The Business of Film

Disrupting Hollywood

by Sheree L. Ross

Over a hundred thousand scripts will be written in 2017, as well as tens of thousands of independent films made. Hundreds of contests will be entered and most filmmakers will not move very far towards their goal of a distribution deal or theatrical release.
What once seemed like the “impossible dream” has now almost become a thing of the past.  Yet, so many filmmakers go forward as they make their films like the magical payday myths of the industry still, if ever existed.
Most distribution deals and all of Hollywood have created an accounting system where only they get paid and the creative winds up with accolades (hopefully) but empty pockets. Crowdfunding has been a big move forward to help mitigate the ever shrinking traditional access to funds but after a film is made the blue print to a sustainable business model is rarely understood. It is especially hard for women and women filmmakers of color, where financing a film can be a Herculean event – as well as finding access to, and building an audience large enough to not only pay cast, crew, and themselves but make enough to distribute it and then do it all over again.
The industry has changed even for Hollywood. This change began decades ago but was solidified when the markets crashed in 2008, and demystified with access unprecedented with digital cameras, the internet, and streaming platforms. This is a new and ever more inclusive frontier yet so many indie filmmakers still structure their business model like it’s the 1970’s – still believing in the big payoff yet never realizing that filmmakers getting paid on the net receipts has been an inside myth perpetuated by industry media to entertain the public and string along hopeful filmmakers since time began.
The power of the industry is shifting but the new paradigm must be created by the independent filmmakers themselves. Big business has always had too much of a say and taken all of the profits. We, as creatives, are the reason they have built fortunes, mostly because we have wanted others to take care of the business while we concentrate on the creative. The other truth of many creatives is we haven’t developed the emotional and mental stamina for the business side of our filmmaking and have often blindly handed the responsibility over to others. This is a wake up call to build that muscle and take full control of our careers and creations. Owning our IP and figuring out how to distribute in a way that puts the rewards back into our own business is key to growing and maintaining a healthy and striving independent film ecosystem for all of us.

Will ‘Ghost in the Shell’ Be the Last Racially Insensitive Blockbuster?

Between the phenomenal success of “Get Out” and the failure of “Ghost in the Shell,” might Hollywood finally wise up?

Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell

“Ghost in the Shell”

Between the phenomenal success of “Get Out,” the imminent next chapter of the emphatically diverse “Fast and the Furious” franchise, and the recent failure of “Ghost in the Shell,” (among other examples), is there genuine reason to hope that racially insensitive blockbusters might soon become a thing of the past?

Vadim Rizov (@vrizov), Filmmaker Magazine

I think a lot about Bilge Ebiri’s 2013 piece on how the “Fast & Furious” franchise blew up by self-consciously becoming “diverse.” The short takeaway: Universal execs didn’t throw together a super-diverse cast out of the goodness of their progressive hearts, but out of a keen awareness that targeting multipole, oft-underserved demographics was a key, underexploited pathway to making much more money. It’s long been reported that there’s a big gap between onscreen representation and the audiences showing up: Latinos are the biggest moviegoers in the US, which you wouldn’t guess from the number (or lack thereof) of prominently cast Latinos onscreen.

So the examples cited are, sure, apposite, but what we’re really talking about here are two examples of black filmmakers breaking through plus one self-consciously “inclusive” blockbuster — hardly a monster wave, and anyone with a memory of how the late ’80s wave of black filmmakers ground to a halt after a while should be wary that non-white filmmakers are now, finally, about to become an integral part of the Hollywood apparatus, with attendant changes in onscreen diversity to follow; all it takes is one flop for the machine to change its mind (which is admittedly very stupid). So I’m sadly wary that we’re on the way to a more inclusive onscreen future.

READ MORE: ‘Ghost In The Shell’ Anime Director Defends Scarlett Johansson’s Casting

Charles Bramesco (@intothecrevasse), Freelance for Vulture, Nylon, the Guardian

While it would certainly be nice if Hollywood got its shit together and stopped casting white people in nonwhite roles, and while I agree that there have been tiny incremental decreases in that practice year by year, I fear it’ll be a long time until it become a complete thing of the past. You trace a positive trend through “Get Out,” “Moonlight,” and “Fastly Furious 8: Fambly Matters,” but we could just as easily draw a less heartening conclusion from a glance at the next few months. By the end of June, we’ll have a film in which Guatemalan-born Oscar Isaac plays Armenian, something called “How to Be a Latin Lover” (gulp) from my beloved Ken Marino, and loads of all-white studio projects.

