Filmmaking Seminar Los Angeles

For Los Angeles based fimmakers looking to take their show to business, I recommend checking out the next  Norman Berns workshop.  In this full-day, hands-on instruction, you will gain experience on the following:

MATCHING SCRIPT and BUDGET – SCHEDULING – BUDGETING

BUSINESS PLANS – PITCHING – FUNDRAISING

DEVELOPING THE DECK

MARKETING – DISTRIBUTION – SALES

Your day will begin with an overview of the basics. Then you’ll spend A FULL DAY working with YOUR script, YOUR schedule, YOUR plan, YOUR pitch. You’ll gain valuable insight needed to dissect the logic of a shooting schedule, review production budget cost savings and craft business plans to meet investors needs. And you’ll also discover how to allocate state film incentives correctly.

Oh. And as a highlight, I’m going to stop by and share some tips on how to market and sell your movie without the middleman. I’m told this one day event is filling up fast. So reserve your spot.

When: Monday, May 9th

Where: Showbiz Software Store

500 S. Sepulveda, Los Angeles

9am – 6pm

Indie Filmmaking As Your Business

If you’ve been following Filmmaking Stuff for some time, you probably know that this site really pushes non-permission based filmmaking. This concept means that if you’re a filmmaker with ambition and a dream, you should not hesitate…

You should not wait for Hollywood to give you permission – but rather, you should pick up a camera and Make Your Movie Now!

For some of you, this is easier said than done. Part of why this seems challenging and impossible is because many of us start our career with the belief that filmmakers need a gazillion dollars, tons of experience and an address in Hollywood to make a living as a “real” filmmaker.

While this was once true, the new model of movie making allows you to create and sell movies from anywhere in the world.

For many, this filmmaking evolution is exciting. But the classic elements of filmmaking remain. You still need a great story, the passion and persistence to bring your movie to life, and the guts to share your work with the world.

To give you a rough plan of how to get your indie movie business up and running, I’ve provided a few steps. (Where I thought it would help, I also included links to some sponsored filmmaking tools and services.) Ready:

1. Build A Team: Create relationships with at least 5-10 collaborators who complement your skill set. At the very least, you’ll want to find a writer who understands budgets, a physical producer experienced in low budget movie making, a tech guru who understands cameras and modern production gadgets, an editor with Final Cut Pro and an internet guru who can help you promote and sell your movies online.

Bonus points if you can find a lawyer who can provide you with the necessary legal advice, contracts and advice on setting up a business.

2. Create a Manageable Movie Concept: Come together as a team and design a movie that can be explained in one high-concept log-line. It has been my experience that original, genre specific movies with a bit of controversy, geared towards a clearly defined target audience will later help you when it comes time to market and sell your movie.

Above all, your movie idea should be totally fun and captivating. (Otherwise, why make the movie?)

3. Break Down Your Screenplay: Out of this, complete your schedule and your budget. Then analyze your budget. Ask yourself: If we do not garner a traditional distribution deal, how many $4.99 VOD downloads will we need to sell to get a return? At this point you can decide to decrease your budget, or not. But once you decide on your budget and the amount of sales you’ll need to get a return, you can then begin planning your marketing strategy.

If you have money, hire a great Production Manger. If you don’t have money, you’ll have to do your own breakdown. Check out my sponsor, LightSpeed EPS.

4. Go Get The Money: Once you have a concrete filmmaking strategy, you can go after your money. Investors like to see three things in your business plan: Who is running the company? How will you spend the money? And how will you make a profit?

Unlike years past, iTunes, Amazon and (sometimes) Netflix provides you with an accessible distribution pipeline. This will assist you in getting the necessary movie money. If you don’t know how to find prospective investors, see: www.GetMovieMoney.com

After you lock down your money, you can go into pre-production full force. Hire a great 1st AD.

5. Sell Your Movie: Once you get the money, I’m assuming you’ll make the movie. After that, two things have to happen. You have to spread the word about your movie. And you have to figure out how you are going to sell the thing. Once you get your movie out there and selling, focus on fueling your marketing with ads, PR and partnerships with other filmmakers.

