Author Archives: Greg Fox

North Dakota, Legendary

 

ND1Princebury went to North Dakota July 2nd- 8th to discuss the economic and cultural benefits of establishing a vibrant film industry for the state and the series, “Young Four Eyes.”

The Beginning

Dr. Richard Melheim, North Dakota native, introduced us to the idea at a think-tank he hosted in Aspen, last March.  As Rich described the beauty of western North Dakota, the multiple stories of historical significance, and the fact that ND is nearly always at the bottom of the tourism destination sites, we began to see a broader vision for the state than just one or two film projects.  Shortly after, we invited him to join our advisory board.

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The Bigger Picture

When we were discussing the “Young Four Eyes” project, we dove into the research on what film initiatives the State of North Dakota had in place.  What we found was that they were one of 9 states in the country with no tax incentives and no film commission.  While these aren’t the only to consider when choosing a location to film, they definitely provide incentive. When places like Manitoba, Canada (North Dakota’s neighbor in the north) offer up to 45% refundable tax credits, it only makes business sense to avoid North Dakota in its present state. (http://www.canadafilmcapital.com/TaxMap.aspx)  We believe the state government doesn’t need to/should never pay for films out of pocket, but a full state film structure is needed.  Young Four Eyes or individual projects may be a good start, but with infrastructure, North Dakota can be put on the map as the Family Friendly Film Capital of the country.

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Top 5 Reasons Your Film Could Fail

The film-making business is a very tough field to enter with “Goliaths” in Hollywood dominating the industry with much larger budgets than any newcomer has access to.  However, there are niches, measures, and ways to side step Hollywood and be successful in the early stages of your film-making career (even your first film).  Awareness to the issues most newcomers have will give you a HUGE advantage towards financial success.

5.  Theatrical Release – There is a thin line when deciding whether to release your film in theaters, especially when you have a low budget.  Choosing not to strongly decreases the amount of exposure your film will get.  However, most films lose money in theaters, so on a small budget, how much can you afford to lose?  By only choosing a small amount of theaters, and rolling out into more as the film grows popularity and success, you can mitigate a large amount of theatrical release risk.  Note: Do not be afraid to pull the film the moment it starts to drop off.

4.  Lack of (Solid) Business Plan – There are two sides to every story, even film-making: Creative vs. Business.  Both sides are equally important.  It is true that without the creative side, the film would not exist, but without the business side, you will lose money.  Because most independent films are started by creative people with a vision, it is rare they want to spend their time planning the business side.  Without a clear plan of where you are going, it is very easy to lose sight, stall, and have the film fall through the cracks.  Note: Almost all investors will require not only a business plan, but a solid one.

3.  Over Spending – Hollywood, as the Goliath’s in this industry, has the access to huge budgets that most independent film-makers can’t even dream of.  High budgets allow for better quality, more marketing, and large distribution, but can often be a plague for the film’s success.  For every Avatar, there is a million John Carter‘s.  Due to the split up of profits between theaters and distributors, film-makers keep roughly 1/4 of the film’s revenue.  So for every $1 million you save, it is as if you are making $4 million.  Note: Keep the budget’s tight, we have heard to many horror stories of budgets inflating during production.

2.  The Script - The backbone of the film is the script.  It will be the first thing production companies will see, investors will want to read through, and at the early stages, is the film.  Too often, writers bring a script that has not been fully worked out to a production company, expecting it to work itself out as production takes place.  No company will green-light a film with a flawed script, and it will always be broken.  Note: Make sure it never contradicts, work through a storyboard, take it to multiple non-biased editors, make sure the Protagonist is likable and relatable, etc.

1.  Funding – Money and investors are hard to come by in the film industry.  Because they are “high risk, high reward,” most investors are weary of investing in films.  Most films are financed by a film fund, or a combination of government grants, tax shelters and incentives, and debt and equity finance.  Although there are several options, they are hard to come by and can often leave a movie stalled in production (if it can get to production).  Explore all options and be creative when financing your film.  Note: Veronica Mars met its goal of raising $2 million in less than 11 hours on kickstarter, and totaled $5,702,153 from 91,585 backers.

As you can see, film-making is difficult even with a great movie idea.  There are plenty more obstacles than have been mentioned, but being aware of these will give a HUGE advantage.

Princebury Productions & Media offers fee-based consulting. Contact us at info@princebury.com

Welcome Rich Melheim!

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We are honored to welcome our newest member Rich Melheim to our Advisory Board!  We were blessed enough to be invited by him to Aspen for a think-tank this last March.  We spent the week exploring future opportunities in global markets, as well as nurturing relationships with members of our Board of Advisors, including Ron Forseth and John Lasko.   We were also able to set aside some time to ski the beautiful iconic slopes of Snowmass and cook in the massive Glenwood Hot Springs.

