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Posts Tagged ‘Spike Lee’

Independent vs. Studio – “Don’t Be Tricked”

In Book, Communication, Movies, Networking, News, Technology on July 26, 2013 at 10:41 am

Before embarking on your filmmaking journey, ask yourself, “Am I a producer-filmmaker or am I a producer-dealmaker?” There’s a difference.

The Producer-dealmaker is exotic.  He puts together mega-million-dollar deals, hires people with large salaries, and makes big-budget studio features.  On the other hand, the producer-filmmaker gets a script , moves the decimal point two spaces to the left on a studio budget, purchases some unexposed film stock, gets some friends, and makes a low-budget film.

This book (From Reel to Deal) focuses on the producer-filmmaker approach used by people like John Sayles, Quentin Tarantino, Spike Lee, Kevin Smith, and Robert Rodriguez, who’ve launched amazing careers. But first I’ll address the producer-dealmaker approach, if only to acquaint you with the seduction of the big-dollar studio deals that almost always lead to a dead-end.

Qui Films_Independent Benefit

vs.

Studio Production_Caveat
The producer-dealmaker approach has glamour, is expensive to play and is fraught with dangling golden carrots. And, 999 times out of 1000, the beginner who pursues these carrots gets tied up in a costly web of prepayments, pay-or-play checks, and attorney fees that he can’t afford, and gets detoured from the goal of making his first film.

A classic dealmaking “golden carrot” is:  You’ve pitched your project to either a foreign sales company or theatrical distributor for funding, and they state, “We’re in for half the budget.” They’re lying. If a company ever gives you “50 percent of the budget” line when pitching, respond, “Wonderful!” Let’s cut the budget in half and start shooting tomorrow.”  Now, watch how they wiggle.  What they’re really saying is, if you can raise the first half (used for the physical production), then their contract (non cash) will finance the marketing and promotion (after they see the finished project), guaranteeing them first position on recouping funds, and the ability to cancel the deal if the film funds, and the ability to cancel the deal if the film you make doesn’t meet their standards.

Another “golden carrot” is, “We’re in if you can get a name attached.” Sounds simple. All you have to do is get an actor with a credit or two to give you a “letter of intent” showing interest and you’ll secure financing. The point, however, is that anyone can get a letter from an actor declaring that he/she is interested. Every actor is interested in every single part as long as he/she gets paid. So what? That letter, which is not contract is absolute garbage in Hollywood.

What you want is a “firm commitment,” a contract from an actor that states he/she will set aside X number of days, 4 to 12 months from now, to be in your film and will work nowhere else in the world during those days for which he is to be paid Y salary. The salary will be large, and the actor, through his agent, wants a 30-50 percent deposit of it up front. If you want to shop an actor’s name, you have to pay for that privilege. Otherwise, you’re pissing in the wind; no distributor or foreign buyer, will give a hoot about your “interested stars.” They want guarantees (aka firm commitments). And guarantees cost money.

To get this guarantee in writing is called a “pay-to-play” agreement…

First make a film, then make a deal.

The problem with filmmakers who never make a film, is they spend their entire lives trying to make a deal. Hollywood doesn’t finance first-timer nobodies. Here’s the bottom line.

Want $20,000,000? Make a $2,000,000 feature.
Want $2,000,000? Make a $200,000 feature.
Want $200,000? Make a $20,000 feature.
Want $20,000? Make a $2,000 Web feature.

This is how Hollywood works. It’s not complicated.

So where are you going to start? At the most, only 1 percent of the people reading this book are rich enough to gamble $200,000-$500,000 to shoot their first (35mm three-week shoot) feature. The other 99 percent probably had a hard time parting with the money to buy this book. Then you’ll be shooting a $20,000-$50,000 feature for the Web.

Therefore, start from the bottom. Be a producer-filmmaker. Prove your talents. Forget about being a producer-dealmaker. Stop chasing the deal — just make the film, and if the film you made is great, you’ll make a deal. But your first film must be great. Good is not good enough. Only great will launch your career. And since you won’t have money for name actors, exotic locations, stunts, and special effects, you will find yourself being totally story dependent. Thus, to succeed as a producer-filmmaker you will, on your first film, be totally script dependent and must prepare by first reading at least 20-30 screenplays of successful movies that you’ve seen. Don’t read these 20-30 scripts and you are guaranteed to fail.


