Eilish Kent: Tips for Writing Short Films

Over her career, producer, script editor and story consultant Eilish Kent has commissioned (for RTÉ & BBC) over 100 live action and animated short films. She also ran clinics for Filmbase on short films and has sat on many selection panels for County Councils around the country. Eilish teaches screenwriting in the National Film School and assesses Film for the Arts Council. She can be hired as a story consultant and script editor through her website.

Eilish will hold a writing workshop to write/rewrite or polish your short film on Saturday, 15th June in Dublin.

Here Eilish gives her top tips for how to write a short film:

Small stories that turn on a single event work best.

Know what makes your central character interesting on screen, work out how to show this.

Change needs to happen but it can be very small.

Spend as little screen time as possible setting up the story.

Identify a key visual image that encapsulates the tone and feel of the world of the story.

Make sure you have a proper ending – this is the last impression you make on audience.

Consider sound and how it can carry story.

Know what makes your film stand apart from other short films.

Write the film without dialogue first.

Consider the location of each scene and how the choice of location tells the story. Try to vary the location from interior to exterior, etc. (if set in a single location look for distinctive areas within the location to create different atmospheres: intimate, anonymous, etc.)

Consider who, or what, should be in each scene to put the central character under pressure.

Don’t repeat a beat, every scene must move the story forward and/or reveal character.

When you have the story working without dialogue, write the dialogue to create conflict and reveal attitude/character.

Use themes as subject-matter of dialogue.

 

Join Eilish on a writing workshop to write/rewrite or polish your short film Saturday, 15th June, Dublin city centre.

https://www.eilishkent.com/events/write-a-short-film

 

 

https://www.linkedin.com/in/eilish-kent-producer/

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Top Tips for Your Slate Funding Application

Creative Europe Desk Ireland have given a list of tips for filmmakers applying for slate funding from their first seminar of 2019 in Irish Film Institute on MEDIA Slate Funding.

 

  • A Slate Funding application must contain a slate of at least 3 and a maximum of 5 projects. The total amount of support that can be allocated under Slate Funding is between €70,000 and €200,000.
  • Short Film (max 20 mins) providing support to emerging talent can be included in the Slate as an additional project – ie a Slate of 3-5 projects plus one short film.
  • Eligibility: independent European production companies with an international track record who have recently produced an internationally distributed project.
  • Projects can include Feature filmsanimation and creative documentaries (min. length of 60 mins)
 intended for theatrical release; TV / digital platform series or one-off; Drama (min. length 90 mins)
; Animation (min. length 24 mins); Creative documentaries (min. length 50 mins).

PRACTICAL TIPS ON WRITING YOUR APPLICATION | ORLA CLANCY AND EIBHLÍN NÍ MHUNGHAILE, CEDI MEDIA.

  • Give yourself lots of time to prepare and write your applications.
  • Read it over several times and get someone else to read it too.
  • Be positive when describing your company and your projects – sell your company, team talents, awards, achievements!
  • Write clearly. Be consistent. Spellcheck!
  • Be specific when describing your projects.
  • Be consistent with your budget.
  • Show that you have alternative plans for your financial and distribution strategies.

COMPANY PRESENTATION & BUSINESS STRATEGIES | BERNIE CULLINANE, PRAGMA ADVISORY AND SCREEN LEADERS.

  • Have a clear vision of your company in terms of goals and what you want to achieve.
  • Spend time with your team writing a clear, concise company description.
  • If you don’t have one, develop a 5 year company strategy.
  • Identify the scope of the company – e.g. We are / we are not; we want to be known for…
  • Make sure you hire the best talent!
  • Identify the key tasks that need to be done to achieve your goals.
  • Sign up to the MEDIA supported Screen Leaders company development programme!

SKILLS DEVELOPMENT & EMERGING TALENT | GARETH LEE, SCREEN SKILLS IRELAND 

  • Show how your company fosters talent whether it be via training, mentoring, or career progression.
  • Try to include a short film in your slate application to demonstrate how you plan to develop new talent.
  • If you can’t include a short film then show how you plan to foster talent via your company and projects.
  • Screen Skills Ireland offer Bursary Training Awards for EU and international training for your team.
  • You can apply for funding to attend full time courses and workshops abroad or to participate in a structured work programme within international companies.
  • Screen Skills Ireland also offer work-based learning such as traineeships, apprenticeships, shadowing and mentoring.

MARKETING & DISTRIBUTION | PATRICK O’NEILL, WILDCARD DISTRIBUTION

  • Do online research about other projects similar to yours to find the right distributor or sales agents for your projects.
  • Make sure to show your distribution strategy in your application
  • Mention sales agents, distributors and any new distribution platforms you might target.
  • What is your distribution strategy for countries you are co-producing with?
  • Marketing: show your strategy is European and international. Do you have a marketing content plan?
  • What marketing tools will you use to pitch at markets and film festivals.
  • Subscribe to Cinando to keep up with EU film industry news.
  • Cinando offers film industry contacts, profiles, films for sale, projects in development, screening schedules during the major film markets.

The deadline for Slate Development applications is 11am Wednesday 20th February, 2019. Keep an eye out in 2019 for a series of briefing sessions with European Sales Agents.

 

Keep an eye on upcoming funding deadlines at 

http://filmireland.net/2019/01/02/festivals-funding-schemes-deadlines-2015/

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Tips: Getting Started as an Actor

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Ahead of her Intro to Acting for TV & Film course at Filmbase,  Sarah Hone gives us her 7 tips for getting started as an actor.

1 – Don’t be a jerk!!!!

Sounds obvious but if you respond to rejection or “constructive” feedback negatively you will be remembered as someone with a chip on their shoulder and therefore not considered when roles are being handed out. Pick your battles wisely – no-one wants to work with someone with a bad attitude.

2 – Be proactive.

No one is going to come knocking on your door offering you an Oscar. Nor is someone going to “discover” you when you’re waiting for your flight at the airport (unless you’re actually Kate Moss in 1988). If you can’t get a good agent who is going to find work for you (very difficult to get even if you’ve been acting professionally for years) then you need to find work yourself. Sign up to Fishpond and StarNow and get into the habit of browsing online audition notices every day.

3 – Do your homework.

When it comes to castings or securing a place in an acting school, find out who is going to be auditioning you and have a general idea of what they have worked on before. If you have taken the time to get to know their body of work it will show that you are eager to impress and are truly interested in the business.

4 – Don’t be afraid to take low paid (or unpaid ) work when you are first starting out.

Join an improv group or co-op theatre company and get experience and exposure in the industry. That way you’ll meet like-minded souls who will inspire and encourage you, as well as allowing potential future employers see your work. If you are performing in something you will be able to network and create connections which will hopefully lead to more better paid work.

5 – Be 100% professional in auditions.

If you are applying for a place in an acting school and part of the audition is a warm-up or improvisation exercise, don’t forget that this is still part of the audition where you will be watched like a hawk and judged on your behaviour! The facilitators will be looking for someone who listens to instructions, takes direction well and is able to focus.

6 – Follow your gut instinct.

If something seems sleazy or unprofessional then it probably is.

7 – Don’t get disillusioned!

We all have moments where we want to give up and take on a cosy 9-5 with a guaranteed pay cheque and a spinning office chair. If you truly know that acting is your calling and the only path to career happiness then you need to find some way to make it work. Breathe, reboot and rage against the dying of the light…

 

Sarah Hone is an industry professional with over fifteen years experience working in the theatre and film world. She has a BA in Theatre and Performance and an MA in Dramatherapy, and has worked as a professional actress in Ireland, USA, Australia and Japan.

 

Intro to Acting for TV & Film – Sarah Hone

sarah hone b&w headshot 22nd May – 17th July, 8 Mon Eves (no class 5th June)

€275 Members / €295 Non-Members

 

This rigorous film-acting course is aimed at aspiring and beginners level actors, as well as theatrically trained actors, wanting to make the transition from stage to screen.

 

Visit Filmbase for further info.

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Ross Whitaker: What I Learned Making ‘Between Land and Sea’

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Photo by Kevin Smith

 

Between Land and Sea, which chronicles a year in the life of the big wave surf community in Lahinch, Co. Clare, has been touring Ireland for the last two months. The surprise hit has been critically acclaimed as well as attracting sold out audiences around the country. As it prepares for its last few screenings (at the Mermaid, Bray on May 15th and IFI, Dublin on May 16th) in Ireland and for its international market bow at the Cannes Film Festival next week, Ross reflects on the experience of making a surf film from the perspective of a complete outsider. (Screening info via BetweenLandAndSea.com)

 

When I was approached to direct Between Land and Sea by the producers at Motive Films, I was excited but very scared. Excited because it was something completely new with a blank page to work from (after about six years working on my previous film!) and because I knew that I would be filming in a spectacular place. And scared because I knew nothing about surfing and because I knew I’d be working from a low budget in a genre where films are rarely less than spectacular. Indeed, hadn’t there already been a brilliant surf film made just a few years ago, Wave Riders? And the director of that film, Joel Conroy, was a surfer himself who knew the world inside out.  Still, I figured it was too great an opportunity to dismiss and decided I’d just have to learn how to make the film as I made the film.

 

Here are some of the things I learned making the film.

 

1. Know what you do and don’t know – one of the most daunting but ultimately helpful aspects of starting this documentary was realising that I had very much a blank page in front of me. I knew very little about surfing, so I tried to turn that into a positive in two ways. Firstly, by making sure I played to my strengths, chiefly to try to make my characters comfortable enough to be themselves on camera. And secondly, I kept an open mind to everything and everyone in Lahinch, who could educate me about surfing, and tried to use that information to portray the surfing world as they saw it.

 

2. Find someone who knows the world you’re in – as I started the film, the producers (Anne McLoughlin and Jamie D’Alton) said to me, “it would be great if you could find a local person who could work with you on the ground.” Thankfully, this happened and I was very lucky to meet Kevin Smith, a brilliant young filmmaker living in the area who was happy to collaborate on the film. I had to overcome my instinct to want to make the on-the-ground creative decisions myself and open myself up to the expertise, knowledge and connections of a locally based person. The rewards, in terms of what we were able to capture with a small but dedicated team, were massive.

 

3. Adapt your style to what’s in front of you – while Between Land and Sea maintains many elements of my previous films (I hope it has a sense of character intimacy and is interested in some of the same themes), I wanted it to also be specific to its environment. After a little time there, it struck me how different and special the light is in the west of Ireland and I wanted to get this across at all times, so I decided that everything should be naturally lit and that we would use no lights in the making of the film. I hope this gives the film a more natural light and reflects to some degree what it feels like to be there. Another thing that struck me in Clare was how it sounds very different to the east coast, so in the edit we tried to bring that to the film too. The pace of the film also tried to reflect the pace of life in the town. While a lot of surf films attempt to be high octane, the day-to-day life of coastal towns really isn’t like that, so that’s another thing we tried to reflect.

 

4. Explain what you plan to do and then do that – the people who I filmed in Lahinch were hugely generous with their time and energy and increasingly so as filming went on. I came to understand that people in surfing communities are well used to outsiders coming along and filming them but that they have also grown a little tired of this, particularly when people make promises that they don’t keep. So, from quite early on, I tried to be clear about my intentions and how I thought things would pan out. I think as people saw that I was serious about what I was trying to do, that a mutual respect developed and this was key to being able to capture people naturally.

 

5. Work with an editor who gets it – the editor of the film is Andrew Hearne and I really wanted him to cut the film, not just because he’s a wonderful editor but because he also grew up in a seaside surf town. Andrew grew up in Tramore, a great surf town in Waterford, so when he was cutting the film, he really understood the rhythms of life and the motivations of the characters. He contributed a huge amount to getting the feel of the film right because he had lived in a similar place.

 

6. Don’t underestimate the potential reach of the film – despite being a low-budget, obscure film and not in position to get distribution (with broadcasts coming soon and without Irish Film Board support, we were not an attractive proposition for distributors!), the film has surprised us in how it has managed to find an audience. I must remind myself in future that audiences do want to see honestly made films about other human beings and throw in some lovely landscapes and surfing and you might be amazed at what a film can achieve. Facebook has been key for us in getting the word out and a good trailer can spread the word fast about a film. Since my last film, Unbreakable, was distributed two years ago the media landscape has shifted and social media has become even more important. In addition, there are more media outlets than ever and if you cater to their needs, a film can get a lot of exposure even without a publicity budget. Finally, I’ve learned that a good local story can have international resonance and we’ve been delighted by the response of international sales agents who really seem to get the universal themes of the film.

 

The film will screen at the March du Film at Cannes Film Festival and we’ll soon find out just how far this little film might travel!

 

 
Mermaid Wicklow Arts Centre, Bray (with Q&A)

Monday, May 15th @ 20:00 (Buy Tickets)

Dublin: IFI Cinema (with Q&A)

May 16th @ 18:30 (Buy Tickets)

Ennis: glór

June 1st plus BBQ @ 18:30 (Buy Tickets)

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Tips: Comedy Sketch Writing

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Ahead of his Comedy Writing Weekend at Filmbase (8 – 9 April), award-winning comedy writer Stephen Shields gives us his top ten tips for Comedy Sketch Writing. 

 

  • BE OBSERVANT AND KEEP NOTES

The world in day to day life can be full of comedy gold. Most hilarity comes from noticing the obtuse in what is normal to others. Comedy has always had an anchor in what people see and take for granted being presented to them in an alternate light. Always be observant into what you find funny in the world and note it down. Even if you do not know why you think it’s funny at that moment, it’s always best to have a written reminder that you can call upon later on a future piece of work.

 

  • READ AND WATCH AS MUCH AS YOU CAN ABOUT CURRENT EVENTS

The news from at home and around the world can be a great source of content for a comedy piece. With so much happening in the world from politics, sport, celebrity news etc. It’s hard not to absorb something funny from either current events or current pop culture trends and incorporating them into a sketch or a joke.

 

  • DON’T BE AFRAID TO TRY A JOKE

The word “taboo” is the name of Tom Hardy’s TV show on the BBC that I only watched the first episode of and thought it was just okay. In day to day usage it means “restricted” or “prohibited”. But in comedy, no one will know what works until you try it and it’s been evaluated either by a producer, executive or the audience. But above all else, be respectful. But try a joke, if it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t and try again.

 

  • WATCH AS MUCH COMEDY AS YOU CAN (PAST AND PRESENT)

There have been funny people before you and there will be funny people after you. If you don’t know where you’ve been how can you know where you’re going? Watch comedy. Past and present. Absorb comedy like a vitamin you sponge through your eyes. Anything and everything, from Monty Python to SNL. From The Fast Show to Seinfeld. Watch stuff. Study it. What makes it funny? And how can you learn from it.

 

FIND WHAT YOU’RE SUITED FOR

Some people find their humour from the crazy world of politics, home and abroad (Donald Trump). Others find humour in the day to day lives of ordinary people. Others think that cats are funny. Cats think humans are funny. It’s a win win situation.  Find out what you’re interested in talking about and make it funny. You may even surprise yourself.


