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Techniques for Independent Production
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Old January 31st, 2003, 02:02 PM   #1
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Getting It Done - - Forming The Crew

It seems like there are many knowledgeable/ amateur/ professional persons alike in the DVINFO community, and at large on other boards...

I am dropping a line on this board to/...with the intention on forming a crew. Based on the philosophy - - I'll work and stay up all hours to get your film (DV) done, if you commit the same to mine.

(I don't want to think about the 'Zippa Heads' that take advantage and when all done with theirs, dis the other partners on the crew. I also understand the 'Need to Eat' and keep the day job until its lucrative to quit.)

So, if you have a project ready to roll, and need a hand, extra camera, d.p., or sound/boom person I'm there. Remember I have a feature coming up and I'll need your expertise and skills...

If interested contact me or post to this board...

The idea with these projects is to put some greenbacks in our pockets, create dynamic work, and active growth relationships. To get or create paying gigs etc.

Maybe Ideal... Perhaps...

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Old January 31st, 2003, 06:52 PM   #2
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I assume you're looking for people in New York, but if you need something shot or need some help in Colorado, contact me. I like your idea.
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Old February 1st, 2003, 05:23 AM   #3
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I don't wish to sound pesimistic but what you suggest has been attempted many many times before.

People will never ever, in my experience, commit an equal amount of time and effort to others projects like they will to their own.

The only way to make sustainable money in this business is a) learn a craft and work for others, or b) do things PROFESSIONALLY: pay people!

You can not expect others to devote free time to your films however much you say you are prepared to do the same for them.

Sure I am certain you may get many offers, but believe me it will fall apart in the end.

Anyone who is serious about filmaking, other than for a hobby, must do things in a professional manner or sooner or later you will end up exploiting others!

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Old February 1st, 2003, 06:00 AM   #4
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I have to disagree with you. It's a dog eat dog world out there, for sure, and sometimes the only way to put yourself ahead of the pack is to show a willingness to go the extra mile...just for the pleasure of the mileage.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people today who are starting out in something, trying to get a foothold, can be so demanding about money. Makes me wonder how many would be filmmakers, actors, composers are now in the winter or their lives, never having fully-escaped their "day jobs" to pursue their dreams, and trying to justify it all by saying to themselves, "At least I never let anyone take advantage of me."

Why wouldn't others with a genuine interest in getting involved in something they love be willing to work together on a volunteer basis? This attitude of "but what if it turns out to be great and makes money and I don't get any" that prevents people from working together is ridiculous. Probably, some type of arrangement would be made to recompense those involved in the long shot that a production is wildly successful. But even if no one makes a cent, does that mean that they aren't profiting? Can you imagine the opportunities that have been opened up to them from their new found recognition that would never have been available before?

Consider "El Mariachi". Could it have been made with that attitude? Think any of the people involved regret their participation? And do you think there's even one of the people involved in that production who hasn't profited in some way from the experience of making that a personal, career, or financial way?

If you're just starting out, and you're hungry, and you have passion...forget the money angle. They'll be plenty of time to wrestle with lawyers later when you've acquired your fame. At the beginning, roll up your sleeves and dive in head first and do whatever it takes.

Time card types should stick to working at Wal-Mart. People with true drive and passion should be prepared to sacrifice to get what they want.

I don't mean any disrespect toward you...that's not my intent here at all. But cynicism can be amazingly infectious. Let's not try to beat down Derrick's enthusiasm. He might just surprise all of us.
John Locke
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Old February 1st, 2003, 08:13 AM   #5
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It is not cynisicm but realistic experience. I'm not trying to drive down anyone's passion but I offered my services many times for free in my early days and sad to say just about every project was rubbish. The producers such as they were, often treated you worse than if you were being paid and had unwarranted and massive egos to boot.

You can maybe make one or possibly two films with voluteers, if you continue to do this then it is logically either a) a hobby or b) you are exploiting people. Note that Robert Rodriguez is now paying people!

"Time card types should stick to working at Wal-Mart. People with true drive and passion should be prepared to sacrifice to get what they want."

What a load of baloney - do you think professional filmakers are 'time-card' types? All that struggling artists in the garret crap went out with victorian melodrama. True drive and passion involves entering the industry and learning your craft with realistic aims!

Filmaking is expensive even when it is not a business and you have to be realistic about what other people may gain from the enterprise - you have to be fair to people - and that is what I am saying. Just because you have a hunger and passion doesn't mean you're any good or that the film in question means as much to the boom operator as it does to you - it's constantly amazes me how many 'filmakers' there are now since the so called DV revolution - where were they all when people really had to make an effort with film and steenbecks etc - that was true passion! Just about anyone can make a DV film these days BUT that does not mean there are many more talented people about, just that the technology is wonderful!

