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Abdullah AbuMahfouz

Independant Movie on Kickstarter

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Phil Rhodes, on 07 Aug 2013 - 9:24 PM, said:

 

The first quote, which is here, was about you spending a million dollars of your own money on a film, in direct contradiction of your earlier statement that you "obviously" didn't have a million dollars (if you were speaking hypothetically, it does rather undermine your moral authority to get all pissed off about piracy, but fine, whatever).

 

No Phil that is not correct, I reviewed that thread, indeed the topic was web piracy and I was not talking about my personal 1 million dollars. I am admonishing someone else to spend 1 million dollars of their own money.

 

The exact quote for all to see is:

 

"Here's an idea for you...spend 1 million of your own money on a movie, and then watch as people watch it for free over the web. See how that makes you feel."

 

 

Where did I say, "I spent 1 million of my own money?" It doesn't.

R,

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It... does, it says precisely that, but okay.

 

The operative point is this:

 

 

 

My point is that you can start with the banks with a small deal,

 

Horsefeathers. You will be shown the door.

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Horsefeathers. You will be shown the door.

 

Quite possibly, yes. Same as you might be shown the door for a car loan or mortgage. I can't speak for the UK banking sector (even though it's now run by a Canadian) but there are two banks in Canada that will certainly look at small deals from first time producers. And by small I do not mean a 1500 short film. And obviously the finance plan has to be well thought out, etc. Yes there is a lot of paper work, but my point is, and continues to be....it can be done by other people besides me. I'm pretty sure RBC Film Finance has more clients than just me.

 

As to the rest of this hilariously fun discussion...my time is running out. I must leave in the am to attend the premiere of my latest film at a US festival. I'm guessing given your opinion of film finance that you will not have to worry about attending any film festivals where your work is screened, correct?

 

R,

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... In a slightly more practical sense, some sort of precis might be useful....

You act as though you feel entittled to this. There are many of us who would be interested in anecdotes from Richard's history developing and producing his films. The argumentative atmosphere makes this less likely to happen. Take most of the blame for that Phil. You are too focused on trying to win an argument. It may be a costly argument.

 

Cheers from the colonies,

Gregg.

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You act as though you feel entittled to this.

 

Well... yeah, in a way, I do. Richard has been unfairly criticising people for failing to behave in the same way as a high end, full time, professional film producer, whereas I think it's clear that this is simply not a route open to most people. The simple solution to the disagreement is for Richard to explain exactly what he expects completely inexperienced people with no track record to do. So, if you want to put it in terms of anyone being owed anything, yes, we are owed an explanation. You can't just run around criticising people without being willing to support your point of view.

 

As for costing us information - I've repeatedly asked Richard to explain what he's done, and what he feels all the rest of us should be doing. Not only would it support his contention that anyone who doesn't do it is simply lazy, it might actually be useful information.

 

But he's refused to do it, explicitly, on several occasions. Ask him why.

 

And beyond that, consider this:

 

 

 

Same as you might be shown the door for a car loan or mortgage

 

This is someone who presumes to tell us about producing feature films, who thinks that getting funding for a film is the same as getting a mortgage.

 

R...right. Okay. Has someone been taking his tablets?

 

P

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Not only would it support his contention that anyone who doesn't do it is simply lazy, it might actually be useful information.

 

Once again, as usual, I never said anything of the sort. I did say that many younger people I have met have little interest in learning the traditional means of financing films.

 

I will admit that I should have followed my own advice many posts ago and left you to "believe what you want to believe."

 

That was in fact a serious mistake. Well time to pack up the laptop and pack it away for tomorrow. Bye.

 

R,

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Edit - couldn't resist it, had to put this in first.

 

 

 

 

R. Boddington, 18 May 2012. One million dollars. Again, make your mind up.

 

Anyway. In a real, concerted effort to make this conversation in any way worthwhile:

 

 

 

Well, yes, absolutely, if you wouldn't mind. In a slightly more practical sense, some sort of precis might be useful, much as some of us do when a beginner turns up and says something like "how do I make my DSLR make nice pictures," which is a question of very similar breadth. People, including I hope me, are often quite forthcoming with advice on technical issues, right from the "okay, Binky, what's the particular area you're having problems with" level.

