Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The dream of the hale & hearty master: Scorsese on 'Wolf'

The dream of the hale & hearty master: Scorsese on 'Wolf'

For more information and a look at a pretty great interview, visit: Scorsese Explains His Cinematic Approach for 'The Wolf of Wall Street' in P.T. Anderson Interview

I think it was a pretty fantastic listen.  Scorsese says some things which of course I don't understand and can only guess at.  He talks about designing sequences and shooting in camera movement -which I imagine has to do with using the camera to translate areas of coverage within a scene rather than the typical master, coverage, coverage, insert setup.

He talked a lot about knowing when to let go of a shot or a scene.  He understood at which point the audience would understand and when it was necessary to push the film forward.  I suppose when he had to choose how to deliver information he worked from the essence outward until it became fluff and then chose not to do the fluff.

The interview explored his necessary versatility and flexible handling with the film to play to the actor's strengths and the production constraints.  Ultimately it seems he had a lot of fun.

As a storyteller, he explains that showing the moral compass would inevitably lead to a forgetful film.  Instinctively, I go straight to the point.  I've been marathon watching AMC's 'The Walking Dead' and all I can think about is solving their problems.  Not creating them which would have been my responsibility if I were writing the thing.  You have to learn to betray your desires to explain, and make things right, to harness truly compelling, disturbing, moving conflict.  You have to make things wrong.  Scorsese just knows this now.  And I hadn't heard that lesson before.

Before all the wild nonsense I'd discussed in just the previous post regarding the pain of uncertainty, I do get a sense of the joy it must be to problem solve compelling story for 1-3 months a clip.  My heart is there already.  It's waking up and trying to bring the best of something to light.  That's a good life.

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

Monday, January 27, 2014

Can you enter your middle-age and enter the film industry at the same time?

Can you enter your middle-age and enter today's film industry at the same time?

For more information, visit So Money An oral history of Swingers

I haven't wanted to write recently.  I'm trying to write a script.  I'm trying to figure out event planning for my school.  I'm also thinking about production; both for class and a pet project I wanted to do for myself.

I'm tense.

A friend sent me this article on how 'Swingers' was put together.  As usual I'm inspired.  The way films become cult classics is anyone's guess but it appears it has to both capture an age and a feel, as if it's born from reminiscence, AND it has to come together through sheer obsession and ultimate constraint.  The creative leadership here was in their mid 20s.

Hitting 30 is a bleak experience in this economy.  There wasn't a parade or anything.  We couldn't afford to go out.  My mom, like many baby-boomer parents, is struggling to find work.  My parents split early so it's just been us.  I almost got out of the apartment when I was working in IT and sharing a place with my ex for like 6 years. Everything went to hell at some point.  My job went bankrupt, the IT field became a vault filled with ex-communicated VPs needing a middle income salary and my ex and I pretty much decided we hated each other.

Then there was film school.  As soon as the production classes started . . . wow what a reality check.
The argument goes: "don't waste your money there, spend it on filmmaking."  Well that presumes you have money to spend on filmmaking while making massive, sometimes dangerous mistakes.  Without money you have to contend with the idea that maybe filmmaking is reserved for the wealthy but you read books like "Rebel without a Crew" or just about any indie producing guide, and you see everyone's broke.  And then you look at the date and think maybe it's the decade.

From the 90's to the early 2000's, I think we were still taking notes from the "Raging Bull' era.  And the economy wasn't great but people had part time gigs.  There wasn't enough for us to save at home and the amount of money I would go through just putting together my first 16mm film was more than I had ever held at one time (I'm talking like $1,000 cause before I was a filmmaker I was an avid video gamer and book worm).  That's not a hobby.  I'm sorry.  But you have that first film and it's pretty much crap and you know you have to make another one but you can't just take an entry-level job that makes you work 30 hours a week at crap pay because what you get leftover after taxes and a drink or two, maybe a date to Tad's Steak, is just enough to get back to the job and certainly not enough energy to pour into a film.  If you take anything higher it's full time and I've known enough managers that piss on education to know it's not a solid argument that you need to shoot.

Production isn't a pickup basketball game.  It isn't poker night.  It requires crew, lights, 10-18 hours, a script you care about, locations that will have you and, if your serious, a strategy to reach audiences.  We know the deal.  I didn't even mention a budget.  I just did.

So when I read how 'Swingers' came about I wonder if I would ever have had the guts.  At 30, I really believe poverty...I believe that no one should have to go through it.  Who can think about storytelling on the verge of eviction?  or while they're starving?  But I'm 30, and only as aware of the process and my identity within it to the extent that I am because the city and state and, to a great extent, the government, pay for me to be here.

Film school, for those who can't casually play 'director' because that money is desperately needed elsewhere, is a place where time, a community, and funding is provided to temporarily bring you across the gap of ignorance into some context of what it takes to be a professional in this industry.

One downside is that by the time you leave, if you've been on more than a handful of rough sets and you have half a stomach for it, you can't do anything else with your life.  You sense a tremendous waste even thinking about becoming a cop (no offense to cops).  Quitting seems ultimately wrong.

The other downside is the "educations" remains incredibly insufficient.  From the digital markets to digital cinema, changes in workflow and the demands of political capacity and gatekeeping, everything grand strategy related to the sustenance of the filmmaker and his crew is left out of the classroom.  It's next to pure memorization exercise save where the film students go out and shoot and that's very much on their wallet (thank you Obama for Direct Loans).

