Category Archives: Production

Maken’ Movies

This week I kinda’ had it in my head to get moving forward on an indi project I have been rolling around for ages.

Some stuff surfaced on the Canon EOS 7D sooting HD video, even better than its predecessor the Canon EOS 5D. I shared what I found with some filmmaker friends, which started some conversations, leading to more thoughts and conversations, bringing about some research, and so on an so forth. Before I knew it, Bob’s your uncle and I’m digging up old materials from all over the place. Suddenly I’m hip deep in scripts.

Okay, I wasn’t literally hip deep in scripts, in truth, not even ankle deep. It sounded good though didn’t it? I did feel like I was swimming in scrips. I’ve been thinking about doing an online radio-drama series for a long time but the idea of writing 13 or more episodes at this particular place in time seemed a little too much for me to embark on; to be even more truthful, I have been leaning more toward the video route and I know I’m not ready to write 13 plus screenplays for an episodic or 13 plus original shorts.

Turns out I had a stack of old 1940s radio show scripts, some of which, fit the noir/detective genre I have been wanting to do. One of them struck me as very visual, so I decided to try and hammer out a feature adaptation for screen, big or small. The original was a 40 minute radio play, I started off by transcribing the original into SceneWriter as a rough draft for easy editing. Next up, the first draft edit of the rough. Got a time bump of a few minutes, but more importantly, it feels right; the script feels right, the edits feel like they are working, the visuals are clear, the juices are really flowing on this one. I finished the first draft and moved on to the second.

Re-writes are a constant. Every time a script is written it will be re-written over and over again, three, four, five, seven, ten times if needed, so I am told. I’ve finished my first re-write, I now have a one hour screen play, not polished by any means, but a one hour screen play with several new scenes. The new scenes need fleshing out, they are pretty soft right now, but they are workable. I figure with fleshing out those scenes and a few more writing/re-writing sessions I should easily reach 90 minutes or better; a full length feature.

What does it all mean? For me, I think after a another re-write this will be ready to go into preproduction. Script breakdown, characters, shots, props, locations, and all of the schedule development stuff. Of course the re-writes will continue as the project progresses. After breakdown begins I guess I will have to start looking for some cast & crew. Interns, I need interns… I think I am going to hire myself to direct.

Look ma, I’m a triple threat: Writer, Producer, Director.

😉

Digital Media Revolution: Disparate Infrastructure Is The Enemy

I was scanning my Twitter feed and came across this tweet from @AllenChou;

“40% of broadband households watch full-length TV shows over Internet yet TV/Film Distribs not making $”

So I checked out the article Allen linked to. In part it says…

DIGITAL: Study shows industry needs to find better business model By Susanne Ault — Video Business, 11/11/2009

“NOV. 11 | DIGITAL: U.S. broadband households watching TV shows and movies online has doubled over 2008, according to a Parks Associates study.

More than 25 million U.S. households regularly watch full-length TV shows online, and more than 20 million watch movies. Parks singled out free, ad-supported online video-on-demand site Hulu.com as driving people to watch such programming on the Web…”

DigitalDelemaWhile this article focuses on distributor’s need to modify their business model to better monetize internet distribution, it brings something more to the table in my eyes.

At a time when media content is produced for many distribution mediums, the question has been how to distribute across platforms. The solution is not more, it is less. The aging infrastructure in America has become a collection of disparate distribution platforms; broadcast television and radio, cable, satellite, internet, and telephone. All of them use different protocols and systems, but they don’t have to.

In the last decade some of the large communications conglomerates have made some headway in providing multiple services over their primary medium. The problem is that all of them are continuing to provide services to the end user on the same disparate and aging infrastructure they started with. Making it even more interesting, all of them use the same data between distribution points, the disparity is in the head-end to user segment.

The answers to monetizing media exists in a wide range of solutions via the internet, pay-per-view, subscription, and more. The best way to get to greater profit margins is to kill off the antiquated mediums and eliminate the expenses in using them. IP based distribution of broadcast television, radio, cable, satellite, and telephone is available via the internet. What needs to happen is a standardization of infrastructure. The user end is simple: provide an Ethernet connection and all of the services are available with little or no changes on the consumer’s end. By choosing a unified and standardized infrastructure media producers/distributors can focus on making the media available and increasing margins.

A simple example is HBO or Showtime. They don’t need cable TV or satellite providers to get their media to market. A simple login to a subscription-based service can grant access to all the media. The advantage to the consumer is lower prices and the ability to select exactly what media they want access to. No intermediate contract obligations to keep the consumer tied to “licensed channels” on a carrier and the benefits of time shifted media; see what you want, when you want it. Media producers have significant advantages, too. The inherent demographic and statistical data, active and accurate viewership data. Quantifiable data for advertisers.

Another example is broadcast media. If a TV station stopped broadcasting its outbound only signal and focused its resources on providing free WiFi for an area, distributed its media via the internet, its programing made available world wide, it would be a greater value to its viewers and its advertisers. It would also reduce its own operating costs and free up the radio frequency spectrum.

Main stream media and large media producers hold the key. It is up to them to make things happen. It requires them to change the way they look at their content, it requires thinking in an Open Source mindset. The larger the number of potential viewers the better. Things like DRM don’t help protect your media, it makes the media less accessible. Likewise proprietary viewers or binding to specific players make your media less accessible, and thereby less attractive to consumers. I purchased the movie UP with the “Digital Copy” disk from Disney. I don’t have an iPod or iPhone, I have a BlackBerry. Because the iTunes/Windows Media Player is only options for viewing the DRM’d movie, it is completely useless to me. So why would I buy a DVD with this “bonus?”