 

As to producing, I can only return to what I've said before. I can phone up film distributors all I like and tell them I've got a movie they might be interested, and ask them for an address for the screener. Obviously, I'll instantly be dismissed out of hand, and to get to that point I have to have already made the movie.

 

I can call regional and national filmmakers' organisations and ask them about funding options, and I'll be dismissed out of hand (I have done this. I know.)

 

Ditto more experienced producers. This very conversation is an example of a producer being impossibly difficult to deal with.

 

It all comes back to the idea that unless you have vast quantities of money, it is effectively impossible to sell independent film and thus, quite correctly, it is also impossible to fund it. Staging a series of theatrical screenings is of course not something that's affordable to normal people.

 

If you have some sort of solution to that problem, and you presumably do, I'm all ears. If you don't - and you must reasonably know that it's true, having done what you've done - I think you owe a few people an apology.

 

P

OK, Phil, HERE'S the deal, MOST producers are EXTREMELY reluctant to disclosed details of the deals they make, ONE reason is they could be SUED by their partners and/or distribution company OR the investors. Since all film flows through Hollywood (with the exception of the Asian and Indian markets), they ought to name SoCal, Sue City. so there's NO percentage in giving out personal examples in one's early stages of one's career. Second of all, ALL of this information is available online (It IS the twenty second century after all) As for funding your own film and using deferred pay (not FREE WORK but people paid for their work from whatever profits there are) as a tool to get your first film made is PERFECTLY ACCEPTABLE and actually, expected. NO BODY has a million to lay out on a movie when they have no experience as ringmaster of the circus, so you make due with what ya got to work with. On offense but if you're NOT willing to hire people with a deferred pay agreement for a first film, you're a fool and you're doing THEM a dis-service because for SOME of them, it's the only way they can get experience on a REAL film set. ALSO those professionals you work with for deferred pay, should be given priority for PAID work! I'll tell you straight UP, IF the deals I've been working on this year, I WILL be financing my OWN feature, either with my script "Dollie" or my script "Thrill Kill" BECAUSE come next year, I WILL have a finished feature for next year's AFM. Phil, Paranormal Activity cost 11 grand, Clerks cost 25 grand financed on credit cards, El Mariachi cost 7 grand and was shot on film, Blair Witch cost 28 grand, There was these black guys (REALLY nice guys) at AFM two years ago that made a movie called "Rollin':", last year they sold it at AFM and are on to their next picture. I'm looking forward to see them this year and find out how that's working out. You don't NEED a million bucks to make a movie, you just need the passion and commitment to see it through no matter WHAT get's in your way and trust me, there WILL be things that ARE gonna get in your way so you gotta ask yourself, DO YOU have the passion and commitment to see it through in spite of that? That's the question that's gonna determine whether or not you have what it takes to be a film maker!!

Edited by James Steven Beverly

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I really don't mean to be a curmudgeon here, but that's just the Rodriguez Gambit again. El Mariachi, Paranormal Activity and Blair Witch are exceptional successes, the most unlikely thing to occur, the real and most extreme outliers on any graph. I mean no disrespect to anyone's production in particular, but to use that as your business plan, to have a critical-path requirement that you experience extreme and highly unusual circumstances which are almost guaranteed not to occur, is just not a smart approach.

 

I get the feeling this is a peculiarly American thing, this idea that anyone can succeed if they just try hard enough. It's a depressing and unpleasant reality, but it is possible to have unbridled passion and endless commitment and work yourself to the bone for years, and fail anyway.

 

Something more than that is required for a workable business, I fear.

 

P

 

PS - And yes, I'm fully aware that my policy of absolutely always paying people more than the minimum wage, no matter what, is a serious disadvantage to me in whatever sense I'm a businessman. Part of my personal success metric is based on my not exploiting people. It's unfashionable, but there it is.

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I get the feeling this is a peculiarly American thing, this idea that anyone can succeed if they just try hard enough. It's a depressing and unpleasant reality, but it is possible to have unbridled passion and endless commitment and work yourself to the bone for years, and fail anyway.