[Reference Source: Reel To Deal by: Dov S-S Simens]

Interested in making your script a reel reality and filming it in the Dallas/Fort Worth [TX] metroplex or in Phoenix [AZ]?  Contact us: QuiFilms@gmail.com.
Visit our website and visualize:  www.QuiEntertainment.com/quifilms

Todays: Reel Shop Talk

In Communication, Griot, Movies, Music, Networking on April 2, 2013 at 10:26 am

conversation-is-qui

I love movies. I love writing them, shooting them, editing them and most of all, I absolutely love watching them. My favorite film writers vary between a colorful, intellectual and goofy array of genres and styles.

HORROR films? I absolutely dig them. I’m a fan of the ol’ Wes Craven – big time. I grew up on Elm Street, but that takes no love away from my appreciation of Sam Raimi’s EVIL DEAD or Stephen Kings CARRIE or William Peter Blatty THE EXORCIST [1973]. I even have love for Alfred Hitchcocks THE BIRDS. I mean there are so many horror films I didn’t list that (to you) may be way more horrific and even stellar in genre — and I likely would not disagree with you. I like variety. Listening to your short list, I could  mess around and learn something new. I like learning – so I’m wide open.

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You have to appreciate differences.
Differences of genre, style, technique, writing and vision are key.
_______________________

I like Tyler Perry. I’m a relatively new fan of his. I was no fan of the Madea series at all. I was fortunate to see Mr. Perry live and on stage in Dallas, TX before his rise to television and film and the style wasn’t for my taste. I respected his right, but cared not for his staged writes. Naturally our “first introduction” led me to not be in a rush to see his films or other play works. Though after reading article after article on the attack of Mr. Perry’s writes, his style and even his ‘bafoonery’ and mockery of quality black film entertainment, I began to reconsider. Even with my own theatrical reservations – I strongly disagreed that Mr. Perry should be condemned for his vision, his style or his genre choices, after all, so many others are entertained by him. I respect that. We all should.

In the name of respect and second chances, I set out to be reintroduced to Tyler Perrys work at WHY DID I GET MARRIED 2, (and no – I did not see WHY DID I GET MARRIED prior to seeing part 2 because I still wasn’t in the mood). Why did I get married 2 was not a brilliant film, but it was a relative film. Black culture was Tyler’ly tailored and oozing in every scene. It felt like I was watching family. Some dignified, some degreed, some lacking and in need, some funny and on the go and others living life like ‘I don’t know.’  They were all right there. So at the conclusion of the film, there was no standing applause, or a sitting one for that matter but there was a lot of comfortable  laughing in the dark throughout the broadcast. I left the theater satisfied. It was as if I paid $8 to hang out with a few relative folk and had a good time. Tyler mixed a whole bunch of drama, a little suspense and easy going pockets of comedy into Why Did I Get Married 2 that the cast was able to convey. Speaking of cast, I do believe Tyler Perry is considered to be a major employer when it comes to hiring black actors. 🙂 Another reason why this brother gets my vote. SUPPORT is crucial.

Ice Cube isn’t Tyler Perry and Tyler Perry isn’t Spike Lee.
John Singleton isn’t Shonda Rhimesshe’s all over the TV.

American Pie is a jewish dish and God knows I love Matzo!
Film variety should be accepted as easily as diversely shaped pasta.

It’s all made the same way & entertainment flavors the pallet.
If it’s good, we eat more – if not we yield Ghallagers mallet.

Big ups to Queen Latifah for her reel underground efforts in broad day light.
Queen Latifah not only raps and sings, but she film produces, directs and writes.

I love movies, I love people – I thank God for the field that I am in.
I’m Qui
Kicking Reel Shop Talk with thee – DIVERSITY is my topic of spin

He’s a bad mother…

In Communication, Movies, Networking, News, Politics, Self Improvement, Theater on May 7, 2012 at 10:18 am

LaTanya calls him Sam.

LaTanya calls him Sam.

Samuel L. Jackson is a bad mother — and he will never shut his mouth. The multibillion dollar man takes aim at President Obama and Hollywood, and dares you to say something. Kevin Powell [Ebony Magazine] reports:

“Say, man, my wife said you called her. What’s up with that?”

