Category: Filmmaking

Are You Making A Living As A Filmmaker?

The holiday season is upon us. gift, giving, food, drink – and weird Uncle Norman insulting the entire family and mum asking: “Are you making a living as a filmmaker?”

This need not be the season of dread. One needs to brace oneself for the correct answer.

First, you need to decide how you answer: Do you want the right Christmas gift? Do you answer the dull and boring day job? Or do you clench your fists and snarl through your teeth ‘filmmaker?’

I never used to know whether to answer day job. My first job was stacking supermarket shelves in my native Toronto. When friends found out I repeatedly told them I was a filmmaker they used to mock and ridicule me for being for being grandiose.

I did some research and found out that when you asked anyone, in any position or level in the film industry what they were doing they always answer “I have numerous projects in various stages of development.” Remember if you have two or more good ides for a movie then you have numerous projects in the stage we call script development. Want to see more of how to walk the walk or talk the talk then come to the Saturday Film School where the entire day is spent on giving you the basic communication skills you need in order to walk the walk and talk the talk.

Seriously now, how do you make a living as a filmmaker? I realised when I ask myself this question that I have three main areas of expertise that I could monetise. Firstly, I am a good communicator. Secondly I have an instinct for marketing and promotion and thirdly I had some marketable skills. so, what would I call myself?

Sadie Frost, one of our brilliant Postgraduate Film Degree alumni students is launching a film producing career. She could call herself a multi-format, multi media content creator. She could also call herself a multi-income stream visual content entrepreneur. She makes shorts, features and docs. She models and sells fashion, She is involved in every aspect of the business. She’s also is raising 4 kids.

How can one take what one does and make a sensible statement to one of those awkward moments around the Christmas tree?

The 3 Models To Making A Living As A Filmmaker

Sadie Frost is no different from you or I. She just has more experience. The 3 key areas a filmmaker has are:

Expertise: Create a body of knowledge about a specific area and then share this with others.
Increase: Build your social media following, called a tribe – so you have a group of people to enthuse about you, your work and your expertise.
Sell: Yes – sell. That horribly non-British word. sell yourself. You skills and services.
I could even take the Expertise/Increase/Sell idea and turn it into an acronym: EIS – but that might confuse you with the film funding tax relief system here in the UK.

Basically, I’m saying there are 3 different income-producing streams (or businesses you can create in order to make a living as a filmmaker. Beware you DO NOT start all 3 at the same time. Start one. Get it going solidly and stable, then start another. It’s a bit how I started Raindance with film training, a year later the film festival and five years later the British Independent Film Awards. Each (in theory) provides income.

1. Expertise

Everyone knows a bit more about something. Do some research and then earn a living by showing others how to do what you know.The trick is to expand and build on your knowledge and become known as an expert in the area that suits your skills the best.

Dale Sood, our filmmaker-in-residence at Raindance Toronto has a wealth of filmmaking experience, both behind and in front of the camera. When the Toronto office needed a last minute replacement for a sound course, Dale stayed up all night making a bullet proof course outline backed by research and then came into the office and cranked out this awesome video. The result? He’s landed a gig teaching sound to our amazing students in Raindance Toronto and is starting on the journey as becoming the go-to person for sound and video.

2. Expand

There is no excuse for a filmmaker not to have a strong social media presence. Filmmakers are visual communicators, right? Using the powerful tools of Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and other social media platforms filmmakers can expand their circle of influence.

A filmmaker who is really good at this can monetise this area by creating web series and/or using their social media skills to self distribute their films. Social media skills are also essential as part of a crowdfunding campaign.

Raindance offers several different courses teaching different aspects of how social media is used. discover how to create and market your own web series, or how to crowdfund. Raindance LA is really good at getting their filmmaking classes online, allowing filmmakers the world over to get Hollywood know-how at home.

Start your own Youtube Channel. Start a blog Say interesting things and people will follow you. If you don’t have anything interesting to say then comment on other people’s interesting pages. This will make people think you are an expert.

When enough people start looking at you online you can sell advertising and products to your network of friends like Tom Ridgewell does.

3. Sell

It’s really selling your body! 😉 Getting work on other people’s projects. You start working really cheap to make good contacts and then you slowly start working your way up.

I’m basically taking about the life of a freelancer. In fact, it was freelance work that saved me from a life in my mother’s basement bedroom. It was freelance work that gave me the filmmaking skills I needed to do what I am doing now.

Fade Out

You may find just one of these areas that really lets you create a living. That’s totally cool. My point is, be aware of all 3 areas. Learn to use them to advantage. You will find that each area cross-pollinates the other areas.

Elliot Grove

Happy filmmaking

Filed under: Filmmaking, In Our Opinion

7 Ways Filmmakers Use Social Media Capitalism

I wrote this article on Social Media Capitalism way back in 2013. I have looked at it again, and decided it merits a republish. The only thing I don’t know much about is the current state of Pinterest. Back in 2013 everyone was talking bout Pinterest.

Blogger Kipp Bodnar created a great new phrase: Social Media Capitalism. He defines this new term as how the internet is a wild wild west of internet marketeers who attach payment reference codes to anything they can think of in order to monetise the traffic they create – either to their Facebook pages, or to their blogs and websites.

A new web phenomenon was launched in 2009:Pinterest.com. Here registered users post photos of their favourite objects or venues. Pinterest adds a referral code to each picture its users upload, and then collects a commission each time a person goes to another website from Pinterest and buys something.

What this means, Bodnar argues, is that in order to capitalise of the traffic generated by www.pinteret.com, or any other affiliate marketing campaign, you need to understand and appreciate the powerful economic advantage of creating, building and and maintaining a solid social media campaign which integrates into the product you are trying to sell – in this case, your movie.

A Short History Of Social Media Capitalism

When Youtube (2005), Facebook (2007) and Twitter (2008) were born there were no systems in place to monetise web traffic. These websites have grown to become the elite in a handful of globally recognised social media websites along with Linkedin and Flickr.

About 2010/11, these social media campaigns started monetising the traffic to their websites by selling advertising. In the process they managed to shift advertising bucks from terrestrial television and print to their websites.

What makes 2012 a key date in social media history is that Pinster has figured out how to make money from their website from the Get! Ready! Go! Not through advertising, but from traffic to and from their site. This is something that no other site had managed to do. Pinster’s explosive 4000% growth in 2013 makes it possibly the only website able to rival and threaten Facebook.

All of this has important lessons for filmmakers and suggests 7 Basic Ways Filmmakers Use Social Media Capitalism.

