Any Producers Lurking Here? (Looking For Advice)

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  • Any Producers Lurking Here? (Looking For Advice)

    Shot in the dark, but I figured I'd give it a try since I know at least one poster on here does a little producing *cough* Jeff *cough cough*.

    I'm getting tired of waiting for a manager to say yes to me, and think it's time I at least consider the idea of taking matters into my own hands by directing a feature to prove that my work will translate to the screen if that is a feasible option for me.

    Easier said than done since I have some money to invest, but nowhere near enough to do it right. But I do have pretty much everything else except the money, including on set skills, a solid reputation in the industry, and loads of high level crew and talent connections that might be willing to do me some favors.

    This probably won't come to fruition because of the money thing, but I was wondering if anyone here with that type of expertise would humor me by allowing me to pick their brain to try and figure out, among other things, a ballpark estimation of how much certain things cost to figure out what type of budget I should be trying to land, best practices to secure those funds beyond the simple answer of "query producers", distribution, post-production, and marketing considerations, etc.
    Last edited by Prezzy; 12-18-2021, 07:06 PM.

  • #2
    1. You are not alone. Reps don't like me either. It's just a hard time to land a rep. I've heard some people that dropped their agents, didnt' get taken back by their agents after WGA 2 year strike with agencies and can't find reps again. So pro working writers have no reps.

    2. You don't need a rep to make it.

    3. You can reach out to producers directly. Be your own rep and hit them up.

    4. I always wanted to make my own movie since CLERKS and PULP FICTION 1994 days. Dream has not died, but I almost did a few times. I believe it's "easier" than ever to make a low budget movie as the technology has gotten cheaper, but it's also just as hard as ever to make anything good.

    5. Maybe start with a short film or web series?

    6. You should write something that you can shoot for cheap that shows your voice. The less speaking parts the better. 2 or 4 characters stuck in a single location is what I'd aim for myself. Every taking part is more money and time. Find some movies to emulate and copy those.

    7. Do you want to be a director too? If not -- consider writing a spec and finding a director who can help you split the cost/headache of making your own movie.

    8. I hate lists. You got this Prezzy.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Bono View Post
      1. You are not alone. Reps don't like me either. It's just a hard time to land a rep. I've heard some people that dropped their agents, didnt' get taken back by their agents after WGA 2 year strike with agencies and can't find reps again. So pro working writers have no reps.

      2. You don't need a rep to make it.

      3. You can reach out to producers directly. Be your own rep and hit them up.

      4. I always wanted to make my own movie since CLERKS and PULP FICTION 1994 days. Dream has not died, but I almost did a few times. I believe it's "easier" than ever to make a low budget movie as the technology has gotten cheaper, but it's also just as hard as ever to make anything good.

      5. Maybe start with a short film or web series?

      6. You should write something that you can shoot for cheap that shows your voice. The less speaking parts the better. 2 or 4 characters stuck in a single location is what I'd aim for myself. Every taking part is more money and time. Find some movies to emulate and copy those.

      7. Do you want to be a director too? If not -- consider writing a spec and finding a director who can help you split the cost/headache of making your own movie.

      8. I hate lists. You got this Prezzy.
      Thanks, Bono.

      It's not even that I feel like reps hate me. It just feels like too much of a numbers game. Getting someone to request your script off a query and be into your writing style enough to sign you in a genre that is already naturally niche-oriented seems like such long odds and something that would be too much of a time investment with little to no payoff for how much I have available to me. I feel like I'm just wasting time, especially since I've only been able to send out a batch of 20 queries or so once every six weeks.

      I could reach out to producers, and probably will. Since I'm interested in co-producing, there are just some things I'd like to educate myself on if possible.

      It's possible to make stuff on the relatively cheap, but to me, low-budget is 100,000 to 10 million dollars. But then again, I'm used to a different kind of filmmaking and know some things that your average indie director just isn't going to know because of my experience, so I'm probably a bit more particular and snobby about what gear I'd use and who I'd hire because I'd want everything to be as professional as possible.

