I DONT USE THIS BLOG ANYMORE. NEW BLOG AT TYPEPAD
Mission X is a character driven story, as this young guy gets to document these men before a revenge attack. But I want to be a cinematic movie director too, so the challenge was to try and make it visually exciting too with no money.
I watched a lot of videos from Iraq. Like the Preston wheeler truck driver footage, when he was trapped by insurgents after an ambush. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUOEyuA_ozI In a lot of these videos you don’t actually see anybody but you know the insurgents are there.
I deicided there and then that I was going to take this style of action and stick it right in the centre of a UK city. And because these characters are from that world of Iraq, then it suits the style, and would not look cheap.
If you are in the film biz and you keep up to date with what is going on, you will know the small indie world of filmmaking is dying. Read many articles like this. http://popwatch.ew.com/popwatch/2008/06/independent-fil.html
Why are small films dying? They can be made cheap but its not cost effective for distributors to plug millions into marketing when people are flocking to the blockbusters. It’s a mathetical problem. There is also a flood of indie films because of low cost technology, but most of them are shit, just like most Hollywood films are shit. It’s a “script” biz, but with very few good script writers.
Is this a depressing time to be a filmmaker? No! It’s the MOST EXCITING TIME! I love big dumb Hollywood flicks just like the next person. The best one’s of course. “The Dark Knights”, “Terminator” etc. But we all know that after a while you want to see human character driven stories. Offbeat tales, original takes on old genres, simple stories, or just far out niche filmmakers like David Lynch.
My point! The audiences will never die for small films. EVER! How can I be sure? As long as human beings have problems, there will be a market for stories. Especially in a world that’s increasingly hostile, confusing, dangerous, disturbed, and unpredictable. Ok, a lot of fear comes from world events that seem to beyond our power. Terrorism, Global warming, political unrest etc.
In reality, I think what is really scary is the dysfunctional nature of human beings in general. We are more likely to die of depression, booze, drugs, overeating, unexciting comfort living. But ironically a lot of us worry about dying in a lighting in a bottle scenerio, terror attacks, catching a virus or plane crashes etc. Our worst enemy is always ourselves. Even though we might not realise it.
My point! Little character driven stories, whether social comment films, genre, or themed entertainment stories all deal with these dysfucntional issues we have. So why would we ever want to be without those types of films. Sure, we all want to get on that big rollercoaster and forget all our troubles for a quick escape, but lots of people will always look for stories they can relate to, identify with.
The challenge with filmmakers is to start writing good scripts. People get too caught up with technology. All the stars, money, marketing budgets can’t rescue Hollywood when they make a bad film. So its the same with small films. Just because you can make them for the price of a burger, does not mean shit! You need a fresh script, great characters. If you have that, then people will watch that between their blockbusters.
Its an amazing time for filmakers. The guys before us had to raise a lot of money to make a film, then hand it over to distributors. Which was fine if you made a carreer overnight in your first few films. But most didn’t. Now we can make films for almost nothing, and market with well thought out viral campaigns. We can also self distribute direct to that market. Sure it’s not easy, but it shouldn’t be! And if you are good, the Hollywood sharks will also call. It’s REALLY REALLY EXCITING!
Indies are not dying. Want to know the truth. HOLLYWOOD IS DYING! The monster has got bigger, so they have to feed it more and more. Blockbusters are going to get even more bigger, and to the point they will just not be cost effective anymore too.
It will be an industry that really just produces 3D style themed parks, gaming, reality of you being “there” experiences. Which is cool, but the magic of “story telling” will be gone! And who will fill that gap market? Indie filmmakers! The smart one’s who have learned every aspect of the business.
I am going to get out there and get my audiences. It might take a few films, I need to cultivate a global fanbase for my work, but it is doable with a little talent and a lot of drive. I also might have to get into Hollywood too for a bit to build a fanbase, but I sincerely believe the independent filmmakers can rise from the ashes. But ONLY if we all get out heads out of our navels, and get biz and web savvy!
Thanks for reading
Swaying from my movie making blog for a general post, but some Twitter posts have driven me to it, so need to get out of system! A mild rant!!
The worst thing about Twitter. “Inspirational quotes!” Lifestyle Guru’s! Why do people feel the need to copy and paste shit from their own or other lives, and then they try to sell us pitches of wisdom in 12 easy steps. Why? Well, because they can release these easy steps via credit card payments.
We are in a very amazing time. We are in a time where we can give moral support, and can inspire each other naturally by just connecting. As a filmmaker, I find other lives far more interesting than my own. In EVERY walk of life. We can all be role models to each other. We don’t need guru’s, lifestyle experts to provide the “solution”.
Example, if you are a biz person, or even a drug addict, but you want to battle to be a better person, then just document your life on a blog, twitter, video channel. Keep it snack size. If you are positive about changing, people will follow. Over days, weeks, months, even years. It will also motivate you knowing that others are watching how you do.