1.No Such Thing As Free Social Media

By this I mean 2 things:

– Social media profiles may be free to create, but they are incredibly time consuming to maintain.
– What if Facebook and Twitter decide to charge businesses for profiles? This is considered unlikely. But they could.

If you are totally reliant on privately owned websites like facebook and Twitter, you expose yourself terribly if that is all you have. You can only control content and important metrics and analytics on your own website or blog. relying solely on third party websites is foolish.

You need to keep your own blogs and website going. If you don’t, expect to pay the big boys big bucks every time you sell a DVD or download.

2. Spend To Receive

Any marketing activity has a cost structure defined by the amount of time and materials required to produce and distribute your message. In the good old days at Raindance, we printed thousands of leaflets (at a set price per thousand) and then distributed them by post, or joined mail lists. The intent was to generate traffic to our festival and events. The theory became: Mail enough leaflets at so much per thousand, and enough people would subscribe to the event ensuring that it would be a success.

Your movie’s revenue potential relies directly on the amount of traffic your site receives. Generating traffic to your website costs time and money.

I often meet filmmakers with a 10-20k budget. I always ask what the marketing budget is for their DVD release. If they answer ‘nothing’ I immediately know that they will not get any money from DVD, VOD or on-line sales.

A considered spend on Facebook and Google ads will pay off if you take the time to understand how to utilise these powerful tools. Unlike the days of postage and leaflets, today’s filmmakers have access to powerful tools to track the metrics of an advertising campaign and analyse them. These tools are free, but the time taken to learn how to use them is not, making it more difficult to gauge the cost of an online campaign.

Creating excellent content for your site and blog will also attract eyeballs.

3. Developing Your Brand

Each time you make a movie you need to launch a new brand. The principals of branding a movie are the same as they are for any widget. One of the quickest ways to create a brand is to use the tool of genre. If your film falls into one of the specific genre types, like horror, or into one of the popular genre blends like romantic/comedy, or action/adventure you will find that it is much easier to create and develop the brand for your movie

You also need to develop your personal brand, so you can attract a group of people interested in what you are doing. As movies are best branded by genre, perhaps you too should consider creating your own personal genre.

4. Getting A Social Media Producer

In this new age, successful filmmakers need two people:
– the tradional line producer who makes sure all the stuff and all the people you need end up at the right place at the right time
– a social media producer who makes sure that all the content needed for a successful online campaign is created in the correct format and distributed over the appropriate blogs, notice boards and social media sites like Twitter and Pinterest.

5. Don’t Ask Don’t Get

Filmmakers I know seem to get shy when it comes to selling their wares. Don’t be shy!

If a punter is hanging out on your site, they will appreciate a clear and precise call-to-action. Having a big “Buy Now” button on your website isn’t enough. You need to ask people to try out your movie throughout your social media cycle.

Asking people to watch the trailer, vote on choices of graphics etc will start to engage your audience. By the time they get to your product page, they will be reaching for their credit cards to get your new movie with hardly a shove from you.

Crowd funding websites can also contribute to this. By asking people to donate in exchange for a DVD means you are asking people before the movie actually enters production.

Make sure you map your site and blogs traffic so you can learn how your followers move around your site and blogs.

6. Create Blog Content Your Followers Will Love

You can’t just talk about your film. You will bore the pants off your audience.

Instead, create content that solves key problems your audience faces. Make these problem solvers integrated into your movie. Once you get someone reading your content, bring them into your website via social media and search engines. Once you have a visitor on your site you can present them with film-specific information and focus them on buying your movie.

Think like a trade publication. Create content that you or your friends would really like and be willing to share with others.

7. Learn How To Measure Results

There are powerful (and free) analytics tools which allow you to track a site or blog visitors journey through your website and social media. Learn how to use these tools. You will get really good at understanding how to maximise your website’s potential and the results should be readily apparent.

Fade Out

The internet presents filmmakers a whole new opportunity for engaging audiences with your work. The effort in learning and maintaining this is not glamorous. It is hard, grungy work.

At least you can keep your hands clean!

Hope this helps.

Filed under: Filmmaking, In Our Opinion, Promotion, Marketing and Distribution

The Must Read Top 10 Movie Lists of 2019

It’s year end again! All bloggers and social media experts are busily publishing their Top 10 Movie Lists of 2019.  Rather than duplicate the obvious I thought you would prefer a top ten of the Top 10 Lists – especially if there was any context behind the selection rationale. It might even assist you in choosing which movie to see next, which would make everyone at Raindance feel special.

Top 10 Movie Lists of 2019

These lists are all good, but very different. They are presented in no particular order.

1.The Best Undistributed Movies of 2019 by indiewire

We start the list off with this passionate list from indiewire. There is practically no chance you will be able to see many of these movies now their festival circuit is nearing completion. But you will be able to watch them online.

One of the films, Alice, was written, directed and produced by Raindance Alumni Josephine Mackerras. It deservedly won the Spirit of Raindance Award in 2019. It does have a UK distributor. We await the release date.

Alice Spirit of Raindance 2019 Award

2. The Telegraph Newspaper’s Top 10 List

One would not normally consider a super business newspaper, and huge Tory supporting publication to be very good at arts coverage. But Raindance jurors and frequent Raindance screening hosts Tim Robey and Robbie Collin consistency turn out some of the most thoughtful and intelligent reviews on the web. And not without a wicked sense of humour. Tim gave Cats his first ever zero star rating, for example.

Although the Telegraph covers the big Hollywood schlockbusters, the films Tim and Robbie have decided that left the lasting impressions were quiet love stories, strange thrillers and adventurous world cinema. Near the top of their list is For Sama – the British Independent Film Awards Best Film 2019.
Add these to your New Year watch list. Although their reviews are behind a pay wall, new subscriber can get limited access to their reviews.

3. James Merchant’s Top 10 list

You may not have heard of James unless you are an industry insider. I know James. – James and filmmaker Jesse Vile produced Raindance Film Festival way back in 2007 – a vintage year.

James is now th head of film and music at Trafalgar Releasing – the hugely successful and influential #eventcinema distribution company. What makes James’ list so interesting to me is that he sees tonnes of movies from all over the place.

1. The Irishman
2. Midsommar
3. Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
4. Apollo 11
5. Hail Satan?
6. Booksmart
7. If Beale Street Could Talk
8. Monos
9. Dragged Across Concrete
10. American Factory
Huge caveat: Parasite is released next year in the UK so I haven’t included on this list, but it would absolutely be my #1 of the year.
Also loved: Diego Maradona, Vox Lux, Marriage Story, Under the Silver Lake, Velvet Buzzsaw, Fyre, Eighth Grade, Mid90s, Us, Knock Down the House.

