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Viewing 1 - 7 out of 7 Blogs.


Can you launch your DVD online ?
Posted On 12/15/2009 18:35:18


There seems to be a lot of interest lately with filmmakers selling their DVD's online.

Why? I think one reason is because there is a potential to profit $10-$15 per unit

sold directly to consumers, vs. $2-$4 per unit if you're working through a traditional 

DVD distributor.


The key of course is this - you can't just slap up your DVD on a website and expect

sales to come to you. It takes a LOT of work to generate traffic to your site, and 

then have a compelling enough offer to CONVERT that traffic to sales.

I've seen some filmmakers attempt this and sell only a small handful of DVD's. By

contrast, I've seen other filmmakers sell upwards of 50,000 units. What are the

filmmakers who sold 50K units doing differently? TWO THINGS:


1. They are either spending 3-4 months prepping their online-only launch by

tweaking their website and their offer just so, and lining up 2-10 promotional

partners who are going to help drive traffic to the site and convert buyers. Or...


2. They are spending 6-12 months on the road with the film, doing screenings,

generating press, building their mailing list from scratch (rather than relying on 

partners), and staying connected with their audience through email updates and

newsletters, seeding them along until....(BAM!) they launch the DVD.


So you can see in either scenario it takes time and dedication to pull this off, plus

it might take an upfront investment if you want to hire a team to help you execute

your plan. But if done right, the rewards can be great.


I'm in the process of pulling together a few case studies from filmmakers who are

using either of these 2 methods outlined above, and hope to be able to compare

results soon to see which method consistently produces the best financial results.


The Online Only Launch?  Or ....  The Screenings Tour Launch?


Anyone have any results they want to share on which worked better for you?

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Now granted, some of you might be sitting there saying "I didn't get into filmmaking

to have to sell my own DVD's online!"..... and rightly so. But hey, I'm not telling you

you HAVE to do this, it's just ONE WAY to insure that you can make a profitable

film rather than one that doesn't make it's budget back.


But it does take a special kind of film to be able to pull off launching your own

DVD in the first place, so this certainly isn't for everyone.

By Stacey.

Tags: Sell Dvd Online


The death of Piracy
Posted On 11/10/2009 13:49:40

By The Wysiwyg Team

Piracy - no, not the eye-patch type, but the copyright infringement variety. Product piracy has been with us since the industrial revolution, but today it is most common in the distribution of music, films and television shows. Compared to the film and TV industries, those music bods have been there, done that, bought the t-shirt (or illegal download) and, nowadays, seen the video.

But is piracy really the conquering invader we are warned about by industry propaganda or will it one day concede a dramatic surrender? How about, rather than a fight to the death, we work together for a cease-fire and a harmonious future? Piracy only thrives because there is a gap in the market, with consumers feeling their needs are not being met. They want it now, they want it cheap, they want it easy and they want as much as they can get - and finally some people are listening.

Pirates would have no plan of attack if we could all get the same content free. Tedious release schedules give the pirates opportunity to sell us illegal copies 'before the official release date'. But street pirates could shift the same number of units selling legitimate copies instead of contraband if the distributors worked with them instead of against them.

The late 1990s witnessed a boom in illegal music file sharing through peer-to-peer (P2P) networks, such as the infamous Napster and Kazaa, which took its toll on traditional revenue streams for record companies. Peer to peer file exchange arose from the ashes of the dot com era alongside open-sourced programming and other decentralising practices, which questioned the status quo. Services like Napster, Grokster, Hotline and Kazaa allow people to share large files with each other quickly and easily. On a P2P network, if a computer requests a file, instead of slowly copying it from a single server to a computer, it copies pieces of it from a thousand computers which speeds up the process exponentially.

When music moved to digital files small enough to transfer across the internet a problem arose: people started swapping music files, piracy rose and 
the music industry howled. The war on new technology had begun.

Taking the fight to the courts, the media bayed for blood. Inevitably Napster, the first great music-based P2P service fell. Others followed, but new ones constantly took up the call to arms. P2P became a dirty word, synonymous with crooks, thieves and pirates.

