≡ Menu

The Director’s Chair Issue #130 – May 6, 2012 (10 Tricks and Traps of Producing)

Free Monthly Ezine for Independent Filmmakers

May 6, 2012                Scene 13 – Take 5

Published once a month.

Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
Email: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com
Website: http://actioncutprint.com
Blog: http://filmdirectingtips.com


Dear {!firstname},

You are receiving “The Director’s Chair” because you (or
someone using your email address) requested a subscription.

PRIVACY STATEMENT: This Subscriber List is a private mailing
list and will not be made available to other companies or
individuals. I value every Subscriber and respect your


1. Introduction
2. Bonuses for Subscribing to The Director’s Chair
3. Filmmaking Stuff Book
4. FEATURE ARTICLE: 10 Tricks and Traps of Producing
5. Subscriber Shameless Self-Promotion
6. Filmmaking Links of Interest
7. Product Promotion and Film Workshops
8. Subscribe and Unsubscribe Information
9. Copyright Information

1. Introduction

Welcome to Issue #130 of The Director’s Chair May 6, 2012

1. Feature Article – The feature article this month is called:
10 Tricks & Traps of Producing by Elliot Grove. Producing
Feature Films is an occupation fraught with danger, mishaps
and misfortune. As Shakespeare said: many a slip twixt cup and
lip. Here are the ten areas where new producers trip up. (Read
full article below.)

2. Please send any comments, suggestions, questions or advice
to: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com

2. Two Bonuses For Subscribing To The Director’s Chair

Thank you very much for subscribing to this ezine.

BONUS #1 – Here is the link to download Day One (30 pages) of
“The Art and Craft of the Director Audio Seminar.”

BONUS #2 – Here is the link to download the first 27 pages of
the “Script Breakdown and Film Scheduling Online Course.”

3. Filmmaking Stuff: How to Make, Market and Sell your Movie
Without the Middle-Man by Jason Brubaker

My friend, Jason Brubaker, has just published his first book
called Filmmaking Stuff: How to Make, Market and Sell your
Movie Without the Middle-Man. http://amzn.to/IudU3h

As a filmmaker, one of the biggest problems YOU have is
finding a way to get your movie made, seen and sold without
waiting for some Hollywood yahoo to give you permission. And
as you probably know, there are a lot of people who want to
make movies. But very few people will actually take action.

The good news is this. You no longer need Hollywood. In fact,
the future of filmmaking is not Hollywood. It is the thousands
of independent filmmakers empowered by the digital revolution.

This filmmaking book shows YOU how to get the script, use
crowdfunding to raise the money, make the journey from
screenplay to screen, distribute your movie, and then build an
audience eager to see your next movie!

Please check out Jason’s book out at: http://amzn.to/IudU3h

4. Feature Article: 10 Tricks & Traps of Producing – Elliot Grove

Producing Feature Films is an occupation fraught with danger,
mishaps and misfortune. As Shakespeare said: many a slip twixt
cup and lip. Here are the ten areas where new producers trip

Here are some observations I have made during my 20 years of
running the Raindance Film Festival.

1. Measure Success by More Than a Theatrical Release

The times are a-changin’. The costs and associated risk factor
of releasing a film theatrically are so onerous that it is
becoming virtually impossible to secure a theatrical release
for independent films. Your film might not be right for a
theatrical release. Astute producers in the 21st century
explore other avenues of distribution including
self-distribution, ancillary markets, VOD, IPTV, television
and home video. Another drawback with traditional theatrical
distribution is the fact that financial and creative control
of your movie can easily pass to the distributor, who can
often treat a filmmaker as a necessary evil in their business.

Raindance has been campaigning for an alternative distribution
strategy since 1999. We worked for a time with the British
auteur Mike Figgis. By wresting control of exhibition from
traditional cinemas and exhibitors, Figgis hoped to bring
cinema to a new audience, and to keep control of the film with
the filmmaker. His approach, championing alternative
exhibition venues and creating a new cinematic tradition
following the model of fringe theatre or comedy clubs is an
exciting new opportunity for producers.