4. IMDB’s Top 10

Founded by Col Needham a quarter century ago, IMDB is now this industry behemoth that has earned a secure place in the film industry as data cruncher and influencer. I first met Col the very first time he went to Cannes in the early naughties. Since then we have kept in touch. The IMDB list is not where you turn for the heavyweight films. Surprisingly, their list carries indies like ˆ and Mid Sommar as well as, at #37, Avengers – made by Raindance alumni The Russo Brothers. A well-balanced list.

5. Deadline’s Top 10 List

No filmmaker should pass a single day without reading all the cool tips and news on Deadline. Here is the Top Ten List from this year’s AFI Awards in December. Good solid choices here.

If you want a change of pace from actual movie watching, why not look at The Black Lists Top Unproduced Scripts – you’ll get an inkling which movies will be getting made in the next couple of years.

6. Screen-Space

Sydney based Simon Foster launched Screen-Space in 2012 to keep up with the changes in movie distribution. His Top Movies Lists of 2019 includes a wide range of films, both topical and entertaining. Simon’s thoughtful choices range from Once A Time In Hollywood to the engaging and multiple ward-winning Alice.

7. The Vuture’s Best Horror of 2019

New York Magazine has one of the best organised websites I know of. And it’s culture section is under “The Vulture” tab. Jordan Crucchiola is a witty and engaging reviewer. You can follow her on Twitter here. Her Top 10 Horror Movies of 2019 includes a Raindance Film Festival premiere: Knife + Heart.

8. The British Film Institute

Loved and loathed by independent filmmakers in the UK, the BFI nonetheless has compiled a pretty daunting and hip list of the best 50 films of 2019. It’s true that many of these were part-funded by the BFI – but should that make any difference? These results were complied from a poll of a hundred contributors to their magazine, Sight & Sound.

Ex-runner Ben Roberts has taken over as CEO and has amazingly ambitious plans for the organisation.

Interestingly, the best film of 2019, according to the BFI list, is Souvenir, which debuted at the Raindance Film Festival.

9. Screen International’s Best Movies Lists of 2019

Screen International is Britain’s only film trade paper – and a damn good one at that too. It’s roster of journalists is second-to-none. Editor Matt Muellor is a Raindance alumni. Features editor Charles Gant has been a long-time support of the British Independent Film Awards, and stringer Ben Dalton’s first London movie job was at the Raindance office in London!

Each of the staff were asked to pick their top five films of 2019. They’re published here.

Ben Dalton, bless, chose Greener Grass as his number one. It had it’s European premiere at Raindance 2019.

10 The Guardian’s Top Movies 2019 List

No European film article would would ever be complete without including The Guardian. Film editor and former Raindance juror Peter Bradshaw and his team has compiled a list of their top picks of 2019. It’s a wide range of films from The Joker to little known UK indies like Bait – a hypnotic take on tourists – and second home owners – ruining Cornwall which launched Mark Jenkin onto the homegrown cinema scene with immense wit and monochrome style.  Bait had it’s world premiere at Raindance.

Fade Out

Do you have a movie list you like? Please add it to the comments box below.

Filed under: Film History, Filmmaking, In Our Opinion

The Next Decade’s Key Trends

Everything seems to be moving so quickly in our world. The next decade’s key trends in politics, ecology, and financial structures are changing faster than the polar ice cap is melting. So where does that leave independent filmmakers seeking to eek out a living in today’s wintry economic climate?

With all the year-end and decade-end debate on the future it is easy to be overwhelmed. Usually the year-end blog posts have tiles like: “The 100 New Changes In Entertainment” or some such. These articles are usually no more than lists of a hundred or more trends that media savvy types are encouraged to understand.

I have spent the past couple of days reviewing the next decade’s trends. I realised that many of these hundred long lists are simply compilations of cool definititions of new new media terms – and aren’t actually that different from each other.

Bear with me as I attempt to distil anything important from these soothsaying articles. I’m also going to toss in a few ideas of my own from Planet Raindance. I bring you, drum roll…

The Next Decade’s Key trends

1. The Online Distribution Wars

For filmmakers I suppose the biggest news of the 2010’s was the rise and rise of Netflix. The biggest story about the 2020’s could well be the fall and fall of Netflix.

Netflix is the largest streaming platform. It has revolutionised how people watch content. Not merely content to broadcast, Netflix has revolutionised television with it’s much-heralded and award winning shows like Orange is the New Black and The Crown. Netflix pioneered content-creation targeted at specific audience demographics be it gender, race or sexual orientation. This has proven to be a new benchmark against all new television programming is now measured. For example, the BBC’s fleabag has been a runaway success.

But the peril for Netflix is how the other streaming services like Disney+, Amazon Prime and Lulu could swamp Netflix. At the moment it still is too early to tell what the 2020’s will bring to Netflix. But here is one troubling idea of note: Netflix borrows the money it lends to producers based on the subscription income in the coming quarter. Should Netflix subscribers fall, like the 6% lsot to Disney+ in late 2019, it is possible that it’s ability to borrow will be hampered.

Which leads me to my crystal ball gazing for the 2020’s:
first, note the large number of online distributors eager to cash in on Netflix’s success. Then watch for consolidation. for example, watch for a cash suitor for Netflix. And I ask you: Whick mega online company has bags and bags of cash? There are two of them and they both start with the letter “A”

2. The Next Decade’s Key Trends Must Include The 4th Economy

Innovative filmmakers are able to see the fundamental changes in societal structures. When these changes are clear and when filmmakers respond we have ground-breaking films that define the changes from one structure to the next.

A film like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a classic example. In this film we see the railroad being built through the mid west. Butch Cassidy and Sundance don’t understand that this new means of transport will render their method of robbing banks and escaping on horseback obsolete. As a result they perished. This is a powerful reminder in our own lives: failure to understand seismic social changes and we too could perish.

The 4 stages of experience

Filmmakers could learn about the future of filmmaking by studying the economic progress of the evolution of the birthday cake expressed as four distinct stages of experience.

I grew up on a farm in southern Ontario. Lets talk about the 4 stages of a birthday celebration by looking at the iconic birthday cake.

The first stage of the birthday cake is simple and organic. My mother gathered farm produce, eggs and flour and made a cake with the sugar and flour she bought at the market. The cost was simple, but the preparation time consuming.

Later, in the second stage, she bought cake mixes from the supermarket because the labour was very reduced, and the outcome was pretty much guaranteed.

When my daughters were born, in the third stage, I would order and collect a cake from the local bakery. This cake would cost 10 – 15 times as much as the cake made from the mix.

