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Documents, Templates and Resources for Every Phase of Production.

1.27.2014

PRODUCTION TIPS: YOUR Calendar for 2014 Documentary Film Grants, Funds and Fellowship Applications


My favorite thing about starting a new year is filling out my planner with all the deadlines and screening dates for all the major contests, grant applications, markets and festivals I want to enter or visit.   Doing this hones whatever filmmaking or networking goals I have set for myself and also allows me to plan out my goals for the year to see in an instant what I can realistically aim for and when.  No matter how successful the filmmaker, he or she is caught up in a cycle of developing, writing, producing and selling projects.  Moreso, the hungry filmmaker climbing up that ladder of success.  For the filmmaker at the bottom, knowing the top script contests, film grants, festivals and markets mark one of the key differences between becoming successful or not.   Knowing the top places to target means you are not wasting time chasing fruitless ventures.  So, if you are reading this, it's because you ARE serious about climbing up that ladder and getting to a point where you are making an actual living in the film/TV industry.  Good luck in 2014 and never forget... behind the visuals, a vision!

Below are a listing in deadline order of Funds, Grants and Fellowships that you can apply to at the development and conceptual stage.  In addition, I have provided links to more funds and grants for documentary films in laters stages seeking production or post-production funding.

FILM FUNDS, GRANTS AND FELLOWSHIPS*

Jan
Feb

Mar

May

June

July

Sept

* Calendar date is for the application deadline date to submit a proposal.  Check each site for exact proposal deadlines.  This list is composed of funds and grants for documentary ideas and proposals.  For an exhaustive list of programs and funds to apply for films in other stages of development, production and post-production, visit - http://www.pbs.org/pov/filmmakers/resources-for-filmmakers.php and http://www.idfa.nl/industry/idfa-bertha-fund/other-funds-and-resources.aspx

1.17.2014

PRODUCTION TIPS: YOUR Calendar for the Top Film Festivals and Markets in 2014

My favorite thing about starting a new year is filling out my planner with all the deadlines and screening dates for all the major contests, grant applications, markets and festivals I want to enter or visit.   Doing this hones whatever filmmaking or networking goals I have set for myself and also allows me to plan out my goals for the year to see in an instant what I can realistically aim for and when.  No matter how successful the filmmaker, he or she is caught up in a cycle of developing, writing, producing and selling projects.  Moreso, the hungry filmmaker climbing up that ladder of success.  For the filmmaker at the bottom, knowing the top script contests, film grants, festivals and markets mark one of the key differences between becoming successful or not.   Knowing the top places to target means you are not wasting time chasing fruitless ventures.  So, if you are reading this, it's because you ARE serious about climbing up that ladder and getting to a point where you are making an actual living in the film/TV industry.  Good luck in 2014 and never forget... behind the visuals, a vision!

FILM FESTIVALS and FILM MARKETS*
There is nothing like watching your film go up on the big screen.  But not all screens are the same.  Although I wish all screens were like the Ziegfield's (which is where I saw The Thin Red Line when it opened btw) most of the time we just take what we can get.  It's the same thing with film festivals; having your film screened in practically any film festival is a blessing and something to be proud of.  But there are a select few festivals that everyone wants to get into because of its prestige, history, connections and ability to send your filmmaking career into orbit.  Those are the first tier festivals where legends are born and reputations are made.

Below you will find a calendar with a listing of those very festivals; the creme de la creme. If I could, I would go to every single one of these and catch at least one film, workshop, panel and party in each one. Until Hollywood comes a'calling (and even after), it should be your supreme goal to have your films open or screen in one if not all of these noteworthy festivals.  

And don't forget the film markets. The calendar below also includes the important film markets you also need to attend so you can find investors and buyers for your films.  Being a regular at these festivals and markets is a sign that you are a major player, especially if you're invited.  Granted, you may not have a film opening in one of these festivals or a film to sell in a market yet but you should still go as an attendee to as many of these events as your budget, time and geographic location allow (at a minimum, follow the news going on in these places throughout the year).  You can still reap the benefits of learning, networking and getting experience in filmmaking. And most importantly you'll get to see some great films.

* Calendar date is for the approximate operating festival dates NOT the submission deadline dates.  Check each site for the various submission deadlines including Early, Regular and Late Deadlines as well as fees and rules to enter or visit.



Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

June

July
  • Take a break...
  • Take another break... reflect on what you did and saw, then prepare for next year!


