Friday, July 26, 2013

On What It Takes to Get Signed

On What It Takes to Get Signed,

For more info visit: WME Signs Web-Fave Filmmaker Ilya Naishuller

Originally I posted this video and directed it at a friend of mine.  Here I'll say that the filmmaker took a rather complicated vision that must've required tons of rehearsal, coordination and stunt-work to make quite the POV spectacle.

I'll say quickly that this is fun.  The story is pretty simple but the execution is high-speed and compelling.  But specifically: I don't really know how he did it.  I mean I can guess but what's most interesting is the attitude, perspective, and technical capacity to understand how to get this all wrapped up in something that feels like one take (even though the cuts are just hidden by a reeling head-cam and the down beats of a rather awesome song).

The amount of production value came from the involvement of an entire stunt-team, tons of squibs and gunfire effects, and a mysterious device that we forgive for it's rather unfinished visuals for the adventure it brings on through various locales and not a small amount of excitement.

I can't answer what it takes to surprise your audience.  The truth is some people are strong only for the assets they have access too.  I don't know if the entire stunt-team was hired, whether it was an official company or a group of rough men who like to do crazy shit, and if it was for money or a big favor.  The concept is more important:

Surprise your audience, out-think them and out-perform their expectations and imaginations and you should land a deal.  How: think way more carefully about what you and you alone have access to (this includes experiences and things you personally enjoy).

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

On Google/Youtube's Generation C (for Content?)

On Google/Youtube's Generation C (for Content?)

For more information, visit: Google invests in YouTube studio in LA

As technology has mobilized, online viewership has increased steadily with all the new content made available.

I've often had a complaint about those of us in film school who consider online exhibition. Without market awareness we might be doing ourselves a disservice by putting our videos side-by-side with prosumers junkies, nothing against them, who whipped out a camera and produced content that went viral. I could say that our "education" is making us think too much. But the truth is we learn how to make art at school, not entertainment. No one has the authority to tell you what "funny" is or what "adventure" looks like today. So we learn the art and the techniques and then we're made hesitant, while eager and innocent creators get drafted by Google and become "generation C." There's a real value in our education that should have it's place solidly entrenched within this online phenomenon, not just in the festival circuits or those very narrow entry points into the indie industry or union fellowships.

A little bit of envy is healthy if it gets the wheels turning. This article is way more proof that recognition and income are within our grasp. Youtube recognized that if they wanted to compete with the increasing quality of online content, they had to guide and invest in creators with real potential. For those in my network and beyond really considering that webisode pilot or short film, put a little fire under your butt because the time is now.

Organize. Bring your broke creative neighbors under one roof and get to using every resource available to put a slate together, and by all means seize the day. Not just cause its fun but because it could be the start of your career. The eyes of the digital industry, as well as film & TV beyond who feel the pressure, are all turning upon our ingenuity and creative passions to pave the way to the future.

Let's get what we came for,

C.M. Sanchez III

On Social Media Marketing

On Social Media Marketing,

For more information, visit: 5 Quick, Painless Ways to Make Social Media Marketing Easy

Indie Marketers:

These are just about the 5 vaguest suggestions to make social media easier, BUT since most of us learning production aren't learning marketing or social media at school and generally don't have an environment to discuss and practice the basics, I think it's important to keep these ideas on your radar. 

Success is available today through faith, self-development and practice. So you take a tip such as "keep it simple" and the further notes on containing your social media investment to just a few venues but understanding that the key is consistency and quality discussion and right away your practicing something that will undoubtedly reveal a benefit in our business which is balanced on public perception and audience reception.

You have to create content; create something. Blogging to share, to inform and entertain and to create new business relationships will not only help you stay alert of the world you're trying to engage, it will also be mindful of who you are and what you're actually offering. Some of us begin not knowing exactly how to fit ourselves in the bigger equation. And the pursuit for basic needs can distract us from the bigger question of what's the best within us that we can offer.

Keep learning and growing.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

On Production Incentives by State

Production Incentives by State,

Thanks IW! For new producers expanding your domestic horizons, put a bookmark on this page for the cliff notes on state-by-state film commission benefits for incoming shows.

For those of us who haven't produced a feature yet or perhaps are considering packaging one, the details reviewed in these states are great selling points when presenting the business proposal. Take the best details on tax incentives, available locations, etc. and create a page in your plan that shows investors how savvy you are. Not everyone willing to invest their money has the time to be educated on what it takes to make a film and many of the equity investors are simply not aware of how it's done. So let these details shine and strengthen your credibility and as Soderbergh says, remember to let them know at the bottom line it's all about hope.

Good hunting.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

On Valuing You (And What's Cool About English Majors)

On Valuing You (And What's Cool About English Majors),

For more information (on English Majors) visit: Steve Strauss: Why I Hire English Majors,

Hardly one to toot my horn, in this one instance I'm allowing myself a moment to feel a bit prouder. Being an English major usually translates into a teaching career in terms of practical relevance. Steve Strauss kindly makes us relevant to just about any business that requires critical analysis and problem solving as well as a higher grade of communicative ability. As a creative writing major I hope I fall somewhere in there. It's nice to get recognized for what some might dismiss as a backup and otherwise useless focus.

