Friday, July 28, 2006

Some Days You Have To Step Into The Minefield...

Opening the blog up for questions all weekend long...until Sunday 6 pm.

You are allowed to ask questions about:

Me.
My work.
My horror stories of working in the low budget trenches.
Screenwriting...
Producing...
All that stuff...
I will even give you an opinion or twenty. (Isn't that a given by now?)

I will rant. I will rave. I will do the monkey dance. I'll even give out household hints. A bargain at any price.

The only requirement is that you must be interesting (Oh, that raises the bar doesn't it?)

Go.

26 comments:

RogerRmjet said...

Wow, that's quite a list of allowable topics! I gotta go with "horror stories of working in the low budget trenches," for 1000 Alex. What's your best (or would you define it as "worst") horror story?

RogerRmjet said...

Another question, this one regarding the pulp hero DVD Premiere topic from a few days ago. Consider a hero along the lines of The Shadow, Green Hornet, or the Spider. I think these characters work best when done as period, kept in the 30s or 40s. Not just for believability, but for the overall look and the language. As a producer/"man-in-the-know," what's your opinion on attempting to go period for a DVD Premiere? Just to skip it or leave it for the more expensive, big-studio-made titles? Or do you think it could be done within a fixed budget?

Bill Cunningham said...

Let's see:

There was SFX artist Michael Smith in a dress...

There was the time when I was an assistant here in Ho'wood making $400/week, and my boss asked me to take his kidney stone to the doctor to get it analyzed...then he handed it to me...

There was the time we were creating the art for SCARECROW SLAYER and we got up to 70+ variations on the art until finally nailing it an hour or two before deadline...

There was the time I looked at the company directory and saw new responsibilities added to my job description while my pay was being cut...

There's so many I'm forgetting...

Bill Cunningham said...

It COULD be done, but I'd do STYLIZED more than pure period. It allows you to get away with more.

Period can "lock you in" both in a producer's (and studio's) perception of the project and the budget.

I think the Green Hornet worked well in the 1960's with jazzy signature themes and then current fashions.

Feel free to argue.

Jeff O'Brien said...

Quite enjoyed your last post about El Muerto. I got in touch with Javier on myspace because we have both had projects with Maria Conchita Alonso - who is also on myspace.

Bill, get on myspace... now.

Bill Cunningham said...

Let me ask you a question - what is it about myspace that makes it worthwhile? What is it doing that my blog isn't?

RogerRmjet said...

Bill, the kidney stone story wins, no question.

I agree with doing stylized period. Your Green Hornet video post from last week inspired me to watch the show again. Great example, especially the jazzy score. But while that was modern at the time, it "looks" period now. Along those same lines, though, I think it's interesting to note that in both Lois & Clark and Superman Returns, the costume designers have given Lois Lane's wardrobe a 1940s feel. Despite both of those project's shortcomings, I think that's one of the things they got right. It gives you that 40s feeling without going period, and works well for her character.

Bill Cunningham said...

I think the word we're looking for here is "timeless"...

DecoderRing said...

Roger, the thing I love about Pulp/Super - heroes in "period" stories is that it avoids the need for detached, ironic commentary on the heroes.

Besides, there's something about the 30's that cries out for pre-comics code rough justice. There's an actual, physcial darkness that you never get in a modern city... and a universal Depression-fed desperation - that "millionaire" might have lost everything, he could be a caged animal... that mugger isn't taking your wallet, he's taking the last few dollars your family needs to survive. He's taking the money for the baby's medicine!! No wonder this is when the masked hero was born.

But Bill's point about the STYLE rather than the period is well taken... I never really saw how that could work until I read a certain script that forms the basis of my "open season" question... How long before we can all take the kids to Knightmare?

Bill Cunningham said...

Thanks, DecoderRing!

For those of you who don't know, The Knightmare is my love letter to the serials and pulp magazines of old. It features a character who is developing into my Shadow, Spider, et al...

It needs one more rewrite before I show it around DR. I've licked the problems I had with the story itself, and I'm working on character and dialogue... which, for me are hard.

It should be ready to go out to agents in the fall...

RogerRmjet said...

DecoderRing, that's what I love about the 30s/40s pulps, too. They were a lot tougher back then. One of my favorite shots in the Fleischer Superman cartoons is when Lois picks up a tommy gun and starts blasting away at the gangsters coming after her.

Bill, you definitely have my interest on Knightmare. I wouldn't mind reading that myself.

DecoderRing said...

...And once you're into the 40's you've got Nazis to use as bad guys... and on the U.V.S. (Universal Villain Scale) they rate just above the Undead and just below Insurance Salesmen.

Reading Knightmare: great

Getting your special limited edition Knightmare action figures: Priceless.

Not that I'm bein'impatient or nuthin'...

gridlife said...

Bill -

What is your take on small production houses / DVD companies developing poster and box art for low-budget features - is it acceptable to ape artwork for bigger-budget similarly-themed films or is it bad form and small companies should develop their own ideas for the key art?

Your biggest fan,

Leather Allday

Bill Cunningham said...

