Tuesday, 10 August 2010

What's the real story?

While the writer writes and the director draws, we producers are "packaging". Eventually, that will mean preparing a glossy little brochure to send out to to investors, but there's a lot of groundwork to be done before that.

We're meeting regularly to prepare our pitches and to start thinking about what needs to go into our budget. We're researching into other movies in the low-budget horror genre and noting how they performed in that imaginary "marketplace" out there. We've started thinking about our marketing and distribution plan, which is going to be an ongoing task until...well, maybe forever.

I'm taking the words of the theatrical sales manager I met to heart (more of her advice here). She said sales agents and distributors want "nerdy stats". I've also been told many times that you should deliver a movie that has an obvious and easy marketing strategy attached. For example, the UK zombie movie Colin has made it as far as a mention in this blog because of its genius marketing angle: "this feature was made with 45 pounds and a crowbar". Everyone knows about it, simply because it makes a short and interesting story to tell.

Paranormal activity was "the movie that got famous on the internet". Avatar was "the movie that the director of Titanic has been working on for years". Have you seen that Angelina Jolie movie? Are you going to the see facebook movie?

Few people enter cinemas because they like the film's narrative arc - they don't even know what that is until they've paid. People actively ask others not to tell them "what happens". They go into the cinema because of the other story.

So - what's our real story? We don't know yet, but we do know it's not the one in the screenplay.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

9 Crowdfunding Websites

Opening our movie to the general public for investment has been something we've wanted to try ever since meeting producer AD Lane who seems to be making successful use of this strategy (more about that here).

Now that we have a solid script, we've had a look into what websites are out there. Special thanks to my colleague Andrew Faure for the research below.

  1. KickstarterRespected name, but currently requires a USA bank account and address to use the site, so that cuts us out. Secondly it is all or nothing – meaning we set a goal of the money we want to raise, and if we raise that we get to keep it, if we don't hit our goal, all money that was pledged goes back to the people who gave it to us and we get nothing. Some other sites will give us whatever we do manage to raise.

  2. ChipinPeople can only pay using Paypal. Looks a bit amateur.

  3. Cinema ReloadedThis is a specially set up website for 3 specific films. It is not a site we can use. However it seems to be a group of film-makers (like us) who are crowd-funding a slate of 3 films have set it up with a unique angle to fund their 3 films.

  4. UluleThey don't charge any fees. People an only pay using Paypal, and the money is paid directly into our Paypal account. You have to set a target, and if you do not reach that target then you do not get anything. We are not allowed to have our project listed on any other fundraising sites.

  5. BiracyThis website is also to fund a specific project and it seems a bit Multi-Level Marketing. Definitely not what we're looking for.

  6. InvestedInNot bad, and they have two options: set a goal and if this goal is not reached then you get nothing. Set no goal, and just collect as much as you can in a specific time period. You can only use Credit Card to pay – not everyone will have a credit card. They do not charge a fee.

  7. Rocket HubSet goal, and if not reached, you do not get anything. They take 8% fee (transaction costs included). Seems like a good site, with s slightly different approach. Nice design as well. If you decide to donate money, you need to first sign up, which could be a bit of a pain and slight deterrent of someone just wants to donate a few dollars.

  8. MassifyMore a networking site than funding site.

  9. Indiegogo: Set goal, but if you don't reach your goal you still get whatever you raise. People can pay via Paypal or Credit card. They take 9% fee (but return 4% if you reach your goal).

    Sunday, 1 August 2010

    Hawk, would you like to play a pigeon?

    I feel like I want to end every single entry with an exclamation mark nowadays! We've just received the first draft of the screenplay, emailed over from South Africa. It's currently under the working title "CPU", but that's going to have to change soon.

    I can't reveal too much, but the writer has certainly managed to get the central idea out there - housemates trapped in their new home and being forced by a computer to play the family roles of mum, dad, daughter, etc. It's such a relief to have someone on board who really knows how to write pithy dialogue!

    Of course, there are things we already know will have to be changed. 

    The end sequence involves aerial shots following a pigeon, and then some dramatic action around said pigeon. Matt is a CG wizard, but would a computer pigeon still look real ten years from now? Nope. Proper animatronics (like this ultimate favourite of mine) are insanely expensive, so that's out too. That leaves us with a pigeon wrangler - and all wisdom preaches: "never work with children or animals on a low budget movie". Andrew offered to contact a friend of his who has a trained hawk - a hawk dressed as pigeon? 

    We might need to change the script.