25+ Things I Want To Know From New Filmmakers

When I moderate a panel, I get to ask some questions that aren't the kind I often get to ask in a regular meeting. The questions are as much, and maybe perhaps more so, for the audience. Still though, I am generally trying to get at something: the how and why of creativity at this time in the world.

I learned a lot from moderating the "New Faces Of Indie Film" panel at Lincoln Center on Saturday June 11, 2011. Yes, in the future when I am involved on a panel I will insist upon diversity, and yes, I will set a limit to the number of people on the panel. But I also learned from the answers folks gave. I didn't get to ask all of them, but had I, I had the list prepared. These are those questions.

Getting Started

Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking was not just a hobby, but that it would be your life and your living?

Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a life creating film?

What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?

You are a collaborator. How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?

You are here at the Universe’s Grand Temple Of Cinephilia. You are here because of your work and how you do it. What are personal attributes that make for a good filmmaker, and what do you do to foster them?

When I wanted to devote my life to making movies, my first decision was NY or LA. How does where you live influence how and what you make, and how do you think NY currently effects your work and process?

The Love Of Cinema

What makes a film great for you? Are there certain qualities that make a film better for you?

What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?

When you get angry at a movie, what sets you off? Are there common qualities in cinema today that you dislike? Is there something you try to subvert or avoid or rebel against in your work?

We are all here presumably partially because we LOVE cinema. How did your love for movies get sparked and what can we -- as a community -- do to help others discover a similar pleasure?

The Process Of Creating

Generally speaking, when we want to learn about a film, we talk to the director. But those that make films, know how much they are really collaborations. What makes a fruitful collaboration? What do you do to enhance the collaborative process?

It is said that there are only six stories. Maybe twelve. It’s all been done before. And we have seen it all. What do you do to keep it fresh? Is there anything that you can do to subvert the process to keep it original?

We get noticed because of our successes – but we create them on the back of our failures. We learn best from the experiences where it doesn’t work. And yet we still only discuss the success, not the failure. What failures (of your own) have you been able to learn from? How did they change you and your process?

I often say one of the best methods of producing is “engineering serendipity.” Have you encountered serendipity in your work and do you think there is anything that you can do to bring more of it into your creative process? Why or why not, and if so, what is it that you and your team can do?

Films evolve through the creative process – sometimes most dramatically in the editing process. It’s often really hard to reconcile the difference between what we desired and what we achieved. How have you encountered this and how do you move through it?

“It all starts with the script.” Maybe not, but when do you know a script is ready to shoot, and what is your process of getting it there?

Several directors have told me that most of directing is actually casting. Regardless of whether that is true, some actors have “it” and sometimes they need something to make “it” pop. You’ve spotted that “it” and captured “it”. What is “it” and how do you find “it”?

I often wonder why anyone would want to direct. Why would you want to always have 100 decisions in front of you and have over 100 people waiting on your answer?

Film, perhaps more so than any other popular art form, is the compromise between art and commerce. How has your art been shaped by both the money you have had or not had? Do you create with budget limitations in mind?

The Structure Of The Business

Is the film business fair? Why or why not? How do you make the apparatus work for you?

Is it the filmmaker’s responsibility to find and develop your audience? Why do you feel that way?How will you collaborate with your audience, and how won’t you?

What do audiences want? And is it the filmmaker’s role to worry about that?

Is it possible to sell out? What would that mean to you and would you like it to happen or not? What do you do to encourage the professional approach you want?

If I was asked what was the most important advice I could give a filmmaker starting out, it would be “Try to manage your life so that you will feel as good about the film industry in fifteen years as you do now.” In your experience, is that true, and what can filmmakers do to achieve that challenge?

What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?

The Changing Film World

When I got started, if your film got into Sundance, it meant people would see it in America, and maybe the world. I used to be confident that my partners and I could get two or more major distribution slots a year. Now that control and scarcity don’t define the Entertainment Economy, but superabundance & access do, how does that change things for creators? There are 45,000 films generated globally annually, and the largest consumption market in the world – the US – currently consumes only 1% of the output. Recognizing that, are you changing the way you work, changing what you create? How? Why? Or why not?

I am a big believer in the importance of social media in many aspects of the film process. Are you on social media and do you use it in your work? Why or why not?

When I got started there were two screens: the movie screen and the television screen. Now there are also computers, tablets, and phones. And screens are everywhere: the home, the bus stop, the elevator, the taxi cab. As a creator how does this effect the stories you tell and how you tell them?

If there is one or more thing you think would make the film industry better, what would it be?

Ethics of Creating

Do filmmakers have any responsibility to culture? Do you feel that being a creative person requires that you give back or tell a particular story or not do something else? Why or why not?

