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Old November 14th, 2004, 08:11 PM   #1
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award winning film that cost $217

Hello!

I went to see the film Tarnation http://www.i-saw-tarnation.com
last night at the Film Forum in NY

The film was put together from scraps of old video and super -8 clips of the film maker's family life, an autobiography. It won several awards and is now in theatres. Apparently. Steve Caouette, brilliantly edited his movie on Imovie. He was able to get it into Sundance. Although he didn't have the money to make a film print Sundance has theatres that have digital projectors. After much aclaim he was then invited to Cannes. He did not have the money to go and print it to film. On the last day of SUndance he got a deal from Wellspring Media for distribution. (Wellspring paid for the expenses at that point. It cost about $500,000 to cover the prints and get the music licenses. ) The film then went to Cannes and won an Official selection award.

Anyway, it was inspirational to see a small film maker do well. And it gave me hope for the small independant, like myself.

I would encourage anyone that cares to see what a $217 film looks like to go and see it.

Thanks,
Garius Hill
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Old November 14th, 2004, 11:03 PM   #2
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Yeah. I raved about this movie in this thread (although not everyone agrees), and Roger Moore first mentioned it here . But I didn't know that Caouette took it to Sundance in a digital format. Interesting.

Michael
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Old November 15th, 2004, 06:57 AM   #3
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Tarnation

Hi Michael,

You and I sort of felt the same way. I can see why some people would hate it. Because it was shot on consumer grade equipment and not camera people at that, those that judge a piece solely on technical guidelines are likely to be disapointed. But, I feel the modern computer and NLE software has led to a democratiztion of audio and video production, heretofore only for the BIG money production people. (One of the reasons I am excited about the new Sony HD cameras.)

BTW, is there a group that meets, composed of people similar to this forum in Manhattan? If not, we should start one.

Thanks,
Garius Hill
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Old November 15th, 2004, 08:52 AM   #4
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Re: Tarnation

<<<-- Originally posted by Garius Hill : Hi Michael,

You and I sort of felt the same way. I can see why some people would hate it. Because it was shot on consumer grade equipment and not camera people at that, those that judge a piece solely on technical guidelines are likely to be disapointed. But, I feel the modern computer and NLE software has led to a democratiztion of audio and video production, heretofore only for the BIG money production people. (One of the reasons I am excited about the new Sony HD cameras.)

BTW, is there a group that meets, composed of people similar to this forum in Manhattan? If not, we should start one.

Thanks,
Garius Hill
priducer -->>>


My sentiments exactly!

And with more and more theaters eventually turning to digital projection--one won't even need a film print.

I can imagine micro-cinemas across the country showing a variety of films of different subjects etc...

The greatest thing about all this technology is that it finally makes these tools available to almost anyone to do great things. [And not just select films and projects that are bankrolled by the rich and powerful.]

As for a local user group--maybe a place where when can do open mic night or something like that....people bring in something to show.

When I was in Seattle, there was a great place called 911(nine eleven and nothing to do with 9/11) that rented cameras to people, offered editing filmmaking classes and had open mic nights. It was a lot of fun.
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Old November 15th, 2004, 09:14 AM   #5
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The things that most excited me about Tarnation were that Caouette was able to tell a story with cheap tools, and that major money came along to pay for the expensive bits--the transfer to HD/film, and the impressively expensive music clearance (I hadn't heard of, or didn't immediately recognize, a lot of the artists he used)--so that this amateurish but touching first effort could go into theatrical release.

In the thread I cite above, Matthew Groff complained that you could see Caouette using every cheap cliché in the iMovie arsenal. While you could spend hours parsing cheap clichés--underfed film geeks have their own hoary collection--what really matters is that the film touched me. And that I enjoyed it. Even with (perhaps because of) that home-movie look.

So thank you, Gus Van Sant, and thank you, John Cameron Mitchell, for picking up this scrawny little film and setting it out to play with the "big boys" of indie film.

Michael
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Old November 18th, 2004, 08:09 PM   #6
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In point of fact, of course, the movie didn't really just cost $217. Perhaps the the expense did not come out of the film maker's pocket directly, but someone had to pay for this stuff:

Filming in Super 8 means you had to buy the camera and the film. Film on even a single reel for two or three minutes will run you $25 or so for the film and processing. Then there's the camera, which in 1970 or 1980s dollars could have been upwards of $300 or $400. Then there's the video equipment, which back in the 80s and 90s was not cheap. You could have easily blown a few thousand dollars on video equipment back then. Then there's the video tape, which compared to film was not that exensive but back then couls have easly run you $7 to $12 a tape. But you're still not done because you have to adjust these totals for inflation, which means in 2004 real dollars the cost of the production, was, conservitively, $2,000 to $4000.

And then there's post production. The movie was edited on iMovie, which is free, if you buy OS X. But you can't run OS X or iMovie without a Macintosh. And the cost of a complete Mac with monitor has consistently run at some $3,000 to $5000 for years now. So post production costs were really closer on the order of, say, $4000 or so.

Add production costs in real 2004 dollars, to actual post production costs and you're looking at a film that cost, around $6000 to $8000. Of course, that's still absurdly inexpensive for a feature lenght documentary, but a far cry from the $217 figure so often claimed. I suppose the $8000 documentary doesn't have the same ring of authenticity as the $217 documentary. Just goes to show, marketing, while not everything, is quite a bit.

Douglas
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Old November 18th, 2004, 10:08 PM   #7
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thanks Garius

Just checked the tarnation website...sounds like a fascinating film and an inspirational story, thanks for the link gariua....

who gives a damn what it was shot with...it sounds lke the story has heart and soul..... I hope it makes it to Australia
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Old November 18th, 2004, 10:26 PM   #8
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hello to our down under friends

Hi Mark,


Thanks for your reply. My sentiments exactly. Whatever the real cost. Bravo to any small independant for finishing something that can touch people.

BTW, I checked out your web-site. It looks like a lot of fun there in Australia. I hope I get to see that great land someday.

Regards,
Garius
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Old November 19th, 2004, 09:22 AM   #9
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The $218 figure is obviously just a clever bit of marketing.

While Caouette may have had the footage just lying around, someone had to spend the money at some time. What is true, however, is that he arrived at a watchable project (the DV format cut that he showed at festivals early on) for practically no additional money; this was a personal project that he had been playing with until he worked up the courage to show it to a friend who said, "You know, there's a festival coming up..."

And we mustn't forget the transfer to HD and then to film, and also the hundreds of thousands of dollars in music clearances required to show the film legally outside Caoutte's circle of friends. Almost any film or video project will have music, and that music has to be cleared for exhibition (including, I believe, on the web).

Caouette insisted on keeping most, if not all, of his original music choices, which included Nick Drake and Glen Campbell, thus raising the price of the movie well beyond the "material" costs.

Michael
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Old November 20th, 2004, 06:10 AM   #10
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Wow, I hate to have to wait for the DVD to reach Spain. This will never make it to a theatre here. We only get Rambo and Tom Cruise (at best).
What is the guitar and piano tune? I tried the songs on the songlist in iTunes but except for the famous ones, nothing showed up.
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