“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” ― Sun Tzu

Posts tagged “social

Filmmaker Pitfalls + Distribution & Development

It’s a chill morning in Michigan and I’ve got my trusty coffee by my side and I’m ready to share a few moments with all of you out there. It has been a good week of business and personal so let’s get into a few topics that were floated by me this week. Let’s start with a question that comes up often. I’ve been asked about my thoughts on “Social Fundraising” or social handouts as I like to call it. I’m mostly against these Kickstarter and other “fundme” campaigns for several reasons. Let me explain myself before everyone questions my answer. Now I am going to relate this to what I know, that being filmmaking.  So this may not apply to other justifiable causes such as raising money for illness, funeral expenses, transplants and other real NEEDS. I’m not talking NEED but people and their WANTS…Big difference.

Did you ever know that kid who was always spoiled, bothersome? Like I recall kids begging their parents for quarters to feed into video game machines back in the day. Yes. They use to cost a quarter:) Someone would give the kid a dollar or a few quarters just so the adults could be left in peace to talk alone and socialize. It is that, “At least they are staying out of trouble” mentality. So that kid goes off and likely after a short while is back with his hand out again and again… People will again give a few dollars to him so that he goes away. But I can assure you, if that kid was borrowing that money or had earned those quarters from hard work, he would not be as loose – keeping that flood of coins dropping into those machines. When it’s your money or money that is borrowed with expected results – the appreciation and use of those funds is much more focused.

Someone else I know called it “Mercy Giving” because it is easier to give a little versus hurting feelings. Maybe this is seen as positive or is it? If something ventured is obviously lacking in quality but people give to it anyway it does make one question why? Why?  As a parent, would you encourage your child to take up “corner standing” with a cup and sign that says, TOO HONEST TO STEAL, TOO UGLY TO PROSTITUTE?  Would you throw money at someone building a house that is nowhere near being up to code and will likely with end up overgrown and forgotten because it is red tagged?

I don’t overly think on these things as people will quit giving when the results are always the same. My world view is different, maybe a tad more realistic. Despite what people think, we don’t live in a world where everyone who plays wins. I think people who are actually in SHOW BIZ – (Let me break that down because not all who play are in the business) SHOWBIZ  – That is where quality art meets business in a blend that results in something that can be sold in the marketplace. More novices are into the SHOW but not truly SHOWBIZ. They want to focus on the art because that is fun – the interviews, the mixers -all fun. Fun – Even if the process is only creating content nobody really wants. And so they ask, ask, ask for others to give, give, give – so they can create nearly unwatchable, unsellable material. Now if this is a hobby, which for many at this level that is what it is – and that is exactly how your filmmakers learn and grow. But after once or twice of allowing filmmakers to play why continue to support? Maybe this is acceptable?

I mean golf is an art of sorts but I don’t see people kickstarting so they can get a new set of top-of-the-line clubs and a years worth of greens fees. (I’m sure someone has tried:) But unless this person was playing golf at a level whereas true PRO development was required/justified this just sounds silly and many sane people don’t do it.

I think handouts dull the sword.

How you say? There is no accountability to be had if everything is just given because this is again that kid with quarters. He is never grilled after on how well he spent the quarters. “Did you get a high score?”  “Did you get an extra ball or get a match?” (Pinball reference people) No. You were just given money so to be “out-of-the-way” for a while occupying your time. That is until they want the next handout. These are all things you would do with a child but I see it happening everyday with adult artists. But if artists are truly striving to excel both at business and art those will be the survivors. Nobody would drop coins in the hat of an awful sounding corner/subway playing guitarist, unless it was for them to stop.  So I guess I’m just saying support the arts responsibly. Look for those that truly have developing qualities. Look for those that are looking to eventually stand on their own two feet not just be blindly supported. Give your money to the hungry or homeless instead.  If you are over 25 and still taking handouts to produce sub par product – and I use that term loosely because someone would actually have to want to purchase this film for it to truly be a product. By purchase I also mean beyond your 100 family or friends that are expected to support you otherwise your glares will make them uncomfortable at every holiday or local gathering:)

So in summary, I guess if the person only comes begging at the table once in a while and consistently is given a few coins to go distract himself – maybe that is acceptable to some. But I just can’t endorse that sort of action. I won’t support or LIKE something just for a half ass effort. In our business we face acceptance and rejection daily and that is part of the business. Success and failure hardens the steel and makes you refine your process. I just ask those out there who seem to be like a needle skipping on a record (Another reference – look it up) – What do you want to be? How do you want to be seen? Is your art evolving in quality? Are you ready to earn true success with increasing quality and business refinement or do you want to continuously beg for handouts only to create material that is never challenged and would not survive in the worldwide marketplace. Begging for financial handouts is not a business plan. “We hope to get into a high-profile film festival” is NOT a marketing plan. As many of our artists seek the easiest way the Chinese, Indians, the Europeans…the world over are all pushing their creative artists to survive and thrive in a business environment. Meanwhile we reinforce mediocrity and endorse begging as a business plan. It is sad but true as we are losing ground to others willing to put in the hard work. OK. Ask me how I really feel about all that:) Embrace the hardships you face because it with sharpen your sword and make your steel strong.