A Public Discussion On THE FUTURE OF FILM With You, Me (Ted Hope), & Brian Newman

Brian Newman and I are headed towards the Czech Republic this holiday weekend in order to have a very public discussion on The Future Of Film with the filmmakers and audiences at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. Yet, you too can join in even if you can't make your way to this wonderful festival. Neither Brian nor I are great fans of panel discussions these days; they fail to mine the great knowledge or passions of the community. So in contemplating how to get something done in the time we have allotted, Brian and I decided it would be good to get the conversation started a bit early. Below, Brian and I put together a focus on what we think are the key factors shaping the greatest and necessary change to the way films are made and consumed. What's your opinion?

The Future of Film - Joint Article by Brian Newman & Ted Hope
Prognostications about the future of film have been pretty easy to come by lately – it will be digital, it will be everywhere, it will be 3D, it will be expensive – but while everyone talks about the changes to come, very few people are actively addressing these changes head on. We believe “the future” is already upon us, and there are five key trends to address.

As we put our thoughts out there for you to consider, ask yourself: “are these the trends that will most effect content, production, and consumption?”. Did we leave something out? Is one not important? Is something else more important? Join the conversation and let us know below.

Similarly, these five suggestions may be the preeminent factors in shaping the next few years, but the real question is always “how?” As creators, facilitators, and consumers, what must we do to confront these issues? Are there models and best practices already emerging? Have there already been noble failures and/or arrogant efforts attempting to address these factors? What would a vision look like that might address these key elements? We all must share our thoughts, our hopes, our failures, along with what we learned from our successes if we are going to build something new, something that truly works for everyone.

1. Super-abundance: Historically, the film business has been built on the model of scarcity. It was expensive to make, distribute and exhibit (or broadcast) films, and it was equally expensive to learn the craft. Our entire business model and assumptions about what works and what doesn’t were built on this idea of scarcity, but digital has changed all of that.

We now live in a world of super-abundance. Thousands of film school students graduate annually, joining tens of thousands of self-taught others, many of whom are far better than amateurs. According to our talks with festival submission services, somewhere near 40,000 unique films are submitted to film festivals globally each year. As an audience member, we now have access not just to the films playing on television and at the theater, but to the entire history of cinema through services such as Netflix, Mubi and LoveFilm. We can experience the global cinema of 1968 better than an audience member who lived in 1968 could, and these films are now competitors for our viewing attention versus the newest films from today. 1968 was a pretty good year for film, it’s tough to decide to watch something new instead.

In a world of superabundance, you have to do a lot more to stand out from the crowd. Luckily, technology is also giving us tools to do this, engage with audiences more directly and develop new creative business practices to raise the attention level on our projects.

2. New Audience Demands: The audience didn’t use to have a lot of choice in what it saw, but now that choice is plentiful and we’ve entered an attention economy. Audiences now have access to mobile devices that connect them not just to one another, but to the content they choose, immediately and engagingly. Weened on social networks, instant messaging, gaming and touch screens, the audience now not only expects, but demands an interactive, participatory experience.

While many an audience member is content to sit back and relax in front of the television or movie screen, a significant portion of the audience expects and wants more. For some this means engagement through transmedia – using the full range of platform possibilities to interact with a story not just in film, but through games, ARG, graphic novels, webisodes or other experiences. At minimum it means being in touch with your audience, giving them the means to engage socially around a film, even if that’s just more easily sharing a link or a trailer, or engaging in a dialogue on Twitter or Facebook.

Some argue that artists shouldn’t be marketers, but this is a false dichotomy that actually only serves middle-men, distancing the artist from their most valuable asset (aside from their story-telling abilities), their fan base. Engaging one’s audience doesn’t mean just marketing. In fact, marketing doesn’t work, whereas real conversation, or meaningful exchanges does.

In addition, the audience is now global, diverse, young and niche. It demands its content to reflect these realities. Younger creators are addressing these changes, through the content they make, but the industry must do more to address these new realities and incorporate these new voices.

3. Audience Aggregation: In the past, we had to spend ridiculous amounts of money to find, build and engage an audience. And we did it, from scratch, again and again each time we had a new movie. Thousands of dollars were spent telling Lars Von Trier fans about his new film, but then we let that audience member disappear again, and spent more thousands finding them for the next film. We now have the ability to engage directly with our fan base, be it for an artist, a genre or the output of an entire country. We can aggregate this audience, keep them engaged and more easily communicate with them about what’s new or what’s next. Unfortunately, however, much of the value in this audience connection/data is accruing only to social networks and platforms and not to the industry, or more importantly, the artists. 4. Investor Realities: While public subsidy remains a vital strength of the industry outside of the US, the current economic and political climate is putting strains on such support and more producers are having to look fresh, or more strongly, to private investors. Up until now, however, it has been the rare investor who sees much of a return, and with the global market for art, foreign and indie films declining (in terms of acquisition dollars), this situation is worsening. To maintain a healthy industry we must build and support a sustainable investor class. The old model of financing one-off productions, limited rights ownership and closely guarding (or even hiding) the numbers needs to change to a system of slate financing, more horizontal ownership of the means of production and distribution and more open sharing of financial data. This is technologically easy to do now, but it will require a sea-change in our thinking about openness to ensure implementation.

