website. Send me an email if you are interested in them in any way.
June 15, 2009
Thousands of movies are made each year; only a few make it to the big screen. Most filmmakers lose money. There are very few honest distributors in the world. If your feature film needs representation at the AFM this year, send me an email.
May 17, 2009
In Hollywood only bad movies get made, and the ones that turn out good are the ones that their director manages to save.
May 1, 2009
Filmmaking is being transformed by the digital technologies. The look of film is still the most appreciated and best loved; but digital is taking over as the dominant format for theatrical exhibition and the Internet.
Apr. 26, 2009
Neither putting video for sale on non-exclusive sites, nor selling DVDs from websites has panned out for indie filmmakers. By far the best way to recoup for indie filmmakers is through the international marketplace. If you have not given up your rights to your movie via an exclusive deal, email me for info. I am taking on a few filmmakers for representation.
Virtual movies are shot on digital, real movies are shot on film.
This is the last generation to make real films, while they are still shot on film, feature films in 35mm and documentary in 16mm, and while they are still projected with film projectors in darkened theaters.
Already virtual movies are replacing real films through the digital media of recording. A virtual movie is the creation of engineers and businessmen. It resembles a real movie, but it is not a film. It is transient and marketable only if sensationalized through advertising and publicity. The talents involved are virtual creations of talent agencies that now run show business.
The 81st Academy Awards already made the transition from real films to virtual movies. Movie stars took the stage in fours and fives, male or female, no longer as twos or as real couples. Thus Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, even though not yet married and yet having had children together, were not asked to be presenters, because they would represent a real couple. Only virtual couples were allowed, such as Natalie Portman and the made up performer who posed with her as an alienated male escort, mocking the image of a couple. A joke was made of it.
Even Steve Martin snapped back at his beautiful escort and said, "Do not fall in love with me!" He then proceeded to say that a certain mythical king (which he made up) had planted the seeds of life, thus mocking God and the natural order of things.
And of course, the movie MILK about homosexuality won for best actor, Sean Penn, in his virtual performance as a homosexual. Accepting the Oscar, Sean proceeded to try and shame all those viewers in the US who had voted for the proposition removing "gay marriage" from the laws written to establish the living together of two men or two women as a legitimate marriage.
Thus even reality is now going to be created through publicity and advertising, so everything will be virtual. Thus for the last time the Kodak Theater has represented real film and soon will become the theater for virtual movies and virtual movie stars.
There was always something fake about Hollywood that film was able to make into a reality of sorts, a reality that dominated world cinema and glamorized the life of the West. But this year's Oscar for Best Movie went to Slum Dog Millionaire, and the kids in the former Bombay celebrated the victory of virtual movies over real films.
Indeed, "slum dog millionaires" is a fitting image for today's crop of virtual stars.
Feb. 24, 2009
The best way to market independently produced movies is now to channel the movies through one independent distributor. If you have a completed feature film, contact me at the email address above. I'm interested in representing a few non-exploitation movies at the upcoming film markets.
Feb. 10, 2009
We are fighting for survival as filmmakers. We are using old ideas, methods and production tools, yet the game has changed now. Movies do not have a dramatic structure anymore, the art of cinematography does not retain the classical Hollywood or the international rules of cinema; none of the supporting crafts that went into making a theatrical feature film or even a long running TV series are the same now.
Thirty second commercials are too long also; viewers' attention span is now about ten seconds and still shrinking. A drug hit lasts less and costs more too (not that I condone drugs), even sex lasts seconds (instant gratification is the norm and there is AIDS to worry about too) and prostitution even is now practically all virtual and masturbatory. The real venues of entertainment are now the computer monitor, the flat screen TV hooked up to the Internet and whatever someone can download on his mobile devices.
Therefore, it is foolhardy to spend three years of your life writing, developing, producing, editing and marketing a feature film now. You cannot get your money back most likely and you will not get as famous as you would expect. Youtube, Myspace, Facebook and other venues springing up are the new theaters of this era. Google Ads and advertising banners that you can sell on your website are how as filmmakers we can make money. Festivals and markets are themselves scrambling for business and their customers are the filmmakers seeking fame and fortune; but the product of the filmmakers needs to target a different audience demographic now or else filmmaking is a money losing proposition.
Jan. 25, 2009
Motion Picture technology is changing so fast that nobody knows what the entertainment future holds. There is a mad rush to exhibit on the Internet. Streaming movies appears to be the new wave. Whoever can get their movies out on the web consistently will attract the biggest audiences. Whether it will become a paying proposition or not remains to be seen. Perhaps as more visitors buy faster broadband connections, watching movies on the worldwide web might become the norm over the next few years.