For the filmmakers among us that are trying to figure out which services and skill-sets might keep us gainfully in-demand, do not dismiss your natural talents or inclinations. You might not be a great communicator but you excel with numbers, or perhaps you are very sensitive on a strategic level and have a wider than normal perspective, or you might be a great cook and the perfect person to setup an intimate social event with. Take care of yourselves. Great filmmaking takes a strong spirit. Knowing where and how you belong means knowing your angle on the goals your pursuing. That's a measurable conviction and it sells. But it's gotta be yours.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

A New Blog and Aid for Producers

A New Blog and Aid for Producers,

For more information visit: Joke & Biaggio

I would link some blog posts from here but I'm not going to because too many of them seem too juicy and at some point I'd like to stand up and go do something else. If you are gonna make it happen, you'll need reference materials and other good sources of supportive information.  Plus I'm a little loopy from all the writing done today.

I'm just getting started trying to be of inspiration. But until success makes mine common sense, there's these folks and their very awesome blog & podcast.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

On CRI's Tips for Grassroots Marketing and Distribution

On CRI's Tips for Grassroots Marketing and Distribution,

For more information, visit: 5 Tips for Grassroots Film Distribution from Producers of 'Beasts of the Southern Wild'

Important work is being done to debug the process of galvanizing a niche market or target audience. The tips provided above seem to lean in favor of supporting "issue" filmmakers, however much of the information can also aid narrative filmmakers as well. 

For instance, observing demographics and reaching out to local communities can happen in small towns, but it can also happen in the LES, DUMBO, the Village, Flatbush, Corona, Downtown Brooklyn, Chelsea, etc.  

Additionally, sharing resources with other filmmakers with similar interest is one of the lead benefits of entering the practice from a college community. 

Emerging producers and directors should take a closer look at these blog posts and take better care of how they log their resources and develop relationships. Until you have studio or equity support, you are your own representation and without a consumer base to receive your product, you simply don't exist. If you're determined to succeed, you're going to have to reach out to people.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

First Sundance, now Tribeca: On Shorts to Features

First Sundance, now Tribeca: On Shorts to Features

For more information, visit: Racking Focus: Playing the Long Game With Shorts

I wasn't even aware that this was a trending thought. The idea of shooting a feature with a short-film budget is highly annoying to me. Bravo to the people that try, but budgeting transpo and food alone will break you unless you intend to feed white-bread sandwiches and film all locations within walking distance of each other. The time investment needed, even if its only two weeks, is a huge investment for a new film maker, especially if they don't know how they're marketing themselves and have no distribution strategy to make sure the project gains some exposure.

If you're shooting something over 20 minutes, you need to think of the crew and where this project is intended to go since you're probably not paying anyone. My advice would be don't do it. Production is war, it's an incredible strain and a great way to burn out your favors.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

Competent Horror Always Goes Back to the Basics

Competent Horror Always Goes Back to the Basics,

For more information visit: Watch: Jason Eisener's Terrifying 1-Minute Horror Short 'One Last Dive' Gets the Job Done

Struggling with capping the scale of your genre short? Eisener makes it look easy. Back to basics: show the weapon in act 1...

Reasons for winning: underwater = production value to start.  Everything else is stock, which makes me wonder if his competition even competed or if they proved to be misfits and flakes.  So much of winning in this industry is facing down quitters.  Anyway, I feel like I've seen this scene before.  Either that or my generation just has a shared consciousness.  So to scratch the genre its, watch horror movies and then let your inherent sensibilities do the heavy lifting.  You're people will let you know if your'e off.

Let's get what we came for,

C.M. Sanchez III  

On Writing for Hollywood

On Writing for Hollywood,

For more information, visit: Screenwriters' hard lessons of doing business in Hollywood

"More than 65,000 pieces of literary material are registered annually at the Writers Guild of America, while fewer than 700 films were released theatrically last year."

Above's an example of someone paying for representation and getting ripped off. Don't. If you're going to write, find the hungry producers, directors, or casting agents willing to co-sponsor your project. Even verbal support can start a buzz to push interest your way. By the time a deal is imminent, an agent will be part of the program. Real business has to be done through these representatives to keep the egos at bay, and although they may help facilitate future opportunity, they do not make it a habit of being responsible as an entry point.

A side note: the quote I brought out was to illustrate a piece of information that's been recurring in my environment from different facets of the industry implying success goes to 1% of the crowd. Don't ever let these numbers fool you. It's a war of attrition. Prepare yourself to be the last man or woman standing. The rest defeat themselves.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

On Story: Matching the Hero with the Right Risks

On Story: Matching the Hero with the Right Risks,

For more information, visit: Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea

An excerpt in a series of entries on compelling plot, Josh Golding reminds the writer of what should be the burning question driving Act III, is the hero resolved enough to deal with the final conflict of his journey (which is?). 