5. A New model for Paradigmatic Change: All of this points to building a model for real, systemic change in the near future. Bold visions for a new model are needed, before someone from outside the film industry, in the tech community for example, launches this disruption for us. Entrepreneurial business leaders need to put forth new projects. Government agencies need to increase and shift funding to support these endeavors and traditional gatekeepers need to embrace these changes.

Experimentation requires limiting risk. Risk is usually defined in the film business by the size of budget. A devotion thus to micro-budget films should also stimulate experimentation on how they are released. Experimentation also requires an analysis of the results. Presently, the film business only likes to discuss its successes, but we need to get over the stigma of "failure" and recognize the brave and selfless qualities inherent in it so we all can learn and stop the repetition of processes that don't work. Experimentation is also a process; it is not a series of one-offs like the film business is today. We need to demystify the process from top to bottom and encourage sharing of data as well as technique. A commitment to a series of films is an experiment – one film is not. Experimentation requires opening one self up beyond a safe environment. The film business has remained a fairly hermetically sealed world. We need to collaborate with other industries, and form alliances that benefit them as well as us. New technological tools can help audiences discover work, allow artists to create work in new ways, and enable entrepreneurs to better distribute this work.

We’d like to open the discussion to others. Let us know in the comments here whether you agree with any or all of this, whether you have other ideas for addressing the future of the field, and even your strong disagreements.

If you’ll be attending the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, we invite you to also email us at industry@kviff.com to be considered for a slot during the panel. Slots will be delegated by a festival representative at their discretion. Selected responders will have three minutes to put forth their ideas, questions and/or statements during the festival panel. We’ll try to respond our best, and open it up to the audience for more input. We look forward to hearing from you.

Your Second Chance: New Faces Of NYC Indie Film Video

We had a packed house at Lincoln Center for our "New Faces Of NYC Indie Film" panel. It was a good conversation. Sure, my game show idea did not work out, but hey, when you have eleven people up on the stage with you, it means you have eleven people not talking and that's hard to keep it lively. Luckily, all eleven people had a lot to say and are clearly a group of passionate and committed filmmakers, making sacrifices for the privilege of making their art. If you didn't get there, now through the miraculous power of the internet, you can give us two hours of your time and see what it is you missed.

Watch live streaming video from innovent at livestream.com

And yes, both I and Lincoln Center know, that this panel is very white, young, and generally male and probably straight -- and thus not truly representative of the diversity of talented filmmakers in our city. The Film Society of Lincoln Center has to be acknowledged (and praised) for what may well be the most diverse programming in the world -- this panel excluded. This panel evolved out of an initial idea to focus on new collaborative teams and that was shaping the "casting". It's not an excuse, just an effort to provide context. Of course, we can do better. And I will.

Come Play At My Panel Today At 4P At Lincoln Center

I am moderating the "Some Of The New Faces Of NY Independent Film" panel today to help kick off Lincoln Center's new theaters. They are truly beautiful and will surely be a must-see destination for all Cinemaniacs throughout the universe. As I believe we will have eleven panelists on the stage with me (it having been determined that that is the magic number required to get me to shut up and let someone else talk), it is going to be a bit of a circus.

Not being one to leave chaos well enough alone, I am going to inject it with some more distortion, just for kicks. I have come up with some rules to turn this panel into a bit more of a game.

Lincoln Center New Faces Of Indie Film Circus
Saturday June 11, 2011 4P

STRUCTURE:
Participants: 11 panelists, 1 moderator.
Duration: 2 hrs (90 mins of Q&A, 30 min of audience questions)
Questions: 30 prepared…
Basic Math: 30 questions x 2 minute answers + 1 minute rebuttal = 90 minutes

ADDITIONAL PARTICIPANTS:
Six members of the audience will be selected to be “Extenders”. Extenders have the power to provide the panelist with additional time to answer the question.

3 Extenders will have the power to offer a single 2 minute extension to a panelist.

3 other Extenders will have the power to twice offer a 1 minute extension to a panelist. These extensions can not be combined into one answer, but must be limited to a 1 minute extension.

RULES:
Each answer will be STRICTLY limited to a two-minute response.

After a panelist answers a question, they will not be permitted to answer again until every panelist has answered a question.

Each answer, once the extension has been utilized if so granted, will be offered for rebuttal to another panelist.

Rebuttals will be STRICTLY limited to a one-minute response.

Rebuttals will be offered to the first panelist closest to the left of the answerer who has their hand raised. If no rebuttal is desired, the next question will be asked.

There are no extensions to rebuttals.

At the one minute mark, the panelist to the right of The Answerer has the power of The Gong. By saying “GONG!” loudly this panelist becomes The Disruptor. , The Disruptor stops The Answerer and is granted the power to answer the question themselves for the full two minutes.

