Friday, August 31, 2012

So You Want to Make a Movie - The Pitch

You’ve caught the bug, and you’ve decided to make a movie. But where do you start? The good news is today there are fewer barriers to overcome in order to produce a film. Thanks to digital filmmaking, the costs have dropped dramatically. In reality, practically anybody can become a filmmaker.

No one article can answer all of your questions or take you through the entire process; however, I want to offer you 20 key steps that will at least steer you in the right direction. Think of these steps as the big picture or the 30,000 foot view.

Step 7. The Pitch

Now that you have potential investors, how do you get them to sign on the dotted line? It all starts with a solid business and marketing plan. Your marketing materials should include a detailed analysis of the current independent movie market, how your film will be successful within that market, and a bio on yourself as well as your team members. You need to think this out. Who is your audience? What is the demographic group you are you aiming for? Can you compare similar successful films to your project? When investing in a movie, there are no guarantees; however, the goal is to give your film a reasonable shot to turn a profit.

There are two questions your investors will undoubtedly ask. Are there any well-known actors in your film, and do you have a distributer. First, getting a well-known actor attached to your project is unlikely because at this point you can’t afford one. You’re not making a big blockbuster so your budget is going to be well below a million dollars. In fact, if your budget is over a quarter of a million dollars, you’re not dealing with reality.

Can you convince your investors that you can attract a well-known actor to your project? It’s quite possible to obtain a “letter of intent” from an actor who has the kind of credits that would impress your potential investors. A “letter of intent” is not a contract. There are no commitments from either party. It merely states that your actor is interested in being in your movie. And, if you think about it, isn’t every actor interested in every part as long as he or she gets paid? Getting a “letter of intent” is not as hard to get as you might think. Find out who represents the actors you are interested in. Send him/her a script and a potential offer. It’s a bit of a fishing trip, but you never know who you might catch. Don’t aim for A-list actors. Put your sights on solid B-list actors, who are on their up or slightly past their prime.

How do you handle the issue of distribution? There’s an old saying within the film industry that applies to your situation. First you make the movie and then you make the deal. It’s never going to work the other way. But there is a way to show your investors that there are some distributors who have an interest in your film. The reality is every distributor will be interested in your movie if they can make money.

Start contacting distributors who work with films that are similar to the type of movie you are producing. Call the acquisition person and see if he/she will read your script. Ask for their input or advice. If you get some interest, they may actually write some script notes for you. There’s nothing in writing or a deal at this point, but by getting a distributor interested and involved in the development process, they get an opportunity to help shape a film that they feel could be potentially successful. Of course, you have to decide how much of their input you will include in your movie. It’s a fine line that you have to walk to keep them interested while maintaining control.

Your potential investors will undoubtedly love a little Hollywood hype and the royal treatment.So give it to them. Hire a movie theater and put together an event to showcase your project. Almost all theaters are available for rental in the mornings. Serve breakfast. Make sure all of your key members are there to do a meet and greet. Have some actors read a few scenes from your movie. Show some of the demo reels from your director and your cinematographer. As I said, everybody loves a little bit of Hollywood, especially in a town that seldom sees any film production.

Now you’ve set the table, and you can pitch your movie. The thing your investors want to know is can you pull this off. You have to convince them that you are an expert in the movie business. At the least, you need to know more than they do.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

So You Want to Make a Movie - Finding the Money

You’ve caught the bug, and you’ve decided to make a movie. But where do you start? The good news is today there are fewer barriers to overcome in order to produce a film. Thanks to digital filmmaking, the costs have dropped dramatically. In reality, practically anybody can become a filmmaker.  No one article can answer all of your questions or take you through the entire process; however, I want to offer you 15 key steps that will at least steer you in the right direction. Think of these steps as the big picture or the 30,000 foot view.

Step 4. Reevaluation

Now that you’ve done your budget, you’re probably staring at a very big number, maybe, 7 figures. Ask yourself this question, can I raise that kind of money? You need to take another hard look at your budget. Start paring it down. What do you absolutely need to make your story work? It’s time to get real. Do you have too many locations, props, characters or special effects? Chances are something has to go.

If your screenplay calls for a desert location, can you rewrite the scene for a location that you can afford? Remember, everything in your script will cost money to shoot. Find alternatives. At the end of the day, it’s possible that the story you have chosen is just too expensive to produce; therefore, you will need to go back to the drawing board and find a simpler, small-scale story that is centered around a single location with only a handful of characters. Most first-time filmmakers or beginners usually think they can raise a ton of money. With no proven track record, that is unlikely to happen.

Step 5. Building Your Team

By this time, things are getting serious. You have some decisions to make. What position are you going to play in your movie? Up to this point, you’ve probably functioned as a producer and/or executive producer. Are you going to continue on in that position or bring in somebody to take over? It’s a big decision. Of course that depends on your budget. You could hire a production company to take care of everything. Then all you will have to do is raise the money.

It's important to build you team before you enter the fundraising and investor phase of your project. Who’s going to be your director and cinematographer? Can you get a named actor attached to your movie before the main casting takes place? This is all about building credibility. Step 5 is not about hiring every single crew member. All you need to do, is just get a few key people on board.

Here’s what’s probably going to happen. You’ll end up at the very least producing the film and maybe directing it as well. If you have never directed a film, it can be overwhelming. If at all possible, find a director and concentrate your efforts on producing the film. Don’t try to do it all.

Step 6. Finding the Money

Like most of us, I’m sure you don’t have deep pockets, but if you can self-finance your movie, you can skip this phase. However something tells me you’re going to continue to read on. Here’s the question I know you’re asking yourself. Where do I find the money to make my movie? Most first-time filmmakers finance their movie with the help of friends and family. That will probably get you started, but it will not meet all of your needs or raise enough money to make your movie.

It’s time to find some investors. By now, you should have established a limited liability company. By doing so, you will protect your assets and financial condition. Having an LLC allows you to seek investors. These investors will expect to get paid back with interest and make a profit. So where do you find investors? You could waste hundreds of dollars on books and videos that promise some magic formula. The truth is there is no magic formula. It’s just a gimmick to get your money.

