Carole Dean – The Art of Film Funding Blog

Carole Dean founded From the Heart Productions in 1992 to help indie filmmakers get their films funded.

In her blog, she shares her knowledge and advice on:

  • Raising Money for Your Film
  • Getting Distribution
  • Manifesting Money and Success
  • Crowdfunding
  • Fiscal Sponsorship

And more with the goal of giving filmmakers the tools to get their films produced.

She hosts the weekly podcast, The Art of Film Funding, interviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film production. She 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

March 29th, 2020

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

February 25th, 2020

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

February 24th, 2020

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

February 23rd, 2020

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

January 27th, 2020

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.

January 11th, 2020

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

 

“Bulletproof” Tips for Writing and Selling Great Screenplays

November 23rd, 2019

Interview with the authors of “Bulletproof: Writing Scripts That Don’t Get Shot Down”

by Carole Dean

The partnership of the authors of Bulletproof: Writing Scripts That Don’t Get Shot Down is rooted in a 30-year friendship that dates back to their Philadelphia high school days. David Diamond and David Weissman sold their first spec script, The Whiz Kid to 20th Century Fox in 1994 and have enjoyed a very successful screenwriting career.  Together they have conceived and contributed to over a dozen movies with a combined box office growth of over a billion dollars worldwide.

screenplay

“Do not give your script to anybody in the business, any of your professional contacts, until you’re absolutely certain that you’ve done the very best that you can do on a script.”

I was lucky enough to have them as guests on my The Art of Film Funding Podcast. They shared with me some of their brilliant advice for new screenwriters for selling their screenplays in the age of streaming, getting inspired, and getting past the gatekeepers.

Selling to Streaming Services

Carole: I want to know is the pitching and the script submission the same to the new streaming services, as it was to the Hollywood studios?

David and David: Pitching is much more difficult now. In the last really 10, 15 years, development has kind of fallen on the shoulders of writers and producers without studio participation. The streamers have definitely hired a large number of executives from the feature world, to sort of run their feature department.  There’ll be a lot of continuity in selling to them.

What that means though, in practical terms for a lot of people, is that if you’re a writer and you want to sell, whether it’s to traditional studio or to one of the streaming services, you’re probably going to have to write your script.

You should not rely on pitching unless you know you’re coming in with an A list star, and an A list director. Unless you can package your movie as a pitch, you’re going to have to write that script.

The Three C’s of Script Writing

Carole: Let’s get into your brilliant book Bulletproof. One of the first things you share at the beginning of Bulletproof is the three C’s necessary for a great screenplay.  Tell us what they are and why they are so important.

David and David: The three C’s are the fundamental ingredients of an idea for a movie. And those are a character and a concept and a context.

You can’t really start writing a screenplay until you understand what the idea for your screenplay is. And that is a mistake, as hard as it may be to believe, that a lot of writers make.  They’re full of inspiration and they’re eager to get going and they start writing and they really don’t know what the full idea for their movie is.

We put out there right at the very beginning (Of Bulletproof) how important this is and what we think goes into an idea. And that is a specific person in a specific situation under very specific circumstances. And that’s really what you need to know even before you get started doing anything else.

You need to know who this character is, what is somehow broken or incomplete with this person, and what the challenge is that this person is going to be facing and the world that this challenge exists in. What is the world of your movie? You need to know.

The third C, contacts, is also sort of a question of tone and what kind of movie this is.  Because you can have a character and a concept and for instance, the idea for Groundhog Day, that same basic idea was done as a horror film. It was called Happy Death Day.  So that third element which is the genre, the tone, what kind of movie it is, is, crucial as well. 

It’s not enough just to say I’m writing a movie about a character who is living the same day over-and-over again. That can be a lot of different movies depending on context.

 

 

Know Who is Reading Your Script

Carole:  What advice do you have for writers on submitting their projects?

David and David: We have a whole chapter at the end of the book on submissions. Like what do you do when you’re done? One of the points in that chapter is you do not give your script to anybody in the business, any of your professional contacts, until you’re absolutely certain that you’ve done the very best that you can do on a script.

