Extraordinary Filmmakers Project

We Invited Our Fiscally Sponsored Filmmakers to Share Stories of Moments that Changed Their Lives

By Carole Dean

Every two weeks for over two years, I’ve conducted our Film Funding Guidance Class for all or fiscally sponsored filmmakers. 

In it, my board and invited guests and I impress upon our filmmakers the power they have in their minds and how to use their intentions to complete their film.  We give practical advice on how to help keep them motivated moving forward.  Each week, a filmmaker is invited to pitch their project.  They get invaluable advice from us and other filmmakers on how to improve it.

Extraordinary Filmmakers

Our fiscally sponsored filmmakers share what inspired them and their films

With the sudden onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, it was easy to tell from my conversations with them that our filmmakers were distracted and worried.  They were concerned about the health and welfare of friends and family.  They were also very down that with many of their projects were now on hold. 

I wanted to do something that we could do as a group.  Something that would support other artists and filmmakers.  It would need to be a project that would lift all our spirits, bring us closer together,  and put our filmmaker’s brilliant minds to good use.

Extraordinary Filmmakers

We discussed many options and one that had the most resonance for them was for each of us to write a chapter in a book.  They keep the rights and let From the Heart Productions publish the eBook. 

I suggested a working title of Extraordinary Filmmakers.  

They could write about anything spiritual that happened to them.  Or, they could write about something extraordinary in their lives, even the moment when they knew they had to be a filmmaker/storyteller. 

First Meeting

It was agreed that we’d meet once a week.  We had our first meeting via conference call and the turnout was great.  So many attended that we’ll be able to have 12 chapters of the book. 

Some key decisions were made. 

Our deadline for edited copy will be July 24th, 2020.  Filmmakers will break up into groups to help each other with chapters.  We’ll appoint editors to review the work during the 3 months until project end.  In each meeting, we’ll discuss the most recently finished chapters and offer advice for any improvement.

Giving Back to Other Filmmakers

It was also decided that the book will be for sale.  The profits will go to an emergency fund for filmmakers in need. 

I could not be happier with the response, excitement, and energy surrounding this project.  It is a great opportunity to put in writing important moments in their lives and inspire others.  Also, I’m very glad that any money generated will be used as well to help other filmmakers.

 

Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-The Art of Film Funding Podcastprofit that offers the Roy W. Dean Film Grants and fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcastThe Art of Film Fundinginterviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionShe is also the author of  The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.  See IMDB for producing credits.

Making Your Film With Your Audience

From the Heart Productions thanks Roy W. Dean Grant Winner Helen Hall (“Pictures of Infinity”) for generously sharing with us tips for filmmakers on how to use Facebook to build a community for their film as well as how to use it to maximize their films crowdfunding campaign on our new WeDidit Platform 

By Helen Hall

Within our present situation of isolation and uncertainty, my thoughts as a filmmaker immediately returned to one of the many ways of moving forward with our films you have shared with us from the beginning: that we are no longer making films for an audience, but with them.

 

Facebook for Filmmakers

Helen Hall’s documentary “Pictures of Infinity” explores the work of great visionary scientist, engineer and humanitarian Nikola Tesla

 

I believe this time we have now is ideal for creating and building community around our films, and so I am sharing some of the tools I think might be useful for other filmmakers, as we are also migrating this month to a new fundraising platform filled with new possibilities.

I had created a Facebook page for my film “Pictures of Infinity” years ago, but didn’t know where to begin to connect with a larger community.  I learned so much from a crowdfunding expert that I was connected to by From the Heart Productions about how to do exactly this.  Now, I am posting regularly and engaging with a community of 17,700+ like-minded souls on the page.

A few months ago I was contacted by a marketing expert from Facebook.  They offered to guide me through some of the tools that make it possible both to create ad campaigns with specific goals in mind, and with them to extend the reach of the audience.

I have learned it is possible to reach the audience with a combination of targeted ads and posts to the page that are boosted for maximum impact.

Here are some of the tools I am learning how to use:

Facebook – Audiences

On the Facebook page for our film (known as a business page) there is a tab at the top called ‘Ad Center’. On the left of the Ad Center page are three vertical headings: Overview / All Ads / Audiences. Click on ‘Audiences’ and on the top right is the option to ‘create audience’. It is possible here to create custom audiences for your film, and to save them for future use.

Facebook Ads – Formats

Image formats: ideal size for images = 1,200 X 628 Px, in JPEG or PNG format.

If the image includes text, the text can be no more that 25% of the image, or Facebook will not run it.
(see link to tool to measure text on images for Facebook)

Facebook Pixel

Facebook Pixel is a code that collects data to help track conversions for Facebook Ads.
Look under ‘Business Settings’ for ‘Events Manager’. Click ‘create a pixel’ and follow instructions.

WeDidIt – Fundraising Platform

The Donation page is divided into ‘content’ on the left, and a donation menu on the right.  The content section is 690 Px. wide.

The page accepts video files – MP4 format, and images in JPEG and PNG formats. Video and image files will automatically resize when uploaded. There are traditional text options for choosing fonts, sizes and colors.

I was told by tech support at WeDidIt that there is no limit to the amount of content for this page, most films include a fundraising trailer, a few images and a short synopsis of the film.

Facebook Pixel – look for the ’Settings’ section in the vertical menu on the left of the page near the bottom. Click ‘Analytics’ and add the Facebook Pixel.

Here is a link to video tutorials to help with the WeDidIt platform and a list of links for learning more about how to use Facebook for our film projects:

Video Tutorials – WeDidIt:
https://wedidit.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360039175052-Platform-Video-Tutorials

 

Facebook Creative Inspiration:

 https://www.facebook.com/business/inspiration

 

Facebook Ads Guide:

 https://www.facebook.com/business/ads-guide

 

Facebook – Free Online Training Courses:

https://www.facebookblueprint.com/student/catalog

 

Facebook – Advertiser Help Center:

Step-by-step instructions. Please refer to the Advertiser Help Center to find answers or contact support, if you have trouble.

https://www.facebook.com/business/helpv

 

Facebook Ads:  

https://sproutsocial.com/insights/facebook-ad-sizes/

 

Image format for Facebook Ads:  

 

Check ratio of text to image here:

https://en-gb.facebook.com/ads/tools/text_overlay

 

 

Facebook Audiences:

About the Reach Objective –

https://www.facebook.com/business/help/218841515201583?id=816009278750214

 

Increase awareness of your business or brand by using the reach objective.

