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Hollywood Myths and Hoaxes: Connections

by Richard Walter

You’re heard it a gazillion times: it’s not what you know but who you know.

Talent, schmalent, one screenplay is pretty much like another. Don’t oodles of lousy scripts get produced? We’ve all seen movies that were worse than one or another of our own unsold screenplays. How can it be that a bad script gets shot and my superior work remains on the shelf? Clearly, the explanation can only be that what counts in Hollywood is not the quality of writing but the right parties, schmoozing up the right people, making the right connections.

In fact, this is the opposite of the truth. I know personally all kinds of well-connected writers who cannot manage to sell a screenplay. On campus at UCLA in our graduate screenwriting program, on the other hand, I see brand new writers break through every season. The truth about Hollywood, as hard as it may be for skeptics to acknowledge, is that it is a meritocracy. Newcomers succeed on the basis of the worthy scripts they write.

I moderated a screenwriting panel years ago in Maui (am I a lucky guy or what?) in which big shot screenwriters discussed writing issues. The panelists were Carrie Fisher (beyond her career as an actor, she has also substantial success as a writer), Steven DeSouza, James L. Brooks, Ron Bass, and Nick Kazan. I pointed out that prior to their success only one of these writers had any connections at all. That would have been, of course, Carrie, who told the crowd that her connections held her back for years, actually militated against her success, served not as support but obstacles to overcome. All the others achieved what they achieved starting from scratch.

If your writing career at the moment wallows in scratch, therefore, you are in good company.

Every successful writer without exception, no matter how adored, rich, envied, lauded and accomplished, was once as anonymous as you.

Cynics love to quote Dorothy Parker’s timeless line: “Hollywood is the one place on earth where you could die of encouragement.”

My answer appears in my 1999 novel Escape From Film School: “Hollywood is the one place on earth where you start at the top and work your way down.”

Your best credit is no credits. Exactly as movies romanticize and idealize the human condition, so also does the movie business. Producers can project upon a blank slate the romanticized, idealized vision they seek. They cannot do that with a writer who has development deals that didn’t develop, movies that got made that never got distributed, or movies that got distributed but bombed at the box office. This is the only business I know where inexperience trumps experience.

At the first meeting of my regular UCLA screenwriting workshop, in which each student has ten weeks to write a feature-length script, I brag to the attendees about all the movies, not to mention movie franchises, which have emerged from scripts written in these very same classes. Forgive me for bragging, but it’s the writers’ fault; they give me so much to brag about.

After this orgy of boasting, I caution the writers: “Please don’t try to sell the script that you write in this class.” I follow this with what some call my characteristic long pause.

Is it not a contradiction? I brag about The Highlander and Backdraft and Ace Ventura and more, projects that grew out of assignments in my own and other instructors’ classes, and then instruct the writers not to try to sell the work they write in the class.

There is, in fact, no contradiction whatsoever. I do not tell the writers not to sell their work. I tell them not to TRY to sell their work. Indeed, fervently I hope and pray they do sell their work. If they do, I’ll add it to the list of projects to brag about at future such sessions.

There is a Zen line regarding archers: You can’t hit a target by aiming at it.

To sell a screenplay you have to forget totally about the sale and simply wallow in the process. You have to do all those California things: follow your bliss, go with the flow. I’ve never known a writer who was not surprised by a twist or turn in the story, a line of dialogue spoken by a character that emerged wholly by surprise.

Isn’t life like that? The late writer/director UCLA film school grad Colin Higgins (Silver Streak and Foul Play among others) told me years ago that when he was still a film student, he prayed to win first prize in the Goldwyn competition, which would have provided enough money for him to do nothing but write for a year. He would not have to suffer the distraction of a day job. Alas, he won only second prize, which required him to seek part-time work. He chose the perfect job for a writer or actor: working for a swimming pool cleaning company.

