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Friday, February 19, 2016

"Fear of Clowns" raw Behind The Scenes Footage!

MORE unedited video from the behind the scenes, but this time from the original Fear of Clowns!

Check 'em out! The first four are from the decapitation of John Patrick Barry who played an officer of the law in the wrong place at the wrong time!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Raw Behind The Scenes Video from "Fear of Clowns 2"

Came across some old hard drives, so in the interest of saving some of these videos in case those hard drives go down, here are some random videos:

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Piracy, Google and Youtube

I've never been very subtle about my take on pirating our films. It's theft, plain and simple.Pirating our movies doesn't help us one bit--anyone who says it does is simply rationalizing their behavior.

There's an article here that's interesting to note about one movie that may not be happening due to piracy, and THAT'S a movie that actually gets a serious distributor, so they get paid actual advances and whatnot.

But there's another problem that's become more of an issue, and that's Youtube. People are uploading full versions of movies(including ours) so that people can watch the entire movie without paying a dime.

The only thing we can do is submit a copyright notification so that Google, owners of Youtube, will remove the video. (at their leisure)

Meanwhile, the people uploading these videos are collecting Ad Revenue from OUR movies, and Google won't give that money to us, even after finding out that the video was illegally uploaded.

How can this be? I have no idea.

Viacom actually sued Google for 1 billion in damages for videos of theirs, but the case was settled out of court for apparently NO MONEY. Apparently Google is more or less protected because of an idiotic clause in the DMCA act that says as long as a web site removes copyrighted material after being notified about it, it's all good.

Think about that.

Do you know of any other law you can break where you're okay if you simply STOP doing it after you're informed it's illegal? "Yeah, I stole that car, but I totally returned it when I was notified that it was stolen."

Meanwhile Viacom was saying, quite rightfully, that they were having to hire people to police Youtube on a 24 hour basis for violations. Why is it up to the copyright holders to pay money to police Youtube? It should be up to Youtube--and when it finds someone's copyright violated, it should pull all ad dollars made on that video and apply them to the copyright holder's account.

The internet's opened up a lot of distribution doors for indie filmmakers, but I have to tell you that the negatives are pretty weighty. Here's hoping Google gets its act together regarding Youtube.

Friday, February 6, 2015

VOD on your film -- How Much Can I Make? Also, Kinonation

As all of us low-to-no-budget filmmakers scramble to figure out how to survive in this new landscape, the question rises often: "Can you really make money on VOD?"

I'm going to tell you that it's certainly possible given how our newest film "Garden of Hedon" has been doing on Amazon. Have we made our budget back? Hell no. But considering we've done ZERO advertising on it other than a few interviews for online sites it's been doing very well. (and we've also only offered it for sale, not it's actually selling at a $9.99 price point)

Haven't checked it out yet? What are you waiting for? CLICK HERE!
(it's also available on Blu Ray, but it's almost sold out AGAIN)

Anyway, I stumbled onto a site called kinonation--they're an aggregator. If you don't know what that is, I'll try to explain it quickly.

You will not get your movie to Netflix or Itunes or Hulu or any of the other big boys without a distributor...OR an aggregator. For a fee you can submit your movie to the aggregator, and they will then submit the film to any of those sites you ask them to(and have paid them to, as each site costs something different)

The decent aggregators will give you your money back(or most of it) if your film is rejected from the place they submitted it. It's expensive(most aggregators want in the neighborhood of $1500 to submit your HD film)--so believe me, if you're NOT going to get your money back on rejection then it's a $1500 gamble.

If your movie DOES get approved then you get 100% of the profits minus a yearly fee of like $79 from the aggregator.

I have never tried an aggregator.

But kinonation has a new idea. They will take your film and submit it to the various places for NO upfront cost. They take 20% of any money you make on any approved venue.

A much bigger chunk but the much-better way for filmmakers. I feel the same way about producer's reps--you wanna go with the guy who's willing to take a percentage from what you make rather than an upfront fee. He doesn't make a dime unless he sells your movie, so it's incentive for him to pimp your film. It also tells you that he believes in your movie.

