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Film Making

Film Making

If you have ever wanted the secrets to making your own film, here it is: Indy Film Insider Tips And Basics To Film Making. Have you ever wanted to make your own film? Is there a story you want to tell? You might even think that this is impossible. Studios make films, not the little guy. This is probably what you tell yourself. Do you watch films with more than a casual eye? You probably want to know how they were able to get perfect lighting in your favorite scene, or how to write a professional screenplay.

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Make A Movie With A Very Low Budget

This eBook gives you the tools that you need to make an indie film of your own, on a low budget and still make money! Most film schools and colleges teach only an academic version of what you need to know to make movies, but this information is rarely useful in real life. Outside of the classroom, you often will not be able to use the information that your professors gave you. That's why this eBook is the street-smart version of movie making, and gives you the tools that you need to make a movie on a low-budget, without having to make a low-quality movie. You don't have to make a bad movie You just have to learn how to manage money well! You can learn a little bit from professors and film school But you can learn huge amounts of information from independent filmmakers. These men and women are the way of the future for movies, and you can learn to make a film that will take the hearts of people and film festivals everywhere.

Make A Movie With A Very Low Budget Overview

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Also independents or independent films

Small, low-budget companies, mini-majors, or entities for financing, producing, and distributing films, i.e., Miramax, New Line Cinema, Polygram, working outside of the system or a major Hollywood studio. California-based Miramax, although the leader in the independent film movement in the early nineties, has become so powerful and successful that it has lost most of its independent studio status. Indie refers to a movie, director, distributor, or producer not associated with a major Hollywood film studio, often with groundbreaking subject matter designed for sophisticated audiences, and not necessarily produced with commercial success as the goal (like mainstream films). Example Indie films include Jim Jarmusch's Stranger Than Paradise (1984) and Kevin Smith's Clerks (1994). The cable TV Independent Film Channel showcases Indie films.

The Filmmakers Journey

The filmmaking process is long, arduous, and uncertain, but the more you can visualize the end of the journey, the easier it will be to head in the right direction. Carole describes the process as a road trip. If you were going on a trip somewhere you would certainly know your final destination, and the same thing applies to filmmakers. Filmmakers get so excited about their project but can get lost in the detail of making it happen so they're not always focused on the end goal. One of the first things you need ask yourself is where does this film belong On HBO Discovery Channel Court TV Then you know exactly how you want your film to run and what you want to do with it. I think that to materialize the film you need to visualize the film screening and see your name on the screen, the director's name, and editor's name, and see that with a lot of emotion and belief and feel the success and the pride. If you can visualize the audience, you can visualize the potential funders. Any...

How has winning Academy Awards changed filmmaking for you or has it

Why would winning an Academy Award change filmmaking As I said earlier, I look at every film as if it may be my last, and to have gotten two Academy Awards was extraordinary for me. And they were both films I had done all on my own Harlan County and American Dream. And it was totally difficult and such a struggle. And in a way it was also really wonderful for the people who were in the film. With Harlan County, people couldn't believe it. They were running all over eastern Kentucky screaming, We got an Academy Award And it's a really beautiful thing because otherwise, films like this might not be seen, so that helps to let people know that they exist and their stories exist.

How do you think DV will affect documentary filmmaking

I think it basically puts it into the hands of the masses. Almost every single thing we did as we made any other film, in terms of the digital filmmaking, I mean. The camera's little, but you're not going to make your movie unless you do narration over it, that type of movie unless you have professional sound equipment and that equipment remains the same size if you're shooting in film or if you're shooting in video. You have to do that same type of be-on-top-of-your-character and put the mics on, so that part of the process is very similar. You have to carry a lot less and it's certainly a lot less expensive. It gives people the ability to just go out and do it, which is great. It's a liberating thing.

How do you characterize yourself in terms of style as a filmmaker Or do you characterize yourself in a particular way

We've all been struggling for words and phrases for the odd approach to documentary filmmaking in which the filmmaker is not seeking to convey objective fact. Your objective is not to convey knowledge, it's not to proselytize, necessarily that's my point of view that you're after something different. And the closest phrase I've been able to come up with is, it's a kind of nonfiction essay filmmaking. It's very subjective. It owes something to cinema verite. But then I do have conversations with people from behind the camera, and I employ a highly subjective voice-over narration which, of course, cinema verite eschews. So I've just taken different things that have seemed to work for me and blended them into a style which also includes a kind of performance that sometimes I do on camera, where I talk to the camera at points that seem critical during the journey that the filmmaker's on. So it's a little bit of performance art, it's a little bit of classical cinema verite, it's a little...

How do you think thats affected you as a filmmaker

In the absence of having gone to film school it's hard to say how my filmmaking would be different. A lot of the documentary filmmakers I know didn't go to film school. Well, actually, that's not true. I know a few who did. I'm not overly concerned with formalistic methods. That may have to do with the fact that I wasn't ever taught them in any kind of formal way. I think my filmmaking has been much more influenced by stories themselves. And I feel like it's something I came to very organically, rather than with a lot of intellectual ideas about what cinema verite is or should be. And I think, therefore, the films that I make take part of a cinema verite style but they're certainly not strictly conforming to that. I'm happy to use what I feel works given the demands of the story and the charac-Liz Garbus. Photo courtesy Moxie Firecracker. ters. That's always

Are there any special challenges because youre a woman documentary filmmaker

When I first started film, there weren't very many women filmmakers and it was hard to find role models. Now there are women everywhere in filmmaking and that's very gratifying to see. I think women's stories are very suited to the filmmaking process, whether it's fiction or documentary, and it brings a certain sensitivity to it. It's wonderful that it's now appreciated and accepted. Recently, because I just worked with a woman, basically Penne functioned as a producer for Startup. Jehane and I shot together, and that was pretty interesting, for two women going into a situation where we were following all guys around. I think it worked to our advantage, actually, because we were not threatening to them. There were a lot of guys who were very alpha, very ambitious, so we were very unthreatening. I think it helped us get into a lot of the meetings and things that we did because we didn't look very threatening. We looked like two girls with a movie camera, so it worked to our advantage....

Do you have a particular style or mission in filmmaking Is documentary filmmaking for you a tool to effect change

As a director, do I have a style If I do, it's a combination of verite scenes with interviews. So it's not a purist Fred Wiseman approach. I use music, I use montages, I use interviews. But I generally find the most exciting filmmaking, the strongest scene, usually is a verite scene, and that other stuff works around to support it, to help out the narrative, to help the storytelling. Verite filmmaking is ultimately the centerpiece, the scenes that

Are there ethical boundaries you dont crossare interviews verboten is it okay to become part of the film as a filmmaker

This is something that has evolved from being something that had much more of a strict censure to it, and I think it not only applies to our kind of filmmaking but also to journalism in general, where there was a journalistic code where you didn't step over this line or that line. And now I think journalism is a bit more blurry. And I think in terms of our filmmaking I don't have any strong rules. At the same time, I am interested in giving people the real experience that I felt in some way. But I know that these films are constructions and works of the imagination, so to say they're like film truths can't be true just from the nature of what we're doing, so I don't like to get pigeonholed into it. But, in general, I don't need to have strong rules about what we do. I think what we find works with our style is to let a story play out itself and have the audience be able to experience what goes on. We try to use little or no narration if we can, because I think it draws you out of the...

Sexuality Outside Mainstream Filmmaking

The establishment of obscenity laws and censorship boards and the development of self-regulation within various film industries worked to circumscribe how much and what types of sexuality could be depicted in pictures produced for general entertainment. These attempts at regulation, though, also led to new types of marginalized filmmaking in various countries that dealt more explicitly with sex than was considered acceptable. The growth of an experimental cinema across Europe and the United States created a space for espousers of modernism and ''bohemian'' lifestyles (including feminism, free love, and homosexuality) to express themselves in films. French director Germaine Dulac's La souriante Madame Beudet (The Smiling Madame Beudet, 1922) depicted a woman's lack of sexual fulfillment in a conventional middle-class heterosexual marriage. Un chien andalou (An Andalusian Dog, 1929, France), by Salvador Dali and Luis Bufiuel, presented a Surrealist portrayal of the anarchic energy...

How did you get started in documentary filmmaking

I've had a very circuitous route to becoming a filmmaker. I feel I fell into documentary filmmaking by accident, but I'm thrilled that I did. And as I get older, I feel more in tune spiritually with what people are supposed to be doing, so I clearly feel now I should be doing this, and doing a very specific kind of documentary. At the time, it felt like happenstance, but now, I see that certain doors open at the right time. And when a door opens I went over to the Maysles because I thought this was my opportunity to get into the film business, but even at that point I didn't necessarily want to be a documentary filmmaker. They hired me to become their executive producer for commercials, and I spent five years there developing their TV commercial business, and I used it as my documentary film school and learned all that I could. Made a couple of short films, which did very well, which encouraged me. And that's where I met Bruce Sinofsky he was an editor for the Maysles. Bruce had...

