“Bulletproof” Tips for Writing and Selling Great Screenplays

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

“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.

Changing Your Money Mindset to Fund Your Film

It starts by rewiring our money programming, removing money blocks, and igniting your money super powers

by Carole Dean

With over 35 years of vast experience in the corporate, government and entrepreneur sector, Olympia Hostler loves her work helping ambitious women who want to work less, make more, and live free.  Her “Mind Over Money Makeover” program is designed to help high-achieving women realize their wealth potential.

money mindset

Are you stuck with scarcity mindset that is sabotaging you and stopping you from seeking the funding you need?

“Once women ignite their money super powers, wealth shows up in a steady flow and in more ways than they could have imagined,” she told me when she was a guest on my The Art of Film Funding Podcast

She shared with me the secrets and methods she gives her clients to help them create wealth and thrive by changing their money mindset.

It’s Not Enough to Will It

She was quick to say that using will power or brute force does not work.  Change has to happen at the source to get the results and wealth you want.  The source of “money blocks” is our internal programming and usually that is imparted on us by our well-meaning parents, friends, family and the media.  We often take on what they believe.

Another change she adds that we must make is removing old conditioning that we did to ourselves.  When we have certain experiences and we draw conclusions and we make rules, that becomes our conditioning that we put on ourselves.  And most of us adopted our parents’ beliefs, thoughts and habits, because, it is a primal instinct. The question is, she asks, is are these conditionings working for you?

Unblocking Your Money Beliefs

Olympia says that money blocks come from a money programming process.  It is the programming we get from our parents, authority figures, society, media and friends. This programming becomes a self-sabotaging virus and affects all areas of our life. This feeds into having false beliefs, limiting decisions, unprocessed fears and faulty conclusions. 

These limiting beliefs exist on three levels of our being; our body, mind, and heart.  You must shift all three of these back to your “factory settings” to transform your well-being, your health and your wealth. 

Resetting Your Programming

“This is where you undo the years of dangerous programming and get to be yourself again.”

She says we need to realize that the mind controls our behavior, thoughts and emotions. That the heart is responsible for love, gratitude, receiving, connection and support, compassion and community with other people. That the body holds stuck emotions, traumas, stress and fear that affect our physical health.

“You remember that deep person inside who is full of joy, hope and love, that person for whom things come easily and naturally for sustainable wild wealth. It’s when the magic comes back to you and wealth shows up in your life in big ways and in ways that you could never have imagined.”

Changing the Scarcity Mentality

Money myths are lies that Olympia believes our scarcity mentality feeds us and we accept as true.  It’s your scarcity mindset that is your self-sabotaging, inner programming that is holding you back and keeping you small.

She explains that its our scarcity programming that feeds us & we accept scarcity as truth.  We think that there will never be enough whether it is success or money.  This keeps us stuck and holds us back from living our lives on purpose with passion.  It stops us from sharing our gifts w/the world and other people who depend on receiving our gifts to fulfill their purpose.

They are the basis for thinking and behavior that makes us say NO to a lot of opportunities and not even recognize some opportunities. We also say YES to things that do NOT serve us, keep us busy and distracted from our greatness.

Meditation

Another way Olympia advises that we change our thinking is through meditation, aerobic exercise, and novelty.

Meditation is super important to keep us mentally, emotionally and physically clear; relieve stress; improve our health; receive guidance; regulate our nervous system and so many more countless benefits.

“In meditative states, we go into our theta brainwaves which lowers stress and anxiety levels, as well as facilitates healing and growth.  Meditation is a single pointed focus, you can do it while walking, and at any time.  You are most productive when focusing on one thing. 

“For best results – it is imperative that we prioritize goals and tasks – then do them one by one.  We are so much more efficient, productive, happy and healthy that way. Twenty minutes is the ideal meditation.

“Novelty is learning and experiencing new things as well as doing the same things differently or changing your habits.”

Being a BFF with Money

Olympia teaches, “You can change your relationship with money to be your BFF.  In my online course, I call this section ‘For the Love of Money’. Changing your relationship with money begins with believing it’s possible.”  

What actions, thoughts, fears, … are standing in the way of being BFFs with money?  Olympia suggests asking yourself if you knew you would succeed beyond your wildest dreams, what would you do, be, or have? If you knew you could not fail, what would you be, do or have?

Would it be what you are doing now?  Something different?

She advises to give yourself permission to be wealthy right now. Commitment starts the snowball.

 

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.

A Good Colorist is the Wizard of OZ

When you realize what a colorist does, it’s easy to understand why no one knows they exist. 

by Carole Dean

Sam Dlugach won our Roy W. Dean Film Grant in 1996 and is one of the best colorists in LA.  He has over 30-years’ experience working with all types of films.  Sam works for a major production company, but moonlights helping indie features and documentaries. He generously gives us his time to serve as a judge for the grant and donates he services to the winners. 

Colorist

I recently interviewed him for my The Art of Film Funding Podcast and asked him how to help filmmakers understand how important a colorist is for their film. 

What Does a Colorist Do?

Sam equated the coloring of a film as the same as mastering is for audio. After a song has been recorded and mixed, then mastering is the final process before it goes to distribution. That’s like putting the final polish on your films’ audio. Well, that’s what coloring is for the image.

“We can take some beautifully photographed work,” Sam said, “and enhance it just that extra 10% or 15% to make it even more impactful in terms of emotion that we want the audience to feel.”

He explained that no matter what you’re shooting, whether you’re shooting a documentary, short film, or a feature film, you’re probably using multiple cameras, multiple lenses, and you’re going to certainly have all sorts of different lighting conditions. At the very minimum, what a colorist does is make all that stuff match.

Actually, when you realize what a colorist does, it’s easy to understand why no one knows they exist.  When they finish their job, the film looks perfect. Every single shot is lit perfectly, and all your shots match, each scene flows seamlessly, and the audience is fully engaged in the film never realizing all the work the colorist did.

Enhancing the Story and Setting the Mood

“In a more creative sense,” he noted, “I’m part of the storytelling process.  I’m helping the director and the director of photography set story beats in terms of the look of the film, in terms of the mood of the lighting, and the contrast ratio and certainly the color imagery.

“I have a day job where I work on TV commercials, so a lot of what I’m doing daily is emphasizing the product and de-emphasizing the background or bringing out people’s faces. There’s a lot of very specific stuff that I’m doing on a psychological level to direct people’s eyes.

