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Techniques for Independent Production
The challenges of creating Digital Cinema and other narrative forms.


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Old September 12th, 2008, 02:12 PM   #76
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This is a great thread. Thank you to all who contributed.
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Old September 12th, 2008, 03:32 PM   #77
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Great advice, Scott. I hired an AD two years ago, on the first day of production, and was very happy I did so. I just wish I hired her much sooner, during pre-production. I made sure she was onboard during pre-pro on a film I just co-produced.

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Old October 23rd, 2008, 02:46 AM   #78
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Hey Corwin,
Since this thread has been kept alive for over a year, I was curious, where are you currently standing with the project?
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Old October 27th, 2008, 08:07 PM   #79
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Well the guy I was planing to do this film with kindof fell out, so i didnt follow through with the drafts of the scrips. Over the year i have worked on a couple film sets, and made many short films. I have been exploring all aspects of filmmaking, and found that cinematography resonates the most with me. I have abandoned that original project, and am currently looking for a good script and someone at my school willing to direct, and help me construct a film!
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Old October 27th, 2008, 11:04 PM   #80
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Corwin,

Glad you found your niche in the industry, and I'm sure you're going to shoot some killer films! Good luck!

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Old November 3rd, 2008, 02:29 PM   #81
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Originally Posted by Todd Giglio View Post
True about the last post. My feature was originally estimated for $8000.00 (I have the equipment and was going to shoot it myself). It ended up costing us close to $70,000 (money paid for by myself and some investors) because we increased the production value (SAG feature, professional DP and crew, cranes, dolly's, paid everyone, etc) and we still had an extremely small crew. The film looks far better than I could have done by myself and the entire experience was great (we had a total of 29 shooting days during the course of the year). I'm really glad I ended up going this route. Sure, it cost a heck of a lot more than I thought but the end product is what it's all about.
Todd, I hope your still around. You went from $8K to 70K. What did you do with the final product? Did you make the 70K back?
As a matter of fact all of you folks giving him advice are spending $20k plus. What are you folks doing to get this money back?
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Old November 3rd, 2008, 02:36 PM   #82
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It's easy to get the budget to go up, up, up. We increased our production values quite a bit, including hiring a semi-name actor (Jeff MacKay from JAG and Magnum PI, who died shortly after we wrapped, RIP), better gear, great crew, etc., and our budget more than doubled.

But at the end of the day, it comes down to the script. No amount of money in the world can save a bad script. It may look high quality, but if the script stinks, it's high quality garbage.

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Old November 4th, 2008, 09:12 AM   #83
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Originally Posted by G. Lee Gordon View Post
Todd, I hope your still around. You went from $8K to 70K. What did you do with the final product? Did you make the 70K back?
As a matter of fact all of you folks giving him advice are spending $20k plus. What are you folks doing to get this money back?
Hey G. Lee Gordon,

Yes, I'm still around. We've just finished post production and have been sending out copies for festivals, so no... we haven't made any money back. Yet.

Heath is right that once you up your production with better equipment and a great crew, expect the budget to jump. And as Heath says, a great script can save a film with bad production quality, but great production quality cannot save a film with a bad script.

And ironically, the over all budget for my film ended up being closer to $116,000 (keep in mind this includes the total cost of all the equipment I bought for the film; the budget minus purchasing the equipment was closer to $50,000).
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Old November 4th, 2008, 03:54 PM   #84
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For tax purposes, I recommend not counting the money spent on equipment towards the budget. You can write off the equipment for years. Check with your Accountant.

Good luck! Keep us up-to-date on everything!

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Old November 5th, 2008, 11:28 AM   #85
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Originally Posted by Heath McKnight View Post
For tax purposes, I recommend not counting the money spent on equipment towards the budget. You can write off the equipment for years. Check with your Accountant.

Good luck! Keep us up-to-date on everything!

heath
Thanks for the info Heath. So would you suggest adding a 'rental' fee to the budget to include some expense for equipment or not to include any equipment cost/fees at all?

I will revise my budget as I have written off my equipment in previous tax years.

Thanks again.

Todd
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Old November 5th, 2008, 11:32 AM   #86
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You could do that--talk to an accountant! Are you incorporated? I have an s-corporation (MPS Digital Studios), then I do an LLC company for the specific movie, ie, 9:04 AM Productions, LLC for my film, 9:04 AM.

But we rented gear that wasn't owned by me. However, I know plenty of companies that do it.

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Old November 5th, 2008, 01:30 PM   #87
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Originally Posted by Heath McKnight View Post
You could do that--talk to an accountant! Are you incorporated? I have an s-corporation (MPS Digital Studios), then I do an LLC company for the specific movie, ie, 9:04 AM Productions, LLC for my film, 9:04 AM.

But we rented gear that wasn't owned by me. However, I know plenty of companies that do it.

heath
We have an LLC so I'll call my accountant this week. We didn't setup a Corp. since this film was/is our only project. Our LLC is called Drawing Chalk Pictures LLC for the film 'Drawing With Chalk'.

Thanks for the info and heads up.

Todd
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Old November 5th, 2008, 02:02 PM   #88
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I don't think you'll be able to get any rental fees from the LLC making the movie, since you don't have a separate corporation. If you bought the equipment under the LLC, you might be able to sell it, so to speak, to a newly formed production. Ask the accountant and let us know the answer.

I know a little bit about corporate accounting, but I really rely on my accountant. She tells me what I need to do, and I take care of things on my end. Heck, I haven't done my taxes myself since 2001 (for 2000), because I incorporated soon after. My accountant handles everything.

She may not know the movie/TV/video production community like a film accountant would (and those can cost a lot more than a regular accountant), but she understands the laws and what a piece of equipment means to a corporation. She also showed me stuff in accounting books about the film biz.

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Old December 13th, 2008, 03:32 PM   #89
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Originally Posted by Lori Starfelt View Post
LA is an incredible mixed bag. There are so many businesses that will simply say "no" to you without any thought whatsoever.
I would have thought that L.A., being what it is, would have a lot more places willing to be part of movie-making. But as someone else said, maybe it's because they have an inflated idea of the money they can get...

The Biodome here in Montreal has a gorgeous rainforest environment, and will let film crews shoot for about $300/hr (plus security, plus electrician, etc.). I wanted to go in during regular business hours with a camcorder and a monopod to get stock footage for a future project and they said no. I told them I would be just like a tourist taking footage, no lights or sound or actors, just me and my small camcorder. They said no. I said ok, maybe I can swing a little money, how much would that cost me, without the need for security, electrician, etc.? They said no.

Their answer was that they did not do "those kinds" of projects. I asked what "those kinds" of projects are that they refuse to do, since I never even told them about mine and they refused to look at a script; again, they only replied no, without giving an explanation.

I was joking with a partner that I must have failed to present my request with the required manila envelope filled with small bills. But I was only half-joking.


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Old December 13th, 2008, 03:36 PM   #90
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Originally Posted by Corwin Garber View Post
I'm shooting my first feature for (hopfully) $5000, and i need some help on were i should spend my money. I have acsess to a canon xha1, and a conon 814 xls (8mm film), and i was hoping on making it all or mostly on 8mm. i own a sennhiser me66 so a microphone is not an issue. i can borrow 2 totas, how much more light do you think i would need? if anybody has some good experience on making super low-budget features, that would be a real help!
I've bought just enough equipment to get by on a small shoot, and that cost me over $20,000. My philosophy is: don't buy; rent or borrow. On my last shoot the sound guy who volunteered had his own professional sound equipment. It's only slightly more to hire someone who has his own gear, than it is to rent - and definitely cheaper than buying.


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