At the first house whose pool he cleaned, an upscale home in the flats of Beverly Hills, he noticed a man sitting at the end of the pool beneath a beach umbrella, reading a script. Clearly, this was the owner of the house. Just as clearly, he was a movie producer. Indeed, this neighborhood positively overflowed with producers. Colin got to chatting with him. He told him that he was a screenwriter himself, and persuaded him to read his second-prize Goldwyn-winning screenplay. The producer ended up making the movie. It established Colin’s impressive, productive career.

Some people will remonstrate, “But isn’t that just another example of connections, of meeting the right people?” They focus on the meeting and overlook the fact that the script happened to be Harold and Maude. Had Colin given the producer an unworthy script, we would not be recounting this story.

“Just think, Richie,” Colin said to me, “If my dream had come true, if I had won first prize, I’d be cleaning swimming pools today.”

The lesson: stay open to the surprises. This is true not only regarding the surprises in your screenplay but also your life’s narrative.

It’s not who you know, or even what you know.

Ultimately, it’s what you write.

Richard Walter is a celebrated storytelling guru, movie industry expert, and longtime chairman of UCLA’s legendary graduate program in screenwriting. A screenwriter and published novelist, his latest book, Essentials of Screenwriting, will be available June 29, 2010. Professor Walter lectures throughout North America and the world and serves as a court-authorized expert in intellectual property litigation.

Source with permission: The Writers Store

Steadicam Merlin – IQ Exclusive Review

Camera movement has always added that extra bit of production value and those steady flying shots are no exception. As some one who has spent countless hours making an modifying my own camera stabilizing rig, I was interested in giving the Steadicam Merlin (courtesty of B&H Photo) a try out – if not only to experience what really good engineering is all about, but to get some ideas on where my system stands in comparison and get some ideas for improvement.

The Steadicam Merlin ships in a easy to transport case. Upon opening it up for the first time I was surprised at how small and compact the system is when folded down. I quickly popped on the Sony AX2000 to give it a quick try out but was totally unsuccessful in obtaining a balance – guess it’s time to watch the Training DVD.

After spending some time reviewing the training materials (which are fairly detailed and complete) I was finally able to find the proper balance for the AX2000. This prosumer camera comes close to topping off the Merlin’s max weight limit of 5.5lbs (the weight being the primary reason I had so much trouble with it in the beginning).

Steadicam offers something called a MerlinCookbook which has a listing of configurations based on what kind of camera you’re flying. If you’re on the list – you’re almost all set. If not, you’ll need to spend some time practicing.

I won’t go into all the details about how to achieve the perfect balance but it does take a lot of practice. Fortunately for me, I’ve put in a lot of hours already and so I can feel my way to a proper balance but I can see this being incredibly frustrating for some one just starting out. This may be partly to the design – the bow is not as intuitive as the standard post found on bigger setups and can easily mask situations where you’re top heavy. My best advice to a new user is to just put in the time with the training materials – you’ll get it eventually.

Bells and whistles

Once you find your balance the Merlin is a great setup. I particularly like the trim options. These thumb screws are well engineered, well documented (little arrows indicate which direction the rig will balance) , and are really great for fine tuning the balance. Even the caliber length (the length and shape of the bow) can be adjusted as well as the gimbal position.

Where the gimbal attaches, there’s a little tongue which helps you aim the rig. I love this feature for controlling the direction of my shots.

With the AX2000 onboard, the Merlin floats along very nicely but I found myself tiring out for carrying all that weight. And I’m a pretty strong guy. I’m sure I could grunt and bear the weight of the Merlin for a few hours with numerous rest stops, but having all that weight would really have me reconsider using this on a camera that weighed around 5 lbs.

Next I tried the Merlin with the Canon 5d. The weight of the rig was very comfortable to hold although finding an acceptable balance was very tricky (the 5d is side heavy). The lack of anti-shake features on these HD-DSLR cameras and focus control will create some problems.