But tough US Court rulings are not enough to keep a good idea down and the music industryfinally learnt that old adage - if you can't beat them, join them. It was pointless to make new technologies illegal, far better to use them to the industry's advantage. Today online music distribution has been embraced, with the once rebellious Napster now a legitimate 
online music store - only one of the estimated 300 services available, compared to a handful a few years back. And with this legitimacy, P2P has now been awarded the shiny badge of respectability.

Surely with the relevant case of music so recent a memory, film executives would have the opportunity to win the war without having to unsheathe their weapons? Apparently not. US TV writer/ producer John Rogers is incredulous. "What's really amazing is that TV had the perfect test case, seeing the music business practically destroying itself and totally alienating their core fans for the past six or so years — and they look at that and say, 'Yeah, that's the way to go.'"

Online movie piracy was once considered by the Hollywood studios as seemingly impossible, and so it was: movie files were so large as to be unwieldy and with most internet users in the early/ mid 1990s using dial-up, it could take over 2 days to download a complete feature film. And no one needed a film that badly. Yet learning from Tom Cruise's Maverick in 'Top Gun', the "need for speed" was soon upon us and broadband arrived with such promises a plenty. As "large-sized file transfer" problems became less severe with compression technologies such as DivX, sharing became more widespread and began to affect large software files like animations and movies. And with that, movies could be trafficked through the Internet providing consumers with exciting, new territories to explore. The vast majority of which were illegal and so DivX joined the lawyer's hit list.

In the past, files were distributed by point-to-point technology with a central uploader distributing files to downloaders. With these systems, a large number of downloaders for a popular file used an increasingly larger amount of bandwidth. If there were too many downloads, the server became unavailable. The opposite is true for peer-to-peer networking, the more downloaders the faster the file distribution. With 'swarming technology', as implemented in file sharing systems like eDonkey2000 or BitTorrent, downloaders help the uploader by picking up some of its uploading responsibilities.

P2P technology was employed by the brains behind Kazaa, Janus Friis and Niklas Zennström, to create Skype. This in turn revolutionised the communications industry and helped move P2P networks to legitimacy. Revelling in this newfound acceptance, we can now look forward to the introduction of Joost, the first grand worldwide P2PTV conduit. Joost's vast library of quality content will help establish its name, but it will be the absence of any fees that make it stand alone amongst it's competitors. With an advertising-backed model, customers plugging in anywhere in the world can enjoy content without paying a penny.

Sounds like the pirates lost that one.

But the advancements in technology don't end there. DivX, like Napster was initially feared, but progressed to secure industry acceptance. DivX sealed deals with electronics companies to include their codec in home DVD players, enabling people to download a film, burn it to DVD and watch it at home on their TV. This effectively picked the pocket of the pirates, as the costs involved are so scant as to under-cut any illegal street seller.

Strike two!

Making matters worse for the pirates is the added value that many download services supply. The technology-literate can enjoy more than the just the film itself with many sites providing a plethora of added extras to excite film lovers. With anything from downloadable scripts or posters to special features, fans can immerse themselves more fully in the world of films keeping even the fussiest of fan boys happy. The online communities promise interactivity with other enthusiasts, and recommendations specifically monitored to reflect your personal tastes. All this and at the best quality.

So with the films available online legally and complete with all the trimmings, what is plan B for today's pirate?

For many, it's the immediate gratification they provide. If you are in England why wait for the film that's screening to American audiences? Why delay getting your hands on a DVD if you don't have to?

The high cost of producing numerous film prints for exhibition in cinemas meant that it used to take a film at least a year to open in cinemas around the globe. Money men need to feel that one window of opportunity is closed before they open the next one, in this case the end of a long cinematic run delays the arrival of the film on DVD. Because of this, DVDs did not come out for at least 12 months (and with zone restrictions), and then comes the 
television broadcastingwindow, then the cable window and so on.

But some of Hollywood's most influential figures are looking to create a more simultaneous experience. George Lucas opened ‘Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith’ on the same day internationally, an idea supported by John Fithian, from 
the National Association of Theatre Owners "we have consistently advocated reduced or eliminated windows between the US and international theatrical release."