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Stay tuned for The Film and Documentary Grant and Fellowship Applications Calendar.

1.15.2014

PRODUCTION TIPS: YOUR Calendar for the Top Screenplay Contests & Labs in 2014

Source: http://www.sequential-one.com/blog/?p=144
My favorite thing about starting a new year is filling out my planner with all the deadlines and screening dates for all the major contests, grant applications, markets and festivals I want to enter or visit.   Doing this hones whatever filmmaking or networking goals I have set for myself and also allows me to plan out my goals for the year to see in an instant what I can realistically aim for and when.  No matter how successful the filmmaker, he or she is caught up in a cycle of developing, writing, producing and selling projects.  Moreso, the hungry filmmaker climbing up that ladder of success.  For the filmmaker at the bottom, knowing the top script contests, film grants, festivals and markets mark one of the key differences between becoming successful or not.   Knowing the top places to target means you are not wasting time chasing fruitless ventures.  So, if you are reading this, it's because you ARE serious about climbing up that ladder and getting to a point where you are making an actual living in the film/TV industry.  Good luck in 2014 and never forget... behind the visuals, a vision!


SCRIPT CONTESTS, FELLOWSHIPS and LABS*
Many screenwriting contests out there are a waste of time.  They are expensive and don't do much for your career.  At least with a third tier film festival, you'll have an opportunity to watch your movie on the big scree, meet other filmmakers and put a festival laurel on your trailer/DVD packaging which can help market it. Still, winning a script contest can be a low-cost way to break in to the film industry.  Still, you have to win a reputable script contest to get ahead.  A script contest worth it's salt is visited by agents and producers on the prowl for talent.  Review the history of a top contest and you'll find successful screenwriters and filmmakers who won in the past as well as noteworthy agents, producers and filmmakers on the judging panel. Good contests also tend to provide feedback which can elevate your script even if it doesn't win.  Finally, the top contests offer worthy prizes.  

So check out the following contests to see which one is perfect for your feature or short, your wallet and your future.

* Calendar date is for the approximate Earlybird deadlines.  Check each site for actual submission deadlines including Regular and Late Deadlines as well as fees and rules to enter.



Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

June

July

Oct

Dec


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Stay tuned for The Film Festival and Film Market Calendar.

1.11.2014

SCRIPT TO SCREEN: Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor | Peter Berg | 2013 | USA | Format: RED Code Raw (negative) 35mm (printed) | 121 min  
US poster for Lone Survivor
The action drama based on true events and the biography by Marcus Luttrell is gearing up to be a sleeper hit of critical acclaim and box-office strength.  Director Peter Berg secured the financing to make the film by agreeing to direct the big flop, Battleship. It was such a passion project of his that he went low-budget on the shoot, directing it for the DGA minimum, shooting with the RED camera in New Mexico (great production incentives there btw) and convincing his cast to lower their salaries too.  Despite the criticisms of jingoism and being crude propaganda or snuff porn akin to The Passion of the Christ, the movie is generally described by critics as expertly made and engaging. If Lone Survivor makes the $34 million it is projected to make during opening weekend plus gets nominated for and wins some Oscars then the Battleship flop will have been worth it. 
French poster for Lone Survivor
To gain a better understanding of how the film was made and to absorb the lessons for your productions, check out the following:

Production Notes: The Making of Lone Survivor (pdf).

The Screenplay (pdf).

Norwegian poster for Lone Survivor

The production notes are about 40 pages long which I recommend reading but Wikipedia has a shorter breakdown of the production of Lone Survivor:

DEVELOPMENT
PRE-PRODUCTION
PRODUCTION
POST-PRODUCTION
RELEASE STRATEGY
Japanese poster for Lone Survivor

Indiewire's Anne Thompson interviews Peter Berg about making Lone Survivor by making Battleship.

Youtube Videos:
Lone Survivor featurette: Mapping It Out 


Lone Survivor featurette: Weapons Training


Lone Survivor featurette: Gearing Up

Update: Forget $34 million, Lone Survivor is taking in $38 million.

