5 November 2011

Masterclass with Ralph Fiennes

Ralph  Fiennes Master class

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend an acting ‘Masterclass’ with Ralph Fiennes.
It wasn’t so much a masterclass the usual terms(where you work with the tutor and they give you tips on technique etc) but it was really a talk.
It took place in the theatre where Ralph is currently performing The Tempest – which has an amazing set. Ralph was interviewed by the Head of Central School of Drama (I didn’t catch his name).
The interview was rather hilarious as though the Head of Central tried his best to create leading grandiose questions diving into the depths and mystery of acting, Ralph was quite blunt about his techniques (I don’t really know), and his method of getting into a character (I start by memorizing my lines)!

Here are a couple of great points he made that I wanted to share:
¨               Every project carries a different spirit of truth

¨               I don’t really know what my technique is. We were exposed to many things which was great and you just take what works for you.

¨               I guess I just use my imagination.

¨               Script – learn the lines, and latch onto certain lines that are important to the character. These help unlock the charater.

¨               What is acting? What is truth? Ralph explained his year at RADA were exposed to everything, all different types of teachers from different disciplines.

¨               You need to find a way to effortlessly slide into the truth. Which is part of letting go of the work and forgetting it once you get into the audition or the show.

¨               On directing: “Its natural, youre involved in so many things creating the piece it just seems to be natural progression”

¨               On how you keep going and keep creating in this industry. “You form these bonds, these connections - its important and sometimes things happen.” I thought this was really pertinent to the various meetups and networking events especially UK Actors Tweetup. Its about meeting your fellow collaborators and working with/alongside them. It also helps you stay connected to your truth and “keeps the hunger going”.

¨               Working with Anthony Hopkins taught Ralph “he works in immediate truth. No big discussions on character, its all about right now.”

¨               We are all in a constant state of learning.

¨               Asked about watching/performing to different language shows. “It is about the skills of actors but Im interested in the spirit of actors. Especially with non English speaking audiences.”

¨               “A performance that happens on stage no on can edit”

¨               Asked about Doubt: “Every actors wrestles with doubt. Fear of failure or fear of self belief – but you can bounce off of it. I have it in my head. Everyone has doubts and fears and if they don’t they’re suspect. Use support of other actors to help you. You can be very lonely so doubt surfaces – so community is very important.”

¨               Asked about advice for young actors:
Keep the Energy Alive
Don’t Drop the Ball

So that's it - it was lovely to hear such a great actor still talking about imagination, fun and  just getting back to the basics.
Hope you enjoyed reading it too!

31 October 2011

London Screenwriters Festival

London Screenwriters Festival

What a fantastic experience, I was asked to be on the Producer’s panel for the Speed pitching sessions on Friday 29/10/11.
I turned up early in the morning not knowing what to expect when I ran into Rav whom I’d met at a Raindance networking session earlier in the year.
We started chatting and on our way to the first session encountered Rob Grant from Sci Fi Film Festival.
We all sat in Kate Ley’s talk in the morning which was my highlight of Friday talks.
I’ll rewrite all the important notes I took in point form. Please forgive me but it would take too long to tell the speech bit by bit!
¨               The average screenplay and novel is getting shorter and shorter. A novel is normally 80,000 wheras a feature film is 10,000
¨               Writing a screenplay for a feature is very very complicated process and don’t let anyone tell you differently.
¨               Remember “Only if it is brilliant on the page can it be brilliant on screen”.
A motto I’ve always kept to as a producer and actor.
¨                Every feature needs a great HOOK.  A hook is the story reduced to its bare essentials – which should still make it sound exciting.
Hook = Spine of the story.

A hook is not a tagline (usually seen on posters for the film and dreamt up by marketing people), and its not a logline (which is literally what production companies use to log scripts by describing them.)