After you do this once, the way to become successful is to create more and more movies. Remember, your goal is to create at least 20 movies in your life time, so that you can get at least 20 checks in the mail each month!

If you like this filmmaking stuff, you’ll love this resource: www.FreeFilmmakingBook.com

How To Break Down and Schedule Your No-Budget Movie

If you’re a first time feature filmmaker, you do not need a gazillion dollars to join the feature club. But you will need to learn how to replace money with ginormous creatively. And once your screenplay is complete, then the next step in the filmmaking process is your initial breakdown and schedule.

Breaking down the script means you go through your screenplay, number each scene and highlight each element, including locations, characters, props, make up, wardrobe, picture vehicles and special FX…

All of these things cost money. And once the script is locked, any modification you make to the story or schedule, no matter how minor or major, will subsequently impact the budget.

My producer friend Forrest Murray always says the script, schedule and budget are the same document. You’ll need all three to make a movie… But in the process, if you change one document, you’re actually changing all three.

I’ll chat about this some more later. For today, let’s focus on your initial schedule so you can eventually get to your budget.

Schedule Your Movie And Save

1.After you highlight each element, you’ll want to figure out when you want to shoot your movie and how long you plan to shoot.

2.You can determine this by choosing how many pages you want to shoot per day. Then you can decide if you want to shoot 5 days on and 2 days off, or 6 days on and 1 day off. Or maybe you want to shoot your movie over a few weekends.

3.Everything in the script will impact your budget. There is software for this. Final Draft offers an add-on called Tagger. Tagger allows you to go through the script and pick out elements and highlight them in various colors. Once all elements are selected, you can eventually import this list into your budget and schedule software program.

4.After giving this your best effort, if you still feel stuck, seek expert advice.

5.Eventually, these elements will have a price in your initial budget. What is the price of each element? How much does your movie cost?

Many motion picture professionals make a living just breaking down, scheduling and budgeting movies. So it’s a pretty complicated and creative area. As a first time feature filmmaker, it save you many headaches if you partner with an seasoned 1st AD or Line Producer who could guide you through the process.

If this is not possible for you, I suggest reading every article on the subject as well as watching every YouTube video. This will teach you how to think like a cost conscious, responsible producer.

Regardless of your decision to complete your own breakdown or hire someone else for the job, the reason you’ll need an initial schedule is because this will give you a good starting point… You’ll utilize this information to figure out your budget. You’ll also be able to figure out if you need to cut an element or two, or not.

Cut Your Budget

Once you have your initial schedule, (and assuming this is your first feature), I suggest you create a budget for your movie in the neighborhood of $500K. Before you go crazy thinking this is a lot of money (or a little money), I want you to know you don’t actually have to spend $500K in hard cash to meet the needs of your budget.

In fact, once you determine you’ll make your movie at $500K, you are going to spend the next few weeks working backwards to see how much hard cash you can replace with sweat equity, discounts and favors from friends and family. Why $500K? Because if you actually have the elements budgeted, there is a good chance your movie will look better than if you budgeted for a mere $50K.

The reason for this is mostly psychological. By setting your budget at 500K, you’re going to start out with goal that forces you to get a higher production value than if you simply settled for pocket cash.

Later, with the application of tremendous creativity, it will be possible to reduce a $500K budget after discounts, free food, locations and salary adjustments quite significantly.

Do you have friends who own locations you can utilize for free? Do you have access to discounted equipment? Can you finish your movie faster than scheduled?

Do you have a friend with an edit suite?

Can you shoot some scenes outside during the day to reduce the need for extra lights? Can you find free food for your cast and crew? These are just some of the ways you can reduce that $500K budget.

One of my buddies was able to do this on the cheap. He had a location budgeted for $5K. However, after my buddy spoke with the owner of the location, the fee was reduced to zero. How? My buddy (a creative producer) agreed to shoot a promo for the owner’s business. Another filmmaker friend got free food for his entire shoot simply by asking.

The food supplier was thanked in the credits.