In a Nutshell

The Merlin is a solid product that comes with all the high end engineering you’d expect to find from an official “Steadicam” product. If you’re planning to shoot with a heavier prosumer camera that’s around five pounds, either start training to get used to holding a brick in front of you or look toward a system with a vest and arm support. For smaller consumer cameras and smaller cameras, the Merlin is a great solution. Either way, expect to spend a lot of time experimenting and practicing to get that perfect flying shot.

Pros:

  • Small compact design
  • Well engineered components that allow for micro adjustments.
  • Well documented and includes training DVD
  • Includes a traveling case

Cons:

  • Design is a bit counter-intuitive when it comes to finding balance
  • Weight limit of 5.5lbs puts most prosumer cameras right at the edge.
  • No monitor – you’ll have to use the camera’s LCD monitor
Purchase
You can purchase the items featured in this review from our trusted sponsor B&H Video. We don’t recommend B&H because they our are sponsor, they are our sponsor because they are the only store we would ever recommend.

Items from the review:

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Other Camera Stabalizers

The Hidden Tools of Comedy

by Steve Kaplan

Let’s start off with a test. A Comedy Perception Test, to see if we’re perceiving comedy with 20-20 vision.

Below are seven sentences, seven word-pictures. They don’t mean anything other than what they are. There’s no back story. Read them carefully.

A. Man slipping on a banana peel.
B. Man wearing a top hat slipping on a banana peel.
C. Man slipping on a banana peel after kicking a dog.
D. Man slipping on a banana peel after losing his job.
E. Blind man slipping on a banana peel.
F. Blind man’s dog slipping on a banana peel.
G. Man slipping on a banana peel, and dying.

So, you have these seven sentences, word-pictures that contain no hidden meanings or narratives. Now answer these four questions:

Which of these statements is the funniest? The least funny? The most comic?
And which one is the least comic?

Now, one of you might be thinking to yourself, “Comic and funny – isn’t that the same thing?”

Excellent question, thanks for asking. But just for now, let’s stick to selecting which one you think is the funniest, the least funniest, the most comic and the least comic.

Let’s start with the funniest. Which one did you pick? A.) Man slipping on a banana peel? How about C.) Man kicking a dog or D.) Man losing his job? (OK, that one only a boss could find funny.) Was your choice E.) Blind Man? (And if it was, shame on you! You’re sick, you know that?)

So, which did you decide was the funniest? The answer to which is funniest is, of course . . . you’re right, no matter which one you picked! Don’t you feel affirmed?

You were right because the difference between what’s funny and what’s comic is that funny is subjective. If you’re laughing at it, to you, that’s funny. End of story. End debate. Period. If you’re laughing at it, it’s funny to you. And by the same token, if you’re not laughing at it, no matter how learned a review in The New Yorker, to you, it’s not funny. I have a three-year-old nephew. And if I took my keys and started shaking my keys, I can make him laugh. So to him, that’s funny. But would you give me $600,000 against a million option to buy those set of keys?

One of the biggest mistakes that writers make is they’re worried whether the script is funny or not funny. But funny, as we’ve said, is subjective. What comedians will tell you is that you can’t live or die by whether this person or that person laughs. You have to do your material and just trust that it’s creating a comic picture, a comic portrait, and that comedy is not predicated on how many jokes there are on the page. The worst sitcom you can think of, the worst comic movie, the worst RomCom, is chock full of moments that they’re trying to make funny.

So what’s comedy? In my seminar, we watch a lot of comedy clips, but one of the most important clips we watch is from a daytime soap opera. When I show it, occasionally people laugh. Taken out of context, it’s pretty funny. OK, it’s very funny. But why would we want to watch a soap to learn about comedy?

