David Branin – Officially Plugged In – Online Entertainment Magazine
Filmmakers Take A Funding Campaign Roller-Coaster Ride : Interview
04/25/2010 08:48 PM
Ok, let’s start off with some intro information before I share this interview with you. Three Officially Plugged In showcased friends have gotten together to create a new film called Goodbye Promise. * Goodbye Promise is about a man who moves to Los Angeles and […]... READ MORE

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David Branin David Branin
David Branin : Filmmaker, Director, Writer, Producer.

Writer and director to more than 20 short films. His last two short films have garnered the most acclaim, “Shoot-Out”(2005) and “Honey, I’m Home” (2007) have combined to screen in over 40 international film festivals and picking up awards along the way. He has written three feature length screenplays.

Official Website Links, Social Network Links, Interview, News, More below...

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Do you blog about your latest projects?
David: Yes, for several years now I have been using Blogger (http://www.dreamregime.blogspot.com) as well as one within Myspace to keep everyone up to date on our projects.

Do you see the internet as a good venue for getting films noticed?
David: Absolutely, the internet is one of the most powerful tools filmmakers have in getting their work seen.

What do you think about online film festivals?
David: I am not a fan of online festivals. It is my policy to avoid them.

Have you found folks to work with you from online more than offline?
David: At this point, it runs about even. It's funny, most of my on-screen talent I have had long standing relationships with, and for many of those working behind the scenes I have met online.

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Film Courage
FIND Filmmaker Forum ’10 by David Branin
11/04/2010 06:41 AM

Karen Worden and I had the privilege of attending Film Independent’s Filmmaker Forum for the second straight year. It’s easy to think that this would be a rehash of last year’s event, but Film Independent is not in the Hollywood remake business. To their credit they put on a first class event that provides attendees with cutting edge and relevant information for today’s marketplace. This has quickly become one of our favorite events of the year.

This year we attended these panels ‘Evaluate Your Project for Today’s Marketplace,’ ‘Take Advantage of Domestic and Foreign Tax Incentives,’ ‘Realize Your Vision On a Budget: Production Case Studies,’ ‘Genre Films: Case Studies,’ ‘It’s Your Turn to Pitch: Packaging and Financing Clinic,’ ‘Your Marketing Toolkit,’ & ‘Piracy: The Real Cost of Free.’ Here's the full schedule with all of the panelists http://empower.filmindependent.org/schedule/

What resonated with me this year? Let’s go into it.

1) I hate to start off by shining the light on something like this but it is something I cannot get out of my head. Without giving away the person’s name (you will have to research it), there was one panelist who pointed out that he is currently receiving unemployment checks. No big deal, right? Except that his $3 million film made $20 million at the box office opening weekend. When are these kinds of stories going to go away? All together the film made close to $60 million worldwide and the filmmaker hasn’t received a dime. It’s hard enough to make it as a filmmaker as it is, I’m not saying you have to make the filmmaker a millionaire but if you make a $3 million film and it makes that much money, shouldn’t there be enough of a kickback where you can avoid unemployment checks?

2) One carryover from last year, ‘Drama’ is still not an attractive word when selling your film. Do everything in your power to label your film anything but drama. And I am sure many would argue to make anything but a drama.

3) Film Commissions (I love what Karen wrote much better than what I had written - link)

4) Actor star power. There will always be stars, but there is a shift happening. Stars aren’t shining so bright these days. Do not think that just because you have a star in your film that it’s success is guaranteed. One panelist asked, "Who is a a movie star right now?" Once you get beyond those first ten names on the tip of your tongue, it is something to ponder.

5) Another note on actors. Now is a great time to aim high in casting. Many of these talented actors want to act. There are less opportunities for an abundance of actors. Go after the top names on your wish list, but as one panelist cautioned, make sure the project is ready to be put in front of their eyes.

