Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Deliverable Fun: Film Clearance Report

One item that you will need to be able to deliver to a distributor upon selling your movie is a Film Clearance Report. Script clearance research involves reading and breaking down your script, and identifying all items that represent possible legal conflicts if used as is. This includes character names, business names, product names, organization names, locations, artwork, music, copyrighted or trademarked material, and more. This must be completed by a lawyer in order for you to obtain Errors and Omissions insurance.

Below are a couple of pages from the Edges of Darkness report.
I think it will be helpful to filmmakers out there who may be unaware of certain "clearance" issues. Most things are common sense.  Brand names, personal agreements, ect... 
Others maybe not so much. For example...Bible Quotes. I told the lawyer that I got God's ok on that one.

Click on images to view larger.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Finding Distribution 2: Production Notes

When trying to get your movie distributed, there's much more you need than just the movie itself.

Over the next few weeks I'll be discussing and giving examples of specific tools that are used for getting interest from production companies, distributors and film.

Today I’m posting an example of production notes. These usually accompany the screener sent out to potential distributors and film festivals. The synopsis is usually a bit more complete. I judiciously edited this one for posting here because of spoilers. Usually a one sheet and bio photos are included. They are on ours, but hey, I’m lazy and didn’t want to post them here.

Monsters in the Woods

About the film  

Auteur, Jason Harrisford has made the movie of his dreams... but to his dismay, it can’t sell in Hollywood. The distributors tell him “... you have nothing exploitative in your movie. Add some sex scenes and more violence, and maybe we’ll buy your film.” The distraught filmmaker approaches his neophyte producer, Bravo Roberts, and tells him, “... find more money, put together a cast and crew... we’re going to give them what they want!”

Various ‘B’ movie actors, including stuntman Burt, and his gorgeous wannabe actress girlfriend, Ashley, follow the film crew into a remote forest in order to shoot the new scenes. As they begin filming, the director is accidentally killed by his inept crew. Bravo convinces them all to stay and finish the movie. They concede and soon after, are attacked by an unrelenting swarm of deadly creatures from hell. Mayhem ensues as the survivors attempt to kill the ‘demons’, and close an entrance to hell before the whole Earth is consumed by the evil!

Monsters in the Woods
” stars Glenn Plummer (Saw 2, Speed) and Lee Perkins (Katiebird, The Red Machine).  It is writer/director Jason Horton’s 4th feature. His first “RISE OF THE UNDEAD was released worldwide in 2005. In 2009, Horton made a big splash with his sophomore effort, “Edges of Darkness.” Edges were released in September 2009 by Anchor Bay and were met with great reviews and fan reaction.

Monsters in the Woods was conceived out of writer/director Jason Horton’s frustration with trying to get his best work henceforth, Trap, distribution.
Monsters in the Woods is the most personal movie I’ve made. In spite of its fantastic nature, it is a true reflection of my life both personally and professionally. Aside from that, it’s a kick ass, punk rock horror flick that’s a lot fun. I can’t wait for people to see it.”

About the production
Monsters in the Woods
” was shot entirely on location, in a furious 9 days principle photography.  90% of it was an exterior shoot. Malibu, Big Bear and Griffith Park all stood in for remote wilderness. The only set was a cave built on the property of our production designer for less than 500 dollars.

“We only had 4 days of production to make it happen!”

All of Glenn Plummer’s scenes, the rest of the 1st act , the massacre sequence and the monster fx shots all had to be shot over the course of 4 production days in Big Bear.

“We were shooting in 4 days what a studio production would in several weeks. It was both the best and most stressful shooting experience I’ve ever encountered. Major drama with an actor, disagreements with producers, a bigger cast and crew than I had ever worked with. We really bit off a lot, but somehow we made it through.  In the end, the drama and frantic shooting pace contributed to some great stuff. Sometimes you get the best stuff, when you’re in a rush and stressed.”

