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The Director's Chair Issue #28 – August 26, 2002 (A Series of Subscriber Articles)

Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors

August 26, 2002          Scene 3 – Take 8

Published once a month.

Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
Email: mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com
Web Site: http://www.actioncutprint.com


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1.  Introduction
2.  The Busy Person’s Guide to Directing
3.  FREE Bonus for Subscribers
4.  Action-Cut-Print!
5.  Feature Article – Subscriber Articles
6.  Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
7.  Finding Work in the Film & TV Business
8.  Subscriber Questions
9.  Subscriber Self-Promotion
10. Share This Ezine
11. Suggestions & Comments
12. Subscribe & Unsubscribe Information
13. Copyright Information


Welcome to Issue #28 of The Director’s Chair (August 26, 2002).

1) This issue is the “Subscriber Issue” where I have included
articles, questions and subscriber self-promotion.

2) VOLUNTEERS NEEDED – 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:



Peter D. Marshall


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5. FEATURE ARTICLE – A Series of Subscriber Articles

On the way from Banff to Toronto June, 2002

Banff, Canada. International TV Festival. This year John Cleese
from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, David Suzuki from Discovery
Channel, and A& E Network (USA) received a special recognition
award. The reason I say all this is to let you know that this was
not a Mickey Mouse operation. Before I get to my 10 minutes of
fame at Banff, let’s get overview of the richest pitch in the

April 29 2002 was the deadline for submitting ideas to the
festival. The beauty of this festival is that you are in based on
one page synopsis, that’s all. No names of your parents and shoe
sizes, multiple copies of this and that. Once you are in it’s
fast 10 minutes and you can walk with $50,000 (first prize).

Literally hundreds of thousands of dollars are given away during
this event. I was one of six finalists to present my idea at CTV
Documart. You present your pitch in front of 30 to 35
commissioning editors form TV stations around the world (people
who will sign the cheque). This year the decision makers were
from Canada, USA, Australia, UK, Germany and France. Behind you
have hundreds of audience members watching you getting fried on
two large screens.

So there I was ready to make my big pitch. When I initially got
the email that I was going to be one of the finalists I decided
to put my whole 3-minute pitch on video, so just in case I passed
out or throw up from nerves I’ll be able to put myself together
and be ready for Q&A session. I have used stock footage with
music and VO of actor reading former spy’s diary why he escaped
communist Poland. Then I had storyboard trailer with music and
actor doing 10 voices with accents, which explains how Richard
becomes Canadian spy. My conclusion was that I really made the
wrong call on using video footage.  I thought that I’d impress
them with variety of video clips. It was all too cluttered and
confusing. What they were waiting for was a story and as much
details you can squeeze in 3 minutes. One person asked, “sorry I
don’t follow the story, can you highlight it again.” So I’m
starting again, but it’s too late, the first impression is gone,
no second chance.

Of the three winners two did not even use audio-visual material.
It all came down to who had the most interesting story to tell.
No matter how much flash you have it will always come down to
story. After the presentation I did have complements from
audience on how great the story was, but one major opinion was
that the story is too risky and too political for Networks to do.
Well you be the judge of that, go to http://www.forgottenspy.com

If I could turn the clock back I wouldn’t use video at all. I
would simply tell them that  “Forgotten Spy” is a true story
about former Polish spy, trained by KGB, who escape communism by
hijacking a plane. He offers his skills to Canadian Secret
Service and then…Did I get your attention – maybe a little?

All and all I don’t regret coming back empty
handed…Disappointed yes, but no regrets. Another credit card
dead for the cause, but at least I will not wonder to the rest of
my life what would happen if I didn’t go. It is all a part of
life one moment you are up one down, but if you are not willing
to take a chance nothing is going to happen. You cannot expect
different outcome if you are doing same thing every day.

P.S. Anybody can enter. Outside Canada – make sure you have
Canadian co-producer attached to your project. 2002 third prize
winner Australian – Canadian team – $20,000.

