Tag Archives: Film Industry

Indie Film Financiers

One filmmaker friend I know is fond of saying that “How do I find the money to make my film?” isn’t just a indie filmmaker’s question, it’s the question.

So granted, the odds of you being in a room –or even an elevator– with them are probably not the greatest, but just in case, here’s Hollywood Reporter‘s list of 25 financiers who could actually greenlight and bankroll your feature.

(My one friend, meanwhile, is not one to sit around and wait. Never wait. He’s decided to organize a “shark tank for filmmakers” set in August later this year.

Oh, and if you’re thinking of crowdfunding your next indie opus, another filmmaker friend has your back with a course on Lynda.com.

Princes Come and Princes Go… same with TV Shows

So I was just posting about pilot season this morning, it seemed only right to mention the other end of the lifecycle.

As is usual, Vox has a rundown of all the shows that have been cancelled or come to a natural end, those that have been renewed, and your favorite show which is on the bubble.

I’m mainly concerned about the uncertain fate of The Expanse, but it probably is better situated on a streaming service anyway. Still, if one of them could pick it up soon…

Hollywood Pilot Season & Casting

Every Spring, I get social media posts –usually very vague ones– from friends closely involved with “Pilot Season,” that period every year where writers, actors, and others hope to get staffed on potential TV shows that will go from potential to actual (i.e., they get “picked up” and move into production for additional episodes).

The Hollywood Reporter polled a bunch of casting executives about their thoughts on this season. I guess I missed it because, up until last week, it really didn’t feel like Spring. Nevertheless, I still found it interesting and perhaps you will too.

 

The Show is Dead. Long Live the Show.

Okay, so what with streaming services, shorter TV seasons, and season premieres popping up whenever there’s a quiet moment, this list from the Hollywood Reporter doesn’t carry the same import, but I still find it interesting look over what’s been renewed, what’s ending, and what’s precariously on the bubble in terms of TV shows.

Peak TV, Sci-Fi Edition

Somewhat riffing off my post from Wednesday, I’m once again considering our current golden age of television (aka Golden TV Age II: Serial Storytelling Boogaloo).

There’s so much great television to check out, there are whole series that have come and gone that I haven’t gotten to yet.

Alison Herman over at The Ringer delves into what this means for science fiction –and “genre fiction” in general– as they hold greater sway over pop culture on both the big and small screen (and yes, the screen definitions are becoming more moot in some ways). It raises many big and small questions. For example, will people who’ve read the Silmarillion more than once feel vindicated by Amazon’s 4,000 Tolkien series? Will Adam Savage make another appearance on The Expanse? Will I ever get around to watching more than the first episode of Lost?

As always, stay tuned.

The Hollywood Spec Script, RIP

Columnist Chris Erskine has a humorous, but not inaccurate assessment of  the state of the venerable spec script: the thing Hollywood doesn’t like at all…. until it loves it.

I really want to see the Scriptnotes crew comment on this.

Questions of Quality and Quantity in Prestige TV

So now that summer is over, including that show with the dragons, you may be wondering, “What shows are actually coming back this year?”

Jen Trolio and Caroline Framke over at Vox have answers.

This is one of those perennial Vox pieces I’m glad they do every year, because there’s a lot of shows. In fact, some might say there’s a glut of shows out there, which has led to occasional questions of whether we’re at “peak TV.”

Incidentally, I previously linked to a piece discussing what “peak TV” might mean anyway, but I find the way Variety tracks it is works for me: the number of scripted series. The concern, then, is not necessarily that we would exhaust the supply of talented storytellers making the various series, but that the series become so numerous that too many of them fail to find an audience and economic security (i.e., continued survival).

Todd VanDerWerff explores this more in-depth (also in Vox), including both the cyclical nature of notions of TV being horrible and then wonderful as well as the ways in which the quantity of media coverage on a particular TV show does not necessarily track to its quality.

This Summer Means Hollywood is Doomed…. Again

Every summer –for at least a decade or more– the Hollywood film industry has been doomed.

I would imagine they must get sick of all the doom, what with being doomed with the advent of television, the disintegration of the studio system, the rise of VCRs and video stores, online streaming, streaming services like Netflix making their own content — and possibly avocado toast.

Nevertheless, within the traditional ‘doom’ narrative, there may be trends, so I read a recent piece by David Sims in The Atlantic with interest about Hollywood’s “bad movie problem.” Just like last year, there seem to be a slew of high-profile blockbusters that underperformed domestically. This year, however, Sims hypothesizes that executives are running out of gas with their strategy of mining known IP for all its worth regardless of demand. He bases this not a generic “doom” observation, but that the studios are using tactics internationally, specifically the Chinese market, that are netting less overall profit. Oh, and the films are still doing bad domestically (ahem: bad movies).

