RaindanceWhoa, what a quote! I came across this on the Raindance site from Elliot Grove, founder of the UK Raindance Film Festival and  instructor of the Lo-to-No Budget Filmmaking Course. Elliot’s site is chock full of useful information on the film industry, film festivals, and film courses. You can check it out here.

This particular article is on Hollywood’s 4 Biggest Lies. The first lie is that filmmaking is an art. Making art usually doesn’t involve paying for a lot of supplies and tools, finding additional personnel to help produce it and making a profit from it. An artist largely makes his work for the joy of making it, giving it away for others to enjoy and/or displaying it without regard for pleasing the tastes of other people.  To be a successful filmmaker, one must have regard for the tastes of others. The goal is to have the film seen and ideally for the audience to pay to see it. Successful filmmaking involves raising money, negotiating and generating revenue. Does this sound like art? Sounds like business to me.

The second lie is the filmmaking industry is about making films. The industry often spends more on marketing a film than on making one. The costs associated with marketing are of more concern to a distributor than the cost of making the film. Why? The film industry is a marketing machine that creates perceived values. Making a film has no value to an audience. Anyone with a camera can make a film. Blank DVD’s are sold every day in the office supply store. Audiences pay to see a movie that is packaged as an experience, the experience has value. Packaging a film experience has a large cost. It is commonly called P&A (prints and advertising) and without P&A, audiences would never go to the cinema. They would watch free TV at home, play video games or read a book. The marketing costs of attracting an audience are enormous but they have to be for the return that is needed to pay the cinema owner, repay the P&A investment, provide revenue for the distributor and give the filmmaker and his investors a return. We are mainly talking about theatrical here, but P&A costs extend to DVD releases too. Basically, without marketing costs, a film will never be seen, so what is the point of making it? Hence the title, “the film industry is a film marketing industry, not a filmmaking industry.”

The third lie is what the budget of a film is. No filmmaker, Hollywood or otherwise, will ever tell you the true budget of a film. The largest costs of  Hollywood film productions are star talent and promotion. Never put your trust in the budget numbers that are given for producing a film.

The fourth lie is the film industry makes filmmakers deals. This lie largely pertains to the beliefs of an indie filmmaker. The problem with all filmmakers who want to make a film is they think they can make a deal with a studio or distributor to get the money to make one. Elliot contends that this will never happen, this is putting the horse before the cart. In order to get money from a studio or a group of investors to make a $20 million film, you must have already made a $2 million film that made money. To get money to make a $2 million film, you must have already make a $200K film that made money and so on. So in order to get money to make a film, you have to have already made a film that made money. Make a film and, if that film makes money…then you’ll make a deal!

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