Time and again I think about what the most important assets were to these run-and-gun risk-takers.  It appears to me that it was always the people that stuck by them - from the 'Swingers' cast to the star of 'El Mariachi,' Carlos Gallardo and all the supportive people in between these films and the audience.

I look to fellow students who suffer years expending all that faith with each other on purely academic assignment and by the time they graduate, that energy that sustains them through suffering is next to spent.  Who knows how people continue?  I've only started developing my thesis approach and I'm exhausted.  My hair's thinned, I've lost weight, sleep-loss has slowed me down and the closer I get to graduation the more I need to go on...

I want this very much to be a rallying call but I didn't start a blog to give e-hugz and pass out lolz.  The truth is the business belongs to young men who haven't burned themselves out yet.  Cynics and skeptics tend to be balanced by their checkbooks, many of the mistakes made having gotten them somewhere.  I'm generalizing but this is how it appears to me.  The rest are scattered about in perpetual limbo wondering what's next.

I accidentally moved the mouse over and opened up Movie Magic Scheduling...maybe that's God telling me to shutup and get to work.  But humor me a while longer.

Factor out that we're under pain of death, filmmaking is a great exercise, a great expression of energy and heart and creativity and willfullness...  It's challenging in a way so few other things are.  The people that succeed don't always appear to earn their success because profit motivates a lot of quick successions.  I try to tell myself this to feel that the timing is exactly what it needs to be.  But without knowing the future, every new day finishing up this degree and putting my exiting films together involves a desperate struggle for bits of faith.

Some will read the oral history of 'Swingers' and be inspired.  I was.  But it was in such a way that I stood up wanting to do something, remembered I already was (writing, researching, practicing, studying), sat back down and remembered the reason I started taking things so seriously was because I hit 30 and I had to make a choice.  And for some insane reason I chose the movies...

I don't have a fortune but what has ever constituted one to me I gave to cinema.  Comforts, laziness, procrastination, a private imagination, money for games and dating and generally joy, and several chances at stability.  But without a film...

"Swingers' costed north of $200k ultimately.  That amount just seems impossible.  But.  We know in depth only what yesterday's success story looked like.  I wonder what today's looks like because after everything I've read, it appears more and more about not being found but being made.  So many tools are out there and looking back is nice but it isn't a complete story.  The industry has shifted and ultimately it's in all that uncertainty that I find the greatest hope for absolutely anyone and everyone willing go after what they want.  In the uncertainty there are definite questions and once you know what people want you can fight to give it to them.

I suppose the greatest feat of strength in pursuing a career as a filmmaker is in figuring yourself out.  Hitting 30 is very much about that.  I'm not half way to 31 and it's either gonna be a year worth celebrating or something else and just too depressing.

4 genre shorts, no-budget, shared universe, character driven, two in April, one in October, my thesis next summer and I'm out!

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

Friday, January 24, 2014

Snap! JOBS Act Trending. Welcome Passion First!

Snap!  JOBS Act Trending.  Welcome Passion First!

For more information, visit: Online Film Financing Startup Passion First Funding Portal Announced at Sundance

My professor, just a few hours ago, was kind enough to offer me a seat for the 'Film Interchange on Saturday January 25th' event tomorrow.  I didn't know who Richard Guay was.  Then I did.  Then I saw the topic and thought 'oh, how nice,' but I couldn't attend because it's my mother's birthday.

And that's life.  Gotta keep a balance and remember all we do is to support the peace in our home and the opportunity to validate the time we have with our loved ones.  

Then I read the article at the head of this post.  It had been waiting for me for a few days on one of my numerous open tabs.  And oddly enough, Richard Guay is the founder of PASSION FIRST.  Well, shit...

I'll bother him via his blog at some point.

Why am I excited?  

One because I have an indirect connection to him and two because he is open to taking questions personally.  Lastly, he's on the forefront of utilizing what the JOBS act has to offer.  I wrote about this a while back when SLATED did a post on the potential investor strategies that will be adjusted now that investors can get involved for a return via public mechanism.  Crowd-funding is likely gonna shift in some big and unforeseen ways.  Ted Hope is a long time advocate of qualifying investors and staged funding also.  

I don't particularly understand it all yet.  I've been putting the pieces together.  But I think it's all about building infrastructure and standardized business practice within Indie Cinema to reduce risk by rewarding preparation, education on both producing and financing ends.  I think it's very cool to see the forces in motion.

I also think this process is going to redeem film schools while simultaneously causing a restructuring on what production programs offer.  The language is changing; right now!  It can easily leave aspiring filmmakers in the dust just as new technologies are quickly making education in celluloid obsolete.  It all ties together but not when it's unraveling.  

The standard definitions are evolving and it's good in that it's all to promote greater efficiency in the near future hopefully.  But curriculum and general outreach needs to remain contemporary, flexible and a consistent priority.  We need more outreach - especially in public institutions like CUNY where there's a wealth of talent without the proper type of current industry perspective to make an impact.

I've got my work cut out for me... Any mentors our there??

Let's get what we came for,

C.M. Sanchez III

P.S. One last note on the implications of productions being valued like stocks:  Business standards are great.  Incentives for organization and validation are wonderful.  But let's not forget that where serious art lies tends to remain the obsessive ego, the unrestrained soul, the passion of those that are absolutely murdered by bureaucracy.  GE CEO Jack Welch advised to beware too much paperwork and support autonomous leadership - to coach policy but not strangle with red-tape.  I hope that whatever new avenues of opportunity arrive, they don't completely obstruct the leg-room needed for emerging artists to be properly appraised.  I've heard about those foreign pre-sale value systems and all art-commerce concerns remain a slippery-slope.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Spiritual Strategies #1

Note: this isn't me.  This is paraphrasing all the people that've been screaming at me to readjust certain aspects of my general approach when tempted to be defensive.

