Now What? 10 Steps For Film Festival Premiere Prep

Last week TVWriter™ brought you “The Indignance of ‘Indie’ Film Festivals,” a rant about the way indie film fests are run,  wriltten by award winning filmmaker Bri Castellini. Bri’s points certainly are valid, but we thought that this week we would show you a different angle – how to prepare for your first film festival so you can get all you want from it.

No, we aren’t even pretending to be “fair and balanced.” Just tryin’ to be helpful, is all:

by Jared Ian Goldman

I repeatedly ask myself one question as I ready for a festival premiere: What’s my goal at the festival?

What am I looking to get out of the festival?

As you get to know the festival organizers and begin preparing for a premiere, the answer to that question may change or even have multiple answers. If you’re going to a festival with a film looking for distribution, for example, your priorities may and will likely differ than if your film already has distribution. You’d be surprised how many filmmakers I encounter who assume that the work is done once their film gets into a festival. However, the festival premiere simply marks a next phase in the life of the film, one that requires just as much focus and attention to detail as any phase in bringing the movie to life.

Step One: Caucus

Once accepted into a festival, I arrange a call with my filmmaking team, which includes the financier(s). This not only ensures that our group strategies and expectations are aligned, but also lets us check in with one another if we haven’t been in regular touch in a while.

Inevitably, this will lead to the question of who from the team is attending the festival—and how is that getting paid for? Production budgets don’t usually account for festival expenses, and not all festivals provide subsidies, so check in with your festival contact to find out what the festival will cover and what relationships they have. (I’ve found that regularly checking in with the festival staff is always beneficial.) Some festivals may cover director and cast travel and housing, while others may be able to provide a sponsor for a party. Some will only provide the platform to premiere.

This initial team strategy call is also the time to discuss a domestic sales agent, a foreign sales agent and a publicist.

Step Two: Hire Sales Agents

If you have a sales agent prior to getting into a festival, then they’ll likely have coached you on which festivals to be submitting to. If you don’t, once the festival makes its line up announcement, sales agents will likely reach out to you—but it’s OK to be proactive and reach out to a company if there is an agent that you think is especially well-suited for your film. If you secure a domestic sales agent, you’ll want to consult with them on who they partner well with for foreign sales and vice versa. When shopping for a sales agent it’s valuable to know how many other films they’re representing so you can ensure you’re being prioritized.

Step Three: Hire an Entertainment Lawyer

If you don’t have a sales agent (or can’t afford a publicist—more on that below), then it’s critical that you have an entertainment lawyer who can help coach the festival process and introduce you to sales agents and/or distributors. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of having an attorney with a depth of entertainment experience. That experience can translate into a significantly better sales deal—and may mean the difference between making any deal whatsoever. Just because you have a friend who is a lawyer and will do you a favor does not mean they can actually help you. Some entertainment lawyers will want to charge hourly, whereas some may work for a percentage of the sale, so be prepared for either….

Read it all at Moviemaker


Producer Jared Ian Goldman’s credits include Brother’s Keeper starring Rose Byrne, The Skeleton Twins starring Kirsten Wiig, Kill Your Darlings starring Daniel Radcliffe, And So It Goes starring Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton.

 

Writer? – @BrisOwnWorld

by Bri Castellini

NOTE FROM LB: The following column by Bri Castellini was originally published last April, so if it reads like it doesn’t fit properly into the current context of “Bri’s Own World” articles we’ve been bringing you, that’s because, hey, it doesn’t.

The good news is that although the column may sound, as Bri herself has indicated, a bit “dismal,” things actually are pretty darn rosy for her now. The truth is that whether you’re a beginner, an established pro, or a writer on the way out, this is a tough game to play, filled with lows as well as highs.

We’ve all had to learn to live with it. To put this another way, knowledge is power, and after you read what’s below those of you who are just getting started will know a whole lot more about what to expect. I, for one, am grateful for Bri Castellini’s openness as well as her talent:

by Bri Castellini

I’m a very picky writer, and that’s starting to bite me in the butt as I go back on the job hunt, desperate not to end up as a barista again. I’m also a jumble of confusing and sometimes unrelated skill sets and strengths as a human in the workforce, which means my poor butt is not looking forward to the end of this metaphor. Moving on. Apologies to my butt.