The Filmmakers Responsibility

Having a distributor is rather like having an agent. While someone is in your corner to help market and distribute your film, it doesn't mean you can sit back and neglect it yourself. They call filmmaking the War of Art for a reason, adds Ruben. That phrase is poignant for me because art is about expression of one's self, but it's also about communication. I think a lot of filmmakers get pigeonholed into focusing on the expressive part. Filmmakers have to take it upon themselves to promote their films and make sure that they are getting festival exposure or television or home video exposure or

Tell me about editing To what extent do you know what your film is going to be when you start editing or do you find

The editing process, to me, is everything. That's the equivalent to the script process, where you discover things you may not have noticed before. The key to verite filmmaking is not having any preconceived notions about your subject. As a human being you can't help but have some preconceived ideas, but you have to be open to changing those ideas. The most dramatic example would be going down to make Paradise Lost thinking that we were making a film about guilty teenagers and disaffected youth, and exploring how three teenagers could be so rotten as to slaughter three eight-year-old boys, and to discover the possibility that, in fact, it just wasn't adding up, and ultimately it's a film about the miscarriage of justice. That type of openness to your subject matter on every level is critical to this type of filmmaking, because the films are very much about the process of discovery. For me, anyway, the films are as much about the journey that we take and reporting the emotions of the...

The Filmmaker Distributor Relationship

A distributor, like your talent, crew, agent, manager, attorney, accountant, or PR rep, is invested in the success of your projects and should be considered an integral part of the team. Assuming a good experience, filmmakers typically return to the same distributor on future projects. Like any other relationship in the filmmaking process, relationships and trust are earned over time.

Further Note on Independent Films

Independent' is a term which has often been applied particularly to American films since the 1960s, as in 'US Independents'. But what does 'independent' mean in the cinema We may recall that the early years of American film-making were dominated by the Motion Picture Patents Company, and it was only when the MPPC's activities were judged illegal in 1915 that other struggling companies became successful. These fledgling companies included Warner Brothers and Paramount, who were at the time the 'independents' of American cinema. Some 50 years later, as the studio system had to find ways to adapt to the 1948 antitrust legislation, changing lifestyles and television competition, increasing numbers of films were produced by 'independent' companies companies set up, sometimes by maverick filmmakers, for the production of a single film such companies hired facilities from the studios but were otherwise financially independent. However, as successful production companies were established, and...

Understanding Filmmaking

I am not a filmmaker, so there are many things about the making of films that I do not understand. People who are filmmakers, whether they are seasoned professionals or novices learning their craft, try to keep abreast of all of the exciting technological advances in fact, it becomes a life-long pursuit. As an actor, you are concerned more with the execution and development of your own acting, rather than how it will be photographed. However, there is much information that is useful and will help you to be better equipped for the experiences and procedures that you encounter as you begin to work in front of the camera. I will try to break down some of the experiences in different types of filmmaking, from the student film to the Hollywood movie, to help < you prepare more efficiently and to fit into the environment around you. u

If you were to talk about your style as a nonfiction filmmaker how would you describe that

I think probably my style is cinema verite. I learned from the Maysles. But I think, also, it depends on what you're doing, and I think different films require different sensibilities. For this film I did called Wild Man Blues, which was a film about Woody Allen on a jazz tour, that was definitely verite. We tried to make ourselves guerilla filmmakers. We put a wireless mic on Woody and Soon-Yi and let them run. But I think some things like the Mike Tyson film that I did couldn't be verite because Mike Tyson was in jail. We were able to film in somewhat of a verite style the things around him. But it was much different. So I think it depends on what the content is. I think you should never pigeonhole yourself it should be the most important thing to allow people to be who they are and to not put a filmmaker's agenda into it.

Filmmaking Is A Business

But if you're like most filmmakers, you would like the possibility of selling or licensing your film some day.Whether you hope to see your film in the theaters, on cable TV, or on DVDs distributed worldwide, you'd like some return on your financial investment. It should come as no surprise then that if you want your film to make money, you need to treat your production as a business. Learn what kinds of insurance you need to have in place before making your movie. (See Insurance, p. 37.) Decide how to finance your film and watch out for common financing traps. (See Financing Your Movie, p. 41.)

But that just isnt a way that works for you as a filmmaker correct

Well, it worked for me in the beginning. What happened is that the filmmakers in the early days . . . I was such a purist, that I believed what you shoot, you edit. And at KQED, at one time I was head of the whole film department, and that was my rule you shoot, you edit. So even the newspeo-ple worked four days a week they finished their filming by 5 00 or 4 30, they made arrangements with the lab, they had something to eat while the lab processed the film, they took it to the station, they watched it with the reporter, they striped the sound at the same time, and they edited it. They learned to shoot in such a way that it took four or five cuts to make the news package. So I came from that school, that you had to go all the way. And it improved our filming, it improved our shooting, because we knew that it had to be edited. So I think it had a big effect on the way I work.

How did you expand your involvement in filmmaking after you got together with Irving

And then Irving encouraged me to get together with other women filmmakers. At the same time I had been moving towards feminism and I eventually ended up as a women's studies teacher. The very first film that I made was called Self Health, and it was about how to do your own cervical exam. It was a very interesting process for me because I found that you can think you're working with feminists, and you can encounter the same problems that you have if you're working with a male crew. I thought we could do this this was a very egalitarian way and it didn't work out. But it worked out enough to get me into the area of making movies. And that film went a long way. It actually was translated into Japanese, won a number of prizes. It was a very much in-your-face film, but it was a good time for that because it was right in the middle of the women's health movement. Women were learning how to do their own cervical exams, learning what our bodies were about, so that was a really good...

Sprawling Suburb Superb For Filmmaking

The sixties and seventies find L.A. to be a tableau upon which young filmmakers shoot their films. The backdrop of this sprawling suburb-like city is used to establish a very American Southwest look of definitive All-American cinema. So, here, now, are the films of the sixties and seventies that feature directors and their creatively complicated industry lives. David Holzman's Diary (Paradigm, 1967) Writer L. M. Kit Carson stars as a young filmmaker who takes life very seriously. So seriously that he turns his camera inward to shoot his own life in an early example of cinema verite. Some viewers have watched this piece and called it self-indulgent, angst-ridden, and boring, especially when the lead is going through a romantic breakup. However, it is important to understand that this is one of the first fake documentaries and it is meant to be a mockery of student films. This film was produced on a very low budget and was considered underground for its time. (Think of Blair Witch...

Is there a type of animal thats better suited for this kind of filmmaking than others or what qualities would you say

When I go to Double Take and other documentary venues and look at my colleagues, what I love is that we're so different. We're also, I'm sorry to say, a little suspicious because we're in such a difficult world, right, that sometimes I think people think that others are eating out of their dish. And I've had filmmakers come up to me at parties drunk and accuse me of taking the money that would have gone to them if I weren't already the Ken Burns. Which, of course, is nonsense. I work extremely hard. All that we do is extremely delicate and fragile. I think it's a kind of courage that everyone seems to have as I look across the whole wide spectrum of my colleagues, so different, male and female, black and white, straight and gay. Doing experimental, doing more classical constructions, everybody's struggling to do it right and do it well with motivations that don't begin and end with money. That involved in it is a certain amount of courage and a...

How did you get involved in documentary filmmaking

I started making documentaries in college. I don't really think I knew then that I wanted to be a documentary filmmaker, but I knew it was something I really enjoyed. Actually, that's not true. I made my first documentary when I was a senior in high school. I made a documentary of my last week as a senior. I took around a video camera, and I interviewed everybody. It was actually very funny because David Grubin, a well-respected PBS-type filmmaker his daughter was a very good friend of mine, and she was in my documentary. So we had a little screening of it. I did a little incamera edit, the most basic thing. And he lauded me with praise and said, This is a great documentary. You have a future here. Which was very funny. Which I didn't remember until much later when I met David in a more professional context. And then he said, I told you you were going to be a documentary filmmaker. That was my first verite documentary. And then I made a documentary when I was in college, or I made a...

How would you characterize yourself as a documentary director Is there a mission in your filmmaking

I think I wanted it to be as accessible as possible to as big an audience as possible and to find a way of holding an audience. And I always thought that that was part of the riddle that it was important to be able to do that. I suppose I probably started off as a more overtly political filmmaker, but I feel that my films are all to do with that political situation insofar as that reflects the society we're in, and often, the main dimensions and battle lines in a sense, even the contradiction. I think a work, to have any kind of real longevity, often needs to have that dimension to it as a sort of outer boundary it needs to have that resonance. I think, at their

Would you consider yourself a cinema verit filmmaker And what does that mean to you

Well, I think the Maysles approach, at least in principal, is that there's a line you don't cross. And I, frankly, don't believe in that line. I believe that's a line that's in the sand and it should be crossed when it's necessary. I mean, I do have relationships with people that I've filmed over the years that went beyond just the filming period. I'm still very good friends with people up in Munnsville, who I did Brother's Keeper with, and the people with Paradise Lost. This film I'm just finishing now on Sun Records, I'm very good friends with a lot of people that I've met there. And I think that if you're a good filmmaker you film everything, you get close to people, you dump that baggage of not being part of people's lives on a personal level. And then when you get into the editing room, you just have to be able to put on blinders when it comes to your feelings towards people, so you don't let that impact how you edit your film. So I am a verit filmmaker. I'm not a lover of...

