Budgeting a Feature: Micro-Mini (June Meeting Recap)

Budgeting a Feature: Micro-Mini (June Meeting Recap)

Budgeting a Feature: Micro - Mini (June Meeting Recap)

By: Elise Sievert Bhushan

Guest Speaker: Arthur Vincie

We starting our June meeting with lots of gratitude as The FilmakeHers are celebrating three  full years of meeting, collaborating and supporting one another. A special thanks to the starting members.

Our guest speaker Director/Producer/Line Producer Arthur Vincie focused on budgeting for a feature. With over 10 years of experience and a handout from his from his book “Preparing for Takeoff: Preproduction for the Independent Filmmaker”, he gave an informative talk with many of the insider tidbits he has learned along the way. Arthur directed and wrote the the sci-fi feature FOUND IN TIME (available on Amazon & Vudu) and the new web series THREE TREMBLING CITIES.

Arthur has found that breaking down a script in pre-production helps you get rid of the excess you don’t need in a film. It has made him a better writer, saved money, and it’s “less crap to cut in the editing room”. Even though it is a tedious process it can only help you learn in the long run.

1)THE BREAKDOWN PROCESS

Take your script and analyze each scene.

This is a careful read of the script (especially if you wrote it: remember all the stuff in your head that isn’t on the page that could be a potential cost) It’s about getting all the detail that's not in the script. Take each scene and turn it into a page with a list of costs by category. Example: Props, costumes, makeup, extras, stunts, locations, etc.

          You can use Software (Movie Magic Scheduling or Gorilla) or do it manually.

                   *educational discount if you graduated from a film school for software

                   *These programs can miss things. Examples:

                       If a character doesn't speak in a scene, it won’t be listed.

                       If dialogue carries over a page, it could be listed as two characters.

Find ways to save Money:

           -Cut one liners, or give lines to another person who has more lines

           -Space out extras, film can make it look bigger than it is

           -Move Interiors to outside (less location fees) and you get value with scenic outdoors

           -Not sure what category to put a cost? Put it in multiple categories

           -Not sure what something will cost: Call people to get quotes, always over estimate.

           -Montage call be several scenes. Is it stuff you are already shooting great, if it brand             new stuff then that can add to your production cost.

            -Watch for changes in location within scene

            -Phone calls scenes are two locations

            -2 pages of a phone call is actually 4 pages of coverage

            -Car scenes: Takes a long time to set up and not a lot of angles to shoot.

             Remember these are really exteriors. Where is the car? Highway, street?

Once you have analyzed your script and have a stack of sheets you need to schedule.

 

2) SCHEDULING

You now have a really good understanding of the elements of your script, plus a better idea of what will be difficult.

      A)If you are doing this manually, make a post it-note each of your sheets. (one for each scene)

            List:

                   Scene number

                   Location

                   Cast (think of the people as there number: Callsheet numbers)

                  *Character report in final draft helpful.

  

 B) When you do schedule what are the parameters I'm operating on?

           Write down Scheduling dates of Actors (conflicts)

            Scheduling dates of Locations (conflicts)

            Funding

 

   C) Make your piles

           Sort them first my location (will save you money)

           Start with day shoots and end with night shoots (better for crew, and union regulations)

           Recommends a 5 day shoot weeks instead or 6

           Start with exteriors end with interiors (helps in case of weather delays)

           Try to keep Actor's strung together. 4 days in row verse spread out

            *In the end though pick location over the actor in scheduling

 

More Tips:

-Start shoot week on Friday/Saturday so that days off are during business working hours if it’s needed.

-Weekend makes certain locations more available for shooting

-Weekdays are better for apartment scenes

-Bars and clubs better to shoot during the day, earlier in the week vs later in the week

-Mondays are great for halls for celebrations

- If you need still photos. Family photos. Find time to shoot them before it's needed on set. (Do them on a rehearsal day)

-Avoid shooting the intro, ending, or a pivotal moment of your film on the first day

-Space out big set design days, avoid two big locations in a row, Art dept. wrapping one location while needing to dress another location will be difficult and use up time

-Simple props on the first day of shooting

-Maybe rethink. Too many locations. Company moves never go smoothly

 

3)BUDGET

You don't usually get it right the first time.

You won’t  know how many days you need to shoot the film, until you break the script  down.  Breaking the script down will inform you how hard it will be to make and how expensive.