Recently I have witnessed the birthday parties thrown by Gen X parents. No need to mess up the kitchen with dirty dishes and cutlery. This last stage caters to parents whose busy lives leave no time for the organisation of a birthday party. They call in the party planners, or book a children’s birthday party at the local hotel or restaurant where the actual cake is thrown in as a booking bonus.

Welcome to the emerging experience economy.

Next Decade's Key Trends
Graph from Harvard Business Review in 1998

As cake making has evolved, so too has just about everything to do with filmmaking. No longer do we use expensive and labour intensive filmmaking techniques – these have been replaced by digital technology. And film distribution has been revolutionised by the online distribution revolution led by Youtube and Netflix.

My friend Dean Goldberg writes:

There is nothing better than competition for driving invention. In my opinion this is a battle that will ultimately be won by those best placed to exploit the 4th economy aka The Experience Economy. In that respect you have got to think Disney has got the pedigree and edge there, but then what does victory look like when there is room for All. There is no monopoly on human creation and it pays to remember Star Wars was originally an independent production.

The question remains unanswered: how will filmmakers respond to the 4th Economy? How will the next decade’s key trends impact filmmaking?

3. A Short History of Fake News

Have you heard of a gudgeon? Its a small freshwater fish noted for it’s willingness to trust. As a result it is easily caught and is often used as bait to draw in larger fish. In Shakespearan times, the nickname for someone easily fooled was gudgeon.

Fake news operates much the same way/ Gullible people are sucked into false facts and their numbers are used to amplify and sway larger audiences.

Fake news started hundreds of years before Donald Trump.

In 1646, the physician and philosopher Thomas Browne published his Pseudodoxia Epidemica, a title you might translate topically as “An Epidemic of Fake News”, concerning the “vulgar errors” and superstitions of the age.
Steven Poole, The Guardian

The interesting thing about the 2020’s will be to see how social media ill deal with the issues of transparency in politics, economics and with issues of social impact. And what of the enviroment?

Surely Fake News is golden story lode for filmmakers.

4. Social Stage

Storytellers have long learned that setting a story in a social stage is the best short-hand for jumping an audience into a story.

I have written widely about the 4 social stages and how to use them.

Briefly, there are 4 key social stages: Wilderness, Village, City and Oppressive City. The reason this is important to storytellers is because the hero in each social stage acts different. for example, John Wayne is a Village hero. Woody Allen is a City Hero.

Mt instinct is as we become ever urbanised movie-goers will harken back to the good old times they heard from their parents and grand parents. For filmmakers this might mean a return to stylised moral tales more familiar in Village stories.

5. Social Impact

Corporations the world over are clamouring to invest social impact values into their branding. A few companies genuinely give back to the society that earned them their success. One of the companies that danced with Raindance was Lexus, with an entire series of experiential and social giving that would put many people (and corporations) to shame.

Fade Out

We live in increasingly troubled times. The re-emergence of far right politics the world over has not been seen since the 1930’s. I believe we are at increasing danger of war.

Wars are caused by hatred. And hatred is caused by basic misunderstanding of how people live and work and play in different countries and the customs of different cultures and religions.

Your new movies this decade could do a great deal to temper the misunderstanding that causes this hatred. For what better way to tell an audience how people live and work and play in different parts of the world?

The next decade’s key trends present some interesting opportunities. Let’s make movies. Movies that change people lives.

Filed under: Filmmaking, In Our Opinion

Using The 4 Social Stages

A huge challenge of screenwriters is to explain how it is possible for nature, society, and the individual to coexist and prevent the evolutionary cycle from repeating. One can measure a screenwriters’ development by examining how adept they are at using the 4 social stages.

Usually the most effective way of marking time and placing the hero within a society is to place him/her in a particular social stage. People living in the wilderness tend to create main characters that are gods or super-heroes. In the village world, the hero is the ‘classic’ hero. Stories set in the city world feature the average hero, the everyman or everywoman. Thee main character in stories set in the oppressive city is the anti-hero.

The option of where you set your story will to a large extent what your hero will do and how they will react. Here are some interesting options

Using The 4 Social Stages

1. Cross stages

Taking a character from one social stage and plunking them into another social stage can create a dynamic story almost instantly. For example, what if the stereotypical city character, like Woody Allen, is plopped into the village stage, but a century and a half ago. Suppose our hapless Woody rides into a western village, ties his horse up to the hitching post and accidentally feeds his horse the oats and water belonging to John Wayne. John Wayne bursts out of the saloon hollering. How would Woody Allen try to resolve this misunderstanding in the crude setting of the village? Would he succeed against John Wayne’s ‘fastest draw in the west?’

Similarly, should John Wayne be in the city, parking his car illegally while he runs into a corner store for one of those famous cigarettes when he gets an undeserved parking ticket. Would John Wayne be able to resolve his disagreement with the parking attendant using the pistol-brute-force of the village?

Look again at Crocodile Dundee and you will see that is exactly what they did: village hero not the city hero. And with great effect.

2. On the cusp

Setting your story on the cusp between two social stages is a great way to add dimension to your story and give your self a platform to put your own personal view of what is right and wrong in the world to your audience. Nothing is more fascinating to an audience than a transition between social stages, particularly our own – as this affects our health, prosperity, and comfort – not only of ourselves, but that of our children.

My favorite example of a movie set in transition is Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. At the start of the movie, Butch and Sundance are robbing banks in the village social stage. The reason they can get away with, basically, highway robbery, is they scope a village, and then set fresh horses every two hours away from the village, allowing them to out run the sheriff and his posse. Then one day, they rob a bank, not realizing that the railroad (from the city social stage) has been laid. The soldiers can now keep up with them, and they realize that their old livelihood has become unsustainable.

At this point they should have taken a decision: give up and spend some time in prison, and then move to the city to take up white-collar crime. With their skills and imagination I am certain they would have been very good at this. But they were unable to see to the next social stage, and were destroyed.

Find a present day parallel

We have just discussed Butch Cassidy. How about our life? There can be valuable lessons learned from everyday occurrences in our own lives. Large and small.

At the time of writing this chapter the British public was transfixed by story after story of the failing health care system and a particular incident where hospitals stock-piled organs from still born babies for medical research without the permission of the parents. One couple was shown leaving the hospital with the internal organs of their child, pickled in several lab jars in stomach turning scene straight from the oppressive city.

How about the terrible events of the 9/11 terrorist attacks? At what point are we in the civilization wheel? City? Oppressive city?

I am pretty negative by nature even though I am constantly congratulated for PMA (Positive Mental Attitude). I believe that the terrible attacks of 9/11 were the first attacks by barbarians on our tightly woven and overcrowded oppressive cities.