Let’s talk about the jumbled skill sets first. I recently realized that, other than when I was a barista and camp counselor, every job I’ve ever had has been one I’ve created for myself, at least to an extent. For a good amount of time, I bounced around from small business to college department branding myself as a “Social Media Consultant.” Essentially, because I was young and on the internet a lot, I would make social media accounts, propose what each platform should be used for, and then run them until the person who hired me realized they didn’t know what to do with me or I graduated from the college and no longer applied for work study. These gigs were great, because they weren’t super time consuming and because I was the “expert” compared to people who didn’t even have a Facebook page, meaning that there was very little oversight and I could do whatever I wanted. I never had to look at analytics, or concern myself with engagement on the posts. The fact that I had made them a few accounts was such a huge improvement to their previous status quo, I was largely left to my own devices.

My full time job at MTV (which ends at the end of this month), as Associate Producer for Digital Development, was created specifically with me in mind. They needed help with a few very specific things and were passed my resume from the women who ran my internship in the research department, so when I interviewed with the SVP, we talked about my specific strengths and based the position around them. I organized and created extensive spreadsheets, did research, made PowerPoint presentations, and helped develop and pitch ideas. All things that were in my wheelhouse before the job.

Most recently, I started working (for equity, not pay) for the start up Stareable.com, which is a hub for web series discovery and reviews. After writing a few guest posts for their blog and offering advice about a few random things whenever I attended a happy hour for filmmakers hosted by the CEO, Ajay, he and I sat down and agreed I should join their team in a more official capacity. Once again, the job was created specifically for me. I write for their blog, acquire content and guest posts for their blog, offer advice, consult on social media, and help organize and run their physical, in person events like the filmmaker happy hours and their new screening series. All things I already know how to do.

Most jobs, however, are not designed for me. At least not when you job hunt in the traditional sense, trolling the internet for job postings. I’ve got almost eight years of social media consulting experience, but I don’t know SEO or any of the fancy analytics programs, so for most established companies who already have accounts, I’m not qualified for anything past maybe a copywriter, which is generally an entry level grunt gig. I also have experience as an “Associate Producer” but don’t know a lot of the software required for most positions under that same title. I’ve done a lot of independent film projects in a variety of roles, but I don’t know anything about paperwork or insurance or SAG waivers so I’m not qualified as a producer of any level, I’ve never technically been an assistant (though I’ve stepped in as one in a variety of other positions) so I’m not qualified for a lot of those jobs ether.

What I’m saying is that I’ve lived a blessed work life, in terms of the non food service gigs I’ve had, and that’s screwing me over right now as I rush to find a new position to pay my new apartment’s rent.

Now back to the picky writer thing. Writing, in most of its forms, is the one thing I’m 100% qualified to do in any role, right? Well… kind of. I knew all the way back in middle school that I didn’t want to be a teacher, and I knew by high school that I didn’t want to be a journalist. As such, I’m qualified to be a reporter or freelance writer in every way except for one- I don’t have a knack for finding stories. I have always erred on the side of personal essays and commentary stories, I hate interviewing people, and I have no vocabulary or confidence when it comes to pitching publications. I’m a writer… I guess. And I’ve done a lot of freelance and article writing, as evidenced by this alarmingly full page on my portfolio.

But if you actually look at that alarmingly long list of places I’ve written for, you’ll notice yet another trend- they’re mostly personal experience posts. I wrote about crocheting for a knitting blog, speech and debate advice for a speech and debate blog, and now most of my online blogging centers around the world of web series. All of these things, again, are things I’m already good at, written for people I already know. I’ve never been paid to blog, or to freelance- usually I do it for the “exposure.” I have no idea how to value my writing, or how to pitch a publication a story about myself when I’m a nobody.

It’s like… I have 75% of the skills needed for a bunch of jobs, but that 25% is really important and I have no way of bridging the gap, not in a way that wouldn’t be straight up lying. I have never taken any of my jobs for granted, because I knew how lucky I was to have had the opportunity to do all these things that are specifically created for me and my existing skill sets.

