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June 20, 2013

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I don't know if there are a lot of actors and directors in Hollywood who'd like to do small but good movies ...

As you go on to note, plenty of them....willing producers, not so much it would seem.

I think it is even easier to get good actors and directors than to get good scripts. And, as you note, getting good scripts is critical. I even think you can find producers willing to finance these kinds of films.

Where you run into problems with Indie films, in my experience, is marketing. Most indie films will not have a producer with Whedon's name recognition to drive theaters to book the film. And among all of those producers, directors and actors who are willing to work on something good, understanding and skill at marketing is the quality in far the shortest supply.

If someone out there is looking for a great business opportunity, offering marketing services for indie films might be a real good one. You'd have to have some expertise in what makes a saleable indie film, of course. But if you have that, and can get the word out about your business, you could do real well, I suspect. Certainly there are likely to be a lot of theaters which would be delighted to have inexpensive material to fill up their calendars between blockbuster offerings.

I am always amazed at the performances Whedon coaxes from his people. They are all talented, but Joss really is key to the mix.

I follow Bordwell on the business end of this, distribution and production

Links to a couple pages

http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/category/independent-american-film/

First article is global, TIFF

"The soundness of investing in Western films seems borne out by local box-office figures. Seventy percent of China’s market receipts come from English-language imports; the several hundred domestic films produced earn only twenty percent. And theatrical receipts provide, according to Peter Shiao, ninety percent of a film’s earnings. Windows in the Western sense don’t exist, and there’s no legitimate home video market."

We aren't talking MAAN there

And this is a link to his book on digital film, and I checked at Wiki, the Whedon was digital. Download for $3.99, or read parts of it on the blog.

http://www.davidbordwell.net/books/pandora.php

I have little to say about content, what filmmakers should make. I just want more people to have the opportunity.

Certainly there are likely to be a lot of theaters which would be delighted to have inexpensive material to fill up their calendars between blockbuster offerings.

Blockbusters come with a three week minimum. The smaller or local theaters really can't afford to do both. The bigger theaters don't care.

I noticed that Whedon filmed this in his wife's house. Nathan Fillion can obviously afford to take a month at low pay. So the professional and experienced actors aren't what you lose with lower budgets, it is the costumers, lighting, set design and construction, the people who don't make Fillion's day job money.

David Bordwell, who is great on indie film and int'l distribution, and has a new book on digital:

"The soundness of investing in Western films seems borne out by local box-office figures. Seventy percent of China’s market receipts come from English-language imports; the several hundred domestic films produced earn only twenty percent. And theatrical receipts provide, according to Peter Shiao, ninety percent of a film’s earnings. Windows in the Western sense don’t exist, and there’s no legitimate home video market. Gradually local filmmakers are experimenting with Western ancillary tactics; Painted Skin: The Resurrection recently tried out apps and games."

When I said above "bigger theaters" I do believe that 60% of American screens are owned by three companies. Overseas markets are similar or worse. Production or distribution companies typically make demands on exhibitors:Marvel doesn't want competition.

Much Ado is on five screens in the USA. Used to be the marketing for a small film wasn't the problem so much as the cost of making film copies, at $50k a pop. Marketing and advertising was also prohibitive. But I really don't know about the cost to exhibitors of digital copies. The projection equipment is expensive.

Bob, thanks so much for the links. (I am so far from the field that I didn't even know they existed.)

This is a site I came across last night, help for indie filmmakers. The site is full of good posts. Apparently I was mostly wrong on some numbers. $150 for a digital film copy, if you can find a theater.

Domestic Distribution Pt 2

The money is out there, and always has been. You too, can find a million dollars to make a movie. Rich people think it is fun to finance!

The talent is out there. Today's twenty-somethings did not get dumb, in fact, as we get the lead out, they are probably a little smarter. Sturgeon's Law remains true, but that still means there is terrific stuff being made. A lot, globally.

The problem, and it is the same long-tail problem for the great music you make in your basement, is getting people to find your stuff. The capitalist pigs want it all.

(This story is also partly gendered in several ways. Production and distribution gendered male, theater audience somewhat gendered female. Overseas they make more women-oriented films, because Japanese men just won't go. In the US, the woman can talk him into it, if it's Iron Man 17

I exaggerate, and hope I don't offend. But if you want better films, just stay home and Netflix one. The studios will learn)

Just saw the movie, and agree it was brilliant . . . IF you were already familiar with the play. I'd be curious about anyone watching it who had never seen (or read) Much Ado before; my guess is that things develop so fast (and so many of the lines are "thrown away") that much of it would be hard to follow, and that much of the humor would simply be lost.

FWIW, "throwing away" is not exactly the right phrase for the rapid, naturalistic speech that is used (as noted in the OP), but many of the most important words are neither beautifully articulated, as in classic British drama, or heavily "punched," as in some amateur(ish) production. Which means if you're not already listening for them - as I was - you'll probably miss them, and thus the gist of the jest, as 'twere.

But if you know the play: Lord, this was brilliant! Fillion, yes, of course, but who knew Amy Acker had so much nuance in her?! And most of the cast was solid or better, and the sight gags were actually funny WITHOUT disrupting the rhythms of the drama, and Josh Whedon, along with everything else he knows, knows that Shakespeare is a really, really good writer, so you should trust his words as much as you can, even if you decide to cast Conrad (?) as a woman.

The back story on how this got made, and the analysis on how indie films are made and distributed and why not more of them are -- these things are of interest, too, but they are (IMHO) as nothing compared with a real work of art. Which this is.

dr ngo: I saw it Friday night with my 15 year old daughter, and she followed it just fine, and, in her blase-about-everything way, liked it. The only Shakespeare she has read is Romeo and Juliet; we took her to see A Midsummer Night's Dream on stage a couple of years ago.

I liked this, I think, even better than the Branagh. I particularly liked the way Amy Acker and Alexis Denisoff played the scene that starts "My Lady Beatrice, have you wept all this while?" The way he stops and thinks before he says "I am engaged," which really brings home what a serious undertaking it is, I thought was especially good.

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