Here’s the thing: Everybody involved in this – as writers, directors, actors, designers and craftsmen – is usually dedicated to not making you laugh. So I think it’s instructive to pay attention to what they are doing and the choices they’re making. Take a look at almost any soap scene. The first thing you have to notice about people in soaps is that they’re more than just good-looking, they’re almost supernaturally attractive. People like this just do not exist in nature. And the combination of writing, directing and performance is designed to communicate a specific set of qualities. Even when the behavior is extreme, i.e. adultery, murder and deceit, the staples of daytime drama, the actors rarely act in an inappropriate manner, such as that would tend to mock the characters. The actors playing the characters are subtly saying to us: Look at me, look how sensitive I am, how much I’m suffering, how deeply I feel, how intelligent I am. And I’ll turn to the women in the audience, and I’ll say, “Ladies, is this what your significant other is like?” There’s often a big laugh because obviously, they’re not.

The point is that drama helps us dream about what we can be, but comedy helps us live with who we are. Comedy helps us live with who we are because while drama idealizes man’s perfection and the tragedy of his falling short, comedy operates secure in the knowledge of man’s imperfection: insecure, awkward, fumbling unsure – all the core attributes of comedy. Doesn’t this really describe us all? While drama might depict one of us going through a dark night of the soul, comedy sees the dark night, but also notices that, during that dark night, we’re still wearing the same robe we’ve had on for a few days and eating chunky peanut butter out of the jar while sitting and watching Judge Judy. It’s still a dark night, but one that comedy makes more bearable by helping us keep things – like our life – in perspective.

Comedy tells the truth, and specifically, it tells the truth about being human. A comedian is simply the courageous person who gets up in front of a group of strangers and admits, confesses to being human. In that if you have the courage to tell the truth, and mostly the truth about yourself, and the truth about the crazy things that you do, and the crazy way that you see the world, then you have a good head start in creating comedy.

So what’s comedy? The paradigm of comedy is an ordinary guy or gal struggling against insurmountable odds without many of the required tools with which to win, yet never giving up hope. It can almost be stated as an equation: An ordinary guy or gal – Jackie Gleason used to call him a moke – struggling against insurmountable odds, without many of the required tools with which to win, yet never giving up hope.

From this paradigm or equation, we can draw usable, practical tools, what we call the Hidden Tools of Comedy.

The tools are:

1. Winning
2. Non-Hero
3. Positive (or Selfish) Action
4. Active Emotion
5. Metaphorical Relationship
6. Straight Line/Wavy Line

First there’s the tool of Winning. Winning is the idea that, in comedy, you are allowed to do whatever you think you need to do in order to win. Comedy gives the character permission to win. In winning, there are no “shoulds.” Even if it makes you look stupid, you can do what you think you have to do in order to win. You’re not trying to be funny, just trying to get what you want, given who you are.

Next is Non-Hero. Non-hero is the ordinary guy who lacks some, if not all, of the required skills with which to win. Note that we don’t say comic hero, but a non-hero. Not an idiot, not an exaggerated fool, but simply somebody who lacks something. Or many things, but is still determined to win. The more skills your character has, the less comic and the more dramatic the character is. This is how you can shape the arc in a romantic comedy: in the romantic moments, the heretofore clumsy or obnoxious hero becomes more sensitive, more mature. Don’t believe me? Take a look at Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.

Positive Action, or selfish-action, or hopeful action, is the idea that every action your character takes, your character actually thinks is going to work, no matter how stupid, or foolish or naive that might make him or her appear. It also takes the nasty edge off characters such as Basil Fawlty in Fawlty Towers or Louie DePalma in Taxi.

Active Emotion is the idea that the emotion that occurs naturally in the course of trying to win. The emotion that is created simply by being in the situation is the exact right emotion to be having.

Metaphorical Relationship is the tool of perception. It’s the idea that beneath every surface relationship is a true, or essential, metaphorical relationship. Each character perceives others around him, and the world itself, in specific, metaphorical ways. Think about the couples you know. Some fight like cats and dogs, some coo to each other like babies and some are like business partners: “OK, I can’t have sex with you this Thursday, but if I move some things around, I might be able to squeeze it in Sunday afternoon, barring no further complications.” Even thought they’re a married couple, their metaphorical relationship is that of nose-to-the-grindstone business partners. It’s Oscar and Felix, two middle-aged divorced roommates, acting like an old married couple. And it’s Jerry and George, sitting in the back of a police car, acting like kids: “Hey, can I play with the siren?”