Jason Horton – Director

Director’s Notes

I think I got the best overall performances out of the cast on Monsters in the Woods than on any other production I’ve mounted. Sure, I’ve worked with good actors before, even some of the same actors. But my approach towards them has changed drastically.

In the past I’ve needed to focus so much on other aspects of production, just to get the movies in the can, that the actors couldn’t always be the main focus. This is mistake. Because no matter how good that shot looks or sounds, if the performance is off, it’s all for nothing.

I think the mistake most newbie filmmakers and micro-budget productions make is that they sink what little money they have into better cameras, locations or FX, when they should sink that time and money into better casting.

Producer’s Notes

Micro-budget filmmaking is not for the weak. You put everything you have creatively, financial and personally into a project with no guarantee of every seeing anything back for it.

If you don’t love movies and love making movies then why bother. Nothing bugs me more than to see a larger scale production headed by people that not only don’t love movie, but rarely can be bothered to even watch them. It’s all about money for them.

Robert Bravo

The Film Makers

Director / Writer / Editor – Jason Horton

Raised in the Midwest, Jason moved to Louisiana and studied film at the University of New Orleans. Jason founded Zapruter Productions and began production on his first feature “Rise of the Undead.” It was finished and released worldwide in 2005.  After Hurricane Katrina, Jason relocated to Los Angeles where he worked as a director of photography on features such as “The Legend of the Sandsquatch” and “Pastor Jones 2.” He also honed his skills as an editor on “Miss B’s Hair Salon, The Black Woman’s Guide to Finding a Good Man and Pastor Jones 2.”
In 2008 he put his experience on other people’s films to work and completed his 2nd effort as a writer/director, “Edges of Darkness.” It was released to great fanfare in September 2009. Both “Trap” and “Monsters in the Woods” are in the hands of potential distributors.

Producer – Robert Bravo

Robert Bravo had a childhood like no other spending most of it being raised in the music industry. He is known among his friends as the true a Renaissance man “and amateur whiner” holding a variety of titles ranging from storyboard artist, f.x make up, and production assistant, all the way on to producer. He likes to think of it as climbing the corporate ladder of film. To quote him “I have a natural home in entertainment industry I was raised in it, and can can’t see doing any thing else” He hungers for the limelight that those whom raised him had.

Production Designer – Blaine Cade

Hailing from unknown parts of the Louisiana Bayou, enigmatic artist Blaine Cade burst into the Hollywood scene with his stunning design work on Jason Horton’s first feature, “RISE OF THE UNDEAD.” Cade followed that up with work both behind and in front of the camera on a series of films, leading up to him co-writing and (some say) directing some of “EDGES OF DARKNESS

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Those Who Make Their Own Breaks...

I’ve been working in and around the fringes of the entertainment industry for almost 10 years. I’ve made my own features, worked on others’, worked on big movies, small movies, commercials, videos…ect. I’ve meant tons of people who talk about how they want to be artists, filmmakers, musicians, editors, ect, ect…but that’s about all most do…they talk.

In this business you make your own opportunities, you make your own breaks.

Like Paul Misko and Gladys Otero. They are both actors. They both appeared in Monsters in the Woods. They are both proactive. They both got the roles themselves. Gladys I met on the set of promo film and was so taken with her personality and work ethic I wrote the part of Bianca in Monsters in the Woods for her. And then she suggested Paul for Kris and he totally won me over.

They were both a joy to work with. But that’s not all. They also just produced a T.V Pilot CLASSY together, which Paul directed and they have performing roles in. They also run a T-Shirt Company. FEVERYTHING

They are out there making their own breaks. That’s how you succeed in this business. Unless you have connections, money or family high up, you have to do it yourself. No one’s going to discover you and do it for you. You have to put yourself out there and do it.

That's all I got to say about that.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Finding Distribution 1 : Website and Trailer

When trying to get your movie distributed, there's much more you need than just the movie itself.
Over the next few weeks I'll be discussing and giving examples of specific tools that are used for getting interest from production companies, distributors and film festivals.

