Moviestorm News
Recent Entries

Monthly Archives

Search Moviestorm News


Advanced Search



News Article Archives

Moviestorm News

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Make Movies That Make Money!

Most of the people reading this blog aren’t really making movies for the money. We do it for fun. If a small financial return were to come our way, that would be nice, but that’s not what’s on our mind. However, we’re all inspired by the professionals, and secretly, we’re all a little entranced by the glamour of the film industry. We’ve all wondered what it would be like to give up our day jobs and make a living out of movies, just like every kids who’s ever picked up a guitar has dreamed of being a rock star, and every second-rate novelist has wondered if they’re the next Irvine Welsh, Terry Pratchett, or Neil Gaiman.

The sad fact is that movies are just as unforgiving as any other medium. Very few writers ever become full-time novelists. If you want a job as a writer, you’re more likely to end up as a journalist or writing marketing copy than creating fiction or screenplays. If you make it as a professional musician, expect to be a session musician or make advertising jingles rather than churning out platinum-selling albums, but you’re more likely to be playing occasional gigs a local venue for beer and gas money. And if you make movies, you’re highly unlikely to end up working on the movies you really want to make. If you want to make a go of it as an independent, you’re going to have to deal with some tough commercial realities.

This book pulls no punches. Philip R. Cable’s day job is Head of Production at low-budget specilaists Marche-Williams Productions, and he’s seen it all. He covers all the basics in 101 short, practical chapters, each about a page long. Cable assumes that your aim is simple: to make movies that turn a profit. As a result, he starts from the principle that your job is to make something which distributors will want to buy, which in turn means something they can sell to their viewers. He sets the tone right from the start, when he lists the most popular genres. Right up at the top are erotic thrillers and T&A movies - all those cheap movies that fill up Netflix and video stores. He even tells you part of the formula: a pretty girl (or girls) in the nude every five to seven minutes. It’s about selling movies, not creating great art, remember? (Interestingly, next in the list are Christian movies. You don’t have to make smut.)

Cable covers every part of the process; from choosing the right movies to finding funding and setting up the right commercial basis. He then goes on to a load of really practical advice about pre-production, shooting and post-production. One easy way to lose money is to go over budget, so it’s vital to save money whenever possible, avoid expensive mistakes, and control costs. He also gives you a bunch of tips on how to make your movie look and sound good enough to sell. It’s got to impress distributors; if it looks shoddy, they won’t buy it, and you’ve got a dud on your hands. A lot of his advice is obviously born of bitter experience, like how to handle the “three quarter actor”: that’s the guy who, three quarters of the way through shooting, suddenly demands more money or he quits. Do you let him walk and reshoot everything you’ve done so far, or give into his demands? By the time you’ve got through this section you’ve learned about everything from catering to duct tape, not to mention unions, insurance and location permits. Most of it seems like common sense, but the skill is in remembering every little detail when all you want is to get the damn shots in the can and start editing.

He ends up with a look at distribution and sales. After all, if you’re making movies to make money, that’s where it counts. You’re going to need to be a salesman. You’ll need to deal with contracts and accounts, and with people who don’t give a damn about the artistic merits of your movie, only the bottom line. Nobody’s going to give you money. You’re going to have to work for it. However, that’s what distinguishes the professional film-maker from the gifted amateur. A professional can make money off a mediocre film. An amateur will never see a dime from a masterpiece.

This is a book that deserves to be on your shelf and thumbed through regularly. If you’re thinking of turning pro, then it’s full of things you probably need to be reminded of, at least until you’re experienced. If you’re content to remain an amateur, there’s still a lot you can learn about how to make your productions more efficient. And if you’re just making movies as a hobby, particularly if you’re an animator, it’s actually a little heartening to see all the things you don’t have to worry about.

Paperback, 228pp. Available on Amazon, price $39.95 or lower.

(3) Comments | Permalink | Posted by Matt Kelland

Page 1 of 1 pages