A big part of the perspective of the book is not just how to get a writer through the process of writing a script, which is critically important, but it’s also having in mind as you’re going through that process, who’s reading this script and what are they looking for?

And how is my script going to benefit the person who’s reading it? Because that’s how things progress to production. So, it’s not just about what you feel like doing and what’s in it for you, which is certainly important.

It’s also about the opportunities that you create for the people who are reading your script. And if you’re not creating an opportunity for the person reading your script, it’s not going to go anywhere.”  Yes, you need to know, ‘What are the benefits of the film for the reader? What opportunity is in the script for the reader?’

Where to Find Inspiration

Carole: Well, I love the book Bulletproof. And in there, you suggest writers find inspiration and information in those who have come before. Please tell us how you would do that and how it assists the writer.

David and David: That’s the best part of the whole process, Carole. One of our principal things that we do when we’re preparing to write something is, we try to take inspiration and lessons from movies that have come before that we love or admire or has something really in particular to say about either the vision or the kind of idea we’re writing.

We’ve always done that. And it can be very helpful sometimes. Really, it’s purely for inspirational purposes. You might go back and watch one of your favorite movies of all time, just to inspire you to what got you into doing this. Other times it’s really important just to see what the models are for the kind of movie that you want to write. Hollywood has inherited wisdom and knowledge from a hundred years of, cinematic history. And we take that very seriously,

This is also a literacy issue. You know, you may have in mind that you’re going to write something that’s really genre busting. If you’re not familiar with the movies in that genre, you really can’t subvert the conventions of that genre.  And, and even if you’re interested in honoring, you know, the genre and its conventions, you must know the movies.

If you are going write a romance novel, you wouldn’t set out and write a romance novel without ever having read a romance novel. But I think that that movies are the same way. You really need to know, if you’re going to contribute to the conversation, the ongoing conversation that’s taking place in the movies at all times, you need to know what’s come before you.

Getting Past the Gatekeepers!

Carole: Many producers tell me that not everyone reads a script, but everyone does read the one-page synopsis. And to me that’s the most important part of closing the money man and closing grantors.

David and David: The idea is there are really two purposes for being able to encapsulate the main points of your story in a single page. And the first one is for the benefit of the writer to have a roadmap to follow that it can keep you focused as you’re writing your screenplay.

But the other advantage of being able to reduce your story to key points on a single page is that, at some point in this process, somebody is going to have to walk into their boss’s office and say, you know, I just read something and this is what it is. And they’re going to have to be able to encapsulate that in a brief period of time.  And the more that you can exert some control or influence over what they say in that conversation, the better off you are.

So the idea is to be able to create a page that basically sums up the essential ingredients of your story,  that can be then used in situations just like the one you’re describing when people are thinking about financing something, buying something, so they know what it is even before they’ve read it. Eventually someone’s going to read the screenplay.

Certainly, in the in the studio world, movies don’t get made without the people who are buying them, reading the scripts.

But it does take surviving this process of script readers and assistants and development executives being able to describe what a screenplay is about before it ends up being read by someone who actually has the authority to spend the money to buy it. 

 

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 Use Relaxation to Unlock Your Creativity

November 23rd, 2019

“They call creative people ‘daydreamers’ because we are much more creative when we relax.”

by Carole Dean

About three years ago, I found Reiki master Sevina Altanova and have been receiving highly beneficial Reiki treatments weekly.  Her relaxation techniques have made a huge difference in my work.  Since I’ve been getting treatments, I’ve stepped up writing more blogs for filmmakers, I’m creating a new online film funding course, and designing a new eBook for filmmakers who join our mailing list. 

 

“We are over-scheduled, overstimulated, overworked, overburdened and we need a practical way to overcome the bad health effects of our high-pressure lifestyle.” Sevina Altanova

 

She recently founded her own company, Stress Management Resources.  “People who are constantly engaging their minds may not realize that this hampers their creative impulses. For filmmakers, it is very important for you to relax in order to boost your creativity.”