¨               You can check out people competing with others to write great hooks on imdb
¨               Themes. Your themes will and should come up in the script over and over again. It should recur every scene, character, even in the props that you use.
¨               The more of your theme you put in and feel like its obvious the more subtle & complex the film becomes wheras if you try for subtlety the audience knows it a mile off. Dramatise the idea all the way through the script.
¨               BIG CHARACTERS – this has a short addition after a great discussion with Bob Portal (producer of many feature films incl. Lord of War with Nick Cage). Rob qualifies it as BIG & COOL.
¨               Kate says whatever the characters traits, they are OVERTLY that trait. And must be clear, well definted and strong personalities (not necessarily dominant). The audience must recognize them
¨               Your character must WANT SOMETHING and then DO SOMETHING.
Woe betide if you have a passive character, it is very very difficult.
¨               The COOL bit is because the audience wants to be like them, because the character is SO that way, eg. Ms Jolie in Tomb Raider is SO kickass we want to be like her, or the lead in Thank you for Smoking is SUCH an ass we kinda want to be like that sometimes. To certain people in our lives!
¨               Kates next tidbit of advice about character is that a lot of great films are about the ‘awkwardness’ characters feel. Mirroring our own journey – the “I know I should do something else but I don’t want to or I don’t know how” type characters.
¨               Stakes MUST BE HIGH. The stakes must matter. Even if to the world they are small.  A young boy prizes his toy trucks above everything in his life, they matter to him, but when a bulldozer drives over and smashes them his world is shattered and we the audience are affected by this.
¨               CONFLICT. If for any reason your script is not working 9/10 times its because its not enough conflict. Kate believes there is no middle act problem its just a lull because there is not enough conflict.
¨               Characters show their true colours under extreme life/death circumstances – just like us. We need to make more trouble to see this.
Film stories eat trouble”
No excuses come up with 50. You’ll see after about 30 some great ideas come up. This gives you a great resource of conflict and layers to use.
¨               Conflict shows us the character but also shows us what the character needs.
¨               Make sure the conflict is real and you cant think of a way out, because if you can so can the character. Write yourself into a brick wall and then the audience will love seeing how you get out. That’s exciting.
¨               Plot – this does not drive a story. What drives a story is what really matters.
¨               Rules for rewriting: Nothing is Sacred. Be prepared to let it all go.
¨               EXERCISE: Simple blocking out of story
¨               EXERCISE: Tell the story out loud
¨               Best advice is here are a few questions and if you are having trouble writing your script try answering these:
Who’s story is it?
What do they want?
How do they get it?
What do they need?
Why haven’t they got it?

Remember story starts on page 1. Don’t do exposition, we’ll pick up the world as we go along.
Q: Is my story too long? A: YES !
¨           Q: Is my story too long? A: YES !
¨           Microbudget scripts these days are around 83-84 pages long (shooting time=£).
¨           The end of your story is where you say what you’re going to say.
¨           EXERCISE: Hot seat. Take your central character and a smaller character from your script, then remove them from the world. Get them to say things they’d never say to eachother in the script. Let rip. And some interesting things will come out.
¨           Remember: Whatever is wrong with your central character has always been wrong throughout their lives. It just comes to a head in this story. Deep down – what is really really wrong?
¨           Keep asking why. She is sad, but why? Because she’s lonely.
Because no one ever looked after her
Her father was busy trying to look after others and she got left out
Because she had no place in his world.
Why does she feel like this?
She has to prove to him she does.

Wonderful session – truly inspiring!
After this I had  the pitching panel which was amazing and exciting, the writers had such varied ideas and ways of pitching. My advice on the speed pitch is hold someone’s attention by sticking to the story, no waffling, and sell the story on your passion for it.
One writer did this and I could see the film unfold before me, it was lovely. I never expected to like his story it was not my area at all but the way he pitched it I was entranced.

All up the London Screenwriters festival was a great experience and it was lovely to be surrounded by such great creativity!

Thank you to Vanessa Mayfield for inviting me, and to the organizers of the event. Thank you to Kate Ley’s for her inspiring talk and to Bob Portal for the discussions.

30 July 2011

Breakfast With Stuart Murphy Director of Sky1 & Head of Commissions

Meet the Commissioners
Friday 29th July 2011

Breakfast with Stuart Murphy
Director of Sky 1 and Head of Commissions

**This blog is for anyone interested in tv, pitching to Sky.**
I was lucky enough to come across a stray ticket (kindly given by a fellow actor Mo) to the Rushes Soho Breakfast at Bafta with Stuart Murphy.
I went along yesterday and was pleasantly surprised. Im not entirely sure about Sky but I have to say that Stuart Murphy is an amazing man.
Like Sky or not, this man has great visions for Sky, and british tv in general. I came away enlightened and excited by what he might commission, although a bit sad about the sci-fi (I'll get to that).

He started off by giving us the names of the heads of each department and their emails so we can send them pitches via email:
Entertainment: Duncan Gray
Head of Drama: Ann Mensah
Comedy: Lucy Lumsden
Head of Factual: Mark Sammon
And if in doubt or if it is for Sky 1 he said send an email to him.
(For email addresses please email me and I'd be happy to give them to you).
For Sky Atlantic - Elaine Pyke

The purpose of Sky 1 is that they are a family entertainment channel, they want broad shows that are family orientated, which give a 'premium service for free for Sky customers' (as in they dont have to pay extra for Sky1. They see themselves as younger/cooler/naughtier than ITV or BBC (main competitors).
Stuart brought a lot of this with him when he moved from the BBC years ago, he said even now, British tv is dated, outmoded and fairly bland. He wants to change all this.
He wants to commission more shows that are broad, but with a slight twist, yet not too far left of field (like The Mighty Boosh - which he confessed to liking).

