Saturday, January 29, 2011

Movie Deliverables and You...

I’ve delivered 3 of my own movies now and several other titles for others. Pasted below is a deliverables list from a prominent distributor and my understanding of most items. I am by no means an expert, but I hope that my misadventures with movie delivery can be helpful to other indie producers out there.

Now specific items may vary slightly from distributor to distributor and this list is also about 3 years old. So don’t take it has gospel. It’s just a good start to understanding what goes into delivering a title for distribution.

Here we go….



LAB ACCESS: Lab access must be provided by Licensor to Sales Agent throughout the active term of this Agreement for both the feature and trailer in each of the formats listed directly below:
****for most indie producers your lab is your place. You just need to have access to and be able to provide the items.

VIDEO ITEMS: Masters must be provided by Licensor to Sales Agent for all video items listed below:
(This is something you need to have done by a post house. Most desktop/home editors cannot provide an acceptable closed captioning on their own. If you can, good on you, but I doubt it.)
(I’ve always provided these, but so far they’ve never been used. I would assume that bts material is delivered more often on harddrives these days.)

A.    All Digibeta or HD items must contain: 
(I think digibeta is also be phased out. Mostly HD items are required now)
1.     Composite stereo sound on channels one and two and isolated, fully-filled music & effects (M&E) stereo tracks on channels three and four. This requirement extends to all features, trailers, and textless footage.
2.     Textless backgrounds tied to the tail of the feature for both the feature and trailer.
3.     Trailers at the ending of each master.
B.    Full frame masters shall be in the aspect ratio of 4:3 (1:33:1). Licensor acknowledges that full frame anamorphic masters will not meet this requirement.
C.    PAL Digibeta masters must be created from a source of equal (or greater) resolution to native PAL resolution (625/50). PAL Digibeta masters should not be created from conversions of NTSC Digibeta masters.

Most people are aware of what M&E tracks are. Music and effects. It’s an audio track with nothing but the music and hard sound fx from the movie. Its for foreign distribution and dubbing. However, many newbie moviemakers fail to provide a FULL m&e track. FULL m&e includes ALL folly. You should be able to watch the movie with all the dialog tracks gone and every footstep, clothes rustle, body movement, ect should be there. This is especially problematic when you use a lot of production sound from dialog tracks in your cut, which is something a lot of indies do.

Many people forget about the textless background cut. Also for foreign distribution. It actually slipped my mind. I need to ready one for Monsters in the Woods.

SOUND ITEMS: Audio tracks must be provided by Licensor to Sales Agent per below:
1.     One (1) NTSC- synchronous DA88 and one (1) NTSC-synchronous set of PCM or AIFF digital audio files broken down thusly:
2.     5.1 DA88s in the following formats:
a.      One (1) NTSC-synchronous DA88 OF THE DISCRETE 5.1 SOUND MIX w/ LT/RT
b.     One (1) PAL-synchronous DA88 OF THE DISCRETE 5.1 SOUND MIX w/ LT/RT
Monsters in the Woods is my 1st 5.1 delivery so, I’m still working on that.