Samuel L. Jackson barks at me, sternly, his almond-colored deep set eyes weighted with history, mythology and Black folktales, scanning me quickly, methodically, as I respond, feebly, “Uh, my friend, the visual artist Radcliffe Bailey said to call…”

Before I could finish, Jackson strips the tension with a devilish smile, shakes my hand and returns to posing for the photo shoot

As Pandora spits a soul medley of James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, The Isley Brothers and Sly and the Family Stone, there is Sam, forever in his beloved Armani, firing up smoke, flames dancing from the cigar and the match thisclose to burning his finger. There is Sam tossing hats at the photographer’s lens, his bald head bobbing and weaving with each flick. There is Sam, much taller than I expected — about 6-feet-2 — so at home in his 64-year-old lean and battle tested body that he nonchalantly peels off one set of clothes, down to his white boxers, before changing into a new outfit. With no one batting an eye because this is Sam’s world.

Yes, it is mad corny, at this stage, to call Jackson “cool.” He is way past cool. he is chill, like the chilled ice in a sweet tea on that steamy Chattanooga, Tenn., porch where he inhaled the words and wisdom of his mama, his auntie, his grandmama, his granddaddy, his uncles, the men of his ‘hood. So chill, in fact, that even Sam’s being proclaimed by The Guinness World Records the top-grossing movie actor of all time, with nearly $7.5 billion in ticket sales, leads to a yawning response: “Yeah, I’ve done a couple of popular movies.”

An understatement, clearly a box office total that will balloon with his and Robert Downey Jr.’s star in the wake of Marvel Studios-produced The Avengers (which grossed $204 million dollars in its opening weekend). WOW! But Samuel L. is not just in this game for money or fame, although he readily admits, “The coolest thing about being famous is the free shit.”

This is Samuel L. Jackson’s version of the American Dream, remixed to include everything from his current role of Martin Luther King Jr. on Broadway (with Angela Bassett) in Katori Hall’s play The Mountaintop; to his (crack) smoking away his first shot at Broadway in August Wilson’s masterpiece The Piano Lesson (Charles S. Dutton got the part instead and Jackson was relegated to understudy), to his boyhood Saturday morning trips to the movies and roles in the plays of his schoolteacher auntie; to his lifelong love affair with books that lead him, initially, to oceanography, then to the revolutionary politics of the Black Power era, then to street theater and the power of the spoken word.

No doubt Jackson is the kind of man, the kind of Black man, who is relishing all he has witnessed since the days of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement. As a student at Atlanta’s famed Moorehouse College, Sam was an usher at Dr. Kings funeral. Today he gets to freely portray King, very human faults and all, in a play at the same time a Black president is sitting in the White House, no less.

If there is one American Actor who embodies the seismic changes in American politics and popular culture in the years between Dr. King’s death and Barack Obama’s election and has also been a full participant along the way in the best and worst of who we have been — and are — it is Samuel L. Jackson.

“Life is,”
he says inside his tiny Mountaintop dressing room during a quieter moment,
“longer than I thought it would be.”

Especially when, in one lifetime, you’ve survived a ghetto filled with alcohol, drugs, violence and houses of prostitution on both corners of your block; Vietnam War and an extended Black militant period with friends name Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown; getting suspended from college for holding the White trustees of Moorehouse College hostage (along with Black advisors including Dr. King’s father) a year after King’s assassination; and a massive addiction to crack cocaine that not only nearly killed you, but also became the source of your role as Gator in Spike Lee’s Jungle Fever, (he remains the only performer ever given a special supporting actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for that portrayal).

Jackson smiles a mischievous grin as he reflects upon Jungle Fever and his sudden fame after years of watching peers such as Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Alfre Woodard and Wesley Snipes achieve success: “People in Hollywood were suddenly like, ‘Hmmm, whoa! Oh, who’s that nigga?'”
(Click here to continue reading this column)

Unsung Exhibitions

In Networking on January 20, 2010 at 3:09 am

A Networking Conglomerate

Welcome to Gallery Qui is a magazine that focuses on honoring creative talents. Staple American Artist like Rembrandt, Michael Jackson, Spike Lee, Andy Warhol, Fab 5 Freddy, etc. have works that are readily available in upscale galleries all over the world –and they very well should . But what about that “artist dude” that you met when you had your portrait done in that little town on beach?

The finished product is still – by far – one of the most amazing works of art that you’ve ever seen, (never mind the fact the pic of you). With the exception of him signing the bottom of the canvas you’ve not ever seen or heard of his name again?

Well we’d love to share your experience with you and even yield some global EXPOSURE for that “artist dude too. So send us your stories and pictures of your “custom made art” (..ie your cd, your short film, YOUR PRODUCTIVE GOODS) to share with the wwworld. Local talent doesn’t have to be limited by the distance of physical relativity anymore. — ART IS GLOBAL — and so are we.

Welcome to Qui Entertainment Magazine,
Let the GOOD Conversation begin.