Whether the investigation begins on the premise of the climax or the original depths from which the hero should rise, it's one that should happen consciously, draft after draft, where each choice is written down to be truly meaningful. 

That might seem daunting until one steps back and determines if the risk is high enough. If we're lucky, that risk will properly enforce its own adequate setup through the revision. Further that risk will be matched by a lesson or moment important enough to create the arc that validates the journey.  Make it matter.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

On the Isolated Track

On the Isolated Track,

For more information, visit: Under Pressure: Music Is for Listening, but the Isolated Track is for Creating

Music-lovin' filmmakers: read and listen here. Truthfully there is a mysterious majesty unearthed in this article that I've just discovered and could really have some interesting implications for the way we imagine our score to have an impact on the screen (as well as the way we might enjoy good music in general). Enjoy.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

Friday, July 19, 2013

Sundance Shorts Lab: N.Y.C. Part two

Sundance Shorts Lab: N.Y.C. Part two

For more information, visit ShortsLab: N.Y.C. / Sundance Institute

Note:  I expanded my interview from the event in a previous post unaware that I did it in this one.  The notes here are closer to the event and more thorough in their relation.

Last Sunday I attended ShortsLab: N.Y.C. 
I brought a recorder with me if anyone's interested. I also have the program schedule with the names of the panelists in case anyone wants to review successful festival participants. There were 5 panels: The Sundance Short Program and background on the festival, Story Development, Collaboration, Working with Actors, and Shorts to Features. I'm providing some notes here.

From the Sundance panel:
They receive 8000 submission. They take that down to about 1200. Then they refine that to 300. Then they go somewhere and argue till it's down to 80. So 1% of shorts submitted actually screen. They promised there were no political shenanigans, HOWEVER they did say that lobbyists do exists and that can cause them to take a second look at a film. I would imagine that's enough some times.
-The industry is interested in shorts. They value new talent and new visions and people with the capacity to complete a project.
-The average film is 12-14 minutes but the big question is does the film work for the amount of time it takes? If it sorta works at 15 minutes but feels so much stronger at 11, that's a good reason to cut it down, even if your favorite shot is on the chopping block. Value for time is a big deal to them. So ask that question during test screening.
-Sympathy affects decision making: if you are undiscovered and the other guy has a film that's played at 11 film festivals already you might get chosen over the favorite IF you've done your homework with social media and given judges a way to see a little more into your story and behind the scenes of the show. They like to look up the film and filmmakers and use that to weigh out festival placement.
-Someone asked about festival strategy: ultimately its the film that counts, the festival throws promo material away, but the panelist couldn't talk for distributors whom, on the day, they noticed were indeed attracted to a little grassroots effort (posters, a press kit, buttons and pins with a table etc.)

From Story Development:
A story should have an inner question, a thematic through line that ties the film together and it should be in front of the script writer during all writing sessions.
-Dialogue written into the script may not always make the cut, but those scenes may help ease the characters into the less chatty and more emotional scenes where they need something to anchor them. I suggest the alternative of writing improv scenes that take place days before the diagetic timespace of the film so they have character memories to reflect on.

From Collaboration:
A method to fundraising comes through the casting director pathway, sending a good script to an actor is sometimes less important that the director they'll be working with. The director and the actor want to know who's directing them. Short films are a good way to build your argument. In this way, Story = project integrity, Actor = market, so the script should be actor-centric and performance based as well as tightly plotted.
-Each stage of film-making need not be dependent upon the original screenplay but be considered a re-write as new collaborators are involved and see its potential, such as editors who have so much influence on the final narrative structure.
-Credits can act as payment on ambitious productions (as in marketing ambitious; connections, promised advertising, or possible talent elements can influence hiring the same way a certain camera can attract a DP. For no-budget, incentive is everything).
-Production offices, when raising money, search up financiers through IMDB who have funded similar films and proposition them.

Dealing with Actors:
Again, they want to know who's directing and see examples. Shorts are valuable here.
-Some directors provide letters to the reader, along with the script, that describe what films are like the film they will shoot. They may also indicate for the actors, in their copy of the script, where there will be room for improv but they appreciate this balanced against clear script adherence.
-Know when to leave actors alone. They believe if you chose them, then there shouldn't be much to discuss on set. They absolutely appreciate the rehearsal time however to practice their craft.
-They appreciate knowing what the good takes are as well as being given a chance over multiple takes to provide differing performances and tones. For better performances, cut down your shotlist.
-Don't go deeply into emotional scenes during rehearsal. They like to reserve that for the shoot. 50% emo levels are fine.
-Don't shoot the first scenes on the first day. It's the first scene of the film and they are at their coldest. They need time to develop comfort.
-Give space to your actors from the hustle of the set.

