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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Wrap up, Thoughts on AFM

Well, we've been back now a few days from Santa Monica.  Resettling, unpacking, reassessing, etc. Like I mentioned in my last blog, the American Film Market has made quite clear the divide between artistry and commerciality. This remains at the foreground of my thoughts on filmmaking.  It's a hard divide to try to connect for beginning filmmakers who want to make good work, but also would like to make a living doing that work.  It's been particularly difficult with my first film which we took to AFM. It has a name star in it, but tries to splice two genres together: art house meets horror. It's too artsy for commercial buyers and festivals don't generally choose horror films. The horror genre seems to scare programmers of big festivals away. There is a long way to go before horror gets the proper respect it deserves as a valid and potentially artful genre. But nonetheless, this film still serves as a calling card and has begun dialogues with several industry folks out there.  That is what is crucial in this strange biz.  Relationships, relationships, relationships.

But I digress.  My point is, despite the emphasis I heard over and over again at AFM about creating the "package" (stars, good script written in a recognizable genre, credible producer and director), this concept of the right package hinders most of us out there.  I know so many colleagues that wait and wait and try to get certain actors interested in their script.  Ten years go by and they are still working on that "big film," trying to get actors attached in order to bring in money. I don't need to remind you life is short.  Making a film every ten years just won't work.  So, are films just nice shelves where actors are on display? Or can they just be works that we create because we love the story and the locations and if big name actors are attached, great, but if not, we make the damn film anyway?

Filmmakers have to just make films, and lower their expectations about what sort of return they can expect.  I would tell all filmmakers to just get out there, grab a camera, use your friends and family and make a damn movie, but the chances of that thing ever allowing you to make money back to make another film is pretty slim. Expect to make lots and lots of micro-to-no budget films before you can really start to think a bit bigger.  And once you think you can go bigger, realize you might just have to go back to thinking smaller.  By no means rack up credit card debt, sell organs, become a surrogate mother, to just make your film.  That's just plain stupidity.  Invest some of your money, not all of it, into your work.  Again, it's about being realistic in this extremely expensive high stake world. And don't look at dollar signs as a measurement of your success. 

And go to film markets!  Go. Listen. Learn.

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