The advent of digital cinema projectors will allow more films to open all over the world at the same time, as it cunningly sidesteps the time lags and costs incurred of it's cousin the 35mm. Curt Marvis, from download giant CinemaNow, is looking forward to this change, "it is about time. I think we will see the Hollywood studios adapt their traditional release 'windows' more and more." Some distributors are already making their DVDs available only 1 to 2 months after a cinematic release and it seems to be an idea that is catching on. In Norway they are testing selling DVDs in cinema lobbies and Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh has put his considerable weight behind the matter. The director happily experimented with no window at all, allowing his murder mystery ‘Bubble’ to be watched at a cinema, on a DVD or on cable TV, all on the same day.

Some argue that such examples are merely the indulgences of big names that can afford the luxury of a low budget flop, and Soderbergh shouldn't bite the hand that feeds. His resolution has not been swayed by such criticisms: "The studio model has to be rethought," he told Hollywood Reporter. "Everything changes and evolves. We've got to get with it, embrace it and find a way to make it work...The movies are not the way they used to be when I grew up." The movie business, in his own words is "out of whack."

Simultaneous release may have the traditional money men shaking their heads, but as the windows close it will remove one more of the motivations that people have to go to pirates: seeing the films before they come out.

But lastly what about the pirates themselves - where do they stand in this war?

How about side-by-side with the film distributors? It's really not too far-fetched. Supplying pirates with legitimate DVDs at cheap prices legitimises the pirate networks, turning pirates into conventional points of purchase (POP). This benefits all parties and provides a new, yet established, outlet. Time Warner and Twentieth Century Fox have both met with success having implemented this scheme in China, though the inability to find legitimate Western DVDs and the low wages in China have also been influential factors. However with a tried and tested example out there, it cannot be too long until other distributors like Wysiwyg, look to the pirate as friend, not foe. Indeed Wysiwyg invites pirates to send an email to legitimatepirate@wysiwygfilms.com with a view to making more money by selling more, better quality DVDs.

As Hollywood attempts to pass some further legislation or publicly whinge about the money it is losing from piracy, it fails to see the bigger picture. In the war between technology and piracy, technology can win and, like the reformation of street pirates, can now help establish a new world order. The technologies that once formed the greatest threat to the media industries have now removed that very threat. Oh, sweet irony.

Tags: Piracy


Music in your movie
Posted On 11/10/2009 13:38:11

By Scott Shaw

Adding soundtrack to your Indie Film is one of the most essential elements to make it look and feel like a real motion picture. The question is often raised by Indie Filmmakers, on a limited budget, just how do I get the kind of music I want for my film? The answer to that is both complicated and quite simple. To answer this question this article will look at both what to do and what not to do in order to soundtrack your film.

Borrowing Music
Many budding filmmakers, upon completing their first short or feature film, simply attach music that they like -- created by groups that they have no relationship with. Oftentimes, they use music recorded by a well-known band.

It has long been the common belief that you can use any music that you want in your film, and you don’t have to pay a dime for it, at least until your film gains notoriety. WRONG!

A perfect example of just how wrong this belief is recently occurred to the woman who placed a video on YouTube of her child dancing to music created by a well-known artist. The record company not only had the video removed from the site but also sued the lady. I am sure we all believe that this was ridiculous, but record companies readily go after anybody who uses their songs without appropriate consent.

A similar situation happened to a friend of mine who used music from a well-know group from the 1960s in his film. He believed that since one of the members of the band was deceased and the group had long ago broken up, in addition to the fact that the record label he took the song from was no loner in business, he would not encounter any problems. He was very wrong. Another 
publishing company had purchased the rights to the band's music and their legal department went after him. He turned to the distribution company that was slated to distribute his film, but instead of helping him, they dropped his film from their roster. He ended up financially devastated.

Superstar Groups
The question is commonly asked by Indie Filmmakers, 'How do I get the music of a well-known band in my film?' The fact is; it is very difficult. This is especially the case if you have created a low budget film and do not have guaranteed international distribution attached to your movie. You can contact the record labels or managers of the high-profile bands if you want, but the common experience is, you will receive no reply or a nicely worded letter of, "No Thank you."