ANCILLARY ITEMS: The following items must be provided by Licensor to Sales Agent:
(make sure you have each and every item on this list. This is where most producers mess up. Many of forms seem redundant. But each serves it's own purpose and is absolutely required. Often a distributor will accept a movie with certain items missing, but then when it comes time to send out the quarterly report or worse yet a check to the production company, they will withhold until all the items are delivered.) 
1.     Contractual Credit Block with copyright information, in Microsoft Word format. 
2.     The following series of synopses, in Microsoft Word format: a treatment-length synopsis, a three-paragraph synopsis, a one-paragraph synopsis, and a one-sentence synopsis.
3.     Production notes provided in Microsoft Word format. 
(most of the time distributors will provide examples of how they want these things formatted.)
4.     Key Art to be provided in both text and textless iterations (unless supplied as a layered text image file). Each of these iterations should adhere to the following specifications:
a.      Size: eight-by-twelve inches (8”x12” in.) – at minimum
b.     Resolution: three-hundred dots per inch (300 dpi) – at minimum
c.      Color Mode: CMYK or RGB
d.     File format to be Photoshop (*.PSD) (preferred), uncompressed TIFF (*TIFF), or Illustrator (*.EPS)
5.     Digital stills (at least 40) adhering to the following specifications: 
(I always pull at least 100 still captures from the movie. I usually work on this throughout the editing process.)
a.      Cleared for unrestricted use
b.     Size: four-by-six inches (4”x6” in.) – at minimum
c.      Resolution: three-hundred dots per inch (300 dpi) – at minimum
d.     Color Mode: CMYK or RGB
e.      File format to be Camera Raw (preferred), Photoshop (*.PSD), uncompressed TIFF (*TIFF), or high quality (low compression) JPEG (*.JPG)
6.     Lab Access Letter shall be irrevocable for the duration of the active term. 
(even if you are the lab, you still need to provide the letter.)
7.     Copies of the passing grade Quality Control (QC) report for all delivered video and audio masters.  (again, a proper video post house will need to do this. This is something you should discuss with the distributor, becase many will require you to use specific post houses and will not accept others.
a.      Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the Agreement, in the event a QC report is not provided with a master, Sales Agent will immediately obtain a QC report and shall recover such from Licensor an amount equal to 150% of the cost of furnishing such item, with the right to demand immediate payment of such amount from Licensor and, if Licensor fails to pay, the right to recoup before any payments are made to Licensor via any channel.
b.     If masters fail QC, Licensor must repair or replace faulty masters at their expense and such masters shall not be considered Delivered until a passing grade QC report is obtained.  The quality control reports must be administered and attested to by a verifiably reputable lab.
8.     Errors and Omissions policy maintained by Licensor for three (3) years from the date of delivery.  
(its not as much as you might think. Dependnig on the size of the production, they start around 3k. The lack of an E and O policy held up the Edges of Darkness delivery for almost 2 years.)
9.     The chain of title should comprise the following:
a.     copies of copyright registration certificate filed with the U.S. Copyright office with respect to the screenplay and the motion picture;  
****(special note about registering your work. If the work is registered to you as an invidual and not your LLC. You will need to sign an Assignment of Rights. Giving the rights to your LLC. This is another thing that held up Edges of Darkness.)
b.     copies of a Copyright Report and a Title Report provided by an attorney acceptable to the distributor.
c.      a complete statement of all screen and advertising credit obligations, with the names listed in the same order as they appear on the billing block together with a layout of the proposed screen and advertising credits and photostatic copies of excerpts from all agreements defining and describing both the form and nature of the required credits and any restrictions as to the use of name and likeness, including licenses for all logos appearing on the billing block;
d.     a statement of any restrictions as to the dubbing of the voice of any player, including dubbing dialogue in a language other than the language in which the Show was recorded;
e.      copies of all licenses, including, but not limited to: fully-executed master use and synchronization /performance music licenses; contracts; assignments and/or other written permissions from the proper parties in interest permitting the use of any musical, literary, dramatic and other material of whatever nature used in the production of the Show; 
(make sure you have both permission to use the music and the synchroniztion rights to every piece of music in the movie.) Mastering rights and synchronization rights are two completely different things.
f.      copies of all agreements or other documents relating to the engagement of personnel in connection with the Show including those for individual producer(s), the director, all artists, music composer(s) and conductor(s), technicians and administrative staff;
g.     a copy of the final approved shooting script.
10.       Certificate of Origin should be an original copy notarized by the applicable governmental authority attesting to the country of origin of the Show and setting forth the following additional information: title of Show; Producer; at least two of the principal cast members; Director; year of production; and running time. (This must be notarized)
11.       The dialogue continuity script must be a detailed subtitle spotting list of the completed Show (and trailer if applicable) conforming in all respects to and with the action and dialogue contained in the completed Show in form and condition suitable for submission to various censorship boards.  If the dialogue of the Show was recorded in whole or in part in a language other than English, the continuity shall contain a literal English translation.
12.       Music cue sheet (complete and accurate) to industry standards.
13.       All DVD Extras.

The following trailers must be provided by Licensor to Sales Agent:
1.          Release Trailer – approximately 150-240 seconds – to be included in all the delivery materials described above. The goal of this “Release Trailer” is to drive audiences to the Show.
2.          Sales Trailer – approximately 60-90 seconds – to be delivered as an MPEG-2 File (720x480 pixels / min 5000/448 kbps). The goal of this “Sales Trailer” is to highlight the Show’s value for the potential distributors.
3.          Extended Trailer (EPK) – approximately 7-12 minutes – to be delivered as an MPEG-2 file (720x480 pixels / min 5000/448 kbps). The goal of this EPK is to add value in the eyes of the potential distributors by its availability as a DVD extra and by reinforcing the overall production quality of the Show. An EPK is used by the Sales Agent to support sales that will not necessarily require a full screening of the Show, often before the Show has been completed. The EPK will usually be made available on the Show’s webpage as a supplement to the Sales Trailer for those wanting to see more of the film immediately.

Friday, January 28, 2011

You Might Be Brilliant, But that doesn't Mean I Love You

After seeing Black Swan, I posted on my Facebook: “I may not have totally loved it, but Black Swan was completely brilliant.” I had a few people as me later how I can think a movie was “completely brilliant” without loving it.