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Rich Melheim was a great host and an incredibly interesting man.  He has a strong passion for God and His people.  He has been and still is involved in several projects ranging from preschool programs using music and the arts to animated biblical stories to books designed to keep families together.  Rich has just started his book tour, which will span in 55 cities three months.  His book, Holding Your Family Together introduces the “Faith5,” five steps to bringing your family closer to God and each other.  We will be attending the event in San Diego on June 18, which will be a great opportunity to get a sneak peek at his future best seller.

Aspen was an incredible trip and we look forward to putting the information we learned and the strategy we revised to work in this coming year.

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Distribution on a Budget

Distribution, in film terms, refers to the process in making the film available to watch by the public.  In modern times, distribution is no longer restricted to the typical theatrical release and home entertainment release through DVD sales.  Several distribution options include:

  • Theatrical Release: is where the motion picture will be distributed nationwide (and AMCabroad) to all the major and minor theaters.
  • walmartDVD Sales: Retailers for DVD sales include Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Target, and many others.
  • iTunesElectronic Sell-Through: EST vendors include iTunes, Amazon, Microsoft Zune Store, and Xbox.
  • NetflixSVOD:  SVOD is a Subscription Video-On-Demand, the major example being the Netflix streaming content model.
  • HuluAVOD: AVOD is Advertising supported Video-On-Demand, such as seen on YouTube and Hulu.
  • DIRECTVCarrier-based TVOD:  This includes Video-On-Demand through cable or satellite with carriers such as DirecTV and Comcast.
  • appletvDigital TVODWith emerging technologies in home entertainment, Smart TVs are using Google TV, Apple TV, and Roku to utilize TVOD platforms.
  • TVguideBroadcast: Broadcast refers to the television networks distribution of TV series and movies.


Technology has made distributing a film much easier in recent years.  Although a non-theatrical release can limit the exposure of the film, it can be cost effective to avoid theatrical distribution.  The method of distribution should depend on the budget and nature of the film.

Princebury Productions & Media offers advising services on all facets of film, including distribution.  Contact us at info@princebury.com

Movie to Movement

We were lucky enough to welcome Jason Jones into our office last week to discuss our collaboration in upcoming projects.  Jason is a brilliant humanitarian, pro-life activist, and film producer.  He has helped with multiple political campaigns and spoken out against abortion. His passion for human life led him to start Movie to Movement.

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Movie to Movement is a film production company based out of Hawaii.  Movie to Movement was created to promote a culture of Life, Love & Beauty.  They do this through the production of their own films, as well as sharing others.  Past projects include The Stoning of Soraya M., which won the NAACP Image Award in 2010 as well as the Los Angeles Film Festival Audience Award in 2009, and Bella, which won several film industry awards, most notably the People’s Choice Award at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival. Movie to Movement also just released Crescendo last Thursday internationally.

Crescendo

Crescendo is a short, 12 minute film about a mother faced with a difficult decision of whether to go
through with her pregnancy and subject her child to the broken world in which she lived.  Crescendo received eleven international film festival honors, including “Best Short Film”.  A few of us joined Jason at the premiere in San Diego, and were extremely impressed.  This film is a must watch!  It entertains as well as inspires.

We look forward to working with Jason Jones and Movie to Movement in the future.

The Budgeting Process

Walt Disney said “If you can dream it, you can do it,” but how much will it cost? Budgeting a film can be an intimidating and unappealing task to take on (especially so early in the process), but is an essential aspect of making your creative dream a reality.  Whether you want to hire a professional, or tackle it on your own, the budgeting process is worth the time. It not only keeps costs low and efficient, but also gives insight into the details people often overlook.

Whether it is a $10,000 or $300,000,000 film, the budgeting process is very similarly structured.  Break your budget down into three categories: Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production.  It is also crucial to account for the P&A (Print and Advertising) costs in your budget.  Understanding where and when your money is going will not only help you keep organized, but is required for almost all investors.

Pre-Production

Pre-Production is the first stage of the film making process, and typically lasts 2-3 months.  Typical costs associated with this stage are salaries, acquiring talent, forming legal documents, constructing a set, costumes and props, equipment, and transportation.  The crucial foundation of the Pre-Production stage is the script.  The script should be fully completed in this stage, fully reviewed, critiqued, and edited multiple times to ensure a solid final draft.  Before moving on to the Production stage, revise your budget and schedule.

Production

After the Pre-Production stage is complete, the backbone of the film will be in place and you will be ready to start shooting.  The Production stage typically lasts 2-3 months.  If you hired a director, cinematographer, and technical crew, this stage will be relatively simple.  Only creative input, supervision, and assistance will be necessary.  If hiring professionals is not in the budget, more creativity and skills will be required.  Make sure to budget for catering on set, transportation, lodging, location rental, repairs, and insurance.  Revise your budget and schedule before you move on to the Post-Production stage.