The reason for this is very simple -- why would a successful band have the need to allow you to use their music in your film? Bands are just like filmmakers, when they are attempting to get their name known and create an audience; they are willing to do whatever it takes to get their name out there. Once they have "Made it" however, being attached to a low budget Indie project may have an adverse effect to their career. So, it is rare that a well-known band will allow you to use their music.

How to Get the Music
This leads us to the next point, which is perhaps the most important factor of getting the music you want. Instead of courting super-star groups, get your soundtrack from a band or bands that play your local music scene. By doing this, not only have you created a new film, but you are also putting original music in it -- which gives the entire project an air of fresh creativity.

As discussed, established groups have no reason to provide you with music. But, a new and upcoming group may find it very exciting to have their music featured in a film. In fact, you do not have to only use the music of only one group in your film; you can contact several bands from your local music scene and place their music throughout the various parts of your movie.

I have followed this process many 
times in my films. In each case, it has always proven to provide the feature with an exciting soundtrack. In addition, several of these bands have been so happy with the finished product that they mentioned it in interviews and on their website, thereby providing additional P.R. for the film.

What's In It For Them?
It is a common misconception that if you are making a movie, you have a lot of money. For all of us who have worked on Indie Films, we certainly know that this is rarely the case. None-the-less, some bands may want money for you to use their music. But, it is better to not go in this direction with your arrangement -- as bringing money into the equation always makes things much more complicated. You should also not offer them points, (future earnings), if and when your movie actually begins to 
make money, because then they may want to periodically look at your books. Again, this just makes everything messy. The best thing to offer a band is that they will get credit at the end of your film for them allowing you to use their music.

What you will need to do is to draw up a simple performer release contract - as simple contracts are always the best, and leave the least amount of room for legal interpretation, in case your relationship with the band turns adversarial. This contract should simply state that you, (the filmmaker), have the right to use the bands original music in one specific film. For this right, you will provide the band and/or the songwriters with the appropriate credit. For example: naming the song, the songwriters, and the album if it is included in a collection. You will then have all of the members who contributed to the song sign the release and that is that. 

I have used this method many times and have always been very happy with the results. Some great musicians have contributed to the overall presentation of my films.

Growing Fame
For those of you who are old enough to remember when Ted Nugent was a rock superstar, there is a funny story relating to this process of getting a soundtrack for your film for free. Just prior to Nugent's breakthrough, a friend of mine, Donald G. Jackson, who lived in a nearby Michigan community to Nugent, contacted him and asked him if he could use some of his music for his film. Nugent agreed. In the final stages of the film's post-production Nugent signed a deal with a major record label and the label's legal staff informed my friend that he would not be able to use Nugent's music. The fact is, if my friend was able to complete the film just a bit sooner, then Nugent's music would have already been in the film and his rise to fame would have helped in the overall distribution of my friend's film. 

Ultimately, this is a great thing about using unsigned bands -- they may become very successful. Then, this will help your film's notoriety, as their fan base will seek it out.

Creating it Yourself
Many filmmakers overlook the fact that they can now easily create their own soundtrack for their film. Many believe that because they are not practicing musicians, soundtrack creation is impossible. But, creating your own soundtracks for your films has, in fact, now become very easy. There are several music creation programs out there, that are either free or very affordable and they are very easy to use.

GarageBand
The MAC has obviously been the primary post-production tool of Indie Filmmaking since the dawning of the digital age. Many Indie films are edited using either iMovie, which is supplied free with every Mac, or Final Cut Pro.

With every new Mac there is a music creation program provided free of charge. It is called GarageBand. This program is extremely simple to use. The program provides you with numerous sound patterns; i.e. drum, bass, percussion, guitar, keyboards, etc., and you simply open the program, and drag and drop them into place. 

To create music with GarageBand, you simply choose a desired sound pattern and drag it onto the music timeline. Once the sound pattern is in place, you simply extended it as necessary. For example, you may want a drum pattern to go on for several beats. You simply place the pattern in the timeline and let it play. You may then want it to fade out or end and be replaced with another drum pattern. To do this, you simply drag and drop the next sound bite and put it in place. It is that easy! You then blend the drum, bass, guitars, synthesizers as you deem is appropriate for your soundtrack. 