Finding investors comes down to hard work, pounding the pavement, and shaking a lot of hands. It’s good old fashioned networking. It starts with the people you know, the people they know, and the people that these people know. I recommend that you attend every event, fundraiser and banquet you can get invited to. Everyone you come in contact with is a potential investor.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

So You Want to Make a Movie - Script and Budget

You’ve caught the bug, and you’ve decided to make a movie. But where do you start? The good news is today there are fewer barriers to overcome in order to produce a film. Thanks to digital filmmaking, the costs have dropped dramatically. In reality, practically anybody can become a filmmaker. There is no shortage of books, videos, and online resources to help get you started.

An entire cottage industry on how to produce a film has popped up overnight. It seems everybody is trying to make a buck today offering their inside filmmaking secrets. Some of the stuff out there is excellent, but a lot of it is a waste of your money. So where do you begin?

The task seems overwhelming. No one article can answer all of your questions or take you through the entire process; however, I want to offer you 15 key steps that will at least steer you in the right direction. Think of these steps as the big picture or the 30,000 foot view.

Step 1. Motivation

Nobody will care about your movie or project more than you will. Are you motivated enough to see it through to the end? Making a movie is a lot like going to war. There will be a lot of battles to fight. Some you win. Some you lose. Do you have the drive and determination? Do you believe in the project? Can you sell it? You have to be the visionary. If you don’t believe in your movie, nobody else will. Do you have the charisma necessary to convince people your project will be successful? Can you continue to stay motivated when you don’t have the budget up front or the outcome of your movie may offer little or no commercial success?

Step 2. The Script

Of course, everything starts with a script. You don’t have a movie unless something is written down on paper. So where does the script come from? You have three options. Either you write the script, commission someone to write it, or you obtain a spec script. Every year over 130,000 screenplays are registered with the Screen Actors Guild. So there’s no shortage of scripts. You need to ask yourself, can I write a great screenplay, or recognize a great script when I read it.  How do you know if you have something that can be turn into a great movie? You need honest feedback from people you trust, not what you want to hear but an unbiased opinion.

Without a great script, there is no point in moving forward. Here are questions you need to ask yourself. Do you scenes work? Do any of the lines in your script sound plausible coming out of the mouths of real people? Are the parts so difficult that you need great actors you can’t afford? What do the characters mean to you? Do they have depth? Is there any truth in what they say or do? If there is, how do I know this? And don’t settle for the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd version of your script. Rewrite is your friend. Learn to love it. It’s the only way your script is going to improve. And don’t be afraid to bring other scriptwriters in to help you in the process.

Step 3. The Budget

What does it cost to make a movie? Do you know? Have you done your research? How much do you have to pay your actors and crew? How long will it take to shoot your film? How many pages can you shoot per day? What does equipment cost? What about location, wardrobe, transportation, food, props, lighting, and grips. As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider. If you don’t know what the fair market value of the things necessary to make a movie, you’re shooting yourself in the foot That’s why you need a detailed, line-item budget.

A budget starts with a script breakdown, which is an analysis of all the elements contained within a script. By using colored pencils or markers, make a key that tells you exactly what each color represents. Go through the entire script scene by scene and highlight each of the elements in the appropriate color. For example, elements include locations, vehicles, SFX, stunts, wardrobe, props, set dressing, cast members, crew, camera equipment, lighting, etc.

Script breakdown helps you define what elements you have to pay for, what you can find for free, and when it has to be there and at what time. Go through your script and decide what is absolutely necessary. Decide what is extraneous for the script, story and characters.

Another question you have to consider when putting together a budget is whether or not your movie is union or nonunion? If it is union, which guilds are you planning to register with? This will have a major impact on your overall budget.

No budget is complete unless you’ve thought about which distribution channels you are pursuing. Are you looking for a theatrical release, straight-to-video, or an online streaming provider?

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Hunger Games

By now, you probably know something about The Hunger Games. In early summer, it made quite a splash grossing over $400 million at the box office. To say it was a success would be an understatement. Now that the film has been released on DVD and Blu-Ray, I thought it may be time to take a fresh look at The Hunger Games.

On the surface, this film would seem to be a very simplistic tale. I know at the time of its release, there was a fair amount of criticism about the content in The Hunger Games. Several pundits suggested it was the same typical trash that Hollywood produces to undermine the morals and values of our young people. As the old saying goes, never judge a book by its cover. Perhaps, the question the critics should have been asking is why did this film connect with so many people, especially teenagers. As a Christian, I see this film as an opportunity to build bridges and explore complex issues that’s facing our youth today.

I have a theory why I think so many young people related to this film. I believe they identified with the characters of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), who are fighting for their very lives in the Annual Hunger Games, as they become a tribute to the Dystopian Post Apocalyptic Nation of Panem.

I realize that most young people are not fighting for their lives in a literal sense today; however, in a metaphoric sense, I think they are in a battle for survival. Our society forces young people to grow up way too early. There’s too much pressure to succeed. If you don’t get the right grades, you don’t get into the right schools; therefore, your life becomes a failure. Young people feel an enormous amount of pressure to get to the top no matter the cost. Perhaps, in one sense that is the reason they have identified with this film.

You might think this film would contain a great deal of violence. After all, it’s a story about 24 young people from 12 different districts who fight to the death in a televised battle. And only one is the ultimate victor of the Hunger Games. The film does not contain any form of glorified or stylized violence. In fact, I think that The Hunger Games is a movie that sends a message against violence.

The Hunger Games offers something for everybody. Its story is complex and textured with multiple layers of meaning. If you are a conservative, there’s a message concerning the evils of big government. If you are a liberal, there is the message of the rich and powerful exploiting the work of the working class to their advantage.

This movie also serves as a cautionary tale, especially for younger generations. Something has terribly gone wrong in the futuristic society of Panem, which was once the United States and Canada. Here in America it’s easy for us to believe that our freedom and liberty will never cease to exist. Freedom is never guaranteed. We always have to work to preserve it.

The Hunger Games is also a hopeful movie. Even when things go terribly wrong, someone stands up and does the right thing. Throughout history, this has been the case. In this film, Katniss is our hero and champion. She places others before her needs. She becomes a sacrifice and ultimately will become “the one” who will redeem a society that has gone wrong.

And, finally, perhaps the other thing that stands out the most in this film is that The Hunger Games can be described as a Christian Allegory. There is an abundance of Christian themes such as self sacrifice, the message of a need for a substitute or atonement for sin, a resurrection and a Christ figure.