Things are definitely better now than they were as recently as 2014, but until people of color have been installed in key decision making positions, I fear a meaningful step forward will be impossible.

The Fate of the Furious Fast 8 Vin Diesel

Manuela Lazic (@ManiLazic), Freelance for Little White Lies, The Film Stage

In our frequent tearful and angry comments against the big monster that is Hollywood, we critics often fail to recognise this industry’s undeniable complexity. Somewhat simultaneously, progress seems always on the cusp of realisation, while signs of Hollywood’s backward ideas about race and identity continue to surface in countless new films, especially blockbusters. In theatres this weekend, a brave spectator — or one into cognitive dissonance — can have herself a double-bill of the ground-breaking “Get Out” and the whitewashed “Ghost in the Shell” remake. Hollywood is a messy place.

Nevertheless, “Moonlight”’s exhilarating critical triumph (with a gobsmacking twist ending on Oscars night) and “Get Out”’s massive commercial success recently may make “Ghost in the Shell” seem like an anomaly, a last misjudged attempt by Hollywood to pursue its long-held tradition of reappropriation and flattening out of racial difference in favour of the majority. It almost feels like real change is taking place, which can explain the vigorousness of the outcry against “Ghost.” Yet while evidently justified, this violent dismissal also risks making us forget about the similar and in fact not so distant scandal of “Doctor Strange,” which followed many others. Despite all the anger that these previous films generated, such attitudes evidently persist.

Hollywood nonetheless always tries to give its audience what it wants, if only because this strategy makes economical sense. And this explains the very existence of a “Ghost in the Shell” remake: the original regained popularity in recent years by becoming more available to Occidental spectators and thanks to the surge of interest in anime. But as the casting of Scarlett Johansson blatantly reveals, Hollywood is a clumsy pleaser. It is willing to tap into different stories, but cannot fully commit to their specificity. In some cases, as with the casting of Tilda Swinton as “the Ancient One” in “Doctor Strange,” traces of Orientalism even emerge, where Asian cultures are not only populated with white people, but also made to look inaccessible, exotic, magical and even dangerous.

Perhaps the solution to Hollywood’s racial problem lies in this very desire to please: critics, and social media users in general, might have the power to guide the big studios on their tedious path to sensitive representation. Through trial and error — that is, unsatisfying attempts at diversity in films, then virulent attacks by spectators in the press and the media- the industry might eventually understand what is so wrong about itself, and finally deliver consistently racially conscious movies. Until then, we shall stay mad.

Kristy Puchko (@KristyPuchko) Pajiba/Nerdist/CBR

Man, I wish. And not just because I’m an alleged and unrepentant SJW, but also because wouldn’t it be amazing if films as original, challenging, and riveting as “Moonlight” and “Get Out” became the standard and not the exception?

Personally, I’m hopeful that the success of these films — as well as the box office success of “Hidden Figures”— will prove to Hollywood once and for all that white-straight-male need not be the default setting for any given story. And I expect we’ll start to see a shift toward more Black actors getting lead roles, instead of the parade of blandsome white ingendudes of which Hollywood seems to have an endless supply. But I’m doubtful the success of these movies will impact Hollywood’s loathsome tradition of Asian erasure, as Asians and Asian-Americans are all too often left out of the race and representation conversation.

It all comes from Hollywood believing only white heroes (often white men) sell movies globally (which is bunk). Yet, this year alone we saw examples of Asian erasure in “The Great Wall,” “Iron Fist,” and “Ghost in the Shell.” While not all are clear examples of white washing, each is a story that relishes in an Asian culture, while centering on a White protagonist. And that reduces Asian people to set dressing, even within their own stories. What needs to happen for this kind to change is not only the failure of such properties, but also the success of ones that dare to recognize Asian and Asian-American stars as more than cameos that’ll help bolster overseas sales. We’ll know a sea change is actually happening there when Asian/Asian-American women can front a story that doesn’t involve martial arts, or when an Asian/Asian-American man can be cast as the lead in a romantic-comedy. Because — as Jack Choi pointed out last year — allowing an actor to be seen as a sex symbol is a crucial step in making him a star.

Here’s hoping someone soon will finally realize the untapped potential of the internet’s crush John Cho, or that some clever producer will run with the swoons Dev Patel has stirred from his surfer-bro “Lion” look. Because here is the rare case where objectification could actually help in representation.

