Future filmmaking BOOK Coming Soon!

For those of you following filmmaking stuff, you know that I have been working on an awesome and comprehensive filmmaking book for quite some time.

I am pleased to announce that the filmmaking book is almost complete. (Update – the book is complete and available here.)

One of the biggest challenges I had was coming up with a title. Thankfully one of our Filmmaking Stuff readers wrote me on the Filmmaking Stuff facebook wall: “How about: Filmmaking Stuff-The Book.”

While the idea seemed simple, the more I thought about it – the more I realized this was the correct course of action! First of all, most of you know me (or you do now) and secondly, if you didn’t know about Filmmaking Stuff, after reading the book you will. I look at this as a win-win for our growing community.

The next step was coming up with a synopsis. I had something written down, but my friend, screenwriter Jurgen Wolff took my crappy writing and cleaned it up a bit. As a result, the following sums up the book pretty well:

“The future of filmmaking is not Hollywood. It’s the thousands of independent filmmakers empowered by the digital revolution. This book shows them how to write the script, use crowdfunding to raise the money, make the journey from screenplay to screen, distribute the movie, and build an audience anxious to see their next one.”

Once I had the content, the title and the synopsis, the next task was creating a preliminary cover design. For this, I chose the famed graphic artist, Ian Hannin.

As a sneak peek, I have included the current iteration of our cover design. You can tell that the cover is based on the aesthetics of the filmmaking stuff site – which is intentional brand consistency.

Right now I am awaiting some quotes from some VIP filmmaker types. I have reached out the usual suspects. And I am eager to get this book into YOUR hands.

With that said, the book is almost ready for the presses. I will initially release it as a hard cover book that you can order through Amazon and other retailers.

Then later, you will be able to grab a copy on your kindle. If you want to be the first to know about the book, make sure you sign up for the Filmmaking Stuff mailing list.

Anyway, happy filmmaking!

(Super excited to get this Filmmaking Book into YOUR hands!)

 

 

 

Why Do Filmmakers Need A List?

Like it or not, many social networking sites run the risk of going out of vogue. So as a filmmaker, if you are working to build a relationship with your audience – From day one, you will want to migrate your fans off the social networking sites and get them into your own email, mailing list.

For this, I recommend using a reputable third-party email marketing service such as www.AudienceList.com.

In full disclosure, the company does pay me to promote, but it is the company I utilize for my own business.

With this tool, as soon as you sign up for one of their inexpensive accounts, you can easily create ways for your movie fans to connect with you. For an example of how this works, STOP: If you would like over $47 dollars in useful filmmaking tools for FREE, sign up below:

 

If you just clicked that link, you probably got an email asking you to confirm your subscription. Assuming you clicked, you were then redirected to a “Thank You Page.” And on that page you were able to download all sorts of premium filmmaking tools, for free. This is what legitimate email marketers call the “double-opt-in” process.

While I am obviously utilizing list-building to create a more meaningful relationship with filmmakers (and YOU), this model can be (and should be) applied to your own movie business.

The major difference between email marketing and traditional movie marketing methods is that members of your target audience find you, and give YOU permission to email them. This is important, because unlike traditional movie marketing methods, with email marketing, you will only communicate with people actually interested in your movie.

To make this easy, your audience list is simply a collection of email addresses. Most filmmakers will also collect the person’s first name with the email address so that they can personalize the email. So instead of saying “Hello Zombie Movie Lover”, you can say “Hey, Jason!”

While I usually stick to just collecting a name and email address, www.AudienceList.com also makes it easy to collect information such as the address and phone number of your site visitor. While this extra information may help refine your  marketing strategy – the truth is, most of your movie website visitors will not take time to fill out an extensive opt-in form.

An opt-in form is a little box that asks visitors to provide you with their name and email address. Here is an example:

 

With services like www.AudienceList.com, as soon as your visitor opts-in, the contact information is added to your database and managed for you, automatically! These subscribers are now part of your “list,” and you can email them with updates, deals and movie festival screening times – to name a few examples.

The other week I gave a talk at the UCLA film school. And someone asked me why I emphasize audience list building so much – So this is important. Given the disruption to traditional distribution sales channels, building an audience list for your movie and your career might be one of the most important decisions you ever make. Why? Because regardless of how the independent movie industry changes, one constant will always hold true. YOU will need to get people to sit down and watch your movie, and hopefully pay you for this privilege. www.AudienceList.com can help you get started.

