February 2009

P1 Pocket Projector

Now you can be your own cinema with your Iphone an empty room and this little device….

By AZADEH ENSHA
Published: February 18, 2009
New York Times

Miniprojectors are a dime a dozen these days, which is why most don’t stand out from the pack. Fortunately the same can’t be said about AAXA Technologies P1 Pico Projector

In addition to its six-ounce weight and 640-by-480-pixel resolution, the P1 offers one gigabyte of memory, a microSD slot and an onboard media player, which means the P1 can decode most media formats and play them straight from the projector.

Additional features include a built-in speaker, 1,000-to-1 contrast ratio and a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack. The battery, which can be replaced, lasts 45 to 60 minutes, depending on speaker use.

The AAXA P1 Pico Projector is available from the company’s online store (aaxatech.com) for $260. You can also buy a $15 AAXA P1 iPod A/V cable so you can adapt audio and video files to your Apple iPhone, iPod and iTouch.

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SAFE. The perfect 10.

I worked with Inspired Minority back in 2005-2006 during production of SPOON. The film it self is still in Post Production due to the fact that these film makers are doing it all Indy styles. As a matter of fact that’s the only style Inspired Minority does. So far at least.

Spoon was entirely self produced with Simon and Sharlto taking big risks to get the film made, including hiring a young bunch of enthusiastic film makers to make it. Although Spoon is still getting graded I ever so often have a stranger come up to me and ask me when the film will show becuase they were an extra in a scene somewhere and it made a great impression on them. That is the effect of these film makers.

South African Film Exchange (SAFE) is now Simons baby. We spoke of the idea shortly after finishing Spoon in a broad sence and I offered my two cents on why such an idea would work. It is a great idea to spreads the risk for investors and creates a sharing community amongst film makers.

Instead of trying to convince an investor to give you R1 milj. for a film and then hope to God that your plan works so that you can make the next, SAFE is about a community. A concept I am turning to more and more. The community would make 10 films, a group of investors would invest in 10 films. At the end of the day the community would need two of these films to be really sucesfull in order to make the return on say a R10 milj. investment.

With two workshops already done, one in Johannesburg and one in Cape Town, the Perfect Ten are making way. Besides looking for 10 scripts, they are also looking for acting talent, a sore point in Indy film making in South Africa. With hope to start pre-production on some of the films by the end of 2009, SAFE is looking for talented and inspired film makers to join in.

I hope to make at least one or two workshops this years and be part of this great vision. You can find SAFE on Facebook and join the group if you are interested. Here is a great opportunity for film makers to actuate their dream.

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Lance Weller: Head Truama

Lance Weller was one of those kids who was making home movies from the age of eight. With the advent of the internet and user video upload he swiftly became an indy-film maker showing, distributing and selling his films online. His biggest project, or most prolific was his film “Head Trauma”. The film was made completely independently and recouped investment through multiple distribution methods.

When trying to get his film to be a top hit on Google he started a bunch of sites and then cross linked them. He used interactive and mash-up techniques to broaden his audience. Finally the project was picked up and is now being turned into a TV series.

Through every project process he puts all the information back on his film maker site Workbook Project and so grows the knowledge base for other film makers. Watch the video on Workbook Project of Lance talking about Head Trauma and how it got made. It may inspire…

Push: Based on a Novel by Sapphire

Sometimes you find a film that comes along and and wipes away any pre-concieved ideas you may have had about it’s themes or its context or the preview you saw a couple of days ago… It oblitirates sentimentality and declares war on your ematioanl and mental status-quo. At Sundance this film for me was Push.

A beautiful film about the hard life of a 16year old obese girl named Claireece “Precious” Jones. She is pregnant with her second child from her father and ives with her abusive mother. Now as a summery you may wonder why I even went there. I agree, my thoughts back to South Africa and what goes on there and then trying to imagine a film amker getting through all the sentiment adn melodrama to the heart of the matter was difficult. None the less I went adn man was I surprised.

By the first ten minutes of any film I think a discerning film watcher will know whether the movie they are about to watch is actually just a thief of time or not.This movie was not. With incredibly touching and insightful performances by Mo’Nique, Mariah Carrey (who you wont recognize) and even Lenny Kravitz the film carries the difficult story of Claireece through one tragedy after the next never allowing you to break away and check the time!

At the Sundance Awards Push took the Audience award and Grand Jury Prize. Mo’Nique won the Jury Prize for acting for her portrayal of a mentally ill mother who both emotionally and physically imprisons her daughter.