As a guest on my The Art of Film Funding Podcast, Sevina offered tips on how to improve your relaxation and discussed the life changing relaxation techniques I’d learned over the years.

Daydreaming Can Create your Future

 According to research in neuroscience, creativity occurs in the moments of rest rather than while we’re working on or thinking. So, do yourself a favor, schedule time to daydream. Perhaps in your daydream, you see your finished film on the screen in your favorite screening room and feel your success as you jump out of your seat and bow to your standing ovation.

Physicist Fred Alan Wolf, author The Dreaming Universe, told me in an interview, “when you are daydreaming you are really creating your future. It’s like a handshake across time.”  Later in your life when you experience this event, you feel like it has happened before.  That is because you truly experienced it in your dreaming time, which can create your future.

It created my future.  During boring school classes I put on a bright smile and took off to be on the set with my favorite movie stars and watch films getting made.  I was flying over the Great Serengeti and watching the wilder beast migrate, I was gliding down the Nile on a slow boat and riding elephants in India. 

All these things I experienced almost exactly as I had day-dreamed them.  I remember flying low over the wildebeest and in fact when I went to Kenya, I saw the same vision I had in meditation while I was ballooning over the wilder beast. It felt just like I had imagined, before I even knew what ballooning was.  These experiences all felt like they were deja vous, like I had done it before and in fact I had.

 

 

Meditation Manifests Miracles

Sevina highly recommends meditation. “Did you know that meditation is over 5,000 years old? People do meditation to maintain health, heal their bodies, calm their minds and reconnect with their spirit. The most important things in meditation is that you are connecting with your higher self.  Meditation lets the mind relax.” 

As a 40-year meditator, I fully agree. While I was running three offices, NY, Chicago and LA I meditated twice daily.  That was a time you could not talk about meditation or they thought you were a “kook.”  Especially when you were in the business of film and talking to engineers. 

So, I learned quickly to find a quiet place, tell no one, and just disappear for 20 minutes.  In NYC, that was the air conditioner room and in L.A., the office supply room. I would put a note on the door, “taking inventory,” but they knew I was meditating as it soon became very quiet in that place.

This was the most beneficial thing I could have done to help me run three offices at once.  At some point, I read about TM, transcendental meditation, and decided to try it.  Little did I know that Seinfeld and Paul McCartney and David Lynch were all hiding in closets like me.  All of us were experiencing reduced stress and anxiety, better sleep, greater clarity, calmness and a great memory.

I still do this twice a day and now I have a pathway to heaven.  I created a super-highway in the circuits of my brain, so I go to a quiet state quickly and 20 minutes evaporates.  It is the way to live your life with less stress. 

Sevina says, “Any type of meditation that works for you is what you should do.  A walking meditation works for some people, a driving meditation works for some.”  (I always end up in some strange location so I can’t do this!) 

Find what works for you and be good to yourself, put this in your google calendar MEDITATTE MY FUTURE INTO BEING

Music Does Sooth the Beast in Us

“You can relax by listening to soothing music” says Sevina. An article by John Stuart Reid, cymascope.com, says experimentation has found viable red blood cells remained higher in number when exposed to music vs silence, indicating promising results for healing. He says that music therapy, a concept first espoused by Pythagoras of Samos 2,500 years ago, is gaining popularity for depression and relieving anxiety.

“There are millions of studies that show that meditation decreases stress. It will decrease your blood pressure and you have quality sleep. Your entire health will improve, and you will get a stronger immune system.

“When you practice meditation or relaxation, you connect with your partner much better.  You can even resolve problems easily.  Because you are coming from the perspective of love and understanding, you have this ability because now you are relaxed.”

Breathing Exercises are Perfect Before Meetings

Relaxation can decrease stress and tension in a matter of minutes.  Learn to control your nervous system through relaxation practices such as meditation, Reiki, breathing exercises and yoga.  It’s very, very easy.  Anything that brings you joy and calms you down is relaxing.