  • TRY BE DIFFERENT

A lot subjects have been touched by the comedy greats gone before us. Always look for the new and improved hook. Has this been done before? If not, why? And how can I make it my own comedy gem? Most comedy works when people think outside of the box or rip the box up completely. Do your thing. Make it your own and stand out from the pack.

 

  • WRITE, WRITE, WRITE

 
Comedy writing is a tool and like all tools, it should be locked in the shed and forgot about until the moment a few years down the road when you think “I have a tool for that job”. Sorry I mean, it needs to be sharpened. Try write something every day. A thought, a line of funny dialogue, a whole sketch, a sitcom, a three hour art film about paint drying on a wall somewhere in eastern Europe. Anything. Just write.
 

 

 

  • MAKE SOMETHING AND GET IT OUT THERE

YouTube. We have cameras on our phones. You think you’re funny. Make something and put it online. Think how lucky we are that we now have the means to broadcast for free. YouTube is a great training ground and means to get your comedy out to the masses. And if you’re lucky and the right person sees it you could go on to bigger and better platforms. If you don’t swing the bat, you won’t hit the ball.  If you don’t try, you’ll never know. If you feed rice to pigeons they will explode. Sorry, I ran out of positive messages you read on Facebook set in a nice font with the background picture almost always a sunset at twilight hour.
 

 

 

  • 3 ACT STRUCTURE

Basic story telling rules. Beginning, middle and end. Setup, confrontation, resolution. Not all sketches apply to this format but these are still good rules to follow. I will explain more during the comedy weekend, when you attend *COUGHS* plugs comedy weekend that he’s teaching. Check details on Fimbase here
 

 

 

  • ABOVE ALL ELSE, BE FUNNY

“Some people are born funny, some have funny thrust upon them and some people are just not funny, let’s face facts, they think they are but really, they’re not. There are funny people though, really funny people”

  • William Shakespeare. (May not be original quote)

If you think you’re funny, give it a go. But above all else be funny.
 

 

 

Stephen is an award-winning comedy writer who has worked on some of the most popular comedy series broadcast on national TV, with some of the funniest comic talent the country has to offer. Since winning RTE Storyland 2010 with his web series Zombie Bashers he has gone on to work on numerous comedy shows on RTE including Callan’s Kicks, Foul Play, This is Ireland with Des Bishop and is the longest serving sketch writer on RTE’s The Republic of Telly.

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Tips: Producing A Short Film: In Three Simple, Difficult Steps

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Barry’s Bespoke Bakery (produced by Ben Keenan)

 

Ahead of his weekend course at Filmbase (18th & 19th June 2016), producer Ben Keenan shares three things you need to get right when producing a short film. 

Making a short film is hard, but going through all of that work without getting these things right would be a real shame…

 

1. The Right Script

The right script is better than the best script – choose something that suits your abilities, resources and sensibilities. Find out what kind of film you want to make and choose something fully do-able. A small victory is even better than a genuinely noble failure since it can show you parts of the process only available to filmmakers who finish films. When making a documentary, there should still be a script or vision for the finished film.

 

 

2. The Right Director

A functional and productive director-producer relationship is an expensive investment, so you should choose someone you can work with again. Often the script and the director come as a package, so make the decision based on both, with one eye on the proposed project and another on what you think it would be like to work with them again.

 

 

3. The Right Budget

Perhaps a little controversially, sometimes this is zero. Dollar-signed bags of other people’s money come with perfectly reasonable strings attached. If you are trying something experimental or trying to learn the craft, you are likely better off making something with little to no money. More freedom, lower cost on your mistakes, less visibility. You can also get a protracted shooting schedule which teaches discipline in continuity and allows you to review and digest footage as you proceed. As long as it’s a valuable learning experience for everyone on the crew and they know what they’re signing up for, it’ll be a fair proposition.

 

Producing a Short Film – With Ben Keenan
18th & 19th June, 1 weekend

Filmbase, Temple Bar, Dublin 2

€175 Members / €200 Non-Members

Do you want to know what it takes to produce a short film? This course is designed for anyone setting out to make their first short film.

Intro:

Do you want to know what it takes to produce a short film? Producing a Short returns to Filmbase with experienced Producer, Ben Keenan (Barry’s Bespoke Bakery, The Chronoscope). Using successful short films as case studies, this course is theory based with some practical exercises. It is the ideal course for first-time filmmakers.

 

Course Content:

  • Relationship between Producer and Director
  • What a Director looks for in a Producer
  • Production Department – Who’s who?
  • Pre-production meetings
  • Short Films – Award Schemes
  • Legal Issues for Short Films
  • Script breakdown
  • Scheduling
  • Casting
  • Post-Production
  • Film Festivals

 

Ben Keenan

In 2009 Ben Keenan directed his first feature film, a comedy titled The rise of the Bricks, starring Emmett Scanlan, Eoin Macken, Ciaran McNamee, Cillian Scott and Cathal Sheahan. Since then he has gone on to work as a Development Executive for Fastnet Films and a Digital Content Producer in BK Media. He also produced and developed online comedy as Half a Giraffe.

Short films Ben has produced, including Barry’s Bespoke Bakery (Irish Film Board), The Chronoscope and This is Not A Conspiracy Theory (RTÉ), have screened at festivals around the world, including The Galway Film Fleadh, Eat My Shorts, The Underground Film Festival London, The Capital Irish Film Festival Washington, The International Film Festival Molodist in the Ukraine, The Charlie Chaplin Film Festival in Kerry and the Darklight festival.

 

Dates:

  • 18th & 19th June, 1 weekend

Class times:

  • Sat 10.30 – 5.00 & Sun 11.00 – 5.30

Pricing:

  • €175 Members / €200 Non-Members
  • €100 Deposit

Location:

  • Filmbase, Temple Bar, Curved street

 

To book your place, contact Filmbase Reception on 01 679 6716 and dial 0. For more information, email our training department at training@filmbase.ie. Please read our Terms & Conditions before booking a course.

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Tips: On Set Etiquette

Patrick Murphy (1)

Actor Patrick Murphy gives us some advice on how to mind your p and qs on set ahead of his 4-day Acting for Camera Showreel Course at Filmbase (4th – 7th August 2016).

1. Always be Early

….and let an AD know your whereabouts at all times if you go wandering. Film sets don’t have time to send out search parties.

 

2. Pace yourself.

Keep a bag of dried fruit and nuts on you. The slow releasing energy will help keep you going.

 

3. Relax when you can

Try not to be too animated whilst waiting for your scenes and reserve your energy for when the camera is rolling.

4. Get to know the Crew

…and learn their names. Directors and cast may change a lot, but crews will mostly stay the same, and these are the guys you will be working along side for years to come.

5. Don’t be a Diva

A good attitude goes a long way, and word spreads fast about those with bad ones.

 

 

ACTING FOR CAMERA SHOWREEL

Filmbase

4th -7th August 2016, Thurs – Sun

€275 members / €295 Non-Members

This intensive 4-Day Acting for Showreel course is ideal for past acting students, or those with experience from similar course, to prepare, workshop, rehearse and shoot a scene.

Intro:

Filmbase have just announced an updated intensive 4-day ACTING FOR CAMERA SHOWREEL course. It is often difficult for aspiring and developing film actors to acquire worthy professional footage for inclusion in their showreel, Filmbase have decided to run a program specifically designed to facilitate this, covering relevant topics such as self-taping, acting techniques and self management.

 

Course Content:

Working with scene partners, you will be given scenes to workshop, rehearse, and learn. The course culminates in an intensive shoot day, where your scene will be shot, edited and sound designed for inclusion on your professional showreel.

This is a fantastic opportunity to produce a professional scene, working in a structured, professional context.

This is ideal for students of Level 1 and Level 2 Acting courses at Filmbase, or equivalent courses from other institutions. Places are extremely limited, so early booking is advised!

 

Lead Tutor: Patrick Murphy

Patrick is best known for recurring role of Karl in over 4 seasons of Love/Hate and has just landed a role in the acclaimed show, Vikings. He has been acting for the last 9 years and has appeared in numerous TV shows and films along the way. Patrick has studied Meisner, Stanaslavsky and done most other acting for camera courses Ireland has to offer. He has recently won the Underground Cinema’s Best Music Director award.

Over the years he honed in on what casting directors looked for in showreels, and he started his own production company, ‘Whispered Films’. As well as producing award-winning films, he has been creating showreels for actors across Ireland and England, both editing previous work and filming new scenes as needed. His back catalog includes creating popular music videos, adverts and documentaries.

Dates:

  • 4th – 7th August, Thurs – Sun

Class times:

  • 10.00 – 5pm each day

Pricing:

  • €275 members / €295 Non-Members
  • €100 Deposit

Location:

  • Filmbase, Temple Bar, Curved street

To book your place on this course, please contact Filmbase Reception on 01 679 6716 and dial 0. For more information on this course, email our Training Department at training@filmbase.ie. Please read our Terms & Conditions before booking a course.

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A Few Things to Consider Before You Start Writing Your TV Drama

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Ahead of her Writing for TV Drama course at Filmbase, which runs over 8 Wednesday evenings from 30th March – 18th May, tutor Eilish Kent suggests things to consider before you start writing your TV drama.

 

Ensure your central character is worthy of the screen time:

Renewable series or a franchise is the golden goose of TV Drama and something all TV channels want constantly; to create series that can engage an audience beyond season one you must create characters that audiences will want to watch, either for their great mastery (of some skill or talent) or for the incredible and difficult situation they are in, or both. These characters must also have rich backstories, the richer the backstory the more there is to mine for future stories and seasons. Without an interesting central character the series will not have legs, as it is the central character who will generate story by the manner in which they react to the situations they find themselves in.

 

The long emotional arc:

In series, as opposed to singles or features, characters’ arc of transformation is drawn out or never completed, they always have their Achilles heal to deal with and this is why the character retains interest for audience. Once the issue central to their character is resolved there is less at stake.

 

Working within the format:

TV works to prescribed schedules and programmes have precise durations; this means that as a writer you have to write within this structure. Unlike cinema, audiences can easily turn over to another offering, so it is imperative that you grab the audience’s attention and hook them in as quickly as possible.

 

Writing to the hooks:

To keep an audience engaged and wanting more you need to give them a reason to come back after commercial breaks and for the next episode or season; to achieve this, TV is written to the story hooks and breaks.

 

The rules of the world:

Once you have established the rules of the world you can’t break them. You can’t change a character’s true essence to accommodate plot; at the same time, however, you must continuously surprise audience within the context of what you have established.

 

Test the idea:

Before spending time writing your TV series test the idea, ask hard questions of the central characters and the central concept, what makes it interesting for your target audience and how will this endlessly renew itself.

 

Above all never be boring.

 

Eilish works freelance as a story consultant and script editor on film and all TV genre, she can be contacted on eilishkent@gmail.com

 

Course Details

Writing for TV Drama with Eilish Kent

  • 8 Wednesday evenings from 30th March to 18th May, 

€260 Members / €295 Non-Members

Writing Television Drama is a course aimed at writers who are interested in learning more about the fundamental skills of crafting good television drama in all its forms.

 

Intro:

Along with the explosion of high quality television drama over the last decade there has been an increasing diversification of audience viewing patterns. Broadcasters and production companies are increasingly looking for innovative and distinctive drama proposals capable of reaching and attracting large television audiences.

The course is highly recommended for writers who are interested in exploring TV drama as an avenue for their work, but may also appeal to directors and producers seeking a better understanding of television story structure and dynamics.

The course is designed and will be led by Eilish Kent, who worked for the BBC and RTÉ commissioning and developing TV dramas, for over 16 years. She has worked across formats from singles to renewable series, and across genre, from comedy to true life stories. She has brought many first time writers to TV audiences.

 

Course Content:

  • The principles of screenwriting and their application for television drama.
  • The current best practice for submitting drama proposals to broadcasters and television production companies.
  • The commissioning process and broadcaster requirements at the various stages of the development process.
  • The fundamental principles of writing for single and one-off dramas, serials and renewable series.
  • The world of the series and the series ‘Bible’.
  • The importance of research, generating storylines, arcs and plotting.
  • Creating compelling characters, pacing and tone and audience engagement.
  • Different formats and genre.

 

Tutor: Eilish Kent

Projects Eilish managed onto screen for RTÉ include Hardy Bucks, Raw, Fade St, Any Time Now, No Tears (International Emmy for best series or serial), Love Is The Drug (IFTA best series), Fergus Wedding, Paths to Freedom and Foreign Exchange. And for the BBC, Vicious Circle, Rap at the Door and Mezzone (RTS winner). She devised and managed StoryLand, a unique project when launched that saw 28 original online series produced. Prior to her work in TV, Eilish was an actor’s agent in London and worked in marketing for Oxford University Press. She is a graduate of EAVE and North by Northwest. She has a BA in English and History of Art and an MA in Modern Drama from UCD. Currently she works freelance as a story consultant.

 

To reserve your place on this course, please contact Filmbase Reception on 01 679 6716 and dial 0. For more information, email our Training Department at training@filmbase.ie. Please read our Terms & Conditions before booking a course.

 

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Tips: Creating a Webseries

extreme cu 1

 

Story consultant and script editor Eilish Kent gives three tips for creating a web series.

 

Creating an online series is a great way to get noticed in the industry and kick startyour career or prove that your idea has commercial value.  If you can show that you can attract and engage audience with your content broadcasters and financiers will follow.  As usually no one is paying for you to make the series, you have total creative freedom.

 

  • Define your audience: with so much content available to audience online you need to find an idea that is going to standout to a specific audience and target that cohort. Often this is people who have similar tastes and interests to you, you need to know this audience’s likes and dislikes, how to find them online and how to get them to take notice of your content.

 

  • The renewable idea: while online is saturated with content, audience is always hungry for good/original series and want more and more of it; so ensure that your idea is endlessly renewable from the beginning; for this you need to have an open-ended narrative with no built-in definitive end point. This idea will be your story engine.

 

  • Engaging, active characters carry the story: without great characters your series will be boring and you will lose audience. Turn up the heat on the idea you already have by making your central character just a little sharper/dumber/hapless/romantic, etc.  Define the protagonist and antagonists and give them memorable entrances onscreen.

 

To explore these topics and more join Eilish for a weekend on Creating Webseries (13th – 14th February 2016) where you will get the opportunity to work on your ideas for a webseries and pitch them to the rest of the group. 

Eilish is a story consultant and script editor with 20 years’ experience in project development and commissioning in Irish TV.

Eilish is available for script editing and story consultancy, she can be contacted by email at eilishkent@gmail.com

 

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Tips: 5 Tips for Novice Screenwriters

screenplay-contests1

Writer James Phelan sets out his top tips for those new to screenwriting.