Post-Production

The Post Production is usually the longest stage of the film making process, typically taking 3-4 months.  After the completion of the Production process, the director, producer, and editor cut the movie to its target length and prepare the final product for the addition of sound, music and any special effects.  Make sure you have filmed more than enough material, because it can be very difficult and expensive to reshoot.  Professionals and/or equipment to edit raw footage with quality can be very expensive, but will make a massive difference in the final product.  Typical costs incurred in this stage include editing workstations, special effects software, sound mixing programs, and test screening costs.  Revise your budget once again after you have a completed product.

Print and Advertising

Print and Advertising costs depend vastly on how broadly you would like to distribute your film, but can cost even more than the entire Pre to Post-Production stages combined. There are several ways to distribute your film ranging from theatrical releases to DVD releases to Video on Demand releases.  P&A costs prepare your film to be distributed, whether it is Movie posters, putting the film on DVD and creating a cover, or a short trailer to promote the film.  Film Festival submissions are often a good way to introduce and promote a film.  Consider spending money on the P&A, because no matter how good your film is, it will not make money if no one knows about it.

It is often a good idea to budget an extra 10% to make room for unexpected costs that may arise.  It is better to have money left over, than to run out before you have finished P&A and distribution.  Another aspect to consider is negotiating salary costs by giving the people involved percentage ownership of profits to reduce up front costs.

Once you have completed your budget, and understand the entire process of making the film, you are ready to start finding investors, and start your Pre-Production stage.

Consulting and Advising services are offered by Princebury Productions & Media

 

DOONBY: The Provocative Movie Screenings in Washington, DC

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RISING STAR ACTRESS JENN GOTZON GOES FROM SMALL ROLE IN ‘FROST/NIXON’ ON CAPITOL HILL TO LEADING LADY IN ‘DOONBY’ SCREENINGS IN NATION’S CAPITAL

WASHINGTON DC (Jan. 23, 2013) – Actress Jenn Gotzon, whose career broke after portraying President Nixon’s First Daughter Tricia Nixon in a small role in 2009 Academy Award Nominated Best Film “Frost/Nixon,” is set to grace the real Nation’s Capital, a four-year President’s term later, screening the first of her seven films she stars in to release 2013, “Doonby.”

Cast as the love interest opp. “The Dukes of Hazzard” heartthrob John Schneider in the British writer/director Peter Mackenzie film, Gotzon plays the wild leading lady, who’s both smitten with and suspicious of the chivalry, heroism and seeming omnipresence of her town’s newest resident, Sam Doonby.

“Jenn Gotzon reveals character with an extraordinary emotional range better than almost anyone in Hollywood today!” states Dr. Ted Baehr, critic and founder of top family film review site Movieguide.

The mystery movie praised by Vatican’s L’Osservatore Romano states, “Doonby is a moving and thought-provoking psychological thriller…that will linger in your mind and obsess your consciousness”. The theme is pertinent to the debates of morality in our nation helping impact people’s choices in a positive manner. Within the film, a cameo role by Norma McCorvey (“Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade) making “Doonby” courageous to show in the Nation’s Capital during the March for Life’s 39th Anniversary. Both free film showings, Jan 24, 7pm at Landmark E Street Cinema, 555 11th Street NW and Jan 25, 4p at (Marriott) Residence Inn 333 E Street SW. Washington DC, are sponsored by NET TV, a new television station broadcasting uplifting movies through Verizon Fios Video on Demand in over 18 cities nationwide. “Doonby” actors Jenn Gotzon and Joe Estevez (host of NET TV’s Faith Film Festival) will be in attendance along with film’s director Peter Mackenzie and associate producer Steve Doherty.

Gotzon speaks up as a role model through her motivational program “Inspiring Audiences” to schools, churches and festivals across the country. Doherty manages her outreach program. She states, “With all the hopelessness and shootings, there’s an underlying root of destruction that is heartbreaking to our nation, our world. I seek films to work on that give back to humanity,” which is a core principal behind NET TV, where Gotzon, as of 2013, heralds as their spokesperson.

Scheduled for theatrical release this April, Gotzon plays a historical character in French & Indian War drama “Alone Yet Not Alone.” This spring, Gotzon’s slated to film family-action movie “Wheeler” with Jennifer Hudson, cowboy western “Gold Revenge” and Savannah based thriller “Sinking Sand.”

For more info, visit JennGotzon.com, DoonbyTheMovie.Com or NETny.net SDI Entertainment PR, Los Angeles, CA – sdi.entertainment.pr@gmail.com