I want to share a breathing exercise that is incredibly super simple, quick, and beneficial.

You take a deep breath, hold it for three seconds and you slowly exhale. If you repeat this three-to five times, taking deep breaths and holding them for three to six seconds then slowly exhale, you will find after the fifth time your body starts relaxing.

This is something you can do anywhere, before a meeting or a at rehearsal or before you pitch your film.

Please check out Sevina’s website at www.stressmanagementresources.com.  She has meditations, deep relaxations, she does Hypnotherapy and relaxations on SKYPE.  Sevina.altanova@gmail.com.  She is dedicated to helping filmmakers improve their health and create their art.  She is also doing some mindful eating workshops soon that all of us can benefit from.

 

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 Cut Costs When Cutting Your Film

October 26th, 2019

Top filmmaker and documentary consultant Karen Everett discusses fast track editing: the art of getting films to editors, and working with them at all stages of production. 

by Christopher Eyte

WHEN it comes to experience in the film industry, it would be hard to beat the achievements of Karen Everett.  As one of the world’s leading documentary story consultants, Karen is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker who has taught editing skills for nearly 20 years at the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California. Karen owns New Doc Editing, a pioneering editing and consulting business helping filmmakers structure compelling documentaries for venues such as PBS, HBO, Sundance and other top film festivals.

Karen Everett

One of the first questions Karen asks a director is, “What are the seven top ideas’ needing to be created in the film?”

Karen is a fount of wisdom when it comes to making documentary films and shared it during her visit with Carole Dean of From the Heart Productions on The Art of Film Funding Podcast.

In particular, she has some great tips on logging guidance: how to get out of production into post-editing and best methods for a successful rough-cut screening. As a professional who has notched 30 years in the industry, one of the most exciting changes Karen has seen is the rise of inspiring documentaries, as she calls them, as opposed to films preoccupied with ‘what’s wrong with the world’ such as homelessness and climate change.

Audiences want positive social action documentaries

“I think [those films] were needed at the time to open our eyes but I recently read that Jerry Seinfeld said documentaries have a reputation for being ‘incredibly depressing’. That’s changing. For example, people will go to see a film that is about a Supreme Court justice who fought her way up the ladder, or about Fred Rogers. These [new] films focus on protagonists who are doing something, they’re not burying their head in the sand, they’re doing something to change the world.”

The new focus in modern documentaries means that filmmakers and media bodies such as CNN are choosing stories which are more positive and meaningful, according to Karen. There’s still a role for investigative documentaries in her opinion, but her story consulting work is seeing documentary makers taking a more positive emphasis on social issues. 

Accelerated Post: 10 weeks to completed edit

Karen knows the challenges of funding film making and that is why she is supportive of the sterling work by From the Heart Productions. Her own business, New Doc Editing, is focused on lowering the costs of making films. The editor’s input plays a key factor in that budgeting, as well as time taken in editing. A one-hour PBS documentary edit used to take about six months to edit the 30 hours of footage. Karen says that her company’s new program, called Accelerated Post, will edit the documentary in 10 weeks or less, with a weekly editing fee of $3,000. It is a fast-track, post-production process. 

“Frankly, if you’re paying less than that for an editor, I would seriously check their credentials. One of the reasons we can do it in 10 weeks is because our handpicked editors, they’re in the top five per cent of editors and they’re good… fast! And you also get me as a story consultant. We hone in quickly on the filmmaker’s vision and what needs to happen to execute that. Is it going to be a story-driven documentary? We need to get really clear on the structure of the film before we start editing. If there’s not a story (in the sense of a character on a quest), then it’s probably an essay-style film.”

One of the first questions Karen asks is, “what are the seven top ideas’ needing to be created in the film. The director is then guided to cut footage down to 30 hours – overshot is a common issue. The first three weeks are then spent working on an assembly cut, getting the best footage together. A couple of two-week rough cuts will follow, working out the film structure, story and employment of characters. Lastly there will be a two-week fine cut and a week for the picture lock. 