1 – FINISH YOUR SCRIPT

Sounds obvious but until you do, it’s all theory and hot air. Chances are when you pitch or visualise the project you envisage a couple of scenes or sequences that really rock. And those are the ones you talk about. And that’s only natural. There’s a reason that no one ever hushes an entire room at a pitching event or in a bar at a film festival and starts with ‘I have a couple of really terrible scenes that are rife with clumsy exposition, trite dialogue and really contrived beats.’

Be proud of your great scenes but even if they do turn out great, those won’t be the scenes that need work. It’ll be every other connective or establishing scene into which you need to layer or bury exposition and characterisation while simultaneously infusing the entire thing with entertainment value. Until the script exists, our illusions and dreams inspire us and protect us. Finishing a script is reality setting in. And usually it ain’t just setting in, it’s moving in.

And in terms of finishing, I’m referring exclusively to actual screenplays. The industry may be obsessed with treatments and short docs but that doesn’t mean writers should be. You may write the best treatments in the world but until you write the screenplay, it’s all just a promise to be awesome. Being awesome in script form is way more important. And impressive.

 

2 – NOW THAT YOU’VE FINISHED START AGAIN.

Nope. Not on a different project. The same one. Sure – get away from it for a while. Put it in a desk for a few weeks but unless you’re insanely talented or insanely lucky, you’re going to need to wrestle your script into its optimum shape.

Novice writers simply start to polish, tighten, augment and edit the first draft and assume that’s a second draft. It’s not. Re-drafts often need to be radical. All the prep documents aren’t the only place where fundamental questions should be asked about a project. Now that the skeleton of the story has been fleshed out, what are we looking at? Frankenstein or Einstein?

If the actuality isn’t lining up with the intention, then here come those fundamental questions again. Have we followed the right character? Have we started the story in the right place? How much do we need to shed or add to get the best out of this?

Some writers seek comfort in hitting a page count. However, just because you have 110 pages doesn’t mean you have a viable script. You just filled 110 pages. You have to police yourself on whether you’re padding out your story. It doesn’t mean the story is a dead loss. There are shorter forms for every kind of story. And any time spent writing is never wasted time. It is a process of discovery though.

 

3 – HAVE MORE THAN ONE PROJECT ON THE GO

Having a range of projects is crucial. Having writing samples that span many genres is better again. Generating your own back catalogue is easier said than done but if you’re a writer – you should be interested in exploring and developing your own range and ability.

Some aspiring beginners seem to adopt a stance of ‘I’ll write when someone pays me to’. Which, while honourable in it’s own way, seems a little daft to me. Yes, it’s great to draw a wage from writing but if you have no credits, how can you prove to someone else that you can write if you haven’t proved it to yourself. In a business where years and decades fly by, your principled stand-off with an oblivious industry may ultimately become life-long.

Write firstly for your own enjoyment and education. You can always monetise a project later. A couple of projects I’ve written were kick-started into paid development because convincing and viable scripts already existed.

 

4 – DON’T BE A SNOB

We all want to make movies. Let’s take that as a given. But in a small country with limited opportunities to get paid to write, cast your net wide and keep your options open.

I presume that no film purists starting their careers within this country can afford to be snooty anymore about tainting themselves with TV work if offered. You’d be nuts to ignore this outlet where you may be better paid and you will actually reach an audience. Bar our biggest films, the audience for some of our domestic film releases are pitiful. If you want to get your work out there, no one still does it better than TV.

Similarly, radio drama is undergoing a bit of a BAI-backed boom in this country. It’s a highly inventive, accessible and relatively inexpensive way of telling stories. While theatre retains a real allure for writers who get to maintain authorship throughout in a manner that no other form can match.

 

5 – MAKE SOMETHING

Again while I advocate building a back catalogue, there’s little point going to all that effort of generating all that material unless, once in a while, one of the damned things gets made. It’s bizarrely easy to forget.

As writers, we can retreat into our caves and start churning stuff out but when you become capable of constructing actual physical forts with printed scripts, it might be time to make one.

If you don’t want to be a director – that’s fine. Plenty of others do. Just throw a rock. Test your ideas and scripts by filtering them through someone else’s vision. No one’s work gets to screen unfettered. Start getting familiar with the heart-breaking compromises. Learn how to protect what’s important and integral. Learn how to lose some battles. Learn which hill you want to die on. Hang on tightly. Let go lightly. Someone said that in a movie once.

 

James Phelan is an IFTA and Zebbie nominated scriptwriter whose first TV series, Rásaí na Gaillimhe/Galway Races, remains TG4’s most viewed drama. As well as a sequel season of that hit show, James has written several short films produced under Filmbase, Galway Film Centre and Irish Film Board schemes.

His current projects include the four-part drama series Cheaters, in advanced development with Blinder Films and RTE, as well as scripting duties on upcoming international animation shows Oddbods and Cuby Zoo.

His next project into production is Wrecking the Rising for TG4 and Tile Films. The historical mini-series is currently shooting and is an imaginative alternate take on the events of 1916 as three modern-day re-enactors and self-proclaimed Rising experts time travel by accident to Easter week and alter history at every turn. Soon they are battling for not only their own futures but the entire country’s future too. The show’s title in Irish is Éirí Amach Amú.

 

WTR PUBLICITY STILL 1 (Peter Coonan, Owen McDonnell & Sea¦ün T. O'Meallaigh at the GPO in Wrecking the Rising)

Peter Coonan, Owen McDonnell & Seán T. Ó Meallaigh at the GPO in Wrecking the Rising

 

 

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5 Tips to Improve Your Comedy

1362393747MichelleRead (1)(1)

Comic performer and writer Michelle Read shares 5 tips to help improve your comedy stylings ahead of Filmbase’s upcoming Screen Studio Academy: Actors Intensive Lab (20th October – 26th November)

 

Stop Press: Actors are Funny

Comedy work is hilarious* and fun and a great way for actors to develop their performance skills. It helps to unlock or identify some of the experience actors already have, including comic characterisation, timing and ensemble playing.

(*disclaimer – may not be hilarious.)

 

Improv Funny

Comedy Improv is an exciting and dynamic performance format and centres around the idea of play. It’s a fun (and scary) way to explore comedy performance and the spontaneous creation of comic material. It also focuses on teamwork and game structure. It can sometimes feel like jumping in a volcano*.

(*In the metaphorical exciting sense, not in the literal burning to death sense.)

 

Sketch Funny

Many comedy makers then work with improv to create material for sketches. Spontaneous ideas and characters are explored on the floor and / or written down until a text exists that can be rehearsed. This is a process that may be familiar to actors from devising work and it allows a deeper exploration of the processes in performing comedy. Yes, you have become a comedy writer as well as a comedy performer.

 

Stand Up Funny

And if you’re writing comedy – what about Stand Up? Stand-Up has a daunting reputation but isn’t actually one rigid form. It can include storytelling, monologuing, chatting, slide shows, performing a version of yourself, being a character, riffing on a theme, making a point. Or all of the above. Stand up is a personally created performance piece, with the only caveat that it MUST be funny every ten to twenty seconds. The process of making a piece of stand-up is fantastically challenging and really good for stress levels (and cholesterol). It’s a great way for actors to never be scared of anything else ever again.

 

Don’t be funny, am funny.

Or something like that. It’s a Zen mantra about comedy. Yeah… Really helpful.

 

 

Michelle Read is one of the tutors on Filmbase’s Screen Studio Academy: Actors Intensive Lab

20th October – 26th November, Tuesdays & Thursdays
€380 Members / €420 Non-Members

The Screen Studio Academy Actors’ Intensive Lab is a highly practical course for performers. Participants will learn techniques to successfully engage with audiences as well as explore personal comic presence.

 

Intro:

Are you looking to develop your acting skills? Voice and comedy performance are vital to becoming a versatile and successful actor and knowing how to utilise performance to create dynamic characters is a staple in any actor’s toolbox.  This programme is designed to challenge students who are committed to polishing their abilities to a professional level.

“Acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different then finding myself in there.”  – Meryl Streep

This six-week programme will focus on vocal work, sketches and dynamic exercises. Clear precise speech and articulation skills will be developed to improve material delivery.

During the course, students will be immersed in the world of professional performance. Not only does the training run for two evenings per week (Tuesdays and Thursdays), but actors will be expected to set aside time for assignments and developing project work. Participants will also work alongside the Screen Studio Directors and Writers Academy courses at Filmbase to collaborate on developing projects through performance and workshop participation.

Performers new to acting are welcome and encouraged to take part in the course. However, they should be willing and eager to push themselves and be committed throughout the duration.

“The voice is the window to the soul”   – Daniel Day-Lewis

 

Course Content:

The course will cover voice work and comedy acting for film and television.  The workshop topics include:
• Introduction and basic structure of the voice.
• A focus on defining unique speech.
• Mechanics of the voice physiology and breath (breathe in – suspension – exhalation – recovery).
• Increased awareness of the back of the body, scapula and skull base and the relevant relation to posture.
• Introduction to the practice of developing and strengthening the voice from the opening of the main resonances.
• Examining the physicality of phonation.
• An in-depth exploration of crafting jokes as the building blocks of comedy.
• Learning the elements of comedy work and applying those to the text.
• Building comedy on text.
• Dealing with nerves and utilising them during audition technique.
• Creating accents and implementing them naturally.
• Performance coaching where regarding ideas and development.

 

Tutor: Maria Tecce

Maria Tecce is an actor, singer, and voice coach from Boston now based in Dublin. Maria has 15 years experience with the media and offers a special module to executives and public personalities in media interview techniques, microphone techniques, and best practices when appearing on radio, television, and presenting on stage.

The last few years have been Maria’s busiest; she has been performing and writing with Irish music-comedy act The Nualas. She also premiered her new show Strapless at Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival, performed with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, and launched her third album Viva.

Maria recently donned the acting mantel as the saucy courtesan ‘Emelie’ at Dublin’s Gate Theatre in their critically acclaimed production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, played Irish singing legend Jack L.’s leading lady in the cult short film I Hate Musicals, performed as the iconic ‘Alida Slade’ in Hugh Leonard’s Roman Fever, and as murdered wife ‘Isabella’ in the BBC television series Inspector George Gently with Martin Shaw. She has also worked in film and television with the likes of Jim Sheridan, Angela Landsbury, Patsy Kensit, Mia Farrow and Keith Carradine. “Singer Maria Tecce steals the show.” The Times.

www.mariatecce.com

 

Tutor Michelle Read

Michelle began her performance and writing career as a comic on the London circuit in the late eighties, performing regularly at many of the original clubs including The Comedy Store and the infamous Tunnel Club. On moving to Dublin she became a regular at the Comedy Cellar performing stand-up and sketch comedy and featuring in many Irish TV shows including Cursai Elaine, Couched, The Basement, Rant, Gerry Ryan Tonight, You Can’t Be Serious, Nighthawks and Saturday Live for UTV.

She is a founder member and regular player with the Dublin Comedy Improv since 1991 and has played with the team on two successful radio series for RTÉ, at the Edinburgh Festival, at the Catlaughs Festival, Kilkenny and all over Ireland. Michelle is also a playwright and theatre-maker and she regularly facilitates workshops in improvisation, devising and playwriting.

 

Guest Tutor: Sharon Mannion

Sharon Mannion is an Actor/Comedian and Writer based in Dublin. Her TV credits include Trojan Donkey (Channel 4), Moone Boy (Sky 1), Republic of Telly (RTÉ) and Don’t Tell the Bride – Narrator (RTÉ). She is a member of sketch group Ghost Train Willy and improv groups The Craic Pack, Dublin Comedy Improv and The Cardinals. She drinks a lot of tea and used to work in a chicken factory.

 

Dates:

  • 20th October – 26th November, Tuesdays & Thursdays

 

Class times:

  • 7.00pm – 10.00pm
  • Weekend/evening work may be required for collaborative projects (dates tbc)
  • Participants should set aside two to three hours per week outside of class time for assignments

 

Pricing:

  • €380 Members / €420 Non-Members
  • €150 Deposit

 

Location:

  • Filmbase, Temple Bar, Curved street

 

Follow on courses:

Participants will be offered priority booking for Screen Studio Actors’ Academy Advanced Courses from January 2016 in Comedy Acting, Soap and Television Acting and Acting for Transmedia projects.

 

To book your place, contact Filmbase Reception on 01 679 6716 and dial 0. For more information, email Lynn at lynn@filmbase.ie. Please read our Terms & Conditions before booking a course.

 

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Shooting a Horror – Five Fiendish Tips

Stitches

Ahead of Filmbase’s upcoming Screen Studio Academy: Directors Intensive Lab – Shoot Your Own Horror Short, writer, director and nightmare-maker Conor McMahon shares his 5 tips to scare the bejebus out of your audience.

 

1. Take your actors to one location and chop them up. Preferably a location that doesn’t mind you throwing fake blood around.

 
 
2. Make the first death the most impactful. The audience will be nervous about what’s to come.

 
 
3. If you’re making a comedy horror get funny actors. You can’t direct someone how to tell a joke.

 
 
4. Use the elements. Wind, fire, smoke and rain, will all add to the atmosphere.

 
 
5. In a scary horror less is more. In a comedy horror, more is more.

 

 

Filmbase Present

Screen Studio Academy: Directors Intensive Lab

20th October – 26th November, Tuesdays & Thursdays

€380 Members / €420 Non-Members

SHOOT YOUR OWN HORROR SHORT! Learn the techniques needed to successfully direct a horror film with the Screen Studio Academy: Directors Intensive lab. Participants will focus on idea generation to intensify terror as well as creating atmospheric screen stories.

 

Intro:

The Screen Studio Academy: Directors’ Intensive Lab is a highly practical course for filmmakers who want to take their skill to the next level. While examining different genres of horror, students will develop a group idea to shoot a short horror film.

The course runs two evenings per week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) and directors will also be expected to set aside time outside of class for assignments and for developing project work. As well as working on the short, participants will also work with the Screen Studio Actors and Writers Academy programmes at Filmbase to collaborate on developing projects through performance and workshop participation.

Participants new to directing are welcome and encouraged to take part in the course. However, they should be willing and eager to push themselves and committed throughout the duration.

Course Content:

The course will cover directing for horror film and television, specifically focusing on:

• Creating a story that speaks to an audience
• Looking at fear triggers and how it’s translated in film
• Story and script editing
• Developing a directorial voice
• Working with producers and creative departments
• Understanding cinematography and lighting techniques
• Horror genre conventions
• Planning for special effects and gore
• Working with actors
• Post production

 

Tutor: Conor McMahon

Conor studied filmmaking at the Irish National Film School in Dun Laoghaire. In 2004 he made his debut feature film Dead Meat, which was funded by the Irish Film Board. Following this, Conor went on to direct Zombie Bashers, an entry in the RTÉ’s Storyland competition. The show was voted by the public as the winner of the competition.

Short Films Conor directed have won numerous awards including: Best Short at the Sitges Film Festival (Spain), First Prize in the Kodak Commercial Awards (London) and Second prize at Edinburgh’s Dead by Dawn Horror film Festival.

