How to Avoid First-Time Director Pitfalls

Joe Aliberti, Luke Taylor & Matthew Helderman tackle the common pitfalls of first time directors.

Set Slate

Bigger film budgets continue to dwindle. Smaller film sets continue to appear. Camera technology and film-centric software continue to evolve.

Through all the change, one aspect of film production has remained the same: difficult directors. As a producer, I understand this. Filmmakers are passionate people by nature. Their work is the ultimate fruit of their labor, and they only want to make quality of the highest caliber they’re capable of.

Of course, there are a few directors in our industry who have a license to demand their perfected vision — David Fincher and James Cameron have proven their artistic credibility, skill set, and commercial viability through consistent quality work and perseverance.

Yet, as an independent producer, I’m often presented low-budget films helmed by first-time directors with an unrealistic approach to execute their vision on a budget — most often due to lack of experience. This serves not to lessen ambition, but to provide guidance for amateur, working or budding professional directors.


The year 2013 saw monumental worldwide numbers — $30 billion in global box office from 622 films released theatrically around the world. Half of this amount, however, stems from films listed in the top 50 releases of the year. Fewer than 160 had budgets greater than $1 million. My point being, as a universal audience we’re more likely to see films with A-listers and high production/distribution budgets, but these films are disproportionate to the majority released per year.

The reality is simple — there are more films made for shoestring budgets than made by studios for tentpole release. So why am I constantly bombarded with directors with shoestring budgets trying to make tentpoles? Or first-time directors demanding their films look like those of Martin Scorsese & Wes Anderson when those films are made by masters with years of experience and higher budgets? It’s definitely not a lack of vision; it’s a lack of a realistic approach to a working & sustainable career as a film director.

Screen Craft | Read the Full Article

10 Reasons Your Screenplay Sucks (and how to fix it)

Karina Wilson explains 10 major reasons why your script just isn’t good enough


Despite the hundreds of seminars, books and DVDs Field (along with McKee, Knopf, Voegler, Seger, Truby, Snyder et al) has contributed to teaching the science of screenwriting over the past four decades, it’s still a form that very few people manage to write right. And the numbers are getting worse. In 1979, a screenplay was an analogue manuscript, bashed out a page at a time on a typewriter. A mistake, or a rewrite, involved weeks of retyping. Once completed, the final product had to be copied at great cost, bound with covers and brads, and mailed (with the correct postage) to each prospective reader. When Field said 99/100 screenplays weren’t good enough, he was talking about 100 of these precious, handcrafted documents, these labors of love.

Now, any idiot with script software can vomit their twelve-stepped thoughts into a laptop, convert to a pdf, hit send and voilà! Instant screenwriter. Tens of thousands of them. Monkeys with typewriters on crack. Thanks to technology, there are more unproduced screenplays out there in cyberspace than there are photos of Kim Kardashian. And most of them, 99.9% of them, are bad, occupying all points on the bell curve between eye-gougingly horrible and utterly mediocre.

I know this because I read, on average, somewhere between 400-500 screenplays a year. I read competition entries by complete unknowns and scripts about to go into production written by (and starring) A-listers – and everything in between. There’s no guarantee of quality at any level. Some scripts are so badly written that after a few pages I start to think I’ve had a stroke, and my brain no longer has the capacity to process language. Many are competently done, but they’re dull, full of cardboard stereotypes and stock situations, predictable and small-minded. A tiny, tiny minority sing on the page, enthrall me while I’m reading, stay with me for weeks afterwards, and ensure that I’m first in line to see the movie when it finally gets screened.

Lit Reactor | Read the Full Article

Hollywood Salaries Revealed, From Movie Stars to Agents (and Even Their Assistants)

Who rakes in a whopping $75 million? Who are the highest-paid TV stars? And how much can you make working in an agency mailroom? In its Money Issue, THR reveals how much people are earning now, from stars including Robert Downey Jr., Sandra Bullock, Katherine Heigl and the ‘Duck Dynasty’ clan to top agents including Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell



How bad is the decline in actor salaries over the past decade? Despite the huge sums still being raked in by such superstars as Robert Downey Jr. (his $75 million comes from his 7 percent, first-dollar slice of Iron Man 3, as well as his $12 million HTC endorsement deal) and Sandra Bullock (a 15 percent, first-dollar deal on Gravity and about $10 million more for her summer hit The Heat), most actors are feeling a definite squeeze, especially those in the middle.

“If you’re [a big star], you’re getting well paid,” says one top agent, “but the middle level has been cut out.” Sometimes with a hacksaw. Leonardo DiCaprio made $25 million (including bonuses) for The Wolf of Wall Street, while co-star Jonah Hill got paid $60,000. Granted, that’s an extreme example — Hill offered to do the part for scale (and got an Oscar nomination for his trouble).

But studio cost-cutting has meant that mid-level stars are being nickel-and-dimed in ways that would have been unheard of in the gilded ’90s (i.e., Marvel Studios’ reportedly offering Mickey Rourke a mere $250,000 to star opposite Downey in Iron Man 2). Before breaking out the violins, though, remember that even mid-level stars are far better off than most other actors. According to the most recent SAG statistics, the average member earns $52,000 a year, while the vast majority take home less than $1,000 a year from acting jobs.

The Hollywood Reporter | Read the Full Article

What Do Hot Sauce Labels Say About America? | Idea Channel

Peppers are the essence of hot sauce, and hot sauce is the essence of spicy. You might be a hot sauce lover, but how much thought have you given their labels? If you’ve ever taken a second to examine them, you might notice some patterns and similarities amongst them. What does this say about Americans’ attitude towards hot sauces, or even food in general?


10 Common Mistakes People Make When Writing Press Releases

Whether you’re organising a festival or shouting about your show, keep these no-nos in mind before emailing arts editors

Press Release

Press releases are a presentation of facts, written for journalists in the hope it gets published. They are an opportunity for brands, businesses and arts organisations to reach their target audience through the media. They aim to tell the world about your interesting stories, anything from an arts product launch to a new appointment or award.

Although the press release is seen as less important with the explosion of social media and the digital revolution transforming media as we know it, they can still be very effective at securing positive media coverage and are a great way to boost your profile and attract new customers or audience members.

Press releases can be written by yourself, someone within your company or an external supplier such as a PR agency or freelancer, and there are many common mistakes people make when drafting one. Here are my top 10 and how you can avoid making them yourself.

The title isn’t working

The title of your press release is the first thing a journalist will see, so make sure it’s concise, enticing and gives a good overview of your story. Make your title something that will encourage the journalist to keep reading. Avoid lengthy, detailed titles that go on and on and on… Keep it punchy. If you must use puns, make sure they are witty and avoid using clichés at all times.

The Guardian | Read the Full Article

Dat Scene: Rediscovering Hollywood’s Iconic Locations

Phil Grishayev created an amazing tumblr recreating moments in film by scouting out their original shooting locations.

The Graduate1

The Graduate

Fatboy Slim Weapons of CHoice

Fatboy Slim Weapons of Choice

Rebel without a Cause

Say Anything

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Top Gun

Top Gun

Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction

Fight Club

Fight Club


Blade Runner




Be sure to check out the tumblr for more work

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