 

That's not the way it works? Crap!

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Hopefully I won't get filled with buckshot for saying so, but if crowdfunding makes it through its adolescence, it could become a downright mainstream way for producers of "independent" content (particularly those that aren't motivated primarily by capturing a lowest common denominator market) to get the funds to make a film.

 

It brings philanthropy into the realm of an impulse buy, and instead of promising investors a massive return, it works more like preselling a concert venue. The finished product is the return, and producers who can reach out effectively and return a watchable film consistently will garner a stronger reputation than the ones who jump right in without a plan.

 

For my own part, I'd always make the first perk of a crowdfunding campaign a free pass to the content itself. I hate the ones where they ask you to pay twice.

 

...Not to say you'll have a new generation of media moguls incubated on Kickstarter, but it may lead to a respectable living for a small niche of filmmakers.

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I really don't mean to be a curmudgeon here, but that's just the Rodriguez Gambit again. El Mariachi, Paranormal Activity and Blair Witch are exceptional successes, the most unlikely thing to occur, the real and most extreme outliers on any graph. I mean no disrespect to anyone's production in particular, but to use that as your business plan, to have a critical-path requirement that you experience extreme and highly unusual circumstances which are almost guaranteed not to occur, is just not a smart approach.

 

I get the feeling this is a peculiarly American thing, this idea that anyone can succeed if they just try hard enough. It's a depressing and unpleasant reality, but it is possible to have unbridled passion and endless commitment and work yourself to the bone for years, and fail anyway.

 

Something more than that is required for a workable business, I fear.

 

P

 

PS - And yes, I'm fully aware that my policy of absolutely always paying people more than the minimum wage, no matter what, is a serious disadvantage to me in whatever sense I'm a businessman. Part of my personal success metric is based on my not exploiting people. It's unfashionable, but there it is.

Phil, you're missing the point. It's NOT that these films made a XXXXload of money, it's that they were made for a song and you all have heard of them (with the exception of "Rollin'"). MOST film makers start out by making their first film with their own money. My situation is a little different (at least at the moment) in that I partnered with an experienced producer that has several films under his belt because I can write things that are commercial, so we'll see what happens. But while attending AFM over the last 2 years, I've seen people with REALLY TINY budgets sell their films then are offered the director's chair on their next one. The ONLY reason El Mariachi ever sold was because Columbia Pictures was looking for Hispanic content and Rodriquez walked in one day and handed them a completed film with exactly that on a whim, not knowing he had exactly what they were looking for. It happened with Richie only HE did it almost COMPLETELY on his own. It also happened with a LOT of other people I met at AFM. In fact, that's the NORM, not the exception. IF you write a GREAT script and use whatever you have available to get it made then take it to a film market, you should be able to sell it. Now it will probably go straight to video, but then again, maybe not, never the less, you'll have made and sold a movie and have your foot in the door and THAT is EVERYTHING. From there you go on to bigger budgets, better stars and well, after that, it's all up to yout!

 

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I'm still trying to figure out years after becoming a member of this forum why people take the time to click on, and write thoughtful posts--in an effort to DISCOURAGE filmmakers, usually of the younger set. There is absolutely nothing disrespectful about promoting a kickstarter campaign in a respectful, thoughtful, and productive (non-spam) manner on a film forum dedicated to people who love making movies. If this were a cooking forum, you'd have a strong point. But it's not. This is a place (I thought) where people who love film can gather to both discuss, and help each other out by many different and diverse means.

 

Don't like a kickstarter project being promoted in the off topic section of the forum? I have an idea: Don't donate. There's no need to make a concerted effort to hinder the making of a film. It's unnecessarily flexing that well worn industry bitterness in front of young and hopeful filmmakers. He isn't harassing anyone. He isn't spamming anyone. He isn't saying anything disrespectful. There's nothing wrong with making a single post promoting a project in this way.

 

Personally I don't think it's appropriate to solicit funds to make a movie with from fellow film people. I have said that many times on here. The guy that wanted us to donate to his trip to Cannes to attend parties was way out of line in my view.

