Choose Your Own Blog

Friday, April 30, 2010

April 8th, 2002

Ha! Look at that! I say it's a PLUS that the festival was in New Jersey! Man, have I learned better...

April 8th

    No April Fools here. I submitted a screener last week to the Back East Picture Show, as the deadline was March 30th. I was notified on April 1st that we got in.

    Very nice. It’s another festival where they don’t let studio films in, so I feel that we have a chance of winning it. And as a plus, it’s in New Jersey, so Rick and I are gonna attend.

    Of course, everything is expensive. The hotel is going to cost $120 a night. In addition, they only give us one all access pass. For Rick to get one, it will cost $200 plus $125 to the acceptance awards dinner(which is black tie optional). Ouch.

    The movie screening is going full bore. It’s on. Rick and I are going to be interviewed for The Gazette, a local newspaper. My wife sent out press kits to the local news channels and newspapers, so hopefully we’ll get some people there.

    We’ve sold a decent amount of tickets. We only have to sell about half of the seats for me to break even, but I think we may sell out once word gets out. Most people I talk to want to attend, but don’t like the Saturday morning thing.

Friday, April 16, 2010

March 15th, 2002 Press Kits/Prepping For Showing

Hahahahahahahaha! Plans! They're so great. 

I mean, for laughs later.

March 15th, 2002

    Press kits. Harris needs about 25-30 screeners and press kits.

    I don’t know what a press kit is. I ask Harris to send me some samples if he’s got them, which he does.

    After perusing them, I figure out that what I’m missing from my press kits is anything related to the press at all. We had no time to get reporters out to the sets when we were shooting. Then I dove head-first into editing. No time there.

    Now we need some press.

    I call our local movie theater representative and asked him how much it would cost to four-wall my movie.

    Okay, so maybe that’s not what I said. I think I gave him the impression that we were having some investor presentation and “might” need the video projector. He quoted me prices ranging from $800-$1750 plus $500 for the projector.

    Which won’t be a problem if I make the tickets like $30 apiece. Except that you can’t sell tickets to this, because that’s against their contract.

    Fuck that. There’s no way I can put out that kind of money. Time for a plan.

    I call the guy back and tell him I’ve got my own equipment. Scratch the $500 projector. You see, my buddy who works at this theater tells me he can smuggle the projector out for free. Sweet.

    I book the cheapest time, which is Saturday morning. I’m going to sell tickets at my store, so the theater doesn’t know anything about it. When I do the pre-interviews, I won’t specify how to get tickets. I’ll say they won’t be available at the theater and to call my number for information on getting tickets.

    That way I’m not publicly saying I’m charging for the tickets.

    If all goes well, I’ll have seats available for the press, who will come and write up some nice “Local Filmmaker Does Good” with a few pleasant critiques of the movie. I’ll make a sweet press kit, get thirty copies made, send the whole shebang to Harris, and in three months will have checks rolling in.

    That’s the plan, anyway.

Friday, April 9, 2010

March 11, 2002 The Producer's Rep

Live and learn. The deal with Harris worked out okay, but knowing what I know now, I would never sign with a producer's rep that charges money for their services.

They should take a percentage(like 10%, maybe 15% for foreign sales) plus expenses(that you spell out in the contract), and that's it. That's what my current rep does.

March 11th, 2002

    In the back of my mind I’d been mulling over whether to try to get a producer’s rep. What they do is sell your movie for you, and take a cut of the profits. They know all the distributors and they attend all the major festivals, so they know who’s looking for what.

    The way I heard, they get ten percent of your profits, but they pay for themselves; they’ll get you at least ten percent more than you’d get yourself.

    I stumbled onto the web site of producer’s rep Harris Tulchin and Associates. He’s a pretty big-name guy, with offices in Paris, Rome, LA and New York.

    I called there to see whether they were interested in seeing the movie. After finding out that Spectrum was interested and that we’d won an award at a festival, they said send it along.

    Long story short, I talked to Harris. They take $5000 up front plus ten percent of the profits. I said “Wow, that’s a lot of money”, because, to me, it is. He said “If I make you five hundred grand, it won’t be a lot of money, will it?”

    He had a point.

    So I decided to play a little mind game with him. I wanted to see how much faith he had that he could sell the movie.

    Look at it this way: If he thinks he’s going to sell my movie for five hundred grand—a movie that will clear him fifty grand—is he going to turn me down because of the upfront five grand?

    Not if he thinks he’s got a pretty good shot at selling the movie.

    A couple of days later I called him back and told him I couldn’t get any more money, that I’d spent it all on the movie. He said he’d thought about it and would change the contract he’d offered so that the money was deferred against the first payments.

    I’d done it! Clearly he thinks we have a shot of selling the movie, or there’s no way he’d agree to that. Think about it; all the upfront costs and time is going to be on his dime. He’s working for free until he sells my movie.

    If he really does sell my movie, this guy’s going to be in my good graces in a serious way. I may even thank him in my Oscar acceptance speech.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

February 16th, 2002: HH on the Big Screen

February 16th, 2002

    I saw my movie on the big screen last night.

    If there was ever any chance of me doing something else for a living, it’s gone now. The only answer to the question “What are you going to do if you can’t make it doing movies?” is “Die”.