Shorts to features:
Use what you know personally and what you own to make insta-unique cinema.
-If you are lucky and good enough to receive multiple accolades, stagger them, spread out the news to create a sense of ongoing importance rather that showing it all right away.
-Language and conviction are very powerful, tell investors/producers interviewing you that you are shooting this year, so they feel they are trying to jump on a moving train.
-Often you'll feel like you have nothing to work with, be down to lose it all anyway.

Let's get what we came for,

C.M. Sanchez III

More on Reboots

More on Reboots,

For more information, visit Red Band Trailer for Spike Lee's 2013 Remake of 'Oldboy'

Maybe it's just me, but after working my ass off over enough years, on dozens of sets large and small, with hundreds of dedicated and talented people, I find it hard to be overly critical of cinema. I love the world, the art, the effort, the business even. It all comes together. I only hate when people don't respect the process and half-ass it.

Spike Lee obviously got permission to do this and he's a master of his craft. So I'll be happy to watch it. That said: I hope they get the hallway fight scene down to one shot, the original was priceless.

Off my tangent, I think it's an interesting idea to know what emerging filmmakers can do in attempt to capture the essence of, and adapt, old favorites - even from foreign territory - to short film.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

On Social Media Tactics: Speed

On Social Media Tactics: Speed

For more information visit: Twitter Vs. Mainstream Media: Science Proves Which Breaks News Faster

What is the buzz? And how do we use it at the bottom to stir the forces north of us? One thing seems certain: a critical component is speed.

It is currently my belief, but not my experience, that there is more ways than just the festival circuit for new filmmakers to catch the eyes of industry green-lighters. Some say that twitter is dead. Perhaps in certain functions it's true. And maybe in other ventures where the scope of a project is both limited and robust, like the production and emergence of a film, it's a perfect tool.

A production blog carries the unfortunate problem of either over-exposing a show before it's public fate is guaranteed or exposing it too soon and letting the audiences excitement wane. Timing can't be fixed by twitter, but the amount of attention a blog post demands versus the efficient anecdotal process of tweeting, where by information is forced to be concise, might be the question to address during a promotional phase of production.

Add to this consideration the understanding provided below, where the speed of information travelling across twitter gives it a distinct attribute over traditional media, and yet Twitter is free, the internet omnipotent. If you have a killer production staff and the movies engine has momentum, you might risk Twitter's capacity to announce your development process, your investment rewards, your teasers and trailers, your vimeo feature-ettes, your first screening, your lessons learned and what's coming next.

If you took the time to develop an e-mail blast for your company or brand, then I imagine your communicative power would be greatly enhanced if your network were encouraged to communicate updates this way.

"As it is said, be swift as the thunder that peals before you have a chance to cover your ears, fast as the lightning that flashes before you can blink your eyes." ~ Select commentary translated by Thomas Cleary in the Shambhala publication of Sun Tzu's the Art of War.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

On Criticism and Reasons to Push it Anyway

On Criticism and Reasons to Push it Anyway,

For more information, visit The Dissolve discusses films of the summer

Looking for a reason to get over-stimulated by pop-culture criticism? Look no further.

The Dissolve obviously has a smart collection of experienced writers with solid voices and much to debate. But the end result is moot. And it's indicative of the truth that you can't please everyone. There is no particular way to analyze value save by numbers and those numbers don't indicate anything more that what people were willing to spend based on a trailer. Everyone being entitled to their bit of 'favorite' and subjected to their share of peer pressure essentially means that no one knows anything. That's why the movie business is the biggest gamble in town and the most money goes to p&a.

What does that mean to emerging above-the-liners: nothing beats bullshit. Schedule the teaser and print a concept image for God's sake.

A great film can be molded with too much insecurity and strain that it's never pushed through post and marketed. A clumsy orgiastic blend of modern hyperbole by someone claiming their own renown has a greater chance of claiming the sale for the simple fact that enthusiasm carries so much further than modesty. Criticism after the fact is just a hobby for people with a day off or a job for those encouraging the former. For those of us that don't get a day off cause we're too busy creating, know that perfection doesn't exist. Honesty is a far better goal for a film but wherever it goes, it should be expressed with severity . . . you know so that people can have an opinion about it. It makes audiences feel good.

So, show up and put out - get the world talking and they'll save you a seat or, even better, force you to stand above them.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M.Sanchez III

On Reboots and the Commercial Question

On Reboots and the Commercial Question,

For more information visit 'Day of the Dead' Reboot Arises

For those of us taking up the responsibility of creating work opportunities, student producers and the like, who struggle at the no-budget extreme; it's important to look at the "it's-been-done" argument and squash it. It's a false roof; a counter-intuitive excuse that disguises fear and ignorance for intelligence.

Among the producers recreating 'Day of the Dead' are those that did the original in 1985. They waited a generation and are revisiting an old property to exploit a cult fan base. They'll probably make their money on it too. This will add another entry to what some would consider a tired genre. Nevertheless, it holds appeal. It won't be the last movie to capitalize on a convention.