Tools for the upstart:  If a person in a higher administrative position overseeing your agenda pulls you in for questioning (see: naysaying), respond "yes" for things you agree with and "good point" for things you don't agree with.  Practice neutral-face for 2 hours every day.  Then go as far as you can before they realize what's happening.  You won't learn what you have to any other way.  But if you reveal your cause, you give them everything they need to shaft you.

Clarification: everyone has an ultimate goal.  In cinema, one ultimate goal is to create the film.  Another is to make an honest film.  Another is to make art.  One can also entertain or educate.  Another is to just complete the damn thing.  Another is to sell the film.  Another is to make sure as many audiences see the film as possible.  Another is make sure you collect as much from those exhibitions as possible.  Another is to profit.  Another is to share that profit with loved ones.  Another is to pursue a life free from hardship other than what you choose to undertake in service of your fellow man.  <that last goal comes with a qualifier we know as the golden rule cause if you're not careful, karma will make the best of you and there's not much value in a life where you have to look over your shoulder for vengeful people.  Further, it binds the pursuits of all other tiers of effort and wraps it up in a nice bow.  Let me reiterate: the golden rule is the only thing capable of balancing the interests of all of the above.  It's the hardest work but absolutely wonderful once everyone is on the same page.  I won't say what should happen to the people that aren't with it, but know they can do a lot of damage if their ultimate goal doesn't allow for anyone else's.

Some folks are tied to you through circumstance but have an ultimate goal so far outside their involvement with you that all they can muster is energy to reduce the demands you place on them.  They might just want to get through the day.  That's fine, but history saw fit to give them say over you.  They resort to putting up conditions to protect themselves that, on occasion, thwart you.  Some of it's worthwhile, some of it's just emotional undercutting.

If a person thwarts you with conditions that, once met, can make your endeavor more resilient: then "yes"
If a person thwarts you with conditions that ultimately are just conveyors of doubt (sans wisdom, criteria, facts, or an ultimate goal worth achieving as an evolved alternative to the goal you started with (trade up if anything): then "good point."  It's polite at least.

Don't fight with them.  Someone once told me there are conceptual people and literal people.  The literal people who need to get in your way just suck ass.  They can't see beyond their own eyelashes and you represent a change to the habits they've come to live by.  They practically want to kill you by indirect abuse of your intent by tooling fear and doubt to coax you into willful submission.  Don't fight with them.  They put you in their own familiar territory and if you weren't stuck fighting them you'd be off winning somewhere.  Plus it makes you vulnerable to the ultimate attack: conversion.

You don't want to be a hypocrite and be caught reverse nay-saying, effectively letting them turn you into an asshole you thought you weren't.  Come to find out we're all guilty at some point or another, but that's no reason to kowtow to figures who overtly couldn't care less about your passion or success.  Also, these figures are almost always conservative and they hate progress or anything else they don't understand.  Being difficult won't make a difference.  Outdoing and outliving them will.

Let's get what we came for with "Yesses" and "Good Points" and brutal flanking maneuvers,
C.M. Sanchez III

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Who's Money Do You Trust?

Who's Money Do You Trust?

For more information, visit: Thinking in Money

Point taken.  Having not received any real money yet to do much of anything, you all know I've done my share of dreaming.  At some point it did cross my mind that I might be too excited when the first prospect revealed itself.  And what would I do?  Who knows?

Before this blog post from Slated, I probably would have suffered from depression stemming from the realization that I wouldn't know where to begin.  I've recently finished Robert Rodriguez's book, "Rebel Without a Crew," which is a fun and informative read of what a trip to Hollywood was like in the early 90's.  He was effectively taken care of and his life changed almost overnight.

However this isn't the 90's and considering serious business from the standpoint of a novice seems like entering a shark tank with no armor on.  What a wonderful thing the internet is?  Simply put: interview your investors.  It's a major concern from the upper echelon who's doing what and associated with whom.  Your financiers reflect on you.  It's not that your investors have to be royalty.  But they should be credible.  They should be flexible and on the same page with you, preferably have some film experience or have advisers that are educated in film business, and most importantly there should be transparency about their history.  That said, and as written in this blog post, Hollywood has a penchant for eccentrics not always on the proper side of the law.  With tens of millions of dollars to throw around, the average emerging artist is dealing with a perspective that is as good as alien.

I fear there's no way to prepare for someone with that kind of power other than to meditate on the fact that all of that money comes with a shortened imagination.  It's constantly seeking a way to increase its wealth and it can't do so without investing in something as yet undiscovered or as yet exploited.  If that product is you than there is an inherent value you have as a creator with which you can contend.  And while the world may not have fully established that creative aspect as equal to gold, it certainly is respected for its ability to create gold.

Regardless, take time and do your homework.  Map the industry, learn the faces slowly but surely.  Don't agree to the first thing that sounds nice.  Protect what you have, who you are, and your ability to keep working first before anything.