Jordan Peele Get Out

Richard Brody (@tnyfrontrow), The New Yorker

The “Fast and Furious” franchise has a diverse cast; so do the most recent “Star Wars” entries, and so does “Captain America: Civil War”; and these films’ successes have hardly ushered in a new era in empathy and justice. Or, rather, unfortunately, not at all. Big-budget, mass-market films are effects, not causes. The commercial success of these movies with diverse casts and the failure of “Ghost in the Shell” may give studio executives the hint they need. On the other hand, “Life” was a failure, too (the capital letter matters). On the third hand, one of the things that makes “Get Out” a great movie is its depiction of racial identity as a matter of historical consciousness and personal experience.

Tentpole movies don’t offer much of either — for people of any ethnicity; the amount of human experience that filters into these films is pretty slender overall. That’s why the diversity of casts needs to be joined by diversity behind the camera — executives, producers, directors, screenwriters; otherwise, the diverse casts (though important in themselves, as opportunities for the actors) will have little effect on the films’ substance.

Christopher Campbell (@thefilmcynic), Nonfics, Film School Rejects

The sad thing is that “Ghost in the Shell”s disappointing box office may not be seen as the result of the casting controversy, and maybe it is not entirely. But we’ve seen so many movies that have had similar issues, including “Gods of Egypt” and “The Great Wall,” unable to financially back up the offenses in terms of being what audiences want, that it has to be getting to Hollywood. Unless they see the success of films like “Get Out” and “Fast and the Furious” being enough to counter the films deemed insensitive, like “Ghost in the Shell,” which is a box office failure, and Doctor Strange, which is not. And they may be doing well enough outside America where the controversies don’t alway carry over, that they don’t care. Maybe the only way to tell if anything was learned with “Ghost in the Shell” is to see what happens with “Akira.”

Tasha Robinson (@TashaRobinson), The Verge

I don’t think we’re ever likely to be entirely rid of tone-deaf adaptations, for the same reason we’ll never be rid of bloated blockbuster sequels or dumbed-down copycats of hit movies: at least half of Hollywood is always chasing what looks like the safest payday, by trying to plug “bankable” stars into everything, regardless of appropriateness or optics. What the success of films like “Get Out” and “Hidden Figures” gets us that I find heartening is a new set of profitable stars. There’s always going to be some clueless money-minded Hollywood exec pushing Tom Cruise or Matt Damon for the lead role in a President Obama biopic, because “Their films make money, and making money is what’s important.” But as actors like Michael B. Jordan, Janelle Monae, Octavia Spencer, and Mahershala Ali gain more cachet as Hollywood moneymakers, we’re more likely to see their names come up in conversation. The success of films like “Get Out” and “Hidden Figures” — or, on another scale entirely, the admirably diversity-minded “Star Wars: Rogue One” — isn’t just a boon for people who want to see themselves reflected onscreen, and it isn’t just a boon for people who want to point to “diverse” films and say they make money and have an audience. It’s also a boon for producers and directors and casting agents who want to widen their net, and need to be able to point to past successes when they’re pitching future projects. The more “bankable” stars of color we have, the less likely we are to live in a world where Scarlett Johansson is seen as the only possible star for an action film about a tough woman, regardless of that woman’s race.

 

SOURCE

“Women Have to Make Movies”

Ava DuVernay Has Some Surprising Advice for Aspiring Filmmakers

By Jennifer Memmolo

“You gotta follow the white guys. Truly. They’ve got this thing wired,” she said to the crowd. “Too often, we live within their games, so why would you not study what works? Take away the bad stuff, because there’s a lot, and use the savvy interesting stuff and figure out how they can apply. It’s a good one for the ladies.”

Additionally, DuVernay mentioned how important it is to have diverse interests and projects to work on simultaneously. The auteur is definitely leading by example, with new shows in the works at Oprah’s OWN and a civil rights drama set to premiere on CBS.

“I’ve been in a lot of rooms lately, and all these fancy people who are really killing it, no one has all her eggs in one basket.”

One project she won’t be adding to her roster? The next big Marvel project: “Black Panther.” Duvernay met with the head of the comic book company several times to discuss possibly directing the project, but ultimately decided against it.

“At one point, the answer was yes because I thought there was value in putting that kind of imagery into the culture in a worldwide, huge way, in a certain way: excitement, action, fun, all those things, and yet still be focused on a black man as a hero, that would be pretty revolutionary,” she said on taking on the project.

“These Marvel films go everywhere from Shanghai to Uganda, and nothing that I probably will make will reach that many people, so I found value in that. That’s how the conversations continued, because that’s what I was interested in. But everyone’s interested in different things.” The director added that she has high hopes for the franchise whenever it launches.