Your job is to deliver a protagonist/character-driven film to New Doc Editing

Karen doesn’t promise strict timings for the process ‘because it’s not up to us when a film is done’ – but she knows how to speed up the process. The guideline for getting it down to 30 hours is to create a sequence if it’s a protagonist/character-driven film. The character is on a quest so using text on screen and markers helps to gather the plot points. She advises choosing the key moment in a given scene and then ‘throw that into a sequence of plot points’. Surrounding clips can then build the scene and separate sequences created for each main character. This helps to see the story and if it’s sustainable. 

The director’s top seven ideas in the film might involve seven sequences focused on ideas in the documentary. This can seem a lot of work when logging for the edit ‘when you’re sitting before a mountain of footage’ but if you follow certain techniques, Karen finds the process is not so time consuming and boring. 

It’s your choices that quicken the edit

Karen Everett

Karen Everett of New Doc Editing

“Your mind has to be very sharp because you’ve got this list of criteria: the key plot points, the key ideas in your making. You’ve just got to force yourself to make a decision about, for example, if two people say the same thing, which person says it best?” Karen’s final tip is technical: don’t rename your clips, which are six-digit or alphabet/numerical titles. “The camera gives it. If you rename it, then it can be hard to read, link the footage and slow down.”

Can we trust her editors? Karen believes trust is key – finding that the person who fits and feels right for the work; and also trust in terms of experience and credentials. She only hires editors that have two feature documentaries ‘under their belts that have won awards’. A good editor should also be humble, willing to give a point of view but respect your editorial authority. Directors should at the same time have a vision and convey it, according to Karen. 

You must tell us up front what is the protagonist’s ‘statement of desire’

But how do directors know when the filming is enough and it’s time for post-production? Karen says overshooting is a common mistake. The answer is ‘being clear about what the film is about’. Talking to a story consultant such as Karen will help give this clarity.

Being clear about the story is crucial so the viewer doesn’t have to second-guess the focus of the film. Karen calls this a ‘rule of thumb’ that the protagonist’s ‘statement of desire’ is made clear within the first five minutes of the film. An inciting incident, something happening to the character, will proceed this and galvanize the protagonist into embarking on the quest.

Karen adds that the importance of conversations is too often overlooked for character stories. She says documenting relationships in films ‘is very juicy’. Filming conversations, such as between two antagonists (e.g. as in Michael Moore’s films) is inherently dynamic and ‘often more fruitful than an additional solo interview or pick-up interview’. 

How to save money with a story consultant

Story consultants, known as story editors in Hollywood, are fairly new in the world of documentaries and people don’t always budget for them. Even so, it’s helpful to have their input at both pre and post- production stage. Questioning the story basis and whether it is cutting edge is important, according to Karen: “A lot of filmmakers will, for example, want to make a film about Alzheimer’s Disease and following this amazing couple that they met and yet this kind of film has done before. So again, what can you add that’s new?”

Finding a story consultant saves money because it helps filmmakers be clearer about how to direct the camera. Some trailers don’t tell the story or the essence of the real film, and Karen believes that’s a big problem. “What is the central question that you are trying to answer? Or what is the thesis statement, the key idea that you are trying to… the case you’re trying to make?” 

New Doc Editing offers professional help with editing documentaries that inspire. Karen adds: “I have a new website with lots of beautiful portfolio pieces of films we’ve worked on. Check it out!”

Find out more via newdocediting.com or drop Karen an email via karen@newdocediting.com 

 

Chris & Céline Eyte, a husband-and-wife team, own Resurrect Media which is a premier news and content marketing agency based in Abergavenny, South Wales. Their mission is to tell the stories of clients by creating written or visual content, which is simply fantastic and achieves wonderful results.  They specialize in writing and editing services, providing journalistic support, graphic and web design, and photography for events and products.  