“That same sort of artistry and science works in storytelling as well whether it’s episodic television, or a music video, or short film, or feature film, or documentary. Anything that I can do visually to help tell the story is my main job.”

 

 

Matching Scenes and Matching Visions

If filmmakers bring great footage, then the colorist can look great as well.  But many times, filmmakers have challenges on the shoot.

“They may have had problems with lenses, problems with cameras,” Sam explains, “or very different lighting setups from shot to shot that have to be evened out and made to match. It’s a collaborative process at best.  When you’re working with a team of people, if everybody’s got a singular vision of what this film is supposed to be, and everybody’s just working towards that one image, it can be a really great experience, and the rewards for the film can be great.

“I’ve always loved working with filmmakers and directors of photography because I work to achieve their vision.  And a big part of what I do is to interpret what I’m being told.  Some people come in, and they have a better understanding of what happens in the color bay, and some people really are intimidated, or they don’t understand the process.

“It’s my job to deal with all levels of filmmakers and all levels of people that walk into my room and understand what they are trying to tell me so we can find a way to achieve their vision.”

What First Time Filmmakers Need to Know about Working with a Colorist

Typically, after you finish your edit, you would send Sam a version of the edit with a decision list and it will refer back to your original footage.  He creates the edit timeline.  He on the Baselight system and uses a $40,000.00 monitor.  Sam sees everything with this monitor that your audience will see.

The first thing he does when he meets someone new is to talk about the story before he ever looks at the film.  Together with the director he makes notes of scenes and shots by writing down what they mean and exactly how they are telling the story.  They discuss the color journey of the entire movie.

Sam will look at the timeline of the move and talk to the director about the story.  The main question is “what is the story we want to tell?”  They will stop and look at shots of each scene.

“What is the emotional tone?” Sam will discuss with the director. “What are we going for here? How does this flow into the next scene? How does it relate to the previous scenes?” Sam and the director start very basically coloring from raw camera information to a finished look for that single shot.

By the end of the first session when the filmmaker leaves, they should have a good feeling about how the movie will look.  They will have seen scenes from all over the movie that tell the story they have painted together. 

The filmmaker goes away and Sam works for a week or two coloring.  When they come back, Sam will have filled in the holes, done the coverage, and stitched the film together.  Then, Sam watches it with the filmmaker and makes notes to do a trim pass and sometimes a second trim. 

Sam works with people outside of Los Angeles area.  He colored a fiscally sponsored film of ours in Hawaii.  You can transfer files very easily now so you don’t need to be in the same city as your colorist.

Seeking Passionate Storytellers

Sam loves working with independent and documentary filmmakers that are passionate and really have a story to tell.  

“In a perfect world I’m invested in that story too. I care about what they’re trying to say, and so I tend to gravitate lately to unique stories about human nature, about people.” 

Sam wants to work with filmmakers that have something to say about the times we are living in.  “I love working with documentarians because they’re usually trying to right some wrong. They’re usually trying to expose something that needs to be exposed.”

“I get a charge out of working on projects that make a difference, and so I do tend to be a little picky about the projects that I get involved with independently. There’s a great thing about knowing you came through from the Heart Productions. The people that gravitate to what you’re doing at From the Heart tend to be great people and tend to be impassioned storytellers with their heart in the game, and they’re not just in it for the money. They’re not just brazenly commercial. They’re doing something that matters.

Gift to Filmmakers at From the Heart Productions

“I’ve met so many wonderful people from the work that you’re doing (at From the Heart Productions) and from the outreach that you do with independent filmmakers.  I encourage people that are in your program, and your funding programs, and your writers that you work with and filmmakers that find you to come talk to me.

“My door is open, and like I said, advice is always free.  You can reach same at Samdcolor@gmail.com and the time to interview and hire a colorist is early on in production.”

 

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 Take Control of Your Film’s Financial Future

Conversation with award winning filmmaker Karen Day on the importance of being your film’s advocate and getting the upper hand with a film distributor 

by Carole Dean

Karen Day is a very successful writer, photographer, and filmmaker because she made it happen.  She is always working on creating a successful future for herself.  She focuses on humanitarian issues in exotic locales like Afghanistan, Cuba, Myanmar, pre-war Iraq, pre-Madonna Malawi, Hollywood, and Washington, DC.  They’ve offered her exciting opportunities to dodge bullets and write for national publications like More Magazine, O, The Los Angeles Times, and The Pentagon.

Film Distributor

Director Karen Day on location with cast and crew from “Nell Shipman: The Girl From God’s Country”

Winner as writer and producer of the Roy W. Dean Grant for Nell Shipman, The Girl from God’s Country, she joined me on my The Art of Film Funding Podcast.  She offered advice to independent women filmmakers just starting out on which we both agreed. 

While it’s important to seek out others for advice, independent filmmakers need to take active control of the future of their own work to have a successful career and to make any money.

The Harry Potter Effect

Karen says one of her real joys is being able to mentor women, young women beginning their career in filmmaking. “It’s a real tipping point right now in the industry. There’s so much opportunity. And it’s difficult to find a mentor.”

“But, Carole, you know better than anyone, and I think you’re one of the major voices in how to manifest and believe in yourself that you can get things done. I call it the Harry Potter effect. I put my mind to an idea and start whipping results out of the ether. I might as well have a master wand.”

This is very true.  Karen realizes that your faith in yourself and in your film is paramount to a successful production.  Your attitude towards yourself and your film must always be of the highest level as you deserve to be funded.  Belief and faith will carry you a long way in the film industry “and make doors open where there were no doors before.” 

The Dark Web of the Film Festivals

Karen was at Raindance Film Festival with her latest film Bamboo and Barbed Wire, a documentary that chronicles the life of a 17- year old Syrian refugee girl in Idaho.  She says that Raindance is a premier festival and they give filmmakers an amazing amount of support. There are distributors there from around the world.

But, she warns, don’t assume that just by getting accepted and networking will get you a deal for your film. 

“There’s a lot in the film festival world that independents still have to learn the hard way. You think oh, ’I’m going to get accepted, and then I’m going to be distributed, and then I’m going to be famous.’ No, actually, there’s a lot of innerness and I call it the dark web, the dark world of politics that goes on in film festivals.

“It’s a good way to meet people and make connections, but it’s not as simplistic as it appears. Film festivals and film distributors are in the business of making money on movies, and producers and writers and directors and cinematographers are in the business of making movies. And it’s a hard lesson to learn that there are two different businesses.”