To my short-filmmakers: I implore you, amid your rare opportunities to cobble together cast and crew and funding, if it's your intent to grow your practice and your audience and to pull your fellow collaborators back to you for the next one, you must include the existing market in your artistic appeal.

Don't slash your wrists if you are attracted to commercial narratives, popcorn film and the like. Don't humble yourself before aspiring auteurs because you have affection for a great fan-film concept or some cheap, pulpy drama. Story and performance, regardless of the label or sensibility, can still vault your work over more self-aware designs and be the viewing of choice for an audience who's tired of suicide. Why? Because instead of making a film for yourself, you made entertainment for them. If it has been done before, and it did well, it will likely do well again. Moderate your risks and make time for the tried and true and we'll all pray your service to the masses will lift you out of the no-budget arena sooner rather than later.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

Saturday, July 13, 2013

On Trial and Triumph

On Trial and Triumph,

For more information, visit: SUSAN SEIDELMAN, SURVIVOR

An interesting look into a successful director's career that perhaps hasn't carried the same amount of shine to it as those we're most familiar but should still be considered for her talent and the grace through which it continues to be applied.

I consider the possibility of making it beyond anonymity one day and appreciate it when veterans provide insight into a living career of wins and losses and the right attitude.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

On the Business of Bullshit,

On the Business of Bullshit,

For more information, visit: Inside the Asylum, One of the Most Successful Low-Budget Studios

Holy shit, great read! Often I wonder what the hell supports the junkpile in Netflix's library. It's the same way I wonder what supports the endless assortment of garbage Facebook games, or unnecessary classes at school. For an Americanmindset often miscalculating the value of the "freedom" label, or the better branded "individuality" tag, choices translates in a perception of power in my presumed ability to distinguish myself from others based on the assortment of options within my grasp.

A quote:
"And in the endlessly filterable world of Netflix, where your preferences are sorted into hyper-specific genres, a full page of results for horror films with nightmare-vacation plotlines makes you feel like Netflix is tailoring its product just for you. “The bottom line is that it’s there, and you saw it,” Davis says—even if you didn’t actually watch it."

I find the article below really fascinating. It's more interesting then the rest of what I'm writing here. So read it NOW! It reveals a disguised set of conditions responsible for flooding the shelves with content I would never have considered producible. Moreso it puts the audience's fallibility in an interesting light. Some people are directly matched for low-intelligence films. Some people find value in the opportunity for harsh criticism. In either case a crap movie is vindicated. Common sense right? - but a hypothetical consideration until you begin realizing checks are being written and people are surviving off of this nonsense and it's all due to the evolution of digital streaming. This makes me wonder if it's really possible for an intelligent filmmaker to fail.

For example: If I have the right perspective matching my talent to the right scope of the market and the correct audience, and if I can keep to my budget and meet deadlines, and I know the basics well enough to get to a fine cut without anyone dying on set while maintaining enough continuity to be able to argue that what's been cut is actually a movie, well then chances are I will have a career.

And if all the suck is just a place holder until more producers, directors and writers enter the scene and secure funding so that existing libraries can grow bigger, it's good to know the demand exists on the viewer side and that they really deserve a better kind of movie. I won't knock what Asylum is doing though. Val Lewton originated terror films in much the same environment back in the 1930s and these films often went up against Univeral's monster show. If the worst that can happen to a dedicated filmmaker is that he or she becomes a carnie, a business models exists that can keep him or her in the mix until inspiration elevates him and his product back into mainstream appeal. It's OK to suck, apparently the world doesn't really mind and quite often audiences appreciate it in their own way. If you were worried about ultimate failure, don't.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

On Music Rights

On Music Rights,

For more information, visit: 4 Essentials When Clearing Music Rights

Music's important. Navigating the acquisition can become a real skill, alongside cast directing and locations management. An emerging producer can bring a lot to the project if they can utilize these methods. So read up and get crackin.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

Tips on the Film Trade

Tips on the Film Trade,

For more information, visit 10 Most Expensive Mistakes Filmmakers Make

A nod against hubris: while many of these particular tips seem self-evident, it's important to underscore how easily they can be overlooked or mishandled out of pure negligence. 

It's easy to get caught up in tying one's expectations with physical production, but this part is often a brief spurt of exhaustive effort amid 5 other phases that tend to be far less interesting to consider on their own: development, preproduction, postproduction, marketing, and sales.

The mistakes listed below offer a launching point for many short filmmakers to give their hard-won efforts a greater chance at success. Don't pretend that as an artist you can delineate yourself from your audience or the practice of trade. Grow excellent and demand adequate payment along the way. Learning the marketing practice should come as a given. Anything less is a disservice to your crew, your script and your investors and yo

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

Friday, July 12, 2013

On Directing

On Directing,

Click this link to watch David Fincher work a rehearsal for I believe one of the films of the "Girl with the Dragon Tatoo" series.

