Thursday, September 01, 2005

D2DVD Film School Pt. 3 - Is It Worth it?

So let's get one thing straight as we undertake this journey toward D2DVD production. It's important to understand because you are taking the steps from (possibly) talented amateur to professional. It's something that many people in this industry kid themselves about, and try to mask under self-important lingo and egotistical artistic illusion (delusion? Yes, delusion).

The most important thing to remember is:

You are doing this for the money.

(Deafening silence ensues...followed by shock, then outrage)

But Bill what about Shakespeare?
He did it for the money.
But what about guys like Robert Towne?
Money. The guy wrote and acted for Roger Corman for chrissakes!
How about...Scorcese, Copolla, Demme, Tarantino, Stone, Woo?
Money. The answer is money.

Professionals get paid for their work. Everyone mentioned above wanted to be paid for their work... And that's what you want too, isn't it?

People pay professionals for their expertise, talent, creativity, work ethic... and that's what you want too isn't it?

Professionals are responsible with the money they get to make a movie, and they are responsible about the money they invest (They don't give. Ever. They expect to be paid back and make a tidy profit besides). That's a reputation you want to have.

You want to be a professional? Then money comes into the equation in a big way.

You aren't shooting on weekends anymore with the school's film society. You aren't looking at the footage in the editing room and saying, "That doesn't look tooooo bad." You aren't looking at the manual as you use a Nagra for the first time. And when something doesn't work out you don't just say, "Oh well, sorry. My bad. " without there being consequences. You can't just let it go. There are no excuses that are acceptable.

Because if you screw up, it doesn't just affect you - it affects other people too.

You are making a film to sell. You are doing it for the money, so that you can make another film and make some money on that one too.

You are doing it so you can do it for a living. You are doing it to build a career. You are doing it so that audiences who look at your work feel they got their money's worth.

Money raises the bar quite a bit doesn't it?

That also means you're going to fail every now and then (and deal with that). It means that you're going to have to suck it up and keep going. It means you have to give it your best every time. Because this is how you make money. This is how you feed your family. This is how you pay the rent...the insurance...the car payment. Just because you are doing something you love, and it's kind of cool to be paid for creating doesn't lessen the pressure.

This is your job. Write, shoot, direct and act accordingly.

Next time: D2DVD Homework (This is school!)


vanpet said...

ok, i won't look at the nagra anymore but.... then i need a sound engineer... then i need money!

where do I find money ?? I'm a newbie with no money, I've good horror screenplay, written with low-budget guidelines, but even a low-budget is too expensive for me.

I need a production company... and that's what stops me... i don't know that "professional" world.

Bill Cunningham said...


This is why you are here - to learn from my mistakes.

And being professional can be taught - it's done in other industries all the time. In our industry people somehow don't think it applies.

It does. Because there is money riding on it - just like in other businesses...

Bill Cunningham said...

See there! You're already learning lessons that others don't learn until it's too late. Congratulations!

John Donald Carlucci said...

Good article Bill and I am glad you are addressing an issue that bugs the crap out of me.

We don't do this for the art, but try to instill it in the work when we can. We do this so we can eat and put a roof over our heads while doing a job we love.

How can we interest an agent if we can't prove ourselves marketable?

How can we get a production company to take a chance on us if we can't show them the chance of earning that money back?

Other people depend on our work to put food in their mouths and a roof over their heads too.


Peggy Archer said...

You have no idea how happy I am to see someone put that into words..

If I hear one more person ask me to do some micro-budget shoot for free because "it's really good - it's art", I'm going to strangle them with my shoelaces.

Art for art's sake goes out the window the day you have to make that first mortgage payment.

Bill Cunningham said...

Peggy, took a quick look at your blog. Can you feel my love waves from there? I remember all the 'drama' of being one of the soldiers on DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE, and realized that's probably why I turned to writing. Great blog that I will probably point many to, because it teaches the lessons these writer newbies have to learn - the work that goes into making their writing happen...