Less Commissioning Shows
He explained that when he started at Sky it was a fairly blah service and they commissioned 20 shows with £100,000 budget each. Any producer worth their salt knows this is ridiculous and to get the quality you need to create a tv show you need a lot more than that. 
So he cut commissions by a third, instead of 20 they commission 4 with great big budgets, however that does mean they are less likely to take a punt on unknowns creating a project. As he said, they want to work with established companies that can deliver what they need. Therefore its better to team up with a production company who already work with Sky. Even so, last year they took on a completely unknown writer who is now writing for Strikeback.

A good question came up of what have they tried that did not work in the past, and they wouldnt try again?
Surrealist comedy (too surreal - ie Mighty Boosh).

Even though he loves surrealism don't bother.
However a few good things he likes are
But it needs to be comedy with heart, or as he termed it 'kind comedy', love, family, rural based.

Now coming up on Sky they've just announced their new shows which are airing soon and sound great fun,
The webseried now tv show 'Trollied'
This is Jinsey (not sure if that is correct spelling)
Spy (Looked hilarious!).
See bits of these here:

He started by explaining drama is trickier than comedy,
1 Its more expensive
2 You cant keep repeating all the peaks, it peaks and thats it.
3 It is harder to get an audience for it.
However they still do commision drama,

"What I love is when you meet someone who is so excited about their project!"
And he genuinely meant that. He wasn't one of those crazy execs who speak business jargon to your face and have egos the size of small planets. He was down to earth and open about what Sky is looking for and how you can go about giving it to them.

New Drama:
Strikeback - Action
Pratchett & Treasure Island (looks amazing) - Kooky/Adventure - Although there is a gap here too, they are looking for more adventure drama
Lyrical Drama - there is a gap here for someones amazing project. He admitted to wanting a 'Darling buds of May' Reboot. If you have one send it to him asap!
Also if you have a drama, dont give him a depressing one, he said after BBC, he's seen them all and got depressed by them all. Instead of druggies, single mums and homelessness he wants to see people winning! However thats not to say that you cant make a documentary pitch about these (they are looking for a domestic violence doc), as their doc department is also looking for new things.

Saying all this if you have
1 A List Cast
2 Brilliant and established producers
3 Sense of Epic
4 Sense of Naughtiness
Then you might just have the next Sky Drama show!

They are not doing any online series or games and admits this might be an oversight. They are interested but not hugely at this point. Still I'd send it in just in case!

Finally make sure your show has more than one level, great shows have on its surface one idea and underneath its about something else entirely. Eg. Madmen is about corporate drama underneath its about men and women, feminism and rights.

Tips for pitching:
2 page document send to the HOD
but its not about the document its about YOU, the person behind it. 
Apparently the whole pitch interview for Trollied consisted of Stuart asking the writer all about her live, her interests, her family etc. Because just like a job they are interested in who you are, rather than just the content of your script. They need to see you are flexible, interesting, workable and able to work with them.

Happy pitching and Goodluck!

20 July 2011

Here's a secret - shh The Unit List

Do you want to work in TV?
Here is a great site my friend told me about. It has tv jobs from runners to AP's and production co-ordinators.
Best of all its free!
Run by a wonderful lady with a great background in tv she puts up the latest jobs around London and beyond. These are all paid professional jobs - bear in mind if you dont have broadcast tv background then it will be tough, but every so often they do advertise for runners and researchers too.
The Unit List has got details on their free jobs’ site:
Please feel free to share but bewarned that you keep to the rules! Only put yourself forward if you have the right experience they are looking for! Thank you!

5 June 2011

Brilliant Article

Great article on the "Produced By" Conference in LA Burbank recently.
My favourite quote being Mark Gordon saying that tenacity was the key to successful producers:  “If you stick around long enough and if you have a little bit of talent and a lot of drive, it’s better than a lot of talent and a little bit of drive.”

Would love to hear other peoples thoughts and if anyone else went there!

