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The Director's Chair Issue #89 – Aug. 22, 2008 (Sam Heer: A Producer's Perspective)

Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors

August 22, 2008                  Scene 9 – Take 8

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1. Introduction
2. Shorter Version of The Director’s Chair
3. BLOG – Film Directing Tips
4. The Director’s Chair Filmmakers Discussion Forum
5. FEATURE ARTICLE – Sam Heer: A Producer’s Perspective
6. Write an Article for The Director’s Chair
7. Subscriber Shameless Self-Promotion
8. Subscriber Links of Interest
9. Filmmaking Workshops
10. Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
11. Subscribe & Unsubscribe Information
12. Copyright Information


Welcome to Issue #89 of The Director’s Chair (Aug. 22/08)


Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas,
Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina,
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India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica,
Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon,
Liberia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico,
Monaco, Morocco, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand,
Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Portugal,
Puerto Rico, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia,
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Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria,
Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Trinidad and Tabago, Tunisia,
Turkey, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United
States, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yugoslavia, Zambia,

NOTE: If your country is not represented here, please let me
know and I will add it to this ever growing list.

2) SPECIAL FEATURE ARTICLE – This month’s Feature Article is
called “Sam Heer: A Producer’s Perspective.” We had the
opportunity to meet Ms. Sam Heer of 123 Film Group recently
and interview her about her new podcast instructional
lectures for filmmakers.  Sam has worked in all aspects of
production and is currently offering a series of podcast
lectures for serious filmmakers to learn the details of
their chosen craft. (see below to read entire article…)

3) FACEBOOK – The Director’s Chair has it’s own page on
Facebook. If you haven’t signed up to Facebook yet, I
sincerely recommend you think about doing it. Facebook is a
fabulous place to meet people who share your passions and it
is one of the top Social Networking sites on the Internet.
Here’s the Facebook home page: http://www.facebook.com

Once you are signed up, type in “The Directors Chair” and
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From time to time I will contact you by email to inform you
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Peter D. Marshall

2. Shorter Version of The Director’s Chair

The August issue of The Director’s Chair will be a shortend
version because Trilby and I are in Singapore next week
teaching the “Directing the Artist” workshop.

3. BLOG – Film Directing Tips

Take a look at my Film Directing Blog and post some
filmmaking tips or add some resources. And please, make some
comments on the posts – your feedback is important to me
because they will help me decide on the content I will add
to this blog.

Blog – http://filmdirectingtips.com
RSS – http://filmdirectingtips.com/wp-rss.php

Here are some of the latest blog entries I have made:

– Film Director’s Visual Concept – 9 Examples
– The Film Director’s Visual Style
– Directing the Subworld of a Script – Part One
– Directing the Subworld of a Script – Part Two
– Film Script Analysis – Text and Subtext
– Film Director’s Prep: Mise-en-scene and the Subworld
– Why Pre-Production is a Process of Discovery for the Director
– Script Analysis – 10 Script Structural Elements
– The Director’s Script Review – Scene Analysis

4. The Director’s Chair Filmmakers Discussion Forum

The Director’s Chair Filmmakers Discussion Forum.

Ask film directing questions, submit your website for
review, post film and television directing links, share film
making tips and special events or just keep in touch with
other filmmakers from “The Director’s Chair.”

This forum is for subscribers of “The Director’s Chair”
only, so you will have to register in order to post
questions, give answers or add links. All you can do without
registering is read the posts.

Please visit this new forum now, sign up and take a look
around. http://www.actioncutprint.com/smf/index.php

5. FEATURE ARTICLE – Sam Heer: A Producer’s Perspective


An Interview by Paula M. Kalamaras and Paul T. Kraly of
Scribes Unlimited, LLC

We had the opportunity to meet Ms. Sam Heer of 123 Film
Group recently and interview her about her new podcast
instructional lectures for filmmakers. Sam, although
originally from London,  is a Los Angeles, California
filmmaker who over the past 15 years has risen from such
humble beginnings as a production assistant, and upwards to
producer and acquisition executive. She has worked in all
aspects of production and is currently offering a series of
podcast lectures for serious filmmakers to learn the details
of their chosen craft. Sam has written, produced, and
directed many of her own projects and has been a consultant
on others both in Los Angeles and all over the world. Sam is
also the founder and President of the International
Producer’s Alliance – an organization that brings filmmakers
from around the world together to network their projects
into fruition. One of the most important aspects of this
organization is that 100% of all proceeds after expenses are
donated to children’s charities around the globe.

