Category Archives: storytelling

To Crowdfund or Not To Crowdfund? Is That The Question?

money pile

Some people swear by Crowdfunding. Some people vehemently oppose it. Some people think it should be left for the ‘little person’ to utilize and benefit from while other’s think it is okay that celebrities utilize crowdfunding too. Some people favor securing finances the more conventional route by private means or investment opportunity.

Personally, I think we should get our movies and projects made by whatever legitimate means available! There is not one right way nor one best way. There different ways and we can use any.

At the end of the day, the point of all discussion on financing IS TO GET OUR PROJECTS MADE.  However we legally finance these projects the point is to make a movie, TV show, web series or some other form of content. The end product IS our goal.

Times are changing it is true. It is obvious. Times always change.

The process of change seems to run like this: We attempt things and we don’t know if they will work when we try first try them. We never know this when taking the first groundbreaking steps. When we discover a method that works we use it then others come along later and copy the process, or use the process to get similar results.

When we find a way that works we repeat it over and over again until it doesn’t work. Okay, it is true, some people keep trying to do the same thing over again even when it has stopped working.

When things begin to slow down or stop working we usually scramble to find new methods to make things work. Sometimes we are successful right away. Sometimes there may be a gap or a lag as  the ‘new way’ isn’t completely settled yet.  Ultimately, a new method is found that works.  This process repeats. This is how things change, innovate and evolve.

We we find a way of doing things and stick with it until it is replaced by a better way of doing things. Hopefully.

None of this occurs in isolation as there may be a number of successful approaches co-existing at any one time, and a number falling out of favor as well. This is great news because it means there are a variety of ways to move forward at any given moment. We are not limited by what we can attempt, utilize or accomplish.

Whether we are aware of these different approaches makes a big difference in what we may be able to do. If we don’t know about a method, or how it works, it is obvious we can’t benefit from it until we do. What we are willing to do, or what we are not willing to try, makes a big difference too. Some people think things too difficult so they don’t bother. They may miss out because they just don’t want to effort too much.

When Edison invented the light bulb after 1000’s of tries you would think that people would have heralded him and sung his praises. Wouldn’t you?

What an incredible invention! Yet, many people from the public to some civic leaders did not want to use it. They thought it was too costly, perhaps unreliable, and there was always gas or the candle. to burn. I would think every one would have jumped on the band wagon the instant, instant on and off electric light became available. Not so.

There are many inventions similarly resisted, but I will leave it to you if interested, to do your own research.

We can search through history only to discover that ‘experts’ frequently resisted innovation. It was not just the public. The leading scientific and political and philosophical minds weren’t prepared to have their paradigm shifted. They were not ready to accept whatever new means and methods came their way. From Copernicus and Galileo to today’s experts resistance prior to acceptance is usually the norm.

Take science for example: “WHAT???!!!???” , what you say “…does this all have to do with filmmaking???” Hang in there you will see.

One or more scientists come up with a theory. Then they legitimately test it, hopefully legitimately.  And, yes hopefully, they actually test it too.

Assuming that, hopefully, they test it by well constructed means to insure that the theory addresses (and the test addresses) what they purport it does.

The real scientist actually attempt to disprove the theory. If they are unable to disprove the theory, through many tests and much effort, only then do they accept it. Then they publish their findings for peer review where it may be well received or not, lauded or criticized. It may even be suppressed because it goes against the main philosophy of the publisher, or the funding agencies. Consider that for a second.  Politics and profits exist much in the scientific community too.

Once the theory is advanced it is accepted by some and rejected others including many ‘authorities’.Some people find it difficult to change their thinking to accommodate new information, often, experts the most.

Eventually, the new theory is accepted and replaces the older theories. Those who are really smart understand that we do not have the actual, accurate, final answer about anything.  We do not have the truth. We only have theories for how things work We have best guesses based on study.

Those best guesses are just that, the best that we currently have at the moment.  If we come up with a better, more accurate description or a  more reliable interpretation of what we are theorizing about then we put forth a new theory. In theory if the new one holds up then we embrace it, loosely. Pun intended.

If we are wise people we move forward in our new thinking and approaches. It does not mean we were dead wrong in the past. We had a theory that we thought summed things up as nicely as possible. When new data came along we were able to update our thinking.

What I have described is how science is supposed to work. Supposed to.

Researchers come up with a theory and legitimately test it. If it is replicable by them and others and researchers collectively are unable to disprove it the theory gets advanced. Researchers legitimately report findings and publishers legitimately publish the findings. The new theory is continually utilized.  Eventually, the new theory gets gradual acceptance on grander scale.  Ultimately it replaces the old theory. This one is then replaced when a better theory becomes available.