Now that the fan-fare of the event is over and every one loves the movie what about a buyer? And here is where it get’s interesting. In the first week of February Lionsgate announces it’s buy of Push for $5.5 milj. A big deal for this independant film and also fantastic to think that the film will now get the exposure it deserves. However, three days later Lionsgate go to the LA courts to file a suite against the Weinstein’s saying they have no claim on the film. This action is very quickly followed, literally by hours, with the Weinsteins filling their own suit against Lionsgate and the films sales agent Cinetic Media saying that it had already made an offer to buy the film. So far these law suites have not been cleared and and no release date for Push has been set.

Lionsgate marketing team are still going forward regardless and say that the film is a difficult one to market due to the heavy themes and sad conclusions of the film. They do have some clout though with both Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry behind the film. If the litigation clears and Lionsgate do a good job at getting it out I have no doubt this film will be a success and thus cross the shores to South Africa where it really should be seen!

Launch time for ‘From Here to Awesome,’ a New Twist on the Film Festival

Three of the most thoughtful and high-energy DIY filmmakers around; Lance Weiler, M dot Strange, and Arin Crumley have launched a new kind of online festival.

Called ‘From Here to Awesome,’ they’re accepting submissions of full-length features and shorts right now. As with all festivals, the goal is to bring more attention to deserving work — and the FHTA crew plan to use the Internet to achieve that, rather than, say, inviting a couple thousand friends to a snowy ski town in Utah.

There are no submission fees, and the festival will connect the “top ten” filmmakers with scads of distribution opportunities. (Most of these are distribution opps that any filmmaker can take advantage of without being part of FHTA, but the festival has prizes — like free DVD replication of your movie, or free E&O insurance.) There will also be a “virtual conference” later this spring…. which seems like something to stay tuned for…

GoTo CinemaTech Blog Entry

Celtx - No more excuses

In 2007 during our initial Big Eyed Deer stint Sebastian found Celtx. Of course Sebastian found Celtx, he finds most cool things on the net, he also coined the phrases “Digital Native” and “Produktors” both terms I love and you will hear again…Point being, he found Celtx so that we could and write and schedule scripts online and thus not be office bound. The reality of an office free office is one I dream of. A complete organization that works independently only linked via internet. Why not I say! Wear what you like, smell if you want to, just as long as you log yourself in and make your deadlines!

Celtx is the answer for this quest. We still used the Beta vers.0997 and it was, I admit, slow, unresponsive and buggy. However we saw the potential of Celtx and it was free. Final draft cost $169, that’s about R2000 too much for me! We have since written a comic book, and two scripts using Celtx. The latest version is now vers. 1.0 and its great.

Celtx starts wherever you want to. You can start by inputting your characters, name, description, antagonist, protagonist etc. You can then build your characters into great detail including likes and dislikes, history and even hair colour. When you lock an actor you can then enter that information into your database. Essentially you write an entire script on Celtx which links to the production database you have assembled during this time. There are options to link media, upload files and bookmark web pages to your specific scripting project. If it’s true that it all starts with the script, and it is true, then this is the resource you would want to use in writing your script. Finally you can then link and share with other users and they in turn comment/review/add to your work.

Once the script is nailed you can do a production schedule, get various breakdowns and start to plan the shoot. The key here is that its all centralized and by adding your production team everyone is able to see information, add, comment and so on and so on. Celtx is allowing a producer and director to sit at opposite ends of the world and know exactly whats going on with their project. BRILLIANT!

You are able to download for Windows, Mac and Linux. It’s easy to use and gives you a complete new experience for writing scripts. Now there’s no more excuses of not having software. It’s here, it’s free it’s awesome so start writing!

Download Celtx Here

When the audience takes control

You will see one my first posts here is about1000 True Fans. D.I.Y. presents an insightful panel that takes a look into what is really needed to aggregate that 1000 keep them “live” and help them help you.

The future of independent film is not in content aggregation, which is quickly becoming commoditized, but in audience aggregation. Sustainability for filmmakers lies directly in the hands of the audience. Direct to audience models have shaken the core of the music industry. But the power of Kevin Kelly’s “1,000 true fans” seems good in theory but where do you start? What are the steps to building an audience around your work and most importantly how do you keep the conversation going? Discussion Leader: Saskia Wilson-Brown (Current TV) - Arin Crumley (Four Eyed Monsters) - Micki Krimmel (expert in social media and online community) - Alex Johnson (digital media strategist / filmmaker) - Lance Weiler (The Last Broadcast, Head Trauma)

Zuna Vision

This little piece of technology is fantastic. Scenario: You shoot a music video, complete it, and post it. After a while a corporate wants it or you see a great opportunity to make some money and include the brand in your video. Instead of having to re-shoot, you simply go to Zunavision and use their tech to upload and place the desired brand logo inside your completed video.