 

Understand how your Reach Objective performed

https://www.facebook.com/business/help/1639908612985580?id=816009278750214

 

About Connections Targeting

https://www.facebook.com/business/help/1819812758298988?id=176276233019487

 

About Detailed Targeting

https://www.facebook.com/business/help/182371508761821?id=176276233019487

 

About Lookalike Audiences

https://www.facebook.com/business/help/164749007013531?id=401668390442328

 

Facebook – Client Services Link:

 https://www.facebook.com/business/resources

 

Helen Hall is a Montreal-based composer who explores an intuitive understanding of music as energy in her varied works for voices, instruments, electroacoustics, dance, theatre and film.

Her music is inspired by natural, acoustic phenomena such as the rhythm of breathing (Circuits), the harmonics and interference patterns of multiple saxophones (Fluvial), and the natural frequencies of the earth’s magnetic field (Infinity Maps).

In recent years her work has become more research-based, and she has been extending her music into film. Powerlines, her first film, is a documentary about the mystery of electromagnetic fields, which began as a musical score based on the sound waves of artificial electromagnetic radiation. Pictures of Infinity, her second film, is a feature documentary about Nikola Tesla’s unique understanding of nature and its inherent connection to acoustic principles of energy.

 

Connect to Your Higher Self

Thoughts on The Most Important Thing Filmmakers Can Contribute During This Crisis

by Carole Dean

 

Ok, I want all filmmakers reading this to play a game called let’s pretend.

Let’s take our imaginations and pretend that something is real even though it may not be.  For the moment, we’re going to pretend it is real.

Storytellers

Let’s pretend that we all chose to come into this life to help humanity through the worst crisis ever imagined.  Let’s pretend that before we came into this life, we chose who our parents were and what our goals were for this life.

When I grew up in Texas, I was told I should be the woman behind the man.  That was a desired job, to be a powerful woman who supported her husband. That actually was considered a great achievement. 

Maybe you wanted to be a producer and create good stories.  Or perhaps you wanted to cut the film up and tell a story in the edit room.  Maybe you had an idea and wanted to write the script.

So, here you are, a talented, creative filmmaker in the middle of a disaster affecting all of the planet.  How best can you help?

Storytellers Wanted

What do you think we need the most right now besides love, food and medicine?

I think we need storytellers. 

This is a time to document what is happening and we can do that by telling stories.  This is a time to support others and we can do that with empowering stories. 

You are all storytellers. 

Now, go back to our game of Let’s Pretend.  You are pretending that you came into this life and chose to be here at this exact time in the history of the earth.  It is a time of great fear and economic turmoil facing our planet.  And, you are here with your brilliant filmmaking skills. 

Each of you have many talents and the most predominant amongst all of these is the ability to tell compelling stories.

Perhaps that is what you are here to do, create engaging films to help us through this terrible time.

Keep Calm and Create

You will probably spend most of your time dealing with the crisis daily maintaining your balance and health.  You will also need to keep yourself, your friends, family and other filmmakers safe. 

But what if you came into this life with your many talents to help humanity through this crisis?  If that were true, then what should you do now?  

Meditate on what your original goal was when you came to earth.  What promised did you make to yourself?  The answers are there inside you.  You want to find them and practice that old adage:

To thine own self be true.

 

Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-The Art of Film Funding Podcastprofit that offers the Roy W. Dean Film Grants and fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcastThe Art of Film Fundinginterviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionShe is also the author of  The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.  See IMDB for producing credits

Setting and Achieving Goals in Uncertain Times

How to move your film, film career, and life forward through an unsettled future

by Carole Dean

This is a special moment in all our lives. Nearly all of us are hunkered down at home during a pandemic.  How do we continue with our lives and keep funding our films with daily cancellations of events and the fear of being close to people and of even going out? 

Now more than ever, we need to focus on our future.  We need to have goals and the confidence we can reach these goals after we emerge safe and secure from this crisis. 

Filmmaker Pandemic

Film shoot on hold? Film festivals canceled? Use your shelter-in time to set goals.

I asked Breianne Pryse to join me on The Art of Film Funding Podcast to give us suggestions on creating and implementing goals.  Brianne Pryse is a natural born intuitive impasse, healer, coach, speaker, and writer.  

She is also a regular on our Film Funding Guidance Classes advising filmmakers how to continue to progress on their projects.  As a lifelong student, she’s been trained in many different modalities. Since 2002, she’s been a full time healer and coach.   

Here is her advice from this interview.

Setting Little, Medium, Big and Almost Impossible Goals

One of the things that I really recommend is to set goals.  But you also must revisit them because sometimes we write them down on a piece of paper and never look at our goals. I believe you must look at them every day or at least every week and you need to be able to connect with them.

I also recommend you have four types of goals. You have the very small ones that you can check off almost daily, so it shows you that you’re getting things done. Then you have the medium goals that have a little bit of work, where you can still check these off easy too.

Then you have the bigger goals where you’re doing a film and working on funding. Getting your film funded may be a big goal.  It’s important that you ask for money and give specifics, like you want to say the dollar amount of your funding goal. Getting your crew, that’s a whole different big goal too. So, you write these down.

Now, the fourth one that I feel is very, very important. It is that you ask for a goal that is just beyond what you think is possible. For example, is your goal beyond impossible possible? And maybe something like, I get an award-winning editor on my film, or I raise $50,000 for my fee. Something just beyond what you think you can do. Because what that does is expand your energy and it helps you connect to the quantum field in a different way.

Examples of Goal Setting

Well, a little goal is, ‘I get up at six o’clock in the morning and write for an hour before work.’  ‘I spend a day without going on Facebook and wasting time.’ Goals like this are good because it tells the universe that we’re in, that we are serious about our goals and we’re making changes.