She is right.  The distributors want to buy the film for the cheapest price possible and filmmakers think they will get prices near what was quoted in Variety for recent sales.  However, these prices are normally exceptional prices.  Distributors and Netflix and Amazon are paying low prices unless you have a known actor in a feature or a documentary.  In that case, it’s a bit higher but not what they were paying a few years ago. 

The information I get from our fiscally sponsored filmmakers is that by the time they get to a festival, usually they are tired from years of producing and are ready to let go of the film.  Once they get an offer, they are so excited that someone loves the film and wants to help, that they often make poor decisions.  Distributors are offering egregious contracts and very low up-front money these days. 

 

 

Finding Out What Your Film is Worth

Because of the horror stories I have heard from filmmakers about bad contracts, distributors not complying with contracts and people selling their film for 20% of the cost, I started a search for who is paying what for films.  That search turned into a blog.

It’s very important that we know the current selling price for docs and features. So, if you want to share any information on what the current prices are for films and docs, please contact me.  All info will be kept confidential.

Karen says that going to the festivals and talking to other filmmakers is the best way to find what happened to other filmmakers, what prices they were paid, who are the worst distributors and who to watch out for.  You won’t find this information in print, only word of mouth or in our blog talk shows where some filmmakers will offer up the truth about their poor distribution deal.

Find Leverage with a Film Distributor

Karen said that getting a distributor as an independent is not always what you thought it would be. Often, people think that a distributor will change your life.  You need to know what money you can make and you need leverage to negotiate.

“The one thing I can say is, if you do have a distributor that’s interested, immediately contact several distributors to see if they will be interested.  Because then, you have more power to negotiate a minimum guarantee.  Number one thing I say to independent filmmakers is, your MG, your minimum guarantee with the distributor may be the only dime you ever see.  So, make sure that you negotiate that.   And the best way to do it is to get more interest than one distributor.

“I did that, and so I was able to negotiate more money than I was originally offered. And I naively thought, oh, well, this is going to be a cakewalk now.  But what’s true is my distributor is in the business of making money on movies, and they’re like a shark. They have to keep moving to pick up more films and compete with all these distributors to find the next great documentaries.

Be an Advocate for Yourself

“I literally had to become a thorn. I’ve been working with the major network media for a long time, so I know what it’s like to push. And some people don’t have that advantage, because I’m older, too. It’s not like I’m 20. I’ve been around the block, as they say, about 4,000 times.

“The bottom line is, none of it’s easy. It was a daily process of what are you doing, what’s happening? Otherwise, you seep into the carpet and you’re thinking, oh, it’s going to happen for me. Mm-mm (negative).

“I can definitely say there have been a couple of great films. The great film Sonita, which is about the Afghan rapper who escaped an arranged marriage. Somebody was doing a documentary on her and they bought her out of the marriage.  It won an Audience Award at Sundance, and it was sold to PBS National.  I can’t divulge how much it was, but I would say it’s not enough to buy a used car.

“I really feel that the art of film negotiation is the number one thing, and the art of film funding. You have to be your own best advocate, and you just want to say, ‘Oh, I’m an artist.’ Well, you can be a starving artist all you want, but you better learn to be a business person too if you want to make a living at your art.”

 

 

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.

Finding Support for Your Film Through Community Outreach

Dealing with his father’s battle with Alzheimer’s, filmmaker Eric Gordon created a documentary to guide others.  He got help in finishing it by finding those that cared including his fiscal sponsor.

Over the past six years, award winning filmmaker Eric Gordon has produced, shot and directed the feature-length documentary, “When All That’s Left Is Love.”  It’s an emotionally gripping film about his aging mother’s determination against nearly impossible odds to care for her Alzheimer’s husband at home.

The film gives viewers an unprecedented behind-the-scenes understanding of a medical dilemma that currently has no cure, but has patients who depend heavily on the heroic tenacity and love of the Alzheimer’s caregivers.

 

community outreach

When All That’s Left is Love is the emotionally gripping story of a wife’s determination to care for her Alzheimer’s-stricken husband in their home. With unprecedented, behind-the-scenes access, the film reveals the toll that the disease takes on families coping with Alzheimer’s, while also showcasing the power of love that sustains both patients and caregivers.

 

Many times, Eric was on the brink of running out of funding.  Using his resourcefulness, belief in his film, and important lessons from his fiscal sponsor, Eric was able to find financial support and an audience for his film.  Through his community outreach, his film is now being shown to thousands who can learn from his mother’s and his experience caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s. 

On The Art of Film Funding Podcast, Eric shared his story with host Carole Dean.  He offered advice to other filmmakers on how to rally others around your film by thinking outside the box, by believing in yourself, and your project.

“Eric, Something’s Going on Here, You Need to Start Filming”

It started with a call from his mother telling him his father was lost.  He found out his father had Alzheimer’s.  Realizing his mother could not care for his father by herself, he moved in and started helping his mother care for his father for about five or six years.

“Eric, something’s going on here, you need to start filming,” he thought as his film-making instincts kicked in.  His father was starting a research political trial program.  He approached Dr. David Watson from the Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment Center and asked if he could film the program.

The total project took six years to make. Eric filmed for about four years of the total filming and with editing alone the production did over 900 editing hours in an editing suite. “It turned out to be a lot deeper and a lot more heartfelt than I could ever have imagined because, unfortunately, we captured the complete breakdown of a caregiver.”

“And, because of the access that I had, I was fortunate to have other caregivers who are dealing with the same situation to allow me into their lives as well and we built an amazing trust together and that’s how the project began.”

Donors Like When Their Money Goes to One Specific Thing

Dr. Watson allowed him into his office to film.  Eric would keep him involved with the whole process of the film.  As he got closer to completing his documentary, he noticed money was running out.  “I started seeing the costs involved to finish the film because I was getting ready to hire a composer for the music score and I was a little shocked by the costs involved for a composer.

“So, because of my deep relationship with Dr. Watson, I shared with him.”  He had been following Eric’s  hard work and appreciated his dedication to bringing attention to the effect the disease has on families.  

“You know, I need help with getting money for the composer,” Eric mentioned.  Dr. Watson took care of the funds for the composer.

“Now that’s really what it’s all about,” Carole Dean pointed out.  “Donors are giving money to you and the guy saw how hard you worked and dedicated, and yes, he wanted to help you. And I think a lot of donors like it when they know that their money goes for one specific thing.”

