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You hear about an audition. Someone posted a flyer that said something about a short that's in the Sundance Film Festival. This sounds interesting.
You, the actors & aspiring actors go to a cattle call for a no budget DV short. You wait in line, although the people sitting around at the public library is hardly organized enough to be called a "line". After you get asked to read sides and this first time director doesn't know what a "slate" is, and he isn't taping the auditions anyway. You leave wondering what kind of movie this could possibly be given that you read a fragment of a script that had dialogue as interesting as an Insurance Actuarial Table. After your call back a week or two later, you read the lines again, and talk about other stuff with the director and any cronies they have about your dreams an aspirations.
If this has happened to you more than 5 times, then you are an ideal candidate to attend an Amway meeting with me. I have just the right opportunity for you.
I read about Soderberg and George Lucas using home camcorders to make their movies, so all I need is a Sony Handicam and I can become the next Kevin Smith ! Because it's a camcorder, all I need to do is point & shoot. No need to know anything about lighting or cameras. I remember seeing something about Kevin Smith and the Sundance Film Festival, so when I finish the movie, I'll just send it there, it will be accepted, and I'll get signed to my 3 picture deal at that point. Should take about 2-3 months.
Now I need to get people to be in the movie, my masterpiece. I can hold a casting session !
Casting Notice reads "Actors Needed - Short Film for Sundance Film Festival"
AT THE CASTING CALL:
AFTER THE CASTING CALL
THE EDIT (day 2)
THE EDIT (day 30)
THE EDIT (day 66)
REJECTION DAY (late November every year)
I guess I won't be able to make another movie....
How to avoid this very common scenario....
ACTORS - When you audition, ask about the plan and distribution. If they can't afford to pay you, but plan on sending to several film festivals.... then something is wrong. Do the math. Each film festival costs $25-50 whether the movie makes it in or not, and because of simple odds (thousands of submissions, tens of slots....) the movie won't get into a lot of film festivals. If the filmmakers can't afford to pay for decent meals, how in the hell can they afford to submit to film festivals ?
Now I'm not saying you shouldn't do the movie. That's not my point at all. I guess my point is just BE REALISTIC. Know that you are doing it for the experience. There are pearl's in the clams occasionally, and you won't find them if you don't look. There are some good movies and good directors, but it may take time and a few movies before this first time filmmaker becomes one.
There are other options that can make the experience and work worthwhile. Don't be afraid to suggest :
DIRECTORS - Plan for the entire movie. Budget for the entire movie. That includes money to MARKET the movie. There is this common mistake that you spend all of your money MAKING the movie, and then it sits & collects dust because you find out that everything costs more than you thought. Plan for it. Whatever you THINK it will cost, have double the money. Did you really think that because you shot your "film" on Digital Video that it would be that much cheaper ? That's insane.
Be Realistic. The chances of getting INTO Sundance are slim, and winning anything or getting distribution is a pipe dream. First of all, DV shorts with no stars are generally as valuable as rat feces. There is no real distribution and short films, even with stars, have very few outlets for display - and even more rare are places that pay for them.
Film Festivals are great, but they are expensive. Plan ahead for the money you will spend on submitting to film festivals, and know that you may not get in. They don't refund your money when you don't get in. And also as an FYI - audiences at a regular film festival average about 12-75 people, most of them the other filmmakers and casts and crews who got their movie accepted. Unless your movie is about filmmaking, this may not be the best audience or judge for your work.
Make movies for the experience to start. Don't be delusional. Want to help yourself, your movies, and the actors who starred in it ? Get some exposure. Get your work seen by as many people as possible. Put your shorts on the Internet, Public Access TV, or anywhere you can. Get your actors seen by as many people as possible. That's the least you can do.
Was it to get famous or make money ?
Did you make your movie to tell a story ?
About award winning filmmaker Peter John Ross & Sonnyboo Productions – Founded in 1999, Sonnyboo short films have played on 3 continents and at over 50 film festivals world wide. Projects directed by Peter John Ross have appeared on Tech TV, National Lampoon Networks, Movieola the short film channel, The “U” Network, and Vegas Indies TV. Sonnyboo films have been noted in such publications as RES Magazine, Ain’t It Cool News, Camcorder & Computer Video magazine, Film & Video Magazine, LA Weekly, Film Threat, the Village Voice, & Internet Video Magazine.
Now Available, a 244 page book by Peter John Ross, called TALES FROM THE FRONT LINE OF INDIE FILMMAKING. It features cautionary tales and tips for the Camcorder Kubricks and Backyard Spielbergs. CLICK HERE to purchase - only $14.99 (or CLICK HERE for a 9 page sample in Adobe Acrobat format)