PRODUCE & DIRECT A 2018 FEATURE FILM (Learn Producing Odds & Film Directing Reality)
by Dov S-S Simens on January 5, 2018
2018: PRODUCE OR DIRECT A FEATURE FILM
Want to launch your career by Producing or Directing a profitable Feature Film in 2018?
I’m sure the answer is “Yes”.
Then here is how to start with either a No-Budget, a Micro-Budget, an Ultra Low-Budget, a Low-Budget, a Medium-Budget or a Mega-Budget Feature Film with covering the financing spectrum from as low as $10,000 to as high as $100,000,000 movies… along with the odds-of-success for each.
However, to succeed, you must be “realistic” and select a budget category “realistic-to-finance” with a great script you own that is “realistic” for you to manufacture (produce or direct) within a budget that you can “realistically” obtain.
Want to Produce or Direct? Then be “realistic”
(“Spielberg being realistic started his career (1969) with a five actor, one-location low-budget story, “EYES”, for “Night Gallery”.”)
Be realistic and you will produce or direct a feature film.
Be realistic, with amazing talent (can’t be taught), you will also launch your career.
HOLLYWOOD HAS ONLY 6 BUDGETS:
Every feature film is inevitably categorized by it’s budget and classified as either a…
(1st) NO-BUDGET MOVIE: $10,000-$30,000; which is usually a weekend shoot (3 days, Fri-Sun, 7a-10p, 30 pages/day, 15 hour workday) with a 80-90 page script set in real time (i.e., what happens over a 90-minute period) shot with a 4-5 person crew with 2 no-budget cameras (iPhones, BlackMagic, GoPro, DSLR, etc.) by directing with mostly Master Shots.
(“TANGERINE” was a no-budget feature (4 actors, 1-location, real time, 2 iPhones) discovered at Sundance 2016 and released last year.)
(2nd) MICRO-BUDGET MOVIE: $50,000-$100,000; a one-week shoot (over two weekends), with a 90 page script, in one location (house, courtroom, bathroom, jail cell, etc.), accomplished with a 5-6 person crew (DP, PM, PD, Grip/Gaffer, PC & AD), paying $350-$1,000 each, with 3 PAs interning, using 1 Red or 2 DSLRs, directing a schedule of 10 pages/day with 80% Master Shots, 15% Mediums and 4% Closeups & 1% Establishing shots.
(3rd) ULTRA LOW-BUDGET MOVIE: $150,000-$300,000; a 2 week shoot (13 shooting days, working 7a-7p), with one-location (Apartment Building, Hotel, School Campus, etc.), with several sub-locations (Bathroom, Foyer, Hallway, Garage, Office #1, Office #2, Guest Room #1, Guest Room #2, etc.) of a 90-page script, with an 8-9 person crew, paying $450-$1,200/week, & 4 PAs interning, with 2 Reds, based on a stage play, with great dialogue and human conflict, possibly signing with SAG (Ultra Low Budget Agreement) and directing a schedule of 7 pages/day allowing two takes on most setups for better performance with, during post, an original score 100% owned and $2K-$5K put aside for Publicity, Marketing and Film Festival entry fees.
(4th) LOW-BUDGET MOVIE: $500,000-$1,000,000; this is a 3 week shoot (18 day shoot), with a 90-100 page script, set in one-location (Hotel, Office Building, School, Police Station, etc.) but using 6-8 rooms for variance, or using 4 locations over one-block, with easy parking, a 12-15 person crew, paying $500-$2,000/week, with 4 PAs ($200,week), excellent craft service (feed properly), with a 50-60 scene script that has a superb Act I, with 2 grabbers in the first 2 minutes, an excellent Act II, with 5 Uh-Ohs & 5 Oh-Shits (layman’s terms for inciting moments and crises), and a satisfying Act III with the final OMG (Oh My God scene), Resolution and Epilogue and a directing shooting schedule of 5-7 pages/day achieving 20-25 setups/day with superb coverage and having $20K set aside for a splash at a North American Film Festival like Tribeca, Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, South Hamptons, etc. to entice Acquisition Execs to purchase.
(“BARBERSHOP” was an excellent Low-Budget, 3-week shoot, one-location with a couple of B-list names feature film that not only got released but became a franchise.)
(5th) MEDIUM-BUDGET MOVIE: $2-3 Million, $3-5 Million, $5-7 Million or $7-10 Million: this is usually an international co-production, financed with 2 name actors on pay-to-play commitments, pre-sold at Cannes, Sundance, Berlin or Toronto and shot in a USA state with a Transferable Tax Credit program (Georgia, Illinois, New York, Massachusetts, New Mexico, etc.) on a 5-week shoot (25-28 Shooting Days), Directing with a shooting schedule of 4-5 pages per day, allowing each actor 2-3 takes per setup to achieve a very well acted story with $100,000 set aside for a solid publicity and marketing campaign to culminate with a screening at a major film festival where at least 30-40 Acquisition Executives, Agents & Producers Reps are in attendance.
(“AMERICAN BUFFALO” was a superb medium-budget, character driven, dialogue oriented movies with 2 A- actors made on a 5-week shoot with a marketed $10,000,000 Budget.)
(6th) MEGA-BUDGET MOVIE: $100,000,000 to $200,000,000 and if you’re James Cameron hustling his “AVATAR” franchise, of a 3 picture trilogy for $1 Billion; This is always a major studio movie, signing with the three guilds (SAG, WGA & DGA) and one union (IATSE) like “Star Wars”, “Batman”, “Avatar”, “Fast & Furious”, etc. that are franchises with little-to-no-story but a massive amount of “eye candy” visual effects that, due to not depending on dialogue, allows it to be a box office hit in almost every nation around the world, especially China, and gross $1-2 Billion, sell a lot of merchandise, have 75-110 product placement logos ($300K-$5,000K each) in it, with a big on-demand deal, a huge dvd sale to CostCo, Target or Wallmart, plus a big sale to HBO or Showtime.
(“Star Wars” started the big budget visual concept, with per picture budget between $100 Million to now $300 million, massive revenue streams to include an amusement park mega-ride.)
NOW YOUR PRODUCING ODDS:
Now let’s talk “what are the odds” to launching your career contingent on each of the six Hollywood budget’s for your first movie project.
ODDS OF SUCCESS
NO-BUDGET is 99.9% (Guaranteed, if you have a work ethic, 2 iPhones and true talent)
MICRO-BUDGET is 75% (Very Good odds, but be sure the script is one location with great dialogue)
ULTRA LOW-BUDGET is 40% (Odds more than OK, especially if partnered with an Executive Producer Attorney)
LOW-BUDGET is 20% (Odds good-but-not-great, but you must be an excellent salesman)
MEDIUM-BUDGET is 2% (Not likely; Assumes that your parents are quite wealthy)
MEGA-BUDGET is 0.01% (Near impossible: Assumes you have the great script, a power agent and a studio bidding war ensued)
(“Be realistic. Your best odds lie with either a No-Budget, Micro-Budget or Ultra Low-Budget movie which which will be the subjects of each of my next 3 blogs… stay tuned.”)
Happy 2018 Filmmaking!
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