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Let us shoot your movie!
How much will my film cost? This depends a great many variables, but a movie like our short feature MAILBOX could be made for under $5,000*. A movie like our feature film KNAPTID could be made for less than $15,000*. (If you don't think $15,000 is reasonable for a feature length movie--read Rick Schmidt's excellent FEATURE FILMMAKING AT USED-CAR PRICES.) (*These prices represent the bare minimum we decided we could get away with. They do not include such things as errors and omissions insurance--basically insurance against being sued for showing something you should not have shown--licences and fees due in some localities, music, etc.)
Please be aware, that we are only a movie production company. Promoting and selling your movie once it is made is up to you.
Let me say this now. Movie making is fun! It is more fun that you've ever had in your entire life. And now, because of advances in technology, it is as affordable as a vacation. If you need to be convinced I suggest you read Robert Rodriguez's inspiring Rebel Without a Crew and Dale Newton and John Gaspard's insightful Digital Filmmaking 101.
Why should I use your services? Time and money. If you have a regular job you probably don't have the enormous amount of time it takes to get ready to do a movie. You also probably don't have access to actors, locations, etc. that we do. It would take you some time to learn the technical aspects we've already learned from trial and error. We may save you money--but more importantly we can help you turn out a better product.
Can you guarantee I'll make money with my movie? Sorry, no. Selling your movie will depend on the content and your selling efforts. I highly recommend The Complete Independent Movie Marketing Handbook. I'd recommend you read that even if you are planning on the filmfestival route. (If you are interested in filmfestivals do also look at Chris Gore's The Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide.)
Yes, in fact, you should plan on doing so. If you buy a Macintosh, and Final Cut Pro, we can shoot your movie and you can edit it yourself. Unlike shooting the movie itself, editing can be done in your spare time. At this writing you can buy an acceptable Mac and Final Cut Pro for about $2,200. (We also recommend you buy and extra hard drive for $300. Without editing, shooting Knaptid (salaries, props, etc. ) came to around $10,000. So the total price for a similar feature with editing would be $12,500 and you get to kept the computer and software for your next movie. If someone else edited Knaptid the cost of editing alone for the movie could easily have exceeded $10,000-- editing your own movie is a major way to both save money and to learn about movie making. To quote from Chris Jones' inspiring The Guerilla Film Makers Movie Blueprint, page 363:"The editor should be free to throw away the screenplay and find the best way to tell the story that has been captured in the individual shots. . . ." This is the amazing epiphany that every filmmaker comes to: you wrote a scene, the actors did a good job, but the scene just doesn't work, so you throw it out, or cut it down, and the movie is suddenly, often magically better. You need to edit your movie to see how this works. (Yes, the same thing does happen when you are working with the actors on the set, but not as often as it does in editing.)
I have a PC. Can I use the computer I have? Maybe. There are PC editing systems to choose from. However, the Mac and Final Cut Pro are made for each other. Not all PC's are compatible with the software you will need without extra cards, etc. Plus, we work with Mac's and we can help you if you work with a Mac and Final Cut. If you do want to use a PC buy a dedicated system--and use it only for movie editing.
I have my own digital movie camera--can I save money by using it? You won't save money--but backup cameras are always a boon.
My cousin Bernie wants to be an actor and he'll act for free--can't I save money that way? No. If you want a movie you can sell you have to pay everyone in it--period. (And if you didn't know that then that's one more reason to hire someone who does.) One bad actor can ruin a movie, but Bernie can be in your movie--as long as we pay him.
Can I save money in any other way? As a writer-producer you can do any job you are capable of. For example if you are good with a camera you can save on still photography (needed for the promotion of your film) by taking the photos yourself. You can also build sets, props, etc. But you will most likely be spending a great deal of time rewriting.
We require that you first purchase our preproduction package. We then will need a pre-submission release form (below) signed (if you have not submitted one with your pre-production package order.). This release must be recieved before we receive any written material from you. We will then discuss one, one-page treatment* with you. If the treatment is approved you will be invited to submit a script**. Your script's format must be the same as the format the sample scripts are in. With this format your movie will run about one minute per page. This allows us to figure out the movie's running length. When you submit your script you will send in a $350 deposit with it. $50 of that is a reading fee. The rest is for a budget calculation. (A friend who is a typical ,professional, movie-budget person--charges $3,000 a week for budgets, and spends weeks on a single script, so $300 is a bargin.) If your movie is something we can't make, we won't do a budget and you'll receive your $300 back. If your movie is makeable we will keep the $350 and send you the budget. If the budget is acceptable, we will require payment in advance. As soon as we receive your payment the shoot will be scheduled at your convenience.*** Because we will have to contract with actors, etc., once the schedule, is set it cannot be changed. If you plans change and you can't make the shoot, we will have to shoot the movie without you. Please be sure you want to make a movie. Under no circumstances will refunds be made for budgets once calculated, or movies once scheduled (Whether shot or not because all the cast will have to be paid.)
*Before you submit a full script you will submit a one page treatment. When you order the preproduction package you may submit one treatment. We will then call or write you and discuss the project, and steer you in the right direction. Additional treatment submissions will required a $10 additional fee for expenses. This way at least you'll have a good idea if your movie is something we will be able to do before paying for a budget analysis.
