Click here for Done Deal Pro home page

Done Deal Pro Home Page

Loading

Go Back   Done Deal Pro Forums > Business > Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-08-2003, 05:36 PM   #21
le kilt
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Great post, Dr S. Nice thread, everyone.

Personally found it encouraging too, as I never go in for that big budget stuff.

I think the phrase that nailed it was:

Quote:
Make it easy on ‘em. Make it cheap and obvious.
That seems to have been the key whenever I've had any breaks in this biz.
  Reply With Quote
Old 02-08-2003, 05:52 PM   #22
writerly
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Yes Dr, great thread. As you may have guessed, my most recent spec is bigger in budget.
:b
oh well.
  Reply With Quote
Old 02-08-2003, 08:18 PM   #23
wsponge
 
Posts: n/a
Default

I think there are two very different kinds of "big idea/small budget" films. . . There are the films that WC is talking about and, more power to him, makes a living on, and I understand why those films do so well for Hollywood. (And as always, Mr. Martell, like everyone else I appreciate that you took the time to comment on my earlier post.)

But you can also have a "big idea" that doesn't depend on action at all. . . The Truman Show for instance. Memento. (Even though I was disappointed Memento came down to a crooked undercover cop.)

Or does "high concept" preclude all ideas in which there's not some great adventure going on?

I've gotten to the point now where the surest way I can get in, I feel, and the best way to take "getting a break" completely out of the equation, is to write the best film possible for the smallest, tiniest amount of money, for exactly the reason Dr. Stiggers rails against the initial post (or rather advises against). . . most people write screenplays that only entities with a lot of money can finance. It's a lot more of a challenge to keep the budget way, way down.

I just wonder at what point does a feature film go from the $25,000 Ed Burns and Robert Rodriguez supposedly spent making their breakthrough films to the 1-3 million range.

What does that extra $975,000 get thrown down for? It's not special EFX or scenes at the Superbowl. I always figure it's complicated locations, shots that require extras or can't be nailed down in one or two takes, and enough locations to require a second unit.

Or maybe it's just urban legend Brothers MacMullen and El Mariachi were made for 25 Gs.
  Reply With Quote
Old 02-08-2003, 11:37 PM   #24
wcmartell
 
Posts: n/a
Default What Do You Get For $1 Million?

Because Doc started talking about action & FX stuff, I didn't mention SERENDIPITY and LIAR LIAR and hundreds of other high concept / inexpensive films in other genres. I think the Farrelly's are shooting a Siamese Twin rom-com right now - their stuff is usually pretty high concept (SHALLOW HAL to ME MYSELF & IRENE).

I also didn't mention family films - almost always high concept, yet also cheap to make. You've got your FREAKY FRIDAYs and your LOVE BUGS and your COMPUTER THAT WORE TENNIS SHOES, etc. BIG is a great high concept flick that doesn't depend on FX or explosions - just Tom Hanks. PURPLE ROSE OF CAIRO and SOMEWHERE IN TIME and many other films have great high concepts that revolve around the IDEAS rather than the FX.

In you have a wild, imaginative idea - you don't need expensive FX or big stars to make it work.

A friend of mine shot a film for about $50k on 35mm - no one got paid at all - that covered the film, equipment, lab, and (I think) meals. When you go south of that, you're probably either not shooting 35mm or you're getting equipment free (I think Burns "borrowed" his equipment from Entertainment Tonight). You can make a film (and pay people) for about $250k. That gives you about 2 weeks of shooting. The difference between CLERKS ($25k) and CHASING AMY ($250k) is that people were paid.

The main thing that costs $ is time (equipment & crew) and talent (ie: stars). So what you get for around $1 million is a 4 week shoot - and for $3 million you get a $1 million star plus a couple of names in supporting roles. You might scale back to 3 weeks of shooting and add an expensive location or a few stunts or something else that adds production value but costs money.

But the other difference between a movie like BROTHERS McMULLEN and a $3 million film - one is self financed and doesn't need to do much business to break even, the other is probably going to be financed from outside sources who are in the biz to make $ (and want to make the most commercial $3 million film possible). That changes the story requirements. You'd have a hard time selling a script like BROTHERS... a much easier time selling a high concept comedy or rom-com or thriller or sci-fi or horror or action script.

- Bill
  Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2003, 02:21 AM   #25
Deus Ex Machine
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: What Do You Get For $1 Million?

You have to ask yourself when you quote people in HW saying that a great story will always sell, what exactly do they mean by "a great story". I would guess that in most newbie cases they don't think it means the same as a HW exec does.

When people in HW say "great story" they mean something that is uniquely familiar (HW version of original) with a broad appeal (so much for your quirky "only three people in Scotland will get it" movie) and legs (potential for franchise and spin-off as well as marketing, so much for your bleak X rated story where everyone dies) that will attract a name actor to the part and can be made cheaply (thus reducing the financial exposure and risk to the careers of all involved if it flops).

When a Newbie hears "great story" they think of that story with insider jokes only their friends got in high school set on a distant alien world in t he middle of a civil war involving millions of aliens and space ships where the leaders are a group of sexual deviants who kill children and themselves to show the self-destructive influence corporations have on a society.

Sure it may be a "good story" to them but that doesn't necessarily mean it will be a "good story" to the people in HW.
  Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2003, 03:15 AM   #26
HConn
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: What Do You Get For $1 Million?

Quote:
Plus, it's alot easier to try and "sell" your script when it's something you believe in.
writerly, can't you write a low-budget script you believe in?

Just last week, I had a creative exec tell me that their company was looking for low-budget scripts. These weren't direct to video producers, either. They had made big budget movies with lots of cgi and mental real estate.

But the company wanted low-budget.
  Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2003, 12:52 PM   #27
Asparagus Jones
 
Posts: n/a
Default Question for the good doctor

Could you list for us clueless newbies some common budget busters, so we'll know what to avoid?
  Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2003, 01:42 PM   #28
Deus Ex Machine
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Question for the good doctor

Go back and read Bill's posts on page one of this thread. Follow the links to his articles.
  Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2003, 05:33 PM   #29
HConn
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: Question for the good doctor

Bill Martell is the go-to guy when it comes to writing low-budget.

Actually, he's the go-to guy for lots of things.
  Reply With Quote
Old 02-09-2003, 07:02 PM   #30
Primogen9
 
Posts: n/a
Default Re: What Do You Get For $1 Million?

"You have to ask yourself when you quote people in HW saying that a great story will always sell, what exactly do they mean by "a great story". I would guess that in most newbie cases they don't think it means the same as a HW exec does."

Excellent point, Deus Ex Machine. When I first started writing screenplays I thought producers were speaking the same language I was. I thought original meant, well...original. Until a producer set me straight. Everyone in Hollywood speaks their own language. What we need is a universal translator.
  Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 10:40 PM.


Powered by vBulletin Version 3.6.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Done Deal Pro

eXTReMe Tracker