Filmmakers Guide To Intellectual Property

This section will provide you with a general background on those areas of intellectual property law that most impact the filmmaking process. Here you will find resources to help your understanding of the following This section is not intended to be an exhaustive treatment of intellectual property (IP) law. It is intended to highlight those areas of IP law most important to filmmakers. Copyright, trademark, rights of publicity, and idea protection laws will be examined from the viewpoint of how they impact the filmmaker's ability to make and protect his or her movie. Limited Scope. Those areas of IP law which don't directly apply to the filmmaking process, such as patent, trade secret, and trademark registration, will not be examined. Limited Jurisdiction. Only United States laws are discussed in this book. It is critical to keep in mind, especially when dealing with intellectual property, that the laws of other countries may differ significantly from those of the United States....

What is the difference between a Hollywood film and an independent film

The distinction between the Hollywood and independent film is important, though by the late 1990s, a clear and consistent definition of the latter became problematic. Traditionally, an independent film was a project that was financed, developed, and completed without involvement from any major Hollywood studio. However, by the year 2000, as one critic notes, tjhe corporate complexity of the contemporary entertainment industry is such that many independent companies are, in fact, owned by the majors. For example, Miramax is part of the Disney empire Fine Line and New Line are owned by Time-Warner October Films has been absorbed by Universal MCA.'' 2 The independent film whether a short film, feature, or documentary has always been an avenue where black directors could find expression and gain experience. With its own history, which had a parallel development to the Hollywood industry, independent filmmaking provided black directors a viable storytelling medium, but to a smaller...

On Commercial Filmmaking

I had to decide whether or not I was going to cross the line and become a commercial filmmaker. That is, I would use other people's money to make my movies, and then I would actually be paid and could make a living. It wasn't an obvious transition for me, because I wasn't sure that that's really what I wanted to do. I spent a year in the south of France, very close to the town of Cannes, where the Cannes Film Festival is held each May. After spending time in this small town with friends, writing and sculpting and feeling that I would write my novel there, I was attracted by the magnet of the Cannes Film Festival. I thought I should go down there and check out what that was. I knew that not only was it a very famous film festival but also was a very famous film marketplace. So, if you're interested in film commerce, that's the place to get massive exposure. I went to Cannes, and I was absolutely horrified. It was such hype and such an erotic and intense activity with Rolls-Royces and...

What excites you about documentary filmmaking

Part of it is that I'm fascinated by environments and places that I don't normally frequent. We've always loved subcultures and things like that. I'm always interested in the human condition, so I'm always fascinated to live, in some ways, through other people's experiences. I've never been on trial for murder and lived in a trailer park and all those things, but I am fascinated by the human condition and love spending time with people who walk in different circles. So I get to hang out in the studio with Paul McCartney, and I get to hang out with Damien's family, and I get to take Delbert out for his first Chinese food in Munnsville. That whole experience, I found incredibly rewarding almost as much as the filmmaking itself is the life experience that I have in making it. I suppose it's like a sociologist and anthropologist, in that you're almost put into a time zone. Who thinks about being in Arkansas and covering a murder case, or hanging out with Plant and Page in a studio in...

Experiential Filmmaking Bringing Us into the Story

Sinofsky began his filmmaking career at Maysles Films, where he met Joe Berlinger. The two collaborated on a documentary short, Outrageous Taxi Stories (1989), and thus began their filmmaking partnership. Brother's Keeper (1992) was their first feature-length documentary endeavor, and it became a much-lauded film and one of the most successful self-distributed documentaries at that time. Their next coproduction, Paradise Lost The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996), began as a chronicling of a triple murder allegedly by three Midwestern small-town teens, but became more an exploration of stereotyping and local mentality. Paradise Lost 2 Revelations, their follow-up film, was a look at the effect of a film on that situation and an examination of the execution or misexecution of justice. Most recently, Sinofsky helmed a project for PBS's American Masters series on Sun Records. Rockin' Good Night is part documentary and part performance film, looking at the history, present, and...

Evolution of pace in filmmaking

Eisenstein opened the door on the issue of pace and a wide variety of filmmakers walked through that door. King Vidor effectively used pace to build an aesthetic tension in the march through the woods sequence in The Big Parade. Walter Ruttmann used pace to capture the energy of the city in Berlin Symphony of a Great City. And Frank Capra used pace to energize his dialogue-heavy narrative in You Can't Take it With You. The great leaps forward, however, would await the 1950s. In that decade, with Akira Kurosawa's dynamic use of pace in Rashomon together with Alfred Hitchcock's set pieces in The Man Who Knew Too Much and, in 1960, Psycho new pathways emerged, suggesting that pace could be used for more diverse purposes. Perhaps no filmmaker best encapsulated both of these agendas excitement and insight as did Oliver Stone in his 20 years of work as a director, from Salvador through Natural Born Killers. Stone, in his use of pace, seems to be the direct descendant of Sergei Eisenstein by...

How did you get into filmmaking and how did you get into history

Well, those are really two separate and distinct questions. I can't remember a time when I didn't want to be a filmmaker. From early childhood, I was so caught by movies and their power over me and other lives. My father had a fairly strict curfew but it was always relaxed and completely forgiven if there was an opportunity to stay up late and watch an old feature film on the late show, even on a school night. He took me to film festivals, and I went off to college absolutely convinced that I wanted to be the next John Ford or Alfred Hitchcock or Howard Hawks or whomever, My own interest in history is completely untrained and untutored, but it's sort of like an artist who chooses to work in still lifes as opposed to landscapes, or chooses to work with oil paint instead of watercolors. Something happened towards the end of my college experience I had an opportunity to practice filmmaking on a historical subject, and all the bells and whistles went off. It was love at first sight. And...

How did you get into filmmaking

I came somewhat late to the profession. I came to it as a student who was not a declared filmmaker. I was an undergraduate at Brown and was supposedly writing a thesis, but during my senior year I became very interested in what was going on at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), which is adjacent to the Brown campus. There I saw people my own age eighteen, nineteen, twenty making movies, and that was a very engaging idea to me. I'd never seen the process before, of editing and dealing with film stock, making decisions about sequencing of scenes and length and duration of shots and how the finished films worked. I couldn't take courses in filmmaking there because RISD students got priority. But I did take still photography and then watched over their shoulders as they edited the films and saw these films being made from start to finish. a film director, especially a documentary filmmaker, was an obscure thing to aspire to at that time. Back then, there wasn't the plethora of film...

Photographer Filmmaker Artist Auteur

So what kind of film director was Van der Keuken Although it may seem as if the still photographer and the filmmaker were forever competing with each other, he knew how to catch the instant (the gift of the photographer), while making us feel how this instant belonged in a continuum, a movement, a process. Consider a still that he took on holiday in Spain (Sierra Terade, Andalusia 2000), and which he captioned for his monthly picture column (From the Life of a Small Self-Employed), a task he fulfilled for nearly thirty years for the film magazine Skrien. It shows a bend in the road, cut into rocks and is taken from the slope of a mountain. The caption reads The spirit of Hitchcock has just passed and disappeared around the corner. But in his absence he still commands the scene. Homage to a master of montage from another master of montage, Van der Keuken sees a view and sees the movement in it, he sees a view and sees the fiction in it. It was perhaps this permanent and fruitful...

Funding Opportunities for Filmmakers

Creative filmmakers and documentary makers often rely on grants and other sources of funding for their projects. Many grants require nonprofit status. It is hard to survive as a nonprofit, so some production companies develop nonprofit subsidiaries in order to qualify for grants. For example, Leslie Kussman of Aquarius Productions in Medfield, Massachusetts, created Solstice Films, an organization separate from her for-profit company that allows her to qualify as a nonprofit for documentary grants. Fortunately, nonprofit status isn't always necessary and many other funding opportunities exist for filmmakers. One such funding source is presided over by Carole Dean the Roy W. Dean Grants, an in-kind services grant for film and documentary makers from around the globe, so named to honor her late father. In addition to supervising the grant and running her production company, Carole is author of The Art of Funding Your Film and hosts many workshops on the topic. She is the ultimate guru...

How did you get into filmmaking and in particular documentaries

With filmmaking, Irving and I are truly partners. He was a filmmaker before I was. When we got together I had just gotten my degree in poetry writing from San Francisco State. So I was an artist, and I've always felt that that's what I was, from the time that I was a small child. But I didn't know a lot about movies, and I actually didn't know a lot about visual arts. So after I finished with my poetry, I felt that I really needed to do something else with my poetry, which would be visual, like putting it on the wall in some way. I began working in a program at San Francisco State called the Pegasus Program, which was poetry in schools. It involved having kids write to imagery and it was done with big projectors on the walls so the images would be gigantic. That was a way for me to enter into the visual world. And I was such a reader. Readers, although we range far, are also blocked in a lot of ways because we don't look at things. I actually learned to look at things after I got...