The Hunger Games is a film that’s worth your time and investment. It’s a great movie for discussion and dialogue. I think the film is saying something important about society and our future. Suzanne Collins wrote the hunger games as part one of a trilogy so we will not get the entire story in this first installment.

It’s my understanding that the remaining chapters will be divided into three feature films. It’s too early to say whether or not The Hunger Games will join the ranks of other classic trilogies such as The Lord of the Rings or Star Wars; however, I have a feeling it’s going to be a safe bet.

Weekend Report: 'Expendables' Repeats on Awful Late-August Weekend

The Expendables 2 repeated in first place on what was easily the lowest-grossing weekend of 2012 so far: the Top 12 added up to an estimated $83.4 million, or 11 percent less than the previous low (Feb. 3-5). While the end of August is generally a slow time for movie-going, it was exacerbated this year by a middling set of holdovers and an even worse group of new releases (Premium Rush, Hit and Run and The Apparition) that couldn't even break $7 million. One interesting area, at least, was the performance of 2016 Obama's America, which is already the highest-grossing conservative documentary ever.

The Expendables 2 fell 53 percent to an estimated $13.5 million this weekend. That drop is slightly steeper than that of the first Expendables (51 percent), and its $52.3 million 10-day total noticeably trails that movie's $65.4 million.

Holding on to second place, The Bourne Legacy dropped 46 percent to an estimated $9.3 million. Through 17 days, the spin-off/reboot has earned $85.5 million, and at this rate has zero chance of matching previous series low The Bourne Identity's $121.7 million total.

In its second weekend, ParaNorman eased 39 percent to an estimated $8.55 million. That's a nice hold, even if it isn't quite as strong as Coraline (12 percent dip). The stop-motion animation flick's total reached $28.3 million.

Will Ferrell-Zach Galifianakis political comedy The Campaign dipped 43 percent to an estimated $7.44 million in its third outing for a total of $64.5 million (on the low-end for Ferrell movies at this point). The Dark Knight Rises rounded out the Top Five with $7.16 million, which is off 35 percent from last weekend. The conclusion to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy has now made $422.2 million at the domestic box office, which is good for 11th on the all-time chart.

To put an exclamation point on just how bad this weekend's new crop was, last weekend's mild disappointment The Odd Life of Timothy Green actually finished ahead of all of those movies with $7.13 million. Through 12 days in theaters, the fantasy movie has earned $27.1 million.

Premium Rush was tops among the newcomers with a terrible $6.3 million. It's hard to find too many comparisons (bike messenger thrillers aren't exactly common), but none of them are flattering anyway: for example, January dud Man on a Ledge was also a mid-budget New York-set thriller with a recognizable but untested cast, and it debuted to just over $8 million. Distributor Sony Pictures reported that the audience was 55 percent male and 67 percent were 25 years of age and older, and they gave the movie a middling "B" CinemaScore (that at least improved to "A-" among the under-18 crowd).

After a very successful run in limited release, 2016 Obama's America expanded to 1,091 locations and earned an estimated $6.2 million this weekend. This is one of the best weekends ever for a political documentary, and only falls behind the first few frames for Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 (which this movie is clearly mimicking in its pre-election release pattern). 2016 has now earned $9.1 million, which makes it the highest-grossing conservative documentary ever ahead of Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed ($7.7 million). It also already ranks sixth all-time among political docs behind four Michael Moore movies and Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, and it could pass a few of these movies if it's able to maintain this momentum after this week's Republican National Convention.

Hit and Run grossed $4.68 million from 2,870 locations this weekend, which brings its five-day total to a meager $5.87 million. That's the worst opening yet for Open Road Films, a distribution outlet co-owned by movie theater chains AMC and Regal. With an awful "C+" CinemaScore, the theatrical prospects for this low-budget action comedy aren't likely to improve much.

Then again, CinemaScore isn't always such a good indicator of long-term appeal: despite earning a very strong "A" CinemaScore from audiences last weekend, music drama Sparkle plummeted 64 percent to an estimated $4.2 million this weekend. The movie has now grossed a paltry $18.9 million, and has little chance of even reaching $30 million before concluding its run.

In 12th place, supernatural horror movie The Apparition earned a pathetic $2.96 million from 810 locations. With the unusually-low theater count and a practically non-existent marketing effort, it's clear Warner Bros. was trying to bury this movie, and they appear to have succeeded.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Do You Have What It Takes? part 2

C is for confidence worth 20 points. Can you project confidence? Not false confidence. Obviously, your confidence should come from God and not your evaluation of your talents and skills. In this industry, perception is reality. If you are not confident about yourself being a filmmaker, others will not take you seriously. If God has called you to work in media and entertainment, then exert your confidence. Remember the famous line as it applies to producers: “I have several projects in various levels of development.” This can be an absolutely true statement as long as there’s a few thoughts in your head or perhaps a few things written down. The point is do you have the confidence to sell it?

A is for attitude worth 20 points. The wrong attitude will sink your career. Nobody wants to work with difficult people. I have hired a lot of crew members over my career. I can forgive a lot of things. But I will not bring somebody back who has a bad attitude. That’s like throwing gasoline on the fire because it can spread throughout your crew. The media, film and television business is no different than any other aspect of life. It’s all about the right attitude. Are you willing to serve others and start at the bottom? If you have a servant’s heart, you will have the right attitude to make it in this business. Are you good at making adjustments and adapting to difficult situations? Your attitude will be the determining factor.

D is for drive worth 20 points. Can you outwork everybody else? The media business requires long hours and dedication. If you are looking for a 40-hour week, you have chosen the wrong career. A couple of years ago, I worked with an intern who was a fourth year media student. Her plan was to be a television journalist. The problem was she discovered in order to do that she would be required to work long hours including weekends. She wanted her Friday and Saturday nights off to go out with her friends. Do you think she found a job in her field as an anchor or reporter? If you are not ready for long hours and working weekends, change your major now. In the film business, a typical day can be 14 – 16 hours. Remember, the advantage you have is your youth. The question is do you want it bad enough.

F is for focus worth 20 points. Can you be laser-like in your approach to your work? Seeing the goal at hand is the secret of focus. In the media business, there are all types of distractions. First you can start believing all your hype that you are special or that the rules don’t apply to you. That can lead to bad lifestyle choices as well as to the people you hang around with. All of this is a distraction and will cause you to loose your focus. You can find a lot of successful, talented people who no longer work in the film or television industry because they lost their focus.