Enough sword and steel babel…onto film news:)

On the distribution TIP – we now have a few distribution offers on “Ashes of Eden” and the film screeners continue to be requested. More interested parties are coming to the table every few days. It is getting exciting and we will be announcing our Summer Michigan theatrical VERY soon!

Our thriller “Bestseller” is about to schedule its one  day of pick ups. That film is really looking great and after the release of the 1st trailer last week we have several distributors waiting to see the final film.

On development updates we’ve got several new funders looking at projects of their liking. I think we will soon be moving into some pre-production on  some of these new films.

A couple of big budget film projects are back in motion again with new funders. We will wait to see if these projects move forward but things get complicated when talking tens of millions of dollars. When you really see how big the game is that is when you get down on someone who can’t even conduct fundamental business. I am learning leaps and bounds every day but you must challenge yourself.

Additionally, I did some wild lines for the dark thriller “The Terrorist” this past week. I’m very happy that the picture is about locked and is looking powerful. We’re going to polish up the audio and we will see this film released at year’s end.

On the acting front, I was in talks on an indie project that just didn’t add up at the end of the day. Again if you’re not a hobbyist and you’re doing this as a career you have to look at the complete picture. I do have one other local indie I’m still having talks over – no telling if that will work out or not. Don’t be afraid to say, NO.

As I vet out projects I’m very content finishing up the post projects on my plate. My new acting management is really trying to get that right 1st big studio film under me. Several talks are underway with casting directors, producer and directors. I have opened myself up to consideration on a few TV projects also. There is a big trend towards TV mini series and such so I will keep myself open to these opportunities. I like the idea of guest spots more but if the right series came along I might consider something on-going.

Enough business for the day:) I pointed out what I did in regards to social funding because if new filmmakers never learn the art of business they will be replaced by those who do. There are always exceptions one can argue but on the whole I would say many are just too lazy to learn the valuable business lessons required to play at the highest levels of our film industry. OK. I’m going to do some work in the yard and relax from my long week. We got the new floor in the office/fort last week and so more tinkering may be the order of the day. Tomorrow is Father’s day and so I will be spending some time with Pa Perry and family before heading off to the soccer field. It has been a good season and as always the workout is second to none. I’ve also been enjoying the WORLD CUP matches and look forward to the USA playing on Monday.

Have a great weekend!

DJ

 

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Saturday Thoughts & Film Updates

This Saturday seems clouded by vast sadness. It was so shocking for many  because it was young children and it happened in a place often devoid of crime. The fact is that ugly things happen everyday. I was just thinking about how so many people are connected by social media. It can be used positively but also can be like a collective poison well. I can recall during 9-11 how the news just became a constant flow of fear and negativity. Collectively we all have tragedy in our lives. More and more tragedy is now played out on public social media. I think it can start productive conversation and for those facing heavy issues they feel maybe not so alone. There is still no stopping tragedy as it is part of our life cycle. If you don’t think that some rice farmer with ruined crops born into a world of poverty can’t or hasn’t snapped. Someone deeply angry for being born into suffering versus someone born far away in a world of plenty. Someone angry for color of skin or being female in a society that looks upon them as 2nd rate human beings. I’ve found that true beauty often lies as far away from one another as we can get. We’re not usually beautiful people in our actions. More often we are self-serving, self-centric individuals who gravitate towards those who share our priorities and shun those not aligned with us.

With all this media we have to occasionally tune OUT versus tune IN. I recall how clearly I could think in the jungles of Costa Rica. It was devoid of a mental static that we rarely recognize as we walk through massive waves of electromagnetic energy. Swimming daily in media can be like taking a sewage bath. Moderation is my recommendation.

Movie updates…

OK. ASHES OF EDEN updates!

The audio and visuals are being married and some first initial cutting has started. We are in talks on creative post and look forward to the weeks ahead. Watch for many updates concerning this powerful film. Also some talks on the next collaborations so stay tuned!

Two of our films are going to TV networks (Wait for press releases)- the cloned masters are being made. We are also awaiting national domestic release dates on two films. These are unrelated to “Darkest Night” (March 22), “Locked in a Room” (announced soon). “7 Stones” had 1st TV play on Michigan TV. “Benjamin” just had two showings in Cairo, Egypt! More releases to be announced!

