Make Movies That Make Money!

The Low-Budget Filmmaker’s Guide to Commercial Success

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About the Book

The term “low-budget” can refer to anything from a $10 million indie flick to a student film produced on borrowed equipment with little or no money. Low budget filmmakers can range from seasoned auteurs attempting to shed the shackles of major studio control to novice talents trying to break into the industry.
Designed for would-be filmmakers of all experience levels, this book explains how to make a good, commercially successful, low-budget movie in the current multi-million dollar Hollywood climate. The purpose is not only to show how to get movies made and distributed, but also how to maximize a film’s potential for significant profit.
Written in practical, understandable terms, the book covers everything from commercially viable genres to the most efficient film and video formats, along with tips on hiring stars, pursuing investors, distributing and marketing a film, and keeping track of expenses.

About the Author(s)

Producer and playwright Philip R. Cable is the chief of production at Marche-Williams Productions. He lives in central California.

Bibliographic Details

Philip R. Cable
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 240
Bibliographic Info: appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2009
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4163-1
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5346-7
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Preface      1

I. GETTING STARTED

1. Realistic Expectations      3

2. Is There a Need for Your Movie?      5

3. What Kind of Movie Makes Money?      6

4. What Sells Each Genre?      8

5. Contact a Distributor Now!      9

6. Letters of Intent Can Make, or Break, Your Movie      10

7. Show Me the Money!      12

8. Corporation or Limited Partnership: Which Is Right for You?      13

9. Selling Yourself Isn’t Selling Out      15

10. Investors Buy the Sizzle, Not Just the Steak      18

11. Sizing Up an Investor      23

12. An Investors Proposal That Makes Sense      25

13. Investor Contracts: Keep It Simple      38

14. The Budget Dictates the Movie You Make and Your Profit Potential      41

15. In What Format Should You Shoot Your Movie?      43

16. Dangerous People to Watch Out For      45

17. You’re Not Ready Until You’re Ready      47

18. Ten Hard Lessons About Getting Ready      48

19. Flashback, Part One      50

II. PRE-PRODUCTION

20. The Budget: Is There Ever Enough Money?      53

21. Over-Ambition + Inexperience = Failure      54

22. Write a Script That Helps Your Movie, Not Hinders It      54

23. Plot Structure That Works      87

24. Dialogue Is Just Words, Unless…      95

25. What to Minimize      96

26. Why Scene Length Is Vital      97

27. Everybody’s Got a Talented “Relative”      97

28. Union Actors, Non-Union, and Financial Core      98

29. You Can’t Trust Actors’ Resumes      100

30. Auditions Don’t Have to Be Agony      102

31. Casting: Not for the Faint of Heart      104

32. Do You Need a Star to Sell Your Movie?      105

33. How Do You Get a Star?      106

34. There’s Always an Armchair Role with a Star’s Name on It      107

35. The Crew Is Crucial      108

36. Actors’ and Crew’s Contracts      109

37. Insurance      114

38. Do You Need a Completion Bond?      116

39. Locations and Sets      117

40. Planning a Logical Shooting Schedule      119

41. Product Placement      124

42. A Cast “Read Through” Is Important      125

43. It’s Not Real Until It Happens      126

44. Practice Being Bad in Order to Be Good      126

45. Ten Hard Lessons About Pre-Production      127

46. Flashback, Part Two      128

III. PRODUCTION

47. Sudden Offers to Help      131

48. If You Don’t Know Your Craft, You’d Better Learn It Now      131

49. Plan Your Shots      132

50. Continuity      133

51. Permits      133

52. Get a Good Production Assistant and Save Yourself a Lot of Aggravation      134

53. A Director Is a Leader; Be One      135

54. A Director Is Also a Peacemaker      135

55. The Three-Quarter Actor      136

56. Always Have Another Actor in the Wings      137

57. Keep a Tight Rein on Your Actors or They Will Stampede      138

58. Release Forms      138

59. Keep from Being Sued by Being Careful About What You Film      139

60. Let’s Talk About Errors and Omissions      140

61. What You Do When Everyone Realizes That Filmmaking Is Hard Work      142

62. Cameras      142

63. Affordable Lighting Equipment      143

64. Sound: The Difference Between Success and Disaster      144

65. Basic Camera Techniques That Every Actor and Director Needs to Know      145

66. Effective Lighting Is Not That Hard      147

67. Camera Placement      149

68. Tips on Recording Effective Sound      150

69. Coverage, the Ultimate Protection      151

70. Photos on the Set Are Important      151

71. Meals and Craft Service Can Save Your Production      152

72. Special Effects on the Set      152

73. Plan for Things to Go Wrong      156

74. Ten Hard Lessons About Production      157

75. Flashback, Part Three      158

IV. POST-PRODUCTION

76. Where to Find Affordable Editing      160

77. In What Format Should You Edit?      162

78. Editing Tips      163

79. Sound Effects and Effective Sound      164

80. ADR, the Easy Way      165

81. Where Do You Find Music?      166

82. Music Tips      167

83. Titles and Visual Effects      168

84. Stock Footage      169

85. Ten Hard Lessons About Post-Production      170

86. Flashback, Part Four      171

V. DISTRIBUTION

87. You Can’t Make Dime One Until You Understand How Distribution Actually Works      174

88. The Important Film Markets      176

89. What Kind of Distributor Do You Really Need?      178

90. The Marketplaces for Your Movie      179

91. The Two-and-a-Half Distribution Deals      179

92. Playing Scared Means You’ll Lose the Game      180

93. Being Cheated by a Distributor      181

94. Ten Hard Lessons About Distribution      182

95. Flashback, Part Five      184

VI. IT AIN’T OVER TILL IT’S OVER

96. Movies Are a Neverending Process      187

97. Do Film Festivals Have Any Real Value?      187

98. Promotion, Promotion, Promotion      189

99. Doing Interviews That Will Sell Your Movie      189

100. Keeping Track of Your Profits      191

101. Hold Onto Your Contacts      191

102. Flashback, Part Six      191

VII. FINAL THOUGHTS

103. Personal Observations      193

104. Recommended Reading and Viewing      194

Appendices

A. Script Coverage Companies      197

B. Screen Actors Guild Local Branches      198

C. Motion Picture Insurance Companies      199

D. Product Placement Companies      200

E. Filmmaking Terms      203

F. Distributors      209

Bibliography      219

Index      223

Book Reviews & Awards

“the information about markets is valuable, as are the appendices”—Library Journal; “a fine and highly recommended guide for those who don’t want to be a starving artist”—Midwest Book Review.