Now don’t imagine a badly pasted Windows Paint looking job, the technology allows the logo/pic to really blend with the video.
The company invoices job-to-job basis as every job has different needs.I cant imagine that it’s too costly as they are aiming this product at people who cant afford big post costs and want to make it a user base program. They want people to integrate their technology with websites and businesses.

Besides being able to stick labels on walls and surfaces you can also include videos inside your video. Zunavision also do clickable ads but say that their focus is logo overlays.
If any of this appeals to you visit ZunaVision

Oblong Industries

I went to a panel at Sundance where one of the founders of Oblong participated. These guys are techno film making futurists. The big thing they are trying to create is a complete interactive space for video editing. You watch your footage in front of you, then you stop, cut, drag and drop the footage you want to a screen below you all using your hands. Oh yes, your hands!

It is Minority Report in real life. What was great about John Underkoffler was that his instincts are guerrilla film making but on a whole new level of digital and technical understanding. With hedge fund money they are building this tech piece by piece. Some of it is already in use in government organizations (read military) or very big corporations.

Here’s what Oblong had to say at Sundance.

For us, what’s important is the style of work: real-time manipulation of media elements at a finer granularity than has previously been customary or, for the most part, possible; and a distinctly visceral, dynamic, and geometric mode of interaction that’s hugely intuitive because the incorporeal suddenly now reacts just like bits of the corporeal world always have. Also, it’s glasses-foggingly fun.

Read Full Article
OBLONG


oblong’s tamper system 1801011309 from john underkoffler on Vimeo.

Novel Movie Deals

With more novels being turned into films here’s a great article on what novelists have to say and what publishers are doing.

Chuck Palahniuk also says he’s happy just to sit back while the filmmakers do their work. Palahniuk was working as a mechanic when his 1996 novel “Fight Club” was made into a film directed by David Fincher. “I only quit my job … because my phone rang with personal calls all day, and I couldn’t get my real work done,” he said in an e-mail message. “On the day ‘Fight Club’ started filming, my agent sent dozens of white roses to the garage where I worked — that kind of botched my standing among the other mechanics.” In August, he traveled to New York to watch Clark Gregg shoot a film based on his novel “Choke.” “It was interesting to see everyone’s interpretation,” Palahniuk said. “Beyond that, I ate my weight in location catering and ogled during the nude scenes.”

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On Creative Commons

In a world in the future we will make a film using digital technology and upload it to our virtual platform. The Film will automagically be distributed to agreed cinemas, sites, networks and festivals on the agreed dates. The idea of a hard copy may dissapear completely. Your marketing will be 70% digital, and will seep into every digital social space your marketer can lay his grubby fingers on. Imagine….

With the advent of You-tube and since then multiple other video streaming apps, the idea of digital distribution for films, using digital technology in actually making films, P2P sharing, video mash-ups, social networks and finally making money I am finding myself looking more to Creative Commons. For those of you who have not heard of it or think its gone away, think again. Just to refresh your memory:

Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share. The organization has released several copyright licenses known as Creative Commons licenses. These licenses allow creators to communicate which rights they reserve, and which rights they waive for the benefit of other creators.

Now I know these commons don’t directly cross paths with what is known to be film rights. They also don’s contribute the same way that existing laws do regarding sales and distribution activities. However, this is a tool to get your film out there without anyone having to become a law breaking citizen. Imagine you have a scene in your film being mashed up by 20 different people who all post it, flog it on Facebook etc. These mash-ups and content grabbing vid’s retain the status of the originator but is accessible to many more eyes. You’ve just broadened your possible audience and created an alternative marketing tool by doing, well, nothing.

There is power in a digital community because there are numbers. With millions on the net daily and video content a big hitter you must consider that we cant keep the current way of making and distributing our films. If the way we do it changes so will the laws and business models have to change. The economics will remain because try as I may I seem to have to eat and then consequently sleep. I feel though that CC is an inroad into getting our films to an audience effortlessly through the digital medium.

Although I have not seen the CC license actually help get a film sold over the net, I think the digital revolution will need new rules.Liberté, égalité, fraternité is just another way of saying Creative Commons.

For more info:
Wikipedia
Creative Commons South Africa
DeProductions

Now Hollywood seems a safe investment

Is it not strange how being an independent film maker is always tough, regardless of what is going on in the world, like wheres the freekin break man! When the economy is up, there are other investing opportunities that are more likely to get investment, when you have a film made it’s a struggle to get it sold and so on and so on. When I read this it was finally a bit of good news.