 

Why? For the love of God, the kid wants to make a movie. He isn't promoting a vacation to the south of France here. And he isn't obligating you to view his post, kickstarter project, or donate money.

 

Producing is very tough, I know from first hand experience. Young producers would be better served by learning the traditional means of financing a film. I talk to many....frankly they just don't want to put the effort in to learn.

 

Welcome to the 21st century. Kickstarter, and more broadly the internet IS the new traditional method of financing a film. What you're referring to, is kickstarter BEFORE kickstarter. It's just another tool to facilitate the only thing that matters: making a movie that you care about. Anyone who thinks Kickstarter is easy, has no experience with online campaigns. It is complicated, and requires an immense amount of time and skill to pull one off successfully if you are not already famous and well known.

 

That said, people are free to spend their money as they see fit. I would hope that Tim would start a policy that bans fundraising on this site, but that is up to him.

 

It hurts me to see filmmakers take such a cold-hearted stance against their fellow filmmakers. Again I repeat: the guy is trying to make a movie, not going on a vacation, or raising money for a 747 here. And again I repeat: no one is being forced to donate anything.

 

So I really don't see the problem with this kind of thing. One idea that might be really good: If you don't have anything positive to say, don't say it at all. Or alternatively offer some thoughtful advice. Discouraging young filmmakers from trying to make their dreams a reality I think is way more toxic to this forum than a single post in the off topic section about a kickstarter campaign.

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I don't like well dressed guys in their prime asking me for change on street corners while I'm sitting in my car either. Frankly, Kickstarter seems like nothing more than highbrow panhandling to me. You ask completely anonymous people you have never met nor will ever meet, that work 8 hour a day jobs for their hard earned money in the middle of a financial downturn ,to give you THEIR cash to fulfill YOUR dreams. For this, do they even get the possibility of a return on their investment? No, they might get a thousand dollar t-shirt or a DVD of the movie but none of the money they gave you. It's WORSE when you have celebrities and producers with extensive track records do it. I feel like I need to take a bath every time I read about these, "Here, give me your money and I MAY make a movie you might be able to watch on Netfix some day" "charities" .

 

I've worked a lotta YEARS to get the equipment and knowledge I have. I've worked for little or nothing on film sets to gain experience and learn technique in all aspects of film production, spent untold hours online learning about everything film, building a library and reading all I can find, watched every "making of" and doc on film making I could find on on DVD or TV. I didn't sit around and whine about not having the money to make something, I EARNED the money to make something. I paid my way and went to the film markets.I learned the lay of the land out there, set up meetings, got people in the know interested, found talent, scrounged props, did what I HAD to do (within legality and morality) to make it happen on any project, stage or screen I did. I see no reason to beg strangers on the internet for a handout, ESPECIALLY NOW!!,

 

You can borrow a DV camera, sign deferred pay agreements with your cast and crew OR train them on set in exchange for experience, Trade catering for credits, edit and post produce on a computer and even distribute through Youtube if you want (I would imagine there are OTHER online distribution options as well but I haven't explored them yet as GETTING distribution is not all that hard once you've completed the film. The DEAL is where you need to watch yourself.)

 

BESIDES all the moral objections I have above, it's at best a crap shoot that wastes time and takes focus off your goal of getting funding for your film through more practical avenues. to quote YOU: "Anyone who thinks Kickstarter is easy, has no experience with online campaigns. It is complicated, and requires an immense amount of time and skill to pull one off successfully if you are not already famous and well known." OF COURSE IT ISN'T EASY TO GET COMPLETE STRANGERS TO PONY UP MONEY ONLINE FOR YOUR BENEFIT!!

 

As for why people here have a bit of a negative side at times, how OFTEN do you think that request comes up here? Also, people here have spent YEARS moving up through the ranks, learning their craft and them sharing that knowledge SHOULD BE MMOOORREEE than enough to give to ANYONE truly interested in film-making! The last and most important reason is THIS is a TOUGH BUSINESS and there's no favor in sugar coating it for newbies. If they know the realities. they know what they're going to face going in. Besides sometimes a little negativity helps weed out the weak and non-committed wannabes that waste time and resources for those who are truly passionate about this industry. If you are committed to making a movie, you WILL make a movie come Hell or high water and nothing is going to stop you........and that right there is the simplest definition of a film-maker there is.