P is for a plan worth 15 points. Have a plan. Then have a backup plan. And then again have a second backup plan because in this business things change fast. You get the point. You have to have a plan. Preferably a good one. The whole point is just writing a plan makes you think about the process. It makes you an active participant in your career and not merely a bystander. And, frankly, people will be more impressed with you if you have taken the time and effort to actually develop and write a plan for your own professional and personal development.

X is the unknown factor worth 40 points. So what’s the X factor? It will mean different things to different people. Some people call it fate, chance, coincidence, dumb luck or destiny. For Christians, this is God’s plan and purpose for your life. After all of your hard work and effort, it will probably be the X factor that will determine whether or not you actually make it in this business. For some of you, this may be hard to fathom. All of the other elements get you close to the finish line. It’s the X factor that takes you across the line.

Obviously, the X factor works in your favor if you’ve been called to be a media missionary. But it’s not guaranteed. You must do your part so God can do his part. That means you have to work on your attitude, your confidence, your drive and your focus. You’ve studied hard and are knowledgeable in your craft. When you have done all this, the X factor kicks in on your behalf. On the other hand, if you are just trying to coast in, don’t expect the X factor to do much for you.

T is for total. When you add up all the factors, what number do you need? Remember this is only a theoretical calculation with a possible 305 points. You need to be over 200 points. I consider between 200 and 220 to be marginal. In fact, anything over 220 would put you more in the safe zone.

So how did I make the evaluation? For example, talent is worth 50 points. Anything under 17 or below, it’s not happening. Between 18 and 35 is marginal or average. For 36 and above, you are showing visible signs of talent in some area such as directing skills, writing, producing or acting.

So where do you stand? If you’ve done the work, attained your degree and really applied yourself, chances are you have one true talent that you excel in. That would put you in the upper half of the top third. You probably have three or four categories that you are somewhat efficient in. You would score in the lower end of the top third. You also have three or four categories in which you are adequate or average. That would put you in the lower or the middle end of the middle third. And most students have one category in which they have serious problems. In this case, you would score in the lower third. The trick is not to score in the lower part of the bottom third. So when you add it up, for most students, you are within striking distance, but it is often the X factor that will determine whether or not you make it.

Now ask yourself if you have what it takes to make it in this business. What do you have to work on and improve? More importantly, what are your strengths? Remember, you don’t have to be good in every factor, just excel in what you are good at.

Forecast: 'Premium Rush' Leads Meek Newcomers Against 'Expendables'

As is standard at the end of August, the box office is set to cool off substantially this weekend; it's looking abnormally bad this year, though, with all three of this weekend's new nationwide releases poised to fall short of $10 million. This means The Expendables 2 will repeat in first place, albeit with the lowest number one gross so far this year. Also worth keeping an eye on is the performance of conservative documentary 2016 Obama's America, which is expanding in to over 1,000 theaters after a strong run in limited release.

Playing at 2,255 locations, Premium Rush seems to have the most potential among the three new nationwide releases, though that isn't saying much. After successfully shaking the child star label thanks to roles in cult hits like Brick and (500) Days of Summer and memorable supporting turns in Christopher Nolan blockbusters Inception and The Dark Knight Rises, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is taking his first stab at anchoring a major studio release with the bike messenger thriller. Unfortunately, after pushing it back from January 2012 to its current date (presumably to take advantage of Dark Knight Rises buzz), distributor Sony Pictures hasn't given the movie much of a marketing push at all. The material that has been shown has ranged from underwhelming to confusing, with the catchphrase "Ride Like Hell" occupying much more poster space than the movie's actual title. Sony is currently anticipating somewhere between $6 and $8 million this weekend.

Hit and Run opened to a measly $625,000 from 2,698 locations on Wednesday, and will expand slightly to 2,870 theaters on Friday. Dax Shepard's independently-produced action comedy secured such a large number of locations thanks to distributor Open Road Films, which is co-owned by theater chains AMC and Regal. The movie has been screening all over the country for months, though any positive buzz seems to have been drowned out by now. With its terrible Wednesday debut, it's unlikely Hit and Run gets to $5 million for its five-day start.

Possibly because of their discontinued relationship with the movie's production company (Dark Castle), Warner Bros. doesn't even seem to be trying with supernatural thriller The Apparition, which is only going out at 810 locations this weekend. In the past decade, WB has only had three nationwide releases open at fewer than 1,000 locations: Spartan debuted to $2.01 million at 832 venues, A Sound of Thunder opened to just $917,398 at 816 theaters, and The Phantom of the Opera grossed $4 million from 622 locations (though that was muted by a Wednesday Holiday opening). With hardly any promotion, and a lot of its thunder being stolen by next week's more-specific supernatural thriller The Possession, it's hard to imagine The Apparition getting above these meager levels.

With the nearly-inevitable underperformance of all three new movies, the story of the weekend could be the nationwide expansion of 2016 Obama's America. Based on co-director Dinesh D'Souza's book The Roots of Obama's Rage, the documentary appears to take a conservative look at President Barack Obama's past and then speculate how that will impact future policy decisions should Obama be re-elected in November. The movie opened at one location on July 13, and was flying under-the-radar until last weekend when its per-theater average jumped 42 percent to $7,365 despite nearly tripling its theater count to 169. That kind of momentum is practically unheard-of, and suggests word-of-mouth is very strong.

To take advantage of this buzz, distributor Rocky Mountain Pictures managed to book 2016: Obama's America in 1,090 locations this weekend, which is the widest release for a political documentary since Michael Moore's Sicko in 2007. On Wednesday, Fandango reported that the movie was accounting for a whopping 34 percent of ticket sales on the site, which guarantees the movie a Top 10 finish this weekend. In fact, while it won't get anywhere close to Fahrenheit 9/11's $23.9 million debut (a similar anti-president doc released during the heat of a re-election campaign), it's almost guaranteed to set a new weekend record for a conservative documentary ahead of 2008's Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed ($2.97 million at 1,052 locations).

