Choose Your Own Blog

Sunday, December 20, 2009

July 1, 2005

So, you've got yourself a DP, some actors, some grips, some equipment, and some food. You're already over $20,000 on the budget.

Who else you need?

You need a sound guy. This is another place you don't skimp. If your movie sounds like crap, you can have the best picture in the world and your movie will still scream "Amateur".

I'm gonna go low, but let's say you can get a guy for $500/week who's bringing his own equipment. Odds are you're not gonna find one for that, but we're fantasizing here. That's $1500 for the shoot.

You need someone to boom the mic. You could get one of the grips to do this, so let's assume that's what you're going to do. Make sure he knows how to do this--it's not as easy as you may expect, and it can get downright grueling holding that boom pole steady over someone's head for three straight minutes.

There are a ton of other things to consider that will add up, which I'll just touch on.

  • Do you have any FX in your film? Anyone dying or getting limbs cut off?
  • Will you have to rent locations? How much will that cost?
  • How far are these locations? You're going to have to gas up the car, gas up the grip truck--and did you tell any actors/actresses you'd give them a gas allowance?
  • You need to be taking publicity stills with a 35mm camera--these are essential for the press kit, and once you get a deal with a distributor they will be required in the contract. Add in some cash for the film and the developing.
  • You're gonna need props. Whether you buy them or have them made will cost you money.
We haven't even touched post-production.

  • You're gonna need to edit your movie--either buy or rent a system. That's money any way you look at it.
  • You need to hire a composer to score the finished film. And if you're thinking: "I can score it myself" then you need to rethink it. Unless you're a PROFESSIONAL musician then you can't. And if you are a PROFESSIONAL musician then what the hell are you doing trying to make movies?
  • You're going to need to get your film onto digibeta for delivery to the distributor. You'll need to rent a digibeta recorder(about $300/day) and buy some blank digibetas for the transfer(they're about $45 apiece for a 2 hour tape)
  • You'll need to get that digibeta QC'd(Quality Control Check) to make sure it's passable. This is not absolutely necessary, but if you sign the contract and then your master doesn't pass--you are at the mercy of the distributor. They can get it passed to their standard and bill you for it. And who knows how they'll pad that bill?
  • You'll probably need an attorney to look over that contract from the distributor. The only reason you might not need one is if you get a Producer's Rep who IS an attorney who has already looked it over. At some point you NEED a lawyer to look it over or you risk giving your movie away for free.
I know...this is all very long-winded. I'm taking the long way to get to my point. But I'll get there.

In the next entry.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The FOC Premiere

Mark Lassise and Lauren Pellegrino(and me in background on left)

Lauren Pellegrino and Jacky Reres

I should mention that the FOC premiere took place on October 28th, 2004 at The Senator. You can see some public pics at:

Of course, you want some non-public pics. Here ya go.

And no, I have no idea what's with that hat...

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Got back from "Land of the Dead" tonight. If you like the other Romero Dead movies you'll like this one. (and I liked it)

Saw "Boogeyman" the other night. Not as bad as they say, but it really falls apart at the end.

What do the two movies have in common, though, other than being horror movies? One was edited in a flashy, MTV manner. The other was edited very low-key.

Boogeyman was flashy, quick cuts, sped up frames with clipped frames here and there to give it a staggered look. Land was low-key.

And you know what? I'll bet if you asked the average viewer which movie had the best editing they'd say Boogeyman. Because...and this is key...they noticed the editing in Boogeyman.

And the irony is...the best editing is the editing you don't notice. When it steps out of the way and lets the story play out. Any editor worth his salt will tell you that.

But flashy seems to win in the hearts of today's viewers. I get it. I do. I used some flashy editing in my first film(and won an editing award for it), but it bothers me that a lot of movies nowadays seem to substitute cuts for story.

Let the scene play out. I feel like these guys are getting paid per cut, like "Hey, it's $20 a cut so if I can put in forty cuts per minute I can knockdown a hundred grand on this flick!"

What happens is that society is getting accustomed to that flashy, quick editing. People complain a movie is "slow" when it actually takes time to build a story, or flesh out characters. Take a look at some older classic movies and I can assure you that many would be thrashed by today's viewers.

Hitchcock is rolling in his grave.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

June 24th, 2005

This gets dicey. I don't want to offend anybody I've worked with, so if you're an actor I've worked with just assume you're one of the good ones.

And wow, now that I re-read this I see that this was actually the beginning of "Bounty"--didn't realize I was thinking about the idea this far back...

Pro Actors Vs. Amateur

Ok, since this is just for me, I'll feel free to feel free.

This is a problem I've encountered, having written and directed two low-budget films, and it's really the biggest problem I face doing them.

You know what the difference between a good actor and a bad actor is?


Confidence in themselves. Confidence that they know the character so well that the lines they're reciting don't sound like recitals--they're not lines, they are simpy what that character would say at that moment in time when given that set of circumstances.

Confidence that they ARE this character, so they don't have to picture how they should react to a certain line--they simply REACT as the character.

