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Eric Wilkinson, the producer of the independent film “The Man from Earth”, wrote an email to RLSlog in which he thanks them for the free promotion they gave him. “In the future, I will not complain about file sharing” he wrote, “when I make my next picture, I just may upload the movie on the net myself!”
All the attention for his film was boosted by a positive review on RLSlog, a weblog that reviews some of the new releases on BitTorrent. It turns out that a lot of people who downloaded the movie off BitTorrent liked the movie, as they started to write positive reviews on Amazon, IMDB and other websites.
Wilkinson was pleasantly surprised by all the attention. He explained in his email to RLSlog that the people who illegally downloaded his film actually helped to promote it.
He writes: “Our independent movie had next to no advertising budget and very little going for it until somebody ripped one of the DVD screeners and put the movie online for all to download. Most of the feedback from everyone who has downloaded “The Man From Earth” has been overwhelmingly positive. People like our movie and are talking about it, all thanks to piracy on the net!”
To illustrate this, on IMDB the film received close to 700 votes with an average rating of 8.2 which makes it one of the most popular movies of the last 2 weeks.
Wilkinson continues to praise the pirates and adds: “What you guys have done here is nothing short of amazing. In the future, I will not complain about file sharing. YOU HAVE HELPED PUT THIS LITTLE MOVIE ON THE MAP!!!! When I make my next picture, I just may upload the movie on the net myself!”
This example once again illustrates what a powerful promotion tool filesharing networks are, especially for independent productions with a small budget.
We held auditions at the Digital Media Factory (thanks, guys!). We had a pretty good turnout, though not as deep as I’d expected… but it was cool, cuz I got lots of time to just chat with each person. We just ran camera, and talked about the script, the character, and their thoughts on both.
Then, I had them read a scene. Our writer, Skot, got to read with our first actor, Kimberly Parrish (she read for the part of Cassandra, Bill’s wife). Skot was quite moved, as much by her performance as by hearing his words come to life.
I gotta say, we had some talented people show up. I was super impressed with everyone’s commitment to the material and their craft… good actors are a joy to watch. I had some tough decisions to make, and I have to say to those that weren’t chosen it wasn’t for lack of effort or talent… I had lots of great actors to choose from, and fell upon a combination of “look” and minor subtleties in performance.
Congrats to Chad Davies (Bill), Kimberly Parrish (Cassie), Gina Marie (Kayla), Ken Koenig (Doctor), Char Johnston (Sandy), Linda Pearson (Lou), Carlo Matteucci (Terry) and Dave Johnson (Huge Guy).
Now it’s on to more crazy making.
Well, I’ve been asked to direct a short film for a local indie production group.
Cinemar is an organization of filmmakers local to the Santa Cruz area – students, hobbyists and professionals. They maintain a website for members to share their profiles and communicate with one another. They also hold a monthly “Schmoozfest” gathering at the largest local studio (Digital Media Factory). At the Schmoozfest, they discuss current projects, screen short films and trailers, and have speakers.
Once a year, Cinemar holds a “Get Your Short Film Made” contest… they take submissions for short screenplays with minimal production requirements that can be shot locally, and the winner gets their film made by virtue of Cinemar’s collective resource pool. This year’s winner – “Arrangements” – is the story of a middle aged man who learns he has six weeks to live. Learn more at the website – ArrangementsMovie.com.
I was invited to be on the review committee and rate the submissions. There were two, maybe three screenplays worth shooting… Arrangements being one of the top two. Seems enough other readers agreed with me, and Arrangements got the nod. Though the reading was anonymous, it turned out the writer was an old friend of mine, Skot Christopherson. He and Cinemar’s production representative were nice enough to ask me to take the helm on the shoot, and I happily agreed.
The script was chosen around September 5th, and the decision was made to try to get the film ready for submission to the Santa Cruz Film Festival’s deadline of January 15th. That meant preproduction done in record time, shooting finished by November 15th, leaving 8 weeks to cut and score the film. It’s only gonna be ten minutes long… how hard could that be, right? Just need props, crew, equipment, locations, cast, good weather, and post production resources. All of whom have real jobs and responsibilities that come first. So we can mostly only work on weekends. Piece o’ cake… right?
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Let me start by saying that On The Fringe is the kind of story I like. I like Good Will Hunting, Everything is Illuminated and Breaking Away… small town stories, complex characters, and universal interpersonal themes that we can all relate to. And at its core, that’s what On The Fringe is about.
It’s also the kind of story that too few indie filmmakers attempt, at least at the microbudget level. It has no zombies in it. It has no blood. It has no guns. Well, okay, a little blood, and one really old man with a shotgun. But no zombies. Consequently, it may not be for all fans of microbudget indie film. Continue reading