Extensions apply fully to The Disruptor’s answers.

ADDED CHAOS:
The panel will be URL broadcast live at: http://mediadroplets.innovent.tv/

There will be a live Twitter feed. Use the #TedNYC hash tag please to participate.

The Twitter feed will be part of the broadcast.

As moderator, I will consider the questions posed in the Twitter Feed.

A "Career" In Indie Film? Better Have That Second Job Lined Up...

I don't want to discourage anyone to not pursue their dreams. I just want to encourage people to do it in a realistic manner. On the other hand, I also don't think anyone should live their life dedicated to being safe and secure. We do need to pursue and push for better things. But then again, I also don't think anyone should be reckless in that pursuit. Cracking the code about trying the impossible (aka a life in the arts) is a back and forth proposition, and success is often based on good timing as much as merit. If you ask me, pursuing a career in Indie Film these days requires one to have an alternative money stream to pay the bills, and there lies the rub.

Last week I tried to explain to a multi-hyphenate that I admire why I recently found it so hard to read scripts. The fear of falling in love with a new project haunts me. Such passion would lead to reckless behavior if I actually like what I read. To commit to another film means that I will be investing my labor for little financial return (and none for the three years or so it takes to get it up and running). Granted I profit from the films I make, but generally speaking my profit is more spiritual and cultural than the sort that allows me to keep my apartment and not surrender my home to the banks. It's hard to generate new work when I know what the rewards will be (very low in terms of money). I guess that means I am certified insane -- probably just like you -- because I can't help but keep doing it despite knowing that I will get the same return that I have on the other 65+ films that I have produced, and -- comparable to the way our world rewards other endeavors -- that ain't much.

Last week, after that discussion, I tweeted: "Frustrating: creating ambitious stories on reasonable budgets that generate wealth for others no longer a viable occupation." It's a sad song, perhaps best followed by a round of shots for all around (whiskey that is, not the sorts reserved for enemies). But it is a song that can be sung for a lifetime, even a satisfying one despite the sorrow, and particularly pleasing if we move forward with open eyes. The opportunity to use your labor in service to art that enriches culture and inspires others is a tremendous privilege, even if the price tag is minimal, or even non-existant.

So do film schools teach this? I think we would have more directors, producers, and writers creating more wonderful work, if we understood better how to earn a living doing one thing while we give our heart and mind to something else entirely. What are the jobs that lend themselves to a second profession on the side? How do people gain the skills that allow them to juggle to careers? What would such a practical curriculum look like? Does anyone know of one that has been established? New and old both certainly need it.

Thinking of all the assistants out there now, with dreams of writing, directing, and even producing, I wonder what will happen to them when they start to approach 30 years old. If this is the trade they've learned and they have done it for so long, nothing else is any longer an option, they are fucked as their skills and habits don't readily apply to other endeavors. I will never forget how when we wrapped Hal Hartley's AMATEUR, a long time friend and co-conspirator of mine came up to me and let me know he had gotten into law school. It totally took me by surprise. He had recently started gaffing and it seemed to me his filmmaking career was taking hold. He replied that indie film is only for the young, and as he was turning 30 and in love, he wanted to have a family, and indie film just wouldn't support it. He was right.

When one has to choose between their art and having a family, it is clear that art is not a career. When one has spent 25 years quite "successfully" producing indie movies and yet finds the industry more volatile and treacherous than ever before, it is clear that indie film is not a career.

Yet the effort to create ambitious work, to inspire others, and bring people together, to change the world through one's creations, to challenge the form and the apparatus with ones dreams and actions -- what could ever be more crucial or satisfying?

If one can't support oneself, but one must create, and create challenging and ground breaking work, how can they ever go hand in hand. It goes back to indie film now being a hobby (and not a profession): if you want to create, you best plan on finding a job that will pay the bills first. If only I had...

Lettter To The Under-Appreciated Producer (aka One & All)

Do producers ever get enough love? Is our work acknowledged for what it is? I hear from other producers, and when they speak openly and honestly, they often say no. It's not a constant song, but it is a refrain I know quite well. It is not self-pity. Producers don't wallow, but still t happens so much: a producer -- sometimes a stranger to me, sometimes a close friend -- tells me their experience of making their film, their labor of love. The movie comes out, and now it is only about the director. They were once so close, virtually married or the bestest of best friends, but now, it feels like they never really knew each other.

This is my letter to the under appreciated producer; maybe it is the letter I wish someone sent to me.

Don't be so hard on yourself! You worked to make it better. That effort is what we all need allies on, and you gave that to that film and the world is better off for it. Remember that.

Who knows whom the work will touch and why? You improved the truth of the characters and their world. We can't get things to where we really hope that they really need to be, without all the steps from all the directions, over and over again. You made it better, but they didn't see. You made it better, but they forgot where it once was. You made it better, and only you now know what else it could have been.

