Welcome to my new blog on Cinema 2.0.
Cinema 2.0 is A NEW APPROACH TO DIY FILM PRODUCTION, MARKETING and DISTRIBUTION working outside of the accepted mainstream cinema industry. It’s about leveraging your peer-to-peer marketing and online digital distribution for your own original cinema making your authentic, artisanal and original programming for enjoyment worldwide.
You say you want to make your own microcinema? How do you raise the $$$ to make your visions come true? How do you get the cash you need to become a filmmaker? Read on.
Movie financing (or the lack thereof) is the number one reason why most movies don’t get made. The money can’t be raised because a star will not commit or the project is then deemed to expensive for completion or promotion. You can spend your entire career begging for funding, filling out forms, asking, pitching and whining for money. I have friends and colleagues that are still flying to LA, whining about the lack of respect or money allowed them and the dearth of angel investors, rich dentists and cash-rich financiers looking for a haven for their loot.
When you go to Las Vegas or any casino, you go with money in your pocket ready to take on the ‘House’, right? You may have $50 in quarters, $500 saved up from work – or several thousand dollars that you’ve stolen from the petty cash at work (Note: do not embezzle funds from your place of employment. This is not only illegal — but you’ll probably get caught and I am not going to be responsible). With the exception of the last one, most of us understand that spending REAL money is part of the game of making media in the 21st century.
Want to know the secret to getting money for your film?
If you REALLY want to make a film, sell something for hard cash and then use that to get started. You need $$$ to get $$$.
I first got into the microcinema game in 1992 by self-financing my debut 16mm feature film, Bust A Move (1992), about a bunch of kids who end up in a speak-easy and one of them gets shot. It’s a lost film for me now (I think the CFMDC in Toronto may have a print) but I ponied up every dollar I had to shoot it on weekends in 16mm on stock donated to me by Agfa (who are now long gone). I ran a tab at Deluxe Toronto of over $16,000 on finishing and mixing costs and screened the finished film to a director and producer I was working for parking cars on a Canadian TV show. I spent $28,000 I didn’t have to make this first film by using my rent money, saving up every penny I could and extending my credit cards to the absolute maximum. Did all of this expense, chutzpah and daring-do pay off?
The pro director and producer told me to burn the negative. Both of them told me the film was a piece of shit and I had no business thinking of being in the film industry and I should go back to my real job of parking cars. Did I tell you I was nearly $30 grand in debt?
I walked home, with my film cans under my arm, and found an invitation in the fax machine from The Montreal World Film Festival to screen the very same POS film in the Panorama Canada Section. I took my print to Montreal and screened the work for over a thousand people. I remember walking the square outside for the entire duration terrified of the public’s reception. When I returned, the audience very graciously asked me questions on how I made the film and shared how much they enjoyed the work. And then the crowd left and two men came forward to introduce themselves – and changed my life forever.
Producers Andre Link and John Dunning, infamous low-budget Canadian film producers in Montreal introduced themselves and gave me my first opportunity to make a movie for Jeff Sackman at C/FP (soon to be known as Lionsgate). They were impressed that I had made my debut film with ‘no money’ and, while they had no intention of distributing the work, they did invite me to make a kickboxing film for them.
If it weren’t for that ‘piece of shit’ debut self-financed feature, I wouldn’t have gotten into the movie business. If it wasn’t for that ‘piece of shit’, I wouldn’t be writing this today and looking back at an exhaustive body of work that spans over twenty years. And my debut film – well, it’s lost for a reason. It really wasn’t very good. But it was good enough to get me in the game making features and that’s the takeaway.
#Freedom means spending your own money to get in the game. And then ignore everyone who tells you that you can’t do it. If you want to be a filmmaker, you have to be able to pay for all of the tools, people, food, gas, props, wardrobe and locations you need. There is no magic moneyman out there willing to foot your expenses for your Vegas trip, right? Same thing with micro-filmmaking. Especially when you are getting started. #uptoyou
Cash in those stocks (LOL), sell that car, get rid of the silverware, stamp collection, Beanie Babies ™ — whatever you have of ANY intrinsic cash value — and pony up the dough to get started. You are going to have to pay your own way. Think like a crackhead or drug addict and sell off anything of value so you have enough money to bet on yourself. You believe in yourself, right? #whatcanIsell?
As of this writing crowd-funding is in vogue where artists can reach out for advance financing and support for their work but there are no white whale investors out there throwing money away to no-budget filmmakers. The majority of your crowd sourced funding will come from your family and friends. Nothing says, “People believe in me” like an Indiegogo or Seed & Spark or Kickstarter thats already at 50% of it’s goal (because you’ve contributed the first half). Stock that cash pond. Top up that contribution pool yourself and then ask others if you must. The more money, money already in your campaign, the more likely others will fund you. #seedthelake
There is no free trip for micro filmmakers and I had to pay back every dollar I spent on making that debut feature film, Bust A Move. Outside of the event screening in Montreal, it never saw another screen – but it got me in the game and started my movie career. So sell that book collection, pimp that jewelry, dump that gold bullion you’re saving for a rainy day and get some $$$ together – and get started filming.
How much are you willing to spend to finance your own future? If you’re not – you are not going to go very far with your own cinema! #payyourowntab