      I'm kind of ambivalent about shorts or web series. Again, a lot of time and money without much possibility for return on investment. If I'm going to make something, it might as well be a feature even if I'm putting one together with gaff tape and bubblegum. You can market a feature, or at the very least, get that level of credibility for merely having made one.

      Yeah. I want to be a director. My writing style is so specific, you'd almost need me to direct my stuff to maximize its potential. That's why I spend so much time educating myself on how to make movies through constant hands on experience. At this point, only being a writer would kind of be a waste of my talents and acquired film knowledge across a variety of specialized crafts, although lighting is my ultra specialty.

      I think a fear of mine would be a producer wanting to make one of my scripts, but without me at the helm. Only way I'd be cool with that is if I could directly leverage a sale into a directing gig for another one of my scripts.

      I'm just antsy. I'm sick of bringing other directors' visions to life (especially incompetent ones) at the expense of my own creativity, and I just want to do my own thing at some point.
      Last edited by Prezzy; 12-20-2021, 11:55 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Why can't you just hire someone to do up a budget for you? People actually do that for a living. You make it sound like you have tons of experience but you can't hire someone to figure out a budget?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Rantanplan View Post
          Why can't you just hire someone to do up a budget for you? People actually do that for a living. You make it sound like you have tons of experience but you can't hire someone to figure out a budget?
          I appreciate your lovely tone. Thank you.

          Why would I pay someone to make a budget for a movie I'm only doing preliminary work on gauging if it's a viable notion or not? Right now I'm asking around on various things from different types of people. I ask my sound mixer friends about sound stuff, casting friends about casting stuff, camera friends about camera stuff. I don't have producer friends, so I came here to see if there was anyone I could talk to.

          There's also budgeting off a set figure I know I have available to me and trying to figure out a theoretical bare minimum to make a movie the way I'd like to.

          I think I'm being crazy as a result of some sort of stress induced mania from working 14+ hours literally every single day of the past year, but I'm trying to entertain the idea that maybe I'm not being entirely unrealistic. I'm not even super invested in this idea yet because I'm weighing between focusing on this, writing a new script, or landing another gig to stack some paper.

          I can figure out what the gear and production crew costs would be depending on different factors and how I might be able to cut corners here and there on that stuff. That part's easy enough and in my wheelhouse as a production technician.

          I don't typically deal with all the different things a production has to insure, all the COVID testing, hiring third party payroll companies (except when they cut me my paychecks), marketing costs based on strategy, etc. Or the difference in price between building a set in a vacant space while factoring the market costs of lumber or renting out a location that my crew would probably annihilate and result in damage compensation. If the cost benefit of hiring someone to do post-production for me is greater than me just doing it myself, which I also know how to do. And so on. It's a lot easier for myself or anyone else to make a budget if I have info on all the little variables and line items I need to account for. Therefore, I have questions.

          It would also be incredibly helpful if I somehow could get my eyes on the production books for some different scaled productions. Probably not realistic, but would be helpful nonetheless.

          It's because I'm experienced that I know I don't know everything, so I want to shoot the sh*t with people who are experienced in the angles that I have less experience in. It also helps to be armed with as much info as possible when I interact with producers.

          I apologize if my answer does not satisfy your inquiry.
          Last edited by Prezzy; 12-20-2021, 10:08 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Hey Prezzy,

            If you’re just looking to pick somebodies brain re: budgeting, line items, etc, I think your best bet is to talk to a line producer or even a UPM. Maybe even an Assistant UPM.

            You sound pretty well connected on the production side so I’m sure one of your contacts can get you on the phone with one of the above.

            Comment


            • #7
              Ugh. I do personally know a line producer that does lower budget stuff like I'm thinking of, but I've kind of been trying to avoid talking to that guy. I suppose I could bite that bullet if there are no other options.

              Thanks, JS.

              Still have questions about marketing and distribution though if anybody knows anything about that because that seems like its own thing outside of production and probably the most foreign to me.

              Theoretically, I probably shouldn't have to worry about all of this stuff as much if I get another producer involved, but I make it a point to understand what the people I'm working with are doing as well.