The Wonderful World of Filmmaking

The wonderful thing about moviemaking is that it has all these sequences that flow into each other but are very unlike each other. Writing is the first thing and is the primal thing. Then you go into preproduction, and that's a different thing. You go into casting, and that's a different thing. Shooting is its own little world. Editing is almost like writing in that it's sort of contemplative, and it's not quite the time pressure normally that you have, except you have other people around, and there's technology involved. And then, the sound mix, which is perhaps the least understood aspect of filmmaking. All of those elements are critically important, and they all have different tones and modes. You're in a completely different mode for each of them. I love them all, and they are all in their own way equally important, because you can make or break a film at any one of those stages.

Substitution And Filmmaking

Substitution can and should be used at all phases of your work on a character. It should be called upon as needed when you don't understand what you are doing or cannot find the spark that you need to ignite a difficult scene. In film acting, where the scene will be deconstructed into many different angels and camera takes, the fuel you need for doing one shot, where you are acting with other actors in the scene, is very different from the fuel you need to do a close-up reaction shot or monologue, as you stand alone talking only to the camera. Actors are never told beforehand what the coverage is going to be on a scene. (Coverage is the term used for how a scene will be photographed, i.e., how many shots, from what angles, and of whom.) I am not sure why this is. I suppose it's because many times, the director doesn't know how he is going to shoot it himself until shortly before he does it. Even though the shots may have been planned, the nature of good filmmaking is allowing the...

As a documentary filmmaker you are chronicling their lives versus you are a part of their lives Is there a boundary

In certain ways, it's a case-by-case decision. I think that any documentary filmmaker who tells you that there's a hard and fast line where you have to keep a distance, is probably not making the same kind of film that I am. There's a financial thing. If you're working with people who are poor, I think that there has to be a line in terms of money. I will take my subject out to eat. I will buy my subject a birthday present. If somebody comes and tries to hit me up for 500 because they can't pay their rent, there's a line you have to draw there because the relationship can become very distorted by money. And that's very tough, because you have money and they have none in many situations. And if you can give them 50 and their electricity isn't turned off, that's an extremely tempting thing to do, to help somebody you care about. But I do find that that's a line you have to hold firm with. I mean, with kids, I find if you work it out at the beginning of the process, you can give them...

Archival Filmmaking

Say archival films and most people think of Ken Burns and The Civil War. While this is a great example of archival filmmaking, there are plenty of other films that use archival (or simply stock or third-party) footage and stills. Used specifically, archival and stock both refer to material available from public or private archives and or commercial vendors. Used more generally, however, these words (and the term third-party) describe any imagery the filmmakers didn't create themselves. Home movies, amateur videos, surveillance tapes, and footage shot for public relations, education or training, for example, might generally be described as stock footage. Third-party footage (and sound) shows up in a wide range of documentaries. Grizzly Man wouldn't have been possible without the footage created by Timothy Treadwell himself. Enron includes pivotal audio recordings of Enron traders manipulating the power grid in California, sound the filmmakers discovered in the archives of a power...

Selling Your Film

Distribution is the act of licensing the film to exhibitors, broadcasters, and other parties in exchange for a fee. It is the Holy Grail for filmmakers without distribution, a film will not make money. Of course, even with a distribution deal, a film might not make money, but if the distributor does its job, at least the film will be seen by prospective licensors and buyers.These licensors and buyers range from theatrical exhibitors, network television broadcasters and cable casters, to airlines and military bases, to retail stores that sell DVDs.

Financing Your Movie

This is, without a doubt, the single trickiest part of making a movie. Unless you're a trust fund baby or a Hollywood movie star, finding the money to make your film will probably be the biggest barrier between you and the realization of your creative vision. If ownership of the final project is not critical, filmmakers may get their films made by co-production agreements or by selling the project to a third party, such as a studio. Co-production agreements. Co-production agreements allow filmmakers to partner up with another entity, usually a production company with studio facilities and or equipment. In exchange for providing production services and or studio facilities to the filmmaker, the co-producer receives an ownership position in the film itself. Depending upon the deal, that co-producer may own equity in the filmmakers company, a portion of the copyright in the film, a percentage of the profits of the film, or most likely, some combination thereof. Selling...

Filmmaking In Quebec

In 1956, the National Film Board moved its head office from Ottawa, the nation's capital, to Montreal. The NFB's French Unit grew more active and included such filmmakers as Michel Brault (b. 1928), Gilles Carle, Fernand Dansereau (b. 1928), Jacques Godbout (b. 1933), Gilles Groulx (1931-1994), Claude Jutra (1930-1986), and Jean-Pierre Lefebvre (b. 1941), all of whom would emerge as important auteurs during the blossoming of Quebecois cinema in the 1960s. In earlier NFB films such as Terre de nois a eux (Alexis Tremblay, Habitant 1943 ), French Canadians were depicted as happy, picturesque farmers working contentedly in pastoral beauty an image that by the 1960s Quebecois filmmakers would rebel against in favor of more authentic images of themselves. Quebecois filmmakers at the NFB seized upon the accessibility of the new portable equipment to make films about Quebec's distinctive culture. For example, Carle and Brault (who had worked on Jean Rouch's seminal cin ma v rit documentary...

New Hope The Birth Of The New American Independent Cinema

Moving out of the theatrical and to the home video market, independent filmmaking was all but dead in the late 1970s. The repealing of tax credits, and especially the industry's obsession with the production of blockbusters, which made almost all newcomers to independent production ally themselves to a major distributor in order to finance expensive productions with the potential for handsome payoffs, made the practice of independent production (production with no ties to the majors) a virtual impossibility.48 One of the effects of this shift was the majors' gradual closing of doors to creative filmmakers or to filmmakers with dissenting political views, in short the individuals who had started the Hollywood Renaissance. Coppola, Scorsese, Schrader, Bogdanovich, Hopper and Friedkin among others gradually became marginal filmmakers in the 1980s. The final straw had come in 1980 when Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate, a 44 million (production and marketing costs) epic that is often...

From Independent To Specialty Cinema

Throughout the decades of the twentieth century the discourse of American independent cinema has expanded and contracted to include a wide variety of production and distribution practices, a diverse array of aesthetic strategies and an immense range of films from the top-rank films distributed mainly by United Artists in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s to the Poverty Row quickies from the high-budget independent films of the hyphenate filmmakers of the 1950s and 1960s to the cheaply produced youth-oriented genre films of the same period from the New Hollywood films of the 1970s to the exploitation fare of companies like AIP and Crown from the new political filmmaking of the late 1970s to the minimajors and major independents of the 1980s to the outburst of low-budget filmmaking in the 1990s and 2000s, which arguably reached its peak with the release of Tarnation (Caouette, 2004), the Sundance sensation of 2004, which allegedly cost just 218 to produce. Despite the existence of commercial...

First Weekor Learning How To Swim By Diving In The Deep

There's an old saying Men plan God laughs. There is no pursuit in which this proves to be more true than in filmmaking. In a house located out in the Howard Beach section of Queens, we had built three different apartment sets Michael's living room and bedroom, Lila's room, and Sherry's room. In light

The Majors And The Lowbudget Exploitation Market

Although the majors did not desert their core adult audience, they nevertheless claimed more than substantial profits from the youth market until the end of the 1960s. For that reason, it was impossible for the low-budget independent market to sustain more than a handful of distributors, which partly explains why only one such company, American International Pictures, made a name for itself and is best remembered as the main representative of exploitation filmmaking that targeted teenage audience during the period.

Turning a negative into a positive

Released in 1964, this documentary cleverly repackaged an event that had played a defining role in international perceptions of race in America in the late 1950s into an American success story. The film not only won an Oscar, but was translated into more than a dozen languages and distributed in almost 100 countries. Nine from Little Rock was produced during a halcyon period for documentary filmmaking at the USIA, and capped US government efforts to manage foreigners' perceptions of the race issue during the Cold War. What follows is an analysis of the political, diplomatic and cultural contexts that shaped the creation and reception of Nine from Little Rock, together with an evaluation of the USIA's overall contribution to the battle of film images fought during the Cold War.

Sensation and selfflagellation

Today, Hearts and Minds is an accepted masterpiece of political documentary filmmaking, and is widely regarded as the definitive American documentary about the war in Vietnam. Recent international events, most notably America's troubled war in Iraq, have brought it renewed attention and plaudits. Bert Schneider, for one, was convinced his film had had a significant political impact. Tellingly however, his only evidence for this were the hundreds of peace activists who had informed him how Hearts and Minds had shed new light on the Vietnam War and had consequently rekindled their concern about the conflict's roots. If the movie really had stirred Americans into revising their views on US foreign policy, we might have expected this to translate into significant interest in Hearts and Minds overseas. (This was one of the explanations for Fahrenheit 9 11's international success, for instance.)44 Yet when it was released in one Canadian city Kingston, Ontario in 1976, fewer than 400 people...

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Filmmaking and Other Arts 233 i first met Marina Goldovskaya during the period of perestroika in the Soviet Union when I was part of a delegation of scholars sent to Moscow to negotiate formal cultural relations between our two countries in the field of film studies. Here was a filmmaker whose courageous documentary films on past abuses of power were hailed as nothing less than events of nationwide importance. She was a woman who had climbed to the top of her field in a maledominated television industry, and a film artist who wrote scholarly books embodying the much-vaunted but seldom-achieved ideal of uniting theory and practice. And, most of all, I met a gracious, generous, and articulate individual whose commitments and humanistic sensibilities came from the heart. I knew then that I desperately wanted Marina to come to ucla to build our documentary program, to teach our students, and especially to serve as a role model for what it means to be an engaged filmmaker. In retrospect I...