But those #blessed opportunities didn’t do me a lot of favors when it comes to developing new skill sets and learning things that will make me more qualified or hireable in the future. I have 7 years of social media consulting under my belt, but I do not qualify for jobs that require 7 years of social media consulting experience, because each subsequent consulting gig I took on was me doing the exact same things over and over again. I’d create a detailed proposal about which platforms the company should exist on and what kinds of things we should post to each platform, then I’d make those accounts, run them for a while, and eventually get dropped because the lack of oversight isn’t very useful when I need the boss’s participation in creating content. I am experienced, but I am not experienced. It’s very frustrating.

This is gonna be another one of those really long blog posts that doesn’t really have a point, or a solution. April is gonna be a rough month for me: I’m moving to a new apartment and losing my job at MTV by the end of it, at least two full weekends will be taken up by helping produce and direct the second season of my new friend Jack’s web series, and I’ve promised to help out on two other productions, plus my friend David’s new outdoor product review video series. None of that has anything to do with any of my personal projects either, because I don’t really have time or mental clarity to develop any personal projects because 2017 is hell bent on reversing everything good that happened to me in 2016.


Bri Castellini is an indie filmmaker and Community Liaison at Stareable, our favorite web series hub. This article originally appeared on her blog. Watch Bri’s award-winning web series, BrainsHERE

Indie Video: Key Elements to Successful Web Series

It’s no secret that TVWriter™ believes wholeheartedly in web series as a way of getting new writers and other filmmakers seen by the largest possible audience without being at the mercy of Big/Old Media gatekeepers. But no web series is a guaranteed success. Here are some tips to help you get some added oomph:

Not exactly a series of webs, but definitely a cool web, yeah? (Well, WE think that’s pretty damn funny, Mister!)

by Afiqah Rozeli

The growing pervasiveness of the internet means more creators than ever are now turning to the digital space to display their work and build their audience. So, in a time where everyone is making videos, how do creators set themselves apart from the competition?

1.They produce original work

The growing number of quality web series has made it increasingly difficult for creators to differentiate their work from the masses.

However, “what separates a ‘good’ series from a ‘great’ one is originality of idea,” says Alyce Adams from Screen Australia.

“A series about four friends living in a share house together will struggle to find an audience unless there is a fresh hook to it, as there are so many shows like that already online.”

2. They value the audience

A strong relationship with the audience is the key to the success of a web series. They are the ones who will “support you and elevate your online status,” says Paul Walton, the Head of Production at Princess Pictures.

However, a web series can only grow and maintain their audience “if they are remarkable and people want to talk about them with their networks. To achieve this, you have to give them what they want”.

“My main mantra that I repeat to anyone when discussing web series is that ‘niche is king,’” says Adams.

“Many successful web series are aimed at a very specific target audience, because online that ‘small’ audience can actually be millions of people.”

These niche audiences “are more likely to share your show, because you are giving representation to something they are passionate about but rarely see in traditional media.”

3. They do their research

A creator’s ability to learn and utilise their knowledge is crucial to the success of any web series. Despite this, “there are many creators who make their own show but haven’t watched much online content,” says Adams.

As a result, they are unable to identify the right target audience and video-sharing platform for their content, she says.

Ultimately, the sustained success of a web series is determined by long-term planning and research. According to Walton, “If you want to be noticed on a regular basis, have goals, have a plan, be consistent executing the plan, constantly assess how you are progressing and don’t be afraid to change your plan based on the feedback you get from your valuable audience (and the data).”

4. They respect the format

Successful web series creators understand and adhere to the “language and structure of web content – it cannot be short form TV, “says Walton.

“I can always spot a web series that has been created as a fall-back to not being able to make a TV series of the same idea. Online audiences see through this too, which is why they choose not to invest themselves in it by watching and sharing.”…

Read it all at Melbourne Web Fest

Diana Vacc sees ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’

by Diana Vaccarelli

—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—

On May 26, 2017, Disney released the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean film, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. This volume of the franchise follows Jack Sparrow as he searches for the trident of Poseidon, a powerful artifact with the power to break all curses of the sea. 