And it’s all about change. Right now, we are in a very, very high energy year. So that means we need to keep on top of things, or we will get swept away in the negativity and in the craziness, which we do not want to do.

So, these are examples of small productive goals. And then medium goals may be that you write a certain number of pages that day or that week. Because as a filmmaker, most of the time you’re writing your script or you’re writing your promotional material or emails or grants, etc.  And put down actions too.  Ones like I contact three people today for funding, this is also a medium to large goal.

 

 

Why “The Secret” Did Not Work for Many People

I attend a lot of classes where we are told, ‘Oh, you just sit in the chair and you say you’re a millionaire and millions come to you.’ And we know that’s not true, but it is absolutely true that we can create anything we want. We just need to get out of our own way.

It’s feeling into the energy and talking about it to the universe. And just looking at the numbers like, let’s say I need $100,000 for myself. Okay, I’m going to choose to go for this. All right? And then you create that goal and then you start asking questions of the universe. 

What energy can I be today, universe, that would create this? Where can I go to find this funding? What can I do today in this moment to really, really get progress on this goal?

Because what also happens with goals is, as we set expectations.  We all do it regardless of whether we admit to it.  Sometimes we get disappointed because our expectations are not met in the timeframe that we would like. So, the more we can just be in the energy, talking to the goals, allowing energy to move and showing us and asking the universe to show us what’s stopping us is a really, really big thing.

One of the big exercises that you can do is, get a journal, and draw a line down the middle. On the right you write what is happening. And on the left you write what you would like to happen.

An example is, I write on the right I have more bills than income. And on the left I write I would like to create money to pay off all my bills

Now you start asking, okay, so what am I doing wrong? What is going on that is creating the opposite?  And just see what happens and what you hear because the universe is happy to tell you the problems, but we need to be open to hearing it.

Sometimes the universe makes you aware of where you’re overspending, where you’re emotionally spending, where you’re not allowing other people to contribute to you. Now you can write these down under what you don’t want and then you start looking at the behaviors that you can change to solve the problem.

Setting Boundaries for Yourself

One of the biggest things I ever learned was setting boundaries.  Here’s what I recommend people do.

Before you get out of bed in the morning you take a deep breath.  Say, ‘I hear by now and forever on all levels of my being set 100% healthy boundaries on people, negative energy and negative self talk.’ Then, take a deep breath and blow it out.

This pushes people’s energy out of your field. Now you add anything and everything to that. If you’re fighting with an ex, you put boundaries on that person, on their energies. If you’re doing negative self-talk, if you’ve got a specific thing, like your relationship like with your mother. You can put boundaries on your relationship with your negative self talk relationship with your mother. And if you start doing that, that will help you get clear thinking.  You can focus more on your goals and be present in the now.

The more you can set the boundaries, the more you can think clearly. And it was life changing when I figured that out about 15 years ago. Now it also helps when you are feeling great and then you’ll talk to somebody and you feel like you were hit by a bus. That’s a boundary violation. So, you walk away, you say I set 100% healthy boundaries on that person and all their energies and then inhale and exhale and remove it.

Carole, I love your filmmakers and I believe that film is one of the few forms of freedom of speech we have left. Through films people are more willing to look at important issues. I think it’s awesome and  I love and I support the work you do at From the Heart Productions.

 

Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-The Art of Film Funding Podcastprofit that offers the Roy W. Dean Film Grants and fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcastThe Art of Film Fundinginterviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionShe is also the author of  The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.  See IMDB for producing credits

“How to Have an American Baby” Wins Roy W. Dean Grant

Winner to Receive $30,000 Cash and Production Services to Complete Post-Production

Awarded to an independent film that is unique and makes a contribution to society, From the Heart Productions announced that the 3rd and last Roy W. Dean Grant in the 2019 cycle goes to the documentary “How to Have an American Baby”

Roy W. Dean Grant Winner Fall 2019

Directed by Leslie Tai, “How to Have an American Baby” is a kaleidoscopic voyage behind the closed doors of the Chinese birth tourism industry—a booming shadow economy catering to Chinese tourists who travel to Southern California on “birthing vacations” in order to obtain U.S. citizenship for their babies.

Through a network of stories, the film traces the human supply chain from Beijing and Shanghai to Los Angeles—chronicling the fortunes and tragedies that befall the ordinary people caught in the web of its influence.

“We are very honored to support a this very talented filmmaker and help her to complete this moving, powerful film” commented Carole Dean, President of From the Heart Productions which sponsors the grant. “It provides a fascinating look into how those from other countries view American society.”

In addition to the $3,000 cash prize, Leslie and producer Jillian Schultz will receive  $6,000 in animation services from Emmy winner Charlie Canfield, $500 expendable, lighting and grip equipment from Filmtools, one week DSLR camera package rental from Birns & Sawyer, and more from many other heartfelt film industry donors

About the Filmmaker

Roy W. Dean Grant Winner Fall 2019

Leslie Tai – Her work chronicles the dreams, anxieties, and consumer desire of China’s rising middle class and the Chinese diaspora from a distinctly female perspective.

A Chinese-American filmmaker hailing from San Francisco, Leslie moved to China in 2006  on a U.S. Fulbright Scholarship after graduating from UCLA with a B.A. in Design|Media Arts. There, she earned her filmmaking chops in the underground Chinese documentary world as a student of Wu Wenguang, a founding figure of the New Chinese Documentary Movement. From 2007-2011, she made and exhibited films as an artist of Wu’s Beijing-based studio, Caochangdi Workstation.

Tai is recipient of a 2019 Creative Capital Award and a graduate of the MFA Program in Documentary Film and Video at Stanford University. Her short films have premiered at Tribeca Film Festival, Visions du Réel (Nyon), International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and broadcast on The New York Times.

About the Roy W. Dean Grant

From it’s inception in 1992, the Roy W. Dean Grant has awarded over $2,000,000 in cash and donated film services to independent films. The grant is awarded to films budgeted under $500,000 that are unique and make a contribution to society.  It has been an important lifeline for independent filmmakers that help to get their projects started or finished.  Without assistance from the grant, many excellent and important films may never have been made. 