Article written by Mike Slawomir Cecotka – Polish-Canadian Filmmaker.
You can contact him directly at 416-880-6878,
Email: mailto:mike@101filmmaking.com,


Imagine “You’ve Got Mail” with Meg Ryan falling in love with a
black guy. Or that Bridget Jones was actually black, falling for
Hugh Grant and Colin Firth. Or better yet – that Hugh Grant and
Colin Firth WERE black (Did you hear that Hugh?). Would it work?
Guess not, ’cause we would already be seeing it on screen.

Sure, once in a blue moon we have a flick like “Jungle Fever”
(What year was that?). And of course, the director was Spike Lee!
Or “The Pelican Brief”, where Julia Roberts plays opposite Denzel
Washington. But do they fall in love? Not even a peck! But the
majority of times the leading roles are played by – you guessed
it – white actors.

Forgive me, but last time I checked, a certain percentage of our
society was – – – black. Or Asian… Well then, why isn’t there
adequate representation in the movies? We would have to dig deep
into our social conscience to fish the answer.

The question is: Do the lead actors have to always be white? Is
there room for “mixed” couples? The answer is – Have you ever
seen “mixed” couples in reality?

And consider television. We either have all-white sitcoms or
all-black sitcoms (by the way – where are the all-Asian
sitcoms?). Why can’t there be a black character in Friends or in
Sex and the City? Sometimes, as if on purpose, a minor role, such
as a judge or a sales girl, is given to a black actor.

I’m not black or Asian, but next time I write a script, I’m going
to have colorful cast – one of each nation. Just like Benetton!

Maia Shani July 12 2002



Once again I am here with new views and ideas for making best
films. But making good films does not make any sense, it should
have good script and most importantly the direction. Because the
director is just like the interpreter who translates the
dialogues into expressions, that’s where viewers, audiences have
to understand what a director wants to say through his casting
character. Well, that was all about the basics regarding the film

Next, in todays world our viewers want something new which makes
them first cry and suddenly the next moment laughing with tears
in their eyes.  Yes, the title related to it should be something
like “Emotions versus Humours”, how’s that. Hope you like that
title which I think suits it. Nowadays people got bored seeing
horrors, action movies with special effects, but my dear friends,
please look at the other side of the coin, you will find
something natural that you suppose to contribute among others
like me.

At present I am working on the same title with good script
written by me and of course direction is also from my side. The
whole story revolves around a big house situated somewhere in the
metropolitan city where every caste of people are living,
speaking different languages which is understood by some selected
characters who then translates them.

in their own way, which is very comedy along with some emotions
hanging around. That’s some general idea about the plot of the
film “Emotions versus Humours”. Any suggestions please feel free
to contact me, thanks


Manjit Singh Bhui


To read back issues of The Director’s Chair, visit:


1) Tony Estarda has written three articles for the Texas Film and
Video News about Runaway Production. also, in Part 3, he wrote
about how to find work in the film business.

If you want to receive these articles, you can contact Tony at
mailto:UPM_AD@hotmail.com and he will be gald to email them to you.

Tony Estrada
Line Producer / UPM / 1st AD
for Independent Feature Films


2) It’s just one man’s opinion, but I think that the trend has been
going on since long before September 11th. If I had to put an
actual date on when things started to rapidly change, I’d pick
1996, when the so-called “Telecommunications Deregulation Act”
became law. It’s a long story, but that was the day when business
as usual turned south. As a matter of fact, when at Paramount
Pictures in February, 1999 for a symposium, I was given a clear
signal that the old dinosaurs, and the old way of doing business
were on the way out. The Studios are doing two very new things –
they are taking funds traditionally related to set and model
construction, and moving the “eye candy ” element
into investments in front-end technology and outsourcing of that
technology to groups such as Foundation Imaging and ILM, and they
are opening a lot of their studios to off-lot originated
productions, essentially renting their existing lights,
equipment, sound boards, studios, and even cameras to anyone
willing to show up with a big checkbook. In short, the studios
have gotten out the studio business.

