the state of things
by Douglas Lindsay - 11:40 on 20 September 2010
Attended the Lo-To-No Budget filmmaking course at Raindance in London this weekend. Everything you need to know about making a movie and getting it distributed when you have very little, or no, money. The course was run by Canadian independent film producer Elliot Grove, and pretty much consisted of Elliot standing at the front of the class and talking for sixteen hours. By God, you have to be pretty damned interesting if you're going to talk for sixteen hours and hold your audience, but sure enough, the man pulls it off. Full of enthusiasm and love for his subject, with a movie anecdote or short film to illustrate every point, one could easily listen to another sixteen hours. An informative and thoroughly enjoyable weekend.
For me, however, I'm clearly not cut out to be a film producer. For example, I'd rather spend a weekend huddled under a suppurating, wounded giant tarantula in a cave in the Highlands in the middle of winter, eating gruel and raw potatoes, than go to the Cannes Film Festival; and at number three on his list of essential attributes for the prospective film producer was a Confident Telephone Manner, able to schmooze, lie or talk with elan, brio and verve down the phone to anyone you need. I can just about carry a telephone conversation with my wife, but even then I invariably sound moronic and then resort to grunting if the conversation lasts longer than a minute and a half.
Then there's the disingenuousness of, for example, taking the Time Out review of your film that says, 'It's extraordinary that this piece of crapulent, cinematic pish was ever made!' and writing 'extraordinary...' Time Out on your poster. When my first book came out, Piatkus, the publisher, put the word out that I was 'the next great Scottish crime writer' or some such. No one else made the claim. The magazine, The List, while giving the book a decent review, also said something like, 'Some people are saying that he's the next great Scottish crime writer, but let's not get carried away on the strength of this one novel.' Then for my next book, the publisher put on the cover 'the next great Scottish crime writer...' The List. I'm so un-disingenuous that I got them to remove it. [Of course, they replaced it with the frankly stupid 'like Irvine Welsh without the drugs...', which as one reviewer of the second book pointed out, is like a sausage roll without the sausage...]
Creatively, of course, this weekend has left me inspired to go and make a film, I just don't want to be a film producer. Or director. And I've come to realise over years of being shat upon at the bottom of the heap, that it's not great to be the writer. So... I need to hand the producing duties over to Long Midnight Films Creative Director, Elvis Shackleton, while inventing an entirely new position for myself. Chief Executive Writer In Charge Of Lunch for example. Maybe I can do that one from my front room without having to talk to anyone.
Here are some interesting facts: 19 out of 20 films released in the British cinema lose money for the producers. (The money, if it comes, will be from DVD, TV etc.) Hollywood takes in around $20billion a year; in America alone, the porn industry makes around $70billion. Makes you think. Nevertheless, industry rumours that Long Midnight Films are about to branch out into the adult film business, with low budget erotic thrillers The Edible Underwear of Barney Thomson; Barney Thomson, Love God of the Outback; and Agnes and Barney's Butt Plug Extravaganza are completely unfounded. Really, they're not even potential projects in various stages of development.
Meanwhile, look out for the upcoming Raindance Film Festival, starting next week in London, England. The Coolest Film Festival anywhere on Planet Earth, it runs from 29th September to the 10th October 2010, and you can read about all the great movies that will be showing right here.
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