Past winners of the grant include the Emmy winning Mia: A Dancer’s Journey,  2019 Sundance Film Festival selection Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins, and the acclaimed documentary Kusama-Infinity which is now in distribution showing in theaters around the US and world.

About From The Heart Productions

From The Heart Productions is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to helping filmmakers get their projects funded and made.  Besides providing funding through the grant, they offer film fiscal sponsorship to filmmakers.  This allows donations made to films they sponsor to be tax deductible.  From The Heart has helped independent filmmakers raise over $10 million through it’s fiscal sponsorship program.  President Carole Dean is the best-selling author of The Art of Film Funding: 2nd Edition, Alternative Financing Concepts

How Indie Filmmakers Can Survive California’s AB-5 Labor Law

The New Law Disrupts How Non-Union Cast and Crew Are Employed.  We Invited An Expert to Answer Questions from Filmmakers on Navigating the Changes.

by Carole Dean

Veteran entertainment attorney Mark Litwack’s practice includes work in the areas of copyright, trademark, contract, multimedia law, intellectual property and book publishing. As a producer’s representative, he assists filmmakers in arranging financing, marketing, and distribution of their films.

AB-5

Your Freelance Crew on Your Film Are Now Your Employees

Mark has packaged movie projects and served as executive producer on many feature films. He has provided legal services or worked as a producer rep on more than 200 feature film. He’s the author of six books that are all invaluable for filmmakers.  Mark has been a generous donor to the Roy Dean Film Grant for years.

I invited him on my The Art of Film Funding Podcast to help us understand the recently enacted California Assembly Bill AB-5.  The bill went into effect January 1st, 2020 and will impact the employment status for many on nonunion film productions.  It will restrict the use of 1099’s.  Employers are now required to use what is called the ABC test to determine if an employee should be classified as an independent contractor.

Here are the edited highlights:

Can you give us some background and overview of the new law, please?

The California legislature passed this law to codify the principles of a recent 2018 court decision that’s referred to as the Dynamex case in which the Supreme court revised the prior test called Barrello for determining which workers are considered employees and which should be considered independent contractors.

The reason for this new law was to stop some labor practices that were considered abusive.  Namely companies in the gig economy like Uber and Lyft who would hire drivers as independent contractors then deny them benefits that employees have, such as a minimum wage, overtime, rest breaks. In addition, employees compared to independent contractors have the right to form a union.  Independent contractors must pay all the social security and Medicare costs.  They are also not eligible for unemployment insurance.

Basically AB-5 creates an assumption for employers. Consider all workers as employees, unless the employer can prove the worker’s role is an independent contractor according to the state’s new criteria.

Most independent filmmakers, if they wanted to play it safe, would hire a payroll company and pay most, if not everyone, as an employee to avoid any potential penalties. The prior law SB -459, enhanced the penalty for employers who misclassify personnel penalties range from $5,000 to $15,000 per violation.  Where there was a pattern or practice of violations, the penalty could increase from $10,000 to $25,000 per violation.

My guess is there’s an awful lot of independent filmmakers with people they hired as independent contractors when they should have been employees.  It just never surfaced or came to light.

Much of the change has to do with government wanting to make sure taxes get collected.

The government is more likely to receive taxes if they were automatically taken out of an employee’s paycheck than if the gross amount is paid to an independent contractor. That’s why the IRS takes the position that, for most people working on film production, they should be classified as employees, not independent contractors.

They obviously want taxes withheld. If the person is being employed through a loan out company, then the loan out company will withhold taxes. This should not pose a problem for the producer. Moreover, if the person is being hired, not just for their time but, but also equipment is being supplied, it is more likely to pass muster as an independent contractor. But simply calling a person you hire an independent contractor or using an independent contractor form of contract does not by itself give you much protection.

How do you decide who is an employee and not an independent contractor?

In determining whether or not an individual is providing service as an independent contractor or an employee, it can be basically distilled down to what’s called a control test. Simply put, an employee is an individual who the employer has the right to exercise control over the manner and the means by which they perform their services.  An independent contractor is sort of being hired for the end result.

So, if you hired a painting company to come and paint your house, they show up at your house.  You will often supply the paint, although you often get to choose the color.  They supplied the ladders, they supply the equipment, they supply the painters, and they paint your house. And maybe it takes a week and then they leave. And you, the homeowner, you’re not in the painting business and you can just pay them as an independent contractor. They’re in the painting business and that painting company, if they hire people, you know who worked for them, those people should be classified as employees.

So, in a movie, the director pretty much controls how everyone on the set does their job. Actors can’t change their role. They can’t decide when they want to show up. Everything is tightly, should be tightly choreographed, otherwise, you know, the shoot is going to be a disaster.

Exactly. Let’s go over that ABC test. Can you tell us what that is?

The ABC test requires that the hiring entity establish each of the following three factors to classify workers as independent contractors.

The first is “A”, that the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work.   

“B” is that the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity, the employer’s business.

“C” is that the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade occupation or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hiring entity.

This new law creates specific exceptions and says the law can be applied somewhat retroactively. The exceptions fall into several different categories. (There are) certain exempt occupations, contracts for certain professional services, specific businesses, certain business to business contracting relationships…

But there is no specific exemption for filmmakers or those who work in film or television.

 

 

We’re still out here trying to figure out how to work within these laws. Most of my questions I’ve taken from filmmakers and I so appreciate your helping us to get clarity on this. One filmmaker asks, how does AB-5 affect non-union films?

It affects both union and nonunion films, but union productions already pay 95% of their workers as employees, not as independent contractors. And for this reason, unions believe that this law does not affect them. The unions have also said that they don’t think this law affects using loan out companies, but some attorneys are not so sure. For nonunion employees who were paid as independent contractors, the employer can be liable. The filmmaker can be liable if they are misclassified.

The safest thing to do, frankly, is to hire a payroll company. And let the payroll company deduct taxes and social security.

Some of the filmmakers are wondering should they create their own loan out company like create an LLC or an S Corp or even a single member LLC. If they decided they wanted to become a loan out company, what would you suggest they consider? Which type of a corporation?

