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


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