Deals like this happen. But it takes creativity to find opportunity. Here are some questions to ask:

How much money do I have?
How can I reduce expenses?
Can I get free food?
Who do I know who has the location I’m looking for?
How much money will I need?

The other reason you want to keep your first feature budget low is to allow greater opportunity for return. In the event you get a standard distribution deal (which is becoming more and more rare), your movie should look expensive.

If your budget is $500K and the movie looks like $500K, but you only spent $50K or $30K $15K in ultra-low-budget hard cash, and someone pays you back your budget, then you just made a crazy profit!

Nice work.

And in the event you do not get a standard distribution deal, then you’re not quite as deep in the financial hole as you otherwise would be.

Filmmaking Tools You Can Use Today

If you’re a member of the Filmmaking Stuff newsletter as well as our Facebook group you probably know that we try very hard to answer every moviemaking question you send. Now, granted sometimes we get busy.

So, I wanted to provide you with a list of useful, no-fluff filmmaking tools. (Disclosure: Where possible, I included affiliate links. If you don’t want to buy anything I’m selling that’s totally cool.)

With that said, if I were once again putting together my first feature, this is a loose road map of the filmmaking tools I would utilize to make it happen.

How to Make Your Movie Now!

Before you get started, set up a profile with my friends at Movie Set – I consider this site to be the glue that binds. Well beyond your typical social networking site, this service will help you create community around your movie the whole way from script to screen to your movie marketplace.

Your Script – The First Draft:

This seems obvious. But without a screenplay, it is very difficult to make a movie. Yes, I know some of you are interested in making an “experimental” movie. If that’s you, then ignore the following screenwriting tools. But if you would like to write a screenplay, here are some filmmaking tools that I recommend:

  1. Final Draft – This is industry standard screenwriting software. You can also get Movie Magic Screenwriter. But I never used it. And if money is tight, you can get FREE screenwriting software here: Celtix
  2. The Independent Producer’s Guide To Writing Movie Scripts That Sell, by Jason Brubaker – Yes, this is THE screenwriting Action Pack that I created. In it, you get a decade of experience, a workbook and MP3 Audio, so you can listen to it anywhere. Call it screenwriting from a producer’s perspective.

BreakDown Your Script

Ok. After you finish your screenplay, you will want to break it down. What is a script breakdown? Basically, you take everything in your script (wardrobe, stunts, locations, characters, props Et AL. . . ) And you put these elements into a schedule. Since this is your “initial breakdown,” you will use this information to determine the ball park budget of your movie. Here are the filmmaking tools I recommend:

  1. Peter Marshall’s Script Breakdown and Film Scheduling Course. Peter has been in this game a long, long time. He will show you the fundamentals of script breakdown. These lessons will help you see your movie from a totally different, producer perspective.
  2. There is industry software to help you break down, schedule and budget your movie. One is called Movie Magic Scheduling and Movie Magic Budgeting. If money is tight, you can also grab a copy of Gorilla. These software tools are great because you can put them on your laptop and use them in remote places, even if you don’t have an internet connection!

Get Movie Money

Once your screenplay is broken down, scheduled and budgeted – the next step in the process is getting the money. To do this, you will need to create a movie business plan. After you have your business plan, you’ll want to contact a lawyer to draw up some paperwork and help you establish a corporate entity. And after that, you’ll go out and get your movie money. Here are some great filmmaking tools:

  1. Your Film Business Plan. For this, I recommend a website called Film Proposals. They have created a great business plan kit, which will provide you with a step-by-step approach to all the business stuff you would rather not bother with. Get Your Movie Business Plan Here.
  2. When it comes to entertainment attorneys, one of most accomplished is Gordon Firemark. He runs a website and has very informative podcasts, full of valuable legal tips – And if you need some work beyond that, including legal releases for your movie, Gordon can help. You can check out his site by clicking here. Get on his mailing list. . .
  3. Getting a business plan and putting your legal ducks in a row is only part of the process, the next aspect is getting money for your movie. I recommend “How To Make Rich Friends and Finance Your Movie” by Jason Brubaker. OK. Once again, this another one of my Action Packs. As usual, this is no-fluff. Different from all the other BS out there, you will discover how to seek out and make friends with rich people, even if you don’t know rich people. (Yet) – Access The Independent’s Guide To Financing Your Movie by clicking here.
  4. I can’t forget my friends at Indie GoGo. This site will allow you to set up a profile, promote your movie project, set a financial goal and find folks to sponsor various aspects of your movie. And if you actually raise 100% of your goal, the company will throw in a bonus percentage. To GoGo, Click Here.