Any rep who wants upfront money rather than a percentage is clearly a guy who has no confidence in selling your flick.

So kinonation is relatively new. I can't find any information about their successes. They keep a pretty great blog with a lot of useful information, and I found this interview below with the founder that sheds some actual light on--get this--NUMBERS you might expect from VOD.

Ad Supported Revenue

As a filmmaker it may be mildly irritating to have multiple :30 sec TV spots before, during & after your feature film. But it definitely generates income. Hulu is one of our beta-test partners, and so we already have some good data from the dozen or so KinoNation films that are live on Hulu — and we're adding more every day now. Likewise with Swiss-based Viewster. So what are the revenue factors here? In simple terms, it's the number of ads served before/during/after your films, multiplied by the price of the ad. In reality, ads are sold to various agencies at different rates. So you may have a :30 sec spot in your film on Hulu for BMW, at a CPM (cost per thousand) of $23. And also a Tide spot at a CPM of $19. Plus there may be 9 ad "slots" in your film, but insufficient demand at the moment it's playing to fill those slots, so 2 of the 7 go un-monetized. Hulu suggests an ad slot every 8-12 mins. Which is why in the KinoNation metadata, we have a section for ad breaks where the filmmaker defines — with timecode down to the frame — where the ads are inserted. Much better viewing experience if the ads don't interrupt a scene. So what does this mean if you have a film on Hulu?  Let's say it gets watched a modest 200 times each day. By "watched" I mean someone starts watching it — they don't necessarily finish watching it. In fact, the average time watched may be the most critical metric — not just in revenue terms, but in raw "how engaging is my film?" terms. If they bail (on average) after 20 minutes, you have a problem. If they bail on average after 50 minutes you make a LOT more cash. Remember, it's all about averages — the reality is that some people watch to the end, some bail within the first 5 mins — and most are in between. Anyway, 200 times a day means your film "sells" around 1000 ads. So at a CPM of $20, your film has just made twenty bucks. Which you share 50:50 with the outlet. So you made $10 today. And then KinoNation take 20%. You're left with $8. Doesn't seem like much. But that's $3000 a year from one of many VoD platforms, and my #'s are actually uber-conservative. If you successfully promote your film you can make way more. Meanwhile, with Viewster in Europe we're seeing a lower CPM — around 5 or 6 Euros. Not surprising — less mature market, less premium outlet. But, every view of your film on every outlet is incremental revenue. That's why you need to be on dozens of outlets.

Subscription VoD Revenue

There's a little more dough in SVOD, I think, because you're not a slave to ad rates and CPMs. SVOD means the user is paying a flat monthly (Netflix & Hulu Plus) or annual (Amazon Prime) fee. Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus are part of our beta test, so I can provide some numbers. Amazon Prime is their $79 a year subscription to get free shipping. But it also gives the subscriber free access to Amazon Prime videos. KinoNation filmmakers can select Amazon Instant and/or Amazon prime. Most select both, which is probably wise. Prime pays 10 cents per movie played. So when a thousand people watch your film on Prime, you make $100, less 20% to KinoNation. Again, it's not big money, but the math starts to work for you because of the tens of millions of Amazon users, multiplied by month after month. It's better with Hulu Plus. They pay 18.5 cents per view (defined as a minimum of six minutes.) So a thousand views grosses you $185. Not bad.

Transactional Revenue

Transactional VoD (TVOD) is radically different in psychological terms — the viewers has to pay a flat fee for your film. With most VoD outlets (but not all) you can set the rental price, or at least a price band. It's typically $3-6 per rental, for 48 hrs. You get 70% via iTunes, or 50% via almost everyone else. More on this in future posts — right now we don't have any data.

Pretty interesting stuff. I've applied for an account so I can get a better idea of what they're looking for in deliverables. I was a little weirded out that they claim your movie cannot have any URLS in the end credits...they say all VOD outlets insist on this, but I can tell you that my movie Bounty has a bunch of URLs(not just the movie's, but a couple of web sites I thanked), and we played on Time Warner, Comcast, Verizon, etc.

