Friday, December 26, 2008

John Hadity presentation

Been busy with holiday travel. Had much fun watching grandparents be goofy with my toddler. Had less fun being patted down at Security in the airport, with said toddler and All Things Baby in tow.

Came across an informative link today off the IndiePix blog. Blogger and IndiePix friend, Brian Geldin at The Film Panel Notetaker picks his Top Ten Film Panels of 2008. Here is a link to his transcript of a presentation about independent film financing made by John Hadity at the 2008 IFP No Borders Conference.

Inspiring and zapping at the same time.

Why do I want to do all this to myself? :)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Meet The Producer Jane Kosek

Jane Kelly KosekMeet producer, Jane Kelly Kosek, with whom I've corresponded because I found her blog about independent producing. She's graciously agreed to respond to my version of a Proustian questionnaire for producers, and I hope you enjoy reading her responses.

Thank you, Jane! And, many happy returns on all your projects!

Jane Kelly Kosek is an independent film producer and co-founder of Wonder Entertainment. Jane produced her first feature-length film, STRAIGHT LINE, with writer/director Sean Ackerman. Filmed in eight countries, this drama took two years to make and premiered at the 2005 South by Southwest Film Festival. This production launched Jane’s career as a producer of emotionally charged, character-driven motion pictures.

Originally from Livonia, Michigan, Jane attended University of Michigan—Ann Arbor and Oakland University. She worked for eight years in publishing as a writer and editor, both in Detroit and NY. Realizing that her passion was for the moving image, Jane began working in NY film production as an assistant coordinator. In 2001, Jane relocated to LA where she assisted Academy Award-winning screenwriter and producer Akiva Goldsman for three years at his production company Weed Road Pictures, located on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, CA. With Akiva, she worked on A BEAUTIFUL MIND, CONSTANTINE, STARSKY & HUTCH, and MR. & MRS. SMITH.

Jane is currently developing a biopic on the famous art forger Han Van Meegeren titled ART OF DECEPTION by Brandon Trenz. Dominique Deruddere is attached to direct and Hugh Dancy is attached to star. She is also working on attaching talent and securing financing for THE MAN IN THE WOODS by Russell Schaumburg (dir. Jeff Stephenson), THE DIARY OF PRESTON PLUMMER by Sean Ackerman (dir. Sean Ackerman), and FLOATERS by Ron Freidman and Steve Bencich (dir. Jeff Stephenson). With producer Rene Smallwood, she is developing adaptations of two books, SPOKEN IN DARKNESS by Ann E. Imbrie, and THE WHISPER OF THE RIVER by Ferrol Sams.

Sustaining the Muse
A Producing Questionnaire
  • Please name all the "hats" you wear as a creative producer.
Every hat you can find, I wear.
  • List all of the jobs you've held before or while pursuing a career in producing.
Writer, Editor (word not picture), Copy Editor, Proofreader, Assistant, Story Editor
  • Do you have a Big Dream or career goal as a producer?
To make entertaining films that resonate with an audience.
  • What inspires you to do what you do?
Good films that change my life, even in a small way.
  • Please name five essential skills and/or traits a creative producer needs to sustain a career.
Obsessed with movies, persistent, outgoing, confident, creative
  • Name a movie, or several, that you wish you had produced. And/or, producer(s) you admire (living or passed on).
Say Anything, Good Will Hunting, Forrest Gump, Dead Poets Society, Terms of Endearment, The Notebook.
  • How do you define success for yourself?
Being able to wake up every day and work on movies.
  • What's your motto when it comes to raising money for your project(s)?
Offer high quality projects and investors will come.
  • How long did it (will it) take to support yourself as a producer?
I wouldn’t say a producer is ever supporting him- or herself on a steady, secure basis from film projects. It’s smart to have another skill to help supplement your income during the down periods.
  • Who do you turn to when you need a pep talk?
My husband.
  • If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Be a billionaire so I could fund my own movies!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Brain On Fire

Last night, I couldn't sit still at my desk, because I had so many things racing through my mind (this is a familiar refrain with me, isn't it?). I had so many ants in my pants that I had to pace at almost hopping speed in my kitchen, rattling off the many ideas, to-do's, worries, etc. to my poor husband. It didn't help that my toddler decided NOT to take a nap yesterday afternoon. I had a lot of mental detritus to unload. :) He was a great sport, although he did say I was driving him crazy.

So, here's a brief rundown. Found another creative producer's blog here. Her name is Jane Kosek. How fun! I look forward to checking her blog frequently to see what sort of issues, ideas, obstacles, triumphs she experiences as she produces her features.

I'm currently reviewing a good friend's business plan. I'm quite excited for him, because I think he's got a really good handle on how to build a business for himself as a musician and online entrepreneur. Plus, he's stupidly talented as a guitarist, musician, music producer, and composer. PLUS, all the research he's done on monetizing his blogs and his current and future assets (written content, as well as music) ties in very strongly with the trends that seem to be surfacing in the indie film community. I am inspired as I read his plan. In return, he's going to help me create my website - which is coming soon!