Do you remember George Bush on CNN that night, and on every other station around the world saying “We are fighting a new kind of war with a new kind of enemy. We do not know who they are, but we will find and destroy them.” Of course, Bush and mis-guided politicians and military strategists decided, like Butch and Sundance, to use the forces of the current social stage in order to fight the forces of the next social stage.

3. Find a Historical precedent

If you can tie your story into an ancient story that proves your point about the plot point our civilization is at on the social-stage wheel you will probably be able to set up some critical, if not commercial acclaim.

A friend of mine in London claims that the fall of the Soviet Union was caused by Jerry Seinfeld, and not by enlightened politicians of the era. In the late 1970’s, the first satellite broadcasting TV was launched over Europe. Geo-blocking, the computer software that controls where you and watch programs is an expensive but necessary part of the rights management of expensive programming like the Jerry Seinfeld Show.

However, at that time there were so few televisions in the Soviet Union that it was agreed that it was pointless to geo-block this territory on commercial grounds. Imagine now, yourself as a Soviet citizen of the time, being told that Westerners were evil. There was, coincidentally a terrible economic recession and food was at a premium. You hear that your neighbor ten blocks away has just finessed a television, and you rush over after work, just as Kramer is skidding into Jerry’s kitchen, opening the fridge and guess what? It’s full of food. Perhaps being an evil Westerner isn’t so bad after all – at least they have food.

Or this:

In the last eighty years leading up to the fall of the Roman Empire, were not the spectacles in the Coliseum – the feeding of Christians to lions, the equivalent to reality television today?

It’s interesting to delve into story – something we do at our screenwriting classes at Raindance.

Filed under: Filmmaking, In Our Opinion, Screenwriting

Setting The 4 Social Stages

Social stage is the point at which the society of your hero has developed. All societies evolve through distinct social stages. Choosing one of the 4 social stages allows you to communicate a great deal without resorting to dialogue.

Civilizations tend to develop over time. There are four key stages. Allow me to use the example of the Roman Empire. In the beginning the people were nomads, traveling alone or in small bands. Then, they discovered agriculture and settled down into villages. Some of the villages became so large that they turned into cities, and after time, city life became corrupted to the point where the rules for living were altered out of all recognition in a state called the oppressive city. The inhabitants then suffered a series of attacks by barbarians and the civilization sank into the Dark Ages.

Without turning this into a dissertation of cultural development over the millennia, let’s simply put the social stages into four unique areas – each with a particular type of hero, a unique breed of opponent, special concerns and particular values. 

The 4 Social Stages

1Wilderness and the super-hero

There are no buildings in the wilderness, and the hero travels alone or with a band of disciples. Nature is vast and all-powerful, threatening the existence of everyone. The hero is a super-hero because he is the only character capable of fighting the forces of nature and surviving. Death comes early and quickly to the weak. Roving bands of barbarians circle the group as they travel in search of after and food. The people’s main concern is to survive, to reproduce and be in harmony with nature, using the knowledge and strength of the super-hero.

At the end of wilderness stories, the super-hero leaves his group (sometimes called disciples) at the foot of a steep cliff or mountain, and climbs up into he clouds where he (super-heroes are always male) receives divine inspiration – which he writes down. Upon his descent he shows these words to his disciples and they become new rules for living that change forever the way men live. For example, Moses and the Ten Commandments. Most religious stories fall into this category.

If you were capable of writing a story set in the wilderness, where your hero receives divine inspiration, which you could write down, and show us – you would no longer be known as a screenwriter – rather – a religious prophet.

2.Village and the classic hero

I define a village a small settlement. You can stand on one end of the village and see all the way to the end. Perhaps there is one traffic light. The buildings are single story, and there isn’t a great deal of difference between the structures. The general store, courthouse and a private dwelling aren’t that different and usually they are built with the same materials. In the back gardens there is a wooden fence, generally under construction, or falling into disrepair – symbolizing the barrier between civilization and barbarianism. As the building are single level, so too the villagers. They are all roughly of the same social status, although if a stranger arrives into the village, one of the villagers will speak on behalf of the villagers: the priest, the sheriff, the schoolteacher or the judge.

Society has evolved to the point where man has created basic shelter that will survive the seasons. The social structures of the village are young and developing. The village is surrounded by wilderness is exposed to the forces of nature (although no where nearly as strong as in the wilderness), and the villagers are prone to attack by roving bands of barbarians. The villagers mistrust anything from the wilderness, to the point that anyone they do not understand, or who is different from them, is considered to be a barbarian too. The barbarians want the village destroyed because the village represents the new, and it encroaches on their freedom to roam. The barbarians do not understand the change in the society that has created the village.

Have you ever been driving in the countryside and stopped for a drink in a local establishment off the beaten track? Do you notice how the locals look at you when you enter? You are considered a barbarian, bringing new and possibly evil things, to the village.

Into the world of the village comes the `classic hero’. Almost exclusively male, the classic hero does not come from the village, but arrives and one of two things happens. Larger and physically stronger than the villagers, almost barbarian-like, the classic hero relies on martial arts to survive. Sometimes the villagers mistake the classic hero as a barbarian. In other stories, the villagers see in the classic hero their only person capable of defeating the barbarians.

The classic hero will use his talents as a warrior to help the fragile community deal with the savage forces they cannot physically or morally handle themselves. Society has not reached the point where discussion and verbal are tools for dissipating problems. The village does not have a courthouse and the jail is generally a very simple one.

Village stories share a sense of good and evil, black and white. Although the values of the villagers and the classic hero may not be correct, according to our principles, basically everyone inside the town is good, and everyone outside of this village is a barbarian or savage for whom destruction is the only option.

By warring with other characters from his own social stage, the classic hero is a doomed figure. He (classic heroes are predominantly male) is used by the villagers to destroy barbarians in order to allow the village to grow and prosper. The classic hero has no place in the village and once his task is done, leaves, or is forced to leave. Many screenwriting books talk of the need for a character to grow and develop. In village a story, the hero does not change He ‘rides off into the sunset’ unchanged. What has changed are the villagers, who are at a higher level, because he has saved them from the roving bands of barbarians, or, they are at a lower level, having been exposed of their wickedness and corruption. And excellent example of this is John Dahl’s Red Rock West starring Nicholas Cage and Dennis Hopper.

Examples of the classic hero include the pioneer, the samurai and the westerner. In other social stages the qualities of a classic hero can be incorporated into this hero in a different stage For example, super-cop – who lives in a city filled with barbarians – is discarded once his task has been fulfilled.

3.City and the average hero

As the village grows and spreads out, at some point it reaches a physical boundary, and can no longer spread horizontally. It must now spread vertically. The village develops into the city. Contrasting with the social stage of the village, the city is a place of hierarchy, rank, privilege, vast differences of wealth and power.

