Saturday, December 26, 2015

An Indie Filmmaker's Guide to reading reviews of their work.

Over the years my movies have gotten a ton of reviews from all kinds of sources. I’ve had glowing reviews, tear-the-movie-part reviews, eh reviews, well-written reviews, reviews that didn’t use spell check and everything in-between.  Early on I got a little more worked up over them, but over the years I’ve mellowed and learned to just have fun with them. I enjoy reading the horrible reviews every bit as much as positive ones. Sure it’s always nice to get praise, but negative reviews can spark interest in your movie just as well.  Anywho, here’s a few guidelines for reading reviews of your work.

  1. Don’t take it too seriously. Sure it’s nice to have someone gush over your work, but you need to remember criticism is subjective and totally dependent on point of view.
  2. There’s no such thing as bad press. A scathing review is as likely to draw in readers as a dick-sucking one.
  3. The worst reviews are apathetic. It’s best to be loved or hated. The only reviews that ever bug me are of the middle-of-the-road take it or leave it variety.
  4. Don’t take it too seriously.
  5. It’s not personal. The reviewer (most likely) doesn’t know you. There’s no axe to grind. And if they do and there is, then it’s not about your movie anyway.
  6. Don’t take it too seriously.
  7. If you’re an actor, remember that movies are a director’s medium. If you get a bad notice, it’s most likely the director’s fault. He or she cast the movie and decided if the performance was “there.” If they took anything less, that’s on them. Another thing to remember is some critics mistake bad dialog for bad performance.**** All that said, sometimes director’s are saddled with certain performers and there’s nothing to be done.
  8. Don’t take it too seriously.
  9. A good review from even a small publication feels good.
  10.  Don’t take it too seriously.
Oh, I almost forgot. Be gracious. If you have the time and info, contact and thank the reviewer (even if the review was bad.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2015



Also did a little reality show work. Edited and shot it.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


What is a Micro-Budget Movie?

It’s an ultra-low budget production, usually under 100k and features no or hardly any notable/name actors.  I've written and/or directed over a dozen Micro-Budget features and edited another thirty.

What were the names of your films?

What were the budgets of your movies?

Budget ranged from 250k down to 4k.

What “names” were in your movies?

My 1st 3 movies were all no name affairs.  After that I've worked with Glenn Plummer, Richard Roundtree, Leon, Eric Roberts, Corey Feldman, Robin Givens, and many more.

How did you finance you movies?

I was a hired gun on “Should’ve Put a Ring on it. The producer has a distribution deal straight through several US outlets such as Netflix, Wal-Mart and Best Buy. He was able to finance the movie based on that. I ended up doing at least 10 other movies with him after that.

The rest of movies were all financed by the producers or executive producers that I met working on various projects as an editor, camera op/DP or assistant editor. 

How are you distributing your movies?

Rise of the Undead, Edges of Darkness and Monsters in the Woods were all distributed fairly traditionally through distributors. ROTU was picked up by York Entertainment, EOD by Anchor Bay and MITW by Osiris Entertainment.

Trap was self-distributed.
Should’ve Put A Ring on it was sold by the producers direct to retail outlets. I guess you could call it self-distribution, but they’ve since become a small distributor that puts out mostly their own product.

Why did you decide on tradition distribution for the three?

I think there’s a certain respectability (real or imaged) that goes along with a distributor picking your movie up. That is the dream, to have your movie picked up and it make you tons of money. No body wants to handle shipping, marketing, legal and promotion on their own.

Why did you decide to self-distribute Trap?

The short answer is no one would pick it up, at least not for any money. I had made little to no money myself on Rise of the Undead or Edges of Darkness (in spite of them selling well for the distributors.) Plus the budget on Trap was so low that I decided to risk self-distribution. I started with Createspace/Amazon and am slowly picking up other outlets. 

How did festival play into your distribution strategy?

Not at all. I’ve submitted different movies to different festivals and got into to a few. The thing about festivals is if you don’t have the money to promote and make them work for you, they’re a waste on time (at least that’s my opinion.) 

What are some of the obstacles that you encountered and how did you overcome them?

Time and money are the biggest. But I’ve also always had to deal with my own sense of scale. I like to try and stretch my budgets and make things on a grander scale. This has at times affected the final products. When you’re working on a micro it’s important from the get to write with that in mind. I’ve tackled many of my scripts like they were studio productions. 

What were some of your biggest mistakes or wastes of time/money?

Pre-planning is the most important thing, regardless of your budget. On Monsters in the Woods, we never pre-built our original monsters in order to see how long it would take and how they would look. When we put them together for the 1st time, on set, it took way too long and they looked like crap. We lost an entire day of shooting and had to hire a new FX crew. The whole incident pushed our budget up by a 1/3.

What resources or tools did you find the most helpful during production, post and/or distribution?

This is going to sound really egomaniacal, but my experience over the years as a camera operator, grip, pa, editor, sound editor and self-promoter. Because I can handle so many large (usually higher paid) gigs on set and in post, I can always keep my budgets reasonable. Do I want to edit my own stuff? Not really, and if the budgets were higher I’d hire someone else in an instant. But on a micro, for the money available, I know no one else is going to take the care that I will. 

If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently?

Hire better sound people for Rise of the Undead and Edges of Darkness. Shot the movies better, spend more time with the actors, and spend more time on the scripts. The usual stuff.