You didn’t say where you work in the Industry, but to make it as
simple as possible, the studios are now generally owned
by another business structure, such as ABC as owned by Disney,
Paramount as owned by Viacom, Warner as owned by AOL/Time-Warner,
and so on. Recently, Viacom also picked up CBS. Long story short,
the big players have become nothing at all different than the
WalMart’s of the world, making it very difficult for the little
guy to succeed. The trend is even worse in America’s radio, where
almost all of the local stations have been swallowed up by a
conglomerate such as ClearChannel.

Certainly not to detract from the well-deserved accolades, the
true “red alert” that the Hollywood paradigm was starting to
become a system better known for its system than for the quality
of its products came when “Red Tiger, Hidden Dragon” came in as a
serious  Oscar {r} contender in 2000. For something written,
produced, and filmed in a foreign language to do so well against
Hollywood’s best and brightest was evidence enough that the
audience (and the experts) had seen enough of “the system” at

Given all of the above, I think you should seriously consider the
possibility that the future of successful film-making will not be
based in Hollywood. I personally moved my own production out of
California after I found that just to light one set, I had to pay
$300 a month more than I do in Florida.

What I am about to say will make everything else make perfect
sense. Hollywood’s fatal flaw is that it has a terrible habit of
following the trail to success. Once someone makes a financially
and artistically successful film, then everyone else follows in
their tracks, certain that they have found the true path to
similar success. In addition to Peter Marshall’s most awesome
website, which I read with anticipation whenever new items are
posted, I follow another one quite closely, and friend Mark Maine
accidentally documented exactly the mindset of the investors who
follow the footsteps of someone’s previously established success.
Like myself, he is a relatively successful (all things
considered) producer, and he writes from a producer’s point of
view. You can find the excellent link
here: <http://www.angelicentertainment.com/process.pdf>http://www
.angelicentertainment.com/process.pdf – if you’re not a producer,
maybe this single link answers your question. It’s not about
making anything with artistic merit, and it’s not a jobs program.
Very few of us get into the business anymore with the intent to
say “I want to make a great movie.” It is a business now, with
one single goal for the vast majority of the producers. “I want
to make a lot of money.”

The question you now face is the same one now faced by dozens of
people I know who are in a similar situation. Do you want to make
a great contribution to the Art World, as painters in the
Renaissance did, or do you want to pay your mortgage and send
your kids to a great college? I ask the question because I just
happen to know that some people – a lot of them actors, are
compelled by an inner spirit to stay in the business, even when
it pays nothing. I have no doubt in my mind that in the 26th or
27th Century, such people will be revered as geniuses and legends
– which will do no one any good who has been in the grave for 500
years, I admit. A lot of these actors had once been on the cover
of “TV Guide,” and they are now working for peanuts in some
Community Theater, because that’s just who they are, and that’s
just what they love to do.

The people who will be seen as being even more brilliant than
that are those who can produce both artistic merit and a lot of
money. They are the few and far between, but I know their secret.
And, the funny thing is, it is also the secret of those whose
success that everyone else in “the system” is attempting to
duplicate. Such legends in their own right never followed in
anyone else’s footsteps in an attempt to duplicate it. They knew
what they wanted, and every day they went out to reach that goal.

The old Hollywood paradigm is an old, obsolete, historic one, and
while you may argue that it died in 2001, I contend that the
stake was driven through its heart in 1996. I agree, things are
tough. One friend of mine was cast in “Titanic” and also in
“Ghosts Of The Abyss,” the Cameron film due out later this year.
Her closing comment to her success, “I’m just trying to get buy.”

I tell you the same thing I told her … “Work smarter, not
harder.” I truly hope to see your star on the Hollywood Walk Of
Fame. And, if you are Olivia Hussey, someone in Australia I know
wants to get ahold of you very badly. A job offer?

