Friday, January 09, 2009

Netflix Announces Indie Film Contest ala 'Project Greenlight'

From Video Business:

JAN. 8 | LOS ANGELES—Netflix, actor Josh Brolin and Los Angeles-based nonprofit Film Independent (FIND) today announced a film competition that this summer will award $350,000 in cash and film services to an aspiring filmmaker.

The largest U.S. movie-rental service via mail, Netflix will contribute $150,000 to the "Netflix FIND Your Voice Competition," while companies such as Eastman Kodak, Deluxe Entertainment Service and Panavision will contribute the rest in products and services, the companies and actor announced in a press conference at the W Hotel here today. Netflix will distribute the winning film on both DVD and in video-streaming form.

Not a bad gig if you can get it, but here's my one problem with it:

They are using film (from Kodak), film processing (from Deluxe - Hi Steve!) and transfer, and a DI (Digital Intermediate courtesy EFilm). Read more details here.
So that means you have $150K for production and edit, and $250K for camera package and post-processing.

If only you could eliminate the need for the film stock processing, transfer and DI color grading so you could streamline the whole process taking dailies direct to edit. You could take the time saved as well as the moolah and put it back onscreen.

But I guess you can't do that.

Oh wait. You can.

Gee, you would think that Hollywood indie folk would be all about innovation, and cutting costs, and putting the value up on the screen where it belongs... but I guess they're not.

Then again.

Kids, always always put your dollars onscreen. Think smart, not with your pocketbook. Learn to question things after you've studied them.

I wish the person who wins this contest the best of luck. Go get 'em, and show them your story. This is a great opportunity for someone to get in there with a fresh perspective and tell a whopper of a yarn.

I just wish you didn't have to use film to do it.

Edit to add: I realize I'm being the "my beer is half-empty guy" here. I apologize for that. No one wants to be that guy. Again, I wish everyone who participates in this the best of luck. Make it the best opportunity you can.


Earl Newton said...

When I see contests with these kinds of requirements, I just reimagine them as a chance to shoot on film with a free $150K budget.

Which is still pretty awesome.

Cunningham said...

Earl -

Buddy, pal...the "chance" to shoot on film?

That's like saying the chance to swim up Niagara falls with concrete blocks tied to your feet.

If you break that $150K down, that means about $65 - 80K is your production budget. The rest is post editing, cast and legal.

Now imagine if $100K of that "film processing budget" were to go away and reappear as the production budget, bringing it up to $165-180K with no loss in image quality, more flexibility and actually saving you time.

Wouldn't you be a little happier?

Granted, it IS great that NETFLIX is doing this. Don't get me wrong. But seriously, when you go into this you have to look at these things because they affect the storytelling. You now have less time with your actors, camera crew and overall production. You now have to juggle something else to make it work.

Film is actually working against you. From your perspective, you're thinking that $150K budget will allow you more locations and props, etc... but the exact opposite is true if you don't have the time or the flexibility to shoot it.

Earl Newton said...

Bill -

You forgot to add in 16K for catering and buying the script.

Now ask me if I would accept a free 45K to shoot a film. :D

This contest is aimed at people who aren't directing consistently for Fox. Directors producing their own work on uber-low-budgets (like myself) or else, not directing at all.

So I guess I'd say: if you already have 45, 80, or 150 thousand dollars to shoot a film with, this contest is a bad idea. Do not slum with the lowlies.

But for everybody else in the begging's free money, guys. If somebody promised me 50K to make a movie on Post-Its, flip-book style, I'd have a hard time turning it down.

I repeat: free money.

Cunningham said...

And yet you forget that Netflix will be your distributor and they WILL have a say in this.

This isn't free money. It's a chance to show what you can do. I'm just saying that film is not the best way to go here if you want a successful production that shows what you can do.

You devil's advocate you.

Aric Blue said...

Mostly, I agree with you. But(and maybe it's not applicable here) the distributors have gone back to their old ways of taking you MUCH more seriously if you shot on film that dv or HD.

At least, according to pretty much every contact I have in the distribution field.

For $350K, yeah, go HD. But if I get 10 mil, I'm shooting 35.

Unknown said...

It was probably determined by who they could partner with to sponsor it. Maybe they would have shot on a Red One if the Red Company wanted to sponsor it instead of Kodak, Deluxe and Panavision.

And there's a difference between those companies donating product that they sell for $200K and donating flat out $200K in real cash.

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