How far off am I on the basic concepts?

It's been a long time since I have been a newb at something, and I am just beginning my research into film making.

In commercial photography there are basic guidelines that easy enough to follow through a project.

So my thought is to treat film making exactly as I would any other commercial project. What I don't know is if that is even a viable idea or not. Having spent many years dealing with advertising agencies, model agencies, equipment companies, city permit offices, emergency agencies (cops-fire), etc., it seems that the same process should work.

The big difference that I see is in step #4. For a photo shoot, the end distribution is determined before you begin, which makes funding/product/service placement easier. If the ad is running in a national magazine with a readership of four million, the company doing the placement has an expectation of return.

Of course a certain amount can depend on the team that you build, but that is to a lesser degree than distribution.

With a film there seems to be a lot on the back end that is not easy to calculate. You can't guarantee festivals (outside of the local yokel ones where you buy your way in), and there is no certainty of good distribution like that of a magazine.

So my question to you all is am I totally off in my way of thinking through the process or just slightly off? Am I missing a crucial part? Am I over thinking it?



Here's how it works in my thought process.

1. Write or buy a script that is basically mainstream.

2. Draw up the story boards.

3. Develop the team.

4. Bring in the product/service placements.

5. Find the locations, get the permit process started.

6. Get the agents to begin casting for actors.

7. Get the equipment necessary to pull the shoot off.

8. Primary filming.

9. Post production.

10. Distribute.
 
Hi, Cygnus. I'm much much more of a newb than you, so I cannot give any advice as others who are not have. But to just try to augment some positivity, let me add a few comments. As we all know, it's a very broad spectrum of folks who are now filmmaking. Compared to some of us backyard filmmakers and wannabe filmmakers, and that certainly includes me, it sounds to me like you're already well ahead of the curve. It's great that the experienced ITers have cautioned you to be sober about approaching filmmaking, and are giving you all kinds of help to modify your checklist. But I also feel like adding a heck yeah, go for it!

Well, it sounds like this is very much a business venture for you. I don't want you to lose money, of course. But like it's been said, you sound like you have a lot of business sense and experience already. If I understand right, you want your film to be essentially a big product spot for your existing (and perhaps additional?) clients, which is pretty much what you've been doing...only, minus the film part. Heck, why not?

And it sure sounds like your business experience has given you a headstart in the producer front.

You hear filmmakers talking about doing corporate films and commercials. I was just wondering, in the interests of taking small steps and learning the terrain before lungeing into a feature (not that you shouldn't lunge into a feature, but), might it be fruitful to first try your hands at a commercial or two...or a corporat film or two? Sounds like it would be right up your alley, really. Tackling that first might introduce you to those difficulties you've been cautioned about...get your feet a little wet.

Best of luck, and hope you enjoy it. =)
 
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And it sure sounds like your business experience has given you a headstart in the producer front.

You hear filmmakers talking about doing corporate films and commercials. I was just wondering, in the interests of taking small steps and learning the terrain before lungeing into a feature (not that you shouldn't lunge into a feature, but), might it be fruitful to first try your hands at a commercial or two...or a corporat film or two? Sounds like it would be right up your alley, really. Tackling that first might introduce you to those difficulties you've been cautioned about...get your feet a little wet.

When we first began discussing the idea two years ago, we talked about all the options available. While everyone in our studio loves what we do, we are pretty much at the top of our game. There isn't a whole lot of untapped markets for us to move into.

We talked about going into fashion, which is the pinnacle of photography. While I don't mind being a butthole 60% of the time, I don't wish to be one 100% of the time, so we decided not to go that route.

Video is taking over the high end photography business of commercial and fashion, so we are all learning how to do it. Camera's like the Red system are the future, so we either accept it or move onto something else.

Because we are already involved in a small part of commercials, we have worked with a few of the bigger players in that field. If we decided to go that route, we would become direct competitors of the people who pay a lot of our bills. That's not the best business decision.

As an example, if we brought you into the commercial photography world, taught you the ends and outs and then you decide to go out on your own and become our competitor, someone's feelings are going to get hurt.

On the other hand if you came up through the ranks on your own, you're not really our competitor. You don't know who we know, and more importantly, who knows who we are.

I learned many years ago that if you go around stepping on toes, you may very well be stepping on your own.

Currently we have no contacts in the film industry, so we can't hurt someone's feelings by entering into it.

You are right that this is a business decision for our studio. None of us are "artists" in the true sense of the word. We love to be creative when we can be, but in the end, it's about making money.
 
Over the years we have moved into larger and larger projects. There isn't really a way to learn how to do something other than to do it. You can read all the books that you want, but without the real life experience of doing it, you really won't know if it works.

When we wanted to go after some of the automotive market, we had to learn how to light a car that's driving along the highway or the bottom section of a double decker bridge before any of the ad agencies would think about hiring us to deliver those types of ads.