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

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ire Deutchman on the condition of art-houses

Ire Deutchman on the condition of art-houses

For more information, visit: Art House Convergence Kicks Off: Here's Why Art Houses Need to Be Advocates

The primary notes of the speech that stuck out to me:
A) We're in a greedy business.  Everyone's incredibly independent.  At a certain point you want everyone besides you to lose.  It was more of a side-note and comparison of the times to indicate that now we're working together as proof of the existence of some shared enemy.  The machine isn't supporting itself.  Too many are struggling and we need to come together.

This isn't unheard of at stages as early as film school.  There are two philosophies that are staggeringly apparent.  When I became president of the Brooklyn College film society I spoke out about a unified push toward understanding what I now know to call direct distribution.  Before I just labeled it as a mission to turn filmmaking into a sustainable lifestyle.

When I did this, and I hadn't yet known this was on the mind of so many other people in the industry(we really didn't have a contemporary context in class with economic considerations) I received quite a bit of nay-saying: The ideas were too broad, the students won't listen, no one has the time, it's all about who-you-know, it's good that not everyone is equal, it's not the school's responsibility to promote career success - just education, but also film education is a joke - it's all about getting into unions, screw your classmates cause too few them know why they're here and less have half a chance in hell at making it and half of that small amount will live in slavery and fear of being exiled, and the few left will be comprised of one-hit-wonders and early-age stroke victims, and maybe there's one guy who'll do OK if one of us doesn't kill him first.

I had to look all that in the face and take a deep breath.  Thank God general possitivity in the professional world is a rule rather than the exception.  And thank God twice that there's a whole other argument that ignores and disproves the first.

Ira moved onto Art-houses specifically but I think a lot of what he said has loose translation for independent artists.  He explained the need for community-entities to become politically outspoken.  He explained the need for standards of operation as well as flexibility.  When he talked about the deals made between distributors and exhibitors, he might as well have been talking about emerging filmmakers and the need for constant negotiation.

I've been accused of exclaiming "kum-ba-yah" non-sense, but when Ira reminded us that despite cinema being this less than stable industry within the states, it's a cornerstone of our culture (implying its unique historical, global value as a major US export).  There's no reason why U.S. policy shouldn't be in greater support of the arts when it has the capacity to employ so many and such a wide array of professionals.

Later on when he explains why this is, and should be treated within, a global context, it reminds us what to do with all the supply we have considering the proliferation of digital content.  We have this capacity, even within a low income range, to share our content with the world.  It's a unique privilege for any class of citizen to have, and made possible by the era.  As cultural diffusion becomes more powerful, less so the dividing lines.  There's a real human benefit here that is being sponsored by the artistic democracy in effect with platforms such as Kickstarter and VHX.

Working together is something our generation owes itself and the planet.  Every industry comes across this truth and I'm always inspired to see speakers that have clout within ours in support of a better tomorrow.

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

What is High Concept?

What is High Concept?

For more information visit: Story Talk: High Concept—Yes—It Actually Means Something! & High Concept Defined Once and For All
- On the digression of the imagination's burden: The Wolf of Wall Street VFX Highlights

For those of us interested in a life beyond indie cinema, or maybe in a life of big budget indie cinema, there is a question about this widely used term and why it's taken hold of us and the industry we're plying ourselves to.

From the articles above you'll notice that neither one brings the concept itself to one or two lines.  Everything has to be explained.  So how is something so dense used to attribute pitches meant to be so simple?

Fabricating something High Concept, rather than letting it speak to you through childish inspiration will always be complicated.  But it's that complication which is a clue.  If it were so simple that a child could get behind the idea and call it love or hate, hope or something funny, you'd be on to something.  Except it couldn't have been done before in the way you're doing it.  That poses a problem because then you're thinking about everything that's been done instead of what you could be doing.  It's a trap.

I think high-concept will take care of itself when appropriate.  And it's possible that people who use it are just challenging you to make sure you've done homework on how marketable your vision is before they invest; i.e. can you prove two dads and a baby is a novel idea?  Can you prove a robots vs. monsters idea is something that people have to go see - AGAIN?  Oh this time the monsters are the good guys?  Try again.  You wanna swap out robot for machine and make man the ultimate design of an alien race which has a locked potential that must now be released to combat a brutal menace?  Well I'm curious.  It's a metaphor for individual capacity and deep down all of us want to be super.

And there's the thing: producers can sell easiest a truly original concept because no one knows what to expect from the story and everyone's curious.  No one will ever have that nuanced stage set for that concept after you do it and if it's cool enough it's money because you're banking on curiosity which is perhaps more primal and unique to the human condition than anything else.  We dig possibility.

That said, I look at the VFX highlights from the 'Wolf of Wall Street' and while I'm not certain if glorifying a villain isn't something we've done for decades with dracula among others, just witnessing where we can go now using technology - or rather where we can take others, astounds me.  These guys make it look so easy.  Even more it's revealed an overall shutdown to my imagination since life hit with all it's requirements and distractions, and it challenges me to keep my vision clear and open.

You can change the world and reconstruct it to suit your tastes for the purposes of the story.  You can truly bring audiences where you want to take them.  The more power you have the more complete the transformation.  It's an amazing process and one through which we should all be filled with hope and awe.

It's in that moment of wonder that the child awakens and begins to ask the "what if" questions and for the purposes of writing, pitching and selling your script I suggest you listen to it because somewhere inside all of us are the "what if's" we share and would pay money to have answered.

As a last note I used to think High-concept was something that required a $200 million budget and a star attached with half or more of the environment as CGI.  But now I think high-concept is closer to something obvious, forgotten and waiting to be rediscovered.

