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5by5 | The Critical Path #32: Mockumentary

Horace talks again with Dan Abrams about film budgeting, Kickstarter, pre-production, location, technology for production, and a surprise announcement. We also discuss the project-oriented nature of movie production vis-a-vis “pipelined” product development, the history of studios and how they evolved, Pixar and much. much more.

via 5by5 | The Critical Path #32: Mockumentary.

Show Notes and Links:

  1. Roger Corman blog post
  2. The False Profit Kickstarter page
  3. Discussion of the film by Bill Torgerson, another CP guest
  4. Steven Bach and the history of United Artists “Final Cut”
  5. Steven Bach on Wikipedia
  6. Technology drivers for the Impressionist era

This was quite a fun show.

  • Dan Abrams

    I agree it was fun…I wish I could listen, but hearing my own voice makes me cringe big time. I plan to have my girlfriend listen and then report back to me that it went well.

  • sigaba

    W/r/t Mr. Roger Corman, note well that most of Horatio Alger stories of young filmmakers getting their start with him date from the late 70s, before home video and foreign markets dramatically changed his distribution model.  As someone who cut sound effects on a Corman film in the early aughts, it was a really unhappy time for people trying to break into the business that way. He was competing with very lower-rent shops (his biggest competition was The Asylum, of Transmorphers fame) and around 2005 he’d basically thrown in the towel.

    *I* don’t think you’re Scrooge McDuck — please continue pressing your advantages and I’ll continue to press mine :)  I don’t think the unions will ever wrap their heads around “Kickstarter” movies, because it’s very hard for anyone to understand any sort of project, film or otherwise, where your entire financing is on goodwill.

    Factoid w/r/t skylines: On a film I’m working on, we had a scene where the Chrysler building was damaged by an alien spaceship, but we had to alter the shot at the last moment because a lawyer had informed the producers that the owner of the Chrysler building maintains separate rights for depicting the demolition of the building, and has forbidden it since September 11 (or since .

    Thanks for the shoot-out to sound designers.  What’s your workflow idea for production sound?

    You refer to U.S. v. Paramount et al.  The studios had been operating under the Con

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Great stuff.

    • Dan Abrams

      I think of the Forman school less as a Horatian Alger story and more as marine boot camp. Difficult conditions but you learn your stuff.

      • Dan Abrams

        iPad autocorrect changes corman to Forman.

      • sigaba

        That was definitely the characterization, the reality was much more complicated…

      • sigaba

        Not that I didn’t enjoy the experience — or still enjoy the bragging rights :) .  The “boot camp” aspect is true as far as it goes, but I think an important point to make is that Corman had zero illusions about what he was doing and didn’t really seem to care that James Cameron designed the spaceships for Battle Beyond the Stars, all he ever seemed to focus on was the fact that it was the most expensive film he ever made and that it was a loss for a very long time.  The “Corman Film School” is mainly a product of aggressive historiography and a natural tendency to focus on the success stories.  Corman was always motivated by

        Something I’d be really curious to see is if him or his competitors would contemplate raising money through Kickstarter, someone with his name recognition would probably have no problem, the first time around.  A real challenge for someone like him is that his films really weren’t that good, they were meant as a way to kill time in an era when a movie theater was often the only place to take a date, and theaters were really in demand for content that would attract audiences, even if the poster was a total scam, which it often was.  Movies don’t work like that anymore, people on Kickstarter are just the sort of self-selecting elite connoisseur types that Corman made a career out of ignoring.

        PS. New Concorde still operates, he doesn’t produce hardly anything anymore but he does distribute, you could see a lot of his contemporary product on Sci-Fi channel before they rebranded, not sure now, though he’s been overshadowed lately by The Asylum and Larry Levinson (an old Cannon hand and the proud producer of Shark Swarm!!).I think even Charles Band is still operating and turning stuff out… A couple years ago I worked on a gig for Roger’s son, Roger Martin Corman, and he’s also in the business running a lot of the same kinds of deals his dad did, but the emphasis now is more about connecting filmmakers with cheap services, than connecting small movie theaters with cheap movies; he had this “great” deal where he could vend producers visual effects, made in Bratislava, at $30 a foot(!).

    • Dan Abrams

      It’s a solution for low budget shooters that’s a variation on the put a zoom recorder in the performers pants and hit record, but allows for control of record start/stop plus levels control wirelessly. Still figuring out if it’s feasible.