6) Theatrical is becoming less important for smaller films. They can be too much a sinkhole. Don’t be sad. In the Filmmaker Forum manual handed out to each attendee, one film with a production budget of $900,000 has made almost $2 million in VOD sales as opposed to $100,000 theatrically. That’s a startling differential. Especially when you factor in how much money was probably spent to make that $100,000.

7) Don’t sign anything without a lawyer. (refer back to #1)

Karen Worden, Peter Ong Lim, David Branin

8) Day and Date. I wrote about this in my last blog. Matt Dentler talked a little about Ed Burns and his current release of NICE GUY JOHNNY where Ed has foregone theatrical release. He went to say that right now Ed is able to heavily promote this idea of ‘day and date’ because it is still fresh. He says in two years that will no longer be the case. My opinion is that I wouldn't be surprised to see ‘day and date’ will become the standard by this time next year.

9) Have you ever talked to a distributor before you made your film? Have you pitched your project to buyers to see what the current market may bear for your project? This is what Effie T. Brown did before making her latest film THE INHERITANCE. She got a price from distributors and she made sure that her production didn’t go over that price. It’s not a foolproof method, but how many first time filmmakers could have saved heart ache if they took this approach?

10) As I listened to producer Dean Zanuck tell the story of why a significant investor contributed to GET LOW, I couldn’t help but think of crowd-funding, just on a grander scale. Did the investor want guaranteed enormous returns? Well, that wouldn’t hurt, but he ended up investing money so that he could have a round of golf with stars Bill Murray and Lucas Black. It’s all about experiences that we can give to those who want to support us and our work.

11) Want to build an audience for your film? Identify niche groups that correspond with your film's subject matter, then seek out existing groups who service that audience. Do you do this the week before your World Premiere? No, it was emphasized to build these relationships before you roll cameras. Get these groups involved with your film right away and engage with them. Get them involved in the process and nurture the relationship. You will have advocates that will become invaluable when the time comes for you to release your film.

12) Two memorable quotes from Matt Dentler “Piracy is a scapegoat for a film that under performs” and “The DVD boom was an anomaly. It’s never going back, at least not anytime soon.”

13) The main take away from this year’s Forum is this, ‘Make Your Film at the Right Price.‘ Just because you make a film for $1 million doesn’t mean that your film is worth $1 million. You may want to take the advice of Joe Drake, head of Lionsgate, who shared these words in his keynote address, “Develop something that has extraordinary market demand, in which your contribution is essential.”


FIND Filmmaker Forum ’10 by Karen Worden
11/04/2010 06:39 AM

David Branin and I had the great fortune of attending the 2010 Film Independent Filmmaker Forum at the Directors Guild in Hollywood. As with last year, the weekend went by with us wishing we had one more day listening to panels speak on everything from piracy to Nine Inch Nails Trent Reznor’s business model. I measured how a year’s time had broadened my prospective on filmmaking. I tested myself to see if the information from the panelists was easier or harder to understand than last year. Attending the Forum made me realize I am a little fish in a big pond. It made me think back to a former sadistic colleague of mine who gleefully reminded me “you don’t even know what you don’t know.”

In prior discussions at other events and on his blogs, producer Ted Hope has reminded us that the world is a different place since 2008. The fragments of the global economy and our prior consumption habits have yet to shake themselves out. In keeping with this theme, the general consensus of the panelist was that none of us are certain where the film industry is headed. As one panelist mentioned, this paradigm shift is both scary and exciting at the same time.

Although David and I did not catch Joe Drake’s (Lionsgate) opening Forum address in person, I watched video footage of the speech on Youtube. Mr. Drake reminded the audience of author Malcolm Gladwell’s (Outliers, The Tipping Point) much talked about 10,000 hours of hard work to achieve mastery at something. Drake revealed his own journey taking 10 to 12 years. Drake commented that if you weren’t willing to commit endless hours to this pursuit, you might as well leave the event and find what is worth your time. Among the many other pieces of practical advice he gave, “If you want to see which films sell, visit your local Wal-Mart.” Also worth noting was “It’s not enough to have a dream. You have to have a plan.”