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

Monday, January 13, 2014

Switching off DIY, Switching on Direct Distribution

Switching off DIY, Switching on Direct Distribution,

For more information, visit: Nayan Padrai on “Why We Call It DIRECT DISTRIBUTION Instead Of DIY”

Check this out:

• Marketing and distribution strategy: Matthew Cohen Creative
• Trailer: Zealot
• Key art: XL
• TVCs: Kinetic Trailers
• EPKs and Music Videos: Dreamline Pictures
• Online marketing team: Brigade Marketing
• Publicist: PMK*BNC
• Music publicist: Flipswitch PR
• Media agency: Callon
• Social media marketing: Advantage and Naqeeb Memon – who worked on Mooz-lum
• Online Sweeps: CFA Promos
• Website: Design Mechanics
• Theatrical booking service: Alerion Services
• Foreign territories: Cinemavault
• VOD and Digital Downloads: Gravitas Ventures and Warner Bros Digital Distribution
• Home video: Viva Pictures
• Soundtrack: TuneCore and CDBaby"

That's information you'll find in the read.  More importantly it's an outline of what a distributor might have to go through to properly cover the map for an independent film.
It's absolutely important information to the general cause because so much has to be demystified just to consider success in the market place.  It's not all luck.  A lot of it is directly dependent on the decisions specific people make on what they do about and for your content.  
For those of us new to the industry it's not uncommon to naively cater to the idea that you have a film and you submit it online or at festivals and the rest takes care of itself.  But other people have to contend with all this when they see your film and consider the buy.  You're hoping for the magician to approach you and make your dreams come true, but what about their process and their agenda?
Once you make it yours, you realize there is no magic.  There are markets and there are workflows and there is a process that is harnessed by deadlines and skilled, committed individuals not unlike yourself and your crew.
And they require money to do their work.  That's money you normally don't have.  Just like the money for that steadicam you decided to pass on to get the job done in black.
Alleviating your dependence on skillsets outside of your income range is par for the course on indie cinema.  You thought it was ambitious to form a production company.  But you only matter if you can get reliable distribution and so forming that too becomes a sometimes necessary endeavor of obvious value.
Not everyone can afford to do it.  The writer of this article had extensive marketing experience before he pursued film and realized distributing it was mandatory.  He had to fund-raise for that mission as well.  The good news is that the information he provided is one less research hurtle many of us would have to take.
At the end of the day it's about piecing together the list of action-items that creates a formidable entry into the market and then executing.  There's no such thing as luck, just opportunity exploited with maximum efficiency.

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

The Proposed Youtube Bill of Rights

The Proposed Youtube Bill of Rights,

For more information, visit: Jason Calacanis Releases ‘YouTube Creators’ Bill of Rights’

"Succinctly, Calacanis defines those rights as 1. Access to a creator’s audience via email; 2. Standardized advertising rates of 30%, as modeled by the App Store, Google Play, and more; 3. 80% control of channel design and functionality with a 60-day review period for all platform-imposed changes; 4. Advertiser disclosure after a $5,ooo sponsorship to encourage a mutually beneficial relationship between advertisers and creators; 5. Comarketing and promotion recompensation in the form of 20% reimbursement to the creator if the platform garners either one million viewers or one million dollars to encourage expansion for both creator and, ultimately, the platform."

Standardized formulas are what sustainability is about.  As long as the manufacturers are supported the distributors are able to grow regularly.  The key distinction which imposes on that growth is greed and competition.  Moderate growth isn't attractive.  There needs to be spikes and wide profit margins for leading companies to stay in the lead against competitors who are always trying to improve on what's existing.  It's one of the positives of the free-market to have innovation as an absolute necessity.  The problem is when that need eclipses support for laborer.

Because there is no precedent for the internet and this age for digital consumerism, content creators are indeed ignorant as to what is a raw deal and what isn't.  Many of us considered adults today were born before the AOL-wave and the generation in which digital technology was a part of life.  There's still quite a bit of analog legacy left in the world.  So anything that combines income with free expression appears insanely wonderful.

But this type of work is taking up a greater part of the general consciousness.  More and more are people turning to the internet to engage in some form of expression in order to cut out industry gatekeepers.  But without that bottleneck and no guideposts we all wind up just distracting from each other.  The expansion of the use of free-speech is half mindless chatter.  Granted we are learning from one another, but it hasn't yet proved to form the ecology of tomorrow where goods are synonymous with ideas in this generalized state.

Still, productions are not just ideas.  And it's important for content creators to recognize a need for standardized agreement which should be upheld now that we understand consumers have a taste for the product.  I suppose the history in similar events of commerce are similar and the rise of digital unions are inevitable.  It's not a matter of if content creators should organize, but when.

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

How the Crowd-funding Strategy is Evolving

How the Crowd-funding Strategy is Evolving

For more information, visit: 2014 Prediction: Crowdfunding Will Change as Platforms Adopt ‘Felicia Day Model’

Currently, it appears that trends are leading in two directions:
a) Consumers donate directly to you on your project site
b) Consumers pay for premium content on network sites

It's not even going to be an option anymore because production costs money and it's fair to ask for it so you can keep working.  The question is which way to go.  But if we just take a look at the traditional advance from independent acts to institutional deals I think the process is pretty obvious: you build your fan-base and production capacity to a point where a regular salary is needed rather than hoped for.  At that point you move to a platform where you share in the combined proceeds with other "premium" content for greater stability and growth.