Finding Guidance from Fiscal Sponsor From the Heart Productions

“I didn’t have a grant proposal or a budget and I said, ‘Eric, your funds are running out.’ I worked very hard at my day job and any extra money I had, I used for the making of this documentary.  My funds were running out because I had a lot of bills.  You start seeing these enormous costs involved with a documentary, you realize you better start doing something.”

Eric considers Carole Dean and From the Heart Productions pivotal in changing his thinking and making him get money.  He put together a budget and a proposal.  He reached out to her and her organization for their fiscal sponsorship program.  Their program offers personalized advice and film funding strategies. 

“I have to thank you from the bottom of my heart, because From the Heart Productions is why I’m where I’m at today.”

“You were giving me guidance and Carole Joyce, who is also part of From the Heart, mentioned to me to think outside the box.  I said to myself, ‘You know, my film deals with death, unfortunately, which comes with Alzheimer’s.’ And at the end of the film, we deal with the emotional distress of dealing with funerals and the death of a patient.”

He thought, what an important issue he could discuss with caregivers about pre-needs and the costs involved.  He realized  that a lot of people don’t realize how expensive it is when you pass away

“So, I reached out to various funeral homes to tell them, ‘My goal is to educate caregivers and I want to share this with the world and I would love for you to come in.’ Dignity Memorial, Melissa and Michael Tavers, were unbelievable. They have a foundation and the foundation vetted my film and they also believe in educating caregivers, not just about getting business, and they gave us a National Community Engagement sponsorship.”

 

 

Making A Screening an Event

Eric is a believer that any screening you have that you need to make your screenings like a show.  Even if you’re starting out with your first rough cut screening or you finally add music.

“I make it an event and an experience and I invite various different people that I think would want to be part of the film. I don’t think just money at first. I think, ‘How can we build a relationship together?’ And so, at these screenings, I would invite all of these different various organizations, whoever it may be.

“For example, I invited a few funeral homes.  Once they saw the film, I was able to take them to lunch, tell them my goals, and the importance of educating people in the community and nationwide.”

He told them how he could get them in front of thousands of people, their target audience.  From that, they vetted him. It took months, but they believed in his passion. “They believed in the project and I’m so grateful and humbled and fortunate to have them part of my team.”

Making the Most of Every Connection

Near the end of production, looking at the budget at the funds needs to finish, calculating the costs involved with outreach, Eric started to think “How am I going to fund this film?”

He was outside at the Center for Doc Studies.  It was 3:00 in the morning, freezing cold, and he was having a smoke when he met up with a gentleman who said he was here as an Alzheimer’s researcher.

“Are you going to the Alzheimer’s Summit?” he asked Eric. 

“What’s the Alzheimer’s Summit?” Eric responded

“It’s in D.C. You need to be there.”

“So, I went there and from that I found out about the Alzheimer’s Association Conference. I didn’t know why I was going there at first, I just knew I needed to be there. And somebody at the conference said to me, ‘Eric, you need to meet with these foundations. They have funding available and they love to support different various projects that would educate caregivers.’”

“And I was walking down an aisle five minutes later, incredible story, and I walked up to the Roskamp Foundation Institute booth and they say, ‘Hi, how are you?’ And they say, ‘What do you do?’ And I said, ‘I’m a filmmaker. I just finished a documentary on Alzheimer’s caregivers.’

“They looked at each other strange, and they turned to me and they said, ‘We were just talking about backing some type of media project.’”

Always Bring Something to a Meeting or Screening

“I called them a week later, drove over to Sarasota with a big heart cake, showed them the film, and from there it’s history.” Eric said.

“You never walk into an office without bringing something,” Carole added. “You always bring a gift of something, right? People love that. In my teaching class, Stuart Wilde talks about the fact that you give to people.  You open people’s hearts through your giving and they get to know who you are, so I bet the cake was something they loved, right?”

“They really loved it.”

“I took your advice and I’m making little chocolate hearts that say “love,” so anywhere I go, I think it’s really important that as a filmmaker, as an Indie filmmaker, any screening that we have … For me, if it’s one person or 10 people or 100 people, even one more person to watch my film is important.

“It’s crucial for a filmmaker to go to any screening they can, possible, and give something, hand something out. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it makes them a little curious. It makes them a little bit happier and they’ll show up to your films.”

“From my past experience, you never know what’s going to happen from one person watching your film. All the other doors that could open or just the fact that you’re impacting them, making a difference in their life.”

Getting Friends to Make Introductions

Eric wanted to get in contact with Brian and Steven from Senior Information Centers. His mother had visited them years ago, years before, because they help seniors with legal issues or finding nurses and doing their pharmaceutical drugs. 

He approached Arlene Rossman who was one of the caregivers who’s in his film. She had a really close relationship with Steven and Brian and she got him a meeting with them.  He showed them a few clips of the film.  They believed in what he was doing.

“They are one of our main sponsors now, as well. And without them, I don’t think I would have been able to finish the film because they paid for all the funds to get the documentary finished.”

Creating a Package for Community Outreach

When Eric started realizing the enormous costs involved with outreach, He decided that he needed to make a grand proposal.  He also needed to make a budget. “It was really was eye-opening for me.” Eric commented when realizing the enormous expense, he was facing in marketing his film.

“Thank God, that I met From the Heart Productions. Again, I go back to that because that was so pivotal for me focusing and really changed my life because I realized how important it was to envision and realize that the power of your mind is so important.”

“And so I made my vision board. I listened to those classes that you have on Saturdays. I listened to everything Carol Joyce and you told me and I followed those directions.  Plus, utilizing my own experiences and since I was the event coordinator and sponsorship development officer at Clear Channel, I knew the importance of branding and putting together a package.”

Find Your Target Audience

“People want to see that they’re going to receive value for what they’re giving. So, I started thinking outside the box and I realized, as a filmmaker, and I want to share this with other filmmakers, it’s really, really, extremely important to know your target audience.”

Eric remembered the lessons he heard during From the Heart Productions bi-weekly film funding guidance classes.  That your film “can’t be just for everybody.  You have to have your target audience.”

He started thinking about people that would want to get in front of this target audience.  They might be medical professionals, Alzheimer’s caregivers, people who have a loved one who have Alzheimer’s.  He started to develop a package for these people so they would get their logo on the website.  They would get announced at these screenings. They would get their logo on the film. He thought of all of these different ways that he could help their organization.

“I gave them my passion and love and told them how important this was for me to educate caregivers and they followed suit and they all came on board. Every single one of these organizations have gotten new business directly from our film.”

Calculate the Costs of Outreach

Eric found the costs for outreach rivaled the production cost of his film.