What's my end goal and how am I budging towards that goal?

        -A percentage needed distribution and promotion end if you want theatrical release

        -Festivals that will fly you out

         -⅓ of budget for post post festivals and distribution

         -LLC for each film, keeps money separate

         -NY LLC publication (use Albany)

Line items for distribution

       -Flights

       -Festivals

       -Publicist

       -Physical materials: one sheets, postcards

       -Business cards

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

How to Sell your Film Without Selling Your Soul

Filmmakers Collaborative

 

 

 

Embracing Your Independence

Embracing Your Independence

Embracing Your Independence

By: Shari Berman

Recently, I was at a FilmmakeHers meeting where one of the members commented that she wrote her last script at her corporate job where she was being paid to answer the phones that rarely ever rang. I made a comment that went something like, “So, they are paying you to write and you are just being kind and volunteering to answer the phones. You are making money at your art. Congratulations.” This was a joke, of course and we all laughed heartily and drank more wine.

Artists of all kinds – whether they be painters or dancers or filmmakers - get depressed when their brains go down the terrible path of making money. Even if they love their corporate career or various That Girl day jobs – the thought “I’ll never make a living at this” or “I’ll never get paid for my personal work” turns the need for wine in to the need for bath tub gin. Though it is easily said that you don’t need to make money at your art to prove your art is changing the world or reaching people or is just great to look at, we do live in a capitalist society and so it proves difficult to separate the two. It is hard enough living the constant struggle to find funding for your art, but turning that corner in to making a profit with it can become overwhelming. (By the way, this is not to say some people don’t make a living through their art, obviously, there are people who do – though I think many have compromised what they set out to do and I often ponder if that is good or bad. However, that’s a discussion for another time so I’ll leave that there.)

For artists who are struggling with the hideous five letter word M-O-N-E-Y, I’d like to share the following you. Earlier this year, I had decided to quit making films. It was a private decision, didn’t even tell my dog, let alone my husband or friends. I just decided. I’d live my life saying “oh, I have this idea” or “oh, I’m thinking about”, but it was just over and I didn’t want to talk about it. There are various reasons I was feeling this way, but they are irrelevant. Suffice it to say I was done. I had to go to this meeting with an industry person though because a friend had kindly connected me to the individual I was meeting with and I didn’t want to be rude.

I honestly was expecting a slick shark in tuna’s clothing to show up to this meeting, but that wasn’t the person I was faced with. I was face to face with a human being. A real, genuine human being who asked me “what do you want to do – really want to do in this industry?” And of course, I couldn’t answer truthfully that I wanted to shove my head in the wall of this industry and leave it there, so I dredged up one of those cliché answers we are all taught: “Well, I write my own work, but I’m very open to other people’s work and would direct that. I’m very open…” blah blah blah – almost vomited on myself as I spoke - and this real human being looked at me with kindness. (I’m sure it was abundantly clear that I was trying to come up with the “right answer”. Also, I am a terrible liar/BS artist.) He wasn’t offended, he just smiled. (He has heard my lame answer before and gets where it is coming from.) We started talking about films – specific films we are passionate about. After two times of us almost packing up the meeting because I was not feeling up to asking him a list of questions that in the past would have sprung to mind, I said for some unknown reason “I have these two ideas.” And I succinctly explained them each in three sentences. I’ve never been so succinct in my life. He seemed surprised and I suspect it is because he has only seen the one “mainstream” film I have ever made. He said, “Those sound great. They are real independent film projects and not typically what you see in Hollywood.” And I thought I had fallen in to an alternative universe and at any moment it might implode. He didn’t say, “Well, what is the target audience?”  or “Is this going to resonate with teenagers as they are the largest group of movie goers?” or “This is a business after all sweetie and not HS film club. Those just sound weird.” Instead, he said “It seems to me you want to make your own projects and you are a true indie filmmaker. I am happy to help you in any way I can when you are ready to share your materials.” And I asked him if there is money out there for independent filmmakers, deep down knowing the answer. He said that he has found many indie directors are independently wealthy or they do what I do. They have corporate careers to support them so they can make their films. And at that moment – though you would think I would feel despair because “no one is dropping a bag of gold at your feet” was part of this comment - I felt this feeling of utter relief. And this gentleman went on to talk about the types of films his company cares about – independent films, with new ideas and new ways of doing things, films about how people think and not just about how they can blow things up with fabulous CGI. I’ve watched many of the films the company is connected to, but up until that moment it never dawned on me why I was so drawn to films by that company. They get indie film. There are people out there who get it. And they apparently understand and respect the situation indie filmmakers exist in with regards to funding and struggling to not starve to death in the process of getting a film made. Who knew?

