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Paul77
05-14-2013, 02:30 PM
$20,000 for short or feature?

Ok so I do have this money in place, my question is do I shoot a short film or a feature film?

Let me know what you would do!

Anonymous Filmmaker
05-14-2013, 02:33 PM
I would do a long short. (Not extremely long, maybe 45 min, just longer than the average Youtube short.) Is this an actual question on how you should spend money or a "just wondering" question?

Nick Soares
05-14-2013, 02:34 PM
Feature - Horror

Havey
05-14-2013, 02:34 PM
Do you have this opportunity in front of you or this this hypothetical?

brianknapp
05-14-2013, 03:17 PM
Definitely a short but using the best of the best stuff and build the whole set.

OffMindEnt
05-14-2013, 04:03 PM
Do NOT under any circumstances invest $20,000 into a short film. You can not make any money with short films.

Shorts are great, but only on a volunteer basis, where everyone is in it either for the experience, fun, art, or honing their skills and getting filler for their reels.
You can get professionals or semiprofessionals to come in for a day or two for a short film shoot fairly easily, if it's a project they like, or it's a change from their usual work.
Or you can get a gaffer to work as the DP for free because they want to build their cinematography reel etc.

But once you have a budget of $20k and the word gets around, you are not going to be able to get these people for free anymore, they expect to be paid.

So in the end a $0 short vs. a $20,000 short might end up exactly the same, only you paid full salary for everyone in the latter.

Is this hypothetical or do you actually have the cash on hand and you are thinking about these options?

If so, the money needs to be loose money to you, meaning that if you make $0 back on your investment, you wouldn't be screwed.
Definitely don't take out a personal loan or anything like that.

If you are going the spend the money, then there are two options as I see it, both have their risks:

1. Try to leverage the money you have to raise a bigger chunk of cash, like in the $100,000 - $200,000 range.
With that sort of a budget you will be able to afford name actors, who will help you or in some cases guarantee you to get distribution.

This is risky, because a major part of the initial $20k would go into legal fees to set up an llc, packaging the movie with the needed crew + talent, making a poster, basically everything you need to entice investors.

However, if you have no background as a producer, and you are only starting out, I would not do this, since there is a large possibility that you aren't able to get investors interested without a strong track record.

2. making a $20k movie.

This will be tricky, because if you want to make a distributable movie, you have to have good audio and good visuals.

I would spend $5,000 to hire a DP and a soundmixer/boom op for the shoot. You aren't going to be able to get them for their full rates for that money, but try to make a deal with them. If you don't have a camera beforehand, hire a DP who owns their own gear, same goes with the sound mixer.
You will have to wheel and deal and beg and borrow, but it can be done.

$10,000 I would invest in post-audio and deliverables, this means a 5.1 mix and an M&E track (if you want to sell the movie overseas).
$10k for post audio is not a lot of money, so again, you have to make deals, and look for the right company or a person.

The last $5,000 I would invest in marketing. Getting a professionally done poster made, printing DVD's to send to sales agents, distributors and film festivals. Setting up a professonally made website along with a twitter and facebook profile (for these you would want to buy these programs that can get you more followers, small price, but the amount of time you need to spend online to gather a fanbase will take long), also setting up screenings, maybe four walling a theater or two.

Basically at this budget level, if you want to have a sellable product, almost everyone has to be in it on a purely volunteer basis, you provide everyone their meal, gas money, and maybe possibly $50-$100 a day and that's it.
It's brutal but you can not afford to pay everyone full salary at this level.

This will be hard, since you can expect a lot of your crew to leave for better paying jobs during your shoot.

It can be done at this budget level, but if you have the cash on hand, try to get more investors on board, even if they are friends and family donating/investing a couple hundred each, everything helps.

brianknapp
05-14-2013, 04:07 PM
Do NOT under any circumstances invest $20,000 into a short film. You can not make any money with short films.

Shorts are great, but only on a volunteer basis, where everyone is in it either for the experience, fun, art, or honing their skills and getting filler for their reels.
You can get professionals or semiprofessionals to come in for a day or two for a short film shoot fairly easily, if it's a project they like, or it's a change from their usual work.
Or you can get a gaffer to work as the DP for free because they want to build their cinematography reel etc.