THE GOOD:

  • Writer Jeff Nathanson brings back the magic that made the original so successful.  The humor, the chemistry, and the story.  I loved the return of the romance of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann (Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly).  I enjoyed finally learning the back story of Jack and how he became Captain.
  • The newest love story of Henry and Carina (Brenton Thwaites and Kaya Scodelario) is reminiscent of Will and Elizabeth and you know what? I was cool with it. The chemistry of both actors was breathtaking, and who would want to get in the way of that powerful an attraction to each other?
  • The motivation of Will son’s Henry to break the Curse of the Dutchman over his father tugs at the audience’s heartstrings. Thwaites performs with sure determination, as if Bloom is his actual father.
  • The performance of Javier Bardem as Captain Salazar was creepy and gross but in a good way.  The black goo that comes out of his mouth is disgusting but it works for the character.

THE BAD:

  • Not enough Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann.  I wish they were in the film more. I have loved these characters and their romance since the first film of the series.


THE REST:

  • I realize that I’m in disagreement with a majority of critics, but this film is pure fun. It brings back the magic that the last Pirates lost.  I definitely recommend you go see it.

Diana Vaccarelli is TVWriter™’s Critic-at-Large and a student in the TVWriter™ Online Workshop. Find out more about her HERE

Larry Brody on “When Do We Decide We Did Our Best & Give Up On Writing?”

Evolution of a Writer
by Larry Brody

Nothing and No One Stays the Same

Don’t believe me? Have a look at…sigh…a certain Beloved (or not) Leader over the past 25 years:

Hmm…that latest version looks kind of shellshocked, huh? And that’s the retired me. The earlier three are all writin’ fools, oh yeah.

Careers start, grow, wane (and if you’re lucky grow again), finally – ulp – die. Some version of this happens not only to those of us who leave our homes and come out to Hollywood to roll the dice but to all of us, no matter what we do and where we are.

I, however, don’t get a lot of questions from chiropractors in, say, Butte, or architects in Iowa City. Mostly, this page is visited by men and women preparing to embark on, or embarking on, careers in TV and film writing. Young, old, anywhere in between, working their buns off and hoping to become the next Aaron Sorkin, Shonda Rhimes, Judd Apatow, Tina Fey, whatever.

Some succeed – in fact, a startlingly large number (see this for some shows they’re working or have worked on). Some get tantalizingly close. Others…fill in the blank.

Which brings me to the point of this post, a question I received last week, which I’ve been thinking about long and hard.

DP asks:

LB–

I’ve watched this clip of you many times: https://youtu.be/TjfkuN73EtM

And I feel as though you’re speaking about/to me. As I approach the one year mark in Los Angeles, I feel my ambition to break into writing is making me focus so much on the goal that I’ve forgotten to live.

The obsession has gotten to the point where I hate writing when I’m writing, and all I want to do is write when I’m not writing. Perhaps I’m just chasing validation in the one area I’ve felt myself best suited for so many years, but I feel trapped: Do I keep chasing a dream that may no longer be my passion, or do I leave, always wondering if I was just a day away from breaking into the big time and finding my purpose.

Seeing my work on the screen sounds amazing. Millions of dollars sound amazing. Hearing how my work has affected others sounds amazing. But when do we decide that we did our best and move on to new things? And once we’ve made that decision, how do we follow it?

Do you or the Navajo Dog have any wisdom to impart?

Dear DP,

The Navajo Dog never really saw herself as imparting wisdom. Like all good medicine people, she simply spoke the truth. She was the first one to let me know how pointless allowing ambition to guide me was because even if I achieved my goal I would still be only a partial human being. To the Navajo Dog, being was what life was all about. It was an end in itself, with the doing thing merely a part of it.

In other words, long before “being in the moment” was popular, D’neh was seeing our individual human awareness as more than merely individual at all because it exists within the context of the wholeness of life.

Which helps you not a bit, so while you mull over the philosophy of it all, I’m going to completely blow off any attempt at being wise and try to give you some more practical advice.

Anyone pursuing a showbiz writing career in L.A. needs to be aware of a couple of Basic Truths.