This is the world of the average hero, of everyman and everywoman who is ordinary in every way – no stronger, brighter, dumber, or wealthier than anyone else in the city.

The average hero is concerned with the nesting instinct (creating a place in society, providing a home, raising a family). He or she is concerned with equality and justice (making sure that everyone follows the same rules for living). He or she is probably also concerned with avoiding the slavery of bureaucracy and government.

Some examples of the average hero can be found in Michael Dorsey in Tootsie, Karen Blixen in Out of Africa, Frank Galvin in The Verdict and Dorothy in Wizard of Oz.

4.Oppressive city and the anti-hero

When the city grows so dense, so tight, so technological and bureaucratic, it becomes a place of enslavement. Where it once was intended as a place of nourishment, where it’s citizens could expect to have a decent job and a decent life. Once the city was a place where the arts flourished hand in hand with commerce, making a dynamic community. Now, however, the city has knotted together so tightly that it can no longer help its citizens. Instead it uses its citizens to further itself, devouring in its thirst to sustain its bulk. Often, the controls of the machinery driving the city are held in the hands of the powerful and mighty few.

Stories set in this stage feature the anti-hero. The anti-hero can have two distinct traits.

He could b the person who will not be beaten down by the oppressive city and who is there fore sent into exile. A variation on this is the citizen who discovers by accident, or witnesses a crime and holds the key to keeping someone in power – meaning that they are hunted and pursued, often to the death. (thriller) Blade Runner, Cool Hand Luke, Shawn of the Dead

Or, he could be the person who stays and is beaten down – the incompetent, the bumbler, and a character who is unsocial or anti-social.

Examples of the anti –hero include Chouncey Gardner in Being There, early Woody Allen characters, Ratzo Rizzo in Midnight Cowboy, Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, as well as Jim Carrey in Pet Detective and Me, Myself and Irene.

The next development of society is for it to crumble under it’s own weight, and (the citizens who survive) are returned to the wilderness – for example Lord of the Rings.

As society gets larger, nature and the hero get smaller.

The next trick is using the 4 social stages in your writing.

Filed under: Filmmaking, In Our Opinion, Screenwriting

The Product Video Hack Nobody Tells Filmmakers

The Secret Hack that Artlist.io is Bringing to You

Video marketing has become vital to the success of a product, and getting the perfect shot can make or break your marketing effort. One of the most critical aspects of a product video is the background of your product. You need It to simultaneously blend with your product’s vibe and be interesting, but not too much so that it will overshadow your product.

One way to create a background is by using a green screen and adding it in post-production, but that can be time-consuming and costly. Other ways include painting a wall, lighting it with RGB lights or using a softbox. You can also attach a colored paper to cardboard and use it as a background.

However, there is a simple, cost-effective way to create different types of backgrounds, and it will not require you to compromise on the quality of your video. We recently used this hack when we shot our Life of an Indie Filmmaker commercial. As you’ll see, the result was seamless 

The Basics

The essence of this hack is creating a beautiful background for your product shots using a TV screen or a computer. Just open an image on that screen or create one with a graphics software. We like to use Photoshop, but you can choose whichever you prefer. Now that you have your screen background, just place your main object in front of it and there you have it – the perfect background for your product.

You can get super creative with different backgrounds or keep it simple with a solid color. To add glare to your shot, place your object on a reflective surface. If you want to enhance your glare, use a spinning platform like a lazy Susan.

The big plus of using this technique is the beautiful backlight you’re getting from the screen. The obvious drawback is the limited space you have to work with. 

To get the best results, we highly suggest using a tripod and a focal length of 35mm lens or up. Don’t forget to make sure to adjust your camera shutter and frame rates to avoid any flickering coming from the screen.

Beyond Product Video

You can also take this hack to the next level and get super creative with it. In the ad we shot, we used this hack to recreate a realistic subway car without actually leaving our studios.

First, we built a set wall of a subway car with a window in the middle, orange plastic chairs, a metal pole, a map and a few stickers to make it as real as possible. To tie everything together and make it look like a real, working subway car, we needed to fake the passing view from the window and make it look like the car is in motion. 

The obvious choice would have been to use a green screen, but we decided to go a different route. We created a looping background in Cinema 4D and played it on a TV screen which we placed behind the window. That helped us create realistic reflections from the car window with minimal post-production work. It also saved us time and money that we would have spent on gear for lighting a green screen.

To bring everything to life, we moved around an HMI light simulating the lighting of a moving subway while we physically rocked the whole set back and forth.

That’s a Wrap

So, if you’re doing a product video and you want to avoid post-production work or prefer not to deal with a green screen, use a TV or computer screen. You will be amazed by the result. 

Until next time, stay creative.

Need royalty free music? Get 2 months free by joining artlist.io here

Filed under: Filmmaking, Post-Production, Technical Craft

Gift Ideas For Filmmakers

Here are some gift ideas that can bring cheer to the filmmaker in your life.

Or, if you like, each of these items make great self-gifts!

Gift Membership

Pick between:

  1. Raindance Membership – £50 (Concession rate £30)
  2. Raindance Membership + Gift Bundle – £80 (Concession rate £60)

Gift bundle includes: Raindance T-Shirt, Raindance badges, Raindance mug, Raindance tote bag, and one of our favourite films on DVD – worth £40!

Benefits include:

– 20% discount on Raindance evening and weekend courses
– free classes like 99 Minutes Film School and Directing Essentials
– access to the exclusive online resources
– free filmmaking career mentoring with Raindance founder Elliot Grove
– fee access to monthly networking events and members-only events

Stocking stuffers: How about FREE stuff?

1. The Zero-Budget Software Suite

Just because something is completely free doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. Give someone the gift of knowing how to save on software for their filmmaking career.

The Zero Budget Software Suite

2. Christopher Nolan Script Suite

Download a dozen of Christopher Nolan’s screenplays – put them onto a pen drive or print them out into a big, thick and very heavy package.
A handy stocking stuffer for that favourite film fanatic friend of yours.

Get the Christopher Nolan Script Suite HERE

3. Open House

Invite someone to our Open House event on the 12th January 2019. Open to everyone, it’s the chance to informally meet and network with Raindance filmmakers, tutors, and, last but not least, the Raindance team! Admission is just a fiver!

Deal or what? And there’s free networking drinks!