But once you have a budget of $20k and the word gets around, you are not going to be able to get these people for free anymore, they expect to be paid.

So in the end a $0 short vs. a $20,000 short might end up exactly the same, only you paid full salary for everyone in the latter.

Is this hypothetical or do you actually have the cash on hand and you are thinking about these options?

If so, the money needs to be loose money to you, meaning that if you make $0 back on your investment, you wouldn't be screwed.
Definitely don't take out a personal loan or anything like that.

If you are going the spend the money, then there are two options as I see it, both have their risks:

1. Try to leverage the money you have to raise a bigger chunk of cash, like in the $100,000 - $200,000 range.
With that sort of a budget you will be able to afford name actors, who will help you or in some cases guarantee you to get distribution.

This is risky, because a major part of the initial $20k would go into legal fees to set up an llc, packaging the movie with the needed crew + talent, making a poster, basically everything you need to entice investors.

However, if you have no background as a producer, and you are only starting out, I would not do this, since there is a large possibility that you aren't able to get investors interested without a strong track record.

2. making a $20k movie.

This will be tricky, because if you want to make a distributable movie, you have to have good audio and good visuals.

I would spend $5,000 to hire a DP and a soundmixer/boom op for the shoot. You aren't going to be able to get them for their full rates for that money, but try to make a deal with them. If you don't have a camera beforehand, hire a DP who owns their own gear, same goes with the sound mixer.
You will have to wheel and deal and beg and borrow, but it can be done.

$10,000 I would invest in post-audio and deliverables, this means a 5.1 mix and an M&E track (if you want to sell the movie overseas).
$10k for post audio is not a lot of money, so again, you have to make deals, and look for the right company or a person.

The last $5,000 I would invest in marketing. Getting a professionally done poster made, printing DVD's to send to sales agents, distributors and film festivals. Setting up a professonally made website along with a twitter and facebook profile (for these you would want to buy these programs that can get you more followers, small price, but the amount of time you need to spend online to gather a fanbase will take long), also setting up screenings, maybe four walling a theater or two.

Basically at this budget level, if you want to have a sellable product, almost everyone has to be in it on a purely volunteer basis, you provide everyone their meal, gas money, and maybe possibly $50-$100 a day and that's it.
It's brutal but you can not afford to pay everyone full salary at this level.

This will be hard, since you can expect a lot of your crew to leave for better paying jobs during your shoot.

It can be done at this budget level, but if you have the cash on hand, try to get more investors on board, even if they are friends and family donating/investing a couple hundred each, everything helps.
I agree and disagree true there is not much money to be made with a short but it can get you alot of attention which might lead you to better things in the future.

OffMindEnt
05-14-2013, 05:00 PM
I agree and disagree true there is not much money to be made with a short but it can get you alot of attention which might lead you to better things in the future.

Absolutely. But you should make that amazing short on a shoestring budget. The internet is filled with amazing short films which practically nobody has ever seen. Only one in a thousand becomes a viral hit, if even that, so the chances against your are greater.

With a feature however, if you play your cards right, you could get it distributed, which you can leverage into bigger movies.

A great short film that nobody saw vs a feature that got distributed, the latter sounds better to me. :)

brianknapp
05-14-2013, 05:07 PM
Absolutely. But you should make that amazing short on a shoestring budget. The internet is filled with amazing short films which practically nobody has ever seen. Only one in a thousand becomes a viral hit, if even that, so the chances against your are greater.

With a feature however, if you play your cards right, you could get it distributed, which you can leverage into bigger movies.

A great short film that nobody saw vs a feature that got distributed, the latter sounds better to me. :)

Like you said you could pay a large sum to get marketing for that short like pay to have it as a featured video on youtube to get massive views. Then at the bottom to tell all people email me for inquiries if you want me to do work for you filming and what not. This could allow you to land great paying job somewhere this is also true with a feature but considering it is longer less people will watch it compared to a shorter video like a short.