Forecast (August 24-26)
1. The Expendables 2 - $12.2 million (-57%)
2. The Bourne Legacy - $9 million (-47%)
3. ParaNorman - $8.6 million (-39%)
4. Premium Rush - $8.2 million
5. The Campaign - $7.1 million (-46%)
-. 2016 - $5.8 million (+466%)
-. Hit & Run - $2.7 million ($3.8 million five-day)
-. The Apparition - $2.5 million

Bar for Success
Premium Rush is an action movie from a major studio opening at over 2,000 locations; even with a light marketing campaign it really ought to be debuting to at least $10 million. The standard is a little lower for Hit & Run, though it should be getting close to $10 million through five days. With such a middling release, The Apparition should be commended if it can even get to $5 million. Finally, 2016: Obama's America needs to at least match its $2.6 million total this weekend to justify the quick expansion.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Do You Have What It Takes? part 1

So what exactly are your gifts and talents? Do you have what it takes to be a producer? What about a director? Or perhaps you see yourself as an actor. I am often asked by my film students what it takes to work in Hollywood and the entertainment industry. There is no simple answer to that question. First of all, a film degree will not guarantee you success or even employment. There are completely different skill sets, talents and giftings necessary to be a writer, director, producer, or actor. The trick is discovering where you best fit in.

I have created a formula that can offer some insight into your probability for success in the entertainment and media field. Here’s the formula: T + (N + K + E) + (C + A + D + F) + P + X = T. Remember the formula, at best, is only a probability. It cannot guarantee adequate results.

T is for talent worth 50 points. It is a determining factor, but you can have talent and still not succeed. Talent is one of those things that you either have or you don’t. It is absolutely a God-given gift. Yes, you can enhance talent or sculpture it over time, but it has to be inherent. You cannot go to film school and develop talent. If you are born to be a director, you will be a director. If you are born to be a writer, you will be a writer, etc. The fact is most of your instructors in film school will know after a short time if you have what it takes to make it. The only question is whether or not they will be honest with you.

So let’s say you want to direct. Can you make it in the business with marginal talent? Absolutely. But it will require you to be stronger in other areas to compensate. It might also mean that you would be better suited to be a first or second assistant director.

N is for networking worth 40 points. The media business is all about networking. It’s really who you know that is going to help you to work in this business. People like to work with people they like and trust. So how do you network? First of all, you need good social skills along with an excellent understanding of how the industry functions. Both are essential to be a good networker.

Do you know how to work a room? It’s without a doubt an art form. It certainly helps to be friendly and likable. You create an environment where people respond to you because you make them feel good, and they just like to be around you. It’s also essential to be a good communicator. It also helps to be interesting and capable of telling a good story. Perhaps the most important factor is being capable of listening to people. In other words, you care more about what they are saying than what you have to say.

Networking should always lead to relationship. And relationship will lead to trust and opportunities. Think of networking as your chance to help other people first. Who do you network with? Start with your own peers at film school, conferences, workshops, etc. Also when you are networking with people in higher positions, try to find out what they need and whether you have something you can leverage to meet that need.

K is for knowledge worth 40 points. Obviously, you need to know everything about your field. If you plan on being an editor or cinematographer, develop your craft. This is not only about a four-year experience you have in college, but it must be a lifetime commitment. The more you know, the more you will understand. And the more you can put into practice will dramatically increase your chances for success in whatever media field you choose. Read everything about your field. Find mentors who are experienced and knowledgeable and will show you the practical side of how to apply your craft. What you don’t know will kill you. In this business, people will know in the short term whether you are knowledgeable and know what you are talking about. You will not be able to fool people. And knowing the language of how people communicate in this industry is essential.

E is for entrepreneurship worth 40 points. Let’s stop fooling ourselves. Opportunities usually don’t come looking for you. Do you really think someone is going to offer you a $30 million picture to direct right out of film school? Especially in today’s economic environment, you can’t afford to sit around and wait for the phone to ring. Entrepreneurs make their own breaks and create their own opportunities. They are people who see things that other people don’t see.

Opportunities are everywhere. That’s how an entrepreneur thinks. For example, I just met a young filmmaker starting out in Hollywood. He has worked on several films as a production assistant. It’s entry level work. But he saw an opportunity that others didn’t. So he wrote a pamphlet called “The PA Guide, A Practical Guide to Your First Job in Film or Television”. As far as I know, there has never been a specific book written on the topic of the production assistant. This met a need in the marketplace. The fact is if you don’t know how to be a good production assistant, do you think you will get an opportunity to move up? It’s an excellent resource because it tells you everything you need to know to be the best production assistant you can be. He is selling the book for $7.95. This is classic example of an entrepreneur in action.

What does it take to be an entrepreneur? A good study of people, solid communication skills, and, obviously, a solid grasp of business principles are all essential ingredients. Most people who get to direct, produce or write their films, work in the independent model. That means you have to self-finance your projects. Entrepreneurs know how to raise money, make deals, find distributors and return a profit to the investors.

No you don’t have to be good at being an entrepreneur to make it in the media business, but it sure helps. If you are weak in this area as well as mediocre in talent, you are probably out of the running

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Look at Hope Bridge


On the outside, the Spangler family seems like a very normal, busy, successful family. Michael, a father and paramedic is focused on community service to the small midwestern town, Robin runs a very successful family real estate business. Daughter Lilly has it all together on a tennis scholarship at the local university and Peter is a senior in high school seemingly poised to graduate and move on to college.

Things are not always as they seem when the family is riveted by Peter's attempted suicide after a series of traumatic events in both school and personally. This event strains the relationship in the family and causes all of them to question themselves.

Ultimately, the family comes to grips with the reality of their son's condition. This rerouted journey begins their new path toward understanding and healing from tragedy. The film culminates with a fiery call to action to start breaking down the stigma of mental illness and suicide. This engaging message is intended to empower the audience to save and impact lives by looking for the warning signs of suicide and being proactive by gaining knowledge and taking action to help.

Our aim is to take the "mess" of suicide and make it a message of hope through God's unfailing love. Suicide MUST be stopped, the stigma MUST be lifted...ONE MORE LIFE LOST IS ONE TOO MANY!

Production Company: InFuse Pictures

Screenwriters/Executive Producers: David & Christi Eaton
Director: Christi Eaton
Producer: Harold Hay


Critical Viewing Cues

Critical viewing cues are the building blocks that filmmakers use to elicit an emotional response from the viewing audience. Media creation, in all of its forms, is by nature a manipulative process. Filmmakers understand this principle. Every element that is in a television program, a movie or any form of media is put there by design and has a purpose. Media is built just as a building or highway might be constructed. Building materials may include music, lighting, sound, set design, camera movement, etc.