Sometimes it seems like it is to no avail, but sometimes it is quite the opposite. Yet, we the audience, we the creators, we still all overlook what has occurred. Don't expect those that were with you to be any different. They have moved on and are looking for something else. They needed you when, but now they need something else.

Recognize your contribution and hold it close to you -- even if it was something you tried to give to another, and they failed to acknowledge it. That's what it's going to be again, and again, and again and again and again. You know the truth. Try to let that be enough.

There won't ever be anyone to truly appreciate your gifts other than your family and those that love you. That sucks. And it's wonderful too. Truly.

Do it for yourself and those that recognize it -- sometimes it will filter through to the bigger world, but don't expect it to.. Don't expect, or even ask or hope, for those that you directly gave it to, to notice. They won't. Don't expect those around the film, to be any different either. They aren't interested in your contribution; they are thinking now about how to keep their job or find the next one. It's the film biz after all!

We who know you, love you and know who you are and what you did. Ah... if only that was enough! The world has changed for what you've contributed, but everyone's focus is elsewhere. Live and comfort in the secret of the truth that you know. Let it be. Move on.

Brooklyn's Answer To SXSW? Complete With A DIY Film Festival!!

The democratization of culture and the tools to create and share it is definitely been one of the more exciting trends of the recent past. We see it in all spheres and aspects of our daily life, but what symbolizes it best? Many friends and pundits characterize it as a dumbing down, but I truly perceive it as quite the opposite. People everywhere are asking all of us to look and reach up, to aspire to more, to inspire each of us to cross into new realms. Maybe this is most felt on the streets of Austin during SXSW (although the committed might nominate Burning Man), but it is refreshing to know that NYC is not going to abandon the terrain of the wild, weird, honest, and true to that Texas town. We've got on own thing going down in Brooklyn.

rooklyn has emerged as a new creative epicenter of culture, and Northside is the festival that curates this talent into a 4-day experience of Music, Art, Film, and Ideas, showcasing the best regional and national talent all within the walkable radius encompassed by Williamsburg and Greenpoint. It's June 16 -19th and I plan to be there. In fact, I will be one of the judges of the film component. But it is not just film, per se. It is lo-fi, hi-ambition, DIY variety.

DIY filmmaking is very much a part of this mission. It’s now a given that many of the most exciting films at major American festivals are the product of a handful of friends working on a shoestring (some of them right here in Brooklyn), and it’s time festivals gave these films the dedicated platform they deserve.

Last year, with the first-ever Northside Film Festival, copresenters like Rooftop Films, IFC, the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Film Comment screened exciting local and upcoming films; this year, alongside these special feature presentations, Northside's new DIY Film Competition will shine a spotlight on the exciting new voices working with the materials at hand.

The submissions guidelines:

The L Magazine presents: The Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Film Competition, Northside Festival's first juried screening series. Open to all filmmakers with ingenuity and a hands-on approach, the winners will receive an exclusive screening with Rooftop Films plus cash and equipment rentals! For more information on how to submit your own dynamic short or brilliant feature before the May 1 deadline hits, please visit northsidefestival.com and click "Submit Your Film." The films must have been made after January 1, 2008.

Good Seminars For NY Filmmakers

While I am enjoying my morning coffee, sifting through the 250 emails I did not get to yesterday, I stumbled across New York Women In Film & Televisionhttp://www.nywift.org/'s seminars for the month, and I have to tell you I was impressed. What a great resource for all filmmakers! Check it out... NYWIFT's April 2011 programs

Thursday, April 7, 2011 The Creative Business of Screenwriting

Tuesday, April 12, 2011 Career Focus: The Actors Fund Work Program (AWP)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011 The It Factor: A Branding and Image Workshop

Thursday, April 14, 2011 Unions, Guilds and Locals—Oh My!: An Evening with Costume, Makeup and Hair Designers

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 The Ultimate Confidence Building Workshop: Communicate With Conviction

Wednesday, April 27, 2011 Next Generation Docs: Social Media and Cross-Platform Storytelling

Friday, April 29, 2011 Women Documenting Life: A Celebration of Women Filmmakers to Mark the 40th Anniversary of New Day Films

Don't Wait: Get The SUPER App(s) Now

Why wait until you see my latest film? You can get the iPhone app now for free. Our official one, produced by PUNY (the geniuses behind our great title sequence) is available for iPhone, Android, and Facebook. Get it here. If you have the gene where you need to be totally complete, there's even more you can get right here. Don't you love this modern life? You aren't a movie unless you have an app, and the really cool films have two!

The 1 Movie You Must Make Sure You See This April. Or I Won't Talk To YOU Ever Again.

I have a lot of films that I want to check out this month, but I have already seen the one film that really matters. Without a doubt, I can tell you that it is the way to spend your money. The rest of the films might as well give up now. You know I have some complaints of films as of late, but I like to take my remedy straight, no rocks or filters. Cinema, pure and unbridled. You know what I am talking about? You know when you go to the movies and that jerkhead cuts in line? Don't you sometimes wish you could smash his friggin' face in? With a ten pound wrench? Don't do it. Don't sell drugs either. Or molest children. Or even put on a costume and attack those that do such vile acts.