2. Learn How to Use Agents

New producers treat agents poorly. The common tactic new
producers use is to expect assistance from an agent who
represents the talent whom they are pursuing for their poorly
paid project. Simply firing off an email to an agent whose
name you got from a website, and without any proper
preparation is a surefire way to be ignored.

The film industry is a people industry. Develop personal
relationships with agents who control access to talent you are
pursuing. When they start to discover what you are doing they
will be much more receptive to offers, even with low financial

Be sure you do your homework before you approach an agent.
Find out who they represent and what sort of material their
clients are looking for.

If you want to approach an agent with a minimal budget, they
are working for you for free and need to see what other
benefits you can bring. For example, you may have a part for
their client that shows off a new skill: a comedy actor
playing the tragic or evil character. By taking this role,
even for a token payment, the actor may expand their
repertoire and/or develop their acting skills.

The unusual casting may also help to get your film noticed
later on. If you approach an agent professionally, with a
clearly thought out plan are far more likely to be taken
seriously and treated with the same respect that is reserved
for established producers. Remember that if an agent is
unhelpful or treats you with disrespect it most likely has
nothing to do with them and everything to do with your

3. Pre-Sales

Once the Golden Goose of independents, pre-sales are a thing
of the past and are virtually impossible to secure for a new
producer without a proven delivery record or a major name

Learn to do without on your first project. Make your film,
sell it and then use that film record for your next
financial model and to enhance your pedigree.

4. New Money vs Old Money

Established industry investors are a conservative lot and will
try to exercise creative as well as financial control over
your project.

It is true that they have systems in place: application forms
you can use, a clearly defined evaluation procedure and enough
production savvy to know what can happen during the rigours of
production. But they are deluged with material from
established producers whom they have already worked with and
whom they trust.

Keep your eyes open for the new players in town, and pursue
them with the attitude that you are willing to take a risk
with them if they are willing to take a risk with you.
Remember that you cannot skimp on legal representation at this
point. Engage the services of an experienced entertainment
attorney who will have the expertise to close the deals while
protecting your interests.

Private investors new to the industry are less likely to
involve themselves creatively, and may have other agendas
prompting them to invest in your film. Try to find out what
ancillary services you can offer to your investors (while
maintaining your integrity).

5. Festivals Besides Toronto, Cannes and Sundance

Most filmmakers argue that unless they are accepted into one
of the major festivals they will be unable to secure
distribution. This is possibly true. But films like Girls
Don’t Cry, Broken Vessels and Amores Perros didn’t preview at
these festivals.

There is no doubt that many films entered into the big three
do get distribution, but the odds are stacked against getting
into these festivals. Very often films programmed at these
festivals are included because the festival programmers are
pressured by sponsors or by big Hollywood studios offering
to fly in their big Hollywood stars as a way of gaining extra
publicity. The programmers’ decisions often bear no relation
to the quality of the film.

Distributors are turning to film festivals as a way of
breaking ground in the treacherous run up to a release date.
Bering this in mind, along with the fact that festivals
increasingly pride themselves as becoming essential fare for
distributors could mean that your film could garner more
publicity than if entered into a large one.

It is also worth bearing in mind the promotional machinery
behind many of the films at these festivals. Increasingly,
films screened at Sundance already have distribution and the
festival is merely used as a launch for the ensuing
pre-release publicity drive. You may get more coverage at a
smaller festival where your film has more chance to stand out.

It is also a fact that many of the supposed hot films at these
festivals die an anguished box office death. Although a place
at Toronto, Cannes or Sundance is a wonderful thing,
investigate other launch possibilities and develop a strategy
to accompany them. Festivals also wane and emerge. Keep an eye
out for the next hot festival like a SWSX, Raindance or

6. Sales Agents do Not Advance Money

Assume that you will not get a financial advance from a sales
agent who is taking your film to a market. Instead of focusing
on the advance, ask yourself if the company you have chosen
produces good marketing materials. A good sales agent is
capable of supporting a European and American festival tour.