“Most of my production costs, people jumped in and devoted their time because they wanted to get a screen credit.  But when you run into outreach, you’re running into such enormous costs.

“Posters, press kits, graphic designers, trailers, festival fees, that can run over $5,000 for festival fees. Social impact producers. You need a DCP, which is a digital cinema package to project. Publicity, publicity stills, private screenings, traveling, broadcast cuts and they add up. 

“They could go over hundreds of thousands of dollars.  That’s what why it’s so crucial that you find people that believe in your project and show them the love, and they will see your vision and help get that project out into the world.”

Benefits of Working with a Non-Profit

“And another thing that I’ve learned is that I’m keeping it much simpler by going through a nonprofit, which I think is really important, not only for direction. Foundations love to give other foundations monies to educate people in the community, as I stated before.”

“They feel secure that the foundation they’re giving to will make sure that you follow through” added Carole, “because heretofore, there were a lot of films that got financed, but never got finished. So, nowadays, they want to make sure that you finish the film, so you’ve done all that. You’ve got a gold star, as far as most of your donors are concerned.”

“Carole Dean, I just love you and your organization” Eric responded. “I can’t think you enough for the guidance you’re giving me and the places you’re sending me to go to. You’re incredible and, again, I’m not just saying that. I really mean that from the bottom of my heart.”

Attracting a Team with Your Passion for Your Project

“Having an amazing team is really important. I hope filmmakers realize that and if you show the passion in what you’re doing, you don’t have to pay full fees.” Eric advised.  “You can get people to help consult on your projects. They’re more than happy to answer questions.

“For example, when I first reached out to you”, he said to Carole, “I was calling you … I Googled amazing fiscal sponsors, found you, and asked you a question and you had no problem answering and helping me and that’s how, for example, I built my relationship with you.”

“I wasn’t a brilliant grant-writer, so I found an amazing grant-writer to help consult. Normally, it would astronomical charges, but because I did a lot of the work, they jumped in and helped consult. So again, I want to thank, for example, Carol Rainey.

“I have an impact producer that has been crucial in guiding me. She’s amazing and she’s so brilliant. Christina Lindstrom.  And then I brought in a marketing team to help consult, and so I think these are key things to remember that, for outreach, that collaborating and building a really strong team is very important.”

Advice for Caregivers and Filmmakers

“One thing also I learned, and I hope this can help caregivers, is take a deep breath. You have this. You can do this. You need to believe in yourself. Believe in your project. Be passionate. You will do this. It will happen.

“And it takes a lot of time. It takes years, and years, and years, but look for giving programs from corporations. Think outside the box and I believe that all of us, as filmmakers, will succeed.”

Lessons for Indie Filmmakers from “Shot by Shot” Author Steven Katz

Teaching filmmaking to Michael Jackson, how let go of the fear of creating, and using your iPhone to create a storyboard

by Carole Dean

The classic book on filmmaking “Shot by Shot: Visualizing From Concept to Screen” is celebrating its 25th year in publication this year.  Author Steven Katz joined Claire Papin and Carole Dean on The Art of Film Funding Podcast

Lessons for Indie Filmmakers

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash – You can create storyboards by shooting photo boards using your iPhone or any other camera to shoot it.

He shared some stories and what he’s learned about filmmaking over the quarter decade since the film book was first published:

What He Taught Michael Jackson on Filmmaking

“At one point, I taught Michael Jackson and I had to be sensitive to the fact that he was Michael Jackson. But, a couple of times after I got to know him, I said, ‘Michael, you can pay for anything.  If you wanted to make a film for $35,000, you can do it!

“And yet, so much of what we’re working on together over these many months, we’re circling, coming to getting started to making a film, why aren’t we making a film every day? Why aren’t we making a film every week?’… And I’m talking about making a short of some kind, that’s how you learn.  

“For new filmmakers, if you’re at that age when you can take weeks off, months off, or use weekends and not have too much else to do except your love of filmmaking, then you ought to be doing that. Whatever is the gene that prompts you to be highly self-motivated and not fearful is good for filmmakers.”

How to Get Over the Fear of Creating

“When I was in China, it’s a very mimetic culture, they copy everything, and it was a difficult habit to break with the artist I was working with. I did bring 20, 30 people to the room and say, ‘Okay, let’s just talk about how you generate an idea, and where they come from.’

“I would just pull people at random out of the class and say, ‘Okay, well how did you get to work this morning? What happened?’ ‘Well I biked, and I did this, and it’s eight miles for me.’ ‘And where did you get food?’ ‘Oh, I did this,’ and out of that, I would start to pick little moments. I would say, ‘What if this had happened?’ And I would build a story out of the events they’d be telling me.

“And the whole point of it was, Hey, every day you do something. Go to lunch and something interesting happened, and if it didn’t happen figure out a place where it could’ve happened and then let your imagination run.

“I think a lot of the fear that people have about going out and just making something, is where their ideas come from and is the idea too big? You do get better at it. You get better by doing small ideas, that’s the first thing you have to learn is, you don’t have an unlimited budget.”

 

 

Creative Ways to Storyboard

You have a script. You’re a director, you get this (script) and you’re reading it and of course what’s happening is, you’re having all these pictures in your head.  If you want to say, ‘I want to start with a close-up and I want to pull back and then we’re going to cut to Nancy over here for a close-up. And then we’re going to go wide.’ Well that doesn’t mean very much. It has to be seen visually, so visualization is getting it from where it is in your head, where you see it, onto a new form.

“There are many different ways to do that and storyboarding is one of them. You can go out and shoot photo boards, like you can use your iPhone or any other camera to shoot it. You have a scene in a diner, well get your friends, you’ll buy them lunch and then you go around shooting them from all different angles.

“Now you’ve got all these shots, now you may not even be recording the dialogue, you’re not doing the video either. You’re just getting individual frames. Then you’ll bring back your shots and put them into an editing package. You’ll start to put something together and that’s a photographic version of a story. These are all things you’re doing to be able to present the material to other people, but it’s also for yourself.

“With a pencil and a sheet of paper and you can draw stick figures. So, if you’re a director and you don’t draw, you can make up this very primitive looking thing but believe me, that primitive thing when you write dialogue underneath tells you so much. And what happens is, people say, ‘Wow, I didn’t understand why this didn’t work. I got two close-ups in a row, that’s not good.’