There is nothing wrong with charging for your content and the public recognizes that. If HBO stopped selling its programing to cable and satellite and distributed consumer direct via internet only the content they produce would reach more viewers and provide them with more feedback and data from their viewers with no intermediaries. How would they fare financially? With the die-hard fans of many HBO programs, I think they would exceed current margins in 2 years or less and recoup any costs of the change in business model in less than 5 years.

These kinds of changes would also create new distribution channels for independent media producers. Without the constraints of programing time slots and the possibility of infinite catalogs, channels could purchase or license indi productions directly. It even provides the opportunity to list the property and pay content producers on a residual basis. The possibilities are endless.

Overall, a high quality broadband internet connection should be freely available to everyone, a network of regulated free WiFi and hard line solutions, provided by a consortium of fed, state, and local governments, service providers, media providers, and businesses. Contributors to the national WiFi network get a tax break for being a part of the infrastructure. It’s green, it reduces consumer cost, it reduces provider cost, and it enhances viable infrastructure while removing old disparate technologies. It really is a win win for everyone, but it starts with content providers and infrastructure.

If a cell phone can connect, you should be able to get it all.

Building A Production Team

Howdy all!

This is going to be a short post today, I am totally wiped out tonight but I wanted to get this out right away. I will be refining this post and building a Team Search page later but for now I will get to the guts of the matter.

FlyBoyJon is building a creative team. I have a couple of projects in early development and I need to get them moving forward, so I am looking for some pre-production development talent to start building that creative team. I am looking for… Director, Director of Photography, Editor, Production Designer, Visual Effects Supervisor, and Writer. This is not an exclusive list however, anyone in production is welcome to contact me.

In the interest of clarity I wanted to be sure to let you know that this is not an open job listing. I am looking to connect with more of my fellow production people. If something comes from connecting, fantastic. If not, we will have exchanged some information and maybe be able to work with, or help each other out in the future. This is an open invitation to network with fellow production people.

If you are interested, feel free to send me an email or you can leave a message for me by using the Call Me button up on top of the page. Please remember to send/leave your name, contact information, what you do, and any other information you think relevant or important. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

I am also looking to meet up with fellow producers in the San Francisco/Silicon Valley area so please feel free to drop me a line or email anytime.

Writing For Screen

SkyBlueIn 2004 I was working on several commercial productions. One of the people I was working with had some experience in screenwriting. He had a script optioned and the film was given a green light. Unfortunately, as things sometimes go in Hollywood, the film was shut down before principal photography began. It had been several years and he was looking at producing the film himself. We had become production partners and began to talk about production projects he had started. I spent a good deal of time retooling some of his older work and we collaborated on several new projects.

What I had not realized at the time was that I was developing the skills of a producer/screenwriter. The work we were doing was preproduction script development. After a while he suggested that I come up with a concept and begin writing the screenplay on my own, which I did. I started with a basic story, then started writing it in screenplay format with dialog. Not the best idea, at least for me.

When I am producing, I can move and think very quickly. My thought process is able to encompass the entire production. Everything is physical and relative, there are reference points and connecting processes. When I am writing, things happen a bit differently. The writing process in more difficult for me, it is all vapor. When I first began writing I was stuck for long periods of time because I needed a connection between each scene. I had to write in chronological order. Recently I have been developing the ability to maintain relative continuity while writing scenes out of chronological order as they come to me. I have been trying different exercises and new techniques to improve my skill and speed in screenwriting.

As I mentioned, I had developed a basic story and began writing the screenplay back in 2004 the working title of which is Sky Blue. After building the basics, my writing/producing partner and I started to co-develop the script. I didn’t like the new direction the project had taken. All of the things I loved about the story had disappeared. It was clear that we had very different visions of the story. At the time I was new to screenwriting and filmmaking, so I differed to him on many of the creative choices. Now its five years later, a LOT of water has passed under the bridge, and I am a different person. A much stronger writer, and a much more confident producer.

I recently read a book by Lawrence Turman called “So you want to be a Producer.” He produced “The Graduate,” among many other films. In truth, I have read Larry’s book several times so that probably should read as ‘I recently re-read…’. In the book, Larry’s biggest point to aspiring producers is be true to yourself. As he put it “taste is everything,” referring to your intuition and good taste, and he was so right.

I had shelved the script for over a year. I was just unable to look it in the face. It depressed me to see what my idea had become. I chucked it, obliterated it. Paper copies I had were shredded, the digital copies were deleted, and I went back to my original concept. Sky Blue is back on my screenwriters workbench. I started writing it again at the beginning of the week, I have fourteen pages completed, but more importantly, I have a beginning a middle and now an end. The ending had alluded me for so long. There are a few rough spots and some holes, but that’s fine this is a second go at a first draft right? The story is much more complete and I know where things are going, now all I have to do is get them there believably, interestingly, and lovingly. I like this script again. No, I love this script again.

I will be posting more about Sky Blue as things progress. I am excited again, now I can finish the script, do my 3X5 cards, storyboard, all of the preproduction development is beginning to take shape once again in my mind.