16 May 2011

Cannes the beginning

Thursday eve!
Arrived late last night, and promptly ran into friends in the bathroom! Dropped my bags and then off to the Arte Yacht party. Great blagging to get in if I say so myself, they never suspected a thing!
Partying (or Blagging) in Cannes: If you’re invite got lost in the email post or mislaid, even stolen then never fear. You can still get into those parties you were definitely invited to, I understand. Each year there is a coveted list of parties that is released to certain press members, get the list, then start to ask around.
After getting meetings, getting into the parties is the next big thing in Cannes.
Of course you already know that. But I’ve come across people who are too shy, too nervous or just not sure to try.
It never hurts, we are all creatives so find a creative reason to not have your name on the list. Find out who you know is already inside, get them to help you, what was their contacts name, do you have any contacts who might know the company itself, etc etc.
Of course you have to do this with authority, purpose and be surprised when they stop you. Toe the line but don’t go overboard. Some parties are easier to get into and others, well……they are very very strict. But lets face it, in true Studio 54 style, if you have a room full of celebrities no one stands out, but mix in some randoms and suddenly you have an exciting party.
I’ve had some amazing stories in my two years, the best being a friend who blagged his way onto the Paul Allen Yacht party. The Rolling Stones were playing, Kanye West was there too, I think Beyonce was as well – it was last year my alcohol dazed memory can get confused. But that is a pinnacle party blagging, because that is one of the top parties in Cannes!
Here are some of the top parties:
Paul Allen Yacht party
AMFAR after party
Wild Bunch after party and villa parties
Miramax Party
Vanity Fair
Calvin Klein
Playboy Moonlite Party (this year)
Chopard Party
RedDirt Party
There are others but these are the ones that I know happen and are pretty amazing. The size and scope always gets people talking (real tigers at Amfar after party, The Rolling Stones at Paul Allen, Kanye West at Reddirt, Madonna performing at AMFAR after party, celebs at Chopard), not to mention the guest list. You could actually end up talking to Harvey Weinstein (I did), or CEO of Universal, or Eva Longoria, Cate Blanchett perhaps a Jury member like Uma Thurman.
Then further down the list, slightly more accessible:
Big film afterparties (Pirates, Robin Hood etc)
Abu Dhabi Party
Nikki Beach party
VIP Lounge party
Little White Lies & Magazine parties
Sales/Distribution Yacht parties
Various country parties on their yachts/pavilions

Ok so that’s the parties.
Friday – I ended up getting accredited, running into a producer friend Andrea Farrena and finding out there is a free day spa in the palais!
Is this rumour? Or is this for real? I never got a chance to figure that out!
We met up with our Cannes Crew, consisting of Angela Peters (Actor aka Playa), Elisa Armstrong (Actor), Felicity Jurd (Actor), Andrea Farrena(Producer), Matt Mccombs (Sales) and the Spotlight crew (sales) Doug (Director), Zara Symes (Actor), Matt Carter (Producer) and his director, and finally myself . A rather large Cannes Crew this year but still it’s great and important to establish a group, you can exchange party info, get eachother into parties, and find great places to drink.
Like Heaven. Which I will not disclose the location here, suffice to say that Heaven (that’s our nickname) is where you get free champagne, right on water, it is beautiful, sitting in deck chairs sunning yourself next to the ocean with free flowing champagne (and coffee if you need it).
So were spent the afternoon in Heaven, drinking and wondering why this didn’t happen more often to us….

Later on a trip to the UK Pavilion to check in with the events this year, and I ran into producer friends at the South African pavilion next door (which incidently has better wifi!) who were in meetings for the film I was in late last year.
They’ve sold the film to Aspect and are now holding screenings for distributors! Very exciting for us all, if we get theatrical distribution!

That night was Little White Lies and Abu Dhabi, both at the same time, so we legged it and did both. Abu Dhabi was one of the hot tickets last year after the beach swept away and reduced their capacity by half. It was AMAZING night and VIP’s turned up in force, this year, it wasn’t quite as great, although the food was wonderful, alchol plentiful and music awesome. So we danced and danced, with anyone and everyone!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

15 May 2011

Cannes Guide - what to bring in my own words...

Cannes Guide
I started writing this last week. Then time got away from me and I tried to keep writing during Cannes and then....well its 1am and Im home now! 
So I thought instead of letting it linger any longer I'll publish it now!
Below is just an essentials for producers/actors/filmmakers/others to take as a guide of what to bring to Cannes.
Hopefully it helps you on your way, and if you are a longtimer maybe you'll find something new in there, or possibly just find yourself nodding!

