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Popular Articles

1. Five Phases of Filmmaking
A road map to the entire movie making process.


2. Deal Memos
The all important deal memo and how it relates to working on a non-union film shoot. Employment contracts, enforcement and possible traps to avoid.


3. Role of the Producer
The oft-misunderstood role of the Producer as the project architect. Also, the importance of the script, bringing attachments and the producer's strategic vision.


4. Finding a Producer
Obviously, a beginning writer/director is in need of a producer to help find financing, either through independent investors or smaller production companies. But where do you find such a person, and then convince them to help?


5. Find the Bottom Line
Create the framework around which your project will be build based on the bottom line number for your budget. Market research and current market conditions will determine what you can and cannot do.


6. Premise and Treatment
Creating the premise/logline and treatment is an important step to building a business plan. Potential partners will want to get the idea of your story without reading an entire script.


7. Budget and Scheduling
The basic steps in pre-production are outlined, including hiring a unit publicist, drafting the budget and bringing associate producers onboard.


8. The Cost of Production Value
Examples of actual costs of bringing production value to a shoot and an examination of the mindset of the producer in regard to ambition and motivation.


9. Finding an Investor
A detailed discussion of who will participate in your film and how to find them.


10. Produce Your Own Film
Another enterprising way to break into the film industry is to produce your own film. It is not a simple task like getting a job as a PA and working your way up. It is quite a burden to take on such a project. The blessing is that once your film is done,


11. Locations
this outline deals with production insurance, hiring the production designer, scouting locations, hiring the production coordinator and permitting.


12. Concept Development
A series of evaluations by the Producer to determine if the script is ready to move into the Production stage of development.


13. Filmmaking and the Internet
Technology is opening up new tools and markets, with the rewards of the new economy being heaped upon the most daring innovators.


14. Viability Testing
Evaluating a project to determine the producing challenges before going to production.


15. Production Procedure
An introduction to production and a description of a basic shooting procedure.


16. Finding the Right Producer
Once you've written your query letter (see previous column), where do you send it? There are two ways to approach an answer to this question, and I recommend both. First, do some research to find producers who have shown an interest in material similar t


17. Independent Film Media Kit
The contents of the media kit for your independent film and guidelines for how to create them.


18. LLC and Operating Agreement
How to create a structure to share ownership of the project with investors, establish voting rights and the authority of the producer and protect the investors from personal liability.


19. Production Management
Setting your shoot date sets the machine in motion that leads to production. This article covers the start of this process and the workflow of pre-production.


20. Script Breakdown
Breaking out the script for logistical planning into department focused reports; Cast Report, Locations Report, Production Design Report and Scene Report.


21. Production Blueprint
Obtaining rights to the script, attaching "stars", letters of intent, hiring the UPM and 1st AD, script breakdown, production board and shooting schedule.


22. Qualities of the Producer
A detailed description of the five requisite qualities of the producer: Strategic Vision, Creative Balance, Ability to deliver attachments, Track Record and Existing Relationships.


23. Scheduling
The push-pull process of creating a schedule for your production and the importance of smart scheduling.


24. Media Kits and Marketing Materials
Why the moviemaker should care about marketing, the presentation of the movie to the world as an extension of the creative process as well as the contents of the media kit.


25. Internet Marketing and Social Networking
How the moviemaker can utilize the internet to get their movie out there and create a fan base for their work.


26. Location Guidelines
Legal and contractual considerations between property owner and film maker when arranging the use of private property.


27. Intellectual Property Basics
The spectre hanging over every independent producer's head is the threat of legal liability. Unfortunately, the first time that this spectre materializes, few are prepared and the legal sting can be lethal.


28. Viability Testing
A series of questions that a producer must ask themselves before embarking on the long and arduous journey of a film production.


29. The Business Plan
Building your strategic plan into a form that makes sense to you and will guide you through the production. Taking the plan for your movie and putting it into concrete form.


30. Introduction to Distribution
The importance of distribution, the cyclical nature of development and distribution and why the producer should develop a strategic plan and be ready to pitch the next project.


31. Total Shooting Days
Making a determination about how many days you will need to shoot your feature.


32. Motives of Film Investors
The psychology of the independent film investor and examples of individual motivations.


33. Crew Expectations
what an experienced film crew expects of a new director; includes shot instructions, rehearsals, blocking, calling action, lunch breaks, etc.


34. Production Marketing
An introduction to marketing the independent film: overall strategy, budgeting, objectives and goals.


35. Production Value Defined
A detailed definition of the term, Production Value, with examples and a clip.


36. The Two Types of Film Investors
A discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of the sophisticated and unsophisticated film investor.


37. Production Budget with Cashflow
A look at an interactive top sheet budget and a discussion of how different elements impact each other and the production as a whole.


38. Production Value Defined
A detailed definition of the term "production value".


39. Business Plan Examples
A critical review of three actual business plans.


40. Put Money on the Screen
A discussion of common pitfalls for producers when making decisions about where to allocate funding, as well as where that money should be spent instead.


