Screenwriting is the most competitive profession in the film industry

Reading the trades, I discovered that only about 1100 writers worked on films in Hollywood last year.  Sure, more than that worked on TV, but most elite members of the WGA only work about one year in three (if at all).  And, when they do find work, their pay is still less than many less glamorous roles.

(I know Squanto.  You were unemployed long before I made that discovery.) Continue reading Screenwriting is the most competitive profession in the film industry

Irony

Catalan and Portuguese flag superimposed on our 1812 timeline page
I made this image with the help of technology. It cost me a man hour, based on a blog that cost me longer, but I don’t know how much of the tech was devoted to me.

The following post is filled with #irony making it #ironic . It’s not meant to be useful, any utility is purely accidental. Punctuation is intentionally misplaced to suit the hashtag.

You know one of the most ironic sayings ever? “A picture is worth a thousand words. ” That’s seven words long. Try drawing a picture that says over 142 times that. (Use a calculator to do the math.) Some pictures are worth a thousand words, but those are either powerful pictures, or lame words.

Another ironic thing: I recently received an essay about the importance and power of stories. The essay was structured in such a way that it didn’t tell a single story. Okay, so it tried to conjecture on the key themes of a few stories, maybe even hinted at a few plots, but it didn’t tell one. If stories are so powerful, why was it written as an essay? Continue reading Irony

The use of Flashback in Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace (dir. Michael Apted, written by Steven Knight) seems to be the first major film to depict the life and activism of Wilfred Wilberforce. I was reluctant to write any review because I’m not sure of the historical accuracy of Wilberforce’s life. However, from a creative point of view, I find the use of flashback interesting.

Many biopics, from made for tv movies to big budget blockbusters, use flashback as a creative device. At one extreme you have The Iron Lady, where almost every other scene is the elderly Thatcher remembering her rise and fall. Then there’s the TV movie like Coco Chanel, where flashbacks are used intermittently to show a character still in her prime remembering how she got where she was while preparing a show.

The classic, however is a film like Gandhi (Dir: David Attenborough, writer: John Briley, 1982), where we start at the death of the main character, then tell the story in sequence, introducing the protagonist just before that fateful first decision is made. But, all these devices open a story toward the end of the story, not in the middle. Continue reading The use of Flashback in Amazing Grace

Filmmaker admits awards are political

When The Hollywood Reporter asked producer Janine Jackowski if she was disappointed that Toni Erdmann didn’t win the foreign language Oscar, she said no. She expected it, when she heard the news of “Trump’s travel ban.”

“Two hours later I talked to Maren and we both said, ‘It’s gone.’ We knew the Academy would want to send a signal with the Iranian film. Up to that point, Toni Erdmann was one of the favorites.”

Continue reading Filmmaker admits awards are political

What is a Special Purpose Vehicle? (or SPV?)

wagons in a dreamlike state with ptara logoA Special Purpose Vehicle, or Single purpose vehicle, is a company that is created for a single project.

Single Purpose Vehicles are used in construction, public works and many other ventures.  While they are becoming less popular for other ventures, SPVs have become increasingly popular in film production.

Now, in the old days, film companies shied away from Special Purpose vehicles.  When film producers also owned the cinemas and actors were on contract, it made little sense to create more paperwork for each film.

But today, with changes in the way a film is financed and sold, a special purpose vehicle can be extremely useful.

Films can carry with them many long term obligations, from credits and percentage points for the actors to content agreements and more.  As most production companies don’t distribute their own films, it often makes little sense for them to continue dealing with a film after it’s made.

The “vehicle” keeps the film separate from the production company’s other activities. When the film is finished, the SPV can be sold to a distribution company, allowing the production company to focus on the next project. It also allows investors to benefit from tax breaks.

There’s a mention on the British Film Commission’s website.

http://www.britishfilmcommission.org.uk/film-production/uk-film-tax-relief/

So, while Ptara is the company that produces films, does a lot of paperwork and runs our office, another company, an SPV, may be the one that you invest in or sign a contract with.

When the SPV is taken over by a distributor, the distributor will take over the SPV’s obligations and Ptara will concentrate on new projects.

On occasion, an SPV continues as a company on its own and produce more films.

Design of audio-visual creative works.

Ptara logo over historical image of men working at Sevastopol.You might have a great graphic designer, an artist at your company, who can draw anything that you can imagine. You may have someone else who is handy with the camera, and creates videos that look and sound amazing. But, sometimes simply looking good is not enough. Sometimes, you need images that fit a strategic context, that make sense within a whole, and that tell the message you want to convey. Sometimes, you need something that is interesting to watch, and sometimes you need more than that.

You don’t always need to design an audio visual work.  Here’s a video that was unplanned, shot and edited within a day:

It works well enough for footage for a news story, but not much else.

Ptara can help you design a video that does what it’s supposed to do.

5 Remakes that pass for originals

We’re growing tired of remakes.  Some rehashes claim to be better than the original, but we’re not sure “better” is the right word.

Do we need another Karate Kid, another Dr Doolittle, another Ghostbusters, another Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, another Steel Magnolias?  What was wrong with the first film?

(The second Karate Kid was okay,  but “Pick up your coat” is incredibly lazy compared to “wax on, wax off.”)

However, some remakes add something, and in some ways improve upon the original.  A few, in fact, are so good that we sometimes think that the remake is the original. Continue reading 5 Remakes that pass for originals

Four films I wish I could see on DVD

INT. VIDEO RENTAL SHOP

VASCO, accompanied by a SMALL CHILD, walks up to the counter looking lost.  Two of the EMPLOYEES take a step backwards before he says a word, the third is transfixed to the television set, watching reruns of “Friends”.

VASCO

Excuse me, do you have Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.

One of the employees rolls her eyes.

EMPLOYEE 1

Pee what?

Continue reading Four films I wish I could see on DVD