What to pack, its simple really, when you are roughing it (which is probably most of you reading this), make sure you remember the little things:
Business cards: Yes if you don’t have any or forgot them or whatever. Sorry if you cant remember this one little thing I probably wont have much faith in your filmmaking/industry abilities.
There are always exceptions to this rule of course, but if you are starting out, then forgetting your cards makes a TERRIBLE impression on the exciting sales agent you just met or the wonderful producer who is keen to make your film……

Sleeping Bag/Sleeping Mat – you might be staying on someones floor (just check this out, don’t let it be a surprise) as its cheap and close to Cannes don’t forget this stuff.

Laptop, Phone – If you’re not here to work, just to chill out then Im not sure why you came. Honestly, if you are coming to Cannes you are trying to meet new people, sell films, buy films, get funding and my favourite work and best work ethic – COLLABORATE! So you need to be accessible via email and you need to be contactable on your phone. (Remember roaming rates are exhorbitant so text pls! Or else an unpleasant surprise can come in the form of a £300 phone bill….; (

Film Material - 
For producers, obviously your one sheet ( a beautifully professionally printed double sided sheet with all factual info on your film like loglines, cast, genre, etc), DVD's of the film, DVD of the trailer, have it on your phone, your laptop and dont be like me and have it on a memory stick that doesnt work ; (
Then ask yourself these questions:
What are you here for?
Who do you need to see to get it?
Why them?
What will you SHOW them?
This will go a long way in helping you find your path in Cannes.
As someone once said, the path is wind-y dont lose your way. Maybe that was me. Anyway, Cannes is a great ocean of sales, films, madness. So DO YOUR HOMEWORK, register to your country's Cannes Pavilion before you go. Then go to said pavilion and look up the sales/distribs/producers and email them early. Try to get meetings, pitch your work to anyone who'll listen and you'll be surprised what you find yourself saying (also a great way to refine your pitch!).
Another way is to hit the Croisette and door knock. I've heard a birdy say that during the first 3 days in Cannes all those big companies doors are fairly open, and getting meetings off the cuff is not so hard. Then after day 3 its lock down and everyone is hard at work. So go hassle your favourite sales agent in the world (even though they dont know you yet), talk to the Weinsteins - at least poke your head in and get rebutted by their interns (its a great story and hey who knows you might get lucky!), annoy Ealing Studios (no dont, just say hi), crash Arte's yacht because all they can do is say "we are busy". If you are smaller producer like me, or filmmaker you've lost nothing but your dignity and maybe pride - which you will get back, after several drinks, I assure you. But you might be lucky like me and in the midst of crashing the yacht looking for a meeting you wind up getting invited to a free lunch! Not bad going.

Then go to the Film Marche (Market) and try those guys, see what is selling, see what is not, then make a film of what will sell. Try picking up goodies in the March, freebies, there is happy hour at the Short Film Corner each night from 5pm I think. So go, drink, mingle with tomorrows talent.

Clothes – Boys Black Tie. Yes the Black tux and bow tie. I’ve seen security refuse red carpet attendees because they wore a tie not a bowtie.
Girls – Dresses Dresses Dresses!!!! This is the time to shine!  You cannot overdo it and you cannot bring too many. Trust me. (And bring flats to wear during the day as the walking is a killer, and you can shove them in your purse at night when the dancing starts!).

Sunglasses / Hat (got a free, nice one from the Kodak pavilion this year).

Chargers for EVERYTHING

Universal adapator for your iphone, laptop and ipad. Trust me these are always overpriced at FNAC so get it at the airport before you come!

Lastly, bring your character - come ready to meet great people, expand your network and Collaborate. I believe creativity is collaboration. You know how people talk about everyone knowing everyone at the top, well its because they've been coming to Cannes for years. They all know eachother, and soon you will know them too. Just keep on coming, keep being yourself and be open to meeting new and interesting types. You never know who you will end up working with, or for!
Bring your best smile, your fun and the party will come to you!

9 May 2011

Sci Fi Genre Filmmaking Day

Recently I was invited to Sci Fi London's Genre Filmmaking Day as part of the festival this year. It was a fantastic day full of interesting panels from different aspects of the industry, distribution, crowdfunding, storytelling.
The only real shame was that so few producers and filmmakers turned up for it (the cinema was about a third full). I highly recommend as something to look out for in 2012, the speakers were a really high level and the lack of a big audience meant that chatting to them afterwards about your projects and getting feedback was much easier.
Here are my notes from the day, they were really for my own use, but I thought someone out there might find something useful!
Especially if you are into low/micro budget filmmaking. Dont miss it next year!

Brought to you by

Sci Fi Genre Film Making Day – put on by Sci Fi London Film Festival 2011
(Unfortunately missed Simon Guerrier and Sable Jak speak about telling the story and writing the fantasy film).