And last, but not least, the tool that challenges the conventional view of comedy: Straight Line/Wavy Line.

John Cleese once said that when they started Monty Python, they thought that comedy was the silly bits: “We used to think that comedy was watching someone do something silly…we came to realize that comedy was watching somebody watch somebody do something silly.”

There is the mistaken belief that in every duo there’s the funny guy and the straight guy. In “Who’s On First?” it’s obvious that Lou Costello, the short, fat, roly-poly bumbler is the funny man of the team, whereas tall, thin, severe Bud Abbott is the straight man. This misconception misses the essential truth about comedy-that it is a team effort, where each member of the team is contributing to the comic moment. The real dynamic is that of watcher and watched, the one who sees and the one who does not see; the one creating the problem and the one struggling with the problem. Think of Kramer in Seinfeld. The comedy isn’t just watching Kramer behave in his typically outrageous fashion, the comedy requires Jerry or George or Elaine to watch it in bemused amazement. The tool of Straight Line/Wavy Line recognizes this. It’s the idea that not only do we need someone, some funny person, to do something silly or create a problem, we also need someone who is acting as the audience’s representative to watch that person do something silly or struggle to solve the problem that has been created. The other character might not be as verbal, might not be doing the funny things, but because the other character is also a Non-Hero, he or she sees the problem, but doesn’t have the skills to solve it. The Straight Line creates the problem, like he has blinders on, and is actually blind to the problem or is creating the problem themselves. The Wavy Line struggles, but is unable to, solve the problem. So what the Wavy Line does more than not is simply doing a lot of watching. Watching without knowing what to do about it, so there’s confusion. There’s consternation. Whereas the other characters are doing something – as John Cleese would say – silly. And it’s that combination that creates the comic moment, as opposed to somebody simply getting hit in the face with a pie.

With these six hidden tools, we can begin to unlock the secrets of comedy.

For almost 20 years, Steve Kaplan has been the industry’s most respected and sought-after expert on comedy. In addition to being a regular consultant and script doctor to such companies as Disney, Dreamworks, HBO, Paramount, and others, Steve has taught at UCLA, NYU, Yale, and other top universities, and created the HBO Workspace and the HBO New Writers Program teaching and mentoring some of the biggest writers, producers and directors in comedy today.

Source with permission: The Writers Store

Social Media Set Management Issues

By Jon M. Garon
Gallagher, Callahan & Gartrell, PC

The challenge for the film producer is that potential distributors may have different goals regarding the marketing of the project. If the pre-release campaign does not work, the failed marketing will add an additional impediment to the sale of the film. In essence, the independent producer needs two hits; she must bank on both the quality of the film and the quality of the campaign in order to attract distribution. If the marketing approach is successful, however, and a large following has been built for the production, then it should be less expensive to promote and therefore attract more potential distributors.

Once the production finds a distributor, the locus of control will switch to the distributor. The typical distribution agreement will require total transfer of any copyrightable material to the distributor for the term of the agreement in all media, including the Internet and all social media. Although the term “social media” and its components (such as blogs, tweets, posts, etc.) are not yet typically described in these agreements by name, the contracts utilize the concept of all media now known or hereafter created which sufficiently cover these evolving technologies.

Producers hoping to control their film’s marketing campaigns throughout distribution must be much more explicit in terms of their plans. The agreement between the producer and distributor should specify which of the companies will pay the costs of the Derivative New Media Productions and be responsible for the payment of the residual fees. The agreement should also identify which company will be posting the content and managing the content online. The distributor will expect that the producer has control over all content involving the production and media surrounding the production.