How the Directing Greats Protected Their Work

“Alfred Hitchcock would design all his shots in a storyboard. He would go shoot those shots and he wouldn’t really shoot many alternative ways of doing things. And it was the way he could ensure the control of how he wanted to do his movie and the studio couldn’t step in as they often do today and take control.   So, say you shot 45 different shots, but you only at the end need eight of them. And you can endlessly try different versions of them.

And there was a story of John Ford, I forget what picture, it was with Maureen O’Hara, one of his later pictures. He was being asked in an interview about a famous shot where the Maureen O’Hara’s very close in a carriage, and very, very far away is one of the most prominent characters and they’re silhouetted in the distance and tiny in the frame.

“So, someone asked John Ford… ‘I remember that shot. It was so great, but it was done in such an unconventional way, why didn’t you go and get the close-up? Did you get that? Did you cover that in the shot in case the long shot didn’t work?’ He said, ‘No, I didn’t shoot it’ And he said, ‘Well why?’ He said, ‘Because the studio would have used it.’ “

Just do it!

“Look, you want to become a filmmaker? You’ve got to make films, that’s it. That’s the shortest answer. There are a phenomenal number of resources out there, YouTube, and anything online with courses.

“If, you don’t go to film school another option is to do something like the New York Film Academy. There are a number of those and many of the colleges are now offering shorter programs for people who just want to train to get the basics of filmmaking and they’re not looking for a degree.”

 

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.

What is Your Unique Selling Point?

In advertising and marketing, they call it your USP.  Finding your Unique Selling Point is what will set your film project apart and make it stand out from all your competitors.

by Carole Dean

Heather Hale is a film and television director, screenwriter, and producer with over 60 hours of produced content, including 20 brand new episodes of the television talk show Lifestyle Magazine.  She joined me on my The Art of Film Funding Podcast to talk about her brilliant new book, Story Selling: How to Develop, Market and Pitch Your Film & TV Projects

Unique Selling Point

“What are you doing that’s fresh and different, that we haven’t seen before, that makes this film stand out?”

Heather believes a great pitch is the key to raising money for your film and it must include your USP (Unique Selling Point) to be effective.  She discussed how filmmakers can define and create their USP then maximize it to win investors and an audience. 

What is the Unique Selling Point for Filmmakers?

For filmmakers and content creators, Heather says that ideally your USP is in your log line. “Simply elegantly, and above all quickly conveying what will compel your target audience to pay to view your film or TV show.”

How Do You Find Your USP?

“It’s what’s fresh and different about your film that we haven’t seen before,” she advises. It could be your unique point of view, your unique subject matter expertise that you bring, or your frame of reference.  It could be the way you’re telling the story as there are many non-linear story telling techniques now.

“What are you doing that’s fresh and different, that we haven’t seen before, that makes this film stand out?  Think of films like This Is Us with the two parallel story lines, and even Jane the Virgin.  It’s a telenovela, but we’ve never seen anything with that kind of fun, tongue-in cheek, campy style.  Ask yourself, ‘What makes your film fresher and more relevant to today’s audience?’”

Your USP is what bonds your film to your audience and builds rapport. She offers Game of Thrones as an example.

“There’s so much social media discussion over that, because people root for it, they get emotionally engaged.  What is your point of entry that makes for rabid fans? Viral is not a business plan, you can’t make something go viral, it has to catch on.”

How to Build the Spine of Your Log Line

A simple way to build your log line, Heather suggests, is to start with the six questions journalists have used since the beginning of news to tell a story.  “Sometimes they call it the five W’s, who, what, where, when, why, and sometimes how. It’s the inverted pyramid that inherently forces you to stick to the spine of your story. So, you start with the most compelling details first before funneling down to the rest of your pitch.”

“For example, who is the main character. It’s the protagonist. It’s also who stands in his or her way, the antagonist.  Sometimes this could be a what, like an antagonistic force, but you’re always better if that is personified as a who. Next is what happens to him or her? That’s your catalyst or inciting incident.

“’What’ could also refer to what he wants or she wants.  What is the protagonist’s goal and what is the problem? What’s the conflict? What are the obstacles and stakes?  The climax is the most important what. It’s the most important moment in the script. The where and when is where the story is set, the story world, the milieu or the backdrop. That should influence all the other elements of the script.

“How does the main character overcome all that adversity? Well, there’s your plot. How does your protagonist or other characters evolve psychologically?  There’s your transformational arc. How does he or she resolve the conflict?  That’s how your story ends, which drives back to your climax. Ultimately, the why is why should we care?  That’s the theme. So, I often think the plot is what a story is about, while the theme is what the story is really about, the undercurrent.”

“Why do we care? That’s the theme. Yeah, why? Why would I watch this? Why would the protagonist put him or herself through all that? That’s the why, the driving force, the theme. And typically, your plot, and your character arc are a metaphor for that theme.”

How Important is Your Log Line to Selling Your Project?

“It’s critical.  It’s everything boiled down to that one sentence and it’s sometimes all that anyone will hear. And it’s what gets pitched over the phone, across the credenza, across conference room tables. In markets and meetings, that’s one line that people will use to default to. So, you want to be the one who’s crafted that perfectly.”

 

 

Log Lines with Irony Create a Great Sales Pitch

When watching a movie or a television show, Heather notes, viewers like to proactively add two plus two for themselves, to try to figure out the mystery, to figure out who will end up with who, second guess the plot, and the antagonist’s plan.  

“So, just as you try to make the script an engaging fun read, you want to allow the story to unfold similarly for your pitch listener. So, when the log line is an intriguing puzzle to solve, and inherent in that conflict is the juxtapositions of irony, that’s the arc that launches this inevitable climax, and it shows what the character arc is going to be.

“Irony not only is fantastic in a log line, it’s a really terrific re-writing tool, because you can work backwards and forwards from log line to script and back again, minding the collision of sub-text to explore maybe missed creative opportunities, and where you could be pushing boundaries. It would be more obvious about what the character has to learn and overcome. It would be more obvious about the contrast between characters. That irony is a really critical.”

Your Log Line is Like a Great Reduction Sauce

“I don’t know if you’re a cook or a foodie, but a reduction sauce could be a sweet sauce drizzled over a dessert or a savory gravy dolloped over protein or vegetables.

“It starts with this huge terrain of raw ingredients, like your screenplay, like your documentary, like your reality TV show. Whatever it is, you have this huge amount that is slowly boiled down over time, reducing each flavor to its core essence. And then ultimately strained into this rich, dense, fully saturated, but completely original new puree, and that’s your log line.