Nic Wistreich – Co Founded Netribution and in 2007 wrote How to Fund your Film sold it details more than 1000 film funds and incentives in over 40 countries.
Gregory Vincent – creator of which is the European equivalent of Kickstarter
Corine Dhondee – Director of Queens Suite (documentary) who raised funds for the film via Kickstarter
Tessa Inkelaar – Producer/Script Developer at Bonepalace Pictures & Production Assistant at Film London for the Microwave scheme
Mark Stolaroff – Film producer and founder of No Budget Film School Producer of Pig which was showing at the festival.

Kickstarter Stats
45% success rate
1700 Films funded so far
100,000k for 6 six projects (2 features, 4 doc’s)

Don’t expect your crowdfunding to bring money into your film. Its better used a tool to promote and the money is a bonus. Mark Stolaroff was very much in this camp and he said that the final figures for Pig were raised this way. He mentioned that crowdfunding $ is also called ‘stranger dollars’ in US.

To really get a kick, try to get on the homepage of the online funding site. It will boost your viewers and you’ll have more chance of being funded by people who are part of the kickstarter community.

Downside is kickstarter is in US dollars (difficult for UK & Europe, as the conversion rates are expensive, paypal charges extra fees and people believe they’re giving £50 when instead they are giving $50 US). I’ve experience this before and also paypal takes a cut, plus the banks do as well for the conversions. So in reality a donation of 50, is $50US which then converted and fees taken out is more likely to equal £25-30.

Mark found that with Pig they were equally funded through their website, as through kickstarter. So make sure you enable people to put money in through bank transfers and various means not just the funding site.
Offering good perks is important $25 for a dvd plus t-shirt plus extra.
Corine, said to sell everything as she did, – sell your cast & crew’s abilities as prizes. She also stressed that the cast and crew need to take ownership of the project. It’s the only way you will get past your immediate network and out to other networks. Once they do this, you need to let them push the project.

Eg. Email, inform your immediate social Network – then go to – Friends of Friends and Friends of Friends of Friends……etc

You can also have the option of putting your project on the sites several times. Once for startup funding, then again for completion funding but make sure your perks match the stage you are trying to fund.

You need to make sure that you followup everyday, update the page, update the funders, spread the word by using bigger blogs to do articles on your project. Write articles about your project, about the websites you’re funding too. Mark being head of the No Budget Film School, wrote an article about Kickstarter and got it published in several big blogs. The article was really to push Pig’s page, but he focused on how kickstarter came about and what it was, then brought in mention of his project being on there.
Be creative in getting the word out!

The Microwave scheme (see their website for more info)
They will only fund films of £120,000 budget.
They will give only £60,000
Approach with a script and director who has good credentials. (This means a director who has worked commercially in music videos, or more recognized and award winning short films.)
Crowdfunding began with Robert Greenwalt, who had a large following from previous films and decided to ‘pre-sell’ his next film to his following.
He raised $300,000 in 10 days from four 4 emails (although he sent out around 150,000 emails).

30 days seems to be the ideal time for crowdfunding a feature. Any longer and the project starts to lag. (according to Mark and Corine).

Hit potential investors 3 times;
1 To tell them about the project
2 To remind them
3 To followup and remind about the deadline.

1 Month, there will be lag in the middle but go hard and go strong.

Try to get onto the Front Page of whatever funding website you are part of. Sponsume is good right now as it is smaller and growing, easier to get onto their front page, wheras Kickstarter is massive and growing every day – therefore making chances of hitting the front page a lot harder.

A couple of Sponsume projects are getting sponsors to match their donations.
Creative Scotland is looking at doing the same thing soon.

Its about a network, building your network, keeping your network and informing them.
Write your emails to different communities, and make it personal to certain people. If you do all the work before hand and then you can just send them out.

MICRO PRESALES – crowdfunding is essentially that.
Reasons to do Crowdfunding on a crowdsource website (indiegogo, sponsorme, kickstarter).
1 Test the Audience – do they like the concept? Is there Interest? If not maybe you should reconsider the project
2 Marketing & Collaborations – You never know who will offer to help out and what they might have to help your project. Printing companies, locations, contacts etc.
3 Money is the last thing you should do it for.

Next Event on the Agenda was;

Social Media Marketing
Tom Hunter - in association with Spread the Word, talks Social Media Marketing: the tools, the techniques and how it all comes together. Tom is a marketing and PR specialist with a background in the arts & cultural sector. He is also the current director of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction literature.

Build a tribe!
(Note must check out what Omelet is doing in the US – Branded Content).

