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


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Old April 9th, 2007, 03:36 PM   #1
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The Passion, The Pain, The Production Biz

I thought I would share my story of how I got into production, how much I've learned, how much I've been disappointed, and how I still manage to press on. If you are just starting out and have the production bug with dreams of being the next Peter Jackson etc., this is a good read. If you are a full time production person -you've probably already lived this one... If you've dumped countless dollars into a production "business" and are thinking of quitting -read first...
*************************************************************************************
I'll try to make this short, but that usually never happens ~ So, I'll go timeline first then give details in areas I think need them.
1984 Began skateboarding, didn’t stop for nearly 10 years.

1989 - My mother owns pawn shop, brings home VHS Camcorder

1990 - I actually get to use the camcorder; record and in-camera edit everything, including my High School Sophomore English final instead of an essay (I got an A+). I realized then I wanted to write and film. Went on to write and publish poetry and a short story.

1991 - 1993 - Camcorder broke, graduated high school, moved out of house, stopped skateboarding

1994 - 1997 – Started a telephone solicitation business, did well until laws changed. Got married, lost 4 years of my life, got divorced - (Rented camcorders off and on to play with). Went totally broke.

1997 – Met current wife. Some kids in the neighborhood saw my old skateboard –forced me back into skateboarding (they had a VHS-C camcorder). I then purchased my own 8mm Sharp camcorder.

1998 -2004 - Kept skating everyday, filming, learned how to use NLE (Premiere) –Started mobile computer repair business. Fronted for a rock band, did well for 3 years. Made several skate videos, montages, and skits. Purchased Canon XL1s!!! Several people started requesting videos made and/or edited for them. Closed mobile repair company (1999 -2004).

2005 – We, current wife and I, decide to go full blown production business, Time Lake Films. Created Redneck Planet shorts – got 34,000+ views currently. Our goal, to make money doing small budget productions, weddings, events, shows, etc.

2005 – 2006- Sold XL1s, bought VX2100 and Sony HVR A1U.

Late Sept. 2005 we got hired for the Speedy’s Folks III DVD show (Jamie Foxx’s best friend and partner). Then in 2006 we got hired to shoot for the PUSH Insider Magazine party. We start writing and pre-production on our first feature length movie, a horror. Things are looking good and the phone rings like crazy for project requests.

January 7th, 2006 – I badly herniate my disc practicing for a skateboarding contest. I’m out of commission for 14+ months… I continue to write, edit footage, and go through physical therapy. A “friend” of 20 years pushes me out of burgeoning business project involving well known contacts and real sums of money -all of which spawned from the two events we filmed. Well, at least he doesn’t have to work a 40hour week desk job anymore, pffft! Hope that yacht isn’t too lonely, argh! Phone is quiet.

2007, now the words of wisdom?
One thing I’ve learned after one failed business and one successful business past, business growth is NOT easy. People are not easy. Friends with ulterior motives are not easy. I have been “close” to being a self-made millionaire more times than I have pennies left from it all. The entertainment business on any level is probably the most cut-throat I’ve ever been involved with. Words of wisdom right off:

1. Get everything in writing, even on the smallest paid projects. Everything!
2. Get AT LEAST 60% of monies far in advance.
3. Don’t do business with good friends (unless you are prepared to accept the potential consequences).
4. Be mature enough to separate business from pleasure or friendships.
5. Don’t spend loads of your own money thinking you are about to get a huge return on a project. It’s better to play the wait and see rather than the MasterCard roulette.
6. Don’t get down on yourself and quit after a failure or two –this is NOT an easy business for anyone.
7. Remember why you started this – was it for the love and passion of production, or to be rich and famous?
8. Back to basics – If you feel you’ve lost your way somehow, go back to the basics, whatever this may be for you, going back to a point or routine in which you were happy and productive may help you discover something new. Watch some of the first stuff you produced that made you happy.
9. Try to NOT say bad things to others about the people (and friends) who screwed you over. You may end up working with or needing that person you hate later in time, trust me. If you never intend on working with that person again, have the professionalism to just keep your trap shut.
10. Don’t rush things, nothing shows its ugly head quicker than a rushed, ill-prepared project. Postpone, test, read, learn, test, and revise!