Conor has worked on the popular RTÉ sketch show, The Republic of Telly, writing and directing sketches with acts such as The Rubber Bandits, Damo & Ivor and Georgia Salpa. His 2012 feature film Stitches, starring British comedian Ross Noble, won best film at the Midnight Xtreme section of the prestigious Sitges Film Festival. And most recently: Conor’s latest feature, From the Dark has been described by Fangoria as ‘a taut, coiled piece of dread-infused cinema that… delivers everything one could hope for from a fresh entry in that subgenre.’

 

Dates:

  • 20th October – 26th November, Tuesdays & Thursdays

 

Class times:

  • 7.00pm – 10.00pm
  • Weekend/evening work may be required for collaborative projects (dates tbc)
  • Participants should set aside two to three hours per week outside of class time for assignments

 

Pricing:

  • €380 Members / €420 Non-Members
  • €150 Deposit

 

Location:

  • Filmbase, Temple Bar, Curved street

 

Follow on courses

Participants will be offered priority booking for Screen Studio Directors’s Academy Advanced Courses from January 2016 in Comedy Directing, Soap and Television Directing and Directing for Transmedia projects.

 

To book your place, contact Filmbase Reception on 01 679 6716 and dial 0. For more information, email Lynn at lynn@filmbase.ie. Please read our Terms & Conditions before booking a course.

 

Visit www.creativeeuropeireland.eu

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5 Tips to Improve Your Voice Work

Maria Tecce, actress who is appearing with The Nualas. Photo: Tony Gavin 20/2/11

Photo: Tony Gavin

Ahead of Filmbase’s upcoming Screen Studio Academy: Actors Intensive Lab (20th October – 26th November), actor, singer and voice coach Maria Tecce shares 5 tips every actor should follow to improve their voice work.

 

Your whole body is your voice.

So many of us focus on the throat when we think about the voice. But your whole body is involved in producing sound and has potential for resonance and vibration. Like any athlete, the muscles we use to make sound need to be worked and strengthened. When we’re rehearsing, we’re using our voices regularly so it’s building up strength, but ideally, doing some kind of warm up before you do any kind of voice work is a good idea.

 

Never push your voice.

Not only are you likely to do damage but it’s exhausting. And it’s also exhausting for the audience to listen to. We work in many different types of spaces, some with better acoustics than others, so when you get into a new space, have a test run with some text to see how it feels and where you have to place your voice to fill the space. Instead of ‘projecting’ or pushing your voice, think of sending your thought out with more intention and clarity.  If your voice is released and in good nick and your breath is coming from a grounded, centred place, you won’t need to push.

 

Tension vs. Relaxation

The voice involves more muscles than just the vocal folds in the throat. All muscles have the potential to carry tension, especially around the throat, shoulders, and jaw areas, so be aware of where you’re carrying tension and give it some love. Tension is your voice’s worst enemy; relaxation is its best friend. When we are more relaxed, we can focus with more clarity, be more present in the moment and able to respond.

 

Breath is key.

Breath is the key for a strong, supported voice. It’s the imprint for vibration and sound. Getting that breath coming from a deep, grounded place gives you more power and choice when you’re performing. Whether you’re working on stage or in front of a camera, breathing helps centre you in body, voice, and thought.  It’s also a great tool to deal with nerves. God forbid you dry on stage or forget your lines, but if you do, breathe. Your body will remember when your mind doesn’t. Breath is the support for everything in your vocal arsenal.

 

Warm up.

Everybody has their own routine, ritual, or regime for warming up; there are as many warm ups as there are performers. Some people do very little; some people need an hour. But whatever you do, do something. Warming up isn’t just about preparing your body and voice to be ready to respond, it’s also waking up your thought. Clear thought = clear text.  The voice is one of the most flexible, powerful, elegant tools for communication we have. It can start a war. It can say ‘I love you’. It’s a powerhouse for emotion, passion, authenticity, texture, and colour.  And it’s all at your fingertips. Use it well

 

www.mariatecce.com

 

Screen Studio Academy: Actors Intensive Lab

20th October – 26th November, Tuesdays & Thursdays
€380 Members / €420 Non-Members

The Screen Studio Academy Actors’ Intensive Lab is a highly practical course for performers. Participants will learn techniques to successfully engage with audiences as well as explore personal comic presence.

 

Intro:

Are you looking to develop your acting skills? Voice and comedy performance are vital to becoming a versatile and successful actor and knowing how to utilise performance to create dynamic characters is a staple in any actor’s toolbox.  This programme is designed to challenge students who are committed to polishing their abilities to a professional level.

“Acting is not about being someone different. It’s finding the similarity in what is apparently different then finding myself in there.”  – Meryl Streep

This six-week programme will focus on vocal work, sketches and dynamic exercises. Clear precise speech and articulation skills will be developed to improve material delivery.

During the course, students will be immersed in the world of professional performance. Not only does the training run for two evenings per week (Tuesdays and Thursdays), but actors will be expected to set aside time for assignments and developing project work. Participants will also work alongside the Screen Studio Directors and Writers Academy courses at Filmbase to collaborate on developing projects through performance and workshop participation.

Performers new to acting are welcome and encouraged to take part in the course. However, they should be willing and eager to push themselves and be committed throughout the duration.

“The voice is the window to the soul”   – Daniel Day-Lewis

 

Course Content:

The course will cover voice work and comedy acting for film and television.  The workshop topics include:
• Introduction and basic structure of the voice.
• A focus on defining unique speech.
• Mechanics of the voice physiology and breath (breathe in – suspension – exhalation – recovery).
• Increased awareness of the back of the body, scapula and skull base and the relevant relation to posture.
• Introduction to the practice of developing and strengthening the voice from the opening of the main resonances.
• Examining the physicality of phonation.
• An in-depth exploration of crafting jokes as the building blocks of comedy.
• Learning the elements of comedy work and applying those to the text.
• Building comedy on text.
• Dealing with nerves and utilising them during audition technique.
• Creating accents and implementing them naturally.
• Performance coaching where regarding ideas and development.

 

Tutor: Maria Tecce

Maria Tecce is an actor, singer, and voice coach from Boston now based in Dublin. Maria has 15 years experience with the media and offers a special module to executives and public personalities in media interview techniques, microphone techniques, and best practices when appearing on radio, television, and presenting on stage.

The last few years have been Maria’s busiest; she has been performing and writing with Irish music-comedy act The Nualas. She also premiered her new show Strapless at Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival, performed with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, and launched her third album Viva.

Maria recently donned the acting mantel as the saucy courtesan ‘Emelie’ at Dublin’s Gate Theatre in their critically acclaimed production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, played Irish singing legend Jack L.’s leading lady in the cult short film I Hate Musicals, performed as the iconic ‘Alida Slade’ in Hugh Leonard’s Roman Fever, and as murdered wife ‘Isabella’ in the BBC television series Inspector George Gently with Martin Shaw. She has also worked in film and television with the likes of Jim Sheridan, Angela Landsbury, Patsy Kensit, Mia Farrow and Keith Carradine. “Singer Maria Tecce steals the show.” The Times.

www.mariatecce.com

 

Tutor Michelle Read

Michelle began her performance and writing career as a comic on the London circuit in the late eighties, performing regularly at many of the original clubs including The Comedy Store and the infamous Tunnel Club. On moving to Dublin she became a regular at the Comedy Cellar performing stand-up and sketch comedy and featuring in many Irish TV shows including Cursai Elaine, Couched, The Basement, Rant, Gerry Ryan Tonight, You Can’t Be Serious, Nighthawks and Saturday Live for UTV.

She is a founder member and regular player with the Dublin Comedy Improv since 1991 and has played with the team on two successful radio series for RTÉ, at the Edinburgh Festival, at the Catlaughs Festival, Kilkenny and all over Ireland. Michelle is also a playwright and theatre-maker and she regularly facilitates workshops in improvisation, devising and playwriting.

 

Guest Tutor: Sharon Mannion

Sharon Mannion is an Actor/Comedian and Writer based in Dublin. Her TV credits include Trojan Donkey (Channel 4), Moone Boy (Sky 1), Republic of Telly (RTÉ) and Don’t Tell the Bride – Narrator (RTÉ). She is a member of sketch group Ghost Train Willy and improv groups The Craic Pack, Dublin Comedy Improv and The Cardinals. She drinks a lot of tea and used to work in a chicken factory.

 

Dates:

  • 20th October – 26th November, Tuesdays & Thursdays

 

Class times:

  • 7.00pm – 10.00pm
  • Weekend/evening work may be required for collaborative projects (dates tbc)
  • Participants should set aside two to three hours per week outside of class time for assignments

 

Pricing:

  • €380 Members / €420 Non-Members
  • €150 Deposit

 

Location:

  • Filmbase, Temple Bar, Curved street

 

Follow on courses:

Participants will be offered priority booking for Screen Studio Actors’ Academy Advanced Courses from January 2016 in Comedy Acting, Soap and Television Acting and Acting for Transmedia projects.

 

To book your place, contact Filmbase Reception on 01 679 6716 and dial 0. For more information, email Lynn at lynn@filmbase.ie. Please read our Terms & Conditions before booking a course.

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Full Costs and Income of a £1m Independent Feature Film

download-150x150

Stephen Follows is bringing his sell-out Producer’s Masterclass to Filmbase, Dublin on the 7th and 8th November 2015. It’s the ultimate two-day crash course in how to make and sell your low-budget feature film.

In advance of the masterclass, Stephen takes us through the full costs and income of a £1m independent feature film.

 

Grab a cup of tea – this is a long one. It’s rare for filmmakers to get a candid look at the books of someone else’s film but, thanks to the generosity of Marcus Markou, that’s exactly what you’ll get to read below.

Papadopoulos & Sons is an independent feature film that tells the tale of an Anglo-Greek self-made millionaire who loses everything in the banking crisis and is forced to turn to his estranged brother to re-open the fish and chip shop they shared in their youth. It’s a fun family film starring Stephen Dillane, George Corraface and Georgia Groome.

papadopoulos-and-sons-movie-poster

The film was written and directed by first-time filmmaker Marcus Markou and was released in UK cinemas in April 2013.

Before we delve into the journey of the film, we need to take a moment to learn more about Marcus and his motives. Marcus is a successful entrepreneur, so much so that he was able to pay for the film’s £825,000 budget from his own bank account.

He wanted to learn how films are made, make something for his kids to see and have a fun time in the process. He’d taken a short course at the Met Film School but other than that, this was his first foray into the commercial film world.

The Budget

The independent feature film took 24 days to shoot in and around London.  The largest costs were art department (they had to build a chip shop in an empty shop!), cast and production staff.  The Above The Line costs came to £91,821 (11% of the budget), production was £584,800 (71%), post-production £109,436 (13%) with other costs coming to £39,165 (5%).

  • Production budget of Papadopoulos & Sons£775  Story, Rights & Continuity
  • £91,046 Cast
  • £19,014 Supporting Artists
  • £90,332 Production Staff
  • £93,245 Art Department
  • £32,070 Wardrobe
  • £16,782 Make-up / Hair
  • £53,371 Electrical
  • £58,580 Camera
  • £16,882 Sound
  • £77,918 Travel / Transportation
  • £28,670 Hotel / Living
  • £70,111 Location
  • £27,343 Overtime / 2nd Camera
  • £     482 Digital Stock & Transfers
  • £25,507 Music
  • £83,929 Post-Production
  • £  9,307 Insurance
  • £  2,556 Legal & Clearances
  • £  7,705 General Expenses
  • £  2,900 Publicity
  • £      750 PACT & Training Levy
  • £ 15,947 Fringes
  • £825,222 Total

I’m focusing mainly on the numbers today but if you want to know more about the story of the shoot then here are a few entertaining links…

Getting an Independent Feature Film Distributed

Marcus made the film without any industry support and without any distribution deals in place.  This meant that once it was complete he had to figure out how he was going to get it to the public and recoup his investment.

At one point, he was close to signing a deal with YouTube to premiere the film online via a ‘pay what you want’ recoupment model.  The idea seemed to be well-received at google but in the end the deal stalled when YouTube insisted that Google Wallet was used to collect the donations, despite the fact it was only active in 8 countries at the time.

Marcus turned to self-distribution in the UK and collaborating with a producer’s rep for the international rights. He signed up with producer reps 7&7 who would take 20% of any deal they negotiated but they wouldn’t ever control the distribution of the film, as a traditional sales agent would. Marcus was on the hook for the sales costs (such as attending Cannes and other film markets) but this would be recouped first from income.

Soon after taking the film to the Cannes Marche du Film (the film market where the rights to films are bought and sold), 7&7 secured distribution deals for Greece, Germany and an airline distribution deal.

 

The Film Festival Circuit

Many independent feature films rely on the festival circuit to get noticed, however Papadopoulos & Sons wasn’t shortlisted at a major film festival. Marcus puts this down to the film not being “an edgy, film festival kind of film”.

However, some festivals did take it, including…

Reflecting on his festival experience Marcus said “The film isn’t arthouse; it is too commercial. But it isn’t a big studio film with celebrities in it, so it is arthouse. It is stuck between those worlds, commercial arthouse. In the UK, those worlds don’t really mix.”.

One of the more surreal screenings was in the European Parliament. A member of the film’s cast knew the programmer of cultural events and told him it was a film about the Greek banking crisis (it’s not). The resulting screening took place at the same moment that the Greek Prime Minister was on the floor negotiating Greece’s bailout deal.

 

Securing a UK Cinema Release

Cineworld cinemasBy this point, the film had a German, Greek and airline deal but was still lacking a UK distributor. Marcus is not someone who gives up easily, and so he turned to self-distribution. Via Miracle Communications, Marcus struck a deal with Cineworld cinemas which placed the film in 13 screens for a week.

Marcus identified Greek communities throughout the UK by looking for Greek Orthodox churches. If there was a church, he’d target the local community, using a variety of off- and on-line media.

 

The Costs of the UK Theatrical Release

Marcus secured a small release in 13 Cineworld cinemas, opening on 5th April 2013.  By contrast, the biggest film of that week, The Croods, was playing on 553 screens across the UK.  It is fairly common for large studio-backed films to get a much larger release than smaller, independent feature films, in part because the UK is one of the most costly regions in the world to release a film theatrically.

As Marcus was acting as his own distributor he had to pay up front for a number of costs (known as P&A, after Prints and Advertising).  These included…

  • £ 5,200 Tenancy fees
  • £    325 Virtual Print Fees
  • £ 1,000 BBFC certificate
  • £ 2,000 Renting DCP drives
  • £ 2,000 Publicist
  • £ 4,000 Miracle Entertainment (who coordinated the deal)
  • £ 3,000 Radio ads on London Greek Radio, and print ads in Greek newspapers in London
  • £ 8,000 Facebook ads, to those with “Greek interests” living in areas close to Greek churches
  • £10,000 Posters, flyers and pre-release screenings of the ‘Making of’ documentary
  • £35,525 Total

Note: These figures are approximations from Marcus, whereas most of the other numbers in the article are correct to the pound as they come directly from his accounts.