Good science uses rigorous, honest methods and accurate reporting  to update our views of what is going on. We should not believe in science any more than anything else, it is fallible even while some of its proponents act as if it is not.

We use the best to get results. What we used in the past, even if incomplete and inaccurate still got us results. Hopefully, the new understanding and methods will bring us better results too. If not, we adapt and make the necessary changes.

It is kind of like replacing a worn out pair of shoes. The old shoes served you well but now there are newer better ones.

Times change.  Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures.

The world today calls for intelligent, novel approaches and tried and true means and methods in many areas.

Now back to filmmaking. The same applies to filmmaking and any of its phases. Whether it is financing, development, production and production tools and methods, sales and acquisition, distribution and marketing tried and true methods are challenged, resisted, and replaced when outdated. Proponents for change herald the new while others are proponents for the tried and true.

Some people fight for the rules others fight to break them. Neither is inherently true. There is no gospel here.

I believe there is room enough for all. There are means for everyone at various levels of professional involvement. Some people, experts at what they do will resist new changes because they are successful at what they do. They are great at what they have accomplished, they have gotten results so they may have an opinion against the next new wave heading our way.  OR they could embrace it. Either way we just need to keep in mind that it is only their opinion.

It is an opinion based on successes so we should listen to and respect their opinions because there can be  a lot of valuable things to learn from them. What they did served them well. It worked. We always want learn about what has worked don’t we?

What we should not do is give up, or not try, because someone has a contrary opinion. People prove others wrong all the time, without gloating. Another person may push ahead, in spite of considerable resistance or opposition, and break through and be wildly successful.

So listen, take advice and suggestions! Study what worked in the past and what works currently. Gather facts. Seek wise counsel. Do your homework, do the research and then implement what you consider the best way to get what you want.

Be smart, be wise and be willing to make it work. It just might! If it doesn’t, at least you tried and you didn’t give up.  Be like Thomas Edison! If it doesn’t work, BE LIKE EDISION. adjust what you need to, incorporate what you have learned and move forward again. Keep going you can do it! Never give up just be flexible in your plans and efforts.

So what does any of this have to do with  crowdfunding?

Okay, okay I am getting there.

I hope that the goal, for most filmmakers, is to create a project that is incredibly good. I hope you want to make an AWESOME movie!!!

If not, please don’t make one.  Do anything else instead. Please!!! If your goal isn’t to be the best there is then don’t bother us with you what come up with. Who wants to see a mediocre movie? My guess, none of us. Still, mediocre movies abound.

If you aren’t out to capture the imagination of your audience and entertain them, if you don’t want to take them on the best ride of their lives, then what on earth are you doing this for?

Your goal must be to make the most incredible movie you can make with the resources you have available. You need to show  a marvelous story, exceptionally well cast & performed. You need to tell it extremely well. Then you need it well marketed and publicized.

I left out an important point in this process. You want to get it SOLD. Most likely it will sell IF and WHEN you deliver a great movie.

BUT if it does get picked up for distribution you still need to publicize and market your product. For you to have any possible commercial, financial, critical success your movie has to make it out there to the widest possible audience, or to the most dedicated niche audience.

I hope that the purpose of your creation IS to entertain first and foremost. I hope the reason you made it IS to sell. I hope that  you want it to profit.

I hope YOUR purpose IS to put people to work and pay them living wages and elevate everyone’s career standing. That is my hope if you wish to be a professional filmmaker. If you only make films as a hobby then you may have different financial and marketing criteria but I still hope your goal is to be the best and impact your audience and deliver the goods.

Okay, so not everyone else has those goals. That is obvious. Some do and some just want to make a movie. Not everyone is a professional but not everyone claims to be. Still, there is room for anyone to do whatever they wish. There are those features that become part of the larger industry and business and there are countless others out there floating around.

In the professional market there is an established means of acquiring product. The acquisition process  changes too at different times.

Acquisition and sales are subject to stodgy bean counters saying ‘no’, ‘pass’ or ‘are you kidding me NEVER!!!’ just as there is a gatekeeping process in getting projects green lit in this business. A simple view of the process is from idea to script, from reader to producer, from producer to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, to development, pre-pro, production, post, sales & acquisition, to audience by  PR and marketing.  Now days this process includes social networking from as early on as possible.

Our movie business includes those who pass on nearly everything out of fear to the  wild eyed mavericks who love to pick up some rare, obscure, marvelous little gem and catapult it into financial, perhaps critical success.