You know when you go to the movies and everything seems incredibly programmed and test-marketed? You know how you are starting to really hate that? You know how sometimes you watch a film and wish you were living back in the days when occasionally you could see something that felt like it burst from an unbridled mind that didn't give a fuck what anyone else thought and it was just going to go there no matter what? Wouldn't you just love to have that type of movie back?

SUPER is a blood-splattered comedy that will make you cry real tears. SUPER is a film that will have you saying WTF! more than once. SUPER is filled with the sort of go for broke committed performances that will have you worshiping the ground that these thespians grace. SUPER is the shrieking plea in your ears all these years to finally let the lunatics run the asylum. Go ahead, drink the kool-aid. All it takes to be a superhero is to say you've had enough. Shut up, crime.

I am not going to lie. I produced this film. But what I produced (with MIranda Bailey) is 100% James Gunn, our writer, our director, our resident mad man. We have had incredible screenings of SUPER everywhere. No one can be lukewarm about this film. It opens on Friday April 1st (no fooling) and you want to make sure you are there. It is not for the faint of heart or those who don't like to have a bit of blood with their humor. Or want their entertainment sanitized of non-PC content. This ain't that, but it is a blast. I promise you that. Several blasts as a matter of fact.

Just about this time two years ago, I was frustrated by how engineered all films felt to me. Even the indie work I was seeing felt devoid of the sort of unbridled craziness that initially lead me to fall in love with cinema. I wanted a return to jaw dropping moments and moments of questionable intent. Where had all the WhatTheFuck gone in film? Could film still be made from what appeared to be a wonderfully warped mind? Haven't we had enough of the beautiful minds by now?

Simultaneously I was pondering what the psychological effects on society our national obsession with super heroes was having. If the high esteem we deem upon supermodels was undermining some women's self-worth, what did the pinnacle we placed costumed crime fighters on do to a man's perception of masculinity. Let's be real, superheroes and war are our two top exports -- there's gotta be a connection, right?

I started scouring the development pipelines for a project that might do justice to both. I was coming up empty-handed, but had heard tales of just such a morsel by a filmmaker whom I admired that had almost gone into production years earlier for a whopping cost of $25M. Then I saw Rainn Wilson tweet that he "and james_gunn were going out with a low-rent f'd up Watchmen" -- and I pounced. One year after we went out for financing, we premiered it at Toronto, where it was the first film sold in what later proved to be the tipping point out of a three year down market downturn.

This is one time where I have distributors who, despite some extreme stuff, have no fear of what this film is. Our poster and trailer truly represent the work as we intended. It's been an amazing experience, and I am thrilled to bring to you, my film friends. It opens on Friday, April Fools Day, and I would love your dollars and support.

Watch the SUPER trailer. Check SUPER out on facebook Follow @SUPERthemovie on twitter. Watch the Crimson Bolt patrol the streets of Austin. Read one of the many good reviews for SUPER! Rock your block out to the SUPER soundtrack at http://bit.ly/Superitunes You can't be a movie without an app. Check out the app for SUPER.

I Have A Few More Things To Say About SUPER

Yesterday around this time I participated in a podcast with Rex Sikes. It's about a one hour interview almost entirely about SUPER. You can hear all the secret details about every and any aspect? How did it we put it together? How did we keep it together? How did it fit together? It was a fun talk. And it available for free right here: http://bit.ly/dybBsU.

One Way To Reduce Cost While Increasing Quality

I once had dreams that our movement away from an impulse buy based entertainment economy, over into one based on choice and commitment, would lead to greater demand and thus increased funding for diverse, ambitious work of quality. Sigh... It seems, though, that the planet I live on asks those of us who care about such things to do more for less. Unlike some, I think there is a surplus of immensely talented folk out there with great stories to tell in interesting ways. Unfortunately, it is really hard for most artists to do great work on their own. And that's where producers come in. So it's completely frustrating when we are trying to do more work, but there is far less funds available to work with. What are we supposed to do? Fortunately, not only does the technology improve, but there are some people out there who keep coming up with good ideas for our benefit. Today, I have a new one of those for you, one that can help you produce good movies for less money: scoreAscore.

I am going to let xcoreAscore's founder tell you all about it:

I’m Jordan Passman, founder and CEO of scoreAscore.com. I created scoreAscore to connect professional music composers and quality media producers. Why scoreAscore? There are big project owners who can pick up the phone and call one of the top film composer agencies to find what they need. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are film producers scrounging through overwhelming music libraries looking for great music.

With our Name-Your-Price system, scoreAscore.com gives you original music in an easy-to-use, safe and efficient environment. Each composer is a professional who has been personally screened; some have even won Emmys and been nominated for Academy Awards.