This world is getting smaller, technology better, and communication is cheaper and more available than ever. EVERYONE is out to be a home grown producer/writer/director these days. Your chances of being rich and famous are just not anywhere near what they were years ago. Stop telling yourself it’s going to happen, it won’t. You have to MAKE it happen. Don’t do it for the glory, do it for the passion and the love that got you started to begin with. If you never get more than a few people saying your projects are awesome, be happy with that. If you want to go to the top, start by educating yourself in business management, ethics, marketing, art, and last but NOT least production…

Now pain and the end of this chapter of my story – I didn’t come to this realization all at once, but I did want to put it together for those out there who are like me and expect perfection every single time (I’m getting over that quickly) and whom trust in others a little too much. If you are just starting, you’ve got a ways to go, but don’t give up from the pain.

I re-realized my love for production again this past weekend. I was shooting in the forest, random stuff. I was also gathering fire wood. I went to jump on a branch to make it smaller and by some freak accident put a drumstick sized branch about 2 inches into my calf (as well as scratching both legs badly). All I could think about as I pulled the large ugly stick from my bleeding calf muscle was “Dammit! This is going to seriously hinder my plan of getting some really good footage this weekend!” Now if that is not love, I don’t know what is.
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Old April 9th, 2007, 04:15 PM   #2
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Wise Words

MARCO /
TRULY WISE WORDS FROM A WISE MAN.

There is some youngster,s posting under the / SHOW YOUR WORK dept.
14 year old / Post current / Flight movie / I wish they could read this
post.


If I could live to shoot tomorrow's sunset , I'll be a happy man.


Thank you , Marco

Herman.
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Old April 9th, 2007, 04:43 PM   #3
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Feeling better

Thanks Herman,

I'm sitting at home today, too sore to go to work or walk very well. So I'm cleaning my cameras, reviewing footage, revising scripts, and enjoying new found ideas. I'm a star in my own head and if that's as far as it ever goes, oh well, I still have great footage of my life- tee hee!
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Old April 9th, 2007, 05:16 PM   #4
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Marco,

At least you can give an accurate account of happenings pin pointed to
certain years of your life / detail included.

I wiped some of my RAM / ( memory ) by using too much alchohol when i
was younger. My camera has replaced that missing segements of my life.

Herman.
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Old April 9th, 2007, 06:02 PM   #5
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Wow, I'm sorry to hear that. At the same time, probably doing the same thing to myself. If you haven't noticed my signature. I haven't seen my son in 9 years, my ex wife is playing the "you'll never find us" role. She stopped communicating with me about 4 or so years ago. She lives in a different state, one that is pretty private and not very helpful to fathers. I was ready to sell one of my cameras to put a down payment on a lawyer until a few kind hearted souls started helping me locate them. Hopefully this will be the year I get to see him.

Alcohol is a good thing in smaller quantities, when we start going through a load of it to deal with "issues" we get these lovely side effects. Like not remembering certain days or years for that matter. I'm sorry you've lost so much of those memories for whatever the reason. I try now to curtail my drinking, spine doctor's orders, but sometimes well, you know...
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Old April 9th, 2007, 07:22 PM   #6
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Marco,
Apart from your post's content, your signature sparked my reply.
I was caught up as a kid in exactly the same situation, When i turned
16 i went looking for him, and found him 8 months later.

So yeah, I think with boys it works different.. He WILL show up one of these
days.Mark my words.....


Don't forget to mail me when it happens.

Herman.
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Old April 9th, 2007, 07:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herman Van Deventer View Post

Don't forget to mail me when it happens.
I will. Thanks for the kind words.
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