              Comment


              • #8
                I'm not trying to be mean, it's just that your tone comes off as very snobby on the one hand, saying that you have such high standards that you couldn't possibly do anything for under 100K, yet don't seem willing to put in a few hundred bucks for someone to help you break down your script so as to draw up a budget / shot list (I don't actually know how much it would cost, as I am not a UPM, but I bet you could call one up and explain your situation. You're not ready to hire a crew yet, but you would like to hire this person to estimate how much all that would cost).

                If you don't want to raise money for the film (and that's the hardest part), and you want to make the film yourself, then you're going to have to figure out how much you can afford to spend and then make a film with that kind of budget. I would look into film schools, for starters: the students have access to gear and work for much cheaper rates to gain experience on set. I shot an 8-minute teaser years ago with a student DP who now has several Emmy awards under his belt. We all know the basics about what cost more than other stuff (crowd scenes, locations, animals, etc.). The rest can probably be found online. People used to go to seminars about how to make an indie film, but seriously, it's probably all on YouTube these days--from script to production to marketing to distribution. But at some point you're going to have to hire a UPM and work with that person to make a film within your budget. Good luck. Claude Lelouche shot his last film on iPhone and said it was his best experience, so lots of things are possible these days.
                Rantanplan
                Member
                Last edited by Rantanplan; 12-21-2021, 01:21 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Friends I know who've made their own films don't approach the process in terms of how much they need to make the film, they instead focus on how to make the film with whatever money they have or can reasonably guarantee they can get. I don't know anyone who has had the luxury of setting aside cash for marketing or distribution or anything but getting the thing made. I just got done helping out a buddy who shot a feature in ten 10-hour days and is now going to do all the post himself. He used SAG actors and all paid (cheaply, but not insultingly so) crew -- except for yours truly because I owed him for a favor. He did it for about $40K. It was ugly at times, but he wrapped last Friday. If you don't think you can sacrifice your proverbial vision to make a film below a certain floor level, it's probably best not to go down that road and stick to trying to sell your script instead.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I haven't made a film -- only dreamed and read and discussed -- so whatever you want to do, you should try to do! If Prezzy wants to make a 100K movie and not a 100 dollar movie, that's what he wants. All you can give is your perspective, but people are going to do what they want.

                    Meanwhile I hear 40K feature film and that sounds like a big budget the way I think about making my own film. But I was never thinking about SAG actors or real crew or yada yada... I'm thinking mumblecore way -- the shoot a 5 to 25K dollar film using your credit card on whatever camera you have access too... backing into a budget is how I looked at it.

                    We've all seen amazing films made for "zero" dollars and terrible ones made for 100 million. The budget does not make a good film.

                    I enjoy threads like this as I forgot about making my own things. That was the plan so many years ago, but since film school I haven't done crap. Always "planned" on doing it... helped others do it... but never did it myself. I told myself "I'm a writer" -- I found my calling. That I am not the writer/director. But the truth is I'm just scared and filled with anxiety type of person. But that shouldn't stop me from writing something to make it and help get it done. Even if that means finding a director to do it.

                    So I salute anyone who tries to make their own thing.


                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I Googled "how to budget a film production" and got over 10 pages of links, including lots of templates and budgeting software sites. Vimeo is also a good source: https://vimeo.com/154928795

                      All the best with your project!
                      Just One Scene Writing Contest
                      Deadline: Saturday, May7 (EDT)