I watched a TV series about a guy who was producing his own real chocolate, going up against the corporates. I was inspired after watching the series. I am a very positive, driven person, but his commitment, focus, rubbed off on me. On top of this, I also wanted to try his chocolate. But he never rammed his life or his chocolate down my throat!
If he had came on TV in an advert, doing the car salesman pitch, saying his chocolate would change my life in a 30 second pitch, I would have turned him off. Instead, FOLLOWING his life over a series let me see the dude. So I then came to the conclusion he was making quality stuff. And I also found him inspirational. Not one quote in site!
My point is, lets all inspire each other naturally by FOLLOWING each others lives. Not PREACHING solutions! We have the ability to create our communication platforms, tv shows. We have access to amazing technology but most of us are not using it to it’s full potential yet.
We were coming into land on a jetliner. Next thing, BOOM, FLASH! Side engine caught flames! Seconds later, BANG! Next engine was also gone. Nosedive!, prayers, pissing pants! Could see we were about 500 feet from runway, but it seemed to take forever before impact.
Next, loudest bang I have ever heard in my life! Flames rushing over people, reach me, then CRASH, we hit runway. After that, I remember very little as I blacked out. I woke up on the wing. Sirens, screams, moans, burning flesh. I turned and saw people in bits, burning bodies, blood, pink lumps of flesh. It was like a scene from a movie, or a day trip to hell. Or Glasgow on a saturday night!
I had an arm ripped off, I was partially cooked, clothes burnt black, hanging off, and felt like I had swallowed a bucket of burnt dust. Smell of gasoline, cooked meat, plastic, it really was HELL!! I felt no pain as most of my nerves were gone. I got up with one thing on my mind, and one thing only. To save my fellow human beings? No! What a cunt! I know.
I slid down the wing into a pile of dead burning bodies. Frantically making my way through dead people, steel, seats, luggage. I pulled over another body, another bag, another seat!. I could not find it. Emergency services reached and tried to drag me away before the planes main tank blew. I pushed them aside. “Fuck off!” “Leave me!”
I had to find the black box. I eventually found it. It was sealed. There was no major damage. Why don’t they make the planes out of this shit! Anyway, the emergency services thought it was the planes black box, but I then told them it was mine. They helped me to the ambulance with it, just before the plane exploded into an inferno.
Once inside, I opened the box. My movie footage hard drives from my latest flick were safe. They made it! They survived! I cried with emotion! I thanked the almighty. I could have said an Oscar speech! My faith in Maxtor was renewed! Whats my point?
NOTHING, NOTHING, NOTHING, will stop me from becoming a movie maker with the rest of the life I have. And if you want to make movies, or doing anything in life, it should be all or nothing!. It has taken me all these years to realise it has to be pursued with a tunnel vision, and burning desire. Regardless of the obsticles along the way.
This was a dream I had 24 hours ago!
David Baker (c) 2009
PS. Incase I get any stupid samaritans scolding me, fuck off! No, I don’t condone leaving burning people in planes over a movie! It is only a movie! But it was my dream, nightmare, so in that context, I am allowed to leave or even blow every fucker away! In life, I am a nice pleasant chappie! But thats not very exciting or dramatic is it now!
I lost a budget last year at the 11th hour for my horror flick that was set to shoot in Los Angeles. More about it at my “film Journals“. I had developed it with my own money from corp video work for two years. I was left so broke, that I needed any job fast to pay the rent. Within 48 hours I was empting bins at Mcdonalds. Glam movie business!
(The Mcdonalds I worked at, until recently. Still from phone camera)
I have juggled unskilled jobs my whole life, so that was no big deal. But losing a £500,000 budget was tough. Incy Wincy Spider! My Mcdonalds badge said I was “loving it” My face said “fuck off I shouldn’t be here! However, I have absurd optimism, so I just plough on! I was not starving, dying of cancer, so I was not down for long.
NO BUDGET MOVIE MAKING
Ironically, after a few years of being stuck in limbo after securing and losing budgets for various reasons, I kick started my career again among leftover McFlurry and unhappy meals! I have now completed “MISSION X“, and have 10 companies between UK & Hollywood interested in other projects, but I am dedicating my life to building my “creation to consumer” brand for the time being.
So whatever shitty job you are stuck in, you are not trapped if you want something bad enough. I have learned we trap ourselves. When you hit the bottom, it either kills you on a slow burn, or you become much tougher. I went into Iron Man mode. You want something bad enough, you will get it. I woke up to that fact that you can make a movie on a day job budget, with a little beg, steal, and borrowing. (legal of course) We have no excuses.
I reminded myself that Tarantino worked in a video store, Kevin Smith made a movie about the general store he worked in, and Rodriguez moved into a drug clinic to kick start a career. Thats what I love about this business, there are no fucking rules! Even though the industry will try and convince you otherwise! Nobody really knows shit! If they did, most movies would not be bad.