Jan. 11, 2009
Digital technology is already setting rules for how movies should be made and viewed. It is too early but that is not going to stop those people that are inclined to do so, because through such rules the consumers of digital products are going to be manipulated. For example, the look of movies is now changing from the realism of the 21st Century to the fantasy of the addict culture that was fomented in the 60s and 70s. Storylines are more fluid, the rules of dramatic construction are becoming less stringent, there is no more need for visual integrity, and all the techniques of telling stories are being revised. Some of these techniques have been developed by commercials, advertising and PR. The use of zoom lens, the time-crash edit, the morphing of images, the use of music to dominate the visuals, the lack of literary content both poetic and classical is fast disappearing, and shorter films, staccato scenes and dialogue are now becoming the norm.
This revolution in technology is making it easy for everyone to make movies and the Internet is allowing everyone with a camera and a broadband connection to produce and exhibit movies. Virtual reality is now becoming a way of life and movie makers are now emerging as the cultural heroes of this generation. Therefore, there are benefits to this movement; the playing fields are leveling finally and the major studios and the TV networks are helpless to stop it.
The movie festivals are now a growing trend; every movie maker now has a shot at having their movie seen by mass audiences. The look of look of film is now being simulated for those audiences that still like the films of the past. There are programs that manipulate the image after the movie has been recorded. Digital cameras are proliferating and the art of storytelling is changing.
Dec. 22, 2008
Digital cameras and digital distribution of movies has finally created a new medium of entertainment different than the cinema of the 20th Century. The new medium is more akin to television productions, with the emergence of TV actors as the new movie makers. Many of the older TV stars are also well established film directors by now and their transition into digital movie making has been an easy one. Most of the cinematic qualities of feature films have now disappeared. The new digital technologies cannot match the quality of 35mm film, but audiences are now used to the conventions of digital production and, therefore, digital exhibition is gradually replacing 35mm theatrical projection everywhere. Traditional filmmaking is becoming somewhat of a lost art, still taught at film schools but on its way out as an art form. The only thing that survives from the cinema of the 20th Century is the history and criticism of story telling and the literature based on the work of great directors and classical movies of the last century.
Dec. 14, 2008
The US domestic market is difficult for movies. Theatrical runs are expensive to arrange, especially as most cinemas aren't set up for digital screening yet. The only market that is readily available to indie filmmakers is the foreign market. Selling movies to territorial buyers and sub-distributors will yield more money for the indie filmmaker right now.
Nov. 21, 2008
Distribution is the bottleneck for indie filmmakers trying to find their audiences. Contact me if you are a serious filmmaker with one or more completed feature films. I can take independently produced movies into the foreign marketplace and help the filmmakers recover their money.
Nov. 14, 2008
Today is essentially the last day of the AFM. There were thousands of movies for sale but few buyers were offering the going rate for their territories. The economic conditions are very difficult at this time. The American Film Market participation fees are too large for small filmmakers to participate. The AFM is advertised as the home of the independents, but participation fees are $5,000, with the smallest room going for $7,500. With equipment rental for projection of the movies to potential customers going for a few thousand dollars, plus the advertising necessary, the total cost of a market for companies is over $30,000. Most participants don't make it back for a second time.
Nov. 11, 2008
The annual American Film Market is an international film bazaar for indie movies. This year there are many more Asian companies. The studios have withdrawn from the market after having dumped their old star library on the markets for two decades. Nobody remembers the old stars of the Golden Days of Hollywood anymore.
The current stars are entering the foreign market as producers. This trend will continue until the buyers realize that they can buy similar movies for a fraction of the cost. The present movies with $15,000,000 to $25,000,000 budgets can't compete with indie movies made for $750,000 to $3,000,000.
Nov. 10, 2008
This is an exciting time for indie filmmakers.
There are thousands of digital movies being churned out these days. The market is flooded with them. However, the foreign buyers are looking for bargains. Movies originated on 35mm with a few name actors are the best sellers at the AFM, as most world theaters are still geared up for 35mm screenings.
Most digital moviemakers are biding their time and using the market only to promote their movies.
We will report more on the AFM after it closes.
Nov. 5, 2008
The best marketing for your film is the marketing that makes you money directly from the film buyers internationally. It is best not to rely on distributors and agents, unless they advance you the production budget and guarantee you a percentage or a certain amount of money in a specified period.
Oct. 20, 2008
The Stock Market went up 1000 points on Monday and dropped a 1000 points two days later. Again today it's moving up and down, with insiders and specialist fleecing the remainder of the investors trying to salvage their lifesavings and the gamblers who are hooked on speculation.