I'm curious about what starts to happen when original content has to compete with established content to grow to that point where it can enter it's more stable marketplace.  It's the next and quite familiar catch-22.  If we look at the physical world, musicians perform for tips on the street and might be considered as self-employed with only the guarantee of foot-traffic.  On the internet there's no need to pass by your art to reach my original destination.  And once I get there I'm exposed to any number of other programs I might be interested in.

So how does option a) remain valuable in the future?  I hate to put it this way but I think we just have to trust the spirit of the internet and word-of-mouth.  There are just too many people on it freely searching and adding and consuming for anything to really go missing or be left unheard of.  And if you're doing your share of outreach and working the math properly, hopefully a regional support level is all you need to be sustained, with a global support level remaining the ideal.

Look, some people need to be paid millions to do a job and others are quite happy with affording middle-class bills through a 9-5 passion-filled work week.  As the pay models evolve, so too will the production models to meet the established expectations half-way.  Everyone is working toward sustainability so stay-tuned.

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

Crowdfunding Gets Smarter

Crowdfunding Gets Smarter,

For more information, visit: Indiegogo Wants to Help You Raise Money on Your Own Website

Indiegogo has revealed Outpost and sets its release in 2014.

It's a minor shift with a large potential impact.  More and more the crown suggestion is to have a website for your film.  The more convenient you make it for your audience to get what they need from your site, the more effective your representation is.

It's all about reducing the number of steps needed to be taken in order for people to give you money.  We're talking about a situation where one-too-many clicks or a slow browser are getting in the way of an investor providing you with funds.

Consider the statistics I commented on regarding Kickstarter's Year in Review and you'll see that crowdfunding is a global phenomenon.  How many more investors will be inclined to make that emotional decision with one less time-consuming click?  I really do believe something like that adds up.  Why?

Because on any crowd-funding page there's just more to read to verify your investment.  Sometimes too much information is debilitating.  I'm surprised Kickstarter hasn't provided a matching function but I think it's had the more prestigious career among the two platforms and really wants people to explore the site and commit more dollars.

It's too early to tell if not having that function will make a huge difference since the bigger decision is whether to make the release of funds target-sensitive but I think it's a smart and effective move for Indiegogo and crowd-funding in general to bring the option straight to the project site.

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

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Round holes and square pegs: fitting the indie blitz into legacy theatrical strats

Round holes and square pegs: fitting the indie blitz into legacy theatrical strats,

For more information, visit: Are There Too Many Movies -- And Is It the New York Times' Fault?

Whyyyyyy four-wall?  Really?  That's out of "The Movie Business Book" which was relevant in the early 90's when brick and mortar exhibition was the key to success.

Now, too much supply means you need a global market and if discernment is in demand then INCREASE THE WRITING JOBS...

hmmmmmm.  Should I have switched to film studies years ago?  But I'm a creative writing major, I'll wing it.

Seriously, this is the time for distribution companies to begin taking profits and swinging them into Silicon Valley and developing the digital corner.  We're talking cultural transfer: Translations, digital international film festivals, emerging film education, get young people writing about young filmmakers and re-establish cultivation using the reference points of the age.  You can have more product as long as there's more description.

So what, new writers aren't discerning enough?  Hire and educate.

Where is the money going to come from?  The people who can afford it and want to of course.  I'm talking rich people with nothing better to do but buy another McMansion.  We've seen too many infographics about how far out of balance the class inequality is.  You can't ever convince me that these people don't run out of things to buy that actually mean something to them.  I'm an idealist perhaps but it's also true.

Here's the sell: Everyone wants this, it's big. Invest and you're the shit.  You own the corner.  You die with a legacy and thereby become immortal.  It's the only thing you couldn't buy but a billion people will benefit from what you've done and so there, golden toilets + the common touch.

What's the McGuffin?  A library/market of international independent film that merges global traffic with global art and it's global representation.  It employs thousands because it has millions of subscribers.

Big idea = big money cause of: Micro Transactions.  A billionaire can do it, a couple billionaires can nail it.
Give me $50k and a year to write the business plan and I'll show you exactly how.

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

Ira Deutchman at the TIFF Filmmaker Bootcamp

Ira Deutchman at the TIFF Filmmaker Bootcamp

For more information, visit: TIFF Filmmaker Bootcamp on How to Use Festivals to Sell Your Film

I think it's easiest to assume we'd rather not do that whole thing Ira's talking about.

Press and word-of-mouth.  That's what it boils down to.  And it's different and complicated and I'm tired.

Look at the scenario: over-supply of content, over-stimulation of the crowd, not enough discernment, the studios are hard pressed to distinguish their bank-rolled capacity and so have retreated to the tent-pole where they are the safest.  Even still, attendance has hit a plateau.  So, 101 films between all of them.  NO film for you!

For the rest of us, there is no formula save hard work AND it's not where you might have thought.

The quality of a film is subject to whatever, whenever.  It's all relative.  That is the most disheartening truth of this industry.  No expectations work if you're just trying to game mass appeal after the fact.  And you can suffer and sacrifice all you like but there's no ultimate protection against sucking or failing at any point in the process.  This is why a finished product anywhere close to the original intention is a boss statement.  And still, there's no assurance that being boss in your own world with an audience of friends and family will ever mean more than that.

Or is there?

As long as you are a fan of something, obsess over something, are a fanboy of something, you have hope.  It's recreating that thrill that is the core of our potential.  It's through that singular emotion of gleeful worship that  you might navigate your film to the answer of audience members just like you.  Let me reiterate: there are audience members out there just like you.  And by your shared appreciation of something can you reach them.  Not all of them can make films, but together you can all be fans of your type of film.