We wanted to know about Sam’s experience and what advice she
was offering to newbie filmmakers.

P&P:    Hi Sam.  We wanted to take a few moments of your
time and explore your views on the Hollywood filmmaking

Sam:    Hi Paul, Hi Paula.  Thanks for taking the time to
talk with me.  I think we have an exciting time ahead of us
in Hollywood and the world when it comes to filmmaking.
There are a lot of clever independent and studio filmmakers
out there and sometimes I think that if they got some
guidance and clear no nonsense advice, they would have an
easier time trying to “break-in”.

P&P:  What prompted you to become part of this production
group?  How long have you been at this business?

Sam:  I have been working in Hollywood for well over a
decade.  I have seen the same thing over and over and it
really makes me sad to think that with the right kind of
direction and mind set things could go much more smoothly
for new filmmakers trying to get a toehold in the business.

P&P: What do you mean?

Sam:  Young filmmakers come to Hollywood to make their
dreams come true.  Many have attended some of the really
great film schools and think that their diplomas will
immediately open doors and that once they have arrived it
will be easy — that they won’t have to get their hands
dirty or start at the bottom and work their way up. Sadly,
the reality is that like any other business, it takes time,
effort and a learning curve.  There is no such thing as an
overnight success.  Most assistants working in Hollywood for
a production company are college grads.  Some work as
interns or mail room clerks and others end up pulling cables
for other filmmakers. This is a really competitive business.
I see more and more filmmakers becoming disillusioned and
leaving Hollywood because it isn’t as easy as it seemed in
the safety of film school.  They don’t compromise what they
want and in the end don’t get anything.  I always tell the
ones who ask, you know, Alfred Hitchcock didn’t have Final
Cut or Final Draft software.  What you do need to have is an
imagination, stamina and a will to succeed.

P&P:  Do you need to be in Hollywood to make a good film?

Sam:   I strongly encourage young filmmakers to stay put and
learn.  Shoot a few features before heading out to
Hollywood.  Create a great reel for yourself and learn the
craft.  Hollywood is expensive and a hard place to crack.
You have to understand that no one is going to put you in
charge of a multi-million dollar project until you have
proven yourself.  So bring some work with you. Show what you
can do and then make your move.  Hollywood, like any other
business or community, is a place of supply and demand.  You
supply a great film and the public will demand it.  No one
can predict what films will hit and which will miss – if we
did know that, we would all be superstar directors and

P&P:   Speaking of producers – could you explain a bit to us
what the producer actually does?

Sam:  Producers are by and large the hardest working people
in Hollywood.  Why would I say that? Well, you have to
understand that producers are like generals.  First they
have to believe in their film more than anyone else and then
they have to strategize how to get the film made when
hundreds of others are thinking the same way about getting
their film made!  Producers have to be really great at
networking and working a room. Pitching a film is a key
function.  A producer has to be able to synopsize a film in
such a way that a studio and/or funder will open the wallet
and pay to have the project funded.  Producers need to be
able to spot talent, and bring together all the disparate
people to work a project and make it successful. A typical
day in the life of a producer normally starts off with
reading the trades – this helps determine the trends and
informs him or her what is happening throughout the film
community.  Then a lot of time is spent returning phone
calls, answering questions, taking meetings and doing
whatever it takes to get a film made.

P&P:  Sounds quite diverse and really busy.

Sam:  What most filmmakers forget and what they learn in a
hurry when they get to Hollywood, is that most films take
quite a few years to come together.  That is the reality, so
you have to be in for the long haul.  The producer of a film
is the person who keeps the momentum going.  Even if you
have an A-list talent attached and the best director and
writers on board, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have
a hit on your hands.  No one can predict the future – which
is why there are so many remakes in Hollywood.  I personally
think it is time for a change and the introduction of new
talent and material to shake up the status quo.