 

How the Film Performed in UK Cinemas

Papadopoulos & SonsEarly on in the three month campaign for the UK release, Marcus had been told that he should aim to achieve “500 per cinema” in the opening weekend. He took this to mean 500 admissions per cinema and set his sights on reaching this goal. He later learned that in fact the target was just £500 per cinema, which is under a sixth of what he was working towards.

In the opening week, across the 13 sites, the film sold 8,000 tickets and grossed £60,659. This means the site average was £2,870, the second highest of the week, beating fellow opening film Dark Skies (site average: £2,680) and GI Joe: Retaliation (site avenge: £2,421) which was on its second week of release.

The high per screen average spurred Cineworld to widen the release meaning that in the second week the film was screening on 16 screens. The vast majority of Marcus’ marketing efforts had been focused on driving people to see it during the all-important opening weekend. This can be seen in the box office figures, where, despite being available on 23% more screens, the film grossed just 31% of its opening weekend (£18,504).

UK cinema gross of Papadopoulos & Sons

After seven weeks on general release, the film finished its official UK theatrical run. It had grossed £95,509, according to Rentrak, although Marcus points out “I don’t think this includes indie screenings I’ve done because a lot of them come direct to me”. The overall per screen average of its seven weeks was a very respectable £2,274.

 

Dividing up the UK Theatrical Box Office Income

So, what happens to the money gathered by UK cinemas; i.e. the UK box office gross? Using Rentrak’s figures…

  • £96,000 gross
  • Minus tax (VAT at 20%) leaves £76,800
  • Minus Cineworld’s cut (at 65%) leaves £26,880

According to Marcus’ accounts, he received a total of £45,601 from the UK release, which suggests that he was right to point out that the true box office figure was higher (£162,850 by my calculations).

Normally at this point a distributor and sales agent would take a fee and also take back their marketing costs (see here and here for more details) but as Marcus was self-distributing, he saved himself these costs. It’s reasonable to assume that had he taken the traditional releasing model then he would be left with far less, if anything. (Although it’s technically possible that a large distributor would have been able to secure more screens and therefore a higher box office gross).

After we remove the approximately £35,000 he spent on the digital prints and advertising (known as P&A) he is left with £10,600 profit for his six month’s work.

 

UK TV Deal

For the last few years, television has been the largest driver of income for British films and that’s certainly the case for Papadopoulos & Sons. The UK cinema release netted Marcus a profit of £10,000 for half a year’s work whereas by contrast his deal with the BBC netted him £50,000.

Ordinarily, the sales agent (7&7) would have taken a 20% cut but it had been agreed that Marcus would keep the full figure to recoup money he’d spent promoting the film in Cannes.

The BBC deal is for five screenings over the next five years, starting in autumn of this year. The deal stipulates that during the first two years, the BBC have the exclusive “UK Free TV’ rights, meaning that the film will be removed from the UK edition of Netflix until autumn 2017. Clauses such as this are fairly standard and explains why Netflix has different inventories between territories.

 

UK Film Tax Credit

HMRCThe biggest cheque Marcus received was from the UK taxman, in the form of his rebate for the UK film tax credit. If your film is certified as officially British then the tax credit will give you 20% cash back on the money you spent in the UK on certain costs. The eligible costs are confined to activities within pre-production, production and post-production; meaning that all the money Marcus spent on distribution, exhibition and marketing are not included in the calculation.

In the case of Papadopoulos & Sons, the UK film tax credit came to £156,000, or 19.1% of their overall production budget.

 

German Income

German Papadopoulos & SonsIn Germany the film opened on 70 screens, showing to 23,850 people and grossing €141,000 (£120,000) in its first week alone. After a month, the film had grossed €223,240 (£159,770) according to InterPlan, and Box Office Mojo has the final German box office gross at $289,670 (£197,000). The company with the German rights also released the film in Austria and so all told the gross was £215,929.

In return for the German and Austrian rights, Marcus had agreed an advance payment of €20,000 known as a Minimum Guarantee (an “MG”), which translated into a payment of £15,594. From the £216,000 box office gross, the distributor was permitted to recoup their costs, the money they spent on advertising and this MG. This meant that Marcus received no further payments for the theatrical or DVD releases in Germany and Austria.

However, the German distributor did negotiate a TV deal in France and Germany, which netted Marcus an additional £36,072.

Due to the lucrative TV deal, the MG has been repaid meaning that Marcus will receive 50% of the net income of DVD sales in Germany and Austria.

 

Greek Income

Papadopoulos & SonsConsidering the film’s plot, Marcus’ background and the press surrounding the EU screening, the territory of Greece was always going to be a big one for Papadopoulos & Sons. As with Germany, Marcus agreed an MG, in this case of €15,000. This translated to a net income of £12,753.

And there the Greek information trail stops. Neither Marcus nor I can find any Greek box office figures, DVD sales or how it performed in TV. It is fairly common in the film industry for distributors not to provide additional information and filmmakers are pretty much powerless in preventing it. The MG is often regarded as the only money the filmmakers will see from the deal and so distributors don’t see the need to provide them with updates on the film’s progress. When I asked Marcus what he felt the gross Greek figures were he said “Who knows… I am going to say £50k because I know its been on Greek TV and DVDs have been sold, etc”.

Update: I been tipped off that there are admission figures on Lumiere, although not financial figures.   Apparently the film was seen by 2,676 people in Greece in 2012 and a further 2,906 in 2013.

 

Video on Demand Income

Most filmmakers are hoping that Video on Demand (VOD) income will grow to replace the lost income from falling DVD sales. Papadopoulos and Sons is available on a number of VOD platforms including…

  • £19,602 Netflix (UK and USA)
  • £  2,902 FilmFlex (UK)
  • £  2,889 iTunes (multiple countries in Europe, UK, Africa and middle East)
  • £        26 Blinkbox (Europe)
  • £        95 Google (UK)
  • £   9,428 Misc VOD*
  • £34,942 Total

*These misc payments come via the same aggregator as most of the other payments (The Movie Partnership) but the bank statements don’t reveal which VOD platforms the amounts belong to.  Marcus believes that iTunes sales account for around 80% of the ‘transactional VOD’ revenue (i.e. not including Netflix, which offers ‘subscription VOD’).

The Netflix deal is for the UK and America and the gross is around £15,000 per year for a two year deal. The sales agent takes 15% and the aggregator takes a further 15%, leaving Marcus with 70% of the gross.

The film has performed well on the platform, with an average rating of 3.6 stars from nearly 120,000 ratings. Marcus says that Netflix have indicated they want the film when they roll out to new territories across the world.  This is pretty impressive for an independent feature film.

 

Other Income

The film picked up other money from a few places…

  • £9,374 DVD sales in the UK, Australia and New Zealand plus an Amazon-only deal in America. The Australian deal was for two years and they paid a £1,000 MG upfront.
  • £7,457 Spiritual Cinema DVD club
  • £2,187 TV deal across the Middle East
  • £1,131 American theatrical screening via ’theatrical on demand’ company Gathr
  • £   275 Speaking fees related to UK film industry events

Totalling the Income

It’s certainly possible that the film will recoup more money in the coming years so these figures are true up to 15th April 2015.

  • £158,000 UK tax credit
  • £  88,259 TV
  • £   45,601 UK theatrical
  • £   34,942 VOD
  • £   32,667 Airline
  • £   15,594 Germany theatrical
  • £   12,753 Greece
  • £     9,374 DVD
  • £     1,131 US screening
  • £        459 UK screening
  • £        275 Speaking fees
  • £399,055 Total

Income received from the independent feature film Papadopoulos & Sons

Totalling the Costs

Papadopoulos & SonsIf we add up all of the costs of making the film (£825,222) with the rough costs of the UK release (£35,000) then we can see that the film cost Marcus approximately £860,000.

With income to date of £399,055, this means that the film is currently at a loss of around £460,000.

Note: You can see the full budget and costs at the bottom of this article.

I know this loss sounds like a lot but consider Marcus’ reasons for making the film. He wanted to learn how independent feature films are made, make something for his kids to see and have a fun time in the process. Marcus spent his own hard-earned money and was well aware of the risks.

I asked Marcus how he feels about the current recoupment status.  He said…

Think of this as a long-term investment. The capital is sunk up front. After a couple of years I am 40% recouped. The hope is that after 10 years I will be fully recouped. But because of the strength of Netflix and BBC it’s clear this film will have a long shelf life. In year 11, that means every penny that comes in will be PROFIT! Think about it. If in year 11, I am making £25k per year that is £25k per annum with NO COST. This is why catalogues of old films are so valuable. Because if you have 20 films like this, making £25k per annum with no costs… well, you can do the Maths.

You must not underestimate the long-term value of a movie once its sunk capital has been recouped. In the West End a musical will have to run for two years before it’s profitable. Most never get to the two year mark. With a movie, if you have a universal story that has a long shelf life, you can be collecting payments for 20 or 30 years.

So I would always argue that this is a long haul investment. If I took the same £1m and put it in a bank, you may find that after 20 years Papadopoulos has out performed on a return many times over.

This is the recoupment stage but it is also still selling – e.g the US DVD and possible impact of Netflix rolling out across multiple territories. You say, existing deals MAY continue to pay out. They WILL continue to pay out because I get paid quarterly and for DVD, VOD, Netflix etc. Not in advance. So many deals are not completed yet (e.g Netflix) so it’s not a MAY it is a WILL.

Future Income

It’s likely that the film will recoup more money. There is a full American DVD release due in October (the previous US DVD deal was exclusively with amazon) and 7&7 are actively pursuing deals in new territories.

In addition, the existing deals may continue to pay out, certainly the Netflix deal seems to be going well and the film continues to sell via iTunes et al. The UK Netflix deal will be on a two year hiatus but if it continues to prove popular then it’s reasonable to assume that they will extend and widen the existing deal.

When the film begins its five year screening period with the BBC this autumn it could lead to TV deals in other territories. TV remains the most lucrative media format for the film and so a few more TV deals could produce £10,000’s more.

Lessons for Independent Feature Filmmakers

Whilst this may not look like a sustainable model for filmmakers to follow there are a number of valuable lessons we can learn from these numbers…

  1. Self distribution is not easy. Marcus spent a huge amount of time and effort to secure the UK release, and then again to get the film in front of his target audience. There’s no doubt that a large amount of the success the film had in UK cinemas was down to his dedication, hard work and unwillingness to give up.
  2. Who you know, helps. At a few different points along Marcus’ journey it proved vital for him to trade on relationships with the right people. Cineworld only agreed to having the film screened in their flagship Shaftesbury Avenue site because one of Marcus’ employee’s flatmates was the manager. That said, Marcus isn’t the son of a famous filmmaker and so all his connections had to be earned. Anyone who’s met him will attest to the fact that it doesn’t take long after first meeting Marcus to want to do him a favour.
  3. The cost of deliverables adds up. Deliverables are the assets you pass over to a distributor after you sign a deal. These will include a copy of the film but also audio and image elements. For Marcus’ deals in Germany, Greece and on airlines the distributors agreed to reimburse him for the costs of creating these items. However, Marcus still had to pay up front and the total for just those three deals came to £10,558. Filmmakers should remember than they may need to cashflow costs like these after they have signed deals. Here are a few of the deliverable costs…
    • £5,200 Full Feature 35mm Theatrical Prints
    • £1,000 35mm Feature Trailer Prints
    • £  675 HD Cam SR Clone: Main film
    • £  450 HD Cam SR Clone: The Making of ….
  4. Soft money is vital for survival. Marcus took advantage of the UK film tax credit and it became his single largest income cheque at £158,000. However, as he paid for the film from his own funds he was not able to use any of the more tax efficient structures such as SEIS and EIS schemes. The SEIS scheme is for films of up to £150,000 (or the first £150k of a larger film) and it gives investors 50% of their investment back almost straight away. Then, if they fail to see any profits after three years they can claim a further 28% of their loss back from the taxman. The EIS scheme can support projects up £15 million and give investors slightly less back. If Papadopoulos & Sons had been funded by external private investors then they would have lost far less money than Marcus has to date.
  5. The publicly available data can be wrong or incomplete. At the time of writing, the Box Office Mojo figure for the UK box office is $124,794 (£84,870 in 2013 pounds). Rentrak’s official figures suggest it was nearer £96,000 and yet using Marcus’ own bank accounts we can deduce that it was closer to £165,000. This is a common complaint I’ve heard from indie filmmakers as big commercial box office trackers are not designed to catch every penny given to every small film. They don’t cover all cinemas and it can be easy to miss the odd screening for non-studio films.
  6. Research your marketplace. Data this candid is very hard to find but that’s not to say you can’t find some things out before you embark on the epic journey of making a feature film.  Talk to other filmmakers (who over a few drink might be this candid!), attend film markets, look at what data is available online and approach sales professionals.  Success if the film industry is not straightforward but neither is it random.  And it only becomes clearer via experience and by accessing the experiences of others.  (This point was a suggestion from Reddit).

Notes

The vast majority of data came directly from Marcus. I have cross-referenced as much as I can and it all seems to check out. In addition, Marcus didn’t just chat to me – he got his accountant to export all the transactions in the film bank account from the moment it was opened to date.

Other data came from Rentrak, the BFI, Box Office Mojo and interviews with Marcus (completed by myself and others printed online already).

Epilogue

I considered cutting this article into multiple parts but I think it serves its function best as one enormously long article.

I’ve known Marcus for a few years now and he has always been candid with this experiences and keen to speak to students of mine. I’m grateful that he was receptive to my idea of publishing the full data, warts and all. Few other filmmakers would be so open and so brave. Thank you, Marcus.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this and/or feel you have learned from Marcus’ experiences then for God’s sake buy a copy of the film. As you can see above, he would welcome the sales (plus it’s a fun film from a lovely chap).

Appendix

For those wanting more information about the film, here are a few useful data points…

The Script

Click here to download the script in PDF format

Rating

BBFC details of its 15 certificate.

Full Production Budget

See below for the full budget of the independent feature film ‘Papadopoulos & Sons’.  The only things which have been altered is removing names and combining the cast into one line item, due to requirements from agents.

Click here to download the budget in CSV format.

Full Income to 15th April 2015

See below for the income to date of the independent feature film ‘Papadopoulos & Sons’.  The UK film tax credit (£158,000) is not included as it was paid into a different account.  The items labeled “Deliverables” are repaying Marcus for money he has spent delivering the film to distributors.  They were repaid without mark-up and so therefore are not strictly revenue (I did not include them in the income calculations earlier in the article).

Click here to download the income to date in CSV format.

Feedback on the Film

Synopsis

Self-made businessman Harry Papadopoulos has got it all; a mansion house; awards and a super rich lifestyle. However, on the eve of a property deal of a lifetime, a financial crisis hits and the banks call in their huge loans. Harry and his family lose everything in an instant. Everything, except the dormant and forgotten Three Brothers Fish & Chip Shop half owned by Harry’s larger than life brother Spiros who’s been estranged from the family for years.

