My name is Elliot Grove and I do Raindance. Every year we roll through hundreds of film submissions from film producers for the Raindance Film Festival and it always makes me sad. And sad because there are some basics film producers should know.
We end up sending hundreds of rejection letters to filmmakers around the world, many of whom have become personal friends. We reject films for Raindance if they don’t hit a few key brands and my friends know and ignore these. The result is that I lose several close friends every year.
I thought I would write down my main thoughts in the form of an article.
Learn 10 Things Film Producers Should Know:
1. Learn the basics of history
No story – no movie
I’ve met film producers over the years who don’t even bother reading the script. As incredible as that sounds, they’re more interested in the deal.
A lawyer who worked for such a producer got so caught up in the complex web of business transactions that he said, “Let’s close the deal!” Needless to say, the deal was way more interesting than the finished film.
If you want to make it in movies you need to find or create a script with a great story.
Take five minutes to read this great story and dialogue article.
Do you live near London?
Here are some great storytelling and scripting courses that we believe will help you, as a filmmaker or producer, hone your craft.
Writer’s Foundation Certificate – How to Start – it’s a basic introduction that I am teaching.
Don’t you live in London?
Here are two books I recommend:
1. Anatomy of the story by Raindance tutor John Truby.
This is quite simply the best scriptwriting book I have ever read. John is clear, concise, and forward-looking. These are the theories that are taking Hollywood by storm right now.
He has some excellent software and audio courses for sale here.
2. Raindance Writer’s Lab
– what I wrote. It’s getting good feedback on this, and every time someone buys one I make 0.90p which pays off for a call to my mom at home in Toronto. She hasn’t heard from me for about 3 weeks 🙁
If you need a professional review of your script and its performance, both story and industry, try our cutting-edge technology Script development service.
2. Learn the basics of character
The story is about relationships
What makes a great script? A compelling story – or memorable characters? You can say both. But for the star you want to win for your script, only one thing counts: a great role.
From this point of view, you might want to ask yourself whether your script is not only “good read” but also offers something that is important to an actor. Because your script is unlikely to be created with no stars attached, whether you like it or not.
Read the rest of this article: Characters to Die For
Read scripts from previous masters of screen storytelling on IMSDB.com and script-o-rama.com
3. Learn the basics of film directing
Respect and nurture the director’s vision
Producers often leave the directing to the directors and then complain that the picture has far exceeded budget.
Do not get caught.
When you are on the set and your director asks for more time to get the perfect match cut shot that is needed in the editing suite, you need to understand the subtext.
This means that you too have to learn the basic grammar of conducting.
Read this great book: Shot by Shot
Consider these directing courses:
Evening courses: Directors Foundation certificate
All film producers should understand how to pretend to be an indie writer. You never know when to manage your director’s career.
4. Learn the basics of sound and music
Sound and music make films
In the last 16 years of the Raindance Film Festival, I’ve seen dozens of films bought and sold. In fact, Raindance has a reputation for being one of the most likely places to sell your film outside of the Big Five: Cannes, Toronto, Sundance, Berlin, and Rotterdam.
I’ve also seen dozens of deals fail because the filmmakers didn’t clear music rights or do an M&E track or do a thorough sound mix. If you forget some of it, your film, be it a short or a feature film, will be weighed down and it will be difficult to sell.
And to put it in a nutshell, it’s an urban myth that you can let your actor walk past a radio playing a Beatles song (or other) for a few seconds for free. Not true. It costs money.
Try this article: The 13 Steps to Post-Production
or this article on basic music rights
5. Producers understand film marketing and advertising
Making a movie is only half the battle
Getting the budget for a movie is difficult.
Making a movie is really difficult.
Selling a film is the hardest part.
A producer needs to know the difference between marketing, advertising, and advertising.
Here are some tips:
Free article: The 7 elements of a press kit
Free Article: Basic Pitching Techniques
In my weekend course, Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking, I spend the entire weekend researching marketing and advertising and really focus on that on the second day. This fall I’m traveling with the class: In London
6. Commercial success can be a box office flop
Understand how finance works
For example, suppose you made a $ 1 million budget movie that you loaned from a combination of private and industrial investors.
For example, let’s say you sell the film to various distributors for a total of $ 2 million.
Presto! You are a commercial success.
But let’s say the French distributor who paid you $ 300,000 for France is only making $ 200,000 from releasing your film in France.
Oops. Now you are a box office failure.
Producers have to understand that.
Would you like good sales advice? Filmspecific.com.
I can’t say enough good things about this website.
7. Understand how to raise film money
If you don’t ask, you won’t get
Many film producers I meet on my travels consider film production to be a simple and glamorous lifestyle.
This is far from the truth.
A good producer does nothing but raise money. A producer who can do this, who also addresses creative challenges and sensitivities and who can do it with style, is indeed a rarity.
Here are some ideas to help you:
Excellent web resource: www.Filmspecific.com
Free Article: How To Raise Money Responsibly
Evening course: film money (also available live online)
8. Learn to create a good film business plan
Start at the top and go downhill
‘Many a slip Twix cup and lip.’
Place yourself in the top 0.001% of would-be filmmakers: straighten yourself out and bring along a dozen sheets of paper that follow a reasonable plan and show that you understand how money flows.
Useful reading: Raindance Producers Lab
When I wrote this book a few years ago, I put everything I learned over the years into this book.
Now, as I flip through it, I have to admit that I’ve done some well, and the chapters on marketing and business plans are really good. (I was even told that by others!)
Free article: Financing for Development
Evening Course: Creating a Business Plan (London) (Toronto)
9. Learn to discover talent
Your chance to pay dirt
A producer’s job is to find and discover talent, read scripts, attend underground music events, go to fringe theaters, and watch short films at festivals like Raindance. When you find a promising playwright, actor, musician, or director, broker a deal with them and give them money that will keep them on your talent staff for the project you’re working on.
Later in life, when that actor, director, or writer makes it big, they’ll remember you as the person who discovered them.
What does the word “discovered” really mean?
It was the first time this person got paid.
10. Learn to say no
Learn to be strong
Nobody in the film industry says “no” because they don’t want you to go to their competitors and be “discovered”
That’s how they say “no” in the film industry.
Why not join the Lo To No Budget Filmmaking Weekend course? I’ll show you how to record your script and get great value for money on screen with dozens of low budget filming tips. On the second day I will show you how you can raise the money and how you can use free PR to make your film this year’s cult classic.
What are you waiting for? Lo To Make No Budget Movies is a weekend master class on production and marketing.