by Michel Plaxton
What would you say if you could win a million dollars towards the production and distribution of your feature film? That’s right: win. It’s a competition. And it’s called Cinecoup.
Now before you jump out of your bathrobe and get ready to email that scintillating pdf script file, there are a few caveats. The first big one – it’s open to Canadians only. So yeah, they’re metric dollars. And it’s not just about the writing. Cinecoup will tax all your filmmaking talent.
The folks at Cinecoup describe themselves as “an innovative web platform-as-film studio model” and a “gamified Film Accelerator.” What does that mean? Beats me. But in practical terms, each week over several months, teams of filmmakers meet creative and social media challenges to develop their film projects. Projects are evaluated not only on their craft and creativity, but also by online voting. Film buffs make an impact; the more votes the better. Cinecoup insists it is not a contest, probably for legal reasons, but also because they truly see themselves as adifferent kind of film studio, generating interest and investment through social media buzz.
Projects are weeded out, through weighted scoring(creativity, craft, social media voting), down from the initial group to the Top 60, Top 40, Top 15 and so on. The Top 10 all get optioned. The winning film project gets $1 Million financing and guaranteed distribution in Cineplex theaters across Canada.
Sounds great. But what’s the reality been? Here’s been my experience.
I learned about Cinecoup through my friend King-Pin (yes, that’s his real name). To enter, we needed to meet a few criteria: form a 3-person team (no more, no less), create Facebook and Twitter entities for our projects (the more “Likes” and Followers, the better) and produce a trailer for a non-existent film.
Sounds crazy but doable. We jumped on King-Pin’s story idea for a sci-fi thriller, entitled The Never Man. We hooked up with talented playwright, actor and friend Todd McGinnis and threw our collective hats into the ring.
Armed with only a rough story line, we hashed out what our trailer would look like. Through friends, family, associates, no shortage of begging and borrowing – and in a feat that would’ve made Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney envious – we gathered actors and technicians to shoot a sci-fi feature trailer. Shot over a weekend, composited, edited, and scored within a week, our trailer was in the can. Since then, we’ve been faced with other weekly, videotaped tasks, some more onerous than others:
- Mission 1 – The Pitch – introduces the team and the project in our own words.
- Mission 2 – Cheap Tricks – on cutting financial corners e.g. we bought $1 foam core to create a spaceship hallway (gotta be seen to be believed)
- Mission 3 – Off the Wall – showcases 2 alternative posters for our project
- Mission 4 – Speechless –a scene without dialogue
- Mission 5 – Genesis – we (okay, King-Pin) discuss influences and inspiration for the project
- Mission 6 – Hype It – a Media Pitch video describes the project and its creators
As of this writing, we are midway through the competition: Mission 7. And it was a killer. King-Pin re-cut the trailer to make it that much better. I cut together a “sizzle reel” to showcase our best moments to date. And Todd wrote the first draft of the feature-length screenplay (he didn’t get much sleep this week).
All along the way, teams have been weeded out. The Never Man has made it into the Top 40. Overall, it’s been a tough but thrilling ride so far. And there’s more to come… if we pass the next stage: the Top 15. Which reminds me… I’d be remiss if I didn’t say please go vote now for The Never Man at www.cinecoup.com/the-never-man
Visit the Cinecoup website. Check out the different projects. You’ll quickly find something that turns your crank. It’s a film buff’s buffet. And vote for The Never Man… often. Yes, you can vote more than once; the more projects you check out, comment on, “like,” etc., the more votes you earn. Vote early. Vote often.
Michel Plaxton brings over 20 years of production experience. A real TV-brat, Michel has worked in varied positions, bringing his creativity, sense of humour, and networking skills throughout, as a writer, editor and producer. When not earning his 3rd degree black belt in karate, he watches cartoons – for a living, mind you – as Senior Writer-Producer for Teletoon.