I believe strongly that a successful filmmaker knows why their film is this and not that.  They understand every decision in the filmmaking process with that amount of certainty.  I believe a successful filmmaker also understands why those decisions are important to his kind of audience and so is effective at communicating the value of the truth shared about the story.

Simply put:
Know what you're doing
Know why what you're doing is going to matter to the people that should care about it

From the producing angle, it's not much different:
Know who the film matters to and why it matters to them
Know how you're going to effectively reveal why this film matters to the people it matters to

All too often I speak with directors who don't get their own premise or don't know how it's going to matter to an audience.  But they want a career in directing.  OK, good luck.

When Ira spoke about Press and Word-of-mouth, I thought that's pretty damn near close to what an indie strategy should be.  It's about galvanizing an audience and then exploiting their enthusiasm and letting the rest take care of itself (ideally the money comes bidding to take advantage of the relationship you've secured with the consumer).  There are case studies to prove the value of this as well as how social media blasts this approach wide-open.

The take-away is the heart of your potential success: what is the takeaway you intend to provide for the people who will pay to see your show?

Some people call this IMPACT.  Others just call it marketing.  But the truth is that the vast supply numbers just confuse the issue.  The real competitors are those truly understanding the equations regarding the demand for what they've produced.  Too much of the discussion is going to people who don't even know how to compete.  I wanna hear what happens when multiple entities are trying to harvest a similar market.  Until we get to that point I feel like the game is wide open for anyone with enough of their shit together to walk up and take it.

Turning around and looking at my own production process, I can see so much easier said than done.  But maybe, in the practical application of living life, my attitude's been in the wrong place.  Being positive, innovative, and having conviction aren't just good ideas.  I daresay they can save you a lifetime of going nowhere.

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

Sundance 2014 Infographics

Sundance 2014 Infographic: Film Festival by the Numbers

Sundance 2014 Infographics

For more information, visit: Sundance Infographic Reveals Some Promising and Not So Promising Numbers in Independent Film

What immediately stands out to me is that approximately 90% of the films accepted, averaging $750,000 in budget, are from first time directors.  How the hell is a first time director acquiring that kind of credibility?

And the question presented in the article is why so many films are hemorrhaging money and why are so many films being greenlit without a market strategy.  Distributors aren't likely to get back more than 2% for their investment.  It's agreed that higher quality standards and better marketing will see less hemorrhaging.

I think the answer lies in better education and group distribution models led by business-primed filmmakers partnered with VOD specialists.  I think films that lead a campaign and become community or niche fanbase flagships will create event releases.  This is what all the people giving advice are saying.  So where's the problem?

People are lazy.  We are poor, ignorant, and lazy.  And the winning circle isn't comprised of people that necessarily create "better" art but because they pushed the envelope all the way through, took advantage of being the last men and women standing while others flaked off and what you had were options of the people who didn't give up rather than the people who were the most talented.  We'll assume that these are one and the same for argument's sake but we should recognize that the odds appear to be 70/8000: that's less than 1%.

Remember that Sundance isn't the only show out there but if you're gonna compete at all, you gotta ask yourself if you were born to be a one-percenter.  If so, then you're probably gonna get out of bed tomorrow and do the million and one things others won't.

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

Ira Sachs on Designing Sound for "Love is Strange"

"The SFFS gives away $1 million a year to independent films, which makes them, along with organizations like the Austin Film Society and Cinereach – and of course the Sundance Institute – the American alternative to government support." -Sachs

For more information visit: Sundance Production Diary: Ira Sachs on Sound Mixing 'Love is Strange' at Skywalker Sound

I'll let the production diary speak for itself - Sachs is a good writer.  I wanted to extract this quote above because I thought it was interesting for those of us with certain old conceptions on film financing.  Granted they can't support everyone but there isn't a cap on the list of non-profit organizations that will arise to support the arts.  Hell, I'm considering it!

I'm not sure what exactly their model is or how they cultivate donor relationships but it's a worthy investigation.  Moreso it's important for the rest of us to know that there are cultural incentives realized every year to support artists like us.  So stand and deliver.

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

Thursday, January 9, 2014

On Group Distribution and a note to lone wolves

On Group Distribution and a note to lone wolves,

For more information, visit this must-read: 2014 Artist Resolution: Separating Egos

+Jay Webb Thank you.

For other's reading and developing your business rationale for your artistic pursuits, take note of what group distribution can do you.

Below is my letter to the film student conscience:

I'm not so delicate.  I'm not always so positive.  God knows I try to be but the political talent is difficult to train.  You see, I've become aware of this friction between the "lone wolf" and the "wolf packs."  It's angered me.  At times it's depressed me.  I've raged internally at the injustice I've seen peers expose each other to - either in form of attack or neglect and within the halls of our film department, far before any real desperation should cause that type of violence.

At the same time I've been exposed to the grace within my community and a severe generosity of spirit that proves the strength and viability of the production muscle we've developed along the way.  It's that effort that's caused me to stand and expose myself and a vision that the Brooklyn College brand might rise with a unified strategy to be a motive force in emergent cinema beyond even what NYU and other private universities can muster.  I truly believe we have the grit, if not the political or financial resources, to shake things up.

I believe we can and should exhibit our work more than we have.  I believe we can and shoot develop distribution standards at local venues and using available web technology.  I believe we can and should follow our filmmakers with grassroots support and chearleading.  I believe we can and should work together to develop our sensibilities on story, and our awareness of the human resources we have all around.