Paul77
05-14-2013, 05:16 PM
Great thoughts everyone OffMindEnt thanks for taking the time to give me your thoughts, that does not go unappreciated.

Nick, can you give me your thoughts on why you say Feature Horror?

Director
05-14-2013, 06:45 PM
Feature. Maybe two. I'm the king of cheap.

brianknapp
05-14-2013, 06:50 PM
Feature. Maybe two. I'm the king of cheap.
Like so cheap you should be on Extreme Cheapskates on TLC but for filmmakers?

Havey
05-14-2013, 07:15 PM
I would for sure go feature. If you are spending 20 grand on a short, you might as well write in an extra 20-35 minutes and make a full length film anyways.

And I'm with Nick. Go with Horror.

And not only horror, but maybe a found footage/cinematic horror with 75% of it being shot as a found footage.

brianknapp
05-14-2013, 07:21 PM
I would for sure go feature. If you are spending 20 grand on a short, you might as well write in an extra 20-35 minutes and make a full length film anyways.

And I'm with Nick. Go with Horror.

And not only horror, but maybe a found footage/cinematic horror with 75% of it being shot as a found footage.

Something similar to the movie Chronicle? I would watch something like that.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGcwSDNFcsU

Havey
05-14-2013, 07:37 PM
Yep. Something like Chronicle!

Jimmy
05-16-2013, 10:18 AM
Havey, you are genius! A found footage - That takes out so many factors to why film shoots are so expensive! Found Footage horror. I know I love them! Even the cheazy ones, I just like to watch them!

Go Havey, you are a genius!!!!!

It just makes so much more sense to me right now, shoot it for 20K and at minimum sell it for 40K (If its decent) and possibly alot more.

Paul, do found footage horror man!

OffMindEnt
05-16-2013, 01:15 PM
It just makes so much more sense to me right now, shoot it for 20K and at minimum sell it for 40K (If its decent) and possibly alot more.

Just interested, how do you know he can sell it for $40k?

Jimmy
05-16-2013, 01:28 PM
Just interested, how do you know he can sell it for $40k?

I dont, just a though - If he could make it decent (watchable) I do not see why he couldn't sell all rights for anything under 40K

Jimmy
05-16-2013, 01:29 PM
And just to be clear, I would not think the same about a cinematic horror films shot for 20K, those are much harder to get right and lots of variables to screw up.

OffMindEnt
05-16-2013, 01:52 PM
And just to be clear, I would not think the same about a cinematic horror films shot for 20K, those are much harder to get right and lots of variables to screw up.

Those same rules pretty much apply to found footage too. What you can do with found footage, you can shoot it much faster than a "regular" movie, and you can do it with a smaller crew.

But if you really want to sell it, especially overseas, you will need a 5.1 mix and usually an M&E track, plus all the other deliverables.

The list of deliverables is different with most distributors however.

A filmmaker friend of mine produced a feature film with practically a zero budget, he called in all kinds of favors, he shot it on the weekends, and in the end made a good movie.
They even had a few buyers ready to buy the movie, only thing was, they needed the professionally done audiomix, M&E tracks and all the deliverables.
My friend didn't have any money to throw around, so he couldn't sell it, and now the movie is sitting on a shelf somewhere.

Another director I know made a horror film and sold it to a distribution company who are fairly well known and specialize in low budget horror. They got their movie distributed all through the USA through them, they made $0 from the deal.
It was basically take it or leave it offer. The cold hard fact of the matter was, the company didn't have to offer a dime, because if my friend had said no, there would have been a dozen filmmakers behind him with movies of equal quality who would have been happy to take the deal.

In the end my friend directed a movie that got distribution, he was able to leverage that into something else where he actually made some money, but every cent he invested in the first film he lost.

Nick Soares
05-16-2013, 02:04 PM
Another director I know made a horror film and sold it to a distribution company who are fairly well known and specialize in low budget horror. They got their movie distributed all through the USA through them, they made $0 from the deal.
It was basically take it or leave it offer. The cold hard fact of the matter was, the company didn't have to offer a dime, because if my friend had said no, there would have been a dozen filmmakers behind him with movies of equal quality who would have been happy to take the deal.