41. The Pitching Process
The process of pitching and how that leads to closing the deal.


42. Myths of Film Investing
Four commonly held myths about film investing, dispelled.


43. Development Scenarios
A description of the various scenarios where an idea is developed into a script, and how that script comes into the hands of the producer.


44. Why Production Value Matters
A description of the importance of production value and why it matters to the independent producer.


45. The Pitch Sheet
The one page pitch sheet that you will send to interested parties.


46. Getting Star Power
How to find and work with name talent.


47. The Producer and the Law
An introduction to a producer's understanding of the legal aspects of their job and the importance of observing a few guidelines.


48. Financial Architecture
The producer as financial architect, drawing parameters and a framework around the entire production.


49. The Elevator Pitch
How to get your verbal pitched honed to perfection and succinct enough to get your foot in the door.


50. Production Contracts
The essential documents that form the bulk of your paper armor against a lawsuit. Deal memos, Work-for-hire agreements, Location Releases and Music Rights.


Recent Articles

1. Key Art as the Face of Your Film
The key art is the most important part of your independent film's marketing campaign. It is absolutely critical that you this right or your project is going nowhere.


2. The Producer and the Law
An introduction to a producer's understanding of the legal aspects of their job and the importance of observing a few guidelines.


3. Production Value Defined
A detailed definition of the term "production value".


4. Put Money on the Screen
A discussion of common pitfalls for producers when making decisions about where to allocate funding, as well as where that money should be spent instead.


5. Why Production Value Matters
A description of the importance of production value and why it matters to the independent producer.


6. The Two Types of Film Investors
A discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of the sophisticated and unsophisticated film investor.


7. Myths of Film Investing
Four commonly held myths about film investing, dispelled.


8. Motives of Film Investors
The psychology of the independent film investor and examples of individual motivations.


9. Total Shooting Days
Making a determination about how many days you will need to shoot your feature.


10. Negotiating with Above-the-Line
How to negotiate with director, screenwriter and actors from the perspective of the producer.


11. Independent Film Media Kit
The contents of the media kit for your independent film and guidelines for how to create them.


12. Social Networking the Indie Film
How to use social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter to build an audience for your independent film.


13. Production Website
A guide to building a website to promote your independent film.


14. Production Marketing
An introduction to marketing the independent film: overall strategy, budgeting, objectives and goals.


15. Production Contracts
The essential documents that form the bulk of your paper armor against a lawsuit. Deal memos, Work-for-hire agreements, Location Releases and Music Rights.


16. Reducing your Attack Surface
How to protect yourself against legal liability and ensure that your film is insurable for E&O.


17. The Cost of Production Value
Examples of actual costs of bringing production value to a shoot and an examination of the mindset of the producer in regard to ambition and motivation.


18. Production Value Defined
A detailed definition of the term, Production Value, with examples and a clip.


19. Finding an Investor
A detailed discussion of who will participate in your film and how to find them.


20. The Elevator Pitch
How to get your verbal pitched honed to perfection and succinct enough to get your foot in the door.


21. The Pitch Sheet
The one page pitch sheet that you will send to interested parties.


22. The Pitching Process
The process of pitching and how that leads to closing the deal.


23. Negotiating with Crew and Vendors
The mentality of crew and vendors and how to negotiate with each.


24. Production Budget with Cashflow
A look at an interactive top sheet budget and a discussion of how different elements impact each other and the production as a whole.


25. Financial Architecture
The producer as financial architect, drawing parameters and a framework around the entire production.


26. Business Plan Examples
A critical review of three actual business plans.


27. LLC and Operating Agreement
How to create a structure to share ownership of the project with investors, establish voting rights and the authority of the producer and protect the investors from personal liability.


28. The Business Plan
Building your strategic plan into a form that makes sense to you and will guide you through the production. Taking the plan for your movie and putting it into concrete form.


29. The Producer's Unit
A definition of roles in the Producer's Unit, as well as a description of duties.


30. The Option Agreement
Registration and copyright, the option agreement and control of the intellectual property.


31. Viability Testing
A series of questions that a producer must ask themselves before embarking on the long and arduous journey of a film production.


32. Development Scenarios
A description of the various scenarios where an idea is developed into a script, and how that script comes into the hands of the producer.


33. Qualities of the Producer
A detailed description of the five requisite qualities of the producer: Strategic Vision, Creative Balance, Ability to deliver attachments, Track Record and Existing Relationships.


34. Role of the Producer
What is the role of the producer and how do they contribute to the creative aspects of the production?


35. Getting Star Power
How to find and work with name talent.


36. Internet Marketing and Social Networking
How the moviemaker can utilize the internet to get their movie out there and create a fan base for their work.


37. Media Kits and Marketing Materials
Why the moviemaker should care about marketing, the presentation of the movie to the world as an extension of the creative process as well as the contents of the media kit.


38. Production Procedure
An introduction to production and a description of a basic shooting procedure.


39. Scheduling
The push-pull process of creating a schedule for your production and the importance of smart scheduling.


40. Role of the Producer
The oft-misunderstood role of the Producer as the project architect. Also, the importance of the script, bringing attachments and the producer's strategic vision.