But first we have to be self-aware.  We have to know that the times are changing.  That the old benefits of cold rationale afforded by the pursuit of union benefits and Hollywood prestige are fading away and that those selfish tenants of greed are a relic that will pass more easily if we choose to uphold one another.  I mean what's the point of having any success if you have to look over your shoulder all the time, and you know you can't ever go back to where you came from if you have to start over because of the things you did there?

The internet is a global market.  There are no more doors closing on production due to bottlenecks in TV spots or theater screens.  The big question is can you galvanize your audience and do you truly understand what you're creating.  Art is subjective.  Even quality is subjective.  What the world is looking for is truth and enthusiasm.  And often the audience doesn't know what it wants until it's presented with the options.

We can't account for the ideals in an individual's head.  But we can make them aware of something that might intrigue or surprise them.  And without the resources of a studio, we have always had the option of organized labor and supporting one another in bringing the appropriate "buzz" or "heat" to the efforts of our artists.  I think that's all an audience needs to find something worth following: a truth they can relate to powered by great enthusiasm.

Harnessing this power, takes organization and community and cooperation.  Anything else is just lottery.  And it isn't a strange feat because film itself is collaborative.  So why then do we stray into useless schisms and factions and duplicitous nature?  Why don't we approach our professional philosophy with the same adherence to forging new paths that we have when creating our visions?  It is to our benefit to put violent competition behind us, and rather to ignite each other's aspirations with ever higher standards of upholding our creative truths.

There are too many artists and craftsmen without work today.  Too many of our own without the capacity to survive on their art, either due to lack of support or knowledge.  There are too many good people stranded and left as prey for lone wolves without compassion - jaded and made savage from crimes put upon them by others with a mercenary view of what the film industry could be.

To hell with what it is!  Build what it should be.  The time is now, the efforts are in motion.  If you wanted to believe that you weren't alone, you're not.  So don't fall into that pirate hive-mind where you all agree to an unwritten code of kill or be-killed.  Or, when the wolf-packs form and are strong, you will remain exposed in your solitude and left as vulnerable as you always feared you were.

Read IndieStreet's Artist Resolution for 2014 above.  In it you'll sensible career practice that will turn you and those you care about into a social and cinematic force not to be denied.  With that, consider affiliating with IndieStreet, since there is a community with robust potential.

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

Kickstarter's Year in Review

Kickstarter's Year in Review,

For more information, visit: The Year in Kickstarter 2013

So Crowd-funding isn't a fad.  It has shown to be an undeniable tool by and for the people...The People.

In the context of cinema it's hard to know what that truly means.  Many of us have grown up assuming the right of the rich and distant to descend upon our lives like ancient gods and have their way over reality, commerce, art, policy and culture.  The people have always had a place but haven't always been able to recognize it so clearly.

I'm impressed with what a simple idea can do and change.  Likewise I believe filmmakers have a great responsibility to promote progressive thought and to ally themselves with such mediums to help redistribute the world's wealth in the most honest way possible: by virtuous effort and innovation.

Often I've heard older generations lament what the current one isn't up to.  The lack of activism, the lack of oversight, the lack of self-regard, too much individualism, not enough romance, not enough consideration, etc.  We're spoiled.  That's what I've heard.  And by looking at the state of the world,  it's not hard to observe.

During WWII, the civil rights movement, the beatnick era, there are all these modern accounts of heightened intelligence and philosophical exchange; events we still reference today as if that was the only history that ever happened.  Now in America's great recession I wonder if people will look back and see what we were doing during the early 2000s with any awe.

But Kickstarter is the stamp of democracy absent of government.  It's a choice reflected by technology and the spiritual and cultural demands of the age absent of racial, religious, and perhaps political significance.  It's a global tool that merits autonomous leadership and encourages outreach, discussion, and passion across all boundaries.

I believe there's more to come.  It gives me hope.  My fellow filmmakers: I know that launching your request can be scary and intense.  Your faith in people and the value of your own inspiration will be tested.  Value the option, the process and the adventure without which existence is pure machine.  There are no other options but to let the world see you.  So open up and let see you.  And when we do, honor that process with everything you can to make that moment matter.  The information and the tools are out there.  We've always just needed you.

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

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Marty on the Future of Cinema

Marty on the Future of Cinema,

For more information, visit: Martin Scorsese Explains Why Future of Film is Bright in Open Letter to Daughter

I think some of us imagine we have someone out there speaking directly to us when they aren't.  We turn the masters of cinema into parental figures and try to understand the decisions they made and attribute those decisions to our lives so we can rise in similar fashion.

What Marty is reminding us is that cinema is a medium made for our own very unique voice.  Imagine what we would do today if the masters disappeared?  Would we lose all direction and understanding?

The world is full of story, adventure, struggle, romance, fear and heroism.  People are waiting to be inspired.  The tools aren't cheap at all cause the economy is fucked but they aren't impossible to acquire.  They are within reach as long as passionate people are within reach.

We remain passionate; oppressed by circumstances with a world full of problems to explore and fix.  We remain beholden to each other to do our part - even if that part is just sharing what matters most to us to share.

I believe we will.  I hope we honor the craft in the generations to come.  I hope we live up to the ideal projections those like Marty have.  I hope we choose, when given the option between despair and optimism, to take responsibility for out outlook and encourage others to see the possibilities.

It's a nice letter.

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