Not only is there a physical process of construction but also a complex, psychological process of meaning and values. What is constructed by a few people can become normalized with the rest of society. We often take this for granted, and it usually goes unquestioned. Often we don’t get to see what words, pictures or arrangements that were rejected during the building process. We see only what the media maker wants us to see. Critical viewing cues vary in nature according to the type of media created.

In film, for example, close-ups of a character are used for emotional impact. They are good for suspense and provide easy access to the mind. High-angle shots looking down on a character usually mean the person is submissive, important or powerless. Low-angle shots suggest a character is powerful and commanding. Dutch-angle shots are camera angles not parallel to the horizon. They suggest mayhem or that the character has some type of psychological disorder. A mirror or reflection shot on a reflective surface suggests deep thoughts or the concept of looking into one’s self.

Colors can convey emotions. Sky blue can represent thoughts that are peaceful and calm. It can suggest honesty, good will and wisdom. Green can suggest eternity, jealousy, money, growth, rebirth or creativity. Silver can be seen as cold, alien, and futuristic. Red can represent anger, debt, warning, violence or sex. Lighting is used to create mood. Comedies are often well lit with bright colors to encourage a sense of happiness and humor. In suspense thrillers, it is just the opposite. They are dark and mysterious. The color palette is intentionally toned down.

Lighting is used to create shadows on the characters’ faces, which creates tension and anxiety. If you want to create a sense of tension, your sound design could emphasize a busy signal from a telephone, a fire truck, construction sounds such as jackhammers or a dog barking. On the other hand, if you are looking to create a peaceful mood, you would emphasize birds singing, a heartbeat, or crickets. Sound design is one of the most important parts in creating an emotional response in films. Sound coming from an old car radio can create a nostalgic emotion or mood. A sound coming from a loudspeaker can suggest a voice of authority. A walkman or headphones suggest a feeling of being enclosed and out of tune with the rest of the world.

Another way to convey meaning is through metaphors and symbolism. Filmmakers use animals, plants, weather, objects, occupations, numbers and places to communicate emotions to viewers. An owl can suggest wisdom, occult powers, death, or a supernatural protector. Sunflowers can be used to convey a sense of the sacred or attractiveness. Lightning can suggest that unexpected changes are coming. Coins can suggest wealth. The sun can suggest creative energy. Even a geographical direction like the South can evoke an emotional response of earthly passion or sensuality. A gate can suggest new beginnings or a change in state. A lawyer can suggest a server of justice or a person with shark-like instincts. The number seven is used to represent the mystical or spiritual. It is used for good luck. The number 6 is for structure, balance and order.

A river can represent a place to cross over for change. The top of a hill can create the emotion of getting perspective or achievement. A foggy pier suggests mystery, uncertainty and that things are not what they seem. An island can suggest isolation and loneliness. Critical viewing cues are exactly what they suggest. They cue our conscious and subconscious mind to respond with a certain emotion. In other words, the scary music suggests something bad is going to happen, so we become tense and frightened. A filmmaker may use a long lens to compress the background so the subject appears to have no space or is trapped. Therefore, we feel just as trapped as the character we are watching in the movie. These are just a few of the many techniques that media makers use with their films, television programs and other forms of media.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Who Am I to Think I Can Change Anything

Have you ever had a discussion with someone that had the potential to change the direction of your life? For good or bad. If you haven’t, I guarantee you that at some point it will happen. And the thing is you might of heard the same words or statements from other people in the past, but this time its different. Somehow the words went to the heart and made an impact on a very personal level. You will have a choice to make, continue on your pathway or abruptly change your course.

A few years ago, I remember having a talk with this guy that utterly shook my world. He was a total stranger, and I don’t even remember his name; however, I do remember that he held a major position within a well-known Christian organization. We were talking about the media and how Christian could make an impact in Hollywood. His words still haunt me today.” How do you think you are going to change Hollywood? How can you have a positive influence in media and entertainment when it seems that you have very little to work with?” Perhaps, from his perspective, I must have seemed crazy.

I was attending a banquet in an old church ( Old St. George in Cincinnati ) that had been converted into a ministry center. A few months earlier I had left my job and founded a media ministry and moved into the basement of Old St.George. This gentleman I was talking to was sitting at my table and had just finished a tour of the building. He asked me what I was doing. I told him I worked in the building, and I had founded a new ministry called Victory Videos.

We were planning on launching a media and training ministry for the development of future media missionaries. We had recently acquired air time to launch a new show on our local ABC affiliate, Channel 9. I also told him we were in the process of building a studio in the basement of the building. I’m sure he could hear the excitement in my voice as I said that we wanted to change culture by producing positive and uplifting entertainment with a Christian message. It’s then that he made the above comments and gave me a look I will never forget. I looked at me as if I was an alien with three eyes. I’m sure he was thinking there’s no way you can change anything or make a difference. He had seen my space. He knew it was a makeshift studio at best with little equipment.

I don’t remember how I answered his question. I’m sure I said something like with God all things are possible. To be honest with you, my confidence was shaken. Maybe he was right. How could I change anything working out of a 130 year old church basement, 2,500 miles from Hollywood with no money or resources? I don’t know if this guy had given up. Maybe he thought the problem was just too big and too complex. Perhaps, he was right. No one person can make a difference. The odds are too overwhelming. Who was I to think I could change anything?

I had a decision to make. Do I move forward or throw in the towel? I know I heard from God to start this ministry. But this guy was right. I had nothing. The next few days were pretty rough, but I was determined to not let this guy talk me out of the decision I had made. So I pressed on. And I learned something along the way. First, you just have to show up and make yourself available. Second, you’ve got to believe that it’s possible to change things. In other words, YOU can make a difference. If you don’t believe this, nothing is going to happen. And, finally, you just have to let God move. Just be a conduit and let Him use you.

Victory Videos went on to do amazing things. We aired on 15 networks and over 200 TV stations worldwide. We had hundreds of e-mails every month from people being impacted by our broadcast. Many people who went through our training program are actually working in Los Angeles as well as elsewhere in the media and entertainment industry. Maybe the best way I could have answered this guy’s question was to say I realize I can only have so much influence and I can only change so much. But if I have influence on one person, that one person can have influence on people that I don’t have access to. That’s how we can make a difference.