What are we talking about crew now? People being hired? Yes. Well, it appears that they can.  They can set up a separate loan out company, which is considered a separate legal entity from them personally. And the purpose of loan out companies is basically to save on taxes.

When an actor sets up a loan out company, they usually own it 100%. When they get hired by a studio, they say to the studio instead of hiring me directly as an employee, I want you to contract through my loan out company for my services. So, the studio enters into a contract with the loan out company, which is 100% controlled by the artist. They also get the artist to sign what’s called an inducement agreement which binds the artists directly to the obligations.  The studio can pay a flat fee to the loan out company.  The loan out company hires you and pays you. But, the loan out company is your employer. They are the ones who should be deducting and paying taxes.

A lot of people want to, if they’re in the business, they want to set up a corporation or an LLC.  That gives them some insulation.  Because if things go bad, you could find yourself in a lawsuit.  As a sole proprietorship, even if you founded it as DBA.  A DBA is just a fictitious business name. It doesn’t give you any legal protections at all.

Let’s talk about labor versus gear rental fees. For freelance cinematographers, can they receive a 1099 for their gear rental and a W2 for labor on the same job?

Yes, they can. When you rent equipment, you’re not hiring someone. There’s no employment relationship there because you’re not hiring someone.  These rules about whether you’re an independent contractor or an employee have to do with hiring people to provide services. When you’re renting equipment that’s totally different.

Right. Okay. Got it. Part of the law says collaborating with the same people often could demonstrate that you are dependent on that one job and therefore an employee. What if you’re working as an adviser and most of your work is for one company?  But you have no call time and you can work when you set appointments. How would you classify this?

Well, this is gray areas here. And you know, one of the problems with this whole scheme of treating employees and independent contractors differently is it’s not always crystal clear whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor.  They could fall within this gray area where it’s not so clear.  So, there’s dangers.

My advice is if you’re concerned about being fined the safest thing to do is to hire them through a payroll company. Hire them as an employee and have taxes deducted. There’s no risks for that. It’s only if you hire someone who’s deemed an employee and you pay them as an independent contractor then you have some risk.

So, it’s much cheaper for you to just abide by the law until it’s amended to include the film industry or new laws are made. The safest thing you can do financially is to either start the loan out company or just hire a payroll company.

Right.  And by the way, those penalties are for violating the law.  There could be additional penalties. For instance, if you hired someone as an independent contractor and they should have been employees and they also worked a lot of overtime.  Now, you might also be liable for violating the overtime statute. So yeah, there could be a whole, a whole bunch of potential problems.

Oh my gosh. A letter I received said an option to consider is hire an entertainment law firm. If you’re a producer that has employment contracts in place drafted after 2020, you could potentially be subjected to tax penalties and lawsuits by both city and state of California. Does this mean that even if you have contracts in place, you could be fined if you were paid wrong?

Yes. When the courts look at a contract, if the contract says this is a contract for the sale of a duck, but it’s obvious what you bought instead was the chicken. The court’s not going to be fooled. you know? So, if you say this person is an independent contractor just because the contract says this person is an independent contractor, then it doesn’t make right.

If they should have been an employee, the contract’s not going to fool anyone. I’m not sure most independent filmmakers need to hire an entertainment law firm specifically for this. I would say hire a payroll company. 

If you hire a payroll company, you will probably be okay because this is exactly what the payroll company has expertise in.

If you’re uncertain about what to do, you can hire an attorney. But my guess is that most of the time, if you just had a payroll company that would solve the problem.

 

Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-The Art of Film Funding Podcastprofit that offers the Roy W. Dean Film Grants and fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcastThe Art of Film Fundinginterviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionShe is also the author of  The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.  See IMDB for producing credits

Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way

How an invitation to a movie set changed my life and helped spark a revolution in independent filmmaking

by Carole Dean

It was early 1970 and a lovely Friday morning, my favorite day, because I was going to my favorite hairdresser in the valley.  Connie Stevens was a movie star in the 70’s and she owned this lovely salon with the best hairdressers in LA.   My curly hair would be straightened and then piled on top of my head in a “beehive” of cascading curls.  It was a time when straight hair was in, some women were actually ironing their hair to get the last kink out of it.

Short Ends

Driving home with my hair full of spray net, I was totally focused on what to wear as this was a special night.  Mike Joyce had invited me to go to the set of a top TV show.  Mike was a camera man who loaded the film on the camera and handled the distance finder.  

He met me at the gate and escorted me to a captain’s chair saying Visitor…and put me near the action. David Jansen was at his height of power as the Doctor chasing the one-armed man who had killed his wife and Jansen was being charged with the murder. 

Once seated the fun began.  It was lights, camera, action and then it was Reloading….and I saw Mike take this large magazine that held the unexposed raw Kodak film stock off the camera and go to the dark room.  He was soon back with what looked like the same magazine and once it was back on the camera, the Director of Photography said,” Ready” to the Director, who said, Lights, and the set lit up, camera and then action. 

And in just a few minutes and they did the same thing all over again.  This happened 4 times in a row and David Jansen was all upset.  He was stomping around the set saying his lines out loud, and then the same thing would happen again.

The Invention of “Short Ends”

Once we were off the set, I asked Mike what was happening.  The set fiasco was more exciting than watching them shoot The Fugitive, that was boring.

Mike explained that David was flubbing his lines and it was a long scene.  So, when David got the lines wrong, they had to put in a new roll of film to get the entire scene at once.

Well, what do you do with those little old “Short Ends” of film I asked?  We write the footage on the can, tape up the cans them send them to the film department and get new rolls.  What?  You don’t use that film, no, said Mike.  One mistake in this business and you are history.  I can’t take a chance that the film is good.  But Mike you just loaded it yourself.

Mike said, “Not one assistant cameraman will use those, what did you call them?  Short Ends.  No, we know we can get new rolls.” 

My mind was spinning, I had been looking for something that I could do, and this seemed like it was a business in the making.

Well, what if I bought that stock and sold it to these new independent filmmakers?  No, Mike said, no one in their right mind would ever buy film stock that did not come from Kodak.  Forget about it.  Waste of time.  That will never work.