Indeed, over in the Hollywood Reporter, Scott Roxborough and Patrick Brzeski detail the wave of political slings and arrows that may sour all the Chinese-American film synergy. Moreover, several of the media monoliths now owned by Chinese concerns are experience firsthand on their balance sheets what it means for North American box office revenues to slide. In fact, John Nolte over at The Daily Wire suggests that, yes, it really is a bad movie problem. The American viewing public has figured this out and both box office and home video revenues are slumping accordingly.

So is this the Final Doom?

I mean, Spielberg released the BFG, so maybe…

It strikes me that movies and related “more passive” visual entertainment are still a potent pop culture delivery device. They’ll be around for quite some time until companies figure out how to make virtual reality more economical and interwoven with our habits like turning on the TV in the evening or going to films on weekends. If or when that happens, expertise in films and such will likely pour into those interactive productions. The companies that exist today could definitely transform into interactive powerhouses through building up their own capabilities or through acquisitions.

Though, frankly, I love films and TV as-is and hope there’s always going to be a place for them (same with books as my bulging bookshelves can attest). And I hope some of the studios pick up on what Sims pointed out in his article: that some of the best grossing films so far this year have been non-franchise original works… that not coincidentally didn’t cost as much to produce.

Tune in for a similar article next summer!

Conflict in a Cannes

Netflix, via its movie premieres at the celebrated Cannes Film Festival, has gotten a resounding, “Non!” (no) from the famously film-loving French. Well, at the very least there were boos.

Jordan Zakarin has a piece in Inverse from last Friday about how this really reflects on Hollywood more than Netflix. Essentially, Netflix is making a bet on films Hollywood no longer wants to (because they’re so enamored of franchises and tentpole films). Alissa Wilkinson has a piece in Vox from yesterday that explains the controversy in terms of competing film cultures… which also goes into how Netflix is filling a vacuum left by Hollywood.

I’ll be interested to see how this plays out, but as I noted back in February, when Netflix greenlit Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, I’m pleased to see the how they’re trying to make ducats and lots of content by letting known talents make films the studios no longer deem bankable.

The Continually Evolving Appetites of Worldwide Filmgoers

Following the film industry is something I do frequently enough to merit a tag.

One article in Wired, by K. M. McFarland, that particularly caught my notice last July noted how the expensive fantasy epic Warcraft did miserably in the United States, yet comfortably in the rest of the world.

So now we have an article by Todd VanDerWerff in Vox that also explores that divide between the U.S. and global box office. Look at those lists of top grossing films: how many of you are wondering who the demons are, and why do they want to strike back?

I’m probably not alone among American film lovers used to having a general idea of the top grossing films of the year, but that’s because up until recently, it’s because reports on the top-grossing films in North America and worldwide are very close. It’s kind of like late last year, when I discovered there are 14 Land Before Time films. Certainly, kids like dinosaurs. Certainly, I’m not the target demographic for those films, but 13 sequels and a TV show have been made?!?

And, as I implied in last year’s post, my ongoing interest isn’t simply personal, but what this means for how film projects are approved and financed. We’ve been long accustomed to films and TV shows seeking the largest possible audiences — it’s just that now North American audiences have been shown to not be the ever-indispensable part of that coalition (though it’s still significant more often than not).

The interesting thing is that the Hollywood studios appear all the more aware of their global audiences — and they have the funding and inclination to accommodate different global niches. So there are slightly tweaked versions of Disney’s latest animated fare, additional or expanded scenes for Chinese audiences in the latest action blockbusters, and more.

Netflix seems to be very savvy about this, aided by the prodigious amount of data they’ve collected on the viewing habits of their subscribers. One of their latest series premieres, Ultimate Beastmaster, is their global answer to American Ninja Warrior (itself, a version of the Japanese show, Sasuke). It’s structured and shot in such a way so that it’s basically six regional versions: American (English-speaking), Brazilian (Portuguese-speaking), Mexican (Spanish-speaking), Japanese, Korean, and German.

(I’m sure the French, irked by the snub at not deemed worthy of becoming Beastmasters, will shortly launch counter programming in the form of The Next French Legionnaire.)

These local/expert versions make me think of the Hollywood practice during the early “talkie” era when they would shoot several versions of the film in different languages (dubbing and subtitling eventually replaced this). While I don’t think Ultimate Beastmaster means we’re going to go back to the future in all productions, I do notice a wide assortment of subtitles on many of Netflix’s offerings — and many of them clearly originate from elsewhere or have a non-American audience as their primary audience.

I’m sure that means that, before the year is out, I’ll be faced with another wildly successful show or film that I’ve never heard of, but appeals to the tastes of global filmgoers. In fact, even now, I’m sure the cinematic equivalent of Coke III is being greenlit.