We never really get to see the big picture or the influence we really have. It doesn’t make it less true because we don’t see it. Today, I want to give you a word of encouragement. You can make a difference no matter what obstacles you face. And don’t listen to the people who are telling you it’s impossible to change our world.

Whether you work in the media or film industry or any other job, let God use you where you are planted. See your workplace as a mission field. I encourage you to adopt a missional lifestyle by building trust, relationships and friendships. I’m convinced we can change our world by living the principle that Jesus has taught us. We just have to believe it’s possible.

I’m glad I didn’t listen to this guy all those years ago. Trust me. I was discouraged. But I picked myself up because I still had faith that I could make a difference as long as I wasn’t doing it by my talents or in my strength. Don’t stop believing because belief is all we really have.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Expendables 2 easily wound up in first place this weekend, though attendance was noticeably off from the 2010 original. The three other openers were all modest movies that wound up with modest debuts, and none of them were outright misses. The Top 12 earned an estimated $128.2 million this weekend, which is a 21 percent improvement over the same period last year.

The Expendables 2 debuted to an estimated $28.75 million from 3,316 locations. That's off 17 percent from the original Expendables, which scored $34.8 million on its opening weekend in August 2010. Lionsgate reported that the movie's audience was 63 percent male and 65 percent over the age of 25, and that they awarded the movie an "A-" CinemaScore.

Studios would obviously prefer for sequels to at least match their predecessor's grosses, but that's easier said than done. First, the original movie needs to be incredibly well-liked, and that's not necessarily the case with The Expendables: it has a 6.5 rating on IMDb, which is very middle-of-the-road for a male-skewing action movie. Perhaps more importantly, though, the sequel needs to appear to offer something new, which The Expendables 2 didn't really do. Sure, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris joined the cast, but neither of them was featured prominently in commercials. Instead, the emphasis was on the expanded roles for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, which was tricky to convey given that both actors were included in marketing material for the first outing.

This is still a fine opening for The Expendables 2, and likely puts it on the path to profitability. However, it isn't the kind of performance to build an increasingly expensive franchise on, and if it doesn't hold up incredibly well in the next few weeks it might be tough to get The Expendables 3 going.

In second place, The Bourne Legacy fell 55 percent to an estimated $17.02 million. That's a slightly steeper drop than The Bourne Ultimatum (53 percent) and The Bourne Supremacy (54 percent), albeit with a much lower gross-to-date ($69.6 million, compared to $131.6 million and $98.8 million, respectively). It does at least still lead The Bourne Identity ($54.4 million), though matching that movie's $121.7 million total will be tough if Legacy doesn't hang on well next weekend.

ParaNorman took third place with just over $14 million from 3,429 locations. Even with a unique concept and lukewarm competition, the movie still couldn't break out of the standard stop-motion animation opening range, which reinforces how tricky this sub-genre is. The movie's opening was lower than Coraline's $16.8 million, but was at least above April's The Pirates! Band of Misfits ($11.1 million). Audiences gave ParaNorman a "B+" CinemaScore, which isn't quite strong enough to guarantee a prosperous run.

The Campaign dropped 50 percent to an estimated $13.4 million in its second weekend. Among Will Ferrell movies, that's a slightly better hold than Talladega Nights (53 percent), Anchorman (51 percent) and The Other Guys (51 percent), but worse than Step Brothers (47 percent). The political comedy has now earned $51.7 million.

Sparkle rounded out the Top Five with an estimated $12 million debut, which is a decent opening for a modestly-budgeted, lightly-marketed movie. The audience skewed older (62 percent above 35 years of age) and female (74 percent), and they gave the movie an "A" CinemaScore, all of which indicates that it should play well throughout the rest of the season.

The Dark Knight Rises fell 41 percent to an estimated $11.1 million. It's expected to reach $409.9 million on Sunday, which allows it to pass The Hunger Games to take second place for 2012 and 12th place on the all-time chart.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green took in $10.9 million this weekend for a five-day total of $15.2 million. That's good enough for a small movie like this, but has to be a bit disappointing considering Disney started their marketing effort last August. Timothy Green received an "A-" CinemaScore.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Three Cardinal Sins of Low-Budget Filmmaking - Part 2

No. 2 – Casting bad actors in supporting roles.

Most low-budget filmmakers do a good job finding a couple of decent actors to play the primary and leading roles. But what about the three or four supporting roles? They are equally crucial. Although your principle actors will most likely make up 70 or 80 percent of your screen time, you’re supporting actors are capable of derailing all of your hard work and effort. Although their role on screen may be limited, bad acting sticks out like a sore thumb.

It appears that in the supporting roles we’re just trying to fill out the roster, and it looks like we’re just pulling people off the street. Bad idea. I realize that whatever funds you have are going to pay your leads. So what’s the solution?


Look for nonprofessional actors who are playing an extension of themselves. Why work with bad actors that can’t act? Find someone who isn’t really acting because they are naturally playing the part. Sometimes you have a better film working with nonprofessionals.

Mistake No. 1 – Bad Dialogue

The problem with bad dialogue is you never know it’s bad dialogue until it’s too late. Everyone is so involved in the production process and focusing on making the film that bad dialogue somehow just slips through. It becomes painfully obvious during the editing process when the pieces are finally assembled. You think to yourself, how did we miss it. This is awful. Nobody would really talk like this or say something like that. Too late.

The sad fact is you might have a good story and a good concept on your hands. But it doesn’t matter if the dialogue is just not up to speed. Dialogue is the hardest thing to write. You can learn the mechanics of scriptwriting, but the gift of dialogue is pure talent.


No easy answer. Your best bet is to get honest feedback from multiple sources before you decide to make your movie. I realize you’re probably in love with your script, especially if you have written it. But if you don’t get an honest assessment, you could be looking at a train wreck. Find money in your budget to bring in a good writer who can help with dialogue. I’m sure all of the seminars and workshops you attended told you that it’s always about story. In the world of low-budget filmmaking, that’s even more true. It’s about the script but especially the dialogue.

Now you’re ready to make your movie. You know how to compensate for lack of action. You’ve found the right people who can play the roles, and you’ve got a fantastic script. And it didn’t cost you $30 to buy that film school book. Just remember to add me to the credits as an Associate Producer.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Forecast: 'Expendables 2' Set to Blow Up the Box Office This Weekend

The late-August doldrums are about to kick-in, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for one more big, dumb Summer blockbuster.

