By Janine Saunders, December 6th, 2010

We had a chance to catch up with Producer Scott Macaulay (Raising Victor Vargas, Gummo) and editor of Filmmaker Magazine which has been supporting independent vision since 1992. This past week Filmmaker Magazine kicked off a special subscription drive. In an effort to support out friends at Filmmaker we’ve asked Scott a few questions about indie film trends, the future of Filmmaker Mag and what he liked in 2010.

What are some emerging trends in independent film that you find interesting and why?

Scott Macaulay: I’m not sure this counts as a new trend because it refers to people going back to doing what they’ve done before, but established producers going back to older, leaner and meaner production models is a good thing. As any producer knows, it can be hard to go backwards in terms of budget. It can also be hard to switch gears from a feature-film mentality to a web or transmedia one. You develop a crew base and that crew base gets older with more financial obligations and can’t do the low-to-no-budget thing anymore. And you get set in your ways too. Today, though, most of the best work is being done at the micro or very-low levels, and new platforms are just beginning to be explored by independent filmmakers. So, recently, you are seeing people like Ted Hope get involved with the kind of productions they started their careers with — in Ted’s case, it’s executive producing Sean Durkin’s Sundance-bound feature. I know I’m also beginning to open myself up to lower budget work than the $2 – $5 million films I’ve been involved with over the last few years. Another development that I hope will turn into a trend: filmmakers working instead of stewing in development hell. So many filmmakers in the ’90s sat around while waiting for their mini-major films to get green lit without a lot to show for themselves. There’s a new group of filmmakers for whom that kind of stasis is an anathema, and some established veterans too are figuring out ways to stay productive, whether through short films, blogging, webisodes, etc.

How do you see Filmmaker Magazine growing in the next year? Any plans to go digital?

SM: We’re working on a number of things, some we can talk about and some we can’t. We’re obviously figuring out the best way to get our print edition on the iPad and, following that, how to develop for mobile platforms apps that would appeal to our readership. (Interested mobile developers, feel free to drop me a line.) We should have a dedicated VOD page up soon — a monthly round-up of our picks. Our Sundance coverage will be a lot more extensive this year and will encompass daily newsletters throughout the festival. (Sign up for our newsletter here) We also hope to be involved with more events, including ones we do with the IFP, our parent organization. Also, I’m working harder these days to draw good writers to Filmmaker, both on the print and web sides. It’s really important to me that the magazine presents information that you can’t find elsewhere, and that our writers bring strong points of views to their pieces. I’ve been happy to have writers like Nicholas Rombes, Zach Wigon, Lauren Wissot and Mary Anderson Casavant contribute original web-only pieces, and I hope to develop our online roster even further in 2011. Beyond all of that…. we’ll see.

Any words of advice for filmmakers who are about to embark on making a new project?

SM: First, make sure your script is tight. If you’re working on a low budget, don’t waste time shooting stuff that won’t make your final cut. And by being rigorous about figuring out what that extraneous material is, you’ll make your screenplay a lot more focused and its drama clearer. As a related point, think about the scenes you want to spend your time and resources on. If you just let your A.D. do the schedule without much input from you, the nuanced scene you want to finesse with your actors may share a day with your biggest stunt. The converse is also true. Think about what you’re willing to let go of, or shoot in a one-r, if time is tight. Don’t fall into the mindset of thinking that every scene has to be realized with the same level of perfection. Unless you’ve got the kind of more leisurely shooting schedule that comes with higher budgets, you’ll wind up shorting the scenes that need time the most.

What’s in your playlist? What are you watching, reading, or listening to?

SM: One of my favorite books this year was Jaron Lanier’s You Are Not a Gadget, which I’ve extolled on the blog and was recently happy to see selected by the New York Times as one of its Best Books of the Year. I think it’s essential reading for anyone interested in content, including filmed content, in the age of Web. 2.0 (and 3.0). I’m currently finishing Ander Monson’s “experimental memoir,” Vanishing Point. I’m about to start the book it’s usually linked to, David Shields’ Reality Hunger. This year I read books by Brian Evenson and Stephen Elliott. The latter’s was The Adderall Diaries, which James Franco just optioned. (I’m also a big fan of Elliott’s literary website, The Rumpus.) I recently finished Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. It doesn’t need any more praise from me, but it’s a gorgeous book, both bigger (in terms of its scope and ambition) and smaller (in terms of its intimacy) than I expected.

As I type this I’m listening to the new Kanye West, which I’ve become kind of obsessed by. While a lot of years what I listen to is pretty obscure, this year I liked most the two big mainstream works that reaffirm the value of the long-playing, thematically-developed album: Kanye’s record and Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs. I recently downloaded Blix Bargeld’s anbb collaboration with Alva Noto. This year I also began to catch up with TV. I just finished Season One of “Mad Men” and have knocked off three seasons of “The Wire.” In terms of current TV, I liked “Walking Dead.” I recently saw the Abstract Expressionist show at MoMA, which is great, and there’s also an amazing iPad app for it that has a lot of the artwork as well as video interviews with the curators and other stuff.

Might be too early for a best of the year list but what are five independent films that shouldn’t be missed from 2010?