As a result, blogs, tweets, websites and other material based on the content of the production which has been created by cast and crew during the shoot may be considered part of the material that the distributor acquires as part of the distribution agreement. (Comments about life on set and other personal tweets and blog entries should not be said to fall within these standard agreements.) If the producer has allowed this material to be created by cast and crew without any control or oversight, there may be a problem between the distributor who believes the contract assigns it exclusive ownership of this ancillary content and the individual creators of the material who may not consider it to be within the scope of the employment agreements they signed.

Also important to productions utilizing social networking is the obligation to police the use of the content by third parties. While it is naïve to expect that any company can successfully remove all content from the Internet that was once lawfully posted but no longer desired, the duty to take down the company’s own material and request removal by other companies should be specified. This difficulty is one of the topics unfortunately not dealt with in the collective bargaining agreements regarding New Media Productions. The contracts provide for residuals based, at least in part, on the number of weeks particular material is posted to the Web. Such methodology ignores the viral nature of the Internet, the ability of the curatorial audience to collect and repost this content, and the diffuse control inherent in online communities. A more realistic definition would set the number of weeks as based on the producers or distributors own websites and that content which is directly under the contracting party’s control. Unions, however, may legitimately fear that this would encourage producers and distributors to actively encourage the theft of this content so that the content would be posted in a residual-free manner. At the moment, this ambiguity remains yet another potential trap for the unwary producer.

The control over the Derivative New Media Productions can create problems in other ways as well. Film distributors generally require a guarantee that the material is original. The delivery requirements for a typical film distributor will provide that “[n]either the Picture nor any part thereof has been released, distributed or exhibited theatrically, non-theatrically, by means of television or by any other medium in the Territory, nor has it been, and it will not be, banned by the censors of, or refused import permit or entry into, any part of the Territory.” If material has been distributed online, however, during the production, then that material will fail to meet the obligation that it has not been previously seen.

The best way to anticipate this problem will be for the producer to collect all the material that the production company has posted online and include that material, along with a written index, as a set of exceptions to the originality provision of the distribution agreement. A producer should not sign the distribution agreement if she knows that the production company is in breach. By adding a list of exceptions to the obligations, both parties to the agreement understand what has occurred prior to the film sale. If too much material has been distributed or if the distributor does not like the material distributed, it may lead to the distributor refusing to buy a film, but this is much better than the producer finding that she is in material breach of the agreement.

An additional wrinkle may be caused by the contractual obligation to deliver a film that meets a certain MPAA rating. The Classification and Rating Administration (“CARA”) operated under the MPAA regulates both the content of motion pictures and the trailers which are shown before films. Green Band trailers are rated “G” while Red Band trailers are rated above that, typically “R.” Historically, theatrical exhibitors would not show Red Band trailers, even before R-rated movies. Some distributors have elected to use the Internet to avoid the discomfort of the exhibitors, which is putting increased pressure on the exhibitors to allow more Red Band trailers. Other distributors, however, are not so comfortable with this strategy. Moreover, the decision to post unrated material prior to the theatrical release may run afoul of the CARA rating system and further frustrate the expectations of the distributor. Again, the danger is not in the strategy so much as adopting a strategy without a clear understanding between producer and distributor.

If the standard agreement is signed without having discussed these topics and modifying the form agreement, legal liability may attach for content the producer is using online. Equally important, however, is the recognition that fear of this liability may lead to underutilizing the tremendous potential for audience development. To maximize the opportunity for the project, the producer and distributor must agree in advance on the curatorial audience development strategy, including the amount of material which will be posted, the various technologies to be used, and the impact such material will have on the rating process. If these steps are taken, the production will maximize its chance of building an audience.
The Never-Ending Final Cut

At the other end of a motion picture’s life cycle comes the increasingly common phenomenon of alternate cuts. Billboard reports that the practice of simultaneously releasing two or more versions of a video release began with an unrated director’s cut of The Lawnmower Man in 1992. Up until that point special edition versions of a movie were released “subsequent to [the] regular home video release.” Throughout the early 1990’s other distributors also expand the use of NC-17 or unrated versions as part of their video release. With the ability to market unrated versions of movies on the Internet, the practice has grown increasingly popular.