“So, if you see a Broadway musical or an opera, the overture reveals snippets of all the music and moods to come, and the log lines are this alluring tease. It’s a synthesis of all the essential ingredients. So, writing that log line is like a microcosm of your script. Just as editing a moving piece of content. I think reverse engineering backwards and forwards enhances both. One informs and improves the other.”

The Importance of a Great Tag Line

Tag lines are understood within the context of the title and the log line, and when they’re accompanied by key art, they give you the whole picture.  Film is a visual medium and tag lines help viewers or readers understand the whole picture in an instant.

“If you remember the Social Network, about Facebook,” Heather gave as an example, “the tag line was, ‘You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies’. That sets up what some of the conflict is in the world. I had a bunch listed in the book. Chicken Run; ‘Escape or die frying.’ That’s a pun that also shows you the stake in the film.

Tag lines just allow you to give that extra angle or that extra twist.  Heather suggests to look on IMDB at a comparable project and look below the storyline and you’ll see plot keywords and tag line. And you can click to see what are the project’s tag line.

“What were the keywords that they used and then brainstorm using other people’s tag lines. Not remotely are you cloning or stealing or using someone else’s idea, you’re just looking at different angles to push it to see what’s been explored or not explored. It can be a really rich fertile territory for brainstorming.”

 

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.

5 Ways to Exceed your Financial Goals

How to Keep Your Environment and Emotions From Holding You Back

by Carole Dean

Breianne Pryse is an intuitive life strategist and business coach trained in many modalities. She specializes in helping people get beyond their limitations and create what they desire.  Born with many intuitive gifts, she excels at moving people and businesses into places they never thought possible. 

 

Financial Goals

Toss Your Past Traumas and Current Negativity Surrounding You Into a Bin and Take Back Your Energy

In my The Art of Film Funding Podcast interview with Breianne, she provided these 5 ways to exceed your financial goals.

Keep Your Energy Clear

If you’re working from your house and it doesn’t feel good, this can be a sign there’s too much energy there.   It could also mean there is too much negativity or it’s a sign you have not released your energy correctly.

“With all the political stuff going on, the weather, we are constantly bombarded with energy. We have to own that,” Breianne suggests.  “We say to ourselves ‘All right, I am really bombarded by the energy. Universe, I’m feeling crap today. All right, I’ve got to change this. I have life to live and more important things to do. I need to change it. I’m going to change it today.’”

She points out that there are very basic things that you can do to change the energy around you. “Spraying rosewater around an environment is really great.  Roses are the flowers of angels, so doing that is very good. I like to flood myself with white light as that really helps.”

“Putting boundaries on energy, changing your space. Think of going down to the beach one day and working, instead of sitting in front of your computer in your office. A lot of people have modalities, prayers, rituals that make them feel good and shift their energy. Salt baths and showers are really excellent, because it cleans out your auric field and it cleans out your skin.

“But, is really super important that you honor that you feel like crap and you can change it.  Because as we know, we can get caught up in the nastiness so much, and we forget that we can change it.  We really need to be in our power, and in our awareness and we can do that by changing the energy.”

Clearing Your Mental & Emotional Past

Breianne believes our past traumas not only affect who we are today. They also affect our thoughts and our feelings.  

“Most of us are energetically sensitive people,” says Breanne. “Sometimes when we go to create something awesome, we can feel like we hit a brick wall. Or we’re trying really, really hard and it doesn’t work.  Well, a lot of times that’s some sort of mechanism, some sort of energy within us from our past, that is preventing us.”

Start by Identifying the things that are limiting you.  She offers “one fun exercise that you can do is to imagine in front of you a bin of velvet white, or purple light, and it’s burning really, really bright. You want to find any past traumas stored in your body.  You want to ask, ‘All right universe, what stuff did I pick up from my mom that prevents me from having the money that I want to have right now?’”

“Feel into that energy, and you start picking it out of your body, and physically throwing it into the bin. You can do the same thing with your father.

 

 

“One of the things that was very helpful to me is, I had a lot of feedback and energy from people with old sayings from Oklahoma and Arkansas, because that’s where my family is from originally. One of those was, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.’ Well, that might really be affecting me now, and even though I don’t consciously buy into that, I can remember my grandmother saying that. So, I pulled that and I put it in the bin.”

She believes your ancestry plays a part in this, too. Usually by the age of two, where your parents were financially gets ingrained in you.  So, if they were struggling, and usually when they’re starting a new family, there is a lot of struggle, that energy can be in you and make it hard to make money.

To overcome that, Brieanne likes “talking to the traumas and saying, ‘All right, trauma. Thank you very much. I’m reclaiming my energy. I’m stopping you. I am choosing to create money to help me, my family, humanity.’”

“Throwing everything in the bin is awesome because that’s just saying you no longer need it, and you no longer want it. Now, with this, you need to go back to that magical word, truth. What I notice with a lot of people is that they did not get rid of it. What they did is, they just put it in a box. They did something else with it, so they can’t find it anymore, but it’s still there running the show.

“What I do is, I invite all the energy from all the things that I’ve ever thought I’ve cleared, all the things from all the modalities that I thought I’d zapped. I bring it all up, pull it up from inside my body and I just throw it in the bin. That helps clear it.”

Refine Your Ask

Before embarking on their project, Breianne advises filmmakers to ask “All right, universe, is it time for this film? Will this film have the impact that I want it to have at this point?”  

“It’s all about asking and refining your ask, but you have to remember to ask.” She reminds people that they’ve got to ask every day and ask consistently.  “Because the universe hears everything. Ask the universe ‘How can we make more money today? What can I do to make more money for my film today?’”

“Please don’t say ‘Oh my God, it’s so hard to make money. Things don’t work for me.’  You need to basically be asking daily, and you keep asking, as you refine your ask. Are we asking for the right thing? And just see what happens.

“One of the things that was explained to me was sometimes what you’re asking for is too small. Sometimes, things don’t show up because we’re asking for $10,000 for a film. Maybe we should be asking for $100,000 for two films. Back to that magic truth energy of what is working and what is showing up.”

Be Aware of What Shows Up

“If you’re asking for something, and something else shows up, pay attention,” Breianne warned me.

“Carole, I know that you’ve had this experience too. With me it’s like, I want new clients. So, I send fliers out in the west. Well, all the clients come from the east. Nothing comes from those fliers. It’s all about telling the universe that you want something, but not being attached to how it shows up. I’m sure you’ve had the stories from your filmmakers many times, they’ve spent all this time and energy trying to get money one way, but then it magically appears from somewhere else.