Keep in mind that while you may be a nobody right now – you are a always a nobody to the big fish until you become a somebody in their minds. The power brokers are busy brokering power they haven’t got time for those that don’t have any. Profits have power.

These power brokers won’t give you a second thought any given day. BUT  IF your project breaks through due to social media, or a maverick picks it up for distribution, promotes it and it is a hit,  or you act in a break out movie THEN, ONLY THEN, BUT RIGHT THEN these powers will be very happy to  exploit anything and everything about you to make another buck. They will exploit your success all the way to the bank. Riches will come hurtling towards you. You will have arrived. People will know your name. (At least for 15 minutes). This is capitalism after all. This is show biz!

So your little crowdfunded no pay movie could be picked up and launched into a successful career path. It is not at all likely, it is not the norm, but it DOES happen. The same can be said of a independent low budget, traditionally funded project.

A lot of money can be spent to go nowhere or SURPRISE someone liked it and launched it.  ‘Overnight’ success stories are rare but remember we live and work in ‘the dream factory’. We seek success in Hollywood where dreams can come true.

We think that if we just get it made, if we can only get it to the right person,  then we will be discovered and we will be on Easy Street ever after.

IT COULD happen like that!!!  Just don’t count on it. Do diligence instead. Work it, do what it takes. Make an incredible movie and nothing less.

SO yes, live the dream!!!

Make great movies and get them to an audience. Write good scripts, produce and direct the best scripts you are able to. Be picky, for goodness sake, please be picky. Think of your audience when deciding things. I am not stating this is your only consideration but you should at least consider your audience when making a movie or show. What do they like, want and are buying? Some useful questions and there are many more.

There is room for all different kinds of movie making approaches, various styles, and genres.  This is wonderful. The door is wide open for us as filmmakers. It may be true that anything goes.

Remember, Hollywood rewards those who do a good job by exploiting them. This industry is more readily interested in filmmakers and talents whole already have found  a cult like following. Why? Because it is easier to exploit and less expensive when one has a ready made platform to market to.

If you already have a large audience that enjoys your work and wants the next offering from you that is awesome! That makes crowdfunding potentially easier and it makes it more likely that the Hollywood powers may be interested. Having as vast a network and dedicated a fan base as possible is certainly something we all need to develop as storytellers.  Think long and hard about developing this.” Rex Sikes

(Disclaimer: I do not purport to be an expert in crowdfunding or traditional means of financing. No am I able to dispense legal advice. Filmmakers are best served by finding a qualified entertainment attorney to work with and guide them in these areas. I bring up the topic to share a viewpoint and to encourage thinking and discussion).

We will continue this discussion on crowdfunding in the next blog Part 2.

Subscribe and Follow Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Blog!  Visit often & please share with others!

*** Please also visit Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Website.

Stay up to date with the live shows on Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat. You can join us and listen live as the show records. You can hang in chat and ask questions. All shows are recorded and archived at the official site.

Updates will be posted at this blog,  at the official site,  on the RSMB Friends page on FB,  through twitter and elsewhere.  When you can’t join us live you can still  listen to archived show from official site, from blogtalk radio and you can subscribe to the podcast at itunes.

Over 400 hours of professional filmmakers share their expertise and tips and secrets with you. All discussion may be listened to live and archived from the Official Site too! Check the INTERVIEWS

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Site

 

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Windmills & Movie Making – what you need to know

windmills

I just love windmills. I enjoy finding them when traveling. I wish I lived nearer to them. I enjoy seeing the movement in the sky line. It amazes me to see them moving in harmony, very often synchronized by the wind. I find a beauty in it. I find majesty in a field of windmills.

The reason I do, I believe, is because of what the windmills represent to me.

They are tall, they stand alone, they work separately, yet they work together for a greater good. They work independently but together they harness the wind power to be used by all. They serve a larger purpose.

I use this as an analogy for filmmaking. This is how I understand people working in film and television.

There are different jobs, different tasks that need to be done by individuals in different departments. Each is separate, frequently working alone, and yet together. These individuals are a team working together for the greater good of the project. They are both independent and interdependent at the same time.

In the case of the windmills no one single windmill is more important than the other. They are all equal. They all do their job and the larger interest is served.

In movie making there is a pecking order, there is a chain of command and there are different job descriptions. While I think all are necessary hence all are equal, my thinking may not be commonly accepted that way. Some people consider some positions more important than others.

Therefore, it is important to know and appreciate this chain of command or this top down order and understand where and how you fit in and contribute to it.

Even though some think one job description is more important than another I think all the job positions are necessary. They exist because they evolved driven by whatever was needed at a moment in time. Most, if not all innovation in filmmaking, art, science and medicine, in fact in any endeavor, is driven by the need to do something easier, faster, or differently. At one time the camera was static, on sticks, and because people wanted to tell stories better cameras became lighter and movable. Dollies and jibs, cranes and steadicams evolved to fill this need.