The continued improvement in technology will lead to an increase in the amount of editing that can be done by the filmmaker after the movie has been released. Third party software can be legally used to skip select content on a film. Though not specifically allowed under the Copyright Act, it may also be possible to add additional material and program the playback device to incorporate this new material into the version presented. Undoubtedly, if a party were to create an unauthorized version of a film with additional material, that new work would be an unauthorized derivative work, constituting copyright infringement. If instead, the new material were never added to a copy of the original work and were available only for home viewing and not for public performance, then a legitimate question remains whether or not the composite private performance is also an unauthorized derivative work.

The question may be more than theoretical. The distinction between narrative film and video games is eroding. Software exists to create composites of materials from various files on a computer hard drive or hosted on the Internet. All that remains is an innovative artist to create video mash-ups that integrate material destined for new versions of the work into the original work. If the creative artist building this model is the producer, however, the distribution agreement would need to be significantly modified. These inserts would likely be covered in the material assigned to the distributor, requiring the distributor’s acquiescence to build such an enterprise.

If the producer and distributor were both agreeable, then the use of this technology could enable the participation of the audience in creating content to be uploaded and integrated into the content already produced. Such an integration of audience content with professional content would create a new genre of material, essentially a form of motion picture fan fiction. While such a new medium would require careful negotiations with the trade unions and creators involved in the project, the potential is tremendous.

A second variant on the never-ending story is the continuation of story-lines using web-posted vignettes and other short projects created as derivative works from the original. These Derivative New Media Productions are the primary focus of the collective bargaining agreements and likely to be exploited by a growing number of production companies. These additional vignettes or webisodes may be created by the original film producer or the content owners may encourage fans to create their own related content. These producers encourage the audience to stay involved with the characters, to expand the scope of the story, and to legitimize fan fiction in a variety of media. Nonetheless, to be successful, these webisodes will still require a good deal of time, effort and creativity to be successful. The most popular of these projects will enhance the brand.

As the line between marketing and original content further erodes, producers and distributors can exploit the natural behavior of the curatorial audience to assist in content distribution. At the 2009 Comic-Con, for example, producers of the ABC television show Lost staged live-action skits to accompany the webisodes they aired at the event. The producers fully expected the panel to be filmed by news outlets and audience members and posted on YouTube and other sites across the Internet. The webisodes and live-action content engaged the live audience at the panel, which in turn deployed a powerful distribution army after the event. The goal, as the producers explained, was not to find a new audience, but to keep Lost relevant to the audience in its final season. The model highlights the importance of maintaining an affinity relationship with the audience; not merely introducing new content.

This is part of a series of book excerpts from Independent Filmmaking, The Law & Business Guide for Financing, Shooting & Distributing Independent & Digital Films designed as an introduction to the many legal issues involved in the filmmaking process.

Illegal “Machete” Movie Trailer

Rodriguez is calling this his “Illegal” trailer. Taken from “Ain’t it cool”, and advised to spread it everywhere. I wonder if this is going to cause any controversy? :)

IMDB Summary:

The highly skilled Federale Machete is hired by some unsavory types to assassinate a senator. But just as he’s about to take the shot, he notices someone aiming at him and realizes he’s been set up. He barely survives the sniper’s bullet, and is soon out for revenge on his former employers, with the reluctant assistance of his old friend Cheech Marin, who has become a priest and taken a vow of nonviolence. If you hire him to take out the bad guys, make sure the bad guys aren’t you!

Source: http://www.aintitcool.com/node/44943

DIY Snow Maker Machine

This do it yourself snow maker uses compressed air and water. It is mixed internally and then comes out a small hole in the nozzle. The temperature needs to be below freezing to work, but it could be useful on those cold locations where Mother Nature doesn’t want to cooperate with your winter scene.

Demo:

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