Building Your Filmmaking Team

If you look at my movie credits, you’ll see that I’ve been working with the same crew on almost every project. This is not by accident. The truth is, making movies is challenging. And from my perspective, bringing unknown people into the process makes everything even more challenging and (often) complicated.

But you have to start somewhere. So for those of you planning to crank out some movies, I recommend you start small. Find a few collaborators and assign jobs based on interest. Then grab a camera and complete some micro projects such as music videos, short films and funny sketches for YouTube.

Here is a project my buddy Jared did in a few afternoons to test his new HDSLR camera. As you’ll see in the following video, he created a very simple sketch – a music video that employs minimal locations, a few actors and a lot of exteriors – which means he didn’t have to worry about lighting interiors. The project was a lot of fun too. (My horrible acting is featured too. I’m the guy who spits gum.)

If you can do a dozen of these small projects without ripping each other’s heads off, you’re on your way to creating your core crew. Then later, as your projects increase in scope and scale, you’ll have a good starting point.

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Filmmaking eZine and Free Tools

Video on demand has forever changed the ways independent movies are made, seen and sold. And if you’ve not yet made a feature, you might wonder why this is important to you.

I get excited about Video On Demand and the various popular internet marketplaces like iTunes and Amazon because movie distribution is no longer discriminatory. This means that you can actually control your own business and marketing plan.

The downside to this is, as a modern moviemaker, if you want to prosper, you need to develop some marketing and sales skills – or at least know enough about this stuff to hire the appropriate team member.

When you click the picture below, you will have the opportunity to grab some great filmmaking tools, FREE of charge. You’ll get valuable tips on how you can make, market and sell your independent movies more easily.

If you like all the free stuff, make sure you tell your filmmaking friends!

 

Feature Filmmaking Advice

A 16 mm spring-wound Bolex "H16" Ref...

Image via Wikipedia

Prior to getting my own features off the ground, I worked for an indie producer in New York City. I took the gig because I wanted to uncover the “secrets” to making movies. And after a few months, I ended up working in development – which pretty much meant it was my job to read screenplays and write reports about the material, called coverage.

When I wasn’t reading, most of my days were spent sitting in on meetings and taking notes. Given the fast paced grind of the development office, if you were one of the many writers, actors or filmmakers who sent us a query letters, headshots or your student films- odds are good that I opened some of your mail and put it on a stack. And that stack probably ended up in a filing cabinet. And? Well…

Listen. If you’re ambitious and you’re still waiting around for someone to “give you permission” to make your movies, I’m going to share a secret. There is no better feeling in the world than the day you stop sending query letters and instead, you start producing your own work (or if you’re an actor, you start casting yourself). For years and years, you have dreamed about getting your work on the big screen. You know you’re good. So why ask for permission?

Now I know this can be a scary transition. So I want to provide you with five tips to make becoming a super-hyphenate a little easier.

1. Have a well defined log-line for your project. Seriously. Most first time indie producers settle for a simple character driven story. But the story is always confusing. So here is the test, if you can not explain your story with the use of a simple log line, something is off. Fix the log line now. You’ll need it for your marketing later.

2. Everything in your screenplay costs money. So if your passion project is too expensive, write something based on locations in your neighborhood. Your true genius will come from your ability to tell a compelling story, not by how many expensive Special FX you can pack into your movie.

3. Ice, Snow, Rain, Sun, dogs, lighting bolts and children have always been a challenge to predict. If you include any of these elements in your story, I guarantee that setups that should only take minutes will take days. Avoid these elements if possible.

4. As soon as you decide to produce and possibly direct your movie, hire a seasoned Production Manager to work with you. They will read your script. They will tell you that your movie will cost way more than you think and they will help you alter the story to meet your budget constraints. Managing the budget is their job. Respect it. Then ask your PM if they know a great 1st AD. (They will!)

5. Hire a GREAT First Assistant Director. Not some film school kid either. Pay the money. Build a relationship. The First AD will be the general of your production. They will build off the Production Manager’s budget and schedule the movie. The 1st AD keeps the production on time.

These steps will provide you with a good starting point. Once you have your script, PM and your 1st AD, you will find that your project will start to gain momentum. Finish your feature and people will start sending you query letters. I guarantee it. If you liked this filmmaking article, sign up for my newsletter.