My $20 Business Idea

He was adamant.  But I was not convinced.  You know how you feel when a light bulb goes off inside you and you know this is a good idea?  That’s just how I felt.  I knew I could create a small business buying this left-over stock and selling it to the independents.

All of the union filmmakers like Mike were horrified at the growth of the independent film business.  Those people were not in the union and the word was to never deal with them, don’t help them in any way. 

The cameraman’s union was father to son.  It was only because Mike Joyce’s father was a cameraman that he was allowed to get into the local 659 union.  These independents could shoot films much cheaper and steal shots without permits.  They were brilliant at finding up-coming actors and directors to work for them for peanuts.  The proletariat said they were the dirt of the earth and had to be stamped out quickly.

How do you start a business?  I called city hall and they helped me find how to get a business license and it was very cheap to get a Doing Business As certificate.  Next,  I found I could rent a typewriter for $10.00 a month and off I went to the library to get copies of the Hollywood production companies.  I also copied the animation people., I was not sure what they did but I knew I had to include them.

So far, this was not too expensive.  It was a $20.00 investment.  Now the hard work started.  I hand typed 250 letters and send them to the companies and animators in Hollywood. I got one phone call. 

Vick Shank was an animator in the valley, and he said he would take a chance on 2000 feet of 35mm raw stock.  Fantastic!  I closed him, got the agreement he would have a check ready for me, and said that in 2 days I would deliver the film.

High Heels, Long Legs, and Need for Film

Now, I had the sale but no raw stock.  This was I felt the easy part, to buy the stock.  It never entered my mind that I could not get the stock.  From what I heard they sold it for the silver content for pennies.

Bill Wiedmeyer was the head of Columbia Pictures Studios.  Everyone said he was a nice man, so I call and got an appointment with him.  Walked in with my new mini skirt dress, with my long legs in high, high-heels and my hair in the famous be hive.  He pulled a chair up next to his desk and had me sit there next to him.

He immediately opened his drawer and took out the scissors and said, Lean over here.  I did and he cut off the price tag of my new dress.  At first, I was embarrassed but forget that, I was on a mission, so I just let that go and hoped he would hear me out.

Bill was a delightful man, we chatted for about 20 minutes on the state of the industry at that time and discussed our favorite films.  A Man and A Woman, was the French film that everyone was discussing and he loved that I had seen it.

Finally, I asked him if he would consider selling me some short ends of film.  I told him about my new business.  He thought that was wonderful and I gave him a good price for the film because I had already sold it and I was ready for a nice negotiation.

But he didn’t negotiate.  He took me to the vault and showed the thousands of cans of film and I was in heaven!  Here was my inventory, all I had to do was sell it.

Now, the only problem was I didn’t have any money.  So, I said let me have 3,000 feet today and I will be back and buy all your film.  He started to laugh.  You want me to take a check for $90.00?  I will have so much explaining to do, they will never believe me.   Now was the time to convince him that he would be so happy when I sold all his film and he just sat back in his seat and looked at me.  I knew he was thinking so I sat very still and let him think.

Yes, I will do this for you, he said, and got up and went to the vault again and pulled some cans of the shelf, took my check and I was in business.

Completing My First Short Ends Sale

If I was fast enough, I could get to Vick’s office today.  So I ran home, cleaned the film cans with Comet then rubbed them down with tea towels to make the shine.  I asked Vick to get my check ready.  I delivered the film and got to the hank to deposit his check to cover my check to Columbia because I did not have $90.00 in my account!

That was a memorable day.  It was empowering.  It meant that yes, there is a market for this film. I just needed to find the people who will buy it.  Vick said to try other animators as 100 fee was a day’s work for him, so he was set for weeks.

Now, it seemed to me that to get more customers I needed to have a reference.  So, each day I created a reason to call Vick.  What I really wanted to know was if the film was good and to see how he was and if he was enjoying using the short ends.  Finally, I got up the courage to ask him if I could use him as a reference.  “I will agree on one condition,” “OK, I said, anything you want Vick!”  He replied, “just stop calling me so I can do the work!”

Now armed with a vault full of film stock, one reference, and lots of confidence all I had to do was get on the phone and learn how to sell these little old short ends.

Helping Independent Filmmakers Finally Get Their Films Made

This little ‘ol short ends business took off.  Kodak loved me because I put value to their left-over stock.  They often sent me customers. 

What really happened is that many directors of photography who are now revered as some of our “greatest” started with the short ends we provided.  By providing film stock they could now afford, we helped many directors, writers and producers create their future.  It gave them a chance to make their movies. 

We sold to Cassavetes and Roger Corman who started the careers of Martin Scorsese and James Cameron.  Rudy Ray Moore, “Dolemite”, was able to shoot his features with our film stock.  We took credit cards too!  Robert Townsend and other filmmakers loved this. 

We ended up with three offices. Hollywood on Highland Blvd off Sunset, The Film Center Building in New York City, and one in downtown Chicago. 

Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do what you know you can do!!  Just smile at critics and do it anyway.  Where there is a will, there is a way.

 

Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-The Art of Film Funding Podcastprofit that offers the Roy W. Dean Film Grants and fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcastThe Art of Film Fundinginterviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionShe is also the author of  The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.  See IMDB for producing credits

 

How California’s AB-5 Labor Law Impacts Independent Filmmakers

The New Law Changes How Non-Union Filmmakers Must Classify Cast and Crew as Employees

Now law as of January 1st, California’s AB-5 (Assembly Bill 5) restricts the hiring of employees on a 1099.  Employers are now required to use what is called the ABC Test to determine if an employee can be classified as an independent contractor.

AB-5 Film

The ABC Test clearly states that workers are employees unless the employer can prove there is an absence of control, the worker’s trade is outside the employer’s business, and the worker is engaged in the same trade with many other entities.

The impetus behind the creation of the law was to control the explosion of Uber and Lyft drivers who were being classified as independent contractors.  It was intended to end what was considered to be an abusive classification that denied these workers many employee benefits. 

However, as written, the new law ended up eliminating the independent contractor classification for many other workers.  This includes independent California film and television producers who will lose the option to hire most production crew as independent contractors.