When you have funded your own movie, it also means you control the vision for it 100%. I never got enough control on my first movie, but at least I would on this. I would also own it, so any sales could fund future development, festival trips, and pay the rent. I might even get lucky and have a hit! Either way, I would be “doing” and not “dreaming”
TOP DIRECTORS FUND THEIR OWN FILMS
Its not by coincidence that some of the top directors in the world funded their own flicks from peanuts. Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Spy Kids) funded El Mariachi by volunteering for drug tests for cash. Chris Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight) funded “Following” with £10,000 from corporate videos.
Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler) private funded the $50,000 PI. Kevin Smith funded the $30,000 “Clerks” budget from credit cards. Sam Rami, Kubrick. The Coens, Peter Jackson, and many more good and bad filmmakers done the same. They didn’t wait for permission to be creative. So self funding is nothng new, but thats not my point.
UK FILM INDUSTRY/COTTAGE
One of the reasons we don’t have an industry is because we have sent out the wrong messages to filmmakers here for years. In the US, some dudes get a camera, a few actors, tiny amount of cash for a genre flick, and create a career. They might be artists at heart, but they also create genre horror/thrillers to make investors some money back too. Which in turn turns them into “movie makers!”
In the UK, we have an unhealthy preoccupation with winning “awards”. I am not attracted by this biz to get back slapping awards all the time. You want that, be a fucking sprinter! I want to make movies for movie fans. We take ourselves so fucking serious in the Uk, it takes the whole “fun” out of this biz. You got a burning “cause”, cool, make a documentary, write a fucking blog, start a human rights campaign. Just don’t drown me with the films “message”
NO BUDGET APPRENTICESHIP
Pulling off a movie yourself to show the industry is the best apprenticeship you could have. Making your own film will teach you EVERYTHING. If you are handed a lot of money at the start of a career, it does not encourage you to be inventive, entrepreneurial. Solving problems with money all the time is not beneficial in any way.
DIY at the start also instills a passion, drive that never leaves you. I have been around filmmakers who got funding at the start, and they don’t have that edge, fire in their belly. You need that, because like it or not, each new project is an uphill climb to secure finance. In the indie world, or Hollywood. Or even self distribution.
MASTERCLASSES, GURU’S, TEACHERS
I am not a fan of preachers, guru’s, life coaches, so called Experts. Anybody can pull out motivation quotes from a book, or teach theory, but actually pulling it off in the real world is another planet! It’s better learning from other filmmakers that are “doing it”, then go do it yourself. Schools teach you about 5% of what you need to learn.
Since I made this small flick, lots of industry doors are now opening. That proves its not about securing budgets at the start. Just “do it!” If interested, watch me over the weeks, months, years, and see if my way works. Or laugh at me falling on my ass! Either way, I am going to make sure it’s fun. I would rather fall on my ass, than sit on it!
Thanks for reading
PS. Next blog posts will be Twitter style size! Short and sweet. So please come back! haha cheers
MISSION X REMAKE
I am using this small version of “Mission X”, to help me get a bigger remake into production. A bigger film that has the potential for global theatrical
I have seen a lot of micro budget indie flicks, and besides bad scripts, many of them don’t work because the filmmakers try to make a bigger budget movie, without a budget.
The objective with your first few films is to show the industry what you can do, so you can then attract finance and talent for other projects. Or to start your own indie company too.
So whats the solution? Does that mean you should not make a no budget film. Absolutely not! That’s what I have just done. But the concept and script has to be decent. In my opinion, there are a few rules about what type of film you should make when you have no money.
THE WRONG WAY TO MAKE A MICRO BUDGET MOVIE
You write a film that needs
- Name actors
- To be shot on 35mm, or high end HD
- Good music tracks
- to be shot slick. (dollies, cranes, steadycam)
- good composer
- great lighting set ups
- sfx shots
If you have written a script that needs all this, and you decide to shoot it no budget style, with a few TV faces attached, you will fail with the film. You will also spend the next few years rationalising that if you had bigger names, better cameras, lights, toys, SFX, then it would have worked.
I think the solution to the problem is a lot more simple. First of all come up with a decent concept, an original angle on something, and write the best script you can write. Most important thing, write it to suit the “no budget” style of the movie. If you get this right, your film can work without all the other baggage.
THE RIGHT WAY TO MAKE A MOVIE
Write a feature film that
- Would “not work” with name actors.
- Has to be shot on dv/low end HD, because suits the story
- Does not need music, “Blair Witch”, “Cloverfield” style
- uses available lighting, basic doc camera style
- Needs to be handheld style, to tell story
My latest flick, MISSION X, was so forgiving in every area, because I wrote it as a no budget movie. So I more or less got what I wanted. I wrote it to suit the gritty reality style of the doc camera feel. In turn, it does not LOOK like a film that I needed a bigger budget.
If “Blair Witch” had been shot on 35mm, had music tracks, names actors, steadycam, composer, sfx, etc etc, it would have failed. It’s really quite simple, write the story to suit the no budget style. It’s very very obvious advice, but most of the micro budget films I am aware always make this mistake. In turn, they look cheap and nasty.
I am no expert, but I hope my experiences might help.