Basic Truth 1: No one in the biz feels an affirmative duty to discover or help new talent. Their major duty is keeping their jobs, which more often than not conflicts with the use of new talent because new obviously means “untested,” and if the new talent fails the test of any new job whomever hired him/her is one big step closer to a big slide down their own career ladder.

Basic Truth 2: The absolutely most important part of starting a showbiz career is networking. Yes, in spite of the fact that you can’t count on anyone to help you. Because you have to do everything you can to help yourself, it’s an absolute must to get yourself out there and interact with every human being who can take you from being an outsider to a member of the creative community we call showbiz.

I’m not talking about using people but about making them genuine friends. Because friends do hire friends, especially those they have learned can deliver – not necessarily to help them but to make their own lives more enjoyable and their jobs easier.

Bottom line: If you’re as shy as most writers are, you need to blast through that or things probably won’t go well. More writers are hired to be on TV staffs because they’re “good in the room” (meaning they’re fun to hang with and sometimes come up with good ideas) than because they can write the hell out of anything. Being able to do both is, of course, a great career bonus.

The above advice is predicated on the idea that you’re searching for a BigMedia career. That you want to do national/international broadcast work, have films you’ve written be made or distributed by major companies, etc. Which means I have to give you another tip you might not expect.

The big successes in BigMedia I’ve known have pretty much all been assholes, and becoming a major success often means that you too have to be an asshole. It’s likely that any employer you deal with will be at least as difficult to be around as Donald Trump. Trump, in fact, is actually at the low end of the showbiz asshole spectrum that I was part of for so long.

Is devoting your entire life to making it given what I’ve told you so far worthwhile? While I was doing it, it seemed worth it to me. But as I got older I more and more realized something was missing – a genuine home life with genuine love, a relationship with someone who demonstrated true tenderness toward me and life in general, an ability to face reality and allow both my emotions and my intellect to react to it, et al.

In the early ’90s, guided my desire to find these things, I severed all ties with my showbiz life and went off with the Navajo Dog to search for what I jokingly called magic but which was, I think, a deeper reality. A reality that didn’t involve sacrificing everything on the altar of writing.

It all worked out for me. I’ve been happy and content and easy in my own skin. I realize, though, that I’ve always been an extremist, and over the last couple of decades, I’ve learned that I probably didn’t need to make such a clean break. There was at least one other direction I could have gone in that eschews many of the pitfalls of narcissistic bosses (and coworkers) and financially based creative decisions that usually end up not being creative at all.

If I had it to do all over again, knowing what I know, I most likely would avoid BigMedia from the get-go and instead plunge into Indie Prod.

Shocking, yeah?

See, here’s the thing. Over the last 20 years I’ve helped hundreds of people start BigMedia careers and careers as indie creatives. I’ve watched them climb their ladders and been part of many of their lives as well as their work, and generally speaking it seems to me that in the long run filmmakers who concentrate on indie production are happier with their lives than those doing the H’wood thing, no matter how much or how little success those in either group attain.

More students, friends, and even family members than I ever expected have made fortunes writing and producing TV shows, running major and minor studios, being A-listers or just a notch or two below, and so many of them in shared moments of reflection have ranted and raved and even cried about how totally unfulfilled they feel, how unfaithful to their original talent and purpose they see themselves as having been.

Know what their daydreams are? They’re of chucking it all and doing web series and what used to be called “art films.” To a man and woman, they don’t care if anyone ever sees the films they daydream about but express the hope that if they at least make them they will be putting their talent and skills to genuinely good use.

Meanwhile, students, friends, and you guessed it, family members who have avoided BigMedia and gone indie instead seem in large part to lead lives of genuine joy. Some took that route from the beginning, others headed that way later (some much later). Instead of daydreaming, they now are making shows and films (and museum installations!) that they find meaningful and exciting.

Almost all of those in the indie group are far from household names and don’t have many fans. Many of them, to their frustration, haven’t made a penny through their oeuvres. But most seem to have more time for living “real,” grounded lives and are proud of the intrinsic value of what they’re doing. If having to work day jobs is what gets them to this point, “Well, hell,” they’ve told me time and time again, “it’s worth it.”