P&P:  Do they need an agent to help with all of this?

Sam:  I get asked this question a few times a week and the
answer is simply this.  The agents only make 10%, so unless
you are someone who has a hit, and that they can introduce
around town, they will be spending more of their time with
their money-making clients. I strongly suggest that at least
for the first few years or until you get a major
opportunity, be your own agent.  It’s a great way to learn
about selling and pitching your film and you will make
valuable contacts. Another great place to network is your
local film festival and film events.  Go and introduce
yourself and start building your Rolodex.  I get into this
in one of the lectures.  I personally have over 5,000
contacts and my list is still growing.   Like I said,  this
is a business first and foremost and you have to treat this
seriously – and no one will ever be able to sell you as well
as you can sell yourself.

P&P:  What are you seeking in a script?  What makes you want
to produce a film?

Sam:  The first thing I look for is story.  Is it original?
Can this be made on a fairly decent budget?  Can I see the
big picture?  One of the lessons I teach is that you should
look at the end result before you write a word.  Of course
everyone has his or her own ideas for this. But at the end
of the day, the hardest thing to do is to find distribution
for your picture.  You have to ask yourself “Will this be
for film festivals? Am I going to sell this outright?” I
also need to point out that in today’s digital age and with
the proliferation of outlets for distribution, I say go for
it.  Anyone with an imagination can make a film.   What we
can’t say is that it will be a great film.  No one can teach
talent and your own strengths – all we can do is offer
guidance and techniques.

P&P:  What are some of the traits of successful filmmakers?

Sam:   First and foremost is passion. Filmmaking is hard
work and entails very long hours. You have to want to
succeed more than anyone on the planet does. You really must
understand the history of film. I suggest that since it is
barely 100 years old, go, do research and learn and
understand film. Watch movies. Examine them. Feel them. You
have to really know and love the medium to succeed in it.
Another thing I tell young filmmakers – learn how the whole
process works.  It doesn’t matter if you are a director,
producer, screenwriter – take some time and work a few films
in different departments.  This will teach you to appreciate
the entire process and understand how it all holds together.
One other thing I want to point out – All filmmakers must
understand STORY and where words come from.  Read the Greek
tragedies and comedies, Shakespeare, other great playwrights
– and understand the subtext. If you need help – get the
cliff notes, but learn what is beneath the surface.  We get
into this in the screenwriting lecture. Bottom line though –
without tenacity and passion it simply will not happen, and
that is a reality.

P&P:  We know you are planning a series of classes —
podcasts actually – that will delve further into the whole
filmmaking arena.  Can you tell us a bit about them?

Sam:  My pleasure.  We decided to offer these lectures since
we realize that there are a lot of talented filmmakers out
there who, for whatever reason, cannot go to film school.
They may not be able to afford it, or are a bit older and
have life commitments such as jobs or families, but they
have the drive, the tenacity and the passion to become
filmmakers —  just not the means or the opportunity – until
now.  We are offering an internet, and telephone-based
program that will give the aspiring auteur out there the
chance to lean some valuable lessons.  That is the wonder of
technology. We have a series of 8 lectures followed by
lesson plan assignments.  We  give you e-mail support and a
consultation at the completion of the course. We have
essentially broken down each subject area to its core
essence and given  you a clear and concise foundation from
which to build your filmmaking career.   We also throw in a
couple of bonus topics as well to help you on your way. We
cover screenwriting, company setup and legal issues,
producer and director roles, working with actors, shooting,
editing, post-production, and marketing.  We also offer two
insightful lessons on pitching your film, and the ins and
outs of Hollywood.  We also guarantee that everyone who
follows the lectures and completes the lessons will have a
completed film.  Just so everyone knows,  100% of all
profits after expenses are donated to children’s charities
around the world on behalf of the International Producer’s

P&P :  Wow, that sounds exciting!  Thank you for your time
today, Sam, and we hope that everyone takes you up on your
filmmaking lecture series offer.

Sam:  Thanks, Paul and Paula.  Hope to see you in Hollywood!

Sam Heer can be contacted via email at

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I have worked in the Film and Television Industry for over
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