John Sullivan


Here are a series of questions from subscribers. If you want to
answer them, email your answers to mailto:pdm@actioncutprint.com
and I will include them in the next issue of The Director’s


I have a project that is a “go” for a studio but I’m not funded
yet, and part of my problem is getting the attachments for the
bank to know that I’ll have skilled top of the line and talent
instead of doing it as guerilla or student film. I therefor have
to keep on doing it deferred until everything is satisfactory
with the money guys. I first need someone who can help polish a
character driven, Notting Hill, Gone with the Wind, Erin
Brokovitch, Traffic type complex movie.

You may put in email address in if you can forward to anyone who
is LEGIT…I need references, and my entertainment lawyer will
have to approve skill level.

Patricia Beck


I wonder if we could have a small section dealing with demo reel
ideas… because this is what inevitably gets us work. So having
an effective demo reel right now is imperative. I’d love
suggestions on the best types to use when going for specific
projects… ie: when going for a commercial job, of course you
should have commercial spots on your reel and the same for music
videos. But what if you are going for a feature film project, a
documentary, a TV program, corporate, or any and all the above?
Should you cut it all together into a montage? Or just put short
scenes from a few good projects? Just wondering what people want
and what we can do to land the job. The demo reel is, after all,
what will land us the job or not.

Joni Thissen


Before actually moving, what can filmmakers who don’t live in or
near a large city do to just get a foot in the door?  Other than
sending my film into contests what could I do with it?

Jeramie John Hieb
A filmmaker from South Dakota



I am part owner of http://www.producerschair.com   We are an
online moving making game.  A older version of our game was
featured in EW and we are now going through a “second coming”.

I enjoy your site and think your subscribers would really enjoy
our site and a review would prove a great “value add” piece for
your magazine.

Our game gives the players a virtual may to pitch a movie, cast a
movie, pick a director, make a poster and write a script.

So feel free to visit our little game and review it for your

Thank you,

Dan Cope



I wanted to draw your attention to
<http://www.OneWorldOneMinute.com>www.OneWorldOneMinute.com, a
global arts and film project that you may be interested in.

The concept of the  project is a simple one, but offers huge
scope for all concerned. We aim to have participants in EVERY
country around the globe record, simultaneously,  ONE MINUTE of
their lives, one minute of our world.

The minute can be recorded in a wide range of forms, and on any
medium you choose, from stills photography to video, sound
cassettes, written word or even drawings, any form at all. We
then aim to compile  this material  into a  feature length film
which shall seek to capture that one minute of our existence.

The finished piece shall  explore the rich diversity that is both
humanity and our world, whilst allowing a voice to all people
regardless of nationality, religion, race, political viewpoint,
gender or age. The rich diversity that is Humanity shall be there
for all to see and perhaps too, through all our differences, we
shall also see that which is inherently human, that which is
common to us all.

As for the timing of this event, at 12:48 GMT, September 11th
2001 a plane struck the World Trade Centre. This was the first of
four such attacks over the next 92 minutes and led to the deaths
of more than 2000 people from over 60 different countries.

That first attack, and those that followed, as well as the
repercussions,  have led to immeasurable suffering throughout the

It is with this in mind that we have chosen 12:48 GMT  September
11th 2002, exactly one year after that first attack, as the one
minute to record. For many this will be a time of remembrance and
reflection and surely  there can be no more appropriate time for
an international collaboration that is  about communication,
cooperation and sharing.

We hope that you will agree that this is an appropriate moment to
preserve a snapshot of the world, to reflect on where we are and
where we are going and to offer others an insight into your world
and your life.

This is the concept behind One World One Minute . We hope that
you will see both the potential and the worth  in this  project
and choose to participate. This is your opportunity to share a
moment of your life, your world, with others, an opportunity to
both talk to and listen to the world, to join with others around
the globe and create a truly unique record and experience.


Ian Thomas McLean




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