“We have to be aware of that, and say, ‘Wonderful universe, how can I magically receive more energy?’  We have to shift, because if we’re so ultra-focused on one way, we’re not going to see all the opportunities.

“What’s wonderful about this day and age is there’s a zillion and a half ways to make money, we just have to choose. We have to choose what works for us, and go with that, okay? Then that brings it to the fifth way.”

You Have to Put Energy and Action into What You Want to Create

That’s just how the universe works, regardless of what anybody tells you.

“Years ago, when the film, The Secret, came out, there were a lot of people who loved it.  I had a psychologist.  She said, ‘Oh yeah, we have The Secret Syndrome.’ I said, ‘Well, what does that mean?” She says, ‘Well, it means people said they asked for something, like they wanted a million dollars.  Then they went, and sat in their armchair for a year, and got mad because they didn’t get their million dollars!’”

“But the million dollars wasn’t going to find them sitting in their armchair, watching TV. So, it was such a phenomenon that they had to create a syndrome for it.

“It’s basically taking action. Now, sometimes that action can be going down to the local coffee shop, because you might meet the person who is going to give you the money.  Sometimes, it could be going down to the beach, spending some alone time meditating, contacting an old friend that you had, you know?  It’s all about just looking for energy, opening the energy, keeping it open and following it, because that’s how the magic happens, is just following the energy.

“Choose to be in the energy of a successful filmmaker, of a person who makes good use of other people’s money. Go back to number one about keeping your energy clean. You keep your energy clean, you keep your focus, and you keep yourself in that wonderful money energy.  Allowing yourself to stay there, regardless of what craziness people are doing around you, stay focused on your goals.”

 

Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-The Art of Film Funding Podcastprofit that offers 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.

 

Are You Blocking Your Money Energy?

Beware the Counter Intentions Keeping You from Realizing Your Dreams

by Carole Dean

Dr. Joe Vitale was featured in the film “The Secret” and he’s a bestselling author of many books including The Miracle, Six Steps to Enlightenment, Zero Limits, and the one I recently interviewed him about, The Awakened Millionaire

Counter Intentions

Are Your Counter Intentions Blocking Your Path to Success?

In this book, Joe says that mental blocks might be the cause of our inability to even imagine ourselves standing in awakened abundance. 

When he joined me on my The Art of Film Funding Podcast, I asked him what were some of these blocks and how they could be overcome.

Look Out for Counter Intentions

Joe refers to mental blocks as counter intentions.

“The whole concept of counter intentions,” Joe states, “is something I originated and I believe it is kind of my claim to fame. I think it’s an insight to why people say, ‘Well, self-help doesn’t work,’ or, ‘The Secret didn’t work for me,’ or, ‘The Law of Attraction doesn’t work for me.’

“It’s the idea that there’s two things going on at any moment in our mind. The first is we have intentions. Our intentions are usually good.  Our intentions are things like, ‘I want to make a movie that makes a difference.’ ‘I want to start working out and exercising.’ ‘I want to start dating.’ “I want to be healthier.”  “I want to make more money.’  Those are our intention. They are noble, they’re good, they’re positive and we all want them and like them.

“But, inside our subconscious mind are what I call counter intentions. The counter intentions are limiting, negative beliefs, most of which we’re not even aware of until we start to explore and look for them. It explains why in January there’s a rush to join the gym and by the end of January nobody’s in the gym. At the beginning the intention was there. ‘I’m going to join the gym. I’m going to get fit.’ That’s a great intention, but why didn’t we go back?

“Unconsciously we had things like, ‘Well, this isn’t going to work for me. I’ll always be this way. Working out is too hard. The gym is too far away.’ I mean there’ll be all kind of things. Those are counter intentions.”

Let Go of Excuses and Rationalizations

“With filmmakers, it’s very much the same with anybody that wants to write a book or some of the other people I hear from who have dreams. They’ll say, ‘I have a dream. I want to make this movie.’ I’ll say, ‘Great. Let’s make the movie. That sounds exciting.’ But then you’ll start to hear the counter intentions like, ‘Well I’m too old.’ ‘I’m too young.’ ‘I don’t have the connections.’ ‘I don’t have the money.’ ‘I don’t have the experience.’ Those excuses, rationalizations, as believable as somebody can rationalize them and argue for them, are actually counter intentions.

“Those are the reasons we don’t know what we’re going to do. There’s always going to be counter intentions. You can look at anybody at any time and they can stand there and say, ‘Well, I’m going to join the gym.’ Then they’ll say, ‘I’m too old.’ ‘I’m too young.’ ‘It’s my DNA.’ ‘It’s the weather.’ ‘It’s my whatever.’ Those are counter intentions. What we want to do is become aware of them and release them so we can achieve our dreams, including making films.

Awareness Can Instantly Release Negative Thoughts

Joe says that awareness is really a simple thing. When people read his book “The Awakened Millionaire” or his free book, “Attract Money Now”, a lot of the counter intentions disappeared because awareness of them alone helped blow the whistle on them.  They started to release their counter intentions when they realized those are just excuses and old beliefs.

“It is important to become aware of the beliefs because most of them aren’t even ours,” he explains. “We’ve downloaded beliefs from our family. I tell people, ‘Were your parents Mr. and Mrs. Buddha? Were they enlightened?’ No.

“Our parents came with their own limiting beliefs and they passed them onto us. Good-naturedly, I mean they were looking out for us. They weren’t trying to program us for lack and limitation or don’t go for our dreams or money is bad. They had those beliefs and just simply passed them on. We as little kids don’t know any better. We download all that information thinking, ‘Well this is the way life is.’ I’m here to tell you that’s not the way that life is.’”

When There is a Will There is a Way

“I teach people to expect miracles. I teach people to go for their dreams. One of my latest books is called ‘The Miracle: Six Steps to Enlightenment.’ Even the book you’re referring to, ‘The Awakened Millionaire,’ is all about the idea of breaking free of limitations. Another book I wrote is called Anything Is Possible and it’s from the philosophy that today, I don’t know that there’s anything we can’t have, do, or be.

“We may not know how to achieve it or create it but I bet there is a way or we can create a way. I come from the mindset that nothing’s impossible, nothing. You want to make a movie? You want it to be a blockbuster? You want all kinds of success from it? Why not? That’s the new mindset. This new mindset comes from eliminating those limiting beliefs, breaking free from the trance of limitation.”

 

Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-The Art of Film Funding Podcastprofit that offers 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.