And I thought most movies have URLs at the end, so I hopped on Netflix and scanned the first two movies I came across. No URLs. So I dunno.

Will update this as I find out. But if you have had any dealings with kinonation please post a comment so we know.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Advice on Writing Screenplays

I'm gonna ramble a bit.

I don't normally give advice on writing screenplays. Like, who the fuck am I to do that? Well, I'm technically way more qualified than a lot of hacks who do it...

I was a script reader for nearly two years for a company in Los Angeles. I did it all from the comfort of my house. I got the job through the AOL screenwriter message boards, of all places. A working screenwriter on the boards that I had known for a while recommended me to a production company who was looking for readers.

Only problem was that I had never done any coverage for any screenplay. Coverage is the detailed breakdown on a script, and at the end you would put whether you Recommend The Script, Pass on the Script or Pass on the Script/Recommend Writer, which means you'd request another script from the writer.

I lucked out and found some coverage from a book--did a sample coverage on one of my own scripts. I figured I'd not only try to get the job, but maybe they'd even request my script.

I got the job, but they never requested my script.

This was back in 1998ish. The only internet around was the dial up kind. Like 28.8K shit. Yeah, the kind that made the beep handshake sounds when connecting.

Anyway, they started mailing me two scripts a week. I'd read them, do coverage and send them back within seven days. Then repeat. They paid me around $50 per script.

And the craziest part? I must have reviewed around 200 scripts and I never recommended one. I think I recommended a couple of the writers, but none of the scripts was very good.

At the end I was actually prepping to shoot my first flick when I quit. But one script they sent me was SO bad that I sent back the coverage with the line "This script is so bad I couldn't get past 10 pages. Don't pay me for this one. Also, it will be my last script as I'm going off to shoot my own movie." You can find a sample of the coverage I did here, but I removed the title of the script.

So that's one of the reasons I feel a little more qualified to advise about writing scripts. Add on the fact that I've been writing for 30 years, have written over 30 screenplays, and have read well over 300 scripts at this point.

My advice is going to be pretty vague really. I just figured, as I get asked on occasion, that I would pass on what books I think are the most helpful for screenwriters. At least, they were the most helpful to me.

1) Scriptshadow Secrets - This is the newest one I've read and it's chock full of incredible advice using some actual great movies, rather than the normal horseshit you read where they dissect Citizen Kane and Chinatown.

2) Screenwriting: The Sequence Approach - Again a newer one, but one I'm drawn to more and more. It's actually a pretty short book but I'm more and more convinced that using the sequence approach can make finishing a screenplay so much easier.

3) Story by Robert McKee - Probably the most important one to start with if you're completely green

4) The Art of Dramatic Writing by Lajos Egri - This is an older book that doesn't deal with screenwriting, but instead gives some very valuable advice on writing in general. Certainly applicable to screenplays.

5) Writing for Emotional Impact - Pound for pound probably the best book I ever read on the subject of writing. I try to read this as often as I can to keep the principles fresh.

Books I don't recommend:
You'll notice, if you know anything about the books above, that they're not much for formula or things like THIS has to happen by page so and so. I think that not only is that helping to make movies feel very by-the-numbers but it's dumbing down the art form. So that's why these books don't get a thumbs up from me.

1) Save The Cat - Listen, the core principle is sound. Basically let me save you the money on the book by telling you that you need to make your main character likeable. PERIOD. So if he saves an animal or person in the first 10 pages, he will be likeable. But there's a million other ways to do it, and the other things the author tells you to do on this page and that page are just dumb and simplified. Use the sequence approach instead, which basically tells you to break your movie into 10 or so sequences, generally of whatever length you'd like, and your movie won't feel so by-the-book. Not only that but it will be easier to write and STILL be a better movie.