Check out and Daily Motion for up to date info on social media.
Social media is NOT FOR MARKETING!!!!
Social media is for building, joining and participating in communities!

Twitter is for older (29 upwards) professionals
Linked In as well.
Wheras Facebook is for younger audiences.

Ask yourself ‘What do I want to achieve?’

You are all creatives – play, experiment with different ways of media

Give permission to not have to DO EVERYTHING.

Best way to market your film project, is to use existing communities that would be interested in your project, instead of trying to create a community yourself. Find a group, join them, add in your project. Don’t overload them. Its about sharing information. If you are honest and upfront, whilst also contributing to their interests they will be happy to help.
For example on Twitter ask people to pls RT your tweet.
(Keep in mind that it should be short and sharp as more people RT, more the message drops off as only 140 characters are allowed)

Also always share good links, help others, bring the community aspect into it. People are not always interested in YOU! (Remember those tweets from people who only write about themselves, and their projects and eventually you stop following because they are SO ANNOYING?)
Its about adding to the pool and contributing to the community by RT’ing others and adding information, not just your own projects.

For Twitter newbies, start by LISTENING to conversations. Get a feel for it.

Then start to format an idea of:
- the message you want to send out
- the tone of your messages
- who’s talking
- whats of interest

Then think of twitter like a pub conversation between two people about crazy cat videos, don’t barge into it, and tell them about your crazy cat video, but start by RT’ing theirs, talking to them about it and then mention yours. Don’t barge in.

1/10 tweets should be about your message/project.

You can schedule these using Tweetdeck, Hootsuite and others in your lunch hour!

*NB. Google is optimized for Audio and favours the audio links.
Audioboo is twitter with audio
You could use it for:
Dialogue from the film
Fragments of the score

Also try Google Alerts

Thank you for the talk
@clarkeaward @idiottrends
Look at @documentally he is amazing with being on every social media platform.

Go to people who HAVE followers, Don’t do PULL marketing, Work others who have the followings!

Low Budget Film Distribution
Mark Stolaroff of No Budget Film School

Mark used to work for Next Wave Films helping on finishing funds, and distribution.

Mark produced PIG $50-60,000

Reasons not to try traditional distribution
- more films
- less sales
- less advances
- no $ beyond advance

Everyone needs a business plan for their film.

PLAN A - Traditional Distribution
Licence to distribute in overall deal with advance covers cost
- You sell your project for 15-25 years
- You have no control over marketing & distribution
- You only get paid if they’re honest and if you live long enough
- You don’t know who’s buying your film or who’s interested

PLAN B – Hybrid Distribution
- Control all rights and partner with the best companies in each distribution channel
- Sell directly to core audience
- Increase control and profit margin
- Relies on creating a custom marketing plan and marketing to your audience
- Higher profit on sale
- Control over accounting and money
- Control over marking, distribution, P & A
- Best partners in each market
- Names and email address of your audience – so you can follow up in the future
- Empowering approach

If you do decide to go on your own with distribution you need to make sure you are found by your audience:

Service deals – where you hire a distributor to distribute the film. Loads of big US films are doing this now and distributors are offering it too.

You could have semi or nontheatrical – one night only event where you get the filmmakers to do a Q&A, then promote the film using merchandise outside the cinema.

VOD – Cable and Net

TV VOD (cable like sundance, syfy) You could get a sales agent to do this.

DVD retail (stores, Netflix, lovefilm) direct

Digital downloads/streaming

- Reach buyers
- Seal of approval (playing at festivals, winning awards)
- Press – hire a press agent
- Spread the buzz
- Thrusts your film into the zeigeist
- Crucial marketing info. Who likes it and why.
(use exciting and innovative marketing, ‘have you seen this man posters’, badges, cards, posters)

- Discover, aggregate, nuture
- Smaller and more fragmented
- Not demographics – niches
- Audience don’t care how good your movie is
- Build communities of fans, engage and inspire
- Social media – viral, ARG
- Loyal & passionate – spread the word “1000 true fans”
- Broad categories – drilldown and engage
- Organisations, blogs, traditional press, zines, FB, conventions
- Opt-In Email list

The film doesn’t have to be perfect – just make it a BOLD statement.

Kobi Prempeh – Creative Director at a dynamic platform for world cinema, indie films and international documentaries as well as a range of short movies and other types of audio-visual content
Jerome Mazandrani, self-appointed 'King Geek' at Manga UK/ABE UK who has the coolest job in the world! He buys new animated TV series and movies and live-action movies from Asia, North America and Europe for UK distribution.
Mike Hewitt – Home Entertainment Marketing Manager at Revolver Entertainment one of the leading independents in the UK and a multi-award winning, marketing-led all rights distributor who, in recent years, have shaken up the industry with a unique approach to managing releases

Always think about the distributor from start

Preselling territories
Go into Tesco and see films that go direct to video most of those are impulse buys for the customer. Check out those films.