Well, here you go. (BEWARE: THERE ARE SOME SPOILERS, SO IF YOU DO NOT WANT IT RUINED, DO NOT KEEP READING. Also, I am aware that I use "brilliant" excessively. Get over it.)

I love movies where you feel like you are in them and when they are over, it’s almost like waking up from a dream. However, when I feel like I’m in it and I walk out feeling like I woke up from a nightmare, that doesn’t mean I’m in love. It was brilliant for making me feel nervous, anxious, unsure, uncomfortable and voyeuristic, but I don’t really enjoy feeling that way.

I’m also a HUGE sucker for a happy ending(mind out of the gutter, please.). While the overall story was thrilling and interesting and everything was so well acted and directed and the movie itself was what I would consider flawless in it’s execution, I would rather see a movie about a ballerina who gets everything she wants and doesn’t have a psychotic breakdown in the process. However, I know that this would not have made a brilliant movie. The reason Black Swan was so brilliant was because it did not follow a typical “happily ever after” formula, which, I hate to say, made the movie more realistic. Life works out to a “happily every after,” so it’s only natural that movies don’t always work out that way either. However, for me to love a movie, I don’t want realistic; I want ideal.

Finally, if I truly love a movie, I will want to see it again, probably right away. When I saw Tangled(robbed of an Oscar nomination, btw…but that’s a rant for another time.), I couldn’t wait to see it again. If movie ticket prices weren’t so astronomical, I probably would have gone again. However, with Black Swan, I thought it was so well done and impeccably acted, but I wasn’t dying to see it again. Does it deserve to win the Best Picture Oscar? Absolutely. Will it be added to my library? Absolutely not. I might have nothing but respect for everyone involved in the creation and execution of this film, but I am in no hurry to see it again. Sorry, Darren Aronofsky.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jason's Famous Celebrity Sightnings

One of coolest parts of living in Los Angeles is sight famous folk in everyday situations. 
Here's a just a few I've caught over the past few years.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Next Thing

I spent a good part of my day going through my finished screenplays and outlines, refreshing my memory, so when it comes time to pitch new material (with the impending sale of Monsters in the Woods that time is soon) I’ll be ready.

I have 10 completely finished, market ready scripts and five or six others in various stages of development.

I suppose the best bet for a Monster follow-up is not one, but three of them.
I wrote a group of horror scripts, EXIT, CHOPHOUSE and WORM to shoot simultaneously. I often refer to them as my horror trilogy. Even though none of the scripts are related, they all use similar locations, equal # of cast members and breakdown at very similar budgets. Because of the proposed shooting schedule all three projects could be brought in at a very reasonable budget. Each flick would cost roughly the same as Monsters in the Woods, but the production value would be higher.
I even have teaser posters done. This was the project I was pursuing when Monsters in the Woods happened.

Then there’s Feud. It’s a much larger movie than I’ve done before. Originally titled Eschaton, Feud is the 2nd script I ever wrote. It’s basically about God and the Devil joining forces to stop a 3rd deity from destroying the world. It’s epic and fun. There are some really cool creature designs for this one.

Then there’s Edges of Twilight, or Twilight (yeah, I’ll have to re-title. It was written before I was aware of the Twilight saga.) It’s kind of a prequel to Edges of Darkness. Following the married vampire couple from Edges, before the zombie apocalypse. This movie is what would have happened if 1990 John Woo had directed a John Carpenter script. It’s really fun and stands totally on its own from Edges. In my last draft I actually changed the characters name to separate it further and make it its own story.

Or I could go more dramatic…
Moving Day is dark, comic noir about 2 best friends who have to get rid of their roommate’s body on…wait for it…Moving Day.
TRASCH_ is about a young girl who reconnects with her estranged father only to get caught up in his meth-dealing enterprise.

I like both of these scripts equally. Either would be a cool change of pace from Monsters. They’re both closer to Trap than anything else I’ve done.
Speaking of Trap, there’s also Traps, which is a loose Trap sequel (not really) It follows a couple of minor characters from Trap. But it’s totally its own story and is much more commercially pleasing than Trap was. Although, it’s an extremely personal piece featuring some things I’m not sure I’m ready to explore.

Back on the horror/sci fi front
There’s A HARD PLACE. (like between a rock and a..) It follows a group of drug dealers who stumble across the Garden of Eden and get caught in an ancient feud between the Guardians thereof. This is a really fun script. Featuring what might be the best action set pieces I’ve ever written. It’s a toss up between this and Edges of Twilight. Both are pretty kick ass.