Gift ideas £10 and Under

1. Raindance buttons

A really distinctive stocking stuffer
A collection of Raindance buttons with fun taglines

2. Raindance Mug

Two different flavours:

Go fund yourself
I’ll pay you back when I’m famous

3. 27th Raindance Festival poster

Here’s a real collectors item, the 27th Raindance Film Festival poster

4. 10 x 10

Ideal for budding screenwriters interested how how the professionals open their screenplays
Get the first ten pages of ten commercially successful films
Printed and bound on A4 paper

5. Umbrella

No need to get soaked!
Stay dry and look sharp with a Raindance Umbrella

6. Raindance T-Shirts

A really distinctive stocking stuffer

Gift ideas £25 and Under

Screenplay USB

Get over 100 screenplays of PDF + copies of:
Raindance Writers’ Lab (worth £19.99)
Raindance Producers’ Lab (worth £29.99)

Raindance Gift Bundle

Includes: Raindance T-Shirt, Raindance mug, Raindance badges, Raindance tote bag, and one of our favourite films on DVD – worth £40!

The 99 Minute Film School

Do you know someone who’s interested in filmmaking, but doesn’t know where to begin?
Give them the chance to learn the basics and find out how to kickstart their dream career, in just 99 minutes!

Gift ideas £100 and under

Gift Certificates

Some people might be more difficult to buy presents for than others. If you are in doubt as to what they could like, we have the solution: a Raindance Gift Certificate.
Let them choose, and you can’t go wrong! They’re available in £50 units ie £50/100/150/200

Raindance Gift Certificates

Gift ideas £150 and under

Saturday Film School

Giving this inspirational course as a present could be the perfect way to encourage the friend/family member who has the perfect idea for a film, but no budget. Who knows? They could be the next Guy Ritchie, Christopher Nolan or Edgar Wright – all of whom launched their careers using the information supplied by this course.

Four action-packed sessions in screenwriting, directing, low-budget producing and how to break into the film industry.

Saturday Film School
When? 8th February 2020 10:00-17:00
Where? King’s College, Strand, London WC2R 2LS (nr Waterloo Bridge)
How Much? £150.00 / Members Price £59.00

Filed under: Filmmaking

The Three ‘M’s’ Filmmakers Need

What every filmmaker needs to remember is life in the creative industries means running a three pronged business. People new to filmmaking also need to apply the same creative Management, personal Management and financial Management rules that apply to start-ups. Ignore the three ‘M’s’ filmmakers need at your peril.

The Three ‘M’s’ Filmmakers Need

1.Maker

As a filmmaker you need to make films. If you aren’t making films, you have no business calling yourself a filmmaker. It’s as simple as that!

In today’s new digital world it’s also important to remember that a filmmaker doesn’t solely make films. There are many different types of films that are waiting for you to make. Documentaries, shorts and feature films are no longer the principal types of films made. In our new visual stroytelling world one needs to add web series, viral shorts, television series, virtual reality experiences and of course gaming.

It would be a bold and strategically wise move to move away from the 20th century occupation of ‘filmmaker’. Instead, why not embrace this new world filled with opportunities for visual storytelling. And that could make you a muti-format content creator.

Think of all the different ways you can tell your excellent stories:

  • viral shorts
  • web series
  • documentary shorts and features
  • social impact corporate videos
  • feature length movies
  • television (or online series)
  • virtual reality and immersive stories
  • gaming and interactive

Whichever format suits your story remember: if you aren’t making it your aren’t calling yourself a filmmaker.

2.Manager

Here comes the bit that nearly always sinks creative: the management side of the coin. And by manage, I mean how to manage the business side and to manage the creative side.

Managing the creative side of one’s career

Managing the creative side means to maximise. And by maximise I mean you need to maximise your personal life as well. Managing a successful professional career is tricky. Combining a full-blown career with a personal life trickier still. But somehow we need to learn how to convince friends, family and lovers that a filmmakers’ life needs a huge amount of focus.

There are many self-help and useful instructional books and publications that can assist you in developing your thinking about this important topic.

Managing the business side

Running a business of any description require a knowledge of the structures required in order to satisfy local laws. Get business help and advice from someone you can trust. Perhaps, you can emulate one of my heroes, John Hitchcox.

John has built a repution as Europe’s most innovative property developer. A multitude of inner city projects under his banner company Manhattan Loft Corporation established him a doer. But rising to the next level meant John had to become a manager as well. It was here that John excelled by teaming up with the brilliant auteur designer Philippe Starck.

As his business grew John was able to identify the demands a large conglomorate required. He then partnered with the numbers-man Lloyd Lee to manage the dollars and cents side of the complex business.

With the management side of his business under control, John was then able to sit back and enjoy the benefit of his hugely creative side. His latest project, at Olympia in London promises to be one of Europe’s most exciting developments And why? Because John’s vision of a city centre community housing arts and commerce is taking shape. And taking shape because he has learned the value of Making and Managing: two of the essential three elements of a successful filmmaking career.

3. Marketer

A filmmaker who can make brilliant content, who can manage their career’s commercial demands can still fail if the third M – the M of Marketer isn’t attended to.

To be brief, the rules of marketing for anything also apply to marketing for film. Rather than belabour the marketing specifics filmmakers use, I want to focus on something deeper, but terribly important to the marketing strategy you might emply.

The more I think about successful filmmaking the more I think about filmmakers who understand and implement branding. It is the understanding of branding and how it is implemented that seems to be a key cornerstone to a successful career. Which means of course that this topic is a cornerstone of the business side of filmmaking.

What is branding

It’s an urban myth to think that branding is all about your website or your logo. It has nothing to do with fancy tee shirts or corporate giveaways. Branding is, simply, what people think about you. Are you honest, punctual, a good listener, and hard working? Are you all of these things yet a bore to be with? Or are you fun to be with but a bit slap dash when it comes to paying your bills on time?

Branding is branding and the rules for branding are roughly the same for films and filmmakers as they are for other products. A filmmaker has two different branding to consider. First and foremost is the filmmaker’s personal branding. Think carefully of how you want people to think of you. Are you skilled, talented, resourceful? Are you fun to be with? Can you handle crises?

Back in my pre-Raindance days in my hometown Toronto I worked as project leader on a series of high tech projects. Whenever we needed to hire someone we had the ‘photocopier rule.’ Simply put it was: Would you like to be stuck in the photocopier room with this person at three in the morning when you have a 7am deadline and the copier has just broken? Or not? What we were really doing was evaluating the job applicants personal branding

Film Branding

The second challenge is to decide how you are going to brand your next film project. I have found that filmmakers often ignore their film’s branding or simply do not understand it at all. Many filmmakers talk of their new drama. The trouble with the word drama is it’s too general and there isn’t enough meat on the word drama to give a marketer any ideas for how to explain what kind of film it is.