So I believe every position on a film crew is necessary because someone needs to do it. While there are different pay grades, and import placed on different job descriptions ultimately all are important. Some are deemed jobs for the talented, successful few, while others are ‘run out and find someone who will do this job’. Still, each position is necessary and hence worthy of respect.

Whatever, position on a film crew one finds oneself, one can and should be proud to be part of a collaborative team. If you weren’t doing the job someone else would be. You are needed to make the entire effort work. It may not always seem that way and you may not always be respected or treated as you should be but every piece and every part and every player on the team is necessary.

The whole is more than the sum of its parts. Together each person works in service of the project, the greater good. Each independent player helps this project come together in the same way each piece of a jigsaw puzzle in necessary for the puzzle to be complete.

This is how film work is collaborative. We need each other to bring the film to life. Countless numbers of people  are needed through each of the phases  of movie making from idea to consumer. Everyone along the way IS necessary but no one is indispensable. Everyone can be replaced. That is why working together as a team is critical.

To succeed in this business I believe one must understand and appreciate what everyone is attempting to do when they make a movie. One must understand the different responsibilities that come with each position and understand the etiquette on a production. I will discuss more about this in future blogs.

Different positions carry different concerns. You should: Know your place. Don’t bug people. Be respectful and helpful. Arrive early and stay late (but don’t fudge your union time cards or stay late to gain more pay THEY WILL notice that). Be willing to be helpful OFF the clock.

When you positively contribute to the people on the team and the overall project you become a valuable resource people can rely on.

You make yourself appreciated by remaining positive, by not grumbling. The saying ‘ loose lips sinks ships’ is apt because nothing hurts morale more than complaining and you may sink yourself if you get caught spreading a negative virus. If other people do it. let them, just don’t participate.

Make yourself nearly indispensable by working hard and going the extra mile. Work beyond your pay. You will be recognized by your efforts and when you go out of your way to be helpful, without being a nuisance, employers take note. Not everyone hired will do more than what is required so when you do you stick out head and shoulders above the rest.

You serve your own best interests when you become known as a friendly team player that people can count on. When you help others you are helping yourself.

You may not like someone on the team but you must respect their position, their job title and do your work without letting anything interfere. Obviously, if you are in an abusive job relationship that is something else as I am discussing the day to day working environment. Personalities clash at times and yet you are best served to do whatever you can to rise above it. Keep the larger project in mind. Be respectful of all and all will take notice, especially the people who can hire you back.

Many people think only of themselves, they only look out for number one. You do have to consider your own needs  I understand. The person who moves ahead in their career faster is one who can balance their needs while looking out for others.

Employers look at those whose concern is the project, who are team players and help all be successful in making the project come together. While union rules may preclude you from doing someone else’s tasks for them your spirit and attitude can go a long way in gaining you the attention of those who hire. Willingness to help, even when you can’t is appreciated. Be willing, and be helpful when able. Go the extra mile and give more service than asked for AND you will do more than most other hires. You will separate yourself from them and you will positively stand apart.

Remember, filmmaking is a collaborative effort that requires the management of large numbers of people and the allocation of resources. If you don’t come off as too overly eager and in the way, but as a dedicated, hardworking, positive person you will do well. When you are willing to do anything to help the team succeed you become recognized as valuable team player who is difficult to replace. Because so few work so well it is tough to find someone like you. You want to hard replace.

You make the best headway in this business by becoming known as a reliable, dedicated, hard working cheerful, friendly co-worker who values others and cares deeply about the success of the project and the overall team.

People in it only for oneself, tend to lose out.  People who contribute tend to make headway beyond the rest.

While it is true there can be horrible employers and job situations and some top players may not be nice at all you should remain positive.

Remember, after all you are living the dream you are making a movie.

Some players are power mongers who throw their weight around because they really don’t know how to lead well and most likely are afraid someone may find out. Some may mistreat people and no matter what you do you could be used, abused or ignored because that is just how they are.

There are exceptions to every rule still you should seek to rise above the rest and adhere to a higher standard. Try instead to understand, sympathize, emphasize, forgive OR go where your talents may better serve and be appreciated.

When you enjoy what you are doing and help others to enjoy along with you ultimately you will be recognized by those who count. You will be invited back to work again and again when you become the person they want to be around. When you are recognized as a great person first coupled with being a great worker, known to deliver the goods, who fits in and contributes to the team, you become sought after. You become highly desirable. THIS is what you want to occur. This is how you get ahead.