We offer 24/7 access to composers and their music, with a mission to pair the next John Williams with the next Steven Spielberg. Our current clients include: Directors, Producers, Ad Agencies, Video Game Publishers, Trailer Houses, Music Supervisors and more! Check us out. Feel free to reach out to me directly at anytime.

Take 50 seconds to check out this animation, explaining how scoreAscore works: scoreAscore.com/learnmore.php

Happy Scoring!

Jordan Passman

CEO/scoreAscore.com jordan@scoreAscore.com

Jordan Passman launched scoreAscore.com in May 2010. Born and raised in LA, music has always been a huge part of Jordan' s life. In his early career, he worked in the entertainment industry throughout college (Creative Artists Agency, Warner Bros. Studios & Warner Bros. Records). After graduating from Pitzer College, Jordan joined the Film/TV Membership Department of ASCAP (American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers) in New York.

My Personal Apologies For Falling Off The Grid

I am thrilled to be the only active filmmaker with a regular column on one of the film industry trades -- well, not really thrilled, more disappointed, but if there is only going to be one, I am glad I can belong to the club. You know what I mean, right? And yes, I do mention that I am a blogger in my bio now. But still, first and foremost I am a film producer. Which means that sometimes I devote myself to getting my movies made. Last week I went to LA for the SUPER premiere, casting on a new film and some financing meetings. I then jumped to San Fran to judge The Disposable Film Fest, meet some more money, and strategize with collaborators. I took the red-eye home from Arizona last night, where I gave an all day seminar on the state of the film biz. Whew!

But as a result, I did not get to post at all last week. I had been on a roll. I will do my best to get back on that blogging horse and provide you with prior notification in the future when I plan to disappear for awhile. The same of course goes for anyone who's email I have yet to back to, all 500+ of you. Eek.

Film Lovers Jackpot

More classic cinema is available for free legally online than ever before. You can watch more film from any decade, than you could if you were living in the decade that they were made in. I just stumbled across another treasure trove, and now I now I need to start that age-enhancement process asap as I don't have the time available in my lifetime to watch all the great stuff that is out there, accessible by a simple keystroke. Europa Film Treasures is a joint venture of 30 different film archives and has all sorts of things available.

There's everything from Buster Keaton, George Melies,to a nice collection of turn of the century erotica.

Personally speaking, I would love a list of directors and stars to pick from, but hey, I am not that picky.

What's In A Title?

I confess. I struggle with titles. They may well be the most important marketing & discovery elements of a film. But they are more too. The best titles are akin to lines of poetry that evoke other feelings and thoughts, while uniting them around the work in question. I have mused and ranted about titles before, but well they say that a pictures is worth a 1000 words, so this is 80,000 words in titles.

Thanks to NewYork mag's VULTURE for this tip.

Building Our Home: Is It Possible To Make A Living As A FIlmmaker?

You know what? As important as this question is, and as dedicated as I am to making sure we all learn the practical things that will allow us to both earn a living & build a new system that allows for artists to sustain a career in the arts, I also think that if we try too hard to answer that question, we will never commit ourselves to the art, craft, and pursuit. We need to run full speed into this love of film, but particularly to do it with all of our heart. If we are also not lazy about it, and if we are studious in our endeavors, forever trying to improve our craft & our knowledge, while also maintaining a sense of wonder and pleasure, then perhaps we can truly become artists. That is the first step -- the becoming -- and only after we land in that dangerous swamp, can we address the second step of knowing the waters & environment. Once through those trials, and only once there, can we set about the third step: building our home.

Let's say you did that first step and made the leap. Let's say you then have remained vigilant in your practice and you are an eternal student of both film and the system. You watch movies, talk movies. You read novels and study art. You read up on the technology and train yourself to use it. You refuse to accept that the way it is is a given and you consider change. You keep your house in order and don't live beyond your means. You are thankful for the good fortune you've enjoyed, and don't blame others for your struggles. Well, then, you are ready for that next important step: survival and sustainability.

The Tribeca Film Institute held a panel at The New School trying to address "How To Make A Living As A Filmmaker" and thankfully it's up on YouTube. It's a long panel and could benefit from a bit of meta-tagging and some chaptering, but it is worth a ride, and if you are starting out a focused one.

What are the lessons it offers? Lots, but among them: be self-reliant; be generous; recognize that it is a long run; find another way to make money beyond filmmaking (teaching, shooting commercials, speaking gigs); build your audience and database.

I'd like to write a post on the practical things we need to do survive these days. I am going to start taking notes, but I would love your suggestions.

Film Courage: Thinking About Lost Opportunities

Back at the head of the year I did a three part post for the indispensable website/podcast Film Courage pondering what might have been in Indie Film and what actually could still be. They have been kind enough to collect all three posts in one handy dandy spot for your reading enjoyment. They have also been generous enough to post it on their front page. Here's a taste, but I hope you dive in for the whole meal.