So, when you are feeling like you want to hide in a dark room, alone with your movie in your editing system or perhaps still in your script writing software, remember this: Remember that though the “industry” is a business, you are an artist. You do get paid to write your script at your desk and simply volunteer to answer the phones. You are on the right path. Keep going. Besides shoving your head in a wall will most likely be a painful experience and require health insurance, but that’s another matter…

 

May Meeting Recap

May Meeting Recap

May Meeting Recap

By: Lesley Shannon

              The May meeting was a reality check for all us. We spent the entire meeting being honest with ourselves about what we really want out of our careers.

  • Should - the most destructive word because it is saturated with implied shame of something you are lacking.

  • When you go through the really hard times in life it helps to clear the debris. Perform consistent life checks!

  • Statistically we change jobs 5 times in our life.

  • Why did you really get into this industry? Remind yourself of the reason for continuing on.

  • Find what you love and then do it. Identifying where your true passion lies is key

  • Change is temporary and jobs can and will change.

  • Sometimes you have to decide what you don’t want to do to see if you really want to do it.

  • What is it that I want to do instead of what I should do.

  • It is ok to change paths after spending a long time in one discipline. You must connect to what you really want.

  • Side hustle- There is no perfect side job! It is whatever works best for you and your needs. Your side job will change as you go through your career, don’t be afraid to change with it. It is about the journey. Power in the freedom of letting yourself do what you want. Money gives that freedom, and it is why we tend to obsess about it. Think about it more as learning a skill to monetize or subsidize your life.

  • Don’t be afraid to learn new skills- you tube is your friend. Especially since now is a time of transition where many titles are beginning to converge and combine

  • Once you get to a certain level, give yourself time to see what it actually looks like. Ride the changes of how things move along the way. Allow yourself to be the center of your own story.

  • Actualization of dreams- manifesting

  • Success is a circle not a ladder. Let’s go around the circle and celebrate where we started and where we are.

 

Recommended reading to help you through the rough creative times:

Big Magic- Elizabeth Gilbert

The War of Art- Steven Pressfield

 

Review of the Artemis Women in Action Film Festival

Review of the Artemis Women in Action Film Festival

Review of the Artemis Women in Action Film Festival

(http://www.artemisfilmfestival.com/)

 

by Rebecca Nyahay

 

I had the pleasure of attending the Artemis Women in Action Film Festival in LA a few weeks back and during the screening of our film, Blackwell Summers Mysteries, I knew we had found our audience.  This festival truly celebrates Women in Action and all that that implies. 

Artemis was the Olympian goddess of hunting, the wilderness, and wild animals and couldn’t be a more fitting name.  Founded in 2015, it was the first festival dedicated to women in action roles.  Initially the festival was created to celebrate female action films in a way that brought filmmakers, actresses, stuntwomen and athletes together in one place.  While the festival initially focused on features, shorts, docs and animation that featured physically empowered women, in the 3 years since its inception, it has expanded to include films about female activists and historically influential women.  The non-action genre films featured incredibly brave and independent women in stories that inspired and educated.  As you can imagine, I was very excited to be a part of it!

Let’s start with the festival itself.  The founding members, Melanie, Sean and Zac, were all a delight!  I have often found that the level of communication from the organizers leading up to the festival itself can be an indication of the experience the filmmaker will have while there.  All communications were very clear and they were always accessible to answer any questions.  Once at the festival, the entire staff was friendly and accommodating.  The opening night Red Carpet gala was a grand event complete with celebrities and press.  The ceremony honored a selection of women and men who have worked to promote women in the action genre.  The 2 biggest celebrities honored, Melissa McCarthy and Tom Cruise, even recorded acceptance videos that were shown during the ceremony.  Not bad for a festival that’s only in its 3rd year!  I was most impressed with how supportive each award recipient was in their acceptance speech.  Every woman talked about helping other women in the industry and creating a supportive environment rather than a competitive one.  You can find a full list of honorees here - http://www.artemisfilmfestival.com/2017-honorees/

I was able to attend 2 panels during the festival – All Stars of Stunts and Women Warrior Panel.  I particularly enjoyed the Women Warrior Panel as it included archaeologists, historians, female martial artists and MMA fighters.  It was a fascinating discussion about the history and current reality of being a female warrior.  It was so refreshing to be at a film panel that focused more on a subject matter relevant to the overall festival rather than the technical filmmaking aspects of specific films.  The discussion really put many of the films into perspective and I was able to view the evening action screenings through a slightly different lens.