41. Viability Testing
Evaluating a project to determine the producing challenges before going to production.


42. Find the Bottom Line
Create the framework around which your project will be build based on the bottom line number for your budget. Market research and current market conditions will determine what you can and cannot do.


43. Introduction to Distribution
The importance of distribution, the cyclical nature of development and distribution and why the producer should develop a strategic plan and be ready to pitch the next project.


44. Script Breakdown
Breaking out the script for logistical planning into department focused reports; Cast Report, Locations Report, Production Design Report and Scene Report.


45. Production Management
Setting your shoot date sets the machine in motion that leads to production. This article covers the start of this process and the workflow of pre-production.


46. Concept Development
A series of evaluations by the Producer to determine if the script is ready to move into the Production stage of development.


47. Five Phases of Filmmaking
A road map to the entire movie making process.


48. Produce Your Own Film
Another enterprising way to break into the film industry is to produce your own film. It is not a simple task like getting a job as a PA and working your way up. It is quite a burden to take on such a project. The blessing is that once your film is done,


49. Finding the Right Producer
Once you've written your query letter (see previous column), where do you send it? There are two ways to approach an answer to this question, and I recommend both. First, do some research to find producers who have shown an interest in material similar t


50. Premise and Treatment
Creating the premise/logline and treatment is an important step to building a business plan. Potential partners will want to get the idea of your story without reading an entire script.


51. Intellectual Property Basics
The spectre hanging over every independent producer's head is the threat of legal liability. Unfortunately, the first time that this spectre materializes, few are prepared and the legal sting can be lethal.


52. Filmmaking and the Internet
Technology is opening up new tools and markets, with the rewards of the new economy being heaped upon the most daring innovators.


53. Finding a Producer
Obviously, a beginning writer/director is in need of a producer to help find financing, either through independent investors or smaller production companies. But where do you find such a person, and then convince them to help?


54. Deal Memos
The all important deal memo and how it relates to working on a non-union film shoot. Employment contracts, enforcement and possible traps to avoid.


55. Location Guidelines
Legal and contractual considerations between property owner and film maker when arranging the use of private property.


56. Crew Expectations
what an experienced film crew expects of a new director; includes shot instructions, rehearsals, blocking, calling action, lunch breaks, etc.


57. Working with Cast and Crew
hiring department heads, firming up the budget, casting talent, contracts, hiring of production employees and rehearsals.


58. Locations
this outline deals with production insurance, hiring the production designer, scouting locations, hiring the production coordinator and permitting.


59. Budget and Scheduling
The basic steps in pre-production are outlined, including hiring a unit publicist, drafting the budget and bringing associate producers onboard.


60. Production Blueprint
Obtaining rights to the script, attaching "stars", letters of intent, hiring the UPM and 1st AD, script breakdown, production board and shooting schedule.


Knowledge Base

1. Shooting a Highway Sign
I want to film a highway sign that says "You are now entering Bellingham" or one that tells how many miles more until reaching upcoming cities. Do I need to get a release form signed and who do I get it from?


2. Working with the Casting Director
If I need name talent to secure funding and I need funding to secure name talent, is the Casting Director the person that breaks this deadlock?


3. Defining the Deal Memo
What is a Deal Memo and why do I need cast and crew to sign it?


4. What to Pay for Short Story Rights
I'm interested in getting rights to make a short film based on a short story. I have no distribution in mind, only that it would make a good short drama. The author is deceased and the story is published in several anthologies.

I'm interested in an approach that will cost the least, but I have no idea what the norm is for this kind of thing.

I once approached a publisher about another story. They would not set an amount and I didn't know what was the norm or the best way to structure the deal and I dropped it. This time I want it.


5. Product Fee
Could you give me an idea of what to charge sponsors for product placement? How is the cost determined? Should filmmakers guage it by how many seconds the product is in view; how close the shot is; whether the lead character uses the product throughout the film, ie. brand-name clothing, and cheaper rates for minor characters being connected to product?

Is there some sort of advertising industry standard or guideline for product placement in films, or is it all negotiated between the producer and each individual sponsor? Thank you.


6. Top Sheet Budget
Do you know the difference between a top sheet budget and a full budget?


7. Handshake Legally Binding
I'm getting ready to edit an independent feature and I have just found an editor that is willing to do the work for next to nothing. The problem is that I'm getting some interest from some independent distributors and I'm not so sure I want to go with this editor anymore. If I shook hands on the deal am I obligated to honor it?


8. Preselling Distribution
I was thinking of including it [Australian Distribution rights] as part of the compensation package to a potential DP, who is too expensive for me to hire at full rate but (since he is Australian) he might see the Australian rights as something of real value. My concern is that I don't know how the foreign sales world works and, if I end up with a good but marginal product, will I have shot myself in the foot by having given away a valuable English-speaking market and make my film an unwanted commodity. (I realize that if I manage to produce Pulp Fiction it won't matter -- and if my movie is awful it won't matter -- but I'm betting on a more mixed outcome).


9. International Distribution
What is "international distribution with financials"? I'm unfamiliar with these terms and I'm try to do some research into distribution deals. I would appreciate an answer you can give me.