I passionately believe in paying people to work and no matter what I do in video and film I make sure they are both paid promtly and fairly!

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Old February 1st, 2003, 08:32 AM   #6
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That's true...Robert Rodriguez is now paying people. "Now" is the keyword here. He'd never have been in the position to pay people if he hadn't made a cooperative effort film in the beginning. That's what I'm talking about...not what happens after you've "made it"...but the process of getting there.

Having been in upper management for almost a decade, I can assure you that "time card types" rarely ever advance as far or as quickly as those who are willing to go the extra mile. I've seen it happen again and again. And I personally can vouch for having slid my way in ahead of the crowd initially, more than once, through volunteer efforts.

<<What a load of baloney - do you think professional filmakers are 'time-card' types?>>

Of course not. They've "arrived"...having proven their value already...thus landing them in their paying jobs. Working gratis is simply a means to get in a position to start making money doing what you love.

Look at it another have a group of creative people who aren't working steadily at their craft and who are all hoping to get to a point where they are working steadily enough so they can quit their "day jobs." What have they got to lose in working together to create something? Even if the end result sucks...they're still gaining experience, making contacts, learning positives and negatives of this type of arrangement, and doing something besides watching TV.

Anyway...we obviously disagree on this and that's fine. I firmly respect your right to your opinion.

Derrick, enthusiasm and optimism are powerful things. Good luck!
John Locke
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Old February 1st, 2003, 09:03 AM   #7
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I've been in film and television professionally for many years and I can tell you that dreamers who think they are going to be the next best thing in Hollywood do noticably worse than realistic people who start at the bottom and work their way up the hard way - there is real sacrifice and passion in the latters case and a much more realistic way of earning money doing what you love. Forget your experience in other fields the film and TV industry is another country! - There is no promotion or brownie points for those who stay behind after work.

Yes it is legitimate to try and make a first film for free and many people do that and long may they do so - but it is not a way to go on forever and Derrick seemed to suggest some kind of long term informal arrangement of this kind - I warn you it is NOT a workable proposition!

Let me tell you what normally happens in the volunteer scenario: A wants to make a film; he gets B to edit it and C to shoot it with the promise of big things to come. Somehow A gets work and money off the back of his film. He gets offered a deal to make another film; unfortunately he gets nervous and his backers suggest that he really ought to us 'professionals' this time. Adios B and C. I have seen this happen 'again and again' - happened to me!

My advice to Derrick would be to form some kind of formal partnership or cooperative with a permanent base, where all can truly share in the projects creatively and any success that might accrue from that - in this way people will be able to pool resources more effectively and really feel part of any film made - THIS I have seen work many times!

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Old February 1st, 2003, 10:58 AM   #8
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Thanks for your comments and appraisal of the type of work situation I am proposing. I take the advice from all sides.

Now, FYI.

This is about a plan, which I hope to find one to three individuals. If it works excellent, if it causes problems, that knowledge is to be gained to. Life. The relationships are the most important and professionalism. Of course, people will have this and that life things that throw up obstacles in their or the teams path.

This approach is much more active than sitting around collecting dust and passively waiting for someone to MAKE me a job with my limited experience.

My first work is being done completely legit (SAG Experimental Short).

1. Registered SAG Signatory Producer/Director.
2. I insured the production.
3. Contracts were signed by all personel
4. Paid stipends for meals.

I firmly believe in paying people too. I intend to. Paying people also helps the industry.

I invite people to scrutinize and be skeptical about such a situation/ proposal. Its only temporary.

Challenge me. I invite you to our ship, you have your skills, its up to you if you want climb onboard.
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Old February 1st, 2003, 11:32 AM   #9
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My comments were in no way intended to dampen your 'enthusiasm and optimism' and it seems like you are certainly thinking upon more formal lines.

My advice however would still be to form some sort of production company - that way the onus will not be entirely upon yourself, and others will feel more involved. That is not to suggest everyone directs collectively say, but given that film and tv is collaborative it means you can all pool creative resources in pre and post production, whilst taking it in turns to crew up. It means in essence you can all make your individual films whilst sharing any success in a fuller sense - it will keep resentment at bay!

It offers certain logistical advantages too: if you incorporate as an entity or company then you will receive certain tax benefits and you will have a legal framework within which to proceed - it does not matter that you all may have 'day' jobs at the moment, but it will allow you to proceed more practically when and if you do start earning revenue. You also will have a combined organisation through which to distribute and you may be able to afford better facilities that you can hire out and subsidise your work.