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                      • #12
                        I will say this, I admire people who have what it takes to raise money. Granted, what I shot was just a tiny little teaser, but I took to filmmaking beautifully, loved every second of it. When the trailer didn't do much for my project, though, and I thought maybe I'd try doing the whole feature myself, I signed up for a seminar on how to raise money for an indie film, and holy crap. This guy (the producer of IRA AND ABBY, as I recall, a film I really enjoyed) basically cold-called hundreds of strangers with money. It was a much more elaborate process than that, but basically it came down to asking strangers for money --once you were done with the list of people you KNOW with money, if you have any of those. Some people have those skills and that nerve, I don't. That guy who was famous for his 2-day seminars, can't remember the name now (the film guru in ADAPTATION, whom Nicolas Cage goes to see when stuck on his screenplay, was modeled after him) said to hit up dentists for money: they're rich and they have boring jobs and people get excited about being involved in a film, it makes them feel and sound cool. You give all your investors point systems, etc. So many people are also using onlline fundraising platforms such as Go Fund Me, Patreon and others. They get T-shirts, a role as an extra, and other fun things depending on their level of sponsorship. That's a class right there: how to successfully raise money online.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Rantanplan View Post
                          That guy who was famous for his 2-day seminars, can't remember the name now (the film guru in ADAPTATION, whom Nicolas Cage goes to see when stuck on his screenplay, was modeled after him) said to hit up dentists for money: they're rich and they have boring jobs and people get excited about being involved in a film, it makes them feel and sound co.
                          No, Robert McKee of STORY was in Adaptation played by of course the great Brian Cox.

                          You are thinking of a book I love and have on my shelf https://www.amazon.com/Reel-Deal-Eve...95954457&psc=1 From Reel to Deal: Everything You Need to Create a Successful Independent Film. I haven't read it in a long time, but 99.9% he said the dentist line as his whole thing is about making a movie.

                          I only got the book for 18 bucks 20 years ago -- but here is the 2 day courses -- https://www.webfilmschool.com/about/dov/ NOT AN ENDORSEMENT AS I NEVER TOOK CLASSES.

                          I never heard him speak before -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfZ_w8WCEhc He's a character.

                          What is great is I found his advice in the book (some found in that short web video) to be one of the only sources of said advice at least back 20 years ago. Now you found more resources. But of course he's teaching the class to make money -- but I think he's giving practical info you can use vs trying to tell you how to write something. He's telling you write something cheap. KISS. One Location. 90 minutes. Few actors.

                          I'm sure a lot of the info needs to be updated for 2021, but you'll get the gist. Read a lot of these books. Talk to other filmmakers. I found listening to DVD commentaries of movies that were low budget were crazy helpful. I remember The Brothers McMullen by Ed Burns having a great commentary. Robert Rodriguez of course with his 10 minute film schools. So much great stuff. I'm having flashbacks to being 23 again.




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                          • #14
                            Loving this deep dive. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Yq2ZA9PR88

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bono View Post

                              No, Robert McKee of STORY was in Adaptation played by of course the great Brian Cox.

                              You are thinking of a book I love and have on my shelf https://www.amazon.com/Reel-Deal-Eve...95954457&psc=1 From Reel to Deal: Everything You Need to Create a Successful Independent Film. I haven't read it in a long time, but 99.9% he said the dentist line as his whole thing is about making a movie.

                              I only got the book for 18 bucks 20 years ago -- but here is the 2 day courses -- https://www.webfilmschool.com/about/dov/ NOT AN ENDORSEMENT AS I NEVER TOOK CLASSES.

                              I never heard him speak before -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfZ_w8WCEhc He's a character.



                              You're right, I meant DOV. I took his seminar many years back and the dentist thing stuck with me. I think that's actually how Cameron or Lucas or one of those guys got their first little indie film done.

                              Anyway, yeah, so much to find online nowadays. There are entire channels on YouTube about screenwriting. The director forum over at IMDP used to be great, but I haven't been there in years (don't even know if they still have them). Either way, there are definitely filmmaking boards out there. There was that guy years ago who provided a step-by-step account of the making of his indie film starring Tom Sizemore (he sank a lot of money into getting one name actor, that was part of his distribution strategy): gear, casting, funding, production, post, marketing and distribution. I think back then everybody in the film community knew about that thread. Can't remember the name of the film now, but the thread was first posted on a DVX Panasonic forum.

                              ETA: found that filmmaking forum: https://www.dvxuser.com/ Kind of like a Done Deal Pro for filmmakers. I would definitely suggest checking it out and asking some questions there. It seems pretty active, too. 900 people online right now.
                              Rantanplan
                              Member
                              Last edited by Rantanplan; 12-22-2021, 09:22 AM.

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