Look beyond the job and look to your future in film. DO you fit in well with others? Can you work in harmony, while working independently, for the greater good? Can you help all to benefit? Do people enjoy your company? Are you a team player? Are you friendly? Do you like people? Are you willing to go the extra mile to deliver exceptional service, even if not asked? If you can honestly answer yes you will do well.

Keep putting yourself out there. Build your resume. As you do, your positive, helpful nature and your team spirit will become known. Reputations precede us and they follow us. Make sure your reputation serves to get you on the project.

Make sure your reputation is stellar and you will go very far in this business. One of the reasons you will go far beyond others is because when you are this kind of person, this type of worker, when you do these things, you are unlike all the others. You are no dime a dozen worker. You are a cut above. You are rare and you are valuable.” Rex Sikes

Subscribe and Follow Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Blog!  Visit often & please share with others!

*** Please also visit Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Website.

Stay up to date with the live shows on Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat. You can join us and listen live as the show records. You can hang in chat and ask questions. All shows are recorded and archived at the official site.

Updates will be posted at this blog,  at the official site,  on the RSMB Friends page on FB,  through twitter and elsewhere.  When you can’t join us live you can still  listen to archived show from official site, from blogtalk radio and you can subscribe to the podcast at itunes.

Over 400 hours of professional filmmakers share their expertise and tips and secrets with you. All discussion may be listened to live and archived from the Official Site too! Check the INTERVIEWS

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Site

 

 

Hollywood Is A Meritocracy

lighting house ladders

I have been writing about the need for people to become a rare, sought after, desired person in Hollywood, in ‘the industry’. You know the kind of person we need  a genuine person, a nice, honest, decent, hard working co-contributor who works well with others. When it comes to advancing one’s career there is no better means that to add value to others first.

The entertainment business, like any business, is driven by dollars. It seeks profits and is concerned with bottom line. It catapults into stardom anyone who can fill theater seats or pitch and sell products in media because of who they are and how they look. Make no mistake about it the movie business is a commercial endeavor. It spends money to make money and it is concerned with every last dime.

So adding value means you don’t cost them you help them. It means you are not a liability but an asset. If you can help them save money by being professional, by being dedicated and going the extra mile, by adding value then you are sought after and put to work doing that. If you can help make them money by your actions you are a godsend.

Make no mistake, it is about business after all.

At the same time I share with you how to get inside the business there are other things to do simultaneous. Some do these without regard to what I have already shared about how to get in. I believe you need to do both. Here is what you need to be and do.

First and foremost you have to be the kind of person people like and want to be around. You DO need to add value first to everyone and develop the reputation for helping others and solving problems. You want to become the nice go to person everyone wants on their team.

Second you have to make films, movies, television. act. write. edit, shoot, compose or do whatever it is you do. NO YOU DO NOT have to do them all. Probably far better if you don’t try all of them anyway. You have to produce product for the business. It should be quality product, great story, great acting, unique, novel or original. You want to have an original voice and not be a copy cat. Still, you can model success from others, build on what has gone before you without looking the same.

What Hollywood doesn’t want is to do any of the work. They don’t want to have to say yes to you or your projects that is too risky. Invest in you or your movie WOW really risky! Better to say no and wait and see if you come through anyway. THAT is exactly what the business does these days.

You find it tough because they say no. They say no because they don’t want to loose their jobs. They will anyway if they never say yes, but at least they think they can squeeze a few more days, weeks or months out of the current tenuous position. So they say no.

If you are the kind of person who takes rejection personally and it hurts you and crushes you and you give up Hollywood beat you. Because there is no failure until you quit but once you throw in the towel it is definitely over. So move on. If on the other hand you don’t let it bother you but you allow it to motivate you to work smarter and harder then you can improve your chances.

If, instead of quitting, you make your movie, your show, your web content, and you do it well, you have something to offer you have a tangible money making product. While it is true that it is difficult to get movies made and released, it is equally true that it is difficult to get people to read your screenplays, and watch the product you have made. Everyone is too busy and too lazy to be bothered. They just don’t want to have to work to make things happen.

But they are more likely to watch something of your work or latch on to your idea when they see that it is fully developed, quality produced and acted and that there is merit behind your thoughts and you actions. Proof of concept or sizzle reels seems to be a way to go. You have to prove your project has wings.

The bottom line in this day is anyone can make a movie. Anyone can make a full feature film the technology exists and the costs, while there are costs, it is not prohibitive as it once was. So if you write, produce, direct, act, shoot or edit you have no excuse not to be making content.

