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Monthly Archives: June 2006

Being a cheap, aspiring independent filmmaker, I wanted to set set up a website to showcase my flicks when they’re done. I’ve got a couple things I want that website to do:

  • Full blog functionality for news and other updates
  • Seperate production log for each film
  • Video blog (probably inclusion into iTunes)
  • Secure online store. Pay for a DVD ISO download (via Bittorrent)
  • Production image gallery
  • Forums or guestbook (not sure which)
  • Integration with del.icio.us, Flickr, etc.

Basically it’d be really similiar to JeffCroft.com. He built that site in Django which is a framework for Python, a language with which I have no experience. (I have very little programming experience at all. A C++ 101 class, and a bunch of Flash Actionscript. My experince lies more in a design-oriented direction). I have used Ruby on Rails a smidgen, so I went looking for a Rails-based CMS and basically found Typo was about all there was. Two days now, and no success in getting the thing up and running.

Thing is, most Rails developers are Mac or Linux based, and being on WinXP, I haven’t found a whole lot of help online in getting Typo moving. I’ve got zero PHP experience, so that rules out Drupal and most of the other Open Source CMS’s out there.

Then I found this little blurb in the wikipedia article for Python:

Python is a multi-paradigm language. This means that, rather than forcing coders to adopt one particular style of coding, it permits several. Object orientation, structured programming, functional programming, and aspect-oriented programming are all supported.

The thing that caught my eye there was onject orientation. Now the reason I wanted to try out a Rails solution was becuse Ruby (the programming language that Rails is based on) is an object oriented language. If python allows me to think in the same kind of paradigm, then heck, maybe I’ll give Django a shot. They may not have a full blown blogging engine already built (Like Typo for Rails) but maybe I’ll be able to one-off it myself.  It worked for Jeff.

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According to The Wall Street Journal, [via IMDB] Hollywood's budgets continue to escalate. The movies listed in the blurb cost between $210 to $300 million. The gist of the article is that visual effects (VFX) costs are skyrocketing, pushing up the cost of a finished film. I don't understand this. Robert Rodriguez made Sin City for $40 million, Peter Jackson made each installment of the LOTR trilogy for $94 million. Why are these movies costing 2-7.5 times this much? Even if these movies are smash hits (Anyone else sick being disappointed after paying $8+ for a dog of a flick?) they'll only make the studios a meager profit.

Lucas is right. The barrier to entry into filmmaking has typically been cost. Now, on a quick desktop computer, you can create special effects, produce 3D animation, edit your flick, and master a DVD. Applications that make this possible can be bought for under $10,000.  In the fall, you'll be able to buy a new video camera that can meet (or even beat) film quality for a fraction of the price of current offerings. With the cost of entry so low, more movies will be produced, catering to a greater array of niche interests. So many in fact, that you'll have to take a trip down the Long Tail to find stuff that you'd actually be willing to pay for. After all, having more movies doesn't exactly mean more quality movies, or more interesting movies.

As the number of movies increases, the potential audience for any single one splinters, along with its potential profits. Film producers will have no choice but to reduce their budgets in order to justify their existence.

Oh, there will still be blockbusters. There will still be unfathomable budgets. There will just be less of them.

The biggest single problem that these hordes of independents will face, is marketing their finished pieces. The average Hollywood marketing budget is $30 million. Without that $30 million, you don't bring in $40 million the first weekend. When no one knows about your film, sorry, but they just can't give you their money, no matter how much they'd love to.  The hurdle for indies will be to generate the same kind of buzz as a $30 million campaign, without spending the $30 million.  I've got a few ideas regarding this, but we'll see whether or not they can work.  The person that will be able to pull that off will be the new force in moviemaking.  

I guarantee it won't be one of Hollywood's studios. 

Brian Ford at newsvine.com wrote a great article about John Lasseter that was thought provoking.  He made me question my stance regarding Pixar's success.  The gist is that Pixar wouldn't be successful without the talent of John Lasseter.  I wholeheartedly agree.  His point was that everyone in Hollywood knows that they should make a great story, so if that's all there was to it, they'd be able to pump out hits all the time (kind of like Pixar has done).  In fact, he's so effusive in his praise of Lasseter that it felt as though he was staying that story is secondary to talent when it comes to movies.  With that, I disagree.  But whereas before I was of the persuasion that all you had to have was a good story, and you could make a great movie, now I believe that even if you have one, you still need great talent in order to pull it off really well.

 New formula for success in Hollywood: good story + good storytelling talent.

It's simply amazing how things can sap your time. Buying a house, fixing a house, maintaing a house, maintaining the grandparents. Keeping up relations with my wife. All these things seem to pop up when you think you'll get a couple hours to work on your secret project.

I've finally gotten an outline done of the whole script, and have starting fleshing the thing out in screenplay format. In the meantime, I've spoken with a rather renowned cinematographer, and he suggested that I start out with something in short form in order for me to get something under my belt. He's not the only person to have mentioned doing things this way, and I'm starting to see the merit. I hate to cut down my idea to a short film, so the compromise is to shoot a trailer for the movie, and maybe start showing it around locally in order to drum up interest from investors.

Finding actors has been harder than I thought though. Not that I've tried hard, but everyone I know has declined. So, I'm going to start asking around the local community theaters and see if anyone in those places would be interested. I haven't any money, so the idea is to find volunteers. Rodriguez style. In fact, I hope to make the full length flick that way as well. We'll see.

P.S. In case anyone is interested, I'm using OpenOffice.org to write, with the screenplay macro to help out with formatting. Talk about a cheap start to an indie flick. Even my writing tools are free.