Same principle with making a movie. If we decide that we really want to move into making a film, we will make a film to make sure that we really can make a film. Start off simple, buy a script, put together a team, get the talent (probably regional actors from the play companies) do the filming, editing, and such. After than, do some local screenings and see if it really looks like a movie once it's up on the big screen. It's very possible that despite our best effort and intentions we're not able to do it.

I expect making a film is similar to photography in one major way. It takes more than wanting to and having nice equipment.

All I have today is a want to. I am going to spend a lot of time learning more before I suggest we make the move into film making.




If we decide to actually make a test film, I would have more than six people helping me to put the idea together.
That makes a lot of sense, and is it a feature? Are you to produce, direct?

Hire really experienced people as heads of department. The upm/line producer and 1st AD will organise and run the shoot for you, I would spend the most money on these people, and choose people who explain things to you during the interview. The ones who are generous with their knowledge are always better to work with.
 
We talked about going into fashion, which is the pinnacle of photography. While I don't mind being a butthole 60% of the time, I don't wish to be one 100% of the time, so we decided not to go that route.

Now that is intriguing. Because I'm clueless about that/those industries, I have to ask: what do you mean by being a butthole? Being a fashion photography agency or production house or whatever is being a butthole? Can you pleeeeease elaborate on that? Because I'm sure it would be very interesting and informative to hear about that (for me anyway).


*****

Makes a lot of sense. Sounds like you don't want to bite the hand that feeds. Sensible.

So sounds like it's in your best business interests to not make commercials? Cool. Well, stick around I.T. You'll find lots of mostly friendly advice and encouragement. =)
 
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That makes a lot of sense, and is it a feature? Are you to produce, direct?

Hire really experienced people as heads of department. The upm/line producer and 1st AD will organise and run the shoot for you, I would spend the most money on these people, and choose people who explain things to you during the interview. The ones who are generous with their knowledge are always better to work with.

Eventually I personally would like to direct. We have two photographers who are focused on the lighting, and one who wants to eventually write scripts. We all will continue to work on the producing (at least in the beginning). Putting together talent and money is what we do on a daily basis, that part won't change.

The plan (if we do this) is to hire experienced people to direct us in our goals. As an example, if I direct the test movie, an experienced director will be there on site to take over when needed, to show me how and why things need to be a certain way, etc.

That's how I do it when teaching another photographer. Let them go through once, then I show them how I would do it.

Of course it takes longer to do it this way, and costs more money, but it's harder to learn if you aren't hands on, at least for me.


Now that is intriguing. Because I'm clueless about that/those industries, I have to ask: what do you mean by being a butthole?

It's not limited to the photography business. To get to the top of any game there is a certain amount of ambition and ego that has to be involved.

When you start the climb to the top, other things get pushed off to the side. (That's the butthole part).

What most people find along the way is that they have no time for others who aren't working full time for the same goal. You have no time for people who make excuses. You have no time for people who are happy at the current level of success.

Trying to balance a complete workaholic attitude with those who aren't is really tough, and wears on you after a while.

Here is a recent example:

A local makeup artist wanted to do a "test" with us to show off her skills.

I set up the location and model, then the woman had to cancel the day of the shoot. (I don't remember the excuse).

A few days later she contacted me to reschedule.

I informed her that it wasn't going to happen, we don't have time for flakes.

In the real world, clients don't care why something doesn't get done, they only care that it didn't get done. It costs everyone money.

As much as I would like to be understanding about reasons/excuses, in the end it only means the job didn't get done.



The average person doesn't like to be so "black and white" in the thought process when people are involved.

In business, you don't have the ability to be "grey" too often.

Hopefully that answers your question..
 
Of course it takes longer to do it this way, and costs more money, but it's harder to learn if you aren't hands on, at least for me.

I think you're right. If you are not doing, you are not learning. With so many talented people around you already, would consider creating a collective while you are making test films? It's easy on the purse and a great way to work. It takes a lot more stamina but you will find the flakes drift away early. The figures you mentioned earlier, I wasn't sure if they were for the test film or the bona fide film. It was quite a high range for the test, I hope it was for the bona fide film. A collective approach might be the way to go. I produced seven short films that way before I ventured into a feature.
 
That makes sense.

As mentioned in the above reply, we do this all the time. In a couple of weeks we are shooting a shoe ad and we have five other vendors trying throw money into the shoot to get their products as part of the shoot.

Hi,
You're talking about product placement above for commercials and you say that you do this all the time. I'm just curious. How exactly do you get other vendor's interest in your projects? Is there some sort of already established network that you tap into? If so, how was this network created? And if not, would you please advise the rest of us and give us some tips on how to best go about approaching private organizations to be financially interested in our projects?

Thanks so much. It would truly be a great help for many of us neophytes if you could take some time and elaborate on some of this :)
Best,
Aveek
 
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