SM: These are both foreign and independent:
“The Oath” – Laura Poitras
“Carlos” – Olivier Assayas
“Exit to the Gift Shop” – Banksy
“Tiny Furniture” – Lena Dunham
“Daddy Longlegs” – Josh and Benny Safdie

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Posted in biz movies production

Janine Saunders is a producer, media collaborator, and DJ living in NYC.  She has worked as a producer since a very early age, in music, video and publishing. She has worked closely with writer/ documentarian/ graphic novelist Douglas Rushkoff, and directed and edited Life Inc: The Movie.

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By Lance Weiler, April 23rd, 2009

Scott Kirsner sent over a couple of links and resources for those wishing to build audiences.

Scott has just put up a wiki with some content from the book FANS, FRIENDS AND FOLLOWERS which we covered a few weeks back on TCIBR. The wiki contains useful tools for marketing, outreach, promotion, and commerce. So make sure to stop by and add to this new growing resource wiki.

From a panel that he did this past weekend at the Independent Film Festival of Boston entitled Followers: How Filmmakers are Building Their Audiences Online in the 21st Century.. Panelists include Brian Chirls (filmmaker, technologist, Three Eyed Labs), Chris Holland (Director of Festival Ops B-Side, author of Film Festival Secrets), Sean Flynn (Principle Pictures) – Moderator Scott Kirsner (author FANS, FRIENDS & FOLLOWERS)

We discussed a range of topics, including:

1. Benefits and pitfalls of social networking (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc.)
2. Strategies for reaching audiences before, during and after production
3. Crowdsourcing to build audiences as well as help production
4. How much of your content to post online for free
5. Ad revenue models
6. Distribution formats (DVD, download, streaming, theatrical, etc.)
7. Applying all the above to other media such as music and art

*Special thanks to Brian Chirls for putting the panel online – make sure to checkout his site.

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Posted in pollinate production

Lance Weiler is the founder of the WorkBook Project and also a story architect of film, tv and games. He's written and directed two feature films THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA. He's currently developing a number of transmedia projects.

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By lance weiler, August 24th, 2008

Lisa Salem reports – When David Hastings’ play ONE SMALL STEP was taken up to the Assembly Rooms at the Edinburgh Festival this month – the festival’s most respected venue – the outlook was quite pragmatic: take the show up there, expect a financial loss but gather thy reviews and hope they harvest into eyeballs and cash in the form of a UK tour of the play over the next year – something that might not even be possible without an Edinburgh premiere and the prestige that can garner.

So when Scotlands’ main national newspaper gave it a 5 star review last week – one of only 8 of the 598 plays they’ve reviewed at the festival this year – hopes and expectations were raised a notch for the Oxford Playhouse team who brought the production up there.


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Posted in audience community discovery festivals pollinate production promotion

lance weiler is the founder of the WorkBook Project and also a story architect of film, tv and games. He's written and directed two feature films THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA. He's currently developing a number of transmedia projects

By lance weiler, August 15th, 2008

Channel 4 in the UK is running a project called ‘Osama Loves’ as part of its Islam Season. The project is currently in blog form and will be made into an hour-long film aired on the channel sometime in September.

Farrah and Masood are in the last week of their journey across the world – attempting to find 500 ‘Osamas’ in 50 days to ask each one of them, “What do you love?”. It’s easy to gather from reading their online journal that it’s been a difficult project for a number of reasons. They’ve encountered many obstacles along the way – not least of which, I imagine, discovering well into their journey that they’d been denied a visa to continue their search in the U.S., where many of the 500+ Osamas on Facebook reside.


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Posted in audience doc pollinate production promotion web 2.0

lance weiler is the founder of the WorkBook Project and also a story architect of film, tv and games. He's written and directed two feature films THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA. He's currently developing a number of transmedia projects

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By lance weiler, July 29th, 2008

Over the next few days we’ll be posting various videos from the DIY DAYS LA event. The day consisted of a number of keynotes (Robert Greenwald, Marshall Herskovitz), panels (Tommy Pallotta, Femke Wolting, Alex Johnson, Micki Krimmel, Mark Stolaroff, Ondi Timoner, Hunter Weeks, Saskia Wilson-Brown), case studies (M dot Strange, Arin Crumley, Lance Weiler), a series of special video presentations (Matt Hanson, Brett Gaylor, Brian Chirls, Christy Dena, Timo Vuorensola) and a conversation with director Mark Pellington.

diy days M dot Strange, Hunter Weeks and Ondi Timoner – photo by Mike Hedge

The Realities of DIY
There’s been much discussion about the democratization of the tools but what’s really involved in taking your film from a concept to something an audience will pay to see? How can you fight your way through the clutter and what are the pitfalls to avoid when you decide to go it on your own?

Discussion Leader: Mark Stolaroff – panelists Arin Crumley, Ondi Timoner, Hunter Weeks and M dot Strange.

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Posted in BTS DIYDays animation audience biz case study deals discussion distro diy doc dvd education event festivals funds how to narrative online panel podcast producing production promotion resource sponsorship tech theatrical tools tv web 2.0

lance weiler is the founder of the WorkBook Project and also a story architect of film, tv and games. He's written and directed two feature films THE LAST BROADCAST and HEAD TRAUMA. He's currently developing a number of transmedia projects

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