2) Syd Field's Any Of Them - Syd was the screenwriting guru, and his the first book I ever read on writing screenplays. (he wrote a few books but at the time the only one he had then was Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting; A step-by-step guide from concept to finished script). The problem is that a new screenwriter will read this and really start to feel like he's in a box. It will constrain your creativity as you try to follow all the rules. Just don't.

3) How To Write A Movie In 21 Days - Just complete crap. I think this is the only writing book I ever threw away after reading.

So those are the ones I'd recommend. You gotta understand that in this day of advanced technology...where your average Joe Schmoe can pick up a camera and shoot a decent picture because of how good the technology is...and then edit it because computers are so cheap...and add cool effects because Andrew Kramer's way too generous with his genius...EVERY facet of creating movies is being made easier and more simple for your average person.

Except writing. No computer program, no technology is ever going to make creating a great screenplay easy. That's your ace in the hole if you're trying to compete now. You've got to become a good writer.

And that takes a lot of writing.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Night of the Clowns

I guess it's only fitting that I put this here. It appears to be about 90% certain that my next movie will be a return to clowns. No, not FOC3 which will probably never happen, but "Night of the Clowns".

Not only will it be super cool to be right before "Night of the Comet" and "Night of the Creeps" in an alphabetical movie order, but it's set in the 1980's. A return to my teenage years!

I can't talk too much about it, but suffice it to say it's gonna be a straight horror film. Lotta deaths and a lotta clowns.

Here's Fangoria talking about it a little with their announcement of the FOC2 Blu Ray! Free shipping's almost over, so get yours now!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Filmmaking Advice: Unmotivated Movement

Uh oh, this scene's gonna be boring without some unmotivated movement...

You know, I try to stay away from giving advice regarding filmmaking because let's face it: Who the hell am I to be giving advice? (and if you've ever seen my early movies, you're probably nodding your head right now)

Practical advice, like, what kind of microphone should you use/not use or what's a good way to use guns in the street with no permits so nobody gets shot or arrested? Yeah, I'll do that. But advice regarding actual directing? I try to stay away.

But I feel like I want to put this out there so maybe younger filmmakers will start to consider this aspect of what I'm seeing more and more of. The topic is: Unmotivated movement.

It's always been a pet peeve of mine. I'm not even sure most new filmmakers even understand what it is. So, here ya go.

When you set up a shot that has movement in it you need to consider WHY you are moving the camera. If you are moving the camera because your shot is boring otherwise then that is unmotivated movement. You'll find a lot of this during conversations between people.

And sure, I've even been guilty of this on occasion. You got two talking heads on the screen for two minutes and it feels like DEATH. I know. Best advice I ever heard about this is to GET YOUR TALKING HEADS WALKING. Instead of sitting down, have them GOING somewhere. Now you have motivated movement because if your camera doesn't move then it's missing the action.

THAT is the prime reason for camera movement. The camera should be moving to follow the action or to draw the viewer's eye to something.

The only other reason to move the camera is to reveal the geography of a scene that may come in to play later. So you're orienting the viewer so they understand the scene that will unfold.

That's pretty much it. (other than using certain movements to dramatically emphasize/de-emphasize a character) Sure, I'm simplifying it quite a bit. There's stylistic reasons and there's mood-related reasons. But that's not why many of today's budding filmmakers are moving the camera--they're moving the camera because STATIC(NON-MOVEMENT) IS BAD(in their head).

I know, you got that new slider for your DSLR so you really wanna move the camera parallel to what's going on because FILM IS MOVEMENT, man!(I don't remember where I first heard this quote) But it's really not.

And why not, you ask? Well, one reason is because if every shot is moving then every shot with movement loses its meaning, its punch. If you have three static shots of individual people, then a shot where you're pushing in on another person, that last shot will bring extra meaning to that person(the viewer will understand that person or moment is important). Now if you have the same push in on four different people, it's meaningless.

So all I'm asking is to think about WHY you're moving the camera in your shot. If there's no reason and you want the movement anyway, add a reason. It'll improve the shot.

Trust me, I know what I'm doing. You know how you know? Look, I have one of those douchey pictures where I'm framing a shot, that's how you know. :)