Independents Before The Formation Of The Studios

As we shall see later in this chapter, this particularly oppressive trade practice kept films made and distributed outside the studios from reaching specific cinemas and, to a certain extent, defined the parameters of independent filmmaking during the 1928-48 period. Block booking, moreover, provided the spark for another movement of resistance to Zukor's attempt towards monopolisation, a movement which, once again, can be labelled independent. Unlike its predecessor, however, which had its roots in 'outlaw production', this independent movement started with disenfranchised film exhibitors. Despite its ambiguous position in the American film industry, UA ensured the continuation of a particular format of independent production, which can be labelled as 'top-rank independent production' (as opposed to the low-end format of independent production associated with the Poverty Row studios, which is examined in Chapter 2). Top-rank independent production was practised by a small number of...

Hogs Heifers And Guerrillas The Locations Issue

Despite everything you do in preproduction, despite every minute spent, each of which saves an hour of headache in production, despite all that labor, what can still go wrong will go wrong. Filmmakers are meant to be tested on the anvil of pain. Maybe that's why I do a film only once a decade. I'd much rather be spending my time ferreting out new restaurants with challenging chocolate-mousse recipes . . . Locations, for instance, can be a nightmare. They can be frustrating to find, lock down, and keep available until needed. Even if the finding and booking goes smoothly, there can be unforeseen complications since they were not constructed to accommodate the specific needs of film shoots. Hence, the great reliance on sets built in studios where all elements are under the filmmakers' control.

Economic Opportunities In The Lowbudget Independent Sector Late s

Finally, these companies allowed filmmakers a substantial degree of creative control during the production process. This freedom was sometimes translated into the making of innovative films, especially in terms of the use of film style and the representation of political issues. For instance, even the softcore sex films of the Nurses cycle often featured narratives that revolved around such political matters as 'abortion, ecological issues, black disadvantage and alternative education',20 issues rarely tackled by the majors in the early 1970s. Although independent companies often gave filmmakers such freedom consciously, claiming that this practice differentiated them from the majors, film historian Jim Hillier has argued that such freedom was 'inherent' in the production practices these companies followed. Writing specifically on New World Pictures he argued The blossoming of the exploitation sector in the early 1970s continued the project of the Poverty Row studios and of the...

When Marilyn went off message

This close relationship naturally had more explicitly political implications, particularly when the Cold War was at its height. Immediately after the Second World War, Washington made particular use of Hollywood movies in the process of 'de-Nazifying' Germany and Austria and in 're-educating' Japan.6 In the 1940s and 1950s, the film industry's trade lobby, the Motion Picture Export Association (MPEA), happily called itself 'the Little State Department', so isomorphic were its methods and ideology with American foreign policy.7 During this period and beyond, motion picture industry spokesmen regularly claimed they acted as 'ambassadors of goodwill' for the United States. Moreover, in emphasising their role in the 'struggle for men's minds', producers like Walter Wanger often echoed the very language that Washington's own psychological warriors used to describe the Cold War.8 Film executives and diplomats shared the same worldview, and could therefore easily agree on what types of films...

Vietnam the semiinvisible war

By contrast, pictures of America's diplomatic and military intervention in Vietnam, which began in the late 1940s and ended with the humiliating withdrawal of US troops in 1973, hardly appeared at all on America's silver screen. This might seem surprising given Hollywood's near-obsession with the Vietnam War in the late 1970s and 1980s, but it is not too difficult to explain. Vietnam was after all the world's first full-scale 'television war', and film-industry moguls reckoned most people wanted to escape from the images they saw nightly in their living rooms rather than seeing more of them at the cinema. Vietnam was also not susceptible to conventional Hollywood treatment, with its preference for clearly identifiable heroes and villains. America's purposes were too vague, its allies too indistinguishable from its enemies, and its methods too questionable.43 As early as 1965, the war was already sufficiently divisive for trade paper Variety to proclaim it 'too hot for Hollywood'.44...

Anarchists and adventurers

Insisting that America was once again 'standing tall', Ronald Reagan crushed Walter Mondale at the presidential elections in November 1984, winning every state in the nation except Minnesota and the District of Columbia. One left-wing British filmmaker who was then a rising star in Hollywood, Alex Cox, chose to avoid the Republican celebrations by heading south to visit Nicaragua during its first democratic elections. Since 1981, Reagan's efforts to overthrow the left-wing Sandinista government had made Nicaragua the focus of his campaign to 'roll back communism' in Central America. The CIA and private American bodies had spent millions of dollars training and supplying the opposition militia, the Contras. Beginning in 1983, the National Security Council's Office of Public Diplomacy had conducted a multi-million-dollar propaganda initiative inside the United States, projecting an image of the Contras as democratic freedom fighters in the mould of America's Founding Fathers and the...

Pollack and Redford Liberals sound the conspiracy alarm

Bought the movie rights, and then secured a distribution deal with Paramount. De Laurentiis and Schneider were motivated by money, not politics. The former was an experienced Italian filmmaker who had relocated to Hollywood in the early 1970s, and had since scored hits with the crime dramas Serpico (1973) and Death Wish (1974).57 Stanley Schneider was Bert's elder brother, though an entirely different character, cautious and conservative according to one source when he smoked the occasional joint an assistant would put his palm under the tip to catch the ash. Stanley would die of a heart attack in January 1975, as Three Days of the Condor neared completion.58 To guide the novel's conversion to screen, De Laurentiis and Schneider looked for a young-ish director with a safe track record. The British-born Peter Yates, whose flair for choreographing action and breathless chases had been put to its best use in the influential cop thriller Bullitt (1968), was originally approached, but the...

Development Money For Talent

(R A Entertainment was dissolved after one year, and as part of my settlement, I was given full rights to The Substitute, while the company took The Johnson-Blues back to Holland with them. I informed Glenda that I was no longer involved with the project, and she laughingly replied that she'd be willing to jump over a few canals. Eventually it was produced as The Johnsons by Dutch filmmaker Rudolf van den Berg, and though they would have benefited from having the participation of a two-time Academy Award winner for Best Actress since they were hoping for a crossover film, one with international cache they ended up not using her. The Johnsons was the number-one film in Holland when it debuted, doing better box office than The Prince of Tides. It has achieved a noncommercial but highly visible cult status in the States. And where did Glenda end up As a member of the British Parliament.) Now if, after all this, you've accepted the fact that money must be spent before you can raise money...

Various Entities To Choose From

So, in development you've got legal expenses. Even if your lawyer comes gratis, which I advise against, there are the fees involved in the incorporation or other business entity formation process itself, which you must go through to protect yourself and your film, not to mention your slim chances of finding someone who will put money into a venture that doesn't have a legal corporate structure. And different business entities have different costs. For a lawyer to create an LLC might cost upward of ten grand (inclusive of lawyer fees, federal and state filing fees, et cetera), whereas a Joint Venture might entail an expenditure of less than ten grand. You figure out which entity you should apply for ahead of time, by polling potential investors and seeing at what level they can invest. So, there you have three different types of legal structures for three different types of movies. Think out your target market ahead of time, and what kind of investors might like to be involved with...

George Stevens Jr and the golden age of USIA documentary

The five-year period following Shelton's departure, between 1962 and 1967, represents the USIA's golden age of Cold War filmmaking. The chief credit for this can go to John Kennedy, Ed Murrow and, most of all, Shelton's successor, George Stevens, Jr. Kennedy had an instinctive understanding of the media's power, and believed the previous Republican administration had botched the presentation of US Cold War policy overseas. He also felt that the nation's Cold War strategy required updating, and that Washington needed to take a more progressive approach towards the Third World in particular. Eisenhower had held that communism fed on misery and instability, and that Despite being only 28 years of age when he arrived in Washington, Stevens had firm ideas on how films should be made at the USIA and how subjects might be dealt with in a subtle yet moving fashion. In contrast with his predecessor, he looked for individuals rather than companies to produce films, thinking that the best...

Collaboration Agreement

This was particularly painful for Roc. All this time he kept a mantra going. Like a window wiper set on ten-second intervals, every so often it would crop up that he wished he could see just one of our scripts reach the screen uncorrupted by studio vermin. He thought one way to do this was to direct, and I explored raising money for him to direct one of our short installments for a proposed anthology feature called New York Primeval. But money just wasn't forthcoming for a short. It's too obvious that under no circumstances could money invested in that kind of project yield profits where could it play other than on a cable station such as the Independent Film Channel, or the Sundance channel, which aren't big paying gigs. Certainly it could be entered into film festivals, but festival cash prizes aren't substantial for shorts. It could be bunched with other shorts on a DVD, but then your share of the profits would be small. So, you can't use profitability as a selling point to...