Imagine going into a real estate agency when you are looking for a new place to live. If you said to the agent “Please find me a home” they would look at you perplexed. All apartments, studios, shacks, castles and penthouses are homes in the same way that all thrillers, rom-coms, crime, horror and sci-fi are dramas. In property we define the genre of th home we are seeking by the price, the number of bedrooms and location. In movies the equivalent is tool of genre. More importantly it is imperative that filmmakers study genre and learn how the story beats as well as the look and feel vary from genre to genre.

Fade Out

Many creatives I know are really good at one of the 3 M’s. Some are really good at 2 of the three. In order to really blast off you need to excel at every one of these three.

That’s a wrap.

Filed under: Filmmaking

The Screenwriters Audience

The biggest mistake a writer can make at the outset of writing a screenplay is imagining his or her screenplay turned into a movie and playing at hundreds or thousands of cinemas around the world. To write with this goal in mind is demonstrating a fundamental lack of knowledge and confusion about the roles of a filmmaker and a screenwriter. The screenwriters audience is the primary focus.

A filmmaker makes a film to play to an audience in a cinema or in front of a TV. That is their goal: to elicit emotion from an audience in a cinema.

The goal of a screenwriter is entirely different. A screenwriter’s audience is just one person – a reader. Usually in the film industry, the reader is late fifties/early sixties and over-weight with a tight silk shirt tucked into a pair of expensive slacks, secured by an enormous crocodile skin belt. The reader’s body is adorned with gold rings and bracelets. Very often, this reader has absolutely no training in film, but they are reading your script, and they have the one thing you want – a chequebook. If you succeed in eliciting emotion in this uncouth being, chances are very much better that you will get a check. If you fail to do so, you won’t.

Because the role of the audience is so important, let’s take a closer look at the status of the observer.

The genius of Marshall Macluhan

After I finished high school, I went to art school in Toronto. In order to keep my mother happy, I enrolled at the local university for a series of classes including an English literature class. I dropped out after three classes, because the lecturers were so dry. But the first two nights, I had the most brilliant lectures by the Canadian philosopher, Marshall Macluhan.

Here is Macluhan’s version of the importance of an audience, and the role of the writer:

Suppose that I am a DJ and my job is to attend the radio station and choose music for my show, which airs every morning from 3am – 4am. Hardly a favourable time, but in addition to my paycheck, the other benefit is that I can choose any music I want without any outside interference. Many would consider this an ideal job, albeit with unsociable hours.

The model looks like this:

Screenwriters Audience

Suppose one evening as I am about to leave for work, the radio producer calls and says that there is conclusive proof that this evening during my show, absolutely no one will be listening. Is there any point in my attending to play my favourite records? Surely I can do this in the comfort of my own home.

Let’s look at the model again, only now from the perspective of a writer: and the screenwriters audience

Screenwriters Audience

Screenwriter’s Leap of Faith

The writer writes for the reader. I call this the Screenwriter’s Leap of Faith.

How do you know that each time you start to write a scipt that you will be able to write a good script? Screenwriting is an art form, and you may not be able to hit it every time.

If you do write a good script, how will you know if you get it to the right producer – that reader with a checkbook? And if you get it to the right producer, how do you know if he or she will hire the right director? If you wrote a one page script and gave it to ten different directors, would you not get ten very different films? And how about actors? If you asked a director to direct the same one-page script with ten different actors you would also get ten different films. And what of the editors, and production designers and composers?

You don’t know if the right people will get to work on your script, and you have absolutely no control over this. You might get lucky, write a fabulous script, get it to the top producer who hires the hottest director with a cast of talented newcomers and still find that you cannot get your film onto a single screen at home or around the world. It does happen.

How do you know what the future of your idea for a screenplay holds? From the moment you decide to commit endless hours of time and energy to writing it, you have to admit that you have no idea what the end result is going to be.

The screenwriter’s leap of faith is that amazing belief in yourself and your idea that will carry you through all of the barriers to success – the Biblical quote has never been more applicable.

[box] The goal of a filmmaker is to elicit emotion in an audience. The goal of a screenwriter is to elicit emotion in a reader.[/box]

Misfortune

Let’s go into bummer. There is nothing I can do to teach you about the word misfortune except to try and educate you as much as possible about the savvy needed for the industry, and hope to minimalize the odds against you.

Consider these two questions: Is every hit movie good? Is every good movie a hit?

Every year at the Raindance Film Festival, I find a sweetheart, darling, cute film that I really believe is right for the British audience. The film plays to a packed house, including several distributors. After the screenings of these films, the audience bursts into rapturous applause, and the audience files out talking excitedly about the movie.

Usually in cases like this, I stride up to the Acquisitions Executives that I recognize at the screening and ask them what they think of the film. They know that what I am really asking is whether or not they think it is suitable for a UK release. I am usually told ‘It’s too American for a British audience’ or; I don’t think the British public is ready for something as controversial as that’. Misfortune can and will befall you Learn to recognize it for what it is, and move on. There is nothing you can do about it.

From this can be learned one of the most fundamental rules of screenwriting – learn when to let go. Not everything you do is going to work. Your job as a writer is to inspire the teams of other creatives that are involved in the filmmaking process. Not every idea is going to work. There is nothing you can do about this. Learn when (and how) to let go.

And remember – writers and filmmakers earn the attention of an audience through the skillfull use of violence and sex.

[box] Grant me the strength to change what I can, to accept the things I cannot and the wisdom to know the difference. St Francis of Assisi[/box]

What writers can control

  • The actor’s actions: through description in the screenplay.
  • Dialogue: through the script.
  • Setting: by choosing where the story is told.
  • The story, the story the story.
  • But once the screenplay has left your hands, everything can be changed.

What writers can’t control

  • Casting.
  • Performance.
  • Editing.
  • The vision of the director.
  • Cinematography and the ability of the camerman/woman.
  • Production Design, Set, Wardrobe, Special FX, artistry of the craft people.
  • Score and suitability of the music.
  • Marketing, poster and trailer: the skill of the market makers and publicists.
  • The success of the film: Hey! Who does? It is a crapshoot!

Successful writers write to inspire everybody else, and know when to let go.

Summary

  1. Nobody knows anything. Remember that this book is designed to give you a practical plan; a method for getting your ideas onto paper.
  2. The quickest way into the film industry is with a script – a hot script
  3. Never forget the writer’s role – to inspire everyone else, then let go.
  4. You are an intuitive storyteller. Let nothing inhibit you.

Now, get that idea out of your head and onto paper. If you need some help and advice for your writing, check out the screenwriting classes in Raindance Toronto, London and Los Angeles

Filed under: Filmmaking, Screenwriting