GarageBand provides you with numerous sound bites from the various styles of music. With this, your soundtrack is easily created. GarageBand also allows you to tailor the sound by adding various sound effects, such as reverb or chorus. Once you are completed with your song, it can then be exported to iTunes, which is also provided free on all Macs, and then it can be easily imported into your film.

Perhaps the most exciting feature about creating your soundtrack in this fashion is that you can easily switch between iMovie or Final Cut Pro and GarageBand. For example, you are watching your film on your computer and you discover a section that need some music, you simply decide how long the segment should be, open GarageBand, create the segment, and import it to your movie. It is truly that simple.

I have used this method and this program in several films. It is an ideal way to stay on your MAC while creating a very good soundtrack.

In some cases, you may be a musician, vocalist, or want to add some specific special effects to your music. With GarageBand, this can easily be done. You can easily import music through a USB Audio Card, thereby integrating your own unique elements into your soundtrack.

Acid
The first and arguably the best program for the easy creation of soundtracks is Acid. This program is marketed by Sony and can be used on the PC format. This program has many sound altering and music importing and exporting features that are not found in GarageBand. In essence, however, it follows the same protocol as GarageBand -- you simply drag and drop sound bites in their appropriate location on your music timeline and you can very easily create an enhanced soundtrack for your film.
The professional Acid program costs approximately $300 in the U.S. and it sells for about £200 in the U.K. Sony does, however, offer a fully functional free version called, AcidXPress that can be downloaded from their website.

Acid is one of the primary tools of soundtrack creation throughout the film and television industry. Sony has developed literally millions of sound bites that can be integrated into this program -- providing you with a virtually unlimited source of prerecorded music.

Similar to the process described with GarageBand, if you are using a film editing program on your PC, you can easily switch between programs and create your soundtrack as you go. By working with programs in this fashion, you can easily go back and correct any timing or sound hit mistakes while continuing forward in the completion of your film.

Royalty Free
The great thing about creating music with either of these programs is that all of the sound bites and patterns are royalty free. Thereby, you can freely use them without any worry of having the legal department of some large record label coming after you for infringing upon the rights of one of their artists. In fact, by creating your own soundtrack, you have opened up a new arena of guiding the process and the mood of your film. 

As you now understand, it is very easy to provide your film with a soundtrack without having to encumber yourself, or your project, with unnecessary legal headaches. You can either go out and find a local band that you like or do it yourself. In either case, by soundtracking your film in this fashion you will emerge with a project that is uniquely your own.

Tags: Music In Your Movie


Writing A Script
Posted On 11/10/2009 13:35:39

By Jay Staudt

With the number of re-makes coming out these days, you'd think every original film idea had been used a dozen times. Not to say that it hasn't (the black-white "buddy cop" film has practically become its own genre.

Examples: Showtime (2002)Blue Streak (1999),The Man (2005)Money Train (1995) and Lethal Weapon (1987)).

The reason Hollywood films are often pushed toward cliché storylines is that it's a big risk for a
production house to release something that's never been done before. That's how screenplays end up being so formulaic; since millions of dollars go into producing these films, and the majority of actors are paid regardless of how well or poorly a film does at the box office, no producer wants to put something out that he doesn't think has at least a small chance of being successful.

Why It's Good To Be Indie 
Some indie filmmakers shoot movies because it's something fun to do with friends; I know 
I do. As an independent, realize that while you don't have a big budget to spend on jaw-dropping CGI effects or big name talent, you have something that's much more valuable: creative control

This is the point at which you and Hollywood diverge. With a low-budget or no-budget film, the majority of your investment is your time. You can use weird camera angles and experiment with different effects, so long as you have the means to do so, and you don't have to worry about whether 8 million people will be willing to spend $12 apiece to go out to a theatre and watch it.

Directors are often under a lot of pressure from their producers and film studios to stay on schedule and within their budgetary constraints, while simultaneously making a movie that appeals to a specific target audience. The big studios need someone to 
sell to, because if every movie was Fun For The Whole Family™ the scope and subject matter of new films would become severely limited in scope. 

So be glad, because as an indie filmmaker with no financial sponsors, you have the freedom to work at your own pace, make films about whatever topic you choose (within legal standards, of course), and spend as little 
or as much time and money as you want in making your ideas into a finished piece of filmmaking.