Independents In The Age Of Oligopoly

An industry-wide shift to this type of filmmaking. A cluster of factors that included the growing demand for prestige-level films (especially during the World War II years), the increasing power and leverage of a relatively large number of above-the-line studio employees (actors, directors and, more rarely, writers) and the effects of changes in the taxation system for the duration of World War II encouraged a much larger number of film producers than in the previous period to go independent. Thus, by the end of World War II in 1945 there were fifty independent producers, while two years later the number had risen to ninety.23 Apart from the change in volume, what differentiates this phase of independent production from the earlier one was that the studios became active players in fostering this type of filmmaking. Starting with RKO, which had already signed Walt Disney from United Artists in 1938 and had become a major competitor for UA by 1940, all the major studios (with the...

The Emergence Of The Teenager And The Rise Of Youth Audience

The most important development in low-budget independent filmmaking and, arguably, its salvation during the period of recession was the emergence of a particular audience demographic loosely labelled as youth audience. This demographic, which, according to Barry Keith Grant, covered all people from the age of 10 to 35, included three main subcategories children, teenagers (a newly coined age group that included young individuals between the ages of 12 and 19) and the post-adolescent or young adults (between the ages of 20 and 35).5 The last two categories together represented between 70 and 80 per cent of the total film audience during the 1950s,6 but until the middle of the decade, young adults and especially teenagers had yet to see pictures specifically geared to them. 'teenpic', a particular type of exploitation picture that took several forms and ushered these independents to a new era of low-budget filmmaking.

The Aesthetics Factor

As the industrial background of a film has become gradually an irrelevant factor in its claim to independence, questions of aesthetics have assumed an increasingly prominent position in the discourse of contemporary American independent cinema. Film historians have argued that an inclusive definition of the post-1980 independent cinema must consider not only 'the position of individual films or filmmakers in terms of industrial location' but also 'the kinds of formal aesthetic strategies they adopt', not to mention 'their relationship to the broader social, cultural, political or ideological landscape.'58 As a matter of fact, even industry practitioners, like the co-founders of Phoenix Pictures, have been accustomed to phrases such as 'independent production style' and distinguish between films that are 'economically independent and artistically independent.'59 As film critic Emmanuel Levy has observed Two different conceptions of independent film can be found. One is based on the way...

The Influence Of John Cassavetes

The film (see the Case Study on p. 184) introduced a particularly distinct approach to narrative filmmaking, but perhaps more importantly established the 'figure of Cassavetes' as 'the outsider', 'the maverick', 'the pioneer', the filmmaker who started a trend and paved the way for other talented individuals who wanted to use the medium of cinema for personal expression. For future generations of filmmakers, Cassavetes represented the American auteur in its most pure and unadulterated form the filmmaker who writes their own scripts, arranges their own financing, organises the whole project on their own, works with a small circle of dedicated friends who are willing to work for very little or even for nothing, edits their own work, arranges distribution after the film is completed, and even 'writ es his own press pack and do es the layouts for many of the posters and newspaper ads.'11 More importantly, this type of auteur remains faithful to their artistic vision and demonstrates a...

Watching the detectives

The conventional view shared by observers at the time and film historians since is that this clumsily produced, overtly propagandistic Red-baiting material was deeply unpopular with audiences, and that it may even have hindered rather than helped the anti-communist cause by bluntly depicting fifth-columnists as moronic and easy to spot. In 1953, one notable commentator, Karel Reisz, a leading light in the British New Wave film movement of the early 1960s, warned that such a significant body of work risked having a 'boomerang effect' because its very directness alienated those whom it was intended for. Filmmakers should concentrate less on negative, anti-communist propaganda, Reisz urged, and more on selling the positive aspects of liberal democracy.38 Because so many of these films were shot quickly on low budgets with non-stars, most historians have assumed they were not intended either to make money or to teach the American public anything of real value about subversion. Rather,...

Beyond Poverty Row Ethnic Films

On the other hand, ethnic film production also presented major differences from production at Poverty Row. Arguably, the most important one was that this kind of independent film production did not transpire because of the demand for films that the double bill scheme instigated. As ethnic films played in specialised theatres, they benefited from the existence of a small but steady audience which actively sought these types of films and as a result was not discouraged by the absence of a second feature from the theatre programme. This particular factor was responsible for another significant difference between ethnic and other low-end independent productions. Because ethnic films were made for specific audiences, they tended to prize narratives and subjects familiar to the individual ethnic groups the films targeted and therefore often avoided the use of established film genres such as the western, extremely popular with Poverty Row. Finally, a large proportion of all ethnic films were...

The New American Cinema

In the late 1950s early 1960s, a group of filmmakers that among others included John Cassavetes, Jonas and Adolfas Mekas, Shirley Clarke, Edward Bland, Alfred Leslie, Lionel Rogosin and Robert Frank was brought together by its distinctly anti-Hollywood approach to filmmaking. Bearing a strong kinship to movements in various European countries such as the Nouvelle Vague in France, the Free Cinema in Britain and other similar attempts for an alternative cinema in Italy, Poland and the Soviet Union, this American filmmaking movement attempted a radical break from the 'official' American cinema as this was represented by the films of the majors and of the independents (top-rank and low-end). For these filmmakers, independence meant producing and distributing ultra low-budget films entirely outside the structure and influence of the US film industry. Writing in Film Culture, a journal dedicated to this mode of filmmaking, in 1959, film critic and later filmmaker Jonas Mekas explained that...

The United Artists Revival

Including the extremely successful Stanley Kramer Productions' High Noon (Zinnemann, 1952), a film that grossed 12 million worldwide and gave Gary Cooper his second Oscar. More importantly, UA started projecting to the rest of the industry and to financial institutions a picture of a rationally managed film distribution company, gradually erasing the memories of mismanagement from its recent past. As a result, it started attracting again independent filmmakers like writer-director-producer Ben Hecht who signed a deal in 1952. In 1953 United Artists upped its releases to forty-five including John Huston's Moulin Rouge (1953), and lured one of 20th Century-Fox's top filmmakers, Otto Preminger, to independent production. By 1955 United Artists' reversal of fortune was complete. In the previous year, Hecht-Lancaster (later Hecht-Hill and Lancaster), a newly formed independent production outfit headed by Hollywood star Burt Lancaster, had signed a multi-picture deal with UA and delivered...

The Triumph Of A Brand Of Independent Production And Of The Majors

Personnel, finally saw the benefits of independent production. By 1957 and under Joseph Vogel's regime MGM had arranged distribution deals with ten independent filmmakers who collectively produced twenty-four pictures in the 1957-8 period and brought in 5 million in profits to the distributor.55 The new industrial conditions were helped undoubtedly by the loosening of the conservative political and social mores that made politically progressive films almost impossible in the early 1950s. Films in the late 1950s were again 'connected to political, social and cultural issues',56 while on 11 December 1956, even the Production Code was revised to permit the representation of previously taboo subjects like abortion, childbirth and drug addiction. More importantly, this development had a significant impact on the types of films that were made (historical spectacles, war films, epics), and, therefore, on the types of films independent filmmakers were forced to produce if they wanted to stay...

The Reasons Behind The Success

Support, distribution and publicity.47 Needless to say that these charges were among the first to be deducted from the gross receipts long before these filmmakers claimed any profits from the producer's net income. But, by far, the most important element in the United Artists' arsenal of advantages was the combination of creative control and profit participation, with little or no financial risk for the independent producer. To keep budgets down and potentially increase profit margins, United Artists invited its filmmakers to become co-venturers in their projects, primarily by asking them to defer their salaries. For instance, Stanley Kramer's salary of 75,000 for his role as a producer for each of the six films and of 125,000 if he acted as a producer-director for each of the three films he would decide to direct would be both deferred. Kramer would be paid only a weekly salary of 1,500 for the administration of Lomitas Productions, while he would have to wait his turn to receive...

Independent Production The United Artists

And Benjamin's decision to provide complete production finance to independent producers. Instead of going to the banks or other financial organisations to obtain production funds, especially during a period when banks were unwilling to take risks, independent producers would be financed by United Artists in exchange for worldwide distribution rights of the films they would produce. Although at first sight this arrangement is reminiscent of the agreements some independents made with the major studios in the 1940s (unit production), it nevertheless has a number of characteristics that sets it apart from studio-controlled filmmaking. To identify these characteristics we shall examine the details of a typical distribution agreement between United Artists and independent producer Stanley Kramer's Lomitas Productions, which was signed on 31 December 1957. The contract has two main sections, one that focuses on the details of production and one on the details of distribution.37

From Poverty Row To Exploitation And Showmanship

Broidy's description of Monogram's approach to filmmaking gives a clear idea about the main characteristics of this type of exploitation film Obviously, the success of this type of film depends heavily on its 'exploitation' during the distribution and exhibition stages, which are designed in such a way as to attract maximum public awareness for the lowest possible amount of expenditure on the part of the distributor. The topicality of the subject, trend or fad that most of these films deal with guarantees them a certain amount of publicity (non-paid advertising), and distributors and exhibitors are ready to exploit any available means to attract paying customers, including exaggerated or even outright false advertising about the extent of the presence of controversial elements in the picture. As Mike Ripps, producer of Bayou (Daniels, 1957), a film with the tagline 'Somewhere, a 15-year old girl may be a teenager in the Cajun country, she's a woman full-grown . . . and every Bayou man...