It had better be awesome though. Because anyone can make movies everyone seems to want to and many make really bad ones. There is so much noise to signal these days because it is cheap and available. If you want to get recognized as a talent then you have to be talented and make good projects.

Let me stop here and say this because it is important. DO NOT do every thing yourself. These are thought of as vanity productions whether they actually are or because you don’t have the people to fill the positions. Movie making is collaborative. If you want to produce or direct you have to be able to lead and manage a team, in some cases a very large team. The more people you have to manage the more your import skyrockets. There is great value in finding those talented producers and directors who understand people skills and are able to get things done effectively.

For directors watch your actors make sure you cast well and get stellar performances. After all that is what a director does. The director brings the story to life. First the story must be incredible no one wants to waste their time watching something that is boring, implausible, and poorly constructed. We all want to be entertained. We want to lose ourselves in the story, in the characters, we want to love them, fight along side them, be them, bed them or hate and revile them. We don’t want to not care. We don’t want to think this story or this person sucks. We want to be lost in your movie and your characters not pulled out of it by silly plot contrivances and weak or overacted performances. Directors this is your domain. THIS IS YOUR MOST IMPORTANT DOMAIN.

Yes, you work with the cinematographer to get the right shots and pretty pictures, but no one cares about your shots if the story and the acting is poor. Then we could go look at a travel video or a photograph. You use the camera and its placement and movement TO TELL THE STORY and CAPTURE THE PERFORMANCES not as an end to itself. By far this is to prevalent in today’s film endeavors. People spend all sorts of time and energy lighting and setting the camera at the expense of what goes on in front of it. Let your cinematographer light the set, deal with the shot while you work with the actors. Confer with them yes, but spend the lion share of your time on the story, character and performance and less on style. Focus on substance over style. Consider this if your story is riveting and the performances captivating 95% of everything is accomplished, maybe 99%. When you have intriguing story and compelling characters the audience lives through, it doesn’t matter so much how it looks.about  I am not saying it isn’t important at all, but it really isn’t. What I am saying is put your energy and talent in what matters the most to everyone who will watch your work.

You are not going to get hired as a director if your film is gorgeous and the story and acting suck.

Writers do everything you can to make in capture our hearts and minds. We have to believe every second, we need to live it as the characters do. Or as an audience we live it a moment in front of them anticipating the next moment, the suspense, or a minute after when some poignant moment is revealed. We should be caught up in the story and moved along on a roller coaster. While the ups and downs and violent turns of the ride don’t have to be such in each story all stories have a pace, have high moments, drama and conflict, overwhelming odds whereby the hero may lose all and moments of accomplishment and learning. It can not be the same pace, the same level, story cannot only be revealed through dialogue. We have to see what is going on and feel what is going on with these characters. You need to write it as the best written screenplay ever. Will you most likely not right out of the gate but you have to stick with it, re-write it, polish it and develop it and make it production worthy. Besides it being important to you, the writer (or the writer, director or producer and sometimes one person is all three) it must be important to others. It has to speak to the audience so that when they are done with the experience they feel better off for having been a part of it. If they feel they have wasted their time then they have and so have you.

Directors and producers must be choosy about what they make. Just because you have an idea doesn’t make it worthy of a short film or feature film. Just shooting for the sake of doing it isn’t going to help you.Strive to do the best with the resources you have. You may not have great equipment or enough people, money, food, time or energy but you should have an incredible story and an incredible cast. WHY? Because before movies came along these were plays and plays need to be great too. This is an important point I am not saying you have to write for theater that is a different form but you have to write and produce and direct and act so that humans that would watch it, whether on film or on a stage, want to see more come from you.

You always only make a first impression once. It is nearly indelible, and while this first impression may be overcome later with better future work, why shoot yourself in the foot to begin with. Start out right by making the best impression you are able to.

Make the best short or feature or web series you can. Wether comedy, drama, science fiction, western action or horror, there is one thing it absolutely be and that is ENTERTAINING!!! IT MUST be worth watching from the very first frame because if not, a few frames later, they will turn it off. If you give them crap the first time do you think they will accept anything from you the second time? Why make your job more difficult make it easy.

Become the best filmmaker you can be. Do it all the time but don’t put it out there unless it is worth it. Know the difference between something worth showing and something you cut your teeth on. As you grow in experience and get better and better you will make the project you want to show, just make sure it is the best you can do.

Actors the same applies to you. There is no reason why you can’t act on camera and put content out there worth seeing if no one is hiring you. You increase your chances of getting hired when you do BUT it must be wonderful. Again business smarts is crucial. Don’t put things up and out that are not your best. It is more important for actors and filmmakers to develop quality over quantity especially to get in the door. Once inside you want to follow up your work with more better work, This is a quest that frustrates many, how to top an earlier success.