Leather Allday:

Well you know - what can I say?

http://content.answers.com/main/content/wp/en/thumb/2/20/200px-Gameoverfront.jpg

or possibly --

http://www.yorkentertainment.com/cgi/searchvideos.cgi?Action=lookup&Key=YPD+1236

(remember The Hulk poster?)

I'm guilty.

But we also came up with a lot of cool stuff that was original:

http://www.yorkentertainment.com/cgi/searchvideos.cgi?Action=lookup&Key=YPD1227

http://www.yorkentertainment.com/cgi/searchvideos.cgi?Action=lookup&Key=ALIEN+51

When I took over marketing, I made it part of my budget to get subscriptions to horror movie mags and comic books. They were doing design work in those that really pushed the envelope in terms of compositions and color.

I also brought in my pulp books and had Giulio, Bruno, Ivy and Arik look at them and get a feel for what I was after: Simple, engaging compositions that showed depth and action, drawing the browser's eyes into the art and getting them to pick it up.

But all you guys in Sales kept shooting me down....

;D

Yes, gang I know "Leather Allday"... his adventures as a Porn Detective will be on a website any day now. Get your credit cards out...

Bill Cunningham said...

Decoder & Roger - I'm working on it, okay? The bar has been set pretty high by Indiana Jones.

I want you guys to see these characters as vividly as I see them...

I want you to know deep down, just like I do, that The Knightmare and his world exists...

Especially when you hear those haunted words echo from out of the darkness...

"I am what you fear..."

John Donald Carlucci said...

1920 - Too early
1950 - Too late

There is a makic time to the 30s and 40s. Decoderring nailed it best. I never thought about it before, but they are probably the greatest villians ever and it is too bad that they weren't simply a nice bit of fiction.

But some of the quests they undertook are almost too fanastic for fiction. The Spear of Destiny, the Hollow Earth, The Thule Society, and a possible Nazi Moonbase.

Man

JDC

Scott the Reader said...

Here's a question:

When I finally finish writing my gory, violent, sex-filled, reasonably-priced rural horror script, what do I do with it?

Bill Cunningham said...

Write another.

Bill Cunningham said...

Okay, so I was being glib, but the fact is that you can't expect to write one and have a career. You have to have the library of scripts.

My friend Peter Wentworth who produced METROPOLITAN says that you need to write at least 9 scripts. That way you know you love it enough to keep going and you may actually sell the 9th one...but don't count on it.

Scott the Reader said...

Actually, the rural horror script will be #13.

deepstructure said...

is the d2dvd market looking for anything? do they need more scripts? more films? better films? different films?

where's the growth?

as an aspiring filmmaker, d2dvd sounds like an arena of opportunity - but is it? or is that just fanciful thinking?

Bill Cunningham said...

Scott - then send it out...there's a lot of companies doing mid-level movies: New Line, Lions Gate, Dimension, etc...get it out there.

Deep S - Studios are ramping up their D2DVD product as the regular DVD end of the market flattens out in growth. They are also working on new ways to maximize HD/Blu-ray.

So what does this mean?

More movies to make with smaller budgets...however a lot of those movies will be based on properties the studios already own i.e. DC Comics recent move.

If you are a writer who can craft a story to a budget and still make it entertaining you're better off than a blockbuster guy who keeps having to cut his script back and shoe horn it into the budget.

It also means that there is opportunity for the indie guy to create properties for the DVDP market and use all of the marketing tricks the studios use - Youtube, Myspace, itunes, google video, websites, etc... to build that property and get the movies out to the audience. We haven't even begun to scratch the surface...

There is something inherently cool about handing somone your DVD and saying, "Here's my movie. Go watch it." It's a direct contact that's different than the theatrical because the person has an actual physical connection to the movie. Like buying a good book - it can be seen over and over again.

I hope I've answered the question.

Jeff O'Brien said...

Not to overhype myspace as it has it's faults but for me, it's a fun distraction and a fun place to make contacts. My blog is a fun place to then get to know the contacts and have some indepth talk.

gridlife said...

When you say we can ask questions until 6pm, do you mean 6pm PDT? That would actually give me 2 extra hours to come up with questions here in Chicago. Whoo Hoo!

Bill Cunningham said...

Absolutely - 6pm Pacific Standard Time.

So wrack your brain to come up with something interesting to ask... I'll endeavor to match it.

Andrew Bellware said...

I missed the deadline but:
When Blockbuster agrees to buy a movie, do they only buy it from whomever the first distributor is that showed it to them? In other words, if you send screeners out to a number of distributors and one of those distributors has a meeting with Blockbuster the next day and they show it to Blockbuster, and Blockbuster likes it, can another distributor actually get the sale to Blockbuster?
The problem here is that the distributors, as I understand them, won't want to give the producer a deal until they know they have a sale -- but once they have a sale the producer is somewhat at the behest of whatever deal the distributor wants to give them, because it's difficult for the producer to go to another distributor in order to get a better deal for the Blockbuster sale.
Of course, this whole thing might be more complicated than I think it is...