It is more important that they understand your film and are in
tune with your creative objectives than that they advance you
cash. If a sales agent advances you cash, you can run the risk
of incurring vast and onerous interest and penalty payments as
they recoup. All this before you see another cent.

7. Big Sale vs Big Career

Sales agents sometimes pay a big advance for a hot film. In
order to keep costs down they bundle this film with several
others and dump them on distributors as a package deal, along
the lines of a supermarket food deal such as ‘Buy one, get
one free’. Although you have the kudos of landing a big deal,
you lose the one-on-one relationship with foreign

Hal Hartley is an example of a filmmaker who has managed his
career successfully by developing individual personal
relationships with small European distributors who understand
him and his films thus giving him the attention his films
require in order to succeed.

8. Success is Relative

Holding out for the big deal at the expense of time can be a
fatal error. Better a small deal now, than one in two or three
years’ time when all of the efforts behind your festival and
film market strategy has evaporated. Always look at the year
ahead and determine where you want to be.

9. Get a Sales Agent Early on

The sooner you find a sales agent the better. Sales agents do
more than sales negotiators. They offer excellent advice on
how to position films at festivals and markets. They also give
invaluable assistance to build profile for the film and for
you and then maximize exposure.

In many ways, both the sales agent’s and your own career
benefit equally from the success of the film. If you wait
until the big festival premiere, you are reducing the time
available for a sales agent to do their job. You also are
gambling on whether or not you are accepted into a festival,
and whether or not your film is properly promoted at it.

10. If it ain’t on the Page it ain’t on the Stage

The screenplay is everything. Successful producers read, read,
read. They read galley proofs of novels and short stories,
spec screenplays, and stage plays. They go to the theatre
looking for material and new acting talent and they watch
movies, movies and more movies. A good producer always has
several scripts in development, and is always on the lookout
for a hot new writer and a great new script.

Make absolutely certain that the script you want to produce
has that one impossibly bold, fresh, original, dynamic idea
that nobody else has but which everyone wants. If you have
this you will finance your movie.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Torontonian Elliot Grove moved to London in
the mid 80’s and founded Raindance Film Festival in 1993, the
British Independent Film Awards in 1998, and Raindance.TV in

He has produced over 150 short films, and 5 feature films. He
has written eight scripts, one of which is currently in
pre-production. His first feature film, TABLE 5 was shot on
35mm and completed for a total of £278.38. He teaches writers
and producers in the UK, Europe, Japan and America.

He presented his signature Saturday Film School class to over
7,500 attendees in Toronto, London and New York last year, and
is considered one of the film industry’s most knowledgeable
and inspiring speakers.

He has written three books which have become industry
standards: RAINDANCE WRITERS LAB 2nd Edition (Focal Press
2008),  RAINDANCE PRODUCERS LAB (Focal Press 2004) and 130
awarded a PhD in 2009 for services to film education. His
first novel THE BANDIT QUEEN is scheduled for publication next

Raindance Film Festival Submissions

This year sees the 20th edition of the Raindance Film Festival
in the heart of London. Accepting films from around the world
of all styles and lengths we focus heavily on independent and
new filmmakers, nurturing talent. The proof of this? Nicolas
Winding Refn and Christopher Nolan both screened early
features at the festival.

This year we are proud to announce that our shorts programme
has become Oscar-eligible. More information is available on
the website http://www.raindance.co.uk/site/festival.

Do you Want to Write An Article For The Director’s Chair?

If you would like to contribute articles, tips, links of
interest, industry news, interviews, special event dates or
other resources to The Director’s Chair, please email me at:

5. Subscriber Shameless Self-Promotion (Free Advertising)

The Director’s Chair gives you an incredible opportunity to
get Free Advertising for your services and your films.