How AB-5 Effects Union Films

Unionized productions already pay 95% of their workers as employees, and not as contractors. For this reason, the unions don’t see the legislation effecting their members.

In a joint statement by SAG-AFTRA, WGA West, IATSE, Hollywood Teamsters 399, and Studio Utility Employees Local 724, the unions made it clear that they do not think AB 5 will affect the industry:

“Over the past four months, we have carefully monitored this legislation as it was drafted and moved through the California Legislature…During that time, we conducted due diligence within our own guilds and unions, with outside tax attorneys, CPAs, and entertainment lawyers knowledgeable about our business and loan-out companies, and with legislative staff in Sacramento. These conversations were all undertaken to ensure that AB 5 would not undermine the rights secured by our collective bargaining agreements, including the right to form and utilize loan-out companies.”

How Does AB-5 Effect Non-Union Films

Do you have a “call time”?  That would constitute control. Under the ABC Test, the majority of the cast and crew will be viewed as employees under the company’s control. 

An actor’s work could be construed as usual to the business of a production company. Collaborating with the same people often could demonstrate that you are dependent on that one job, and therefore, an employee.

Options to Consider When Going into Production

Hire a Payroll Company – If your freelancers now need to be classified as employees, get a film payroll company to on board workers as short term employees and serve as their employer of record.

Payroll Fee – It’s not an ideal solution. But adding an additional 15-20% per new employee into your new quotes will protect your production if what you thought were independent contractors need to be classified as employees.    

Hire an Entertainment Law Firm – If you are a producer that has employment contracts in place drafted before 2020, you could potentially be subjected to tax penalties and lawsuits by both cities and the State of California. 

With any legislation, the effects can never be seen in full until the law begins being applied. There have yet to be any court cases that will define the exemptions in this law.  So, best to err on side of caution and get advice when going into production.

We Want Your Questions

Carole Dean will interview entertainment lawyer Mark Litwack about this new law on  The Art of Film Funding Podcast on February 19th at 9am PST. 

We invite you email us with any questions you may have about the new law. Carole will pose them to Mark during the podcast.  You can email your questions to info@fromtheheartproductions.com

What is, isn’t. What isn’t, is.

Wi-Fi may be providing you with high speed internet, but it’s invisible bandwaves may be slowly destroying your health  

by Carole Dean

Monika Krajewska has been designing healthy environments for 35 years. She became Electro-Hyper Sensitive (EHS) in 2007 after moving into a 1920’s house.  As a result of chronic exposure to mold and electromagnetic radiation, she was physically debilitated for nearly a decade. She found a building biologist who evaluated her home and discovered alarming levels of high electric and magnetic fields caused by the hundred-year-old wiring.  Monika began to recover as soon as the electric circuits were turned off.

Wi-Fi

The best thing you can do immediately to sleep better is to keep your phone away from you at night.

She devoted herself after that to study the science of healthy buildings. To date, Monika has assessed nearly one hundred homes for EMFs (electric and magnetic fields), has given countless talks, and assisted hundreds of people with creating healthy home and work environments. She is often called by realtors to measure properties for home buyers and renters. She is staff with the Building Biology Institute, lectures about EMFs and is founder of Elegant Healthy Homes.

I asked her to join me on the Art of Film Funding Podcast because I believe we are all living in an unseen sea of electronics that are causing many side effects.

The Dangers of Wi-Fi

I asked her to start with an explanation of the Wi-Fi that comes off our cell phone and our printers and compute,

“We call it radio frequency radiation.” she replied.  “Wi-Fi is part of that electromagnetic spectrum. And we have found those frequencies are pulsed frequencies.  If you live in the city, you have high exposure.  Because there are not only cell phones all around you, but everything is functioning on wireless communication.  You are most likely close to cell towers and antennas that proliferate every city. Those signals are particularly harmful simply because they create oxidative stress in the body.  You are being inundated by that 24/7, especially at night.”

Monika said the symptoms of EMF, Wi-Fi, and dirty electricity are headaches, depression, tinnitus, cognitive impairment, brain fog, heart palpitation, fatigue, skin conditions and skin rashes.

Sleep Time Is Repair Time

The first thing she asks a client when she’s hired to assess a home is, “Do you have a good night’s sleep?”  She begins her investigation in the sleeping area.  At night your body is repairing itself from the onslaught of Wi-Fi and EMF’s during the day. It needs the cleanest and most pristine environment to repair you.” 

Things that Monika addresses are the wiring in the walls around your bed, your metal bed frame, and anything that’s plugged into the power outlet around and up to within six inches from the bed. You might want to use a battery-operated clock to cut down on EMF’s.

The best thing you can do immediately to sleep better is to keep your phone away from you at night.  Do not to sleep with your cell phone near you.  Leave it in another room or better yet, put in a Faraday cage bag. I got one for $18.00.  You will not truly be rid of Wi-Fi until you remove the phone.

Forget charging your phone by your bed.  When you charge your phone next to your bed at night you get the radio frequency radiation next to your brain.  You get the electric field coming off the core that’s plugged into the electricity.  This is very toxic to your body.

 

 

Say Goodnight to Your Wi-Fi

“So how can you recharge yourself,” Monika asks, “if you’re not in a clean environment? You want to get rid of Alexa and any electronic gadgets, move them far away.” She even suggests that you go to the circuit breaker board and flip the circuits to the electrical sockets near your bed. Stop any electricity coming into your bedroom and the adjoining room.

Next, you want to consider the amount of Wi-Fi in your bedroom.  I set my router to turn off at night and back on in the morning and immediately I had a better night’s sleep.

You need to find out if your neighbor’s Wi-Fi is coming in. I bought an electronic monitoring device that measures Wi-Fi and EMF. It showed that my neighbors Wi-Fi was streaming into my bedroom with a very high rating.  I put aluminum foil over the windows and that stopped it.  However, if I left even a slit of ¼ inch uncovered, it would come in via the smallest crack.  So, overlap your foil to cover every opening.

Protecting Yourself From Wi-Fi

If you’re in an apartment building, you don’t have any control over what’s going on below you. However, she says there are items you can buy that will greatly enhance your sleep. There are RF sheets (that absorb or block radio frequencies) or bed mats that go specifically under the bed at Safe Living Technologies.