    The theater James works at just got in a big-time expensive video projector. I took a VCR up to the theater and we tested it out, and it looked great. I imagine it’ll look even better if I bring up my computer and we run the movie full-resolution.

    We made plans to play it last night for a select bunch of people(some of the cast and crew, my parents, my parents-in-law, and a few other people who are connected with the film in other ways.)

    It went over great. I think everybody liked it. You could see the surprise in their eyes that I could do something like that. It’s what I’m getting from everyone. In some ways, it’s a hell of a good thing to hear that everyone likes the movie, but there’s also this veiled compliment of “We didn’t think YOU could do something like this.”

    Winning through lowered expectations, I guess.

    Anyway, we’re still arguing over the contract. Spectrum is changing little things that we haven’t talked about when they send me their contract draft, and it’s getting old quick. I’m going through one more draft and then I think we’re moving on.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

February 1st, 2002: Contract disputes Pt. 2

February 1st, 2002

    Been going back and forth with Spectrum. I get a bad feeling about them. It started when the president, a woman named Yvette, told me there was no way she could give us 70 percent of the take. She said, and I’m closely paraphrasing here, “I’d go out of business if I gave that kind of percent. I've never heard of a percentage that high in all my years of business.

    I mention—not argumentative, mind you—that I’ve talked to quite a few people who all mention that it’s pretty standard. Yvette says I should find out who those companies are then, and sell it to them. She didn’t say it snidely or anything, and she qualified it by saying they’d really like to take the movie, they just couldn’t do that percentage.

    On the other points, she didn’t have a problem with my clause stating that if they haven’t given us 125 grand in three years, the contract is null and void.

    I asked her how many units she thought she’d move. She said they don’t talk in units any more(something I found strange, since her other rep told me they’d move 6000 units at Blockbuster alone). She said they talk in terms of gross dollars, and she thought HH would make between $275,000 and $450,000.

    She asked me how much our budget was and I told her eighty-five thousand. She said making that back shouldn’t be a problem.

    Now all this is great, but none of it’s in the contract. And one thing I’ve learned is that if it’s not in the contract, it’s not in the contract.

    One big sticking point is that she said they couldn’t budge from giving us only 25% of the take after recoupables on any DVD receipts under $24.94(which she claimed is “sell-thru”). I asked her why the cut was so much in her favor.

    She said they have to make some of their money back. I asked how that works, since they’re taking all the recoupables from my end. She laughed a little uncomfortably and said they still have out-of-pocket money they need to get back.

    Last but not least, they want a clause taken out that was put in by Saleman that says we need to get a copy of any deal they do and that Spectrum needs our approval on them.

    Now, the approval part is a little unreasonable, but they claim they want the whole clause taken out, because if they sell our film in a package deal, it would violate the privacy of the other films in the group.

    I tell her I’m gonna consult my lawyer. I call Saleman. He says it’s a load of crap. If they don’t tell us how much money they made us, the only way we’re gonna know is if we audit them. And, as Saleman pointed out, if we audit them, we’re gonna find out the terms anyway.

    So I mull it over. The whole package thing sounds like a bad idea to me anyway. Here’s why: Say Spectrum packages ten films(including HH) together and sells the rights to Germany for $100,000. Now, what if the percentage Spectrum is earning for the other nine films is more than HH? What’s to stop Spectrum from saying that $99,000 of those dollars are for the other nine films, and only $1,000 is for HH? In that way, Spectrum would gain more money and I’d be screwed out of the deal.

    I decide to put a clause in saying that there can be no package deals where HH is concerned unless the amount paid for the package is at least proportional to the number of films. I left in the clause about letting us know how much they get in each deal, because I don’t want to be forced into auditing them(which will cost me money).

    I mail the new contract back with a note to call me when they’ve reviewed it. A few days later Yvette calls me back and leaves a message that says she needs to talk to me about four points in the contract.

    I have no doubt about what they are. But I’ve made up my mind that if they insist on the 25%, I won’t sign with them. I’ll shop HH around a bit, since we’ve only sent out about ten screeners. I’ve also looked into self-distributing, which looks feasible if we can pool about $25,000. More on that later.

    I call Yvette back, but it’s Friday, and I think they all left early.

    Then we get hit with some good news for a change.

    Friday night I’m skimming the newsgroups and I see a notice about the winners of the DIY film festival. I’d asked Rick to send a copy of the movie in, but I didn’t know whether he did.

    I see a film called Ocean Park has won Best Film. I figure, Rick didn’t send HH in or also likely, he did and we just didn’t win.

    Imagine my surprise when I scroll down and see “Best Screenplay award goes to writer/director Kevin Kangas, who wrote the dark drama "Hunting Humans," a cold look into the mind of a serial killer that features a unique twist on the theme.”

    This is big. This is great. The first festival we enter, we win an award. The award is big for two reasons: First, it’s a hell of a boost for me right now, as I’m feeling drained and uninspired lately. There’s nothing like success to give you a boost of inspiration.

    Second, any award you can put on the video/DVD box is an incentive for someone to take home your movie, which is increased incentive for Blockbuster or Hollywood Video to put it in their stores.

    Tried to call Rick, but his phone’s off. Too bad, I’m dying to give him the news.