Summer 2019 Roy W. Dean Grant Finalists Named

October 20th, 2019

26 Films Selected as Summer 2019 Roy W. Dean Grant Finalists.  Winner to Receive Grant Valued at $30K in Cash and Production Services

From The Heart Productions , the nonprofit dedicated to helping of independent filmmakers fund their films, announced Summer 2019 Roy W. Dean Grant finalists. The second of 3 film grants awarded yearly, the Roy W. Dean Grant is given to a film that is unique and makes a contribution to society.  The winner will receive $3,500 cash and thousands more in donated production services from film industry professionals and companies.

Summer 2019 Roy W. Dean Grant Finalists

“The quality of work and commitment to it from all these filmmakers is wonderful.” said Carole Dean, President of From the Heart Productions. “All of the projects chosen to compete for the grant have the opportunity to become exceptional films in the future.”

Now in its 27th year, the Roy W. Dean Grant is open to documentary films, feature films, web series, and short films or a combination.  It is open to filmmakers around the world.  Applications were received not just from U.S., but from filmmakers in Canada, the United Kingdom, India, Lebanon, and the Ukraine.

All filmmakers who entered the grant are given the opportunity for a free consultation on their project.  Winner of the grant is expected to be announced in November.

The Summer 2019 Roy W. Dean Grant finalists are:

Title

Film Type

Submitting Filmmaker

Where Love is Illegal TV, Web or New Media Nick Fitzhugh
In Justice TV, Web or New Media Nikki Hevesy
Help Is On The Way Documentary William Nolan
One List One Life TV, Web or New Media Dillon Hill
The History Of This Documentary Leyla Rouhi
Beyond The Duplex Planet Documentary Beth Harrington
26 Seconds Documentary Kelly Galindo
The Vintage Voyageur TV, Web or New Media Allison Maldonado
An Elephant In The Room Documentary Katrine Sahistrom
El Cadejo Blanco Feature Justin Lerner
999 The Extraordinary Young Women Documentary Heather Dune Macadam
Swanson on Sunset Documentary Jeffrey Schwarz
Ready Or Not? Documentary Jenny Mackenzie
Acid Test Feature Jenny Waldo
Conscience Short Brandon Kelly
Sacrifice Zones: The 48217 Feature Ben Corona
Wali & Zuri Short Derrick Woodyard
Quantum Qi TV, Web or New Media Sharron Rose
Radical Landscapes Documentary Elettra Fiumi
Dawn Dusk Documentary Jason & Blue Gerber
Mermaids Against Plastics Documentary Sylvia Johnson
Crossing Market Short Brandon Kajewski
The Other Tribe Documentary Lydia Mangeni Stewart
40 Days & 40 Nights Documentary Taira Akbar
Busted Feature Rebecca Hamm
La Recua Documentary Trudi Angell

 

Each finalist is given the opportunity to post information on their contending film on the From the Heart Productions website.  You can view an image from the film, filmmaker info, and loglines.  If they have available, filmmakers can include a link to their film’s website, Facebook page, or relevant social media connection. 

In addition to the  $3,500 in cash provided by From the Heart Productions the winner will also receive $500 in expendables, lighting or grip equipment from Filmtools,  a G-Technology ArmorATD hard drive with case, $1,295.00 Scholarship to Writers Boot Camp, and more from heartfelt film industry donors that support independent filmmaking.

About the Roy W. Dean Grant

Founded in 1992, the Roy W. Dean Grant seeks films that are unique and make a contribution to society that, without it’s help, might otherwise not get made.  There is a Spring, Summer and Fall Grant.  The Fall 2019 Grant has extended its previous deadline and is accepting entries until Oct 31st.  

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 U.S. 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 films fiscal sponsorship which allows donations made to films they sponsor to be tax deductible.  From the Heart Productions has helped independent filmmakers raise over $10 million through its fiscal sponsorship program.  President Carole Dean is the best-selling author of The Art of Film Funding: 2nd Edition, Alternative Financing Concepts