This year, that honor goes to action sequel The Expendables 2, which is opening on over 4,300 screens at 3,316 locations and should easily claim first place over the weekend. Other new movies include stop-motion animation flick ParaNorman at a massive 3,429 locations, Whitney Houston's last movie Sparkle at 2,244 theaters and The Odd Life of Timothy Green at 2,598 venues.

Two years ago, The Expendables drew serious interest from male audiences by bringing together a large group of past-and-present action stars in to one movie. It opened to $34.8 million on its way to $103.1 million, which at the time made it distributor Lionsgate's second-highest-grossing title ever. Reactions to the movie were mixed, though: it received a poor 41% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and fans have awarded it an unremarkable 6.5 rating on IMDb.

In order to maintain interest, The Expendables 2 is upping the ante in regards to its ensemble cast, which is the main selling point for this aspiring franchise. Frequently-parodied action stars Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme (as a villain named "Vilain," of course) are the biggest additions, while The Hunger Games star Liam Hemsworth has been brought on board presumably to attract some interest from younger female audiences (though it's hard to imagine them turning out for such a violent, testosterone-heavy movie just because the future Mr. Miley Cyrus is in it). The movie also gives expanded screen time to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis, though that impact is muted considering their cameos in the original were a central part of that movie's marketing effort.

Even with all these fresh faces, there is definitely a bit of a been-there-done-that feeling surrounding The Expendables 2. It also doesn't help that the movie is facing direct competition from The Bourne Legacy's second weekend. Lionsgate is anticipating an opening in the low-$30-millions right now, which would put it just behind the first movie's debut.

Paranorman is the latest movie from Laika Entertainment, the animation company behind 2009's Coraline. That movie was also released by Focus Features, and debuted to $16.8 million before closing with a very good $75.3 million. That opening is on the high-end for stop-motion animation: in fact, the top debut ever for the sub-genre still belongs to 2000's Chicken Run ($17.5 million), and recent underperformer The Pirates! Band of Misfits ($11.1 million) suggests that these movies really aren't huge draws right out of the gate.

Paranorman, though, may be able to break out a bit from these levels. The gothic stop-motion look aligns nicely with Coraline, and Paranorman's ads mix-in some broadly-appealing humor. Also, the movie generated serious awareness with some clever Olympics tie-in commercials. Finally, with Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days and Ice Age: Continental Drift fading, and The Odd Life of Timothy Green unlikely to break out, Paranorman has a fairly-open field with younger and family audiences. A good comparison seems to be Monster House which was also a dark animated movie centered around children. It opened to $22.2 million in Summer 2006, which is likely the high mark for ParaNorman this weekend.

Music drama Sparkle marks the last big-screen role for pop star Whitney Houston, who passed away in February shortly after completing work on the movie. Sparkle follows a female Motown group in the 1960s, and it was surely inspired to a degree by the overwhelming success of 2006's Dreamgirls ($103.4 million). While the buzz isn't nearly as high on Sparkle, the Whitney-factor obviously will inspire some curiosity, and the movie should play well with older woman. According to Sony, Sparkle has a good chance of matching its $14 million budget over opening weekend.

The Odd Life of Timothy Green kicked off its box office run a few days early with a $2.3 million Wednesday opening. That's nearly identical to last week's Hope Springs, which went on to earn $19.1 million over its first five days. That's a bit of an anomaly, though, with most patterns suggesting a number closer to $15 million for Timothy Green's five-day start.

Weekend Forecast (August 17-19)
1. The Expendables 2 - $37.1 million
2. Paranorman - $19.6 million
3. The Bourne Legacy - $17.4 million (-54%)
4. The Campaign - $13.6 million (-49%)
5. Sparkle - $13.1 million
-. The Odd Life of Timothy Green - $10.5 million ($14.5 million 5-day)

Bar for Success

With the additions to the cast, The Expendables 2 ought to be getting close to the first movie's debut ($35 million or more). Based on the track record for stop-motion animation, anything north of $15 million is a fine start for Paranorman, while $15 million would also put Sparkle (three days) and Timothy Green (5 days) in great shape.

The Three Cardinal Sins of Low-Budget Filmmaking - Part 1

You’ve bought the $30 film school book, paid for the 2-day film school DVD set, and you’ve gone to every seminar and workshop imaginable about low-budget filmmaking. You’ve done your homework, and you’re ready to make your first film.

If you’ve paid close attention, you’ve discovered the two most common mistakes that most people make when starting out in the business—soft focus and bad sound. You have determined not to go down that road. You’ve taken the experts’ advice and found a qualified and highly confident Director of Photography. You’ve also found a sound expert who has all the right equipment to capture good sound on location. Maybe you’ve even gone a step further and enlisted the help of a friend who can score your film. So do you have all the bases covered? Are you ready to make an excellent low-budget feature?

Low-budget doesn’t have to mean low quality. Although the odds are against you, it’s possible to deliver the goods. I’ve watched countless low-budget films and have been involved in the production of both low-budget television and film projects. So I’ve made every mistake possible.

From my experience here are three deadly sins that catch most people off guard. You never see them until it’s too late.

Mistake No. 3 – Failing to compensate for lack of action.

Chances are that if you are doing a low-budget feature, you don’t have money for special effects, CGI, car chases or explosions. Most low-budget films suffer from lack of action. Often the film feels like nothing is happening. But you can compensate for this if you know what you’re doing.

One recent example is The Sunset Limited. Here’s a film that’s 90 minutes long and features two actors in one room. That’s it. Doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? But actually it’s captivating and completely holds your attention for the entire 90 minutes.

The last thing you want to do, whether you’re a big-budget or low-budget filmmaker, is to bore your audience. Find a way to keep them engaged. Your task is to create tension and the feeling that something is about to happen. If you don’t have money to shoot a certain scene with action, reference it as an event that happened off-screen and allow the audience to fill in the blanks.

These are common techniques that were used in The Sunset Limited. They also used simple tasks, such as making tea, into an action-oriented event.


Utilize the editing process to overcome the lack of action by using creative editing concepts to show action. Make sure you have a significant number of cover shots. A good editor will know how to compensate for the lack of action. Make sure that you find someone who understands his/her role and the shortcomings your film will present. The main point is to plan for it in advance.