For serious filmmakers the Stock Market gyrations should hold no sway; we are affected by state of the economy to be sure, but we need not be idle. We must find a way to always be advancing our art and completing projects. Sometimes the slowdown in a project brings about maturity of vision and a better result. The product is enhanced as we work steadily and are not affected by the mood of the times. It takes years to complete a project and sell it, especially for us independents financing our own movies through side projects or services provided as hired hands in the movie industry.
Oct. 16, 2008
The Stock Market goes up and down like a yo-yo. The specialists buy low and sell high and then when the market drops down once more, they buy low and sell high again. When the Stock Market brokers overcompensate themselves or lose money, Congress votes to pump more money into the "economy." It's only paper anyway. To my way of thinking, celluloid is a lot more credible. A movie preserves the culture; paper is flushed down the toilet.
Oct. 14, 2008
With the slowdown in the economy predicted by the US Government over the next few years, it is necessary for the independent filmmakers to develop a survival strategy. Making movies that find an audience over the Internet is essential for success. Building a library of films will help us place a wide range of movies on this website. Send me an email if you have movies that you would like to release over the Internet and in the international movie markets.
Oct. 11, 2008
The Stock Market is down 484.26 points so far today. In the last week the Stock Market has fallen thousands of points, until it has now reached the same point as in 1995. All the money that was made by some investors has been lost. Some companies have disappeared entirely, their net worth is zero. The new companies that raised billions of dollars in cash made it look like the Stock Market was holding its value and it looked like it was even going up; however, this was only an illusion, as trillions of dollars were gambled and lost on the Stock Market. In short, most of the money invested in the Stock Market has been lost. The ratio of money won to money lost in the Stock Market is virtually identical to the ratio of money won or lost at any craps table in Las Vegas. The only difference between the Stock Market and the Las Vegas Casinos is that the Las Vegas Casinos provide better entertainment.
Oct. 10, 2008
With the Stock Markets crashing all over the world, the movie business is getting affected like any other industry. As independent filmmakers it is much easier for us to roll with the punches.
While the new digital technologies helped us make movies for less money and to put out DVDs much easier, we still cannot compete with the major studios when it comes to marketing our indie movies. The big distributors can guarantee the theatrical releases that ensure a wider audience for the studio DVDs; the indie filmmaker sells in the thousands, while the Hollywood producer sells millions.
The digital cameras allow the indie movie maker to shoot movies without the initial costs of purchasing 35mm film and lab processing; however, the new technology has created a glut in the number of movies on the festival circuits and in the foreign markets. Moreover, the major movie producers can hire super stars that guarantee big box office returns, while the indie movie maker cannot afford to hire even one of these stars.
The only way to compete with the major studios at a time like this, when the Stock Market that feeds them is down, is to go back to the older technology that produces superior quality movies. The independent filmmakers can now shoot 35mm and release 35mm prints for the small theater chains that can't afford the $85,000 digital projectors.
For the ultra low budget filmmakers, there are short ends 35mm film stock that is a fraction of the cost, because the demand for film has been low recently. E-mail me and I will give you an excellent quote on a package of 35mm rawstock for your indie production.
Oct. 9, 2008
The Contribution of Digital Technology to the Disappearance of Independent Film
The best use for digital cameras and NLE editing systems is for the Internet. Everything originated digitally is going to become corrupt or obsolete within a few years. It is not cost effective to keep re-mastering the movies produced with digital cameras. There is no long term value with digitally produced movies; therefore, all expenditures for SAG talent and Union labor are wasted, plus the expenses of the productions in general, such as the locations, food, transport, insurance, etc.
The major studios that produce all their movies on 35mm are not going to tell the independent filmmakers about this technological flaw. The only exception for the digital origination and post production of movies is for TV news, some documentary projects that require immediacy and chance happenings, and for highly experimental movies requiring a lot of special effects. And in the last case the producers should master their entire productions to 35mm for preservation and future reproduction.
Sept. 10, 2009
Digital Editing Strategies
Therefore, it is imperative for a filmmaker to conclude his or her studies and collecting software, plugins and filters. Each of these Non-linear Editing (NLE) systems can be completed and left alone; e.g., Final Cut Pro (FCP) 5.04 is the last non-Intel chip editing software; it can handle HDV and exporting HiDef files for broadcast and all viewing media, such as Blu-ray and HD DVD, so it is not necessary to keep upgrading it. Therefore, it is not necessary to go on buying all the developments of FCP versions. Every six months there is an update and every year or two there is another version; it does this and that better. Why not just buy another manufacturer's system, such as Adobe Premiere or Avid, when they come up with their newer versions? That way at least it is more financially feasible to purchase from all the developers and keep abreast of the improvements and keep them in business to develop other concepts in editing.