With no alternative, Harry and his family, plant enthusiast James; fashion victim Katie; nerdy Theo and their loyal nanny Mrs. Parrington, are forced to pack their bags, leave their millionaire lifestyle and join ‘Uncle Spiros’ to live above the neglected Three Brothers chippie. Together they set about bringing the chip shop back to life under the suspicious gaze of the their old rival, Hassan, from the neighbouring Turkish kebab shop whose son has his own eyes on Katie.

Each family member must come to terms with their new life in their own way and make the most of their reduced circumstances. Harry struggles with the banks to regain his lost business empire, but as the chip shop comes to life and old memories are stirred Harry and his family gradually discover that only when you lose everything are you free to discover it all.

 

The Film Producer’s Masterclass with Stephen Follows takes place at Filmbase 7 – 8 November 2015.

To reserve your place on this course, please contact Filmbase Reception on 01 679 6716 and dial 0. For more information, email  training@filmbase.ie.

Visit the dedicated site online at www.filmproducersmasterclass.com

Info on the course:

In a busy two-day crash course, expert producer Stephen Follows will take you through every step of the filmmaking journey, from idea through to seeing your creation on the big screen.

The Film Producer’s Masterclass is an in-depth course which builds on the skills and knowledge of prospective producers; this weekend will provide attendees with the resources to assist them with developing any project to completion.

Content:

The weekend’s curriculum is based on up-to-date data and case studies, ensuring that you’re making your film the smart way. Topics covered will include:

  • Film Development Strategy
  • Financing and Co-Production
  • Film Budgeting
  • Pre-Production, Production and Post Production
  • Marketing, Distribution and Beyond
  • Producer Career Development

Tutor: Stephen Follows

Stephen teaches film producing at top film schools, coaches senior staff at companies like Google and is an industry leader in film data and statistics. His production work has taken him across Europe, America and even to the Arctic Circle. His most recent feature was Baseline, starring Jamie Foreman, Dexter Fletcher, Zoe Tapper & Gary Stretch. His online videos have 30+ million views and been archived by the British Film Institute. He has produced a number of live events including London Screenwriters Festival, the Super Shorts Film Festival and a Parkour Tour around through 10 countries.

Stephen teaches in the UK and around the world, including at film schools (NFTS, NYU, Met Film School), at bespoke courses (Micro-Budget Mentor, Practical Producer, Guerilla Filmmakers Masterclass) and to senior staff within large organisations (Google, National Trust, BBC). Stephen is on the Board of the Central Film School.

He also writes regularly about film data and statistics, with his research being featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, BBC, Daily Telegraph, The Times, Daily Mail, Newsweek, New Statesman, AV Club and Indiewire.

Dates:

  • 7th – 8th November, 1 weekend

Class times:

  • 9:30-5:30

Pricing:

  • €180

Location:

  • Filmbase, Temple Bar, Curved Street

A big thanks to Stephen for permission to use his article

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Video: Getting Into Screenwriting, Part 4 – Choosing Your Genre

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The fourth and final part of Danny Stack’s Getting Into Screenwriting video series features Danny talking about getting proactive, using industry knowledge, choosing a genre, making micro-budget films.

 

Danny Stack has been a screenwriter/consultant since 2001. His television writing credits include EastEnders, Doctors and high-profile children’s shows such as Octonauts, Fleabag Monkeyface, Roy, and the new Thunderbirds for CiTV. Danny also writes/directs (his supernatural thriller, Origin, won Best Horror at the London Independent Film Festival 2012), and he has co-written/directed the live-action children’s film Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg? with Tim Clague.

Danny blogs at http://dannystack.com/

 

You can watch part 1 here

You can watch part 2 here

You can watch part 3 here

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Video: Getting Into Screenwriting, Part 3 – Elevating Your Profile

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Screenwriter Danny Stack continues his four-part video series, Getting Into Screenwriting with a focus on getting out there, getting to know how the industry works, finding your niche and elevating your profile.

 

 

 

 

Danny Stack has been a screenwriter/consultant since 2001. His television writing credits include EastEnders, Doctors and high-profile children’s shows such as Octonauts, Fleabag Monkeyface, Roy, and the new Thunderbirds for CiTV. Danny also writes/directs (his supernatural thriller, Origin, won Best Horror at the London Independent Film Festival 2012), and he has co-written/directed the live-action children’s film Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg? with Tim Clague.

Danny blogs at http://dannystack.com/

 

You can watch part 1 here

You can watch part 2 here

 

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Video: Getting Into Screenwriting, Part 2 – Promoting Yourself

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Screenwriter Danny Stack continues his four-part video series, Getting Into Screenwriting, by discussing the benefits of getting online, promoting yourself, time management, and using your hustle.

 

 

Danny Stack has been a screenwriter/consultant since 2001. His television writing credits include EastEnders, Doctors and high-profile children’s shows such as Octonauts, Fleabag Monkeyface, Roy, and the new Thunderbirds for CiTV. Danny also writes/directs (his supernatural thriller, Origin, won Best Horror at the London Independent Film Festival 2012), and he has co-written/directed the live-action children’s film Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg? with Tim Clague.

Danny blogs at http://dannystack.com/

 

You can watch part 1 here

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Video: Getting Into Screenwriting, Part 1

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Screenwriter Danny Stack kicks off his four-part video series, Getting Into Screenwriting, by explaining how he started, building your portfolio, his two top tips for reading scripts, and the importance of professional feedback.
 
 

 
 

Danny Stack has been a screenwriter/consultant since 2001. His television writing credits include EastEnders, Doctors and high-profile children’s shows such as Octonauts, Fleabag Monkeyface, Roy, and the new Thunderbirds for CiTV. Danny also writes/directs (his supernatural thriller, Origin, won Best Horror at the London Independent Film Festival 2012), and he has co-written/directed the live-action children’s film Who Killed Nelson Nutmeg? with Tim Clague.
 
Danny blogs at http://dannystack.com/

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Interview: Paul Young, Producer of ‘Song of the Sea’

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Paul Young is co-founder and CEO of Cartoon Saloon and Producer of the Oscar-nominated animated feature Song of the Sea.  Lynn O’Reilly, an animation student at BCFE, caught up with him at the recent Irish VFX + Animation Summit to ask for advice on breaking into the animation industry and the role of the Producer of an animated feature film.

 

Do you have any advice for any animation students who are trying to decide what they want to do when they leave college?

 

It can be hard when you’re young. I was lucky because I went to study in Belfast first and went through lots of different art and design disciplines before I settled on illustration and then on to animation. The best advice I can give is whatever part of it you enjoy most, like you if you enjoy the drawing or the writing the most, just try to draw as much as you can, or write as much as you can. Then get out and about and meet the studios. Try and call in and talk to people who work in those studios. Talk to past students. Try to get to places like Annecy [the International Animation Film Festival] and you’ll meet so many more people from other places and other colleges. And then you suss out more from them. The most important part of the college experience is the people you’re with, the people in your class. Obviously you learn from your tutors and your classes, but you learn more from each other.

 

You’re Producer on Song of the Sea, and the role of Producer is not something people get much of an insight into compared to other roles in the filmmaking process. Would you be able to shed a bit of light on this? What’s involved in being the Producer of an animated feature film?

 

It varies. For big studio films a Producer is more like what we would consider a Line Producer or a Production Manager, and that’s the only thing they do, that’s their one focus. Whereas with smaller studios, as a Producer I’m doing lots of things. I’m not really as hands-on with the day-to-day production like a Line Producer or a Production Manager. I’m trying to get money for the next film, like a Business Director or a Company Director.

Studios do need a lot more Production Managers, because there is a lot of people interested in animation. We’ve hired fantastic people from colleges like Gobelins and colleges in Denmark, who, in their final year, just focused on Production Management and learned how to be producers. Maybe after spending some time studying animation they realized it’s not for them or they’re not getting the skills, and for them there’s a great career to be had in Production Management.

The best people you can find are from colleges who have been through the production process, who know what it’s like to make something themselves, then they’ll understand what it takes. I studied animation and illustration and I never really thought I’d be a Producer. I just kind of fell into it, because we had to find money to fund our projects. I never really got any training. So what I had to do was hire a Production Manager who’d worked on a TV series or hire a Line Producer who’d done a feature film –I’d try and bring them in and at least they might know more about the pitfalls. And now I’ve learned a lot after making a number of films. So really, it’s just about doing it.

 

 

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The New Digital Filmmaker’s Guide: Grow Your Social Media Fanbase The Right Way

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Christopher Brennan continues The New Digital Filmmaker’s Guide series by looking at how filmmakers can make the most out of their social media pages.

Okay, so you’ve decided to set up a Facebook and a Twitter page for your feature film. You’re looking to gather a community of like-minded individuals together that you believe will be interested in what your film has to say. So far, so good…

You start putting up photos of cast, updates on pre-production and maybe some spec posters. However, once your family, friends and colleagues have all agreed to Like & Follow your pages, it all seems to plateau, right?

This is basically where 95% of independent filmmakers’ social media pages end up: A stagnant page floating around the 100/200 fan area.

I bet you’re looking for more fans right? Well, why should you just wait for them to find you? How about we take a couple of the basic tricks from digital marketing specialists and start to grow those film pages. Obviously this is just an overview. For further insight, it is best to contact Facebook or Twitter reps. They are really helpful.

Let’s start with Facebook first shall we?

Digital Film Marketing – Facebook

Let’s assume that you have set up a business page for your film and not a friends page (if not, then go ahead and set it up now). And you have already invited your Friends list to start liking your page.

Now what do you do? How about a little Facebook advertising? It’s actually really simple to do. And it doesn’t take much money to start seeing real results for your film page.

Promote Page: Did you know that by only spending €4 per day to promote your page, Facebook will pretty much guarantee that you receive between 13-50 new Likes daily! Now it’s up to you to target the correct audience. For instance, if you were making a horror film, then make sure that you put all things horror film-related into the ‘Interests’ area of your Audience section. I’d recommend targeting filmmakers as well.

You can also target by area. So if you want to just focus on your city or country, then that is where Facebook will promote your page (For €8 per day, you should be receiving 25-100 new Likes per day).

You see, by even doing a one week promotion of your new Facebook page, you will already see significant results.

Boost Your Post: You can also boost your individual posts as well. And you can decide on what objective it is that you want to achieve:

If you want people to click through to your KickStarter page, then go with ‘Clicks to Website,’ if you want more people to see your promo video, then aim for ‘Video Views.’

It’s amazing that when people go to all the trouble of setting up a crowdfunding page, they don’t even think about boosting their Facebook post to have it reach more people. By only spending a couple of Euro, your post can reach a couple thousand potential fans (whether or not they fund you is another matter – see crowdfunding Incentives blog)

Now, because I’m starting to sound way too much like a Facebook employee, let’s look at Twitter shall we?

Digital Film Marketing – Twitter

Many filmmakers think it’s best to use either Facebook or Twitter, thinking that they are really one in the same. So they set up a Twitter account, get 50 followers and then forget about it.

But by using Twitter correctly, you can build a fantastic, engaged community of followers for your film account. And what is one of the absolute best ways to get Twitter Followers? By Following other people.

Some may think that this is a bit of a sly tactic. But it’s absolutely honest. Think of Twitter as a giant party where you don’t know anybody. And by Following people, you are merely introducing yourself to individuals who like the same things as you. Makes sense, right?

One of the best ways to do this is to sign up to Tweepi (it’s free and you can log in using your Twitter handle). When you’ve signed in, the first thing you do is find some similar accounts to yours that have a large following (So if you have a documentary about Skateboarding, then search for popular skateboarding oriented accounts).

Next thing you do is start to Follow their Followers. And I mean fifty to one hundred at a time. Do this each day for a week straight (Keep going after that, obviously). As long as your Twitter account properly shows what your film is about, and you have targeted the appropriate accounts for your specified area, then you should start seeing your Followers list grow.

Oh, the cool thing about this tactic is: It’s Free!

So there it is. I’m going stop writing now, since this has turned into a pretty big-ass article. Hope you find these tips helpful. But I must tell you again, that this is merely an overview. If you are looking for more in-depth insight into social media marketing, there are excellent sites such as the Social Media Examiner that will go much deeper into specifics.

Anyway, that’s all from me. Good luck with your social media accounts. Any questions, just drop them in the comments box or Tweet me at @ChrisBrennan_1

Thanks for reading.

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The New Digital Filmmaker’s Guide: Make Your Own Film Promo

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Christopher Brennan continues The New Digital Filmmaker’s Guide series with 6 reasons why you should be making your own film promo.

Times have most certainly changed. Back in the day, equipment was expensive. Film stock was delicate. And the post-production process was cumbersome. The idea of making a short promotional video for your film project was just too far-fetched.

But not anymore. Nowadays, if you want your project to reach production, it is not just an advantage to have a film promo… It has become a necessity.

So, You Think You Can Make This Film… Prove It!

There’s that old expression: ‘Talk is cheap.’ And that may actually be true in this circumstance.While some filmmakers can still get financing through the delicate art of pitching, it really is a tough sell.

If you really feel like your story is a story that needs to be told… And you are the best person to tell this story… Then you have to convince the right people that this is true.

One thing that is better than simply telling producers, film boards and distributors that this story is indeed worthy of their time, is to actually show it.

Get out there and put together a promo that really captures exactly what your story is all about.

Why should you do this, you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked me!

1.        Just like screenwriting: ‘Show, Don’t Tell.’

Don’t ask them to imagine the look of a film or the mood of a story. Go out, make it and show them. That way, there is no confusion over what you are trying to do.

2.        Show them your dedication and commitment.

By creating this promo, you are showing people that you are dedicated and willing to go all the way. There is something universally attractive about an individual who conveys confidence and determination. By making this promo, you are exhibiting these qualities.

3.        Equipment is readily available.

These days, a lot of people have quality, professional equipment that will make your promo look amazing. With this equipment at your fingertips, why wouldn’t you go out and put your promo together?

4.        Your script will be better because of it.

I know this by experience. By getting out there and cutting a promo together, you are testing the strength of your own idea. It’s amazing how this will influence your story for the better. For the first time, you get a chance to catch a glimpse of what it could be.

5.        You will meet collaborators that may just help get it made.

By simply going through the act of putting a film promo together, you are going to meet cast and crew that might just help you get the whole project into production. These creative, hardworking individuals took the time to collaborate with you in order to make this film promo a reality. Unless the experience was truly horrible, there is a good chance that they will be there by your side when it comes to making the whole shebang!

6.        Other filmmakers are making promos as you read this.

I don’t like to talk about competition too much in this series. But sometimes other people’s initiative can really spur you on to get going. If they can make a promo, then what’s the reason that you can’t?

So there it is. Let’s face it… There’s always a reason not to make a film promo. Let’s just ignore them this month. Instead, why don’t we see if we can get your latest project to the next stage?

Simply drop a couple of people some polite emails and see if they are willing to help you make your promo today. You will be amazed at how much time people will actually have for your project, once they realise that this is important to you.

 

Good luck and let me know how it goes!