I have decided that I'm definitely going to pursue financing for a small slate of low-budget films - as opposed to focusing solely on raising funds for Lost In Sunshine, alone. I'm still doing homework to determine whether I'm going to pitch three films over five years, or five films over seven years. But, I'm looking at framing each project at around $1M. That won't be just production budget money, though. The idea is to use approximately $1M for each project's production budget and marketing/distribution/deliverable expenses. I also mostly expect to bypass traditional theatrical distribution. Festival screenings, most likely, yes. And, possibly even some sort of niched DIY theatrical screenings, but not an I-hope-to-get-acquired-by- somebody-when-we're-finished theatrical distribution plan.

Well, crap. The toddler's crying... No nap today either. Agh. More thoughts later.

Oh, and check out this blog Jentri has begun related to Lost In Sunshine. I've been inspired by folks like Lance Weiler and blog postings by Scott Macaulay and Ted Hope about the need/utility of indie filmmakers building community(ies) for their projects. This is one of the ideas we're acting upon. I'll keep you posted - obviously - on other web developments we create in support for the project.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Embracing the Web

If you haven't checked out the Workbook Project, you should.

The following is a link to a 40-minute panel discussion with Tech and Film venture capitalist, Todd Dagres:

DIY DAYS: An investor’s POV - Todd Dagres

A couple ideas their discussion prompted for me are to again, think of how to build audience/community for the movies I produce as early as I can, and the idea of reaching out to like stories and/or filmmakers before, during, and after shooting one of my projects. Either to possibility present ourselves as a prospective slate for investors and/or a series of screenings trying to reach complementary audiences in our release phases.

Cool stuff.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Head or heart?

So, I've been spending way too much (unpaid-for) time on this recent consulting gig: the marketing analysis for the horror script.

In a nutshell, I've been impressed with the volume and breadth of this client/writer's work. The horror script, in my opinion, is competent; but, it's not my vibe. But, he's got several other scripts: another couple genre scripts and a couple more "arty" scripts. The impetus: he's got an affluent friend with other affluent friends out West, and they're possibly amenable to investment opportunities. He needs something on paper to present to them.

There are two reasons this has been taking me so long. Well, actually, three reasons.

One: The current market for horror movies, even micro-budgeted ones, is glutted. Unless his potential investors might be game for putting up $4M+ for an indie horror flick without any "name" attachments, yet, with an unrepresented, inexperienced writer - sending them the market analysis write-up I did wasn't going to do him any favors.

Two: I like movies where things blow up as much as the next fan. When I read his other genre script, a crime-action story, I debated whether I was interested enough in producing it. I needed to do some (extra) homework.

Three: I've been doing a lot of soul-searching to figure out how much "heart" I need to have for a script/project before I know in my bones that it's something I've got to be attached to.

I like the writer; I feel there's some sort of synergy there. My brain can evaluate how to break down, produce, and pursue the end-game for his genre scripts. But, my heart's definitely not in one of them, and is ambivalent about the crime-action story (I vibe to action-adventure more than the crime slant).

Have I been trying to talk myself into something, or out of it?

Don't you hate that? Days, weeks, years later, you can look back at something and go, 'Of course, X!' But, in the middle of it, duhhhh... I don't know. Ummm...

So, here's where I'm at: since neither he nor I are in love with the horror script, it's being shelved as a prospect for now. He has another genre script (sci-fi), which needs polishing, but there you have it. The research I've done so far on the crime-action genre seems to indicate that there are currently two points of entry: the $500K-750K budget and the $5M-15M budget. I need to do some research to determine whether that tendency seems to hold the same currently for sci-fi genres, too. If it does, I know how to present an overview for his prospective investors. And, if they might be game to proceed, I'll help the writer take the next steps.

In the meantime, the writer and I will take up some development/workshopping work on his sci-fi and/or "arty" script early next year. It'll be a good chance to work on something together and determine whether we have compatibility...

Re: my assertion about the glut of horror flicks in the marketplace --
Stacey Parks at Filmspecific (I LOVE her site) reported as such from the 2008 American Film Market which just closed a few weeks ago. For a Horror project to have a chance in the next couple years, it seems to me that it'll have to be produced to compete with Hollywood horror (A-list stars, or at least B+ stars, high production values, expensive above-the-line elements overall) projects. That means a little $500K horror budget is gonna have to work REALLY hard to get its audience and its money back. And, that's do-able, if you have a team behind it that really loves the genre and fan-base and prepares for an alternate distribution strategy (grass roots fan-building, word-of-mouth marketing, a web-site, genre-focused film fests, etc.).

So, if you LURVE low-budget horror, it certainly can be done. Just be aware of how hard it'll be to punch through to your audience(s) when it's time.