Friday, September 18, 2009

Joys of over work, the hell of Sundance

Well I have a few moments to add to the blog while some new mystery files download. Maybe it's music, though the folder says ADR? so...
Anyway from a really bad week of crazy work, car towing and the death of my long time compatriot in post (Bently the sound dog). I'm heading into 5 days of mad hell to get a feature to Sundance by the deadline. As an aside I just wish Sundance disappeared. It's like a lotto ticket with a crack chaser for indi filmmakers. They all NEED to submit but none are going to get in. The "indi" films that get into Sundance are 5-10Mill "Indi's". But every film that has a budget that you could buy a car for kills their editors to make the deadline. They never plan with the deadline in mind though. If you want to shoot a feature and submit to Sundance, take the deadline (Sept. 24th assuming your going to FedEx it) and figure four to six weeks for sound post and six months for picture edit then two months to shoot and a month of prep. That means you start your prep in Nov. the year before, NOT June the year of.
The sad fact is that even if you planned it out and got a great cast and a great editor,and a great script, score and sound. If you don't have a name attached that people know with out having to search IMDB, or a budget over 5 mill it's a waste of time.
BUT, I hear the screams, What about Little Miss Sunshine... Look at the budget, name the cast... Next.

Take a clue from a former actress and "Just say NO".
"But it would be great if I got in!"
Not particularly and the race to get "done" in time hurts your film a LOT. Why? Because you didn't start your prep in Nov. you started it in May, maybe, and you are shooting yourself in the foot by racing to finish. Big films (ones that people watch and make money and GET into Sundance) don't try your proposed schedule and you shouldn't either. Every once in a while there is the big push to make the date but that is pushing a six mo. post into five mo.s. And they have crews, you probably have an editor, a post sound person (or maybe not) someone doing some music. Maybe a few more but that isn't a CREW it's a collection of artists trying to make your dream happen in too little time with too little money and too few people.
Give them a break and put down the Sundance crack pipe, have a Martini and plan on submitting your film when it's DONE. You can even do Sundance if you want to. But finish your film and make it art, then submit. You only get to make your movie once, Sundance happens every year.
I cant tell you how many films with potential end up going nowhere because the filmmakers blew their wad to get into Sundance and "finished" the film with out FINISHING the film. Screen it, take notes, reedit, and screen it again. Your big strength with a micro budget indi is that you have time on your side. A BIG budget film is paying through the nose in completion insurance till the film is finished and screening (and they still take a fair amount of time in post... SEE how important it is), you on the other hand are not. If it takes you a year to finish it cost you about the same as if you did it in a month. A big film is paying your total budget (often many times your total budget) every day till they have a marketable film. You have so little going for you as a low budget filmmaker that is is just moronic to use one of the few advantages you do have.

Back to the trenches...

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