 

@chrisbrennan_1

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5 Things I Learned Making ‘Unbreakable: The Mark Pollock Story’

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Ross Whitaker’s latest film, Unbreakable, tells the story of Mark Pollack’s rehabilitation from an accident that left him paralysed from the waist down, his search for groundbreaking cures in the worlds of robotics and science, and his unbreakable spirit.

 

Here Ross shares with Film Ireland some lessons he learned making the incredible film.

 

Taking this film from start to finish was a six-year struggle and I learned a lot of things along the way:

 

Love Rejection
I’m going to call bullshit on this straightaway. Rejection is horrible and who could ever love it? But in this game there is plenty of it. This film was rejected by funders a number of times before it was financed. It has been rejected by festivals and left unreviewed by newspaper critics. It’s a punch to the gut every time you don’t get what you need to make your film work out and it’s extra work to figure out what to do next. So, you must accept rejection and keep going and don’t let it drown you. Stay creative and stay committed to making your film as good as you can because…

 

The Audience is Everything
The response to this film from audiences has been overwhelming and surprising. I think it might be because the audience is maybe starved of real, truthful experiences at the cinema. Maybe filmmaking has got a little too slick. Maybe that’s why Ken Wardrop’s His & Hers was such a giant and deserved hit – simple, beautiful storytelling. We’re finding that audiences are really connecting to this story. The most important relationship is between the audience and the film and if you make something real and truthful then audiences will react positively. And the amazing thing is that an engaged audience will tell their friends and act as your best publicity. The boundary between audience and filmmaker is smaller than ever because…

 

The Internet has Changed Everything
My first feature – Saviours – was released in 2008 and back then Facebook was still really in its infancy and Twitter didn’t exist. The world has changed immeasurably since then and the fact that you can speak directly to your audience makes a big difference. Also, your audience can talk directly to each other and recommendations on Facebook, Twitter and through email are very helpful. In addition, if you’re not getting the newspaper coverage you want, maybe it’s time to start thinking a little differently. Online publishers like The Journal and RTE Ten actually have a massive audience and can be extremely useful in getting the word out. It’s important to have a strategy and to go as wide as you can. When we released our trailer we had a call to action for people to go ahead and buy a ticket and we put it out as far and as wide as we could. Within a few days our opening night was pretty much sold out, which in itself created buzz.

 

Hold On To Your Kitchen Sink
Watching the film now on the big screen, I’m glad to have had such a good editor in Andrew Hearne. There were times in the edit when I wanted to throw the kitchen sink at it, hire copter cams and do timelapse shots but Andrew felt it was better to keep things more focused on the story and not distract the audience with unnecessary visual flourishes. There’s a constant pressure to ‘be cinematic’ but there’s nothing more cinematic than a good story that sustains the duration of the film and keeps you engaged. So, sometimes it’s best if you don’t throw everything at it.

 

The End is Just the Start
“The end is just the start” is a line from the film but it could also describe the process of finishing the film and then beginning the new job of getting it out there into the world! It’s not easy and we’re learning a lot but I think the big thing is having a plan and implementing it. Our plan was to really get out there and meet people and hope to create enthusiasm around the experience so that the audience would get involved and recommend it to their friends. We are touring the country and doing Q&As almost every night. We’re meeting people and talking to them about their experiences and their lives. And we’re being extremely open with people about our experiences and the background to the film, giving them a unique understanding of the story and our motivations. It seems to be going well and it provides audiences with a real, tangible experience. At a later date we’ll reflect on what we’ve done right and wrong but for now we’ll just keep moving on to the next screening and Q&A. Maybe we’ll meet you somewhere along the way.

 

Unbreakable: The Mark Pollock Story is currently screening in the Light House Cinema in Dublin and touring the country. Screening information at www.markpollockfilm.com/screenings

 

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The New Digital Filmmaker’s Guide: How To Get People To Read Your Goddamn Script!

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Christopher Brennan continues The New Digital Filmmaker’s Guide series with a look at getting your script read.

So you’ve spent months developing your idea, another few months writing your script. Now, as you fine tune the story, dialogue and characters you might want notes and opinions on your project, right? See what other people think of your work.

This can be a very tricky process. A lot of times you can send out scripts for review only to spend the next few months simply waiting for people to finally get around to it.

With that in mind, today we are going to look at 5 effective ways to finally get people to Read Your Goddamn Script!

• Print Your Script

This day and age, it’s so quick and handy to simply send off a digital copy of your script. But there is a big difference between dropping your screenplay to someone in an email attachment and actually handing them the hard copy. For one thing, it shows that you took the time to print off a copy just for them. Also, it’s harder for that person to ignore the pile of pages sitting in the corner of their living room.

• Read Their Script

I mean think about it… Simply offer to read and analyse their script at the same time. Set a delivery date for when both reviews should be turned in, that way both readers will be on a deadline. This deadline will be motivated by the fact that each party wants feedback from their own script.

• Bribery Works

Another way to get your script read is by adding a little incentive. This doesn’t have to be too much. Even just giving the person a bottle of wine can be a really nice gesture. Something that shows that you understand and appreciate the time you are requesting from your reader.

• Provide a Synopsis First

Think of it from their point-of-view. It’s really hard to commit a couple of hours of your evening to reading a script. It really is. Especially if you don’t have any clue what it’s about. Another way to look at it is: when would you pick a film on Netflix without knowing anything about it? Usually you read the synopsis, watch the trailer, see who’s in it or check out reviews, then decide to watch it. By providing that kind material for your readers, it makes it easier for them to carve out the time to read your work.

• Create Promotional Material

This doesn’t have to stop at just the synopsis by the way. What about having a poster done up? How about shooting a little promo of the script? These things will help sell the film in the future anyway, so why not prepare them early to help get your script read?

So what do you think? Do you believe that these tactics might work? Why don’t we put it to the test. This week, offer to read a colleague’s script. And in return ask them to read yours.

By next week, you should have some really positive feedback that will help strengthen your story. And please, let me know how you get on by dropping a comment below or tweeting @chrisbrennan_1

Thanks for reading and good luck with your script!

 

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The New Digital Filmmaker’s Guide: Pitching

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Christopher Brennan continues The New Digital Filmmaker’s Guide series with a look at pitching your project.

I know it’s not nice to hear it. But these days, knowing how to make a film sometimes isn’t enough. With the competition heavier than ever before, more and more filmmakers are quickly learning that in order to get your film into production, you are going to have to master the art of The Pitch.

But I do have good news as well… It’s actually a lot easier than you might think. That’s why I’ve put together a couple of pointers to help you on your next opportunity to get your project off the ground.

The 9 Essentials Of Pitching

  1. Tell a story– When it comes to pitching, a lot of people get tied up on where to start. Not knowing what to lead with or where to go. First thing to remember is that you are a storyteller. So, simply tell a story. Think about when you tell anecdotes to your friends and colleagues. Well, why not take inspiration from that?
  2. But don’t tell the plot – One of the biggest problems filmmakers have when it comes to pitching is to start from the beginning and explain scene by scene what happens in the film. Don’t Do That! This really is the most common way to lose your audience. Your script will take care of those details. Now is the time to sell the concept, idea and heart of your story.
  3. Learn To Summarise – Learn how to synopsise your film.
    What’s the themes?
    What are the characters’ goals?
    What are the characters’ wants and needs?
    Once you know this, then learn how to sum up your film in 3 minutes. Then 2. Then 1.
    Do you have a Log Line?
    Can you summarise everything in a sentence?
    What is the one word that best describes your film?
    Get to know these things. They will help you construct your pitch into some worth listening to.
  4. Know your audience – And I don’t mean the audience of the film. I mean the person you are pitching it to. Whether it’s a formal interview or a networking event, knowing some background on the other person will definitely make the process go much smoother.
    What is their job? What are they interested in? Where have they previously worked?
    There is nothing wrong with doing a bit of a research on the person you’re expecting to impress… In many circumstances, they would’ve checked out your background anyway.
  5. Practice – Don’t think that you can just roll right up to someone and instinctively nail a pitch every time. Pitches that are well conceived and constructed have a better chance of suceeding. So, rehearse with a colleague. Rehearse in front of a mirror. Rehearse wherever you can to make sure that when your 2 minutes are here, you will be prepared.
  6. Eye Contact – Don’t pitch with your face in a notebook, looking down at your shoes or staring out the window. This person deserves to be treated with respect. Looking them straight in the eye is one of the best ways to show it.
  7. Are there any comparable films? – One way to get your point across is to understand the arena that your story is in. What kind of films would you compare yours to? Highlighting some successful films that relate to yours will not only put your project in good company, but will show that your idea is not only good, but bankable as well.
  8. Have A Backup Project – Sometimes the person in the room is simply not going to be interested in your idea. And that’s fair enough. Maybe you’re pitching a comedy, and they are on the look out for a thriller. If you can, try to have a backup project just in case. You wouldn’t believe the number of filmmakers that ended up getting a deal based on their second project. And if it is possible, try to have two separate genres.
  9. Enjoy yourself! – I know this one may be a bit harder to do than the rest. But it honestly is the key. Pitching is all about engaging the other person. How do you expect your potential investor to be entertained or engaged if you’re not enjoying it either? Most likely, if you’ve scouted it right, this person wants to find the right project. It’s your job to prove to them that your idea is the one that fills their remit.

So there it is. Hopefully some of these points may help you when your next moment arrives. But let’s not leave this list at only 9 points. If you have any other advice when it comes to pitching, let us know. Drop a comment down below, or Tweet me @chrisbrennan_1, and let’s get your next project off the ground.

Thanks for reading and good luck with your next pitch.

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The New Digital Filmmaker’s Guide: Crowdfunding – Incentivizing Your Audience

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Christopher Brennan continues The New Digital Filmmaker’s Guide series with a look at how to incentivize your audience when crowdfunding.

So you’ve decided to set up a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for your film. You’ve put together an engaging promotional video to help spread the word. Now it’s time to develop a list of incentives that will help get your audience to contribute to your project.

These incentives are usually a list of items and services that you will provide to your contributors to help sweeten the deal (and hopefully convince them to pledge more).

However, this is also one of the areas where most crowdfunding campaigns actually falter. And why is that, you may be asking? Well, simply put, a lot of the times, the incentives aren’t really that appealing.

If you just head on over to Fundit.ie or Kickstarter and check out some of the rewards for yourself.. See which ones you might find tempting.

Signed photos of the cast and crew. A chance to be an extra on the film set. Are these really things that you would pay to have? Not really. So why offer them to other people then? Why don’t we start to look a little further and see What Your Contributors Actually Want!

Know Your Audience

First off, in order to find this out, we need to find out who your audience is! Who do you think is going to be donating to your campaign?

Well, we could start with family, friends, peers and colleagues. Usually this is the first port-of-call for any campaign. Start with the people you believe would be the quickest to donate and then widen the net, right?

And considering the fact that you’re making a film, I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet that fellow filmmakers might be interested in donating as well.

And then there are fans of similar projects as well (Horror Fans, Sports Fans, etc).

Okay so now we have the start of your target audience. But already we can see that the traditional gifts and services wouldn’t be that appealing to them. I mean, does a friend or family member really want to be an extra in your film? Does a fellow director or producer really want a signed poster? I know I’m being a bit general.. But you see what I mean right?

Know What They Want

So, take filmmakers for example. If we want to get them to donate to your campaign, then what should we give them that they might actually find useful?

Well, there’s a good chance they will be making their own film soon enough. They might even be crowdfunding the budget as well. So instead of offering them a poster, why not offer to help them with their campaign? This could be as simple as offering to promote their project on your social media pages (This would also be a cheaper option for you as well!)

I mean, wouldn’t you be quicker to fork over a couple of bucks if it could help the chances of your next film being made?

We could even take it a step further and offer to donate money to their next campaign if they offer to yours now. If the promise of cold hard cash in return for cold hard cash doesn’t incentivise your audience, I don’t know what will!

For that one though, I’d recommend you put a limit on the amount of people who can redeem this reward. At least that way, you can control it more.

Anyway, you get my point, right? It’s time to take a look at the people who you believe will actually support your ideas and try to offer them something that they find to be of value!

What do you think? Do you think that these tactics could prove to be fruitful?

Do you have any suggestions for alternative incentives that could motivate contributors to donate?

I’d love to hear it! Either drop a comment below, or tweet @chrisbrennan_1 and let me know!

Thanks for reading and good luck with your next campaign!

 

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The New Digital Filmmaker’s Guide: Which Crowdfunding Platform Is Best For You?

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Christopher Brennan kicks off The New Digital Filmmaker’s Guide series with a look at crowdfunding.

So you have a script that you’ve been itching to get made. You’ve tried many of the traditional ways of bringing this puppy to life, but so far, No Dice.

Have you ever thought about Crowdfunding? By now, you’ve probably heard of this movement that’s been sweeping the independent film sector!

Now there are hundreds of different online companies that specialise in crowdfunding. But, how do you know which one is right for your project?

Well, that is exactly what we are going to look into today!

Top Crowdfunding Platforms

At the moment, the two main international crowdfunding platforms would be Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. However, for Irish filmmakers, there is also a more localised one called Fundit.ie

There is no real answer to which one is better. They each have their own advantages and disadvantages. But let’s see which one is right for you.

Let’s start with the biggest company first: Kickstarter

Kickstarter

Averages a 44% success rate on campaigns overall

Advantages

Exposure   As the world’s largest crowdfunding platform, you will have the opportunity to reach a larger number of people if you use Kickstarter. Now this doesn’t mean you will. It just means you could!

High Project Goals – If you are looking to raise a significant amount of money, then Kickstarter may just be the best option. If your project happens to go viral, then your campaign has the potential to raise a lot of money. More so than with the other platforms anyway.

Project Acceptance – There is a chance that your campaign could be rejected by Kickstarter. Now this may sound like a disadvantage at first, but in reality, it could be to your advantage as well. You see, Kickstarter will only reject your campaign if they feel that you have not created a proper strategy that will lead to success. So, if you do get rejected, then it means your campaign may not yet be strong enough to go live yet (better to find that out before you launch, right?)

Disadvantages

Competition – With the larger platform also comes the stronger competition. It can be very difficult to attract attention to your campaign, with so many others fighting for interest as well.

All or Nothing – You have to reach your intended target. If you don’t, then you get nothing. Oh, and you should aim for higher than that. Because if the credit card of one of your contributors doesn’t work, then that could mean that you didn’t reach your target as well. Even though, Kickstarter are very good at contacting contributors about overdue payments, it’s still not a guarantee.

Offline Fundraising for Kickstarter – If you are raising money through other offline areas, then it can be tricky to post those earnings on Kickstarter, as you are not allowed to pledge to your own campaign. This means that you would have to find another person to trust with your own donation.

