Dolly Shots without a Dolly

Pretty cool...I'll have to give this a try!



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-Blake

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Another Indie Label Bites the Dust...

Okay, so Netflix is, well, Netflix. They are not and were not a huge player in Independent film financing and distribution, but they tried to be. And now they're closing Red Envelope's doors.

I'm sure they'll still look at indie films for Netflix distribution, but it sounds like not near as much as they once did. The article below says they are shutting down the operation because they "didn't want to compete" with Hollywood studios (their customers). While I'm sure there is a slighty bit of truth to that statement, that is not the real reason. Let's be honest here. They weren't making their money back. That's it. And that's the problem with almost all independent film today. It's a great artistic outlet - I love watching indie film (and making them). But if you want to eat you can't survive making independent films. And not that Netflix wasn't surviving - they just weren't making money. That's my take anyway, and as usual I could be wrong. Decide for yourself...

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July 24, 2008 - By ANICK JESDANUN -- NEW YORK -- The movie-rental service Netflix Inc. is closing a small unit that finances independent movies, partly to avoid competing with Hollywood studios with which it partners for DVD and Internet distribution. The financial impact on the company will be small, and only four out of about 400 employees are losing their jobs.

But the move could make it more difficult for smaller producers to find homes for their movies. Netflix' Red Envelope Entertainment had focused on bringing less-commercial projects to a broader audience. The unit acquired or helped finance independent films, distributing them in movie theaters as well as in the regular Netflix channels -- DVD by mail and online streaming.

Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey said the company began the unit as an experiment about two years ago, but ultimately decided that financing movies was not its forte. He said filmmakers still have plenty of outlets for financing and distributing movies, "and we don't need to do that to get great titles on Netflix."

Swasey said the company weighed the fact that it was often in the same room with studio partners at film festivals, and "we didn't want to compete" with them.

Movies distributed through Red Envelope -- named for the red envelopes used to ship Netflix DVDs -- include "Sherrybaby," "No End in Sight," and "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2Days." Red Envelope typically partnered with a larger company for theatrical release.

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-Blake

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Another Texas Film Fund Attempt...

I always like to see film production and film financing out of Texas and I hope this one succeeds. But I've known several groups trying this over the years and none have worked out (yet). This one might have the right ingredients though based on the below article. You have true money managers running the investment fund (with an existing client base), and then "movie" people running the production side. It could work...

So you wanna be in (independent) pictures? Now you can, for $50,000














Fort Worth money manager launches fund with hopes of hitting upon the next 'Juno’

By JIM FUQUAYjfuquay@star-telegram.com

By some estimates, 7,000 to 8,000 independently produced films are completed each year. Most never see the light of a projector bulb.

But some do, and a few, most recently Juno, go on to pull in millions of dollars at the box office, video store and syndication. Now a Fort Worth money manager wants to give well-heeled investors a shot at participating in a winner without taking too much of a bath on the inevitable losers.

Riley Hutto Wealth Management said it has created Independent Film Capital Llc., in partnership with Los Angeles-based IndieVest, a 2-year-old firm that will review scripts and oversee film production and distribution. Riley Hutto’s job is find people with at least $50,000 to invest in independent films.

Bill Riley and Greg Hutto started their firm in January after working together in the investments industry for a decade. They are the first in what IndieVest founder Wade Bradley hopes will be a stable of investment advisers who will offer his company’s films to accredited investors, generally described as individuals whose net worth exceeds $1 million.

Investing in movies

Riley said the path to Independent Film Capital started when he was looking for alternative investments — instruments other than stocks and bonds — to offer his clients.

Big foundations and endowments put sizable portions of their assets in real estate, commodities and private equities, he thought, so why not offer something similar to affluent investors?

Movies got into the picture when he met Bradley, a venture capitalist who was looking for financial support for his company. Bradley’s concept is to take some of the risk out of film investing by forming a kind of "one-stop shop" that connects investors with film projects that he has screened and — perhaps most importantly — can assure distribution in theaters.

Do indies make money?

How many independent films actually make money?

Hard numbers are difficult to come by, because although box-office receipts can be had, movie budgets and distribution expenses are rarely public. Likewise, ticket sales are only a part of a film’s earnings. Video rentals and sales, plus TV licensing, can far outearn the original box office.

In 2007, 751 newly released films played in theaters at some time during the year, according to The Numbers, an industry news service. Right in the middle of those films, as ranked by box-office receipts, was Broken English, a romance distributed by Magnolia Pictures, the company owned by Dallas entrepreneur Mark Cuban and partner Todd Wagner.

Broken English played in 41 theaters at its peak and grossed just under $1 million during the year, according to The Numbers.

Cuban, in an e-mailed response to the Star-Telegram, said that as challenging as it is merely for an independent film to get produced and distributed, "doing any box office at all . . . is even more difficult."

Distribution in the nation’s more than 5,000 theaters is a huge hurdle. About 600 films a year are rated by the Motion Picture Association of America for U.S. distribution. Big studios produce 200 to 250 of those. Independents vie for the rest of the spots.

IndieVest, as part of its pitch, guarantees distribution. Bradley said his strategy is to first place a film in 25-50 theaters the first week. That keeps down his distribution costs, the biggest being production of prints and advertising, collectively termed P&A.

"At the end of the day, we decide whether it’s gaining traction," he said of a film’s early screenings. If it is, he ups distribution to perhaps 200 theaters, then 500, up to as many as 1,500 theaters.

Starring Steve Buscemi

IndieVest principals include Mark Burton, who was executive producer for Water, nominated for an Oscar last year in the foreign-language-film category.