Each month, I give two subscribers an opportunity to promote
themselves, their company or their productions in this

So if you want over 5200 filmmakers around the world to know
about you and your films, please send me your “shameless
self-promotion” to: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com.

Please limit your promotion to 300 words. I reserve the right
to edit the promotion for length, spelling and formatting.


(1) Greetings from Ghana, my name is Frankquophy H. Awuku a
film director/writer/producer base here in Ghana West Africa.
Currently I own and manage BLUE-EYES FILM, a setup by myself
after bustling and hustling working behind the scene for the
over seven years. Currently working on my next project, LITTLE
ZION (in pre-production) which plans are being made for
possible production in May-June this your and to be release
this October.

The story is base on  the numerous lies and betrayals of
politician vying for power, how they eludes the slum city
after voting for them and in end result recognize them as
illegal settlers and need to be evacuated. The game starts now
as the slum thugs vow to expose the atrocities of these
politician before the up coming election.

I am currently looking for an executive producer (financier)
for the project which is budget estimate at $70,000 with a
promising return of many including awards and rewards all over
the world. For more info please contact me on Tel: +233 242
918649, email: blue_eyesfilms@yahoo.com

(2) Geoff Hall: I’ve completed a film, poster attached, called
My Name Is Sorrow, a short film drama about human
trafficking. This is different from the usual trafficking
films which entice the viewer to become a voyeur of rape and
abuse. ‘Sorrow’ focuses on the effect and not the cause of
this awful inhumanity and so-called ‘industry’. The only focus
is the inner-voice of a woman who has suffered the ignominy of
sex trafficking and being used as a commodity.

To achieve the level intimacy and intensity I wanted, I
isolated the character’s voice from the performance, so that
people focused on Sorrow’s thoughts, attempting to gain not
the repulsion of the viewer, but an empathetic connection with
a human problem and with Sorrow in particular. The image
creates a sense of the old icons of suffering, hoping to leave
a visual imprint on our imagination!

My Direction was for a pared down performance from Natasha
Paulinyi, removing almost every ounce of theatrical
performance and helping to provide a cinematic experience for
the audience. We even filmed it in black and white so that the
viewer would not be distracted by the colour.

My Name Is Sorrow Premieres in Bristol UK, on Saturday 9th
June and I’m now looking for distribution and promotional
opportunities for a very different film on human trafficking.
(That seems like a BIG task!) I think this is the first thing
I’ve done in which the realization exceeded the imagination!”

Kind Regards,

Geoff (Hall)

Follow us on Twitter: @MyNameIsSorrow

6. Filmmaking Links of Interest

1) 6 Filmmaking Tips From Stanley Kubrick

2) The History and Future of Hollywood Film Music

3) How Digital Technology Is Changing Cinema’s Game

4) Is Crossmedia Film’s Next Wave?

5) Indie Filmmakers to Greenlight Themselves

7. Product Promotion And Film Workshops

From time to time, I will contact you to inform you of film
workshops, filmmaking products or Online courses that I feel
are beneficial to filmmakers like yourself. Of course, you are
under no obligation to purchase anything – I only offer this
information as a service to subscribers of this free ezine.

8. Subscribe and Unsubscribe Information

1. To Subscribe to this Ezine, send an email to
mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com with SUB as the Subject

2. To Unsubscribe to this Ezine, reply to this email with
UNSUB in the Subject line

3. To Change Your Email Address, send an email with your old
and new email address to mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com

4. To Read Back Issues of The Director’s Chair, visit:

5. Share This Ezine: Remember to share this ezine by email.
Forward it to your friends and associates.

6. Reprint This Ezine: This Ezine may be reprinted with
permission. Email me at: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com

9. Copyright Information

Copyright (c) 2000-2012
Peter D. Marshall
All Rights Reserved