Scripting Vietnam Whos in charge here

Barrett and Michael Wayne complied with the long list of changes suggested by Baruch, despite the damage they thought this would do to the movie's commercial and propagandistic success. Understandably, they believed they had no choice. For all his father's political and cultural leverage, Michael knew that the Defence Department held the whip hand over filmmakers. Unless Baruch officially sanctioned the script, the helicopters, jeeps, uniformed extras and so on needed to make the film look like 'the real thing' would be withheld.69 After examining Barrett's third draft script, in March 1967, the Defence Department formally agreed to assist the production, provided further modifications were made. These, again, went beyond technicalities, and affected the movie's political coloration. All references to the Vietnamese conflict being a civil war were to be cut. Instead, South Vietnam was to be presented as an independent country under attack from an aggressive neighbour. A scene showing...

Corruption greed and lessons from space

The years immediately following the Second World War represented, in hindsight at least, something of a boom time for liberal and left-wing filmmakers By the early 1950s, the Cold War and McCarthyism were both in full swing. A small number of filmmakers reacted to this either by expressing concern with the direction American foreign policy was taking, or by highlighting the negative impact anti-communism was having on American society. Sciencefiction movies flourished throughout the Cold War and especially during the 1950s, when seemingly omnipresent images of aliens, giant insects and white-coated megalomaniacs projected the United States as a nation in a constant state of alert. While such images have been submitted to a multitude of interpretations over the years, there seems little doubt that the majority of them dramatised the need for Americans to pull together in the face of internal and external political and social threats. Some science-fiction movies had more obvious Cold...

Make Your Business Plan Irresistible

. . . which brings me back to the Business Plan. It is this colorful document, positioned at the head of the Memorandum, which will go most of the way toward getting you the money necessary to produce your film. For some, particularly those with a proven track record, an elaborate investor presentation might not be necessary. But for first-timers, or for those who don't make films that often, like myself, it's a major consideration. I've been doing it for over twenty years. A Business Plan has to contain a certain amount of information statement of risk (which appears in the Memorandum, too), the screen treatment, information about the filmmakers, a budget top sheet, a timetable indicating how long it will take to get from investment to The film's story treatment, anywhere from three to five pages, is sufficient for the Business Plan. Investors without filmmaking knowledge will not be conversant with screenplay form, and to give them the screenplay to read will be a waste of time or,...

The First Independents

The discourse of independent cinema appears perhaps for the first time in 1908-9 with the formation of the Motion Picture Patents Company (MPPC, also known as the Patents Company or simply the Trust) and its antagonists, which became known as independents. The company was established on 1 January 1909 by ten film manufacturing outfits - led by Edison and Biograph - in an attempt to licence all three branches of filmmaking (production, distribution and exhibition) in the United States and, thereby, control the American film market.3 By that time, the motion picture business was driven by the exponential growth of nickelodeons, the number of which had increased from 2,500 in 1906 to 8,000 in 1908.4 The MPPC sought to become the main holder of various patents associated with cinematographic technology and put an end to long legal battles about who had the right to use the said technology, at least in the United States. By controlling the patents involved in the manufacturing of cameras,...

Foreign Representation

A foreign sales agent will need all the ammo you can supply him with, which is why, in my securing-distribution budgets, I include not only a category for stills and written publicity material, but for a trailer as well. A professional company may charge you 10,000- 14,000 to do a two-and-a-half minute trailer for your film. You may want to have a go at it yourself, but remember, they've been doing it for a long time and have a good understanding of the marketplace. A foreign buyer might not have time to see more than a few minutes of your film there are simultaneous screenings going on constantly and it is in the distributor's best interest to see snippets of several than to sit through one in its entirety. But later, when they visit your suite, they can look at publicity packets and watch on the TV monitor the trailers for the films your agent is representing. The trailer we prepared for Street Trash cost us ten grand with a professional company (we talked them down from twelve). I...

The Era Of The Drivein Theatres

The emergence of the teen audience, the rise of the exploitation teenpic and the explosion of the drive-in laid the foundations for the continuation of low-budget independent filmmaking. It could then be argued that the B film survived in the 1950s and 1960s despite the end of the classic double bill. It simply metamorphosed into the exploitation film that was designed to cash in on any fad, trend, development or topical news that could deliver a young audience. It is now time to see how industrial and economic conditions shaped the low-end independent filmmaking arena during the 1950s and 1960s and which new players emerged during this period.

The End Of Exploitation As We Know It

The majors' involvement with a type of film that was traditionally associated with exploitation filmmaking demonstrates clearly that by the mid-1970s the rulers of the industry were in the process of adopting and appropriating practices 'from the industry's margins'.27 With the blax-ploitation 'experiment' paying off handsomely at a time of retrenchment, the majors started realising that the low-end independent sector had a

From The Theatrical To The Video Market

Although extremely low-budget exploitation filmmaking by a large number of tiny independent companies continued to exist during these developments, this type of cinema became gradually associated with the home video market. With both the majors and the larger independents resorting to saturation releases which occupied the majority of the screens, ultra low-budget independents found video to be the only exhibition outlet available to them. With the penetration of the VCR increasing exponentially in the 1980s (see Chapter 7), exploitation cinema found what seemed to be a permanent home in the home video market.

Analytical Table Of Contents

Independent Filmmaking in the Studio Era 2. Independent Filmmaking in the Studio Era Paramount Decree on Independent Film Production 101 A Business of Co-dependents 249 Institutional Framework (1) Organisations Dedicated to Supporting Independent Filmmaking, Finance Opportunities

Business Of Codependents

Investment even for a division of a conglomerate. For that reason distributors have been looking increasingly to reduce their financial exposure in the likely case that their films do not perform according to expectations. Such an approach to filmmaking has started affecting the American film market to such an extent that Screen International announced in 2001 that 'what we had known previously as studios and independents were all becoming co-dependents' while 'the traditional idea of what constitutes a studio and what constitutes an independent is being eradicated.'8 Table 8.19 contains a list of the production pacts between major and major independent distributors and independent production companies in November 2004. No less than 232 'independent' companies had such deals in place with the majors and their divisions.

Chapter Five

After the writing and preparation of the script, casting is the most important part of the filmmaking process. Cast well and you'll have a shot at making something decent. Cast not so well and it won't matter how good the script or the photography is, your picture probably won't play. And I don't mean just casting actors who turn out to be no good you can cast tremendously talented actors hell, famous actors, stars but if they're wrong for the parts they're playing, it won't matter how talented they are. You're multiplying by zero. But Hollywood studios, more often than not, don't cast based on the criteria of who's right for the part. They cast based on who can get the project a green light at that particular moment in time. How the movie will turn out is beside the point. (or sides, as they are called) in advance, so they'd have a few days to familiarize themselves with the material. In some cases, we faxed or e-mailed the pages. Some would call me back and ask questions about the...

The Second Period

If during the 1926-39 period independent production was a relatively isolated phenomenon, merely tolerated by the major studios and serviced primarily by one distributor, this was not the case after 1940. In the new decade independent production became an industry-wide phenomenon with the studios opening their gates to a large number of independent filmmakers and with United Artists gradually losing its distinct identity as the first-choice distributor for top-rank independents.56 As a matter of fact, from 1945 and until the end of the studio period, going independent meant going only with the major studios as United Artists failed to attract any distinctive new producers. A number of problems within the company but mostly the other studios' active encouragement of independent production from the early 1940s onwards convinced a large number of new independents to snub United Artists and, instead, sign distribution deals with the majors. As a result, independent production became an...

Secrets and lies

What unites virtually all of these historians is an almost complete disregard for the Cold War, either as a background influence on filmmaking during the 1970s or as a subject on the screen. Those that mention the Cold War do so mainly in order to say that most filmmakers had run out of things to say about a conflict which was now at least a quarter of a century old, or that the phase of d tente between East and West during the decade made the topic less exciting as a box office draw. Only through revisiting the traumas of Vietnam in such movies as Coming Home (Hal Ashby, 1978), The Deer Hunter (1978) and Apocalypse Now (1979) in the very late 1970s,3 and the renewed intensification However, what distinguishes the 1970s from other decades of the Cold War is the degree to which Hollywood challenged shibboleths about the conflict. This shift in approach can be attributed to institutional and economic changes in Hollywood itself, to wider societal changes in the United States, and to the...

Negotiable dissent

Generating and maintaining media support had been a relatively easy task for the American government during the Second World War. Newspapers, broadcasters and filmmakers were not beyond criticising Washington's tactics, but only a few questioned its motives and overall strategy. The nation had, after all, been attacked, and was fighting a war in which men and women were dying on various battlefronts. On top of this, notwithstanding its unprecedented scale, the conflict lasted only four years. The Cold War was different. Neither side had officially declared war, comparatively few Americans came face to face with the enemy, and the conflict lasted some four decades. In such circumstances, any government democratic or dictatorial was bound to meet some form of criticism, opposition or even resistance. This made official management of the media all the more vital. The American government was never in a position to dictate to filmmakers entirely how they should cover the Cold War. Nor...