Its advisory board includes actors Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda, Crash, Boogie Nights) and Liev Schreiber (The Painted Veil, TV’s CSI: Crime Scene Investigation).

Bradley said the company is about to start filming its first project, titled Saint John of Las Vegas, featuring Steve Buscemi, the hapless and horny kidnapper-turned-murderer in Fargo.

The film has a $10 million budget. That’s considered relatively low in the business these days, but enough to provide a shot at bankable personnel and a competent script.

A "moderate" scenario detailed in investor materials envisions the film bringing in $21.6 million in net revenue and returning about $6.5 million to investors. Under a "low" scenario, it brings in just $3.4 million and returns nothing.

Cuban said in his email that he tries to improve an independent film’s economics by distributing it via his own Landmark Theaters, Magnolia Video and HDNet, the high-definition television channel he launched in 2001. He just started a new strategy of releasing films first on HDNet’s video-on-demand service, hoping to build some buzz before the film’s theatrical premiere.

"Leveraging the promotion of the VOD on cable and satellite allows us to be more precise in our P&A spending, which in turn leads to profitability on not all, but more of our releases," Cuban wrote.

Harold Vogel, principal of Vogel Capital Management in New York and author of Entertainment Industry Economics, said investing in movies is not for the faint-of-heart.

But he thinks IndieVest is going about it the right way.

"I admire the innova- tiveness of their structure," Vogel said, because it provides the equivalent of a reality check on a filmmaker’s hopes.

Riley Hutto added its own wrinkle to risk management by packaging investments in units that include five different films. Averaging out the returns of several movies, Riley said, should lessen the chance of suffering a total loss while boosting the chance of landing a hit.

Vogel also liked that idea.

"That’s the correct approach," he said. "Never invest in just one film. The smart way is to get a portfolio of projects that spreads the risk.

Riley said his Independent Film Capital project has been well received by clients.

"They know it’s risk capital, and it’s fun," he said. "If you’re an investor, your name is on the credits as one of the producers."

Click here to see actual article at Fort Worth Star-Telegram site.

-Blake

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TheWB.com Needs Your Help

Been meaning to post this for a while...

The new show I'm producing/directing is called "Exposed" and will premiere online at www.theWB.com. The site needs Beta Testers right now to help build the new community. It's a very cool website (yeah, I joined).

You can already watch hit shows like "Buffy The Vampire Slayer", "One Tree Hill", "Friends", "The O.C.", "Gilmore Girls", etc. and soon you'll be able to see their new "Original Content" for the web - and one of the shows is "Exposed". There are five others premiering too.

So definitely go and register and help spread the word.

-Blake

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Coming Soon... 88 HITS-The Series

A few years back I directed a feature film called "HIT". It did pretty well at film festivals, with critics, etc., but I never landed a full-fledged distribution deal. Yeah, I had some offers here and there but they really were not very good. In fact, I've been planning to do a self-distribution release of the film for a while now.

Well, since I've had some recent success with "PINK" online I've decided to release a web series version of "HIT" called "88 HITS". We're also talking to some folks about pitching it as a traditional TV show down the line too. But for now, we will premiere the first webisode in September on YouTube, Revver, and several other places along with the main website www.mobumentary.com.

Right now you can check out the promo for the upcoming release here and here.

You can also watch it right here:



The web series is being created from the current footage and storyline of the feature film. It will be an abbreviated version - in a way a promo for the actual film, which by the way will be available on DVD this fall too (probably late fall). I hope the web series will get enough attention to get folks to check out the full feature - and even better to get the opportunity to make either new episodes for the web - or again create a new pilot for traditional television.

One last thing, we're also premiering a completely new spin-off show called "The DIY's Guys" starring the same characters from "HIT". It's a Do-It-Yourself Home Improvement series with a twist. A mob twist, and a punch, maybe a kick, etc. You get the idea. :) This show will start on 08.05.08. Click here to see the YouTube Channel page for it.

Definitely check this stuff out when you have a moment. Thanks!

-Blake

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Making Movies Now - bigger, sometimes better, definitely riskier

This is a link to a blog posting of Mike Curtis. Great rant on indie film...

From the piece:

“Of the 5,000 films submitted to Sundance each year—generally with budgets under $10 million—maybe 100 of them got a U.S. theatrical release three years ago. And it used to be that 20 of those would make money. Now maybe five do. That’s one-tenth of 1%. Put another way, if you decide to make a movie budgeted under $10 million on your own tomorrow, you have a 99.9% chance of failure.”

Check out entire article here. Definitely worth a read.

-Blake

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Benjamin Button Trailer

New film from David Fincher (who I really like) shot digitally on The Viper camera. But beyond the great visuals I think the story is very interesting. Stars Brad Pitt.

Watch it here

-Blake

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Who Am I?

I'm a filmmaker who's produced & directed five feature films including the comedy SPILT MILK (available on iTunes), the new horror/thriller PHOBIA (on iTunes) and the action/thiller KILLING DOWN (which you can buy or rent at pretty much all the usual places).

I also created the Streamy and Webby award-winning web series PINK, which to date has been viewed online around 10 MILLION times at places like YouTube, Hulu, Koldcast and TheWB.com. And speaking of TheWB.com, I also produced and directed an online thriller for them called EXPOSED. It was released summer 2010. And most recently I created a new online sci-fi series called CONTINUUM, which is part of the online indie TV network JTS.tv - Just The Story and NOW available via VOD through indie platform Distrify.

Oh, and I don't shoot weddings. Thanks for asking though.

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