Saturday, 19 July 2008


This week I attended the INSIDE PICTURES course, organized by the Film Council, Qwerty Films, and others...
The most consistent phrase heard this week was "Everybody in the room has signed a confidentiality form", so I must be careful of any indiscretions in my reportings!

I attended the course under the sponsorship of Screen East, who generously allowed me to attend the course as an 'observer'. this means, I was one of four people who sat and observed everything that took place. And very interesting it was too.
Inside Pictures is basically fifteen or so people from the film industry. Upcoming Exec's, producers and distributors, who are marked out as those that will shape and control the film industry in the very near future.
Many are already involved at the highest level, producing and distributing some very well known and respected movies.
During this week, and subsequent weeks later this year, the fifteen participants, and the four observers, hear from some of the very top Execs and movers and shakers in the film world.

As a director it was very interesting to hear more about 'the business' rather than the creative process, and was definitely illuminating.
It ranged from the number-crushingly dull to the highly controversial and fantastically entertainingly.

Here is my list of things I learned. Important to say, that these are my interpretations and not anyone else's...

1. To this day, No-one knows how to make a hit film. If they did, it would be non-stop hits. Despite the studios (and Independents to a degree) trying to package 'hits' it has been proved time and again that the film business is all about 'lightning in a bottle'. Plus the enormous process of creating a film with so many elements means the best script in the world can be distilled in many many ways before it reaches us on the screen.
2. The film industry does not know what to do about the 'digital future'. It is frightened and worried about piracy and the idea of people getting movies directly and not having to go thru regular distribution channel. The film industry has watched the music business HALVE in 5 years and it is crapping itself! My prediction is that once someone jumps and gets it right, the rest will follow. There will be a lot of jumping and going 'splat' before that happens.
3. The industry has woken up to the need for WRITERS. It's worth remembering that for all the skills and talents and confidence producers and execs possess they are NOTHING without CONTENT and the creative talent to make it.
4. The average studio film in 2007 cost $70million. It then costs $40million in Prints and Advertising. Thats a whopping $110million that every film has to make back to break even! (this info is readily available online)
5. Because of the difficulty in funding feature films, it is becoming increasingly difficult to recoup money, and even more difficult to turn a profit. BUT... people still invest in film. because they want to!
6. Film is recession proof. Historically, despite terrible financial situations, people still watch movies. Often 'feel-good' movies.
7. There is no one 'proven' answer as to how you can make your film and get it financed. Each film is different. There are many films that never get made that SHOULD and don't.

Finally. I heard a fact that made me smile with fond memories.
Right now, we are in an amazing time where we can watch what we want, when we want. This will get even more convenient too.

So... can you remember the eighties, and to an extent, the early nineties of home video?
You get in your car. Drive into town. Double park. Run into the video store to rent a film. it's out on loan. So you get something you don't really want (because you made the effort). Queue up to pay for it. Run outside. drive back home. Then rewind the film, because it's not been rewound. (what a noise it made!) and then watch the film... except, you've run out of time (or someone calls) so you watch the other half the next night.
The day after, you drive back to the video store. Double park. Run in. Take the video back. pay a penalty for the extra night, then drive back home.
Tell your children/grandchildren THAT story, and they'll think you are barking mad!

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