Identity Crisis

But even if independent producers had the funds to make films away from the studios and the means to distribute them, a major shift in the political climate of the country during the same period would probably have ensured that their films would not stray too far from the mainstream. The Hearings of the House of Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1947 and sporadically in the following few years until 1953, which sought to cleanse the film industry from communist infiltration, created a climate of political paranoia under which it became extremely difficult for liberal independent filmmakers to present alternative world-views in their films. As Peter Lev argued, in the early 1950s there were many quality American films, but they were all made 'within socially and aesthetically conservative parameters' as the filmmakers who were not blacklisted by HUAC and continued to work in Hollywood could not afford to take any risks whatsoever.25 This meant that any form of independent...

Raising The Stakes

The end result of all these developments was the gradual polarisation of the US film market with the conglomerate subsidiaries diversified corporations and their expensive films occupying one side of it, and the rest of the film companies - 'the independents' - with their much cheaper productions occupying the other. It was at this point that the discourse of American independent cinema started privileging more firmly low-budget filmmakers over top-rank ones.

Blurred vision

Three Days of the Condor is an exciting, gripping espionage drama. It challenges its audience to connect fiction with fact. But how accurate an account of the CIA's role in the Cold War, and of the US intelligence network's covert operations in particular, does the film present The filmmakers certainly went out of their way to make the movie seem as real as possible. The notion that a rogue presence inside the CIA was seeking to maintain Middle Eastern oil supplies by non-standard methods appeared plausible. Rumours that the CIA had helped reinstall the Shah of Iran in 1953 in order to protect American access to Iranian oil fields had been rife for years. More importantly, the embargo on oil exports to the United States and other supporters of Israel instigated by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries in the wake of the October 1973 Yom Kippur War had rocked the world economy. That a clique within 'the Company' would exterminate its fellow agents to keep this a secret also...

My Personal Demons

I felt equal dread about completion-bond companies. A completion bond is an insurance policy that guarantees your film will be finished no matter what goes wrong. It initially costs about 6 percent of your budget, but a knowledgeable producer can wrest half of that money back at the end of production, provided nothing has gone amiss. It requires e-mailing or faxing bookkeeping notes to the bond company every evening, and if you begin to fall behind, they go on high alert, and if you fall more than a few days behind, they have been known to show up on the set threatening to take over the production. If a film is really in trouble, they may also impound the producer's salary to make up for the losses before venturing any of their own capital toward rescuing the production. It happens a lot. It happened on The Substitute, a film Roc and I wrote, down in Florida. It nearly happened to Wes Craven on The Swamp Thing. The acidic waters of the swamps were eating the latex makeup off the...

The New Hollywood

What becomes especially important with this category of independent filmmaking is not so much the fact that film production was arranged by companies other than the major studios (although this of course is a starting point in any approach to American independent cinema), but that a large number of independent producers consciously assaulted the codes and conventions of mainstream American filmmaking, the majority of As the established cinema had its own codes and conventions, grammar and syntax, the young filmmakers of the new independent cinema had to create their own language. In a short span of time, a large number of cinematic techniques, mainly associated with art-house filmmaking in Europe and Japan, were imported to American cinema. These included improvisational acting, repeated actions, camera zooms, jump-cuts, freeze frames, telephoto shooting, hand-held camerawork, split screen, more frequent use of extreme close ups and extreme long shots, image-sound mismatches and many...

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank a number of friends and my family in Greece who offered me their views on a number of independent films during my summer visits Panayiotis Tzioumakis, Christina Tzioumakis, Leonidas Tzioumakis, Patroula Vrantza, Panayiotis Koutakis, Dimitra Kavatha, Fenia Koutakis, Ioanna Koutakis, Harris Tlas, Harris Papadopoulos, Maria Goulimari, Alice Samouilidou, Dora Samouilidou and Yannis Stratis. Many thanks also to my friends who did the same thing in Liverpool, especially Joanne Whiteside, Paresh Ladd, Paul Shaughnessy, Yolanda Akil-Perez, Lisa Anderson, Ben Howarth and Jay Lally. Amanda Greening became an inexhaustible source of inspiration and support during the final stages of the writing period.

The Sweet Life

In '92 she portrayed the villainous Felicia Martinez In the television series Highlander. In '95 she appeared on the television programs Unsolved Mysteries and America's Most Wanted to further the investigation into the brutal '93 sex murder of Mia Zapata, one of Seattle's most talented and popular performers. In '96 she appeard in the documentary Not Bad For a Girl, about hard-rocking women. Starting in '98, amid constant touring work and live appearances, she began hosting Independent Eve, a showcase of indie films for Maryland Public Televison. '9 saw the release of Joan Jett and Ttie lllackhearts'Compilation CD Fetish. lit the past,a standard industry rule of thumb maintained that a picture must gross approximately three times its negative cost to break even. This multiple of three took into account the Exhibitor's (theater owner) cut, the Distributor's cut, and the distributor costs in promoting the film and striking prints, it didn't take iirto account Exhibitor and Distributor...

Cinema

American independent cinema has always been a notoriously difficult concept to define. This is primarily because the label 'independent' has been widely used since the early years of American cinema by filmmakers, film critics, industry practitioners, trade publications, academics and cinema fans, to the extent that any attempt towards a definition is almost certainly destined to raise objections. For the majority of people with a basic knowledge of American cinema, independent filmmaking consists of low-budget projects made by (mostly) young filmmakers with a strong personal vision away from the influence and pressures of the few major conglomerates that control tightly the American film industry. Far from the clutches of AOL Time Warner, Sony Columbia and Viacom Paramount, which are mainly in the business of producing expensive star vehicles and special-effects-driven films that bring larger profits from DVD sales and merchandising than from theatre admissions, independent...

Our House

It looked grim and gray, surrounded by a fence made of metal pipes. It was the prestigious House of Filmmakers, in which all residents were prominent film directors, producers, actors, writers, and cinematographers. In the evenings, the residents came out. There were many famous documentary and feature filmmakers among them Dziga Vertov, Alexander Medvedkin, Roman Karmen, Mikhail Romm, Yuli Raizman, Grigori Roshal, Efim Dzigan, Alexander Ptushko, Boris Volchek . . . As a child, I felt that all our filmmakers were part of one big family. They all loved one another, were such good friends, and enjoyed working together. Later I learned how foolish my illusions had been. For example, Roshal, who directed many films that became ''Soviet classics,'' could not stand Raizman and Romm. Volchek rarely appeared in the courtyard. I guess he didn't want to run into his former wives, Vera and Era, who also lived in the building. He was at the time married to Elena...

The Paramount Decree

Specifically, the Court upheld the federal district court's original decision that had found block booking, price-fixing, zoning and clearance, and other studio practices, illegal restraints of trade and recommended divorcement of exhibition from the other two branches of filmmaking that the eight defendants controlled.

Star Is Born

Between 1978 and 1982 Orion produced twenty-three films for Warner. From these only two were hits, 10 (Edwards, 1981) and Arthur (Gordon, 1981), both vehicles for Dudley Moore with rentals of 37 and 42 million respectively,13 six were moderate successes, while fifteen films lost money at the US box office.14 With the above results hardly demonstrating a highflying start for Orion or substantial profits for Warner, both partners in the venture felt that the arrangement was not working out. In fact, shortly after Orion had passed on Raiders of the Lost Ark, Krim had sent a memo to his partners where he explained that the risks in the filmmaking business had become considerably higher for companies that were not in the distribution business, so much so that if a film company did not possess an extensive library of titles, it could not then aspire to remain competitive in the long run.15 Krim's memo essentially mapped Orion's aspirations to become a producer-distributor that would have...

Conclusion

Much greater than introducing a marginal 'alternative' cinema or film culture. It laid the foundations for a filmmaker's cinema. Whether these foundations proved solid or not will be one of the subjects of the second part of this book. James Cagney was the first major Hollywood star to create his own production company in the 1940s. Although there were other stars during the first phase of the studio period (like Gloria Swanson) who left the studios and formed their own companies in order to gain control of their careers, Cagney was the first one to exploit the specific market conditions that gave rise to the wave of 'hyphenate' filmmakers in the post-1940 years. Together with his brother William, they formed Cagney Productions and arranged a finance and distribution deal with United Artists. Even though it was William Cagney whose name accompanies the word producer in James's films, one can still nevertheless assume that James Cagney was the first major actor-producer in the 1940s....

Mobilising the past

While some movies looked rather uncertainly into the future, others turned to the past. Prior to the Cold War, Hollywood filmmakers had a long tradition of using history for political purposes. Some of the most prestigious propaganda films of the Second World War, for example, had mythologised Great War heroes in order to cast a positive light on the conflict against fascism, among them Howard Hawks' Sergeant York (1941) and Henry King's Wilson (1944).38 During the 1950s, American filmmakers saw history as an opportunity to advance or critique contemporary political concerns on an unprecedented Few filmmakers better appreciated the importance of offering audiences an entertaining set of images that extolled America's spiritual values during the Cold War than Cecil B. DeMille. Fewer still had the talent, drive and power to put this into effect. The son of a Protestant minister, and a Republican who equated Americanism with Christianity, Manifest Destiny, and the triumph of free...