It looks simple but the approach is direct and masterful.  The actor is focused and utilizing all the information he's getting.  It's wonderful example and one I believe most actors would appreciate.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

On Spectacle and the Viability of the Bottom Rung

On Spectacle and the Viability of the Bottom Rung,

For more information, visit ‘Sharknado’ Takes Social Media By Storm

Haha! What the hell?!

When you read, pay close attention to Asylum's role in the matter and their relationship with Netflix.  I think it's truly enlightening to know what's done to create the impression of abundance and what models are currently succeeding in this unique space where the digital market is being defined.  

That there is a direct place for absurd material is probably not so surprising as the fact that there are institutions having a specific value and financial interest in this material.  Often I'll wonder how the hell something was distributed.  Certainly there's enough talent out there.  But marketing needs must be met, an impression must be established and how easily that supersedes the common sensibility and expectations we have on the parameters of success is enough to give all of us a moment of hesitation.  

It's truly an open game.  Not specifically with this incidence but in general.  The rules shift and we just have to pay attention and know how flexible things are so that we don't claim yesterdays standards as today's law.  At the very least if things suck you can band together with some other capable folks and get ballsy and meaningless and still find a niche to commit to and live off of.  It may seem like settling at first but making films for a living, even if its just to fill space, isn't the most horrible thing in the world.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

Sundance Shorts Lab: N.Y.C.

For more info, please visit: Shorts Lab: N.Y.C.
Attending. Will take lots of notes and report back.

I'm writing an addendum now, Christmas 2013.  What was supposed to happen was that I deliver a write up regarding my findings in a nice white paper format.  Not gonna happen because:
A)  I have a book on writing white papers I haven't gotten to yet and I don't wanna deliver an irrelevant mash-up (which I may be doing anywho).
B)  I finally got to this date in the blog migration today.

Here are the takeaways as I recall them:

1) Sundance gets anywhere from 4000 to 8000 submissions a year.  Approximately 80 get screened.
2) They promise that no lobbying tactics work.  Maybe they'll look at a film twice.  My guess is that one film watched twice against 7000 other submissions really would stand out.
3) The films they provided as example of previous winners involved 
- a stunt woman and a really expensive bear costume, 
- another with 2 named and familiar actors and musical sequence involving a school band, 
- another regarding a day in the life of a girl living in around Bay Ridge, Brooklyn (production value involved a club scene, a night scene at the beach), 
- a film showing a couple making love with a voice-over about parent's divorcing (think the motivation behind Gosling's character in Blue Valentine), 
- and one film taken in south Africa about Somali Pirates (everything xenos is huge production value, also a well placed aerial tracking shot alongside a boat garnered a big audience wow only for us to find it came from getty images).  
Outside solid production work (sound, lighting, framing, performances and editing) the themes weren't complicated, mostly were engaging based on craft, not emotion (things like cutting on action motivate the eye and compel the viewer to keep watching, that's how many of us get caught up on reruns: physiological vulnerability to the mechanics of cinema).  However the respective visions were clear and concise and interesting.
I think getting a clean story out of the work is the goal.  Content is anyone's guess but you get a sense that there is a standardized tone.  No one is doing anything too controversial.  3 of the 5 mentioned implied sex or showed brief nudity.

The most important panel of the day was the Shorts to Features panel at the end.  The last 3 films I described above all allowed the filmmakers to go on and make feature films.
In this discussion short filmmaking was vindicated.  It place absolute necessity in the function of crafting short productions together in being able to discuss future work with production entities.
Moreso did it reveal to us as well as the filmmakers that not knowing what came next was a near detriment.  They were expected to have feature ideas available during their meetings at different festivals.  The presumption was they were prepared to keep working.

The other highlights of the day were as follows:
In the Actors' panel: They liked being hired for their ability.  They don't like dealing with expectations and no rehearsals.  They love rehearsal and a private space to focus on the scene during production.  Directors that can't control their crew or their own expectations, suck.
In the collaboration panel: Producers and editors defended their place in the story telling and explained they both have a personal stake in the film alongside the producer that can't be overlooked.  Often these relationships become like marriage and that long term trust has to be taken into account when you're off trying to sell your idea.  Your emotional and intellectual character need to be in order because what you're really doing is asking for people to deal with you for a few years.  If you can't commit and keep your head on straight for the majority of the projects you'll be worthless to everyone and a waste of time and resource.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

Thursday, July 11, 2013

On Producing and the Evolving Credit

On Producing and the Evolving Credit,

For more information, visit Disney, Paramount, Warner Sign PGA’s Producers Mark Certification

So I'd be Carlos Sanchez p.g.a.?? Cooler than phD? If the Hollywood elite couldn't be smug enough...

I bet the PGAs Code of Credit comes in PDF download.

I think from the outside there's this nebulous consideration about the producer.  Not everyone can easily define one.  We assume that's the man with the money when in more cases that's the man that's built the framework and done the legwork to make something possible.  He's had to sell, cajole, sometimes lie, endure sleepless nights while always looking well-rested and completely confident.  Who knows?  I think it's interesting this criteria is being developed and I wonder what that will say about the men and women who earn it and how that affects the work standards of those who proceed in this direction.

