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6 Ways to Make People Watch Your Movie – Part 2: Make Them Laugh

by on Jan.29, 2010, under Distribution

From my guest blog on IndieFlix.

Excerpt from 6 Ways to Make People Watch Your Movie – Part 2: Make Them Laugh.

We filmmakers need to get people excited about our films.  Rather than hoping to stumble across a successful marketing approach for a film, it’s better to plan one from the very start–ideally before you commit to making the film–and tweak it based on what really gets people to pay to watch movies.  “6 Ways” is about those things that motivate someone to say, “I’ve got to see that!”

So how do movies like Napoleon Dynamite or The Hangover rocket from obscurity to national reknown in the blink of an eye.  Is it the big stars?  The special effects?  The action scenes?   Actually, it turns out these movies are really, really funny.

From my IndieFlix guest-blog.  Read the rest.

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Never in Doubt.

by on Jan.29, 2010, under Filmmaking

When I was 15, my brother had a saying about me, “Sometimes right, sometimes wrong, never in doubt.”

I’m not sure it was a compliment…

There I am at 15...Not a doubt in my mind. (Or I'd never have taken this picture.)

However, it was a pretty good indicator that I was born to be a film director.  A director with a film in production makes, on average, 17 million decisions per day.  It’s a safe bet that he’s not going to be right on every one.  And that’s okay.  Being right a lot is overrated anyway—show me someone who’s right all the time and I’ll show you someone making safe choices based on avoiding past failures, someone who eliminates the possibility of being surprised by a wrong choice that somehow turns out right.  And that, my friends is the definition of genius—making the wrong choice turn out right.

(continue reading…)

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Is the Entry Level soundtrack available?

by on Jan.27, 2010, under Questions

“I just finished watching Entry Level and loved every minute of it.  Is there a soundtrack available?  If not, do you have a list of the songs and artists from the film?  I’d love to have it.”

– Chris

Thanks, Chris.  Making Entry Level was a labor of love for me and a lot of other people, so I always like hearing from people who enjoy it.

I get asked about the soundtrack a lot.  (Possibly my #2 question in film fest Q&As…right after requests for the Pear Tartlet recipie.)  Personally, I love the music from the film and feel very lucky that we got to use it.  Amine Ramer and Alexandra Matisse, the music supervisors, found around 60 truly amazing songs from independent artists for me to choose from to help create the mood of the film.  The proposed songs for the movie are still one of my favorite playlists on my iPod.   (continue reading…)

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In Appreciation of US Film Crews

by on Jan.25, 2010, under Filmmaking

It's amazing what a good grip can build you.

I’m a big fan of U.S. film crews.  I consider Los Angeles and Seattle my home bases for production–that’s where I work most often and have the fattest contact files–but I work all over.  Often, I’ll head off to direct a project somewhere else and pick up a local crew.  Wherever I fly around the country, I find that film crew quality is pretty consistent.  Sure, you run the risk of a bad apple once in a while, but on the whole, the crews I work with have an amazing can-do attitude, plenty of experience, and are almost never fazed by having to do the impossible in too little time with insufficient resources.  (In fact, it’s expected.)  Need to build a bicycle mount for the camera from just a hi-hat, two grip arms and a gobo head?  A good key grip will make it happen in about ten minutes (five if the sun is setting).  I often compare indie film crews to Marines–both have that “improvise and overcome” ethic.

(continue reading…)

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Bringing out the best in an inexperienced actor?

by on Jan.25, 2010, under Questions

“I just read an interview you gave some years ago.  I wish I’d read it before I started making my own movie!  I’m turning a short play into a film.  It takes place in two rooms with five actors and we’re making it on a shoestring.

My question is this — What can I do to bring out the best in one of my actors who has less training/experience (…and it’s obvious)?  I cast him too hastily, on someone’s recommendation, and now I’m not sleeping well.  There is no turning back on my shooting schedule–my DP and lead are already committed to other projects.  I know, stop whining and be glad I have the opportunity, right?  Any ideas on what I can do to make the best out of this situation?”

– (name withheld by request)

Thanks for your question.  I wish you the very best with your film.  I know what you mean about getting a lot of people to come together on a shoestring (or no string at all) to make a film.  I’ve been there.  Many great films have been made that way, so you’re in good company.

One thing I’ve learned is that two elements make or break any film: script and performance.  Just about everything else we do as filmmakers is about maximizing these.  So if you know you’re going in that an actor in your cast really isn’t up to snuff, then you really aren’t serving your film by keeping him in it.  Your best option is to recast the part immediately.  I suspect that deep down, you know this is true but it’s hard to actually do.  Tough!  It’s your film–the hard decisions fall on you.

(continue reading…)

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