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Frankly, Kickstarter seems like nothing more than highbrow panhandling to me.

 

 

 

And traditional producing isn't? As I said before: begging in nicer shoes. If it was a business banks would lend against it, which they generally won't.

 

Most independent features will go into producing knowing that the likelihood of achieving distribution is near zero, and the likelihood of making any money is even lower, so the idea that investing in them is anything more than a gift is on rather shaky ground. Yes, I know that people don't present it that way, but that's what it practically speaking is.

 

And a crap shoot? It's all a crap shoot!

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Well I'm having fun here at the film festival. Full red carpet premiere tomorrow. I so wish you could be here Phil, that way we could discuss our various film financing techniques in person. Luckily I also get to announce the US distribution deal.

 

R,

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I think you're on to a loser, if you're trying to wind me up - I can't stand that sort of environment, which is why I'll never be a traditional film producer in the sense you seem to prefer.

 

Which is sort of where we came in. I'm not that sort of guy. A lot of people aren't. I hate to imagine what sort of place the world would be if we all had the "producer" mentality. But as a practical matter, Kickstarter allows normal people to do something; it removes the need to be good at going to cocktail parties, as if that's some sort of worthwhile skill.

 

And I've never claimed to have any film funding techniques!

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Never found a dime at a cocktail party. I find the phone and email to be the two most effective tools for pulling film financing together.

 

I think a lot of your criticisms of traditional film finance could also be applied to kickstarter. So someone raises funds on kickstarter and promises everyone a DVD of the final. What the donor will most likely get is a poorly made film with non-professional actors in it. The crew and cast will not have the ability to create anything remotely watchable. So a person hands over their 30 bucks in exchange for a piece of junk. Wow what a great deal that is.

 

R,

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So a person hands over their 30 bucks in exchange for a piece of junk.

 

That's a very dangerous tack, you know, because I could go and watch Dark Reprieve, and then I could tell you whether or not I think it is a piece of junk.

 

Or we could keep this to being a discussion of funding options, which is an area in which you have unequivocally achieved something.

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Go ahead, first you'd have to assume I care. And you know very well what I am talking about re kickstarter projects and their production values, don't pretend like you don't.

 

And besides everyone on the web already beat you to the punch on Dark Reprieve so the point is moot. Regardless, Dark Reprieve achieved its goals for me....it got into distribution and got me onto another project. So in that sense it was a huge success for me.

 

I'm just pointing out to you that kickstarter is far from a magical panacea vs the traditional route of raising a film budget. Do I think a day will come when a major studio uses crowd funding to bring something like a cult comic book character to the big screen? Yes, I can see that happening. The major plus there for the donor is that the final product will be quite watchable with all the bells and whistles that Hollywood can deliver.

 

Said studio will also have to endure the mass amounts of criticism that will come their way as well if they go this route.

 

R,

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I'm just pointing out to you that kickstarter is far from a magical panacea vs the traditional route of raising a film budget.

 

That's absolutely not just what you're doing, you're clobbering anyone who fails to do it your way, regardless of the suitability of "your way" for the production or the people involved.

 

I have no problem with anyone, including a big studio, using kickstarter (which stands in stark contrast to your position that there's only one proper way to do things). I have no idea why they'd want or need to.

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As usual....if you read back over the thread my main concern is people that try and solicit funds on here from other film people. You of all people have been on here 10, 000 times screaming about how the film industry does not offer any sort of stable income. Most people on this forum working in the industry worry constantly about covering the next 2-3 mos of rent. Many don't have cars, and many are still paying back student loans. So to add on all that, hey brother can you spare 30 bucks to help fund my movie, come on!!!

 

R,

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Most people on this forum working in the industry worry constantly about covering the next 2-3 mos of rent.

 

Probably. But then again, you're here too.

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True, this is a pretty pubic forum, but I think it's bad form to tout...

 

I like this forum!

 

Freya

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