The incredible director finished off by stressing the importance of building not just a portfolio, but a reputation and legacy with one’s name.

“What my name is on means something to me, these are my children. This is my art. This is what will live on after I’m gone.”

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Business: 99 Free Filmmaking Forms!

by Adrijana Lazarevic
August 1, 2016
Ease your workload (and your mind) with these free templates for everything from storyboarding to contracts to accounting.

[Editor’s Note: No Film School asked Adrijana Lazarevic to collect these 99 templates because of her expertise working with filmmakers at Filestage.io.]

No one really feels like doing paperwork, but let’s be honest: no good film comes without organization and planning. That’s where templates can help you out. I work at a startup that creates software for filmmakers, and we see how busy you are every day, so we collected the most helpful templates, guides and checklists out there to make your life a little easier. They really help save time for what matters most: letting your creativity flow and producing breathtaking movies that won’t be forgotten.

The categories covered in this list are: Script Prep/Pre-production, Storyboard/Mood Board Templates, Shot List Templates, Script Breakdown Sheets, Budgeting, Accounting, Personnel/Cast Forms, Insurance Forms, Equipment Documents, Production/Shooting, and Music Releases.
Script Prep/Pre-production

Much of your planning happens well before production, including trying to get investors on board and starting to determine who your audience will be. Here are some templates for early steps, including a form for “optioning” a story that you want to produce, and a director’s worksheet that lays out what you’d like to see happen in each scene.

1. Director’s Worksheet – Film Contracts
2. Guide to Formatting a Screenplay – Final Draft
3. Literary Option & Purchase – Sonnyboo
4. Ultimate Creative Brief – Filestage
5. Cinematography Pre-Production Checklist – Film Contracts
6. Buyer Persona Template – Filestage
Storyboard/Mood Board Templates

Storyboarding is a cornerstone of the filmmaking process. A storyboard is a sequence of drawings that paint a picture of the your storyline, showing the structure of, and vision for, key scenes. We’ve also included a moodboard sheet for establishing the visual style of your film.

7. Moodboard Template – Filestage
8. Storyboard – Filestage
9. Storyboard – Sonnyboo
10. Storyboard – Filmsourcing
11. TV Storyboard – Film Contracts
Shot List Templates

Organization is the key to a successful shoot. With the help of a shot list, you can easily arrange single shots within any given scene. You can determine, for example, the number of shots necessary to capture a particular action most effectively. Give it a try with one of these practical templates.

12. Shot List – Film Contracts
13. Shot List – Learnaboutfilm
14. Shot List – LAvideoFilmmaker
15. Camera Shot List – Filmsourcing
16. Camera Shot List Advanced – Filmsourcing
Script Breakdown Sheets

Here you can find helpful templates providing detailed descriptions of scenes, and the equipment and personnel assigned to each one. This way, you never lose sight, and can make sure everything is going according to plan.

17. Script Breakdown Sheet – Studiobinder
18. Breakdown Sheet – Michael Wiese Books
19. Script Breakdown Sheet – Sonnyboo
Budgeting

While making a film, you or your producer have to keep a lot of things in mind and, before you know it, you can easily go over budget. This compilation of templates will help make sure that you don’t lose sight of your financial statements. Some of them additionally provide examples of budgeting.

20. Sample Budget – Sonnyboo
21. Budget and Invoice Template – Fstoppers
22. Film Budget Top Sheet – Making the Movie
23. Questions & Budget Creation – Michael Wiese Books
Checklist-Shutterstock

Accounting Records

Once you have a budget, you have to actually do the accounting. Maintaining an overview of your finances and money flow is crucial. Check your financial resources by making notes of their movement. These forms will help you keep track.

Inflows 30
24. Amount Received – Film Contracts
25. Cash or Sales Receipt – Film Contracts
26. Promissory Note – Film Contracts

Outflows
27. Daily Cost Overview – Film Contracts
28. Cash Flow Sheet/PO Log – StudioBinder
29. Final Cast List SAG-UBCP – Film Contracts

General Forms
30. Check Request – Film Contracts
31. Invoice Template – Going Freelance
32. Simple Invoice Template – Steve Hall Video
33. Expense Report – HowtoFilmschool
Personnel Forms

From general contracts and agreements to crew templates, many of these forms are necessary to lay out a foundation for the business behind your film and get a good team on board.