 

As with most small festivals and the action genre itself, the films were hit or miss when it came to the straight action pieces.  There were some phenomenal fight sequences that didn’t always have strong storylines, great storylines with weak acting and a few that despite having female leads, were a bit sexist in terms of subject.  Action films rarely have that unique combination of strong story, believable fight sequences, beautiful camera work and strong acting.  Overall, most of the films hit at least 2 of those elements, but I didn’t see any that hit all of them.  That being said, there were some incredibly fierce women with phenomenal fighting skills.  To see that kind of talent in low budget films when you know the actresses are doing their own stunts and really kicking butt without the benefit of CGI or fancy aerial rigging is really awesome.

There was a VR Lounge set up throughout the weekend and though I personally do not have as much interest in that type of filmmaking, it was amazing to see the technology that’s being created.  I got to experience a village in Africa surrounded by all the villagers and children singing while walking by my side.  The 360 degree VR is incredible and I would encourage everyone to check it out if the opportunity arises. 

Now, you’d think an actress/producer who loves action and does her own fighting and stunts would be most drawn to the action films at the festival.  That did not end up being the case.  My favorite films in the festival were the docs.  Saturday afternoon brought stories of female activists, suffragettes, riveters and athletes.  From the Margaret Lambert Story about a Jewish athlete barred from competition during Hitler’s 1936 Olympic Games to We Can Do It – Stories of Rosie the Riveter which focused on the millions of women who joined the labor force in WWII to I Shot Einstein about the work of veteran photojournalist Marilyn Stafford.  The following morning brought films of women rock climbing in Thailand, downhill mountain biking some sick trails and an artist hiking and painting the view from the summit of each of the 58 Colorado mountains.  The stories were inspiring and the cinematography was stunning. 

My only criticism would be the lack of networking opportunities throughout the festival.  It would have been great to have a reception before or after the red carpet event for filmmakers to get to know one and other.  The event was held at a smaller theatre and while the theatre itself was grand and perfect for the evening, the lobby was tiny and cramped and there was no specified reception.  The VR lounge was great and open for the duration of the festival but did not encourage filmmakers to stick around and mingle unless they were there for the VR.  These small criticisms are easy fixes going forward and as they are only in their third year, I’m sure they will continue to nurture their filmmakers and grow the opportunities.  I would highly encourage any filmmaker with a film that honors female action and empowerment to submit to this festival.  It is still a young festival and will only keep growing!    Overall I really enjoyed this festival and plan on returning whether or not I have a film being screened.   

If you would like to read more about this year’s films, you can check out the full schedule including film synopsis’ here -

http://www.artemisfilmfestival.com/2017-schedule/

Crowdfunding For the Very First Time

Crowdfunding For the Very First Time

By: Heather Taylor

But having freedom to create the work that I want to make without asking for permission is something crowdfunding is giving me. It also gives validation from my audience that what I’m making is something they want to see. It’s a great way to reach them and build a larger following for my work.

March Meeting: Low Budget Filmmaking

March Meeting: Low Budget Filmmaking

By: Lesley Shannon

Making a feature film above the micro budget level, putting it lightly,is really freakin’ hard. As a part of our filmmakers meeting, we sat down with Sarah Wharton and Naomi McDougall Jones, and this is what they had to say about their film Bite Me.

 

Film Race

Film Race

By: Jaclyn Gramigna

We have been meeting monthly for almost 3 years. A group of creators who had never had a chance to create something together. Our meetings had gotten into a good groove with a working format, involving a discussion on a topic and/or a guest speaker. I had originally been planning to continue in that vain and find a badass, insightful guest speaker to enlighten us but, as often happens in the freelance world, life (work) got in the way.