Lets get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

On What Makes a Star & Observing 'The Canyons'

On What Makes a Star & Observing 'The Canyons,'

For more information, visit Shooting Stars

Director Paul Schrader writes about his experience shooting The Canyons and star Lindsay Lohan.

There's some insight here on managing actors with eruptive personal lives, and how that pain is utilized before the lenses. Pros and Cons everywhere. Perspective is everything. Rumors are the trailer looks good.

Lets get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez

On Posing

On Posing,

For more information, visit Become A Boring Filmmaker In 10 Easy Steps

*Hesitantly raising my finger.
Ahem...this is all about maintaining one's integrity and identity. Yet by defining terms via harsh criticism you in-turn create alternative parameters that will create new trends of posturing. 

I'll humbly take the hit on num
ber 3 though. Becoming an entrepreneur in show-business often means mistakenly trying to provoke the world's interest. You get enticed into trying to be a showman. And before you can believe that others will believe in your importance, you attempt to brainwash yourself into walking the walk. Perhaps one of the earliest pitfalls is somehow believing we aren't enough as we are; that success means total transformation rather than embracing the details that make each of us unique and valuable to each other.

The point is not to be so tempted by success that you mistake emulating professional practice with emulating the behavior of certain class of folk you perceive to be successful. Respect the business and the art, other people's time as well as your own and remember that love is at the heart of it all.

Lets get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

On the Pitch and Observing 'Iron Sky'

On the Pitch and Observing 'Iron Sky,'

For more information, visit What We Can Learn From the 'Iron Sky' Sequel's Success

A fantastic case-study! Audience engagement, cult fandom, a plan for the banks, one solid element in play (these guys had an absurd pitch and a solid vfx team), and wreckamovie?

I'm starting to see how conviction and communication become control factors in the equation for success. Never underestimate a hypothetical a sauna.

Lets get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

On DVDs and the Future

On DVDs and the Future,

For more information, visit Six Reasons Why DVDs Still Make Money -- And Won't Die Anytime Soon

Love it. And for the indie filmmaker, this is plain juicy. As self-distribution amps up so will cult directors with any number of ways to show appreciation for their audiences. This might include collector's set DVDs for those directors who want to dust off the mantle of auteur, as well as the producers who would cultivate them. Seeing reasons for the physical marketplace to keep on trucking provides a nice incentive for marketing creativity.

Lets get what we came for, 
C.M. Sanchez III

Observing 'Lone Ranger'

Observing 'Lone Ranger'

For more information, visit After 'Lone Ranger,' Disney may not be willing to take risks

It's the archetype that doesn't connect. An opinion sure. But the western has to be reinvented, refitted and revitalized. It's hero must have a modern appeal. 

I have not taken western film studies. At-a-glance, it's about the frontier and the contrast between country and the city. It's about lawlessness and the lawman, a metaphor for the internal war for civility. It's also about mastering a new landscape despite the ethical complications resulting from going where you are not invited - the trouble with manifest destiny is that where you're manifesting may not be the destiny pursued by all involved. Keeping an internal barometer for justice and humanity against the wilderness both without and within nails this idea. Aesthetically we define the western with the horses, the guns and the seedy towns.

The Lone Ranger might have done better if it wasn't called "the lone ranger." The fact that Johnny Depp was listed first is confusing in the first few seconds you need to apprehend interest. Focus on the style, the macabre, the danger of the frontier - focus on the story and let the 'lone ranger' title be revealed before the credits role at the END of the film. Let today's audience rediscover it. It think this is where it went wrong.

As for the internal check against external extremes I was mentioning above, the next "new" frontier is in space, but hollywood keeps making it a supernatural horror or an invasion film or a monster show. In contrast, the human element is becoming more apparent, in zombie films, as the significant threat and it's always been subtly underscored in sci-fi to be the real focus, although the visuals can confuse the matter. I'm not a Star Trek fan...yet. But even this franchise appears significantly 'western' and is successful for it. Disney should reassess the $250 mil gamble only if so to remember that buying your viewership is plain lazy.

Lets get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

[ADDENDUM: I reviewed the MPAA figures for 2012 and realized that 5% of the MPAA registered films were responsible for 50% of domestic gross.  That's the top 25 out of approximately 500 films doing carrying half the load.  So playing off of old tropes is probably smart, not lazy.  But it's certainly fearful and under the pressure of feeding the beast of a $10-12 billion industry.  Risk doesn't exactly make sense either so far as the blockbuster machines are concerned.]

On Your Events

On Your Events,

For more information, See TFF 2013 Alumni at Rooftop Films’ Summer Series

Films ... on a rooftop?! What's holding up the screen?

Seriously tho, nice idea. Screenings and drinks and maybe some music. Then charge a few bucks and get some new fans. Plant a seed and an angel gets its wings.