Going Into Production

Once you raise the money, get your cast, crew and equipment, locations and craft service, the next step is going into production. In this stage, you’ll find out if all of your planning holds up. This is going to be both adventurous and grueling. But an awesome time you’re sure NEVER to forget.  Here are several filmmaking resources that I recommend:

  1. Rick Schmidt’s Extreme DV. He has a great workshop in the Bay Area where you actually complete a feature film. He is also the writer of one of the most empowering filmmaking books I’ve ever read. To check out the book, click here. To learn more about Rick Schmidt’s filmmaking workshop, follow this link.
  2. Rebel Without A Crew. This is another personal favorite. Perhaps it’s a little dated, but if you can ignore the ancient filmmaking technology mentioned in the book, you will finish your read with a new found appreciation for how difficult the filmmaking process used to be. No more excuses! Get the book here and Make Your Movie Now!
  3. If you’re looking for a longer workshop, I recommend the New York Film Academy as well as the Maine Media Workshops.

Post Production

After you produce your movie, you’ll want to edit it. This is the phase they call post production. And it really is the final rewrite of your movie. In the past, your post production expenses were crazy expensive. But like most things in filmmaking, technology makes your post experience awesomely affordable. Here are some tools:

  1. A decade ago, all the talk and buzz in the world revolved around Avid. Now you’re like Avid who? Seriously. If you have a Mac, get yourself a copy of Final Cut Pro. It’s all but industry standard. It’s powerful and affordable. Enough said.
  2. If you don’t have a Mac, find a friend who does. Re-read the previous step. And if you don’t know how to edit, find a friend who does.

Market and Sell Your Movie

I’m not going to tell you how to find a sales agent or how to make a 3 picture deal. Partially because that stuff is rare. And partly because those deals are old school anyway. I mean, who wants to hire a 3rd party when you can build a following and cash your own checks. I love this arena. I call it Digital Self Distribution. Here is how you market and sell your movie:The Indie Producers Guide To Digital Self Distribution

  1. Create a trailer that actually aims to sell the movie without giving the entire story away. They call this a teaser trailer. Make sure it includes a back link to your website. Once you have the trailer, put the sucka on YouTube and all the other video streaming sites you can think of.
  2. Get a domain name and website hosting. To do this, set up an account with a filmmaker friendly company. I prefer BlueHost. And yes, they pay me to say that. When you set up the site, I prefer to use the name movie in the URL.
  3. Once you have your website hosting, hire a web designer to create a website for you. (Actually, you should have built a website prior to production. But I know your mind was probably focused on actually making the movie. So it’s OK.) If you burnt all your money actually making the movie, then check out this website called http://www.fiverr.com – On this site, you’ll probably find a dozen people who will create an awesome website for a whopping $5 dollars. Seriously. I’ve used it and actually got some great work!
  4. Once you have your trailer and your website, you need to make sure you set up a Facebook page as well as other ways to grab visitor information. This is because most visitors will not buy your movie in their first visit. Having a YouTube page, a Facebook page and a newsletter will allow you to build a relationship with your visitors. If they don’t buy today, maybe they will buy tomorrow.
  5. Get your movie selling online. There are so many outlets for this. But one of the best that I’ve found is the very independent filmmaker friendly site called Distribber. You can learn more about distribber by clicking here. Please tell em’ I sent you.
  6. 5.5. And I almost forgot. Jason Brubaker (that’s me) has another product. It’s called The Independent Producer’s Guide to Digital Self Distribution. You can find out more information by clicking here.

Well that pretty much sums up the movie making process. Hopefully these filmmaking resources will be beneficial to your filmmaking process.