More recently, the likes of Goldman Sachs, along with giant hedge funds, poured billions of dollars into groups of movies called slates. The idea was that investing in a dozen or more movies at once, with the return calculated in aggregate after all had been released, was a sure-fire way to invest wisely. In many cases, though, it wasn’t.

Now that the economic crisis has washed away much of that money, a new pickup line is starting to waft through the air in deal-making hot spots like the Sundance Film Festival, The New York Times’s Brooks Barnes writes. The new line is this: Wall Street, real estate, the art market — all of those other supposedly stable investment areas — are now such a mess that Hollywood is one of the safer places you can park money. Although the movie business has been hurt along with nearly every other industry, it’s proving far more resilient to recession than most.

Read Full Article

Fahrenheit, Fries, Fox, & Fairness: The New Political Documentary

A small piece from a great conversation between great film makers on the topic of documentary. Take your time as its quite a lengthy piece but it has great insights and stories about getting films made and more importantly getting them out!

This interest has really brought to the fore what people expect of documentary. And it’s triggered a conversation that I’ve been having more and more, and that I believe we’re going to have today: What is it that we expect from a documentary and of documentarians? What do we think that is? What a great place this is now to ask these four different people to think about that with us: Julia Bacha, who edited Control Room, Jeff Gibbs, producer and composer of Fahrenheit 9/11, Robert Greenwald, the director and producer of Outfoxed, Morgan Spurlock, the director of Super Size Me.

Read Full Panel

Political Documentary. Stick it to THE MAN.

Excerpt from article regrading the trend of the Political Documentary. Focused on the success of Micheal Moore, the article touches on the trend of this genre. Although written a couple of years ago it gives some statistics and views that may keep you inspired to make that movie that pisses off “The Man”!

Given its reception, “Fahrenheit” will redefine further the unwritten rules about the boxoffice potential of nonfiction films that long have governed documentaries. But bucking the system is nothing if not expected from Moore, who drew fire from conservatives in March 2003 for blasting President Bush during his Oscar acceptance speech for “Bowling for Columbine.” Some distribution executives say “Bowling,” formerly the highest-grossing nonfiction film with a $21.2 million domestic boxoffice take, paved the way for the politically themed docus now flooding theaters.

Maybe ‘Bowling for Columbine’ started it, but I think filmmakers are making films that are meant to make a political statement,” Roadside co-president Howard Cohen says. “I think (Moore) may have started a trend where people believe that if you have a point of view, you can make a documentary and air the argument — (and) if you make it in a way that also includes entertainment, you may even get further.”

Read full Article

BBC Storyville Editor, Nick Fraser.

An excerpt of an interview with BBC’s Storyville Editor Nick Fraser. I have attached a link to the full interview and also to the top 50 Documentary earners.Nick is an insightful exec and has introduced many new directors onto the documentary scene. Always looking for something fresh and entertaining he was part of the Why? Democracy series and many other very successful documentaries.
He also has been to South Africa a couple of times and loves Swazi Land.

BBC Four: Is this explosion of documentaries that are getting into cinemas a trend you think will continue, and is it something that the BBC and Storyville can be part of?

Nick Fraser: Opinion is divided over whether this is a blip in popular entertainment or something that is likely to continue. I’m cautiously saying that it’s a long-term trend. Like I said, it started in America. Documentaries are shown in European cinemas, but they are heavily subsidised and, with some exceptions, they haven’t got large audiences. The breakthroughs come with films like Michael Moore’s, which have started to perform very well outside America.

You’re starting to find more and more people interested in the possibility of showing documentaries in cinemas. I don’t think you’ll necessarily have as many high-scorers in American cinemas as there have been this year, but I think you can expect a more steady flow of more moderate successes.



Instead of taking $60 or $120 million they may take $10 or $15 million, or even over $5 million. In Britain it’s slower, but you’re already starting to see cinema chains getting used to the fact that among all the homogenised offerings in the multiplex it’s good to have a documentary here and there. And the documentaries can be quite odd because that’s what people like to go and see.

As far as the BBC goes, I think the BBC has always been a patron of documentaries. It commissions its own documentaries and has a huge archive of its past successes. I think the BBC should not only come to terms with this development but embrace it and encourage the production of ambitious documentaries that go first into cinemas, or indeed are shown in cinemas at the same time as they appear on the BBC. It seems to me that the BBC is prepared to do this and I’m very happy about that.