How Movie Scripts Work 
Scripts, like the films that are made from them, have to have several things to be successful. In a script it's the combination of useful formatting and camera/actor direction, good writing, and a captivating scenario or plot.

I can't pretend that I know how to teach you to write a script you can sell to a major 
movie studio, but for the purposes of your own filmmaking endeavors you can make it easier on your actors, crewmen, and even yourself, by creating a script that's both fun to read and easy to understand.

Script Format 
In order to be taken seriously by an agent or producer, movie scripts are formatted in a very specific fashion. It's the same reason all of our traffic lights are red, yellow, and green from top to bottom - things are often easier to use when they're organized in a standard, recognizable way.

Some basic specs for a film script: the 
entire script should be in 10 or 12 point Times or Courier. Your cover page should contain only your film's title in bold, followed by several line breaks, the words "Written by", one more line break, and then the name(s) of the author(s), each on its own separate line if there is more than one writer. 

There are some minor variations in what's acceptable, but script formatting usually goes something like this:


[2]EXT. FIELD - DAY
A valiant WARRIOR stands tall and proud in a field, with sword raised in the air triumphantly. The forest surrounding appears to be empty, and all is quiet in the cool morning air. Warrior appears to be alone, but begins to give an inspiring speech after a deep breath. As he speaks, a small and haphazardly arranged RABBLE of poorly equipped soldiers come into the frame.


WARRIOR
Forsooth, my brethren! We must ride to battle, and conquer the fell fortress of our foul foes!

RABBLE
(Cheering, waving their weapons)
Aaaaaaaaaaargghhh!

WARRIOR
The time is now, my friends. Let us make haste, for fate wills it!

Script pages, starting with the cover page, are numbered in the upper right-hand corner from 1 to the end. Each scene number is surrounded by [square brackets] and 
bolded. The scene location is indented and also bold, all caps, and on the same line as the scene number. In the example above, it is EXT. FIELD - DAY. Use EXT. for an outdoor scene and INT. for an indoor scene.

The line that contains the scene number, location and time is followed by a description of what we see when the scene opens. This can be as general or as detailed as you want, depending on how much freedom the director is meant to have at the time of the shoot. Not all directors will go with exactly what's scripted, anyway, but this at least should get the writer's ideas across. The first time a character's name is used in the description of each scene it should be in all caps. Our two "characters" in this scene are the WARRIOR and his RABBLE.

Dialogue is indented further and centered within this area; the speaking character's name is in caps on its own line above the line or lines of dialogue. Any cues such as verbal tone or action are placed in parentheses below this line. In this case, we have added (Cheering, waving their weapons) below RABBLE because this is what they should be doing as they deliver their line. Other examples of cues could be (Sitting down in the chair) or (Smirking, shakes his head). You can also include minor camera direction and other specific instructions here if you would like.

Character Voice in Scripts 
Ye Olde Character above has a medieval-ish way of speaking, because he's supposed to be the commander of a (modest) force of soldiers. When you get around to writing your script, you might be tempted to use certain catch phrases or terms because they sound good to you. But remember that every fictional character needs to have his own voice in order to be believable.

I've noticed a lack of differentiation between characters even in major 
motion pictures; you know, when more than one character uses a word or phrase in exactly the same way. This is sometimes overlooked when the same person is writing dialogue for multiple characters.

For example, let's suppose that you think it sounds really funny when your villain verbally abuses his minions, saying "You imbeciles!" Then later on in the screenplay, one of your minor characters is talking about somebody she knows and says "That guy is such an imbecile..."

Really. Would two characters who have nothing in common and nothing to do with each other really use that same word to describe someone they dislike? Sure, it could happen. But there are plenty of other words you could use to provide your audience with a sense that these are two different people, with two different lives and from two unrelated backgrounds. 

Of course, the opposite could be true and the use of a word or phrase might work as a subtle foreshadowing where two characters are connected in a way that's unknown to the audience for part of the film. Otherwise, giving each character their own unique voice includes not only word choice, but their phrasing, tone of voice, and sentence structure. It's everything about the way they speak and act, and you have the ability to convey all of those things with your script. Now get writing!

