When you’ve poured your heart and soul into your film, now how are you gonna get it out there?
For quarter two and three I never got a check or I never got a paypal, no one reached out to me in any way, shape or form. They’re just gonna sweep this all under the rug, but they’re using the money that they stole from us to pay for it. This is a result of extreme mismanagement at the highest levels of that company and that’s what I was told directly.
Filmmaking is also a business. So, go digital distributing went on. A business distribute is a film aggregator. They recently went bankrupt for what looks like you know bad business practices, wasteful spending, thousands of filmmakers have been denied their revenue.
We’re looking at possibly millions of dollars in damages; it’s crazy because that was considering using distributor to distribute unsound. So, like had I actually gone through with using them and distributing unsound like my film could have been tied up in all this mess, I thought this will be a great opportunity to talk about the dark side of the film business and why you should care before we haul off into this discussion.
We really gotta lay some groundwork first. Why is indie film so important before you can convince the studio’s or Netflix or any other company to spend millions of dollars on you. You usually have to prove yourself. First, in the form of making a film of your own, finding your own money and proving that you can appeal to an audience, they don’t catch-22 right like nobody’s gonna hire you unless you have experience. But, then you can’t get experience unless somebody hires.
People do this by making what’s called an independent film. It’s not backed by any big company; it’s completely independently financed. Lots of people started their careers in indie film; Chris, Nolan, Ava, Duvernay Rian, Johnson, Ryan, Coogler, Barry, Jenkins, Jon, Favreau just to name a few.
Going the indie film route isn’t the only way to break into the industry. But, historically it’s been like one of the best ways; it’s hard to talk about film without talking about money. There’s this notion going around that you shouldn’t have to spend any money in order to make a good film. Yes, while this is true it’s also an oversimplification.
If you want a career in film, there is so much more to it than that. Let’s unpack the beginner. If you’re just starting out, you should not be spending any money on your films, you’re gonna make a lot of mistakes on your first few shorts. Why spend money on lessons that you can learn for free right?
Just borrow a camera, get started, you can make some great stuff for a little to no money. The hobbyist in this phase; you start spending a little money, maybe you buy your own camera, you get a few subscription services like Adobe Creative Cloud or royalty free music sites. The point is you’re spending money without the expectation of a profit.
So, by definition you’re a hobbyist, getting serious at this point, you cut your teeth on a lot of little film projects here and there and right about now you’re starting to realize that doing everything for really cheap is not really getting you the results that you want sometimes. Getting good actors cost money, getting good locations cost money, just getting good production values cost money; you’ll reach a point where you outgrow; no budget filmmaking. You just get bored with it.
The only way to continue growing and get to that next level is to start investing in yourself like paying people for services, renting cameras and different pieces of gear you haven’t used. Before trying new things, career hunter in this phase, you’re ready to show people just how serious you are. You’re willing to invest even more into your films because you want the best possible outcome.
These films are gonna be your calling cards to the rest of the world to say hey this is what I’m capable of. Think of it this way, how can you expect some investor or some company to invest thousands or hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars on you and your visions. If you won’t even take a risk on yourself and invest in yourself, you’ve got to be willing to bet on yourself.
First responsibility, as you start to invest more in your films, you begin to take on a new financial responsibility. Now, it’s not just about making films. Now, it’s okay, I’ve spent money to make this thing happen. So, how am I going to make the money back?
If you’re constantly spending money, you’re never making any money, that’s a recipe for disaster right. That’s how businesses go out of business. An absence doesn’t even come close to cutting it. Not unless you get like millions of views a month, there are about a dozen factors that determine how much you’re gonna make on Adsense.
Many of these factors are completely outside of your control. Just to make the point crystal clear, over 100,000 people have seen my unsound here on YouTube. It’s been available for a little over a year now. Let’s look at how much I’ve made off Adsense. This is how much we made since I uploaded it over a year ago; thirty six dollars and forty eight cents. We spent over $40,000 on that film. Thirty of it coming from me personally in the form of credit cards,loans, etc. We’re not gonna see a return on any of that money.
It’s done, just gone. Adsense is not enough. I just took the financial hit, but the film was like an enormous success in many other ways.
Ideally, if you’re going to spend money and make an independent film; a feature film or you know maybe a webseries or something, you want some form of distribution so that you can sell that thing and make your money back ideally traditional film distribution. So, this is the meat of the conversation.
Historically speaking, film distribution has always been a really ugly business for independent movies, less than two percent of independent films make their money back. The average independent film costs a hundred thousand dollars in 2014. It was reported that the indie film community as a whole spent three billion dollars in less than 92% of the resulting films made their money back. Less than two percent, a lot of people are not seeing a return on their investment.
There are a number of different ways that you can lose your money. It’s not just that your film doesn’t sell. I mean there’s bad contracts, distribution deals that are just awful sometimes. It is you do get a good distribution deal but your film just doesn’t perform well. I wasn’t alone in this. I am just one of many stories of filmmakers who took the risk.
They put their money where their mouth was. They decided to bet on themselves and it didn’t work out. You don’t see a return on that investment and this is the dark side of the film industry that doesn’t get talked about.
We can’t just look at film as like this cool little hobby and then somebody will just pluck you out from nothing and make all your dreams come true sometimes. You have to be the person to bet on yourself. But, if you make that bet, you have to be financially responsible, you have to be willing to say if I make this film, I might not make a return on my investment and if that happens will I still be okay financially. If the answer is no, then you should not be spending that money and it’s not all bad.
Lots of people have made films that didn’t necessarily like make them money back, but the exposure they got from those films paid for itself off like and then some like the connections they made. It opened doors for them.
Many filmmakers have lost money just by signing like bad contracts. They didn’t know any better. You’ve got to educate yourself on how distribution works. I didn’t learn anything in film school, about all the different like flavors of distribution and types of contracts, I had to learn all that stuff on my own. You have to educate yourself, so you don’t get taken advantage of .
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