I don’t think you have to top it but you have to consistently deliver the goods. If it is business you may have a flop now and then but ultimately you need to make people more money than you loose if you want to stay in any business.

So Hollywood doesn’t want to develop you instead they want you to come to them ready made. They want to claim to have discovered you, the next new great talent. They want to exploit you and make money from you but they don’t want to pay anything to start it. It does make sense because they are currently busy keeping those already ‘there’ busy making movies and projects. They are nurturing and milking their cash cows until the cows have nothing left to give.

SO understanding how things work in a business helps us move forward in the business, It may seem daunting but you can’t give in to that type of thinking. You do need to be positive in your thoughts and actions. You should also be realistic about your knowledge and your skills and talent. Be accurate in your assessment where are you strong and where do you need to develop?

Stay positive in thought and feeling and attitude because you can develop your abilities and talents as you pursue your career. You will especially if you believe in yourself, stay optimistic and continue to work on it. Develop your mind set and never give up. Become a person other people want to work and be with. Megalomaniacs occasionally get in but not as a rule. Usually the nicest people have lasting careers.

Producers and directors remember people keep an eye on how you inspire people to work hard and to be better not how well you whip them into doing things. People management. time management, management of resources are all important. They want to know you can manage money too. If your film cost nothing that is admirable because you did a lot with little BUT you did not actually have to spend money and that is precisely what you do in business. Doing something with nothing may impress some but at the same time it does not lend any credibility to your business skills. Rather it speaks to you creativity to figure out how to pull it off with nothing and I believe this is very valuable. It is just spending money wisely is a different skill set.

The bottom line is today you can make product. Whether that product is one you are able to take to market or not depends on many other factors. What you can and should make is incredible stories whether shorts, serials, or features. You should seek to entertain and fascinate the viewer.

Strive to do your very best in whatever capacity you function and I hope you love doing it. Have fun, enjoy it, strive for quality and keep doing it and you will get better and better. Be wise about what you show and when. Be prudent, in some ways better to err on the side of caution them blow a contact with work not ready. Keep at it and don’t quit.

Be the person other people want to work with. Learn to inspire and motivate and appreciate others. Value them first, add value to them, respect them and they will value you.

The best possible combination. The best of both worlds is an incredibly wonderful person who is also talented, creative and smart about business. It makes it easier to get ahead so be one. If you are not already, I believe you may become one, you just have to spend time doing what it takes. Whenever something is worth having, when something is a must, then it is worth putting in the appropriate effort.

I will discuss many topics as we progress. No single blog post of mine stands in isolation as there are numerous considerations. I consider it a flash light illuminating an aspect of it to give our attention to and explore, not as the final word.

Subscribe and Follow Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Blog!  Visit often & please share with others!

*** Please also visit Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Website.

Stay up to date with the live shows on Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat. You can join us and listen live as the show records. You can hang in chat and ask questions. All shows are recorded and archived at the official site.

Updates will be posted at this blog,  at the official site,  on the RSMB Friends page on FB,  through twitter and elsewhere.  When you can’t join us live you can still  listen to archived show from official site, from blogtalk radio and you can subscribe to the podcast at itunes.

Over 400 hours of professional filmmakers share their expertise and tips and secrets with you. All discussion may be listened to live and archived from the Official Site too! Check the INTERVIEWS

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Site

Michael Frost Beckner (RSMB Screenwriter Series)

Michael Beckner jpeg

Michael Frost Beckner launched his writing career in the early 1990’s with three record-making “spec” script sales: “Texas Lead & Gold,” “Cutthroat Island,” “Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

Today, with dozens of screenplays and rewrites for major studios, twenty pilots for commercial and cable networks, numerous episodes for network television, Beckner has—from his first original film, “Sniper,” that introduced the phrase “One shot, one kill” to the public vernacular and spawned three sequels—built a reputation as a film and television writer of realistic, character-based historical, military and espionage dramas.

The Screenwriter Series on Movie Beat with Michael Frost Beckner IS BELOW!

UPCOMING LIVE: Wednesday October 8, 2014 11aET, 10aCT, 8aPT TO LISTEN CLICK THE BOLDED LINK Below

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with screenwriter producer Michael Frost Beckner WS7

Discussions with Michael on Mini-series he is producing To Appomattox. TO LISTEN CLICK THE BOLDED LINK Below

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with screenwriter producer Michael Frost Beckner

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with screenwriter producer Michael Frost Beckner PT 2

****NEWS!!!  Michael and I are conducting a writer’s series. Tips, suggestions, secrets, on writing, selling and getting your screenplay made. Stay tuned!!! More to come!