In the end my friend directed a movie that got distribution, he was able to leverage that into something else where he actually made some money, but every cent he invested in the first film he lost.

This kind of stuff just breaks my heart.

Though found footage does allow you to break lots of rules.

Example: In a cinematic film if your audio is off or sounds far away that = bad sound which can lead to not making any money.
In a found footage if the person is 5 feet away from the camera then that is "natural" as it is found footage and there should not be a boom mic there.

So just from that one example you are cutting away a big chunk of money and time (time ='s money as well) from the shoot - now times that by about 10 other factors that a found footage can get away without (crane shots, dolly shots, *crew!*) and you can "if done correctly" make a great horror film for 20K and sell it for 40K - EASY

Paul77 - You have 20K, so to me that would be a simple business plan. Do what you can do make a profit with the 20K now. This will not only be good for you, but also for your future potential investors to see that your first film make a profit. DO NOT DO A SHORT FILM WITH 20K

OffMindEnt
05-16-2013, 02:13 PM
So just from that one example you are cutting away a big chunk of money and time (time ='s money as well) from the shoot - now times that by about 10 other factors that a found footage can get away without (crane shots, dolly shots, *crew!*) and you can "if done correctly" make a great horror film for 20K and sell it for 40K - EASY

Yep, with found footage movies, the concept and the hook of the film have to be really strong.
Like something that will make anyone who reads the logline go "I have to see this movie!"
It also helps if the subject matter, or general themes of the movie are similar to a bigger budgeted movie that is being released at the same time.

It happened when Pirates of the Caribbean came out, there were all kinds of cheap pirate movies in every store and on movie channels.

In that sense you have to be careful too, you don't want to make a movie that is similar to a big blockbuster movie coming out, and once you're finished you find out that half a dozen other filmmakers had the exact same idea, and your movie all of a sudden isn't so unique after all.

This happens especially with movies that are based on Public Domain material. Next year there will be two big budget Hercules movies, and I bet a whole bunch of low- to no-budget copycats will follow, since "Hercules" is part of mythology and nobody owns the copyright.

Nick Soares
05-16-2013, 03:06 PM
Yep, with found footage movies, the concept and the hook of the film have to be really strong.
Like something that will make anyone who reads the logline go "I have to see this movie!"
It also helps if the subject matter, or general themes of the movie are similar to a bigger budgeted movie that is being released at the same time.

It happened when Pirates of the Caribbean came out, there were all kinds of cheap pirate movies in every store and on movie channels.

In that sense you have to be careful too, you don't want to make a movie that is similar to a big blockbuster movie coming out, and once you're finished you find out that half a dozen other filmmakers had the exact same idea, and your movie all of a sudden isn't so unique after all.

This happens especially with movies that are based on Public Domain material. Next year there will be two big budget Hercules movies, and I bet a whole bunch of low- to no-budget copycats will follow, since "Hercules" is part of mythology and nobody owns the copyright.

Right I hear ya.... But just because there was a few big found footage films doesn't mean to stop making them. Its a business choice to do what you love and to also make money doing it.

See, I operate with risk/reward levels. 20K to me says found footage horror all day long.... (to almost guarantee his money back) *Again, if the acting is solid and there are a few scary moments*

Jimmy
05-17-2013, 04:27 PM
Mark, what are you going to do?

Mitchell Gibbs
05-18-2013, 11:07 AM
Definitely a feature, and if you do go a head with it, I could compose the music for you ;P

xzilez
05-19-2013, 01:55 PM
For 20,000 dollars I would do a feature. I know my thriller script entitled will cost around 15,000 grand to make. I made a budget plan to help me sell the script. If not then I will have to produce the script myself. I'm always looking for a new adventure, but yeah 20,000 grand would be good enough to do a feature.

Adam Spade
05-20-2013, 10:04 AM
I would never put more than maybe $500 into a short unless I had a damn good reason. They don't make money. They are practice for people who are not ready to produce a real movie.

If you have $20,000 to make a movie. Definitely make a feature. Then you actually have a shot at making money. It's a no brainer.