This reply is taking forever so I’ll cut to the Big-City-Destroying-Superhero-Fight-That-Ends-this-Career-Discussion. Take it from a guy who thoroughly enjoyed every moment – every argument and knock-down-drag-out creative difference – of a very successful TV career but has enjoyed my current lifestyle of being with my family and working with talented newbies and rooting from the sidelines even more: Making my definition of success “doing what I love, with those I love, instead of throwing myself away in search for fame, fortune, and a couple of interviews at TheWrap.Com has given me a far better life than any I could have imagined before.

So here’s my overall answer to your questions. It doesn’t matter what you do or where you do it. Commit yourself to a process that fulfills you and makes you proud…and enables the rest of your life instead of crippling or even destroying it.

EDITED TO ADD: One final thought. I’m glad you’ve seen that We, The Screenwriter clip. It was 50-year-old me, a few years after returning from various adventures, and misadventures, tracking the magic with D’neh and my wonderful and magical wife. I don’t fully recall what that version of me said, but you’re getting the absolute, most recent update right here, right now.

Larry Brody’s Poetry: ‘I Don’t Know My Father’

Couldn’t find a pic of my father and me, so here’s one of my furry son Decker and his late biological father, The Big Red Chow Dude.

 by Larry Brody

NOTE FROM LB

Speaking of Fathers Day, and fathers, this poem was written when my father was alive. My mother was upset because “you’ve written about other people’s fathers, why not your own?” I don’t think she or my father ever saw this. If one of them had, I would have heard about it. Wouldn’t ?


I Don’t Know My Father

I don’t know my father, never did.

In fact, my earliest memory of him

Is wondering who he was. I was four,

And my mother was talking to a

Neighbor. When she mentioned my father,

I tried to picture him, and couldn’t. I tried

To think of a time he and I had been together,

Had played, or talked, or had a snack.

Nothing. Yet I was no child of divorce. My

Father came home from work every evening,

And we were part of a family together—somehow.

My second memory of my father has me all of five,

Lying in bed beside him, proudly spelling “Y-E-S,”

And “N-O,” and “Cat” and “Dog” for good measure.

What did he say? I don’t know.

I can see him, young, dark,

Muscular, and I can feel his body against mine,

And smell his breath, but there’s nothing to hear. He didn’t

Speak much, and still doesn’t. It’s as though

He’s all tied up inside himself, a man who has found

The effort of coming out into the world simply

Too much. So he holds back, keeps who he is

Private, snug, and safe. No gain, but no

Pain either, I suppose you could say.

When I was a teenager, my father took me

To ballgames. We watched the Cubs, and

The White Sox, and the Bears. He rooted

Silently, smiling, perfectly comfortable with

His continuing retreat. Often, I would watch him

Instead of the game, and wonder what he was

Thinking. I wondered what he expected from

Life, if he had gotten it, if he thought it still could be,

And one day, as we drove home from Wrigley Field,

I asked. Surprisingly, my father didn’t hesitate.

I never expected anything,” he said. “Then what,”

I asked, “did you want?” Again, the answer was

Swift. “A job,” my father said. “All I ever wanted

Was a job.”

When I think of my father now, I think about hopes,

Aspirations, and dreams. I think of a dark,

Muscular man who never speaks, and wonder

Why he never reached, why he didn’t try.

Dad,” I want to say to him, “it’s not so bad

Here. Why haven’t you ever come outside?

Dad,” I want to say, “you have a beautiful voice.”


Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. He is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with just a snort.

TVWriter™ Don’t-Miss Posts of the Week – June 19, 2017

Time for TVWriter™’s  Monday look at our 5 most popular blog posts of the week ending yesterday. They are, in order:

Netflix Canceled Sense8, So I Tried to Watch It

Peggy Bechko on What Writers Eat – or Should

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

Empty Promises: My experience submitting scripts to Amazon Studios

Murder She Wrote – Women Who Write Crime

And our 5 most visited permanent resource pages are, also in order:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

The Logline

PEOPLE’S PILOT 2017

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT: Enter

The Outline/Story

Major thanks to everyone for making this another great week at TVWriter™. Don’t forget to click above and read what you missed and re-read what you loved!