Some other interesting concepts that resonated with me during the Forum were:

1). Friendsourcing: Wendy Cohen, Manager of Community and Alliances at Participant Media discussed this interesting concept that is somewhat lost in the wake of crowdfunding, Twitter, and constant pitching (which I have been guilty of). She introduced ‘friendsourcing’ as gathering people in your network as friends, not just as bodies to sell to. She advised keeping people updated on your projects and making them feel a part of your work. Telling individuals in your network about your successes, without asking anything from them. Hopefully, everyone on your e-mail list takes this the right way.

2). Taking Great Stills: An idea that seems like a no-brainer amongst a crowd of filmmakers was hammered through numerous times. Many panelists stressed the importance of taking great stills while on the set. They mentioned that many times this is neglected in various ways. Sometimes directors think they can slow down footage frame by frame in order to pick a few great shots, but this does not always work. Other times photos are taken on set, but they don’t convey the right message. They advised planning out where and when you want photos taken, similar to micromanaging your photographer in order to get the right shots. On the flipside, the panelist also warned against inundating your site or blog with too many photos, which might overwhelm a potential audience.

3). Perception’s Everything: “When it comes to attracting funding for a film and name talent, it’s a real smoke and mirrors act” says Dean Zanuck of Get Low and Road to Perdition. You have to convince investors that you have name actors in the project, and you have to convince name actors that you have money behind the film. You need both. And it’s difficult to obtain one without the other. Dean also added that every project is a new opportunity. Each film you’re involved with brings new people, new places, new relationships, and even new problems.

4). Relying on The Gatekeepers: Force yourself into the public. With the Internet, you don’t need the studios to do this, as one panelist said. Additionally, you can never really trust that a studio will promote your film as much as you can.

5). Utilize Film Commissions: Many filmmakers do themselves a disservice by foregoing film commissions. As panelist Han Fraikin, Commissioner at Quebec Film Council explained, Film Commissions are conduits. They not only advise filmmakers to prevent them from getting tickets or even arrested. They can help filmmakers obtain better rates on goods and services. Think (possible) free office space post real estate meltdown, police escorts, free location scouting, and cheaper hotel rates.

Karen Worden, Peter Ong Lim, David Branin

6). How Many “No’s” Til You Get to the Center of The Tootsie Pop? Producer Dean Zanuck reminds us “Start with the rock solid belief in yourself. Ninety-nine percent of the time the answer from people about your project will be ‘no.’ But you will just have to keep going. Over time you will find people who believe in your work.”

7). Can We Be Too Indie For Our Own Good? “We all want to exist in this industry, no matter how independent we are. It’s a matter of getting your work out their regardless.” Explains Easier With Practice’s Kyle Patrick Alvarez, who won the 2010 Sprit Award Someone To Watch designation.

8). The Voices in Kevin Costner’s Head: “The great hurdle lies in once you’ve finished the film, then what?” says Shelby Stone of Lackawanna Blues and Life Support. There’s been much debate about what many call the Field of Dreams Approach (building it and they will come). Ask someone with a film set to show in a city outside their hometown and they’ll probably have an opinion.

9). Analysis Paralysis: Mike Masnick of Techdirt and Floor64 asks “Are we over thinking the business model? Do people think if a movie is going to be on DVD in a few weeks, why watch it in theaters? Movie going is a social experience. Similar to the concept-you can eat dinner at home, but people still go to restaurants.”

10). Mike Masnick also reminded us that water is something we can get for free but we still pay 2 to 5 dollars a bottle for it. With piracy - films may be available for free but we may still purchase them. It’s our job to make it a premium that people want to pay for. “We are all in the water bottle business.”

11). Last But Not Least: Parting words from Dean Zanuck - If you sign your name to anything, get an attorney to review it, even if it’s your friend’s dad.


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