1.08.2014

PRODUCTION JOURNAL: Midweek Morning Mixer - 1.8.14 ("It's-hard-for-black-actors-but-things-change" edition)

Sometimes it's easy to forget how far we've come because we still have so far to go. Although public outcries forced SNL to hire a black female as a featured player on the show after so many years, opportunities are plentiful for actors of color compared to what it was like in the past.  And the roles are waaaaaaay more dignified.  So as a reminder of how hard it was for black actors who had to accept roles that were beneath them, let's offer a special HBD tip of the hat to... Butterfly McQueen.
"She was born on January 8, 1911in Tampa, Florida, to a stevedore and domestic maid, Thelma McQueen would go on to make cinematic history as one of the few African-American character actors in classic Hollywood. In 1916, her father abandoned the family, leaving her mother and her to travel the East Coast in search of work. She eventually landed in Long Island where she completed her education and learned to dance. She made her stage debut as a part of the Butterfly Ballet in a production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Her stage name “Butterfly” was given to her by friends after seeing her dance. She was cast in several Broadway “black” productions when she auditioned for Gone With the Wind. Originally dismissed as too overweight, David O. Selznick decided he wanted veteran actors for the slave roles. And McQueen’s high-pitched flightiness––"Lawdy, Miss Scarlett, I'se don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies!"––played off the solid earthiness of Hattie McDaniel. She continued to act in films like George Cukor’s The Women and Vincente Minnelli all-black Cabin in the Sky until 1947, when she refused to take on any more demeaning black roles. While she would occasionally appear on television and in theater, McQueen focused on her education, graduating from college in 1974. Looking back on her life, McQueen stated, “Now I am happy I did Gone with the Wind. I wasn't when I was 28, but it's part of black history. You have no idea how hard it is for black actors, but things change, things blossom in time.”" ~~Focus Features




January 8, 1969
Pierrot le Fou Opens

"Jean-Luc Godard’s tenth film, Pierrot le Fou, a seminal transition picture for the prolific director and a high point in his early career, was released on January 8, 1969 in New York. Typically playful in its freewheeling narrative and bold in its use of pop colors and pop imagery, the film starred Jean-Paul Belmondo — the lead in his debut film, Breathless — and Anna Karina, the Danish actress who became Godard’s partner and muse through a series of late ‘60s films. Belmondo plays a TV exec who goes on crime spree with his family’s young babysitter (Karina), traveling from Paris to Nice. There are musings on high and low art, B-movies and Herman Melville, the Algerian and Viet Nam wars, and, amidst the cinematic playfulness, a strong romantic fatalism as well as a feeling of summing up. Godard’s filmmaking would become more directly political in the following years, and the sense of Pierrot le Fou as a kind of culmination work is perhaps stated directly in its advertising, which references several of the director’s previous pictures: “A little soldier who discovers with contempt that one must live one’ life, that a woman is a woman and that in a new world one must live as an outsider in order not to find one’s self breathless.”" ~~Focus Features

Plus HBD to Charles Bryant, English-American actor and director (1879, d. 1948); Jean-Marie Straub, French director (1933); John McTiernan, American director and producer (1951); and Sarah Polley, Canadian actress, director, and screenwriter (1979)
AND
RIP to Johannes Pääsuke, Estonian photographer and director (1911, b. 1892); Bimal Roy, Indian director (1963, b. 1909); and Iwao Takamoto, American animator, director, and producer (2007, b. 1925).
+++++++++++++++++++++
WRITING: How do you write the perfect logline and why is it as important for your screenplay?

PRODUCING: What are the best big cities, small cities and towns to live and work as a filmmaker in 2014 starting with #10 San Francisco? (an ongoing series throughout January)


FINANCING: What are 3 funding trends that can affect any filmmaker seeking investments or money in 2014? 


DIRECTING: Some thoughts on finding your directing style.



SHOOTING: A writer explains his reason for choosing a particular camera to shoot an action movie with lots of parkour based on his book.


LIGHTING: Why your film needs a good gaffer?


SOUND: How do you set audio levels in FCP X, Premiere and Avid?


STUNTS & VFX: How do they fake horse-riding in the movies?



EDITING: How do you animate a still photo in post to create the cool slow-motion effect used in documentaries?



DISTRIBUTION: What are the top 14 film markets around the world?


MARKETING: Should indie films license products like Hollywood?


LEGAL: So, what could have entered the public domain on Jan. 1, 2014?


Finally, RIP to Sir Run Run Shaw, godfather of the kung fu genre, who died yesterday at the age of 106.  His productions not only influenced me just as much as all the silent pictures, foreign films, Hollywood movies and experimental pieces that I love but also inspired me to become a martial arts instructor in Bruce Lee's art of Jeet Kune Do. 

Godspeed.