Investigate the markets and see where your money, skills, and resources will be most beneficial.

You don't need $100,000 to make a feature. If you believe that? You don't know much. You can make a feature with $10,000 with the right script. A good movie is all about script and then actors.

Check out Robert Rodriguez book telling how he produced El Mariachi ... I highly recommend reading that. Great read.

AWLeath
05-20-2013, 05:36 PM
I would do a horror feature with 5 actors and two locations max. There's a much bigger market for features as opposed to shorts. You can shoot a short for free.

Nick Soares
05-20-2013, 05:47 PM
Feature. Maybe two. I'm the king of cheap.

I could pull 2 features from that - Just no longer have time for production or that is what I would be doing.

PAUL77! Have you decided what you are going to do?

Havey
05-20-2013, 07:31 PM
Like i said before go with a found footage, horror feature, but make it different. Add some cinematics in there and have an amazing storyline to back it.

I would really budget when it came down to everything and use the money towards advertising and marketing. Don't go overboard with a lot of things in pre and post production that you don't absolutely need.

Nick Soares
05-20-2013, 07:38 PM
Found Footage Horror -

Money should go to SPFX, Editing, Artwork, Trailer, and more SPFX/VFX

Klay M Abele
08-08-2013, 08:25 AM
Found footage is definitely a great idea. I would go with more Eerie/horror/survival, and mix in some Sci-Fi. Always is a win with the unknown, and it gives you creative room to take it where a lot of found footage movies don't always go.

If you need help with an VFX let me know!

smileatnight
01-30-2014, 07:27 AM
Something similar to the movie Chronicle? I would watch something like that.

Unfortunately, Wikipedia says production costs for that were 12 million. That movie had a lot of special effects and post production. Some of it could be done cheaper and in different ways.

Not that that's not a good idea - Chronicle is a great film that's going to be remembered for ages.

filmmaker6563
01-30-2014, 02:26 PM
Found footage drives me crazy. Not the concept, but it's more of a gimmick than anything, and it's an overused gimmick. If it was used to tell a story because it is best told in the format, then fine. But a majority of films in the genre do it because... WHY NOT?! BWP and PA were successful.

Yes, making a feature would be a good decision, although it isn't impossible to make a short and gain success from it.

Panic Attack led to the film's director making the Evil Dead Remake:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dadPWhEhVk

This short led the director to make District 9:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlgtbEdqVsk

This short led to the director getting 500 grand in a competition and making connections.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiikS2xRSdE

The director of this short is in talks to make a feature:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=il5xxb6Y_lg

The director and actress of this short have achieved success in Hollywood:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYxs7Y7ulrM

BloodyCuts have released many horror films on the internet, some of which have gone viral. All of the filmmakers are doing extremely well and are enjoying their craft. Other short films include "9", "Napoleon Dynamite", and "Saw". Filmmaking groups such as BloodyCuts have released high quality short films, and have built up a strong fanbase if they ever decide to make a feature.

But I'm just playing devil's advocate.

There are a majority of things you can do, one of which is build up a fanbase by making shorts/videos. You could release these shorts, and invest money into the promotion of them. Put the rest of the money into making a feature.

Or.... make a slew of short films, perhaps release some BTS for them to establish a relationship with filmmakers, then Kickstart.

You could maybe make an anthology film.

Or make a feature.

-------

It depends what kind of film you are thinking about. A drama? Comedy? Science Fiction? Horror? Fantasy? Thriller? Once you've decided your genre and basic premise, create a distribution plan. Research the genre of your film, and study up on similar films. Find out what made them successful.

For example, the film "The Devil Inside" was crap, but did well due to awesome marketing and skillful planning.

Check out this article:

http://www.thewrap.com/movies/article/targeted-marketing-lucky-timing-drives-devil-insides-box-office-success-34232

You need to be an artist that can tell a story and an artist that can successfully market and distribute their product.

Can you answer some questions please? Here you go:

What is the genre of the film?
What is your ultimate goal?
What age group will the film be directed at?
If the film was to get rated by the MPAA, what do you think it would get?

Anyway, good luck!