Then there’s Afternoon Delight. A cool little alien invasion flick. I wrote it right after the 1st draft of Eschaton. It would be a blast to make.

On the unfinished or outline side there’s CRAWL, an alien invasion flick set in the 50’s. It takes place inside an old movie theater.

WRATH_ a counter point to Trasch. A female revenge fantasy in the vain of I Spit on Your Grave. But unique in that it features a completely unreliable protagonist. The crimes committed against her might all be in her head.

DEMOPOLIS. A really cool story, but I can’t really share it. I’ve been trying to crack the 2nd Act of this movie from almost 5 years.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Wednesday in the Life...

330 am. Wake and go to day job.
12pm …leave day job.

Stuff needs doing.
  1. Export material for an actor from past project. They’re supposed to meet me at 3.
  2. Work on Monsters in the Woods Trailer. Add some new sfx to old trailer. Brainstorm ideas for a new trailer.
  3. Clean up desktop on computer and back up edit files. Run disk utility.
  4. Create monsters in the woods productions notes. Use Trap production notes as a template.
  5. Create new director bio for me.
  6. Sound needs arranged in Monsters in the Woods edit. Prep for separate M&E and Dialog tracks.
  7. Work on Viewfinder effect for Monsters in the Woods.
  8. Touch base with VFX Artists about Cave Explosion and Flicker.

For the past week I’ve been buried in the HD UPREZ of Monsters in the Woods. I’ve had zero time for anything else. My system has been completely tied up. Now the uprez is done and I have a lot of stuff to catch up on, including some Vanilla Ice like maxing and relazing.

The actor’s material was exported by 1. I spend 2 to 330 fixing up and re-exporting the sales trailer. It’s uploading now.  The desktop is clean. I’m working on the production notes and bio now. Fun writing about yourself in the 3rd person.

That’s probably as far as I’m going to get today.
I’m off from the day job for the next 2 days and plan to get much more done tomorrow.

I’m off to work out and then spend the rest of the night with my best friend the netflix roku box.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cutting Monsters: Fin


Last week of the official edit. Sure, there'll be minor things from here through the moment when the final quicktime file leaves my house for delivery, but for the most part, editing is done.

Over the last 48 hrs, I've uprez'd the project from SD (which is how I was cutting) to HD. I've been amazed at the difference. There's been a few snags. I had to resize all the "found footage" from it's native 720p to 1080p. Also, after copying the edit onto a new HD sequence and reconnecting to the HD footage, I found I had to manually resize several clips. 

I also found that once in full HD I had a ton more latitude to blow up and reframe certain shots. One sequence that I was not particularly fond of due to lack of dynamic coverage was made much better using this technique. 

One other trial of uprezing is HD seems to handle the color correction a little differently. It seems that the clips in general are a bit darker. The screener copy looks fine, but before delivery I'll have to go over the color correction one more time.

Aside from that, a few VFX and laying in the final score (yet to be delivered) all that is left is separating the M&E (music and effects) tracks for delivery. This may require a bit more sound design work on my part, as much of our amazingly usable foley is apart of the dialog tracks (great work Ben!.) 

Most of my payed work in Hollywood has been editing. Over the course of my four plus years here, I had grown to hate it. Working for low pay on crappy projects had all but sucked my will to edit. Even starting Monsters in the Woods was a chore. But over the course of the last 12 weeks, I've really rediscovered the joy that I once found editing. Putting stuff together. Making something greater than what was there. I'm looking forward to sharing it with everyone.

Anywho, I'm going to finish encoding the HD version for DVD, so my producers can take it and sell the shit outta Monsters in the Woods.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cutting Monsters: Week 12

Down to the nitty gritty. Aside from sound there’s nothing left but color correction. My next week’s post will be all about the wonders and joys of color correction. But this week is all about the sound.

Sound design, oh sound design. How fun you are.
So much sound work to do, I hardly know where to start.

  1. set dialog levels between -10 and -18 db. This is pretty much done, but I noticed several inconsistencies when listening to the last cut. I also need to fill the empty spots between dialog.
  2. Create and set ambient sound design. Right now I have basically one track running underneath each scene. I need to add a few more layers and then a few extra touches hear and there and there.
  3. Add missing hard fx. Folly, footsteps, cloths, ect… I’ve already done about 60 percent. Most of the big stuff is done. Now I have to get a little more specific.
  4. Need to find/create/steal monster sounds, cave ambience and coyote sounds.
  5. Score. Still looking for a composer. I’m not exactly happy with the way things have panned out in this respect.

By the by, I just watched the Losers, and maybe it’s the bottle of wine talking, but I liked it.l