We have several projects in development moving down the line. I plan to have some good announcements for 2013!

Be good to one another!

DJ


So the Dream Continues…

The coffee pot was here to greet me on this fine Sunday morning. We’ve had a few steady days of slow snow falling and the green grass is again long gone. Crazy busy week on so many fronts. We won’t go all into the Middle East stuff as this is not really for all that but change is coming there and it really shows people power.

On the home front I acquired a few new things such as a gunsafe (Hey I’m from Michigan), picnic table for around the fire pit and also framed a few pieces of art I’ve had for years. (Since the 1970’s)  I’ve also been sorting, cleaning and organizing my business affairs. The new year wheel is turning so onto a few film updates…

I’ve had a few great scripts/offers that came my way for acting as of late. One came as an SOS as a replacement to again be shot overseas. I LOVED the script. WW2 Historic drama with a Zorro flair including ninja, samurai, Nazi’s…long short is I had to seek permission from another production on dates and I also inquired about an additional pay bump as it was a touch under my usual. Being that they start shooting this Monday (Tomorrow) with the American character starting on the 5th they had to move forward fast. They hired someone else who said, YES, YES, YES. I guess I wanted to let you all know that I too STILL face rejection on a weekly basis. I felt a deep artistic pain because I truly connected with a character and film and could see it all in my mind’s eye. They wanted me, I paused and questioned and the biz part of the show-biz stung me. DOH! Next!

I’m still looking at a few acting projects. We’ve got a few new associated projects in development that we’ll announce soon. CDI’s projects moving and grooving towards that all mighty green light!  These two projects have been a big focus last week.

“Outside the Wire, Forgotten Children of Afghanistan”

It plays the 35th Cleveland Film Festival – the dates and times  are Tuesday, March 29 (7 p.m.), Wed. the 30th (11:40 a.m.) and Thursday (1:50 p.m.). The other festival info including the new GI Festival will be passed along here shortly.  Many network and distribution outlets being looked at.

“Renovation” the 1st theatrical screenings are being booked and the 1st wave of screeners went out to distributors last week. Already positive response on the film and so I think we’ll be getting some good offers soon!

REFILL TIME – OK back:)

I’m looking forward to “Darkest Night” shoot in April. It is CDI’s 1st international collaboration and one of my goals is to keep opening up these bridges between filmmakers here and abroad. I think much like “Karma, Crime, Passion, Reincarnation” which I sincerely hope makes it to the US this year, it brings a wonderful new vibe. The music score on “Karma” reminds me of “Temple of Doom” which for those of you who follow me know that is one of my favs.

I watched a producers link of the NYC film “Benjamin” last night that has the new score laid into it. It is a really good film and I think my fellow actors did a wonderful job. I can’t wait for that to come out.

“Locked in a Room” has to be getting closer now and that is a whole different twisted vibe:) I hope they do a premiere in Michigan for that film. Ah…Michigan. A raging debate over the tax incentives which seem just fine perhaps until fall but could see a altering in the program. That would be better than elimination for poor Michigan which has been struggling.  This is a new industry whose merit must be placed above any and all political agenda. That said, I think that many of these governors are taking very unpopular actions because many before them refused to do so.

I also have mixed feelings on all this union stuff going on. Again I recall in the auto industry folks bragging about being able to sit and play cards while getting paid all because of certain union negotiations. I do know that in at least one situation where we asked our own union (SAG) for assistance. They said, anything we can do. When it came time for action they said they could not get involved. And to add injury to insult before the dust was cleared they had their hand out asking for a payment. They have also treated several actor/producers I know like outsiders when these people are heroes trying to create work for their fellow union members. I for one see the union as pretty non-effective when truly needed. Furthermore they have just enough organization to get in your business and seem surprised when you tell them things worked out a certain way especially when they did nothing to assist. So I’m not political on this matter and I’ll wait to see how it all works out but I’m still waiting to see where one of my dollars collected for dues has done anything for me. I do have a cool looking card that probably cost 5 cents to make so I do get that.

Onward to better topics –  “GPS the Movie” a great thriller I helped produce and co-starred in will go to the CHILLER TV this Spring so see if you get that TV channel. I hope the extended audiences enjoy it. We’re actually in talks with several TV networks on several projects so I’m excited that we’re exploring that realm.

Enjoy the Oscars tonight. I really enjoyed both “The King’s Speech” and “The Social Network” where the line about the twin brothers in skeleton suits chasing the karate kid around the gym, is probably my 2nd choice favorite. So enjoy and maybe one day it will be myself and more of my associates getting recognized. The Oscars have become a lot like Sundance for me. I don’t want to go watch I want to participate and that means creating the right products. So the dream continues.

Have a great day!

DJ