For those of you that have done this, put it on your resume and, for the love of God, don't stop.

Lets get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

Observing the suits: Drama at WB

Observing the suits: Drama at WB,

For more information, visit 2ND UPDATE: WARNER BROS SHAKE-UP – Jeff Robinov Quitting Movie Studio After No New Contract Offered And Kevin Tsujihara’s War Of Silence; Sue Kroll, Dan Fellman, And Greg Silverman May Become Triumvirate  (< This is a headline??)

Who is Jeff Robinov and why is he getting the shaft at Warner Bros? Truth is messed up. Other than the guy being a boss' type of difficult, according to deadline anyway, he's made some serious moves bringing Affleck, Lurman, and Nolan to WB and supporting them in their artistic integrity. Deadline made a statement that plenty of execs are fired in a state of success. Is it a weird form of goodwill because the company knows the exec will land somewhere else safely but still needs to accommodate the tensions with new president Tsujihara? Was it rivalry?

At first glance and from the testimonials provided by Affleck and Lurmann, Robinov protected the directors from the numbers, had a symbiotic relationship with marketing, and took to developing long-shots in house, or otherwise using his gut as a strategic consideration in bringing new star content to bare.

I have not yet gotten caught up with a producer since my interest in Val Lewton's career, but I'm a sucker for an underdog. This man, Robinov, deserves a CV from ME!

Lets get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

On Project Diversity

On Project Diversity,

For more information, visit Universal’s Year-Long Turnaround Shows Cyclical Nature Of Insane Movie Business

Essentially Universal had some big-budget flops and chose to develop safer bets while having some surprise successes along the way. The scorecard reads Universal at the top among studios over 12 month studios and on a 'cash for cash' basis, whatever this means exactly.

What emerging companies can take from this is that since the nature of the industry is cyclical it makes sense to have more than one strategy and more than one producer developing business. There need to be a mix of aggressive and safe players AND content. Regulated growth of any must come with deliberate awareness of the audience and an instinct for talent. When one seems to be failing move to the other while developing the former - if I may, it's just like the body's energy systems trading off eachother: aerobic for endurance, anaerobic for impact, ATP for emergencies...

Yeah I'm not sure how this translates exactly. The point is don't fear - diversify, be like water and adapt to the seasons.

Lets get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

Monday, July 8, 2013

More On Self/Direct Distribution

More On Self/Direct Distribution,

For more information, visit Racking Focus: What Filmmakers Can Learn From Watchmakers on Kickstarter

Wigon, author of this column, is onto something. But why-not just screen the films at local venues. Bars and lounges have open-mics and live-music. There are one-act plays out there, street events, and so forth. Not everything is great. There's a lot of sucky talent out there building up their showmanship and their skill. There are not enough shorts or indie-films by local residents appearing in place of the Wednesday night trivia-challenge.

As for kickstarter, build an e-mail list with your closest market. Setup a production blog. Create pre-production materials and build some hype. Make a trailer. Get a local band or two to compose some music. Talk with people you trust about what's boring and what's compelling; learn your audience and promote-to-tease about your film AND you as an up-and-comer. Then build a kickstarter campaign that targets this market and the people close to it. The niche/cult fan base may be all you need.

Once the film's shot, get a local viewing and a VOD purchase setup. Put up a site with 2 or 3 forms of the film (up to limited editions with extras or props from production). Get your fans to bring one person to see it and, get this, provide a trailer of your own followup or the upcoming release of a fellow filmmakers project. Add to the e-mail list.

Rinse and repeat. Now let's get to work.

Lets get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

Beyond Physical Production, Owning the Road to Relevance

Beyond Physical Production, Owning the Road to Relevance,

For more information, visit Racking Focus: Self-Distribution and the Niche-ifying of Content

The lesson here is essential to pioneering filmmakers and a wonderful case-study to keep in our back pockets when finding the heart to move forward. Self-distribution is quickly becoming a measurable talent with definite parameters. 

This is formally conveyed in a directive set here:

As an independent filmmaker pursuing acclaim, it's important to recognize the tools at your own disposal and their purpose. These may not all be taught in film school or contained in your how-to book on producing. But addressing the market eventually becomes mandatory. Profit is a symptom of success and so negotiations must become a 2nd language. So you negotiate your value with the public and you deliver. You negotiate the split of the proceeds and you deliver. When you are running the vision of a small piece of entertainment, all the aspects that make it legitimate fall within your hands. And if it isn't legitimate, what was the point? We're all afraid starting out, but we didn't get involved with show-business to pass the time masturbating. (Note: I tough-talk myself in much the same way - in fact, until this blog gets more viewers, this is mainly the point). We got involved to share our imagination with the world.

Production itself is but one step. Once you become good, the job gets more complicated and also more rewarding. It begins when you look beyond your latest draft in development and think of the audience. Define them. Address them. Give them a name they can become familiar with and a make a film they can depend on. Bring it to market and charge appropriately. And it's all OK, you are not alone.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III