      • sigaba

        With a Zoom you cannot do this wirelessly, what you’re describing sounds a lot like a Zaxcom lav with a TRX901, though even that can’t change levels.
        You could cheat and use the limiter and automatic gain in the Zoom — you can also get some clever cat to make some Y cables to strap the mic across both inputs to the Zoom but run the channel 2 signal through 10 or 20dBs of padding, so most of the time channel 2 will be too quiet but the occasional loud over will be saved.

      • sigaba

        With a Zoom you cannot do this wirelessly, what you’re describing sounds a lot like a Zaxcom lav with a TRX901, though even that can’t change levels.
        You could cheat and use the limiter and automatic gain in the Zoom — you can also get some clever cat to make some Y cables to strap the mic across both inputs to the Zoom but run the channel 2 signal through 10 or 20dBs of padding, so most of the time channel 2 will be too quiet but the occasional loud over will be saved.

  • sigaba

    Stupid return key.

    …under the Consent Decree since 1940, and it was regularly renewed.  The decree was supposed to prevent clearance and runs, formula deals, block booking, all the nasty things that cable companies do now, but it was never adequately respected by the studios and the DOJ brought suit to remedy the numerous Sherman Antitrust violations in 1945.

    • sigaba

      Of course the irony of the UA story is that once Arthur Krim (the “lawyer”) left to found Orion, UA was suddenly in 1979 trying to fight the last war and find “bigger” and more “artistically relevant” films with “gilt-edged artistic credibility” to use Bach’s own words.  UA, of course, found their perfect “artistic” project when Bach’s green-lit Heaven’s Gate, one of the few films in history to hold the honor of having bankrupted its studio.

      I’m confident if UA hadn’t made Dr. No, Cubby Broccoli would have taken the property to his old friends at MGM.  Might have saved the studio from Kerkorian.

      • sigaba

        Note Horace, I’m basing my guess completely on the proposition that MGM would give Broccoli anything he wanted, due to his connections with the Genoveses and in order to buy his silence about his role in the death of original Three Stooge Ted Healy:)

  • http://twitter.com/johnk77t John Knoerr

    great critical path
    pixar is headquartered in
    Emeryville, CA

  • http://twitter.com/johnk77t John Knoerr

    horace fixed Emeryville later on in the episode
    industrial light and magic was from
    Marin county
    in northern California

    • Dan Abrams

      I will attest that it was not post-production magic. He knew it live as we recorded!

  • Bill

    Horace, have you tried to talk to Aki Kaurismäki?  I mean, how many interview can you do in Finnish?

  • http://www.itvale.com/ Saad Fazil

    I am a regular listener of the podcast, but I have no idea how the film topic (there are at least 3 episodes focusing on this) fits in (however disruptive :) to the theme of “the mobile industry”.. what am I missing?

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      The show was not intended to be limited to mobile industry analysis. However, whereas computing and telecom have been converging, entertainment and computing will converge in the near future. Understanding how it will happen is, in my opinion, crucial to understanding how mobile computing will evolve.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mcgeemark Mark McGee

    I have been meaning to connect you with Dov Simons, who gives an excellent 2 day workshop on the real economics of making a movie, and now I see this: http://news.moviefone.com/abe-schwartz/movie-cloud-could-be-a-ga_b_1508309.html?ref=entertainment&ir=Entertainment
    What do you think about it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/mcgeemark Mark McGee

    I have been meaning to connect you with Dov Simons, who gives an excellent 2 day workshop on the real economics of making a movie, and now I see this: http://news.moviefone.com/abe-schwartz/movie-cloud-could-be-a-ga_b_1508309.html?ref=entertainment&ir=Entertainment
    What do you think about it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/mcgeemark Mark McGee

    I have been meaning to connect you with Dov Simons, who gives an excellent 2 day workshop on the real economics of making a movie, and now I see this: http://news.moviefone.com/abe-schwartz/movie-cloud-could-be-a-ga_b_1508309.html?ref=entertainment&ir=Entertainment
    What do you think about it?

    • http://www.facebook.com/mcgeemark Mark McGee

      PS I think Dov worked closely with Roger Corman for a long time

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        This is fascinating. I’ll have to look deeply into it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/mcgeemark Mark McGee

        Dov would be an entertaining and informative person to interview. He aims to “break the hollywood monopoly” with Movie Cloud, and has a campaign going to raise funds to complete the project (http://igg.me/p/105137), kind of like with Kickstarter.