You can see the hesitation and uncertainty in amateur actors. Many of them appear to be waiting for their turn to say their line. Then they say the line but they don't sell it. It doesn't sound natural. It makes the screenwriter look like an could that guy have written that line? (not to be confused with the opposite phenomena that has become known as The Lucas Factor--where the dialogue is so bad that IT makes good actors look bad--see any Episode for examples)

And it's hard to find good actors in this area. Between the two movies I've received over 2500 headshots and auditioned almost 500. Out of that bunch I have probably only seen twenty who are decent, maybe ten I think are good, but not many I think are EXCELLENT.

Rick Ganz was excellent in the part of Aric Blue, but he's not great at the "weak" emotions, like love, happy, friendly. He's great at pissed, evil, ominous.

Which is one of the reasons I'm not moving ahead with the film I was going to try to put together this summer. The entire movie will fall apart if the audience doesn't TRULY believe that they are watching a documentary, and for that you need VERY good actors. They need to inhabit those characters so tightly that they become the characters.

In a regular film the audience knows that these are all actors but they let themselves get invested in the characters anyway. In a documentary the audience won't give you that. The Blair Witch Project wouldn't have succeeded all that well if it hadn't fooled so many people into believing it was a real thing.

So I'm going to have to wait until I can get some EXCELLENT actors. Meantime I'm almost halfway done the first draft of FOC2. I'm gonna go out and look at some locations next week--can't exactly write the finale of the script without knowing what locations I have access to.

Fun fun fun.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

June 30, 2005

Shivers The Clown(Mark Lassise) finally catches Lynn(Jacky Reres)

June 30, 2005

In a Perfect World...

You write a script. You're only limited by your imagination. The most intricate action scenes set in exotic locales, wonderful sets. You put them all in! This will be great!

Then it's up to Hollywood to bring your imagination to life. To find locations that will double as the places you've imagined.

They have FX technicians to figure out just how to make that gruesome death look realistic on screen. They have stuntmen to figure out how they can safely create that stunt and make it look awesome. They have seemingly limitless money to throw at any problem, any obstacle.

Too bad this ain't a perfect world.

You're a low-budget guy. And when I say low budget I'm not talking five million. With five million I could make you four movies and take a month-long vacation in the Bahamas.

No, I'm talking between $30,000-$80,000. To the layman who has never shot anything that may still seem like a lot of money. It's not.

Let me show you how fast that money goes. Assume you're not going to pay yourself anything to write/direct/edit the film. You hire your Director of Photography(D.P.). He's gonna cost you at least $4,500($1000/week for 3 weeks of shooting plus the $400 plane ticket to fly him out from LA plus his hotel while he stays here which will be about $1100 for the 3 weeks)

You can skimp. Pull some kid who's fresh out of college who thinks he knows what he's doing. Hell, he'll do it for free so he has something on his reel.

If you do that you risk making a piece of shit. I tell you, the Director of Photography is one of the most important people on your set. Do not half-ass this position. Half-ass your P.A.s, but not this position.

So then you need some all-purpose guys. We'll call them grips, but they're really gonna be grips/electricians. You can probably get some decent guys for $100/day. You're gonna need them 6 days a week for 3 weeks, so each of them is gonna cost $1800 for the shoot. 3 of them for the entire shoot is gonna cost $5,400.

You're gonna need some equipment--come on, whattaya gonna shoot on? What are you going to rent? Let's be nice and say we get a camera for $150/day--we got a break because we're renting it for 3 weeks. The total cost for the rental of the camera will be $2700.

We need lights. We can rent a light kit or two, but we really should kill two birds with one stone. Let's get a grip truck, which we'll make sure comes equipped with a light kit. It will also have C-stands, sand bags, reflectors, extension cords and most of the general stuff we'll need. We get a decent deal on that for $1000 a week. Total rental for 3 weeks is $3,000.

Hey, howsabout some actors? We can get actors for free, of course, but they're gonna suck. You get what you pay for. You can probably find decent actors for $100/day. Let's say we need five decent actors that we will pay. We don't need every one every day, but we figure out the cost for all five on the days we need them and it's $4,100. That's pretty conservative, just so you know. And we're going to assume they're all local so we don't have to fly them into town or house them at the end of the day.

You're going to need food. Forget about Craft Services, it's not happening on this budget. You're going to be getting your wife or someone to make cold sandwiches on some days, hot meals on others. Figure you're going to spend at least $600/week on food and drinks(between sodas/water/fruit juices you're gonna go broke). That's $1,800 for the 3 weeks.

The camera we got is a video camera, so depending on whether it's HD or mini-DV you're gonna need some tapes. The price is going to vary. How much footage you're going to shoot is going to vary. Let's make a low guess(especially if you're going HD) and say you're going to get 25 tapes at $6/apiece. $150

I record audio on DAT tape. Safer and cleaner than going right to the camera(plus, if you shoot with a steadicam you can't run an XLR cable into the camera while you're using it). You can get 25 DAT tapes for $5/apiece. That's $125

So what have we done so far? Gotten some of the main people together. It's a start. What has it cost us so far?


And we haven't even scratched the surface yet. And we're also being very conservative. More to come.