One of the 1st things you need is a sales trailer. Different folk will give you different definitions of what exactly a sales trailer is. For me, a sales trailer is just what it sounds like; a trailer to sell your movie. It should be no more than 2 minutes. One of the worst sins a sales trailer can commit is to be boring.

I usually cut mine between a 90 and 120 secs.

You want to give the general story and showcase you sellable elements. A sales trailer differs from a theatrical trailer in that with a sales trailer you don't worry too much about giving stuff away. In short you don't want to hold much back. But at the same time, you want to save some stuff, so that if they request and watch your screener, they don't say there's nothing good but what's in the trailer.

Monsters in the Woods
(by the by, our site is still under construction, so not everything I talk about is up there yet)

There's a ton of things that go into making a good website.

For me, when sending out a screener initially, I like to keep things simple. A trailer on the main page that plays automatically. Links to any other pages for the movie (twitter, facebook ect..) A simple synopsis of the movie and maybe some pics and press links (if you have press) and contact.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dog Days of Winter_or what passes for Winter in Los Angeles

So, I spent the majority of the past three weeks laid up battling a Captain Trips-esque cold and flu. Screeners of Monsters in the Woods are finding their ways into the hands of eagerly waiting distributors and film festivals. I found myself creatively a little stifled. I haven't much felt like blogging or writing in general.
Nah, most of this time I devoted to Netflix instant view (one of the greatest inventions ever) and there's nothing wrong with that.

I kicked things off with a Van Damme marathon. I’ve always liked Van Damme. His mainstream work has been consistently good. He’s made some off choices, but he always commits 100 percent to his roles. Case in point, Double Impact, in which he played opposite himself. He did an excellent job of giving each of the characters distinct personalities and physical characteristics. He even put on an extra 20 pounds of muscle to play the brutier one. Double impact also features an awesome one on one between the two.
Then there’s Timecop, which is “90’s as fuck” (thanks Shannon) but is also well done and at times touching. I finished up the marathon with a couple of his latter day dtv flicks. The Order (not much good to say about it) and The Hard Corps, which is a under budgeted, illegitimate love child of Man of Fire and The Bodyguard.

Next up, Dreamcatcher a movie so bad, its beyond words. Devin Farci said it much better than I ever could.    Bad Ass Digest

Then came Skins. Seasons 1-3.
This show really makes me question my place in the world. I mean, how is it that a male in his 30’s can be so wrapped up in a show about and made by kids. I devoured this raunchy teen-melodrama in just over 4 days.

The Parking Lot Movie struck a chord with me. I don’t see how anyone who worked service for any length of time couldn’t see a bit of themselves or others they know in it. Cool Documentary.

The Millinium Trilogy. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It was ok.
The Girl Who Played with Fire. Not quite as ok as the 1st.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. I was over it before it started.

The Lost Boys the Tribe. Ashamed to admit it, but I kind of liked it. Sure it was awful. But I watched beginning to end and enjoyed most of it.

The Last Song. No doubt about it. I’m a sucker for chick flicks and I actually really like this one. Greg Kinear can do no wrong.

Death at a Funeral. I cannot believe the same director did this, In the Company of Men and Your Friends and Neighbors. Well…I guess he did do the Wicker Man too. This was horrible.

An Education. Really, really liked it. But it is kind of sad when you reach a point in your life when you start seeing more of yourself in villains than heroes.

Legendary. Good kiddie movie of the week material. I enjoyed.

Smokey and the Bandit 2. What can I say? Junior when your mama gets home I’m going to kick her in the butt.

Solitary Man. Michael Douglas absolutely owns in this movie.

Exam. British, Cube-esque thriller about job applicants locked in a room to answer a single question. Catch is they don’t know what it is. Good stuff.

Blade 2. I freakin love this movie. If not my favorite Del Toro, its way up there. Wesley Snipes is the epitome of badass.

Eyes Wide Shut. Didn’t hold up that well for me. I remember liking it much more. Still much better than it’s usually given credit for.

I’m sure there’s a dozen or so more I’m missing. Oh well…time to get back to making movies….