***** THE SCREENWRITER SERIES with Michael Frost Beckner & Rex. How to write, pitch, sell and produce your screenplay. SCROLL DOWN FOR UPCOMING EPISODES *****

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with screenwriter producer Michael Frost Beckner WS1

Episode 1. We discuss – idea, generating ideas, plot, how to develop plot, story and what makes it important. The importance of Characters to the story and how these all relate to creating a strong project and selling it. (Show Note – cable company cut cable 3 minutes from end of show – ends abruptly but we will continue the conversation topic in Episode 2.

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with screenwriter producer Michael Frost Beckner WS2

Episode 2 We picked up where we left off and continued to explore story and character development. Michael talked about creating character backstory and how you screenplay story emanates from the character not the other way around. We discussed rewriting to keep it a page turner and began discussing crafting your opening, and how important theme is, plus much more.

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with screenwriter producer Michael Frost Beckner WS3

Episode 3 We continue the discussion where we left off and began to significantly the notion of THEME in your writing. Why and how  it is important and what it means to the reader and audience.

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Episode 4 We will pick up where we left off and continue to explore these and new topics. How to Pitch Studio executives and producers. Michael provided valuable tips and suggestions for how to pitch and what to do.

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with screenwriter producer Michael Frost Beckner WS5

Episode 5 Continues the exploration and discussion on pitching and selling your screenplay. The conversation includes studio, independent production, television and features. Incredible information you can use is in each episode.

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat chats with screenwriter producer Michael Frost Beckner WS6

Episode 6 Michael and I discuss pitching your feature or spec film and how it differs from pitching Television executives. We discuss the necessity of networking and career success.

ENJOY THE SCREENWRITER SERIES

Beckner’s major big-screen success came with the Universal Pictures, Tony Scott directed film of Beckner’s spec script, “Spy Game” (2001) starring Robert Redford and Brad Pitt.  The release of that film coincided with the debut Beckner’s CBS series, “The Agency” (Creator, Executive Producer, Writer; 2001-2003).  This pilot holds the distinction of being the only dramatic series ever allowed to film at CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

Beckner began his career as Academy Award winning director, Barry Levinson’s Writing Assistant working with the director on “Good Morning, Vietnam” and “Rain Man.”  From 1997 to 2008, he worked extensively with Academy Award winning director, Sydney Pollack, adapting John Le Carre’s “The Night Manager” and writing two more films and developing two television series; Beckner considers Mr. Pollack his mentor and the greatest influence on his writing and his career.

Recent writing credits include: “CSI: Crime Scene Investigators” (CBS) and “Gold Fever” (Discovery), and is preparing the “Spy Game” prequel “Muir’s Gambit” for production and has adapted his novel “Berlin Mesa” into a 4 hour mini-series for AMC.

Beckner has also developed a working profile in European television writing the miniseries “The Plan” (UK; Purecom Entertainment and Freemantle) based on Alex Dryden’s bestsellers “Red to Black” and “Moscow Sting,” as well as “The Sleepwalkers” based on Christopher Clark’s international bestseller of the same title (Germany;Odeon/H&V Productions).  Beckner is currently working on “City of Lies” which continues his creative partnership with director Wolfgang Petersen they began with “The Agency” (Radiant Productions/Endemol).

As a personality and commentator on American espionage he has appeared on CNN, Fox New, TF1 in France, and was a featured guest on Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect.”  As a Civil War speaker, he has spoken at universities and to private organizations on the history behind his upcoming Civil War Event Mini-Series “To Appomattox.”

He is one of three children of Olympic gymnast, coach and judge, and NCAA champion (University of Southern California) Jack Beckner and Barbara Beckner; he attended USC and received a degree in novel writing under the tutelage of award-winning novelist T.C. Boyle; the father of five children, Beckner makes his home in Montrose, California.

Subscribe and Follow Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Blog!  Visit often & please share with others!

*** Please also visit Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Website.

Stay up to date with the live shows on Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat. You can join us and listen live as the show records. You can hang in chat and ask questions. All shows are recorded and archived at the official site.

Updates will be posted at this blog,  at the official site,  on the RSMB Friends page on FB,  through twitter and elsewhere.  When you can’t join us live you can still  listen to archived show from official site, from blogtalk radio and you can subscribe to the podcast at itunes.

Over 400 hours of professional filmmakers share their expertise and tips and secrets with you. All discussion may be listened to live and archived from the Official Site too! Check the INTERVIEWS

Rex Sikes’ Movie Beat Official Site