Ever since filmmaking switched from film to digital videography, making movies has become utter chaos. The old masters of 35mm editing are gone and the new editors do not know how to work on the Moviolas and the Flatbeds. The art of editing has fallen into the hands of occasionally talented engineers, but without the expertise in cinematic language; the art of filmmaking is suffering as a result, and the budgets have skyrocketed too. Digital motion picture production today costs more than 35mm and is visually less appealing.
Sept. 9, 2009
Do not get bogged down with technology.
Donít spend all your time reading about digital editing techniques or digital capture problems; 35mm film production is an open road that has been paved for you by thousands of movie pioneers over the last hundred years, take the top down and cruise for a while. I donít mean make bad films; but donít be enthralled by the technology and the imperative to chase after every invention Ė if you are an indie filmmaker and donít have the resources of a major studio or billion dollar industry.
Neither should you spend all your time learning all the old ways of making movies, nor analyzing all the techniques of storytelling or planning every detail of your movie, budgeting to the penny, scheduling every location, story-boarding every shot, and end up shooting your movie on paper. Allow instead room for your imagination to roam and your vision to focus on your personal way of telling the story. You donít want the contrived techniques of other art forms to control your expression, such as theater, photography, journalism, or fiction; invent your own way of seeing and share that with the world.
Nov. 13, 2009
Back to the Future: 35mm production!
It is easier now to produce a professional movie shooting in 35mm and editing the sound in one of the NLE programs, such as Final Cut Pro; the 35mm picture to be telecined to a standard definition movie for the sake of editing, but doing the picture editing itself on a flatbed or even an Upright Moviola. All the digital formats utilized in motion picture photography are problematical. The standards do not match between the camera and the finished versions, and the resulting image streams generate encoding flaws that may result in loss of quality or even loss of entire productions. Moreover, digitally originated movies become obsolete within a few months or a year at the most; there are always better digitizing technologies emerging but one is stuck with the original and outdated version of the movie. No major productions should be originated digitally if at all possible. There are some exceptions of course, and those are the movies that are best created in CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) or to the extent that they are. However, even in such cases, it is best to immediately blow up the digital images to 35mm for inter-cutting into the negative rolls of the final 35mm version of the movie.
Dec. 5, 2009
Email me if you are an indie filmmaker looking for a realistic distribution deal.
35mm film stock for indie filmmakers -- short ends for indie filmmakers; shooting 35mm was never so easy.
The Filmmaker is about the art of pure indie filmmaking. Here you will find resources and information regarding film technology and distribution for independent filmmakers.
Investing in Movies versus the Stock Market.
Fabulous Domain Names you can buy here.
Film biographical note - video clip.
Oscars 2013 Academy Award nominations review.
and Drug Addiction movie
FILMMAKING A TO Z is the best how-to film book on the Internet. It is written by true indie filmmaker Vic Alexander based on his experience of four decades in independent filmmaking worldwide. It covers five areas of filmmaking: script writing, pre-production, production, post-production and distribution. It takes the potential filmmaker or student of film through all the details of filmmaking: the aesthetics, camera work, crew selection, casting, legal matters, business considerations, marketing, distribution and exhibition.
CANNES video clip about film rep at Cannes Film Festival & Market.
Yael Hersonski is an Israeli filmmaker who made this eye-opening documentary about Nazi propaganda filmmaking.
Here's a clip from Das Boot, when the crew of a German U-Boat sings "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" in defiance of their authorities.
At the Berlinale, the Berlin International Film Festival, a new film by Australian filmmaker Patrick Hughes was invited to participate as an official selection. It was a great pleasure that I was able to provide the 35mm film stock for this beautifully photographed feature film by cinematographer Tim Hudson. Click on this link to see the trailer: RED HILL by Patrick Hughes
Click on the image below and watch this video of the Chinese figure skating champions of the Vancouver Olympics.
申雪 & 趙宏博
Watch Mao Asada
A Matter of Life and Death is a feature film project that deals with the story of Jesus in a most realistic fashion. This will be an epic movie.
Addie's Daughter is a beautiful story that will be filmed soon. It will be performed by some of the most talented actors in the movie business.
Shanty Town is the first project slated for production at the end of this year. The final cast will be announced soon. The movie is in pre-production now.
Carry Me Home is the sequel to SHANTY TOWN.
Long Shot, Medium Shot, Close-Up is an essay from the book FILMMAKING A TO Z.
Digital Revolution and Film
Felliniesque Movies is a page for the felliniesque style of filmmaking.
How to become a filmmaker -- a realistic appraisal.