Please remember - and I am not trying to be condescending or know-it-all; I do have some experience of this - that if your avowed aim is to make 'real' commercial programmes, then any potential backers or studios will be much more impressed by both ideas and the way you went about production than what DV camera you have, or if you have achieved the 'film-look' successfully - they simply don't care about these things. Working in as professional manner as possible, both technique and organisational, will bode extremely well for the future.

Regards and best of luck.
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Old February 1st, 2003, 04:06 PM   #10
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Thank you for the feedback. I took no-offense to your knowledge. I respect your opinion and appreciate it, as for my enthusiasm, its intact and ready to rock and roll.

I have a long term plan which involves incorporating a LLC. Currently, I am a sole-proprietorship doing business as ODO Productions. As I produced with my business partner and acted in a few off-Broadway productions. As soon as scale of project merits the financial up front costs of forming an LLC, then it will be done.

Please add me to your email list(s) and keep me informed of your endeavors.

Now, there is work to be done.

Cheers! And good fortune to you.

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Old February 1st, 2003, 08:17 PM   #11
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I have two rules concerning volunteering my time to other's projects, which most indie producer/directors out there should abide by:

Professionalism: Just because you don't have a budget, is no excuse not to be professional. No being late EVER, minimal goofing off, have a script, shot list, etc... I don't expect gas money, but food in nice. If you can't afford take-out lunch for the crew, get sandwiches. If you can't afford sandwiches, get donuts.

My time IS money. Treat my time like you are actually paying me $150/hr. Don't waste my time. This means I will not come help you if you need someone to lug equiptment around, get coffee, or other crap jobs. This is what you have family for.

On a final note, if there's anyone in the Vancouver area (or within an afternoon's drive) that wants some volunteer help on their project, give me a shout. I just like making movies.
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Old February 1st, 2003, 09:19 PM   #12
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My own personal experience:

I assisted someone doing a half-hour documentary, spent 12 hours in my edit bay, and got little accomplished. She came totally unprepared and learned that even "volunteered time" isn't cheap. She got her act together, learned how to work efficiently. She got the job done on her own having found out how hard the editing process can be.

I also work with another producer for very low rates mostly because it's a startup and we both believe in the product. It's still going, we're both making next to nothing, but learning a lot along the way. It's also starting to attract a few sponsors which means we'll continue to get paid.

Then there's this current project. We're all working for free, hoping to get the show picked up once the pilot is seen by local TV stations. Got professionals handling different aspects of the production -- definitely not an amateur effort.

This will work with some crews and not with others. Depends on the personalities involved and their sense of obligation to a cause (or sense of personal honor).

There's nothing like doing a task simply because it's worth doing. While it's important to make a living, sometimes just accomplishing something is a reward in itself. If that weren't true no one would run marathons or climb mountains.

Dean Sensui
Base Two Productions
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Old February 1st, 2003, 10:19 PM   #13
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Its a very fine line... HEART Projects and FINANCIAL "EATS" Projects,...

Let me stir the kettle up a bit and re-define what I am looking for...

Geographical Locations: Are you in New York or the greater New York area? If so, then buzz me up and let me know what you are doing and if you need a hand. I will do my best to accomodate.

Dylan - - > I agree with you completely. As far as the family thang is concerned, well, I have no such luck. They are geographically too far away. I wish..

Steve - - > My girlfriend is from Boulder Colorado and we have some video people out that way in Denver. Also a good friend of ours is from your town a wee bit east of Coors.

Dean - - > The mountain must be climbed. Hell, when you reach the top there is always another taller mountain to set you sights on. At least for me, satisfaction is like inspiration... You can only make it happen by doing it again and again... Anyways. The mead floweth freely this evening...

John - - > Keep up the work you are doing. Sounds your Rock'N. I look forward to seeing more. Cheers.

I am done with this thread...

If you are interested, contact me via my email address: DPB@DPBEGIN.COM or phone me at (212) 591-1150

See you on the boards.

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Old February 22nd, 2005, 10:12 PM   #14
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If I was in NY or you were in LA, we definitely need to get together. I tried to form a group in Milwaukee...didn't happen. I am trying to form one in LA, it's almost, but not as much as it should be.

It's what I call my 4 MAN CREW. Not necessarily men, i am not sexist. Four guys get together and work on each other films. So ONE guy doesn't purchase camera, light, tripod, audio, editing. But each of them collaborate and each one buys a part of the gear.

Look me up when you get to LA. I think I got my 2.5 MAN CREW Now.

I just got a lowell 4DP light kit. Very exciting.
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Old February 23rd, 2005, 04:33 AM   #15
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Jun: this thread is over two years old, don't expect Derrick to see
your message. Perhaps it's better to contact him through e-mail?

Rob Lohman,
DV Info Wrangler & RED Code Chef

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