I graduated from high school in 1980, the year often associated with when the Hollywood Business fully became the Blockbuster Business. When I graduated I thought I had revolution to run (even if I wasn't prepared to run it), but I didn't get around to finding the film business for a few more years.

I was fortunate in the timing of my professional & artistic pursuits that I could benefit from the DIY aesthetic, the approach of the first wave of punk rock (circa 1977), and political events like the class antagonism of the Reagan Years, and the fear & consequences of the AIDS epidemic. Add to that the prevailing post-modern, multi-culti, deconstructionist sway of academia, the birth of a new distribution platform (VHS video), and Hollywood's abandonment of the complex and personal. What could have been a more perfect storm for the coming wave of American Indies?

Circumstances gave me and my generation of filmmakers opportunity (even if some paid a high price). Has such an opportunity come again over the next thirty years? Did we miss it?

Read the rest (and enjoy Film Courage's choice of photos too!) here.

It's Up To Filmmakers To Make The World A Better Place

Every once in a great while, someone comes along and shows us we have not really been recognizing the reality of the world we are living in. People tend to speak of this as "disruptive thought", subtly implying that this clarity may not be a good thing -- at least for some. Certainly Freud, Marx, & Einstein have been leaders in this field, but equally disruptive has been the community at large, as we recognize that our group think might well be a bit wrong headed. Now it is being recognized that the traits that make good filmmakers, traits that haven't previously been championed in other fields, may just make the world a much better place.

I was so fortunate when I met and fell in love with my wife, Vanessa. Among the many gifts she has given me is a vigilance to make sure that I grow and become more thoughtful in all my actions. Among this focus is a greater attention to my emotions and general empathy. Although I have struggled in some areas, I have always felt comfortable applying those aspects to characters on the page and screen. Perhaps this is because those skills are always rewarded in development, and generally by the critics and audience. People appreciate it when films help us connect with one another both on the screen and later, off.

Often when I am speaking to filmmakers they express dismay that their skills appear to be so non-transferable. "What else can we do than make films?" "Who would ever need the skills that we've developed, other than other filmmakers?". Well, it seems like the world is now waking up to the fact that those same skills are needed everywhere and both politics and business are in desperate need of our gifts.

NYTimes OpEd contributor had a must read piece last week entitled "The New Humanism". Of course, Vanessa tipped me to it. The article distills a great deal of thinking being done in many fields, but when Brooks laid out the new necessary attributes, he might as well have been speaking about much of the creative community:

Attunement: the ability to enter other minds and learn what they have to offer.

Equipoise: the ability to serenely monitor the movements of one’s own mind and correct for biases and shortcomings.

Metis: the ability to see patterns in the world and derive a gist from complex situations.

Sympathy: the ability to fall into a rhythm with those around you and thrive in groups.

Limerence: This isn’t a talent as much as a motivation. The conscious mind hungers for money and success, but the unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence when the skull line falls away and we are lost in love for another, the challenge of a task or the love of God. Some people seem to experience this drive more powerfully than others.

Isn't it nice to know that your skills and talents are needed? But, dang, it is a bit of a heavy responsibility to try to make the world a better place. We've got a lot of work to do. Maybe if we all woke up an hour earlier...

Tonight! Wednesday! Come Tweet With Me About Producing on #FilmIn140

My producing partner on SUPER, Miranda Bailey, and my former Sundance Creative Producing Mentoree -- and an innovative producer in his own right -- Thomas Woodrow will be joining Sheri Candler and the good folks at Film Threat, and hopefully hordes of others -- like you, and you, and you -- for a discussion on the role of the producer. This is just one of the many new ways a truly free film community is joining forces to emphasize access, collaboration, and demystification. Wanna be part of it? It's easy. All you have to do is...

Read this as FilmThreat explains how to join the #FilmIn140 discussion clearly for you.

New List Of Future Film Investors

Producers pride themselves in sourcing new financing sources. There generally is not a large supply of eager new money to leap into film biz. One agency has even taken to refusing to share with the producers they are representing the sources they are submitting to, for fear that they won't be the new financiers' preferred suppliers. Knowledge is power, but transparency is progress. Which is why I am excited to share this list with you... You almost would expect a financier list to be the sort of thing that is found on Wikileaks. I do think we are entering a period when free culture moles inside the agency world (yes, they have been planted and are digging away furiously), will start to drop documents on the Deadline desks, but this list did not come from such a source.

The Film Biz is always a bit obsessed with lists. Box Office. Highest Paid. Most Powerful. Most Number Of Twitter Followers &Facebook Friends. You'd think ability to get movies made would always be something that Industry-ites would track a bit more thoroughly. Well, until we start do this, I am pretty thrilled to be offered THIS LIST annually. So who on it do you already know? What can we do to get them into this world a bit more thoroughly? I don't know about you, but I am going to head off to China next month. Isn't that what any self-respecting film producer should do? Let me know if you have anyone over there you think I should meet.