There are really great quality fabrics that are specifically made called Swiss Shield Natural and Swiss Shield Daylight. These two types of fabric that are used for shielding your body. You can make curtains from this and you can buy a readymade canopy for your bed. There  is a wall paint you can use that comes from Safe Living Technologies in Canada.  Monika has a lot of resources and she is happy to share them.

I replaced my normal electric power cords, which produce enormous amounts of electric fields and bought shielded cords with a ground which was very inexpensive. This reduces your exposure around your desk and work areas. 

Monika suggested you rewire your lamps with shielded cords and she said that ACE hardware will do it for $15.00 a lamp.  It may sound like a lot of fuss but believe me it’s worth it to feel better.

Time to Clean Up Your Environment

Monika went to an EMF conference for doctors in the San Francisco Bay area in September of 2019.  The consensus is that it’s just not enough to see a doctor if you are suffering from symptoms brought on by EMF or Wi-Fi.   99% of the responsibility and success with your recovery belongs in cleaning up the EMF environment in your home and especially in your bedroom.  Once you do this, then the doctors can do their work to help you recover.

Monika recommends you see the Ted Talk by Jeromy Johnson here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F0NEaPTu9oI   Jeromy  worked in Silicon Valley and became electrosensitive and has become an educator with wonderful sources of information for you, see www.emfanalysis.com 

You can reach Monika at www.eleganthealthyhome.com and on @elegantliving27 on Facebook or you can phone 805 895-4687.

 

Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-The Art of Film Funding Podcastprofit that offers the Roy W. Dean Film Grants and fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcastThe Art of Film Fundinginterviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionShe is also the author of  The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.  See IMDB for producing credits

 

Documentary “999” Named Winner of 2nd Roy W. Dean Grant of 2019

Filmmaker to Receive $30,000 in Cash and Film Production Services to Help Complete Film

The documentary “999: The Extraordinary Young Women of the First Official Transport from Auschwitz” has been chosen by From the Heart Productions as winner of their Summer 2019 Roy W. Dean Grant.  Awarded 3 times each year, the Roy W. Dean Grant goes to an independent film that is unique and makes a contribution to society.  With the grant, first time filmmaker Heather Dune Macadam will continue her work to bring this important film to the public.

Roy W. Dean Grant Winner

“We need to reminded of the holocaust and it’s terrible toll with great films such as this.” said Carole Dean, president of From the Heart Productions. “It is an amazing, untold story that we are proud to help document.” 

In addition to the $3,500 cash prize, the Roy W. Dean Grant Winner will receive $500 expendable, lighting and grip equipment from Filmtools, $1,295.00 Scholarship to Writers Boot Camp, 2TB ArmorATD hard drive from G-Technology, and more from many other heartfelt film industry donors.

About the Film

On March 26, 1942, a train took 999 unmarried, young Jewish women for government service–they thought they were going to a shoe factory to work. They ended up in Auschwitz. “999 – The Extraordinary Yound Women of the First Official  Transport to Auschwitz” reveals the hidden story about how the Slovak government paid the Nazis to take their unmarried young Jewish women for slave labor, where they were supposed to be worked to death.

Who were these young women? Why were they chosen? How did a handful survive over three years in the death camps? Multiple narratives have been collected from survivors and families over the years that retrace that fateful transport and frame the girls’ stories with 94-year-old Edith Grosman—#1970—to discover the truth of this largely unreported and completely ignored women’s history about the First Official Jewish Transport to Auschwitz.

What started as a documentary is now also a book being published by Kensington Citadel Press in the US. Heather’s goal is to have the documentary released with the book.  The book is already creating a bit of a buzz on BookBuzz where it was picked  as one of the top 10 nonfiction books for Fall/Winter 2019.  Being translated into 12 languages to date, it will be released in the UK as The Nine Hundred by Hodder and Stoughton (February 2020).

About the Filmmaker

Roy W. Dean Grant WinnerHeather Dune Macadam – Heather began her career as a performance artist and dancer with the Martha Graham Contemporary Dance Company. After an accident prematurely ended her performing career, she began writing.  Her first book, was the memoir Rena’s Promise: A Story of Sisters in Auschwitz,  which she co-wrote with the 716th woman in Auschwitz.  In 2012, the Digital Edition went viral and became an instant best seller, topping Holocaust and Memoir lists on Amazon.

She has been published by The New York Times, National Geographic, The Guardian UK, The Daily Mail, Marie Claire, Newsweek among other national and international publications, and was a semi-regular commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered.

Ms. Macadam holds a Masters in Creative Writing and has received a Presidential Grant for Research from Savannah College of Art and Design and a PEN American stipend.  She is the director and president of the Rena’s Promise Foundation and ran the Rena’s Promise Intl. Creative Writing Camp 4 Teens for 5 years, reaching out to children at risk and helping them discover their creative voices.

Her Roy W. Dean Grant Winning Film is her first film.

About the Roy W. Dean Grant

Now in its 27th year, the Roy W. Dean Grant has awarded over $2,000,000 in cash and donated film services to independent films. The grant is awarded to films budgeted under $500,000 that are unique and make a contribution to society.  It has been an important lifeline for independent filmmakers that help to get their projects started or finished.  Without assistance from the grant, many excellent and important films may never have been made. 

Past winners of the grant include the Emmy winning Mia: A Dancer’s Journey,  2019 Sundance Film Festival selection Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins, and the acclaimed documentary Kusama-Infinity which is now in distribution showing in theaters around the US and world.

About From The Heart Productions

From The Heart Productions is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to helping filmmakers get their projects funded and made.  Besides providing funding through the grant, they offer film fiscal sponsorship to filmmakers.  This allows donations made to films they sponsor to be tax deductible.  From The Heart has helped independent filmmakers raise over $10 million through it’s fiscal sponsorship program.  President Carole Dean is the best-selling author of The Art of Film Funding: 2nd Edition, Alternative Financing Concepts

For More Information and interview requests, please contact:

Richard Kaufman

richard@fromtheheartproductions.com

www.fromtheheartproductions.com