**Obviously, we can only do so many movies in a given year. For acceptable movies it will be first come first serve. We will have potential cast members look at scripts to determine acceptablity.
***There is the possiblity at this point that we will not be able to cast your film--we can't cast your film until we have your contract and the funds for hiring and signing the cast. If this happens your movie funds will be returned in full. Your budget payment however will not be refundable. To avoid this we will try and verbably line up a cast during the budget stage--however, since you can change you mind at this point and decide not to fund the movie we can't tie any cast members down.
Please keep in mind that we are a small production company. We can not do exploding buildings, etc. We don't do dangerous stunts. We prefer to work with small casts--less than ten people.
Our preproduction package includes:
A copy of our short feature The Mailbox.
A promotional copy of our feature film Knapid.
Print Outs of:
And a planning guide.
*Price is $45.95--Plus $4.00 for postage and handling.
*Total $49.95 Postpaid!
What do you mean promotional copy? We just finished this movie and have not yet started distribution. Therefore, all copies sent out have a warning that the copy is "For Promotional Use Only " across a portion of the film to prevent unlicensed distribution.
Unfortunately, just as there are people who jump in front of cars for the insurance money, there are people who send in ideas and then sue when something similar shows up. One of the most famous cases we've heard about was Tornado. A number of people were sending around that idea at the same time. Still, the studio settled. We are not out to steal ideas. If you have one good enough to sell to a major studio we'll tell you straight out. What we are looking for is people interested in making movies for the experience, the credits and the fun of doing it.
Dear D F Curran Productions
I am now or will be in the future submitting to you certain program material(s), the title and/or theme of which may change (which material is hereinafter referred to as the "program material"), upon the following express understanding and conditions. The following applies to all submissions by me now and in the future.
1. I acknowledge that I have requested permissions to disclose to you and carry on certain discussions and negotiations with you in connection with such program material.
2. I agree that I am voluntarily disclosing such program material to you at my request. I understand that you shall have no obligation to me in any repect whatsoever with regard to such material until each of us has executed a written agreement which, by its terms and provisions, will be the only contract between us.
3. I agree that any discussions we may have with respect to such program material shall not constitute any agreement expressed or implied as to the purchase or use of any such program matrial or services which I am hereby disclosing to you either orally, or in writing of any from.
4. In the event that you have an independent legal right to use such material which is not derived from me, either because such material submitted hereunder is not new or novel, or was not originated by me, or has not been reduced to concrete form, or because other persons including your employees or clients have submitted similar or identical material which you have the right to use, then I agree that you shall not be liable to me for your use of such material and you shall not be obligated in any respect whatsoever to compensate me for such use by you.
Date of Submission___________________________
Press Release 4/26/04
In the upcoming June 2004 issue of The Writer, D F Curran Productions of Missoula, Montana will begin running advertisements for subsidy movie making for writers.
According to Dave Curran, "We are not in any way promising to produce blockbusters for the frustrated writers of the world. I just love low-budget movie making. The advent of inexpensive broadcast-quality digital video cameras and editing software make the cost of movie making much more affordable for everyone--and by giving more chances to more writers we can expect some exciting surprises." Curran, who sold his first story to Hollywood as the "People Do It All The Time" episode of the television series Wiseguy, says that most writers never even get the chance to see one of their ideas produced. Writing for television or movies is a learning process and the best way to learn is by actually working on a project, getting to see how the script works with real actors, and making the script changes needed to make the story come alive.
How, other than making a movie, is a writer to learn that the final draft of their script is just a starting place, asks Curran. In a low budget shoot especially, the number of rewrites needed on location are amazing. Working as a team member with actors and a director teaches writers about what works and what does not. The writer's discovery that the movie is not what's on paper--it is what works once you've shot it--is an epiphany, an insight that a writer who has never made a movie doesn't have.
Writers who are interested purchase a $50 preproduction package that includes Curran's short movie The Mailbox and 2004 feature Knaptid, the rock-bottom budgets for these movies, and a planning guide. If they decide to go ahead--they have the opportunity to see their script made into a movie. "Our actors, themselves," Curran says, "provide the screening for this process. For major roles we use the best people we can find. Most are fussy, talented actors. We can't and won't produce just anything. We wouldn't be able to get a cast. On the other hand if a story has both promise and problems, we can work with the writer to improve the script."
Curran, who is a former editor-in-chief of the University of Montana's famed literary magazine Cutbank, a graduate of the U M's infamous graduate writing program (where he met producer David Burke and sold the Wiseguy story), and a former instructor of creative writing at the UM's College of Technology's Department of Continuing Ed, says, "Although there is bad writing out there, that was never the problem I saw as a teacher and editor. The problem was that there were too many good stories. As an editor it was my job to pick one over the other based on my personal taste or the taste of whatever staff members filtered the stories down to me. I always knew there was an audience for the good stories we turned down. We can only make so many movies a year. The idea here is to have fun making movies and give a few writers the chance for the better competitive edge experience gives. And, of course, some formerly frustrated writer could always luck out with an independent blockbuster.