Read Full Interview
Top 50

14 Steps to Social Media Plan

This post is focused for business people but with a little imagination you can use these steps for your own film. Have a look, bookmark it and read it again when you actually have a film project going.

Many folks ask how to go about creating social media for their company. As a service to the industry, find here an open source version of a draft social media content development process.

This process is general enough to guide development of specific initiatives. It does not recommend blogging or video, per say. Rather the process allows content creation to move towards the market’s needs, and within the company’s resources. There are 14 steps in all:

1) Clearly articulate who your stakeholders are before you begin.

2) Clearly articulate the key issues these stakeholders care about as it relates to your offering. Use a bulleted list with no more than three or four words per item.

3) Begin by researching which, if any, top bloggers are discussing these issues. Use your bulleted list to search. The following are good places to start:

  • Technorati
  • Del.icio.us
  • Google Blogsearch
  • Ask.com Blogsearch

4) Inevitably, any substantial subject matter area has a back channel where top bloggers and influencers chat. For example, PR and marketing bloggers and tend to connect on Facebook, Twitter, and to some extent, LinkedIn. This back channel can yield powerful connections to highly influential minds who may not have blogs with top statistical ranking.

Read all Steps

Found link on Trulyfreefilm

How Hedge Funds Are Remaking Hollywood

Hedge funds are not always a place film makers look for money, plainly because its difficult to project the return of a film so why would someone bet on it if they have property (not so much any more!). However, if you are able to get your projections and equations just right then hedge-funders will look at it. As I found out reading about these two New Yorkians who got more than a little petty cash!

The flow of Wall Street cash into Hollywood in recent years, particularly the cash that comes from hedge funds, is “all too fast,” a veteran talent agent told The New York Observer. So fast that it is changing the culture of moviemaking, an article in the Observer’s new issue suggests. The story is the latest look at how hedge funds, which get most of their money from institutions and the wealthy, and other investment firms have moved deeper into film financing.

The Observer hangs its story on two 29-year-old producers who got their start in the movie business not by working their way up, but by raising money:

Rather than working the phones for a boss-zilla such as Scott Rudin, or in an agency mailroom, they went looking for money to fund a new company, Fortress Entertainment, the idea being that potential investors would invest relatively modest amounts into a fund that would support the development of multiple movie projects.

So they collected $20,000 to $30,000 from each of their individual investors and created American Film Capital Fund, which has raised more than $6 million. They financed the development of a new film, “Pride,” hiring writers and a director before bringing the movie to Lion’s Gate.

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THE BIZ Art meets crafty in the indie market

This is a creative industry and so when we’re in a tight spot we either use gaffer tape or get creative. Finding money creatively -

As banks increasingly opt out of funding, directors are using new ways to raise revenue to make movies.

Wanted: 1,700 brave investors each willing to shell out $30 for a credit as a co-executive producer on an independent movie about New York’s illegal graffiti street-art scene. The reward: striking a “blow for artistic freedom.”

That’s the pitch espoused by tyro filmmaker Alice.ia Carin in a full-page ad that ran recently in the Nation magazine, a fundraising attempt for her film “Don’t See This.” Carin also promised to send profits from the currently unproduced soundtrack, book and film to “help fund [New York City] public school programs in music and fine arts.”

By Rachel Abramowitz
November 23, 2008 in print edition E-1

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1000 True Fans

This post is for musicians and film makers alike. If you want to quit your job at the video store and live off the people that love your art here is a (relatively) simple equation to do so. The theory of a 1000 True Fans is fantastic. It gives us motivation to pay more attention to those people coming to our gigs and viewings and fostering a strong relationship with them. Ultimately they are the reason you can do what you do and they will be the reason that you do it. Hmmm, I should get those Thank You cards out and start writing!

The long tail is famously good news for two classes of people; a few lucky aggregators, such as Amazon and Netflix, and 6 billion consumers. Of those two, I think consumers earn the greater reward from the wealth hidden in infinite niches.

But the long tail is a decidedly mixed blessing for creators. Individual artists, producers, inventors and makers are overlooked in the equation. The long tail does not raise the sales of creators much, but it does add massive competition and endless downward pressure on prices. Unless artists become a large aggregator of other artist’s works, the long tail offers no path out of the quiet doldrums of minuscule sales.

Other than aim for a blockbuster hit, what can an artist do to escape the long tail?

One solution is to find 1,000 True Fans. While some artists have discovered this path without calling it that, I think it is worth trying to formalize. The gist of 1,000 True Fans can be stated simply:

A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author - in other words, anyone producing works of art - needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

By: Kevin Kelly Home Page

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