It’s a same day release of:
Mike said it worked really well for their film Mum and Dad.
It also potentially brings down the level of piracy.

Check out Black Death

A recent experiment, where they did a pre-release on VOD before theatrical release didn’t work so well.

Projector TV covers Edinburgh, so you can see films during the festival streaming live for £4-5 per film.

“We don’t necessarily pick up good films, we pick up films we’re gonna sell” Revolver

Thank you to Louis Savy and the Sci Fi London Team 2011

26 February 2011

Birthday Changes

Change is good. This week, my birthday week has been a week of changes for me. As I sit at my lovely table overlooking all my flowers and lovely plants I realize that Im not scared of being the age I am now.
When I was 17 I thought by this age I’d have a house, a career maybe even live in an exotic location with my own designer house, amazing designer clothes, an expensive shoe collection and I would be very happy with everything.
Its funny how you don’t question how this would all happen, and the intricacies of it all when you are say….19, or 20 or even 23!
So now firmly in my early 30’s I sit, broke as ever and wondering why I am actually happier?
Appreciation for everything you cannot afford is a big lesson in life and one I feel many people underestimate. Like my shoes, luckily for xmas my mum gave me some money to spend and I went to River Island (after I spent most of the money on rent!) and bought a pair of grey shoes, grey ankle boots that have a furry collar. And I LOVE them. Wear them all the time, everywhere and almost a month later, they are still my ‘new’ boots!
In this week, I was simultaneously offered 2 full time contracts and got two acting jobs and also signed with an acting agent. I was honestly shaking as I was told I was offered the most amazing production job with a great company. Huge life questions springing up in front of me:
Am I abandoning my dreams?
Will I end up abandoning my path, because I cannot commit the time to it with this new job?
What about all the projects on my slate I am concentrating on – will they fall by the wayside as well?
What happens when I get bored of this job and start to hate it and hate my choices (as so often happens in full time work)?
And yet with all these choices and questions battering about my brain I still took the job. (Possibly from some induced concussion)
As we must learn, we have to go forward and take brave new steps as artists, as creatives, locking and chaining oneself to an idea is just as stifiling as working full time in a job you don’t want (and I actually want this job!). It’s the way you look at things and I realize there are things I want to learn (Final Cut Pro is a great start!) that I want to experience not just for me but for my own future projects.
And with my burning determination (I have been described as a tornado blowing everything out of my path! In a good way – I hope) I need to trust I wont lose focus but in fact have more time to work on those projects as Im not scrabbling around, but have a routine.
Routine is good for us routineless creatives. (I hate routines after 2 days).
As we can concentrate our energies into our creative pursuits rather than getting grumpy with everything around us.
So to sum up, being 31 has brought me; fantastic new opportunities to learn, grow and hopefully find the courage to step forward on the great path.
As someone great said somewhere:
One can only learn by stepping outside of their comfort zone
Go forth and step outside!

PS You need to read this blog - especially if you are a writer. Its hilarious about the writing craft by Chuck Wendig
sit down with a cup of tea and enjoy.

18 January 2011

Its January in 2011 already....!

There are two speeds in this industry crazy and so painfully slow it drags.
2011 is gearing up to be more crazy than slow, which bodes well for the rest of the year.
Getting back to London last week after a lovely xmas and new years in the sun it hasn’t stopped! Literally!
I came back not knowing what I was going to do and ‘BANG’, Im now co-producing Martin Gooch’s feature film Death.
After working on a lot of the promo material last year, and also dragging my feet through a profoundly disappointing year, it’s a lovely surprise that in 2011 I am co-producing a feature. I flew into London and now one week later, I am working in my tiny production office on location in Basingstoke at Malshanger Manor House.
Its beautiful, huge grounds full of woolly sheep, pheasants (I’ve never seen them live before), woodcocks and chickens. We are actually living on the Coleman Estate – remember the mustard?
Lord Coleman has a house out the back!

Its beautiful yet crazy, we have so many amazing people on this shoot, including Leslie Phillips, Linal Haft, Paul Freeman, and of course BAFTA winning director Martin Gooch and our amazing editor Paul Davies (Octopussy etc).
Im very lucky to be working with an amazing crew who are lovely although most of the time it is madness around here!

Great start to 2011, bring on the work!