Cast & Crew Lists
34. Crew Contact List – Filmsourcing
35. Cast and Crew List – Studiobinder
36. Cast List – Film Contracts

Crew Deal Memos, Contracts and Agreements
37. Crew Deal Memo – New Brunswick Filmmakers’ Co-Operative
38. Writers Deal Memo – Film Contracts
39. Deal Memos – Film Contracts
40. Producer Contract – ISP Group Inc
41. Producer Video Release & Contract – Film Contracts
42. Contractor Agreements – Film Contracts
43. Photographer Work For Hire – ISP Group Inc
44. Producer Agreement (Short Form) – Film Contracts
45. Producer Agreement – Sonnyboo
46. Producer’s Royalty Attachment – ISP Group Inc
47. Executive Employment Agreement – ISP Group Inc

Partnership Documents
48. General Proxy – ISP Group Inc
49. Consulting Agreement – ISP Group Inc
50. Investor Suitability – ISP Group Inc
51. General Partnership Agreement – ISP Group Inc
52. Joint Venture Agreement 1 – ISP Group Inc
53. Loanout Agreement – Film Contracts

Cast Forms
54. Basic Actor Info Sheet – Sonnyboo
55. Casting Sheet – Film Contracts
56. Cast Scene Number Breakdown – Film Contracts
57. Cast Deal Memo – Film Contracts
58. Actor Contract – Sonnyboo
59. Freelance Actors Contract – Film Contracts

Appearance Releases
60. Personal Release – Film Contracts
61. Talent Release – PremiumBlog
62. Actor Release – Film Contracts
63. Freelance Performer Agreement – Film Contracts
64. Actor Player Casting Agreement – Film Contracts
65. Nudity Rider for Casting Agreement – Film Contracts
Location Scouting

So you found the most suitable locations to portray your vision. Now, as with everything else, you need to do the paperwork and take care of business These templates have you covered.

Site Info
66. Location Contact List – Film Contracts
67. Location Scouting – Filmsourcing
68. Location Fact Sheet – PremiumBeat
69. Location Information Sheet – Film Contracts
70. Cinematography Location Information Form – Film Contracts

Contracts & Releases
71. Location Contract – Film Contracts
72. Production Location Contract – Film Contracts
73. Location Release – PremiumBeat
74. Production Location Release – Film Contracts
75. Location Agreement – Sonnyboo
film set-shutterstock
Insurance Forms

Keep in mind that life doesn’t always have a bright side. Especially when it comes to accidents or health problems. Therefore, always insure your crew, yourself and the equipment. These templates will get you started.

76. Insurance Claim Worksheet Personal – Film Contracts
77. Actor Insurance Claim Worksheet – New Brunswick Filmmakers’ Co-Operative
78. Insurance Claim Worksheet Damage – Film Contracts
79. Insurance Claim Worksheet Automobile Accident – Film Contracts
80. Injury / Illness Report Form – Film Contracts

Equipment Documents

A movie is usually not made by a smartphone in one hand and a music player in the other. You need a whole bunch of stuff, plus, you have to deal with it. Cameras, recorders, lights, a whole set, and so on; all this has its price and needs to be paid attention to. These forms can help.

81. Box / Equipment Rental Inventory – Film Contracts
82. Equipment List – Dependent Films
83. Video Equipment Rental Agreement – Film Contracts
84. Special Camera Rigging Authorization – Film Contracts
Production/Shooting Forms

You’ve got your cast & crew, locations, and equipment and now you’re onto the shoot: the time when staying organized is most crucial. To avoid slip-ups, interruptions or any other negative factors that make your life as director harder than it should be, use these forms. This list includes call sheets, your essential tool for communicating requirements with everyone on set.

Production Papers
85. Production Tracking Form – Film Contracts
86. Filming Notice – Filmsourcing
87. Production Requirement – Film Contracts

Daily Tracking
88. Shot Log – Film Contracts
89. Scene / Take Log – Film Contracts
90. Daily Production Report – New Brunswick Filmmakers’ Co-Operative
91. Continuity Log Sheet – Filmsourcing
92. Actors Production Time Report – Film Contracts

Call Sheets
93. Call Sheet – Filmsourcing
94. Call Sheet – Cast and Crew Call
95. Call Sheet – StudioBinder
96. Call Sheet Cast – Film Contracts
Music Releases

Imagine movies without any music—unthinkable! Music is an essential part of a film experience. But, just as films have their patents and rights of use and enjoyment, sounds and music do too. And the legal use of music can be complicated. Here are some of the papers that help you do things right.

97. Sound Report – Filmsourcing
98. Music Reference – Filmsourcing
99. Music Release – New Brunswick Filmmakers’ Co-Operative

Source NoFilmSchool