IndieGoGo

Averages a 34% success rate on campaigns overall

Advantages

Keep What You Raise – Unlike Kickstarter, IndieGoGo will allow you to keep whatever money you raise. This means that even if you don’t reach your target, you still get to keep the finances raised. While this might be an advantage on some level, it can also be detrimental to your campaign as well (See Disadvantages)

Basically Rule-Free – IndieGoGo declare that you can “raise money for anything, including for-profit ventures, creative ideas or personal needs.” This means that you don’t have to go through the vetting process that occurs in Kickstarter.

Advice Page – IndieGoGo has an extremely detailed advice page that will breakdown all the stages of developing a successful campaign. This page is actually considered better than Kickstarter’s.

Disadvantages

Lack Of Urgency – As mentioned above, even though keeping all you raise can be seen as a good thing, it also takes away from one of the driving factors for contributors: Urgency.


One of the most common times for contributors to pay is at the end of the campaign. It really lights a fire under them to pledge their support.
If you are going to keep whatever you raise, then you lose the priority-factor of hitting your target.

Exposure – IndieGoGo has a much smaller community. This will limit the exposure of your campaign.

Fees – IndieGoGo has a 4% fee for successful campaigns. While that might be slightly better than Kickstarter, if you don’t reach your target, then they will take an astounding 9%. So be sure that the actual money raised at the end is worthwhile before you start your campaign. 

Fundit.ie

Averages a 74% success rate on campaigns overall

Advantages

Success Rate – As you can see, Fundit.ie has a very healthy success rate. Those figures show that that you have a good shot at reaching your target.

Limited Competition – Because there aren’t as many campaigns on Fundit, you may have a better shot at being funded by someone browsing through the site. Also, your chances are higher to be one of the featured projects on their homepage.

Project Support – Fundit are quite known for providing very helpful support and advice to ensure that your project will reach it’s goal.

Disadvantages

Overall Exposure – Your project may not reach the same level of people as it would on Kickstarter.

No Live Edit – Once your project goes live, then that’s it. You are unable to edit it. This means that you cannot add any more prizes or stipulations (However, you can add these into the updates section).

Financial Limits – As the audience is smaller, so is the amount of money you can raise. Whereas some Kickstarter campaigns have been able to raise over $10 million, Fundit just doesn’t have that kind of reach. To date, Fundit’s highest grossing campaign has been just over €20,000. So if your project requires more than that, then perhaps you might seek one of the bigger companies.

Which One Works For You?

So, as you can see there is no clear-cut winner in this group. Each of the companies have their own unique set of advantages. In the end, it’s best to examine your own specific project, and then determine which one of these platforms would be of the most benefit.

For instance, if you are making a story that will really strike a chord with an Irish audience, then perhaps using a more targeted platform is the way to go.

Alternatively, if your project has a very interesting universal hook – something that will immediately peak the interests of casual film-goers, filmmakers and enthusiasts alike, then perhaps using a bigger, more international platform like Kickstarter could really help spread the word.

Either way, before you start off on your campaign, it’s best that you have a fully orchestrated strategy ready. The campaigns that succeed are the ones that know that you can’t just stick your project up and hope to get funding. It’s takes a lot of work!

So, what do you think? Have you used any of these platforms before? Or is there a lesser known one that you feel needs recognition? Which one do you think is best?

Let us know, by either dropping a comment below or tweet @chrisbrennan_1

Thanks for reading and good luck with your campaign!

 

 

 

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The New Digital Filmmaker’s Guide: An Introduction

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Christopher Brennan introduces his new series that takes on the challenges filmmakers face in the new digital film landscape.

With the rapid growth of digital technology over the past few years we have seen a complete overhaul in the film landscape. Finally, it is possible for anybody to create extremely thought-provoking and top-quality films.

However, as more and more people managed to access the tools to tell their own unique stories, the film industry quickly became a highly competitive arena.

Soon enough, this new digital film landscape began presenting a whole new level of obstacles and challenges to overcome.

In this series, my goal is to present some ideas and strategies on how best to tackle these obstacles through the navigation of new territories such as crowdfunding, social media and online distribution while also providing insight into the crucial aspects needed to get your film into production.

Or another way of putting it: The areas that really concern the modern filmmaker!

But Who Am I?

Now before we go any further, you might be wondering who in the blue hell I am?! My name is Christopher Brennan, I am a filmmaker, screenwriter and digital marketing specialist. Over the past 6 years or so I have been involved in a variety of different film projects (in all the various department). These days, however, I tend to focus mainly on writing, directing and producing.

I came into the business from the academic side, gaining a Masters in Digital Feature Film Production at Filmbase/Staffordshire University. I guess this might be one of the reasons why I have become so fascinated by these new models of production, film marketing, distribution and audience identification.

Over the past couple of years, however, I have also been working in digital marketing; developing an understanding for how this new era of advertising and audience engagement truly works.

But enough about me! I just wanted to show you that I’m not just here to blow smoke up your ass (Well not yet anyway!).

Join the Conversation

I also wanted to say that in no way is this series designed to be a one-way channel of communication. No, the reason Film Ireland have graciously given me some space on their site is so we can get a real conversation going. Not just with me… With each other!

Every year that passes, our industry leaps forward with new technologies and innovations. By the time we have just mastered one thing, it has already changed or evolved into something else. So it’s really important that the Irish film industry has a hub where we can discuss and examine these developments! I guess that’s basically the reason I’m writing this now..

My intention is to bring some interesting and engaging ideas to light. Many of which already exist (I might slip my own ideas in there from time to time!).

From here, we, as members of the Irish filmmaking community, can discuss, test and possibly expand on this new ideas and theories that are out there, with the express intention of creating better films that will entertain and engage an already hungry audience.

If you find that a particular idea or topic might be beneficial, let us know! Or if you downright loathe it, then please tell us why (but, in a calm, mature fashion of course!).

So going forward, if there is an area in specific that you would like us to cover, drop me a line and I will look into it. Either by commenting below or tweeting @FilmIreland.

Alternatively, you can hit me up at @chrisbrennan_1 and let me know what’s on your mind!

Let’s get your story off the ground!

@chrisbrennan_1

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Tips: Documentary making

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Filmmaker and editor Jill Beardsworth gives Film Ireland some personal insight into making documentaries.

Coming up with any number of tips on documentary making is a tricky task, as it is such a dynamic medium to work in, where boundaries are constantly shifting and the genre ever evolving. Almost every tip you give has a counter tip that is just as valid. However, here are some guidelines from my experience making documentaries, both shorts and features:

 

1.

It might seem obvious but the initial idea is key. Work on your idea and then work on it again and then do another bit of work on it. Think of why it is relevant and why it should be made now, or ever.  Why should it be you who tells this story? Why should somebody want to watch it? And what do you want them to leave the cinema with? These are all questions that you should be asking yourself at the idea development stage. You have to be a little bit ruthless with yourself at this part of the process and really, it is worth the cruelty.

 

2.

Proposal writing and pitching are like the dark arts of documentary making, and if you want to make films and get paid to do it or get anybody to invest in, or fund, your film, you are going to have to master them. Practice pitching your idea to your friends in the pub, your Mum, your neighbour – anybody who will listen.  You may be surprised at the challenging questions they come up with. One of the best questions I was asked when describing a documentary that was at the editing stage was “but do you have a point?”

 

It can be a good idea to bring a prop into a pitching environment. That could be the main character from your film, it could be a piece of fruit, a pair of shoes, a sod of turf, a packet of cornflakes, whatever. It will make you memorable and bring your idea to life for those listening to your pitch.

 

As for writing proposals, keep it simple, keep it about the film (not about the background story) and stick to whatever word count or guidelines you are given.

Write well and write visually. Be detailed when describing characters, say what they look like, describe a scene with them in it, give a line that they might say. All this brings your documentary to life on the page. Remember you are writing a documentary proposal so write what you will see on the screen, why you will see it and why you should be the one telling this story. Do not be afraid to show your passion (assuming you have it in spades).

 

3.

Work hard. Learn as much as you can about technical stuff, so you can become as self-reliant as your circumstances require you to be. But don’t get bogged down in it because what you are doing is trying to tell a story with some kind of truth and humanity and that is what is most important, not being an expert in resolutions or software applications.

 

4.Be open. Trust yourself. Make sure to live life as well as work, as it is here, in the abundant meadow of existence that you will find stories, characters and ideas.

It is important to become as good as you can at listening to, talking to and reading people. Be humble, empathetic and kind. Read the newspaper.

 

5.

Be ready to adapt. You are dealing with real life when you make a documentary and real life doesn’t stay the same for long, or turn out as you expected, or wait around forever. So it’s important to be able to work with spontaneity and not to be too prescriptive. Have a well worked out plan, but do not be afraid to deviate from it if it feels right for your film. And wear comfortable shoes.

 

6.

Trust your audience.  Spoon-feeding an audience with information, over prescribing how they should feel about an issue, ‘manipulating’ their emotional responses with the likes of music, voice over, etc., is to underestimate your viewers. Present them with something, a story, an idea, a character or situation, and give them the respect to do some work themselves. If they leave your film with questions, that might just be a good thing.

 

7.

Give lots of time for editing. I believe that all documentaries can really benefit from spending a long time in the edit room. If you can give yourself space to view cuts, leave some time to let things sink in, go back and make changes, watch again and wait, your film will be better crafted as a result.

 

8.

Get feedback before you finish. I always enjoy this phase of documentary making.  When the film is ready to let go to some chosen people to view, but not yet ready for the rest of the world. It’s a twilight period and I look at it as the last chance to listen to questions, suggestions and advice and really consider your film, before you unleash it to the wolves.

 

9.

Know when to let go. It’s always difficult to know when to finish but sometimes it just has to be done. Over a five-year period I’ve had a death, a birth and a marriage in my life while one feature documentary was being made and it just felt a bit long to have a project around.

 

10.

When you think it’s all over, it’s not. Keep lots of energy for the arduous task of trying to get your film seen. Endless festival submissions, choosing artwork, organizing a trailer, creating an online life for your film; there’s a lot to do and it can feel like an uphill struggle when you would be forgiven for thinking that the hard work has all been done. Or better still, get a distributor to do it all for you.

 

Embrace your regrets. They are inevitable but will teach you valuable lessons that you can use for your next film.

 

And, finally-enjoy it, embrace it and mean it.

 

Jill Beardsworth is an experienced filmmaker and editor who has made documentaries for RTÉ, TG4 and the Irish Film Board in Belarus, Kosovo, Ireland, India and Syria. Jill has had her films officially selected for several international film festivals and her most recent feature, Apples of Golan, which she co-directed with Keith Walsh, won the Jury Prize at the 2013 Baghdad International Film Festival and was chosen to tour universities of the UK & the US in 2013. Analogue People in the Digital Age, Jill and Keith’s recent short made under the IFB Reality Bites Scheme, is currently touring festivals.

 

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Tips: 5 Tips on Scriptwriting

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Screenwriter Sarah Daly shares 5 tips on scriptwriting with Film Ireland

 

1. Know where you’re going

 

The more planning you do before you start actually writing your screenplay, the more likely it is that you’ll finish it. Having a detailed treatment is the best defence against the dreaded second-act block. That first rush of inspiration and momentum will take you up to around page 40, but if you don’t know where you’re heading at that point, you can easily get stuck, lose steam and meander unproductively or stop altogether. Not to say that you’ll necessarily stick 100% to your treatment – every screenplay diverges at least a little from the plan – but having a solid blueprint to refer to is vital and prevents you from going too far off track.

 

2. Leave out the camera directions

 

Unless you’re writing a script that you plan to shoot yourself, leave out all camera direction and just tell your story. It’s the director’s job to come up with camera angles and shots. A reader will find pans, zooms and tilts distracting and off-putting too.

 

3. Get straight into the meat of it

 

Don’t spend too much time setting up at the beginning of your screenplay. Try to get across what information you absolutely must in the most concise and visual way possible. Long expositional scenes at this stage will really affect the pace on the page and on screen. The first ten pages especially have to hook the reader (as the first ten minutes must hook the viewer) so make them great. A cinematic and attention-grabbing opening will set your script apart and get you off to a strong start with your reader.

 

4. Be brutal at the rewriting stage

 

Put every scene, every line, every word on the chopping block and cut anything that doesn’t progress your story, tell us something new about your characters or their world. Examine every element and make sure it earns its place in your story. If two characters perform the same function, cut one. If two scenes say the same thing, cut one. You’ll end up with something stronger, leaner,  and more compelling.

 

5. Proofread and proofread again

 

This is an obvious one but typos and spelling mistakes make you look bad. Fair or not, a reader will judge you to be an inferior writer if your script is riddled with little errors. So, before you send your screenplay to a single soul, proofread it until your eyes hurt. It’s a good idea to call in a second set of eyes too if you can. The more checks the better. It’s a tedious process but it’s time well spent.

Sarah Daly is a screenwriter from Waterford best known for writing the Joseph Gordon-Levitt produced Morgan M. Morgansen short films and the critically acclaimed supernatural chiller Lord of Tears. Her next project is upcoming monster comedy Kids Vs Monsters, starring Malcolm McDowell.

You can check out Lord of Tears at http://www.lordoftears.com
And follow Sarah on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sarahdaly42
 

 

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Tips: 5 Tips for Directing Your First Short

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A Nightingale Falling 

 

Garret Daly shares some advice for directing your first short.

 

1. Make sure you are true to the short story form.
Don’t make pilots or condensed versions of bigger stories. We’ve all done it from time to time, but the best shorts are those that embrace the format and deliver an effective short story.

 

2. Prepare for battle.
All filmmaking brings with it the challenges of production.  As a director be clear and prepared in your own head. That way when those challenges arise, you can deal with them in a controlled manner.

 

3. Find a good team.
People you can trust. People that inspire you.

 

4. Rehearsals are a very important.
It’s cheaper than actual production and it’s a great way for cast and sometimes crew to break the ice before the meter starts to run fully on the production budget.

 

5. Enjoy what you are doing.
Be an inspiring leader and people will trust you and respond to you. Then that creative spark you are searching for will follow.
Garret Daly is a director/producer who runs the media production company Mixed Bag Media.

 

Originally from county Meath, Garret has been working in media for over 20 years. Having graduated from the University of Sunderland with a BA in Media Studies, and an MA in Film Production from Sheffield Hallam University, Garret embarked on a radio career that included the likes of Radio Kerry, LMFM and RTE Lyric FM.

 

From there he moved to freelance producing and has since produced the likes of The Tubridy Show, The Gerry Ryan Show, Dave Fanning and John Creedon. He is also a PPI award-winning producer and his radio documentaries have received wide acclaim.
 

 

His extensive documentary and television career includes the award-winning film Who is Dervla Murphy?, which focused on the unique Irish travel writer and has screened internationally. He has directed a series for TV3, produced a number of broadcast documentaries and short films, directed the RTÉ Storyland series Rental Boys, and has received a number of awards for his film and television work.

 

 
His latest work is the historical drama A Nightingale Falling, the first fiction feature from Mixed Bag Media, which he has co-directed and co-produced with his company partner Martina McGlynn. The film is due for release later in 2014.

 

For more information visit www.mixedbagmedia.com
 
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