Tags: Writing Script


Beware of scam Film Festivals
Posted On 11/10/2009 13:22:38

By Benjamin Craig

It seems that every man and his dog wants to run a film festival these days, which is fantastic in many ways, not least because it provides an even greater number of outlets for filmmakers to get their work in front of an audience. Sadly the multitude of scammers who prowl the Internet also seem to have their dirty fingers in the film festival scene as well.

A timely reminder came this week when the "Alaska International Film Festival" was brought to our attention. Visit the site - www.alaskafilmfestival.com (not hyperlinked so as not to give undue Google link mojo to this site) - and on the surface you see a clean, professional looking site for what sounds like a prestigious event and is fact described as such by the site content. But before you dive into the submissions area, it's worth noting a few red flags...

Firstly, the site content reads like this event has been around for years, and indeed, the About Us page says as much. But on closer examination, there is nothing to indicate any previous years' activities, nor can you find any mention of it in Google. Indeed, when we contacted the 'festival' to ask for a list of last year's winners, the respondent told us that this was in fact their inaugural year, despite the About Us page saying, "Each year, awards are presented to independent filmmakers from around the globe..." 
Update 10-Oct-2009 - surprise surprise, the copy on the About Us page has been changed slightly after this article was published.

But that's not the only tell-tale sign. Astute site visitors, and let's face it, most of us only skim-read web pages half the time, will notice that the submission page mentions that the festival holds no public screenings and that 'prize-winners' will be notified by email. No public screenings? The whole point of a film festival is to screen films for the public. If this is purely a film competition, why go to the trouble of even calling it a festival, talking about its pedigree, or providing travel advice for visiting Alaska? 

Other things which don't wash:

  • The site's domain is registered to an Alaskan address, which is fine, but the telephone number associated with that address has a Kentucky prefix.
  • Extra long 'call for entries' time. This festival takes place... well, it doesn't actually say. However, the festival is currently accepting submissions, around a year in advance of the winners being announced on 15 July 2010. Most film festivals only open their calls for entry a few months ahead, so why the extra long lead time? Sure, festivals like Sundance open their submissions six months ahead, but they also have many thousand entries to wade through.
  • High fees. By itself not an indicator of a scam, but obscure festivals which charge high submission fees should be viewed with healthy scepticism.
  • Lack of sponsors. Again, not in itself an indication of a scam site, as many festivals are not lucky enough to have sponsors, but given that the site describes the festival as, "Alaska's leading independent film competition" you would think that even some local sponsors would be onboard.
  • Travel content is lifted directly from travelalaska.com. Indeed, grab a sentence, do a Google search and find identical content on that 87 other sites in Google's index. Plagiarism isn't itself indication of a scam, but again, given the site's insistence that the 'festival' is Alaska's premiere independent film event, you'd think they could at least write their own travel advice.
  • Lack of any mention of screening venues. Oh, but wait... this 'festival' doesn't screen films!

Alaska International Film Festival a scam?

All of these factors combined lead us to conclude that it is most likely that the AlaskaInternational Film Festival site is a scam designed simply to make money through 'submission fees' for an event which will never take place. 

Sadly, this is not the only instance of filmmakers being taken for a ride over festival submissions, so the moral of the story is to do your due diligence before handing over your cash. Perhaps most worrying is that the Alaska International Film Festival is using Withoutabox.com to manage its submissions. Given that a large number of filmmakers now rely on that service for festival submissions, we would have hoped that Withoutabox would have a more active policy to ensure scammers don't use their system to hookwink filmmakers. We've contacted Withoutabox to ask why.

Tags: Film Festival


The Emmy Awards
Posted On 10/22/2009 15:36:17

The Emmy Awards

Everyone who watches television has heard of the Emmy Awards given out each year. But do you know their history?

The Emmy Award is an award given to the various people responsible for producing television shows.Emmy Awards are similar to the Academy Awards given out for movies, the Grammy Awards given for music, and the Tony Awards given for theater and stage presentations. They are given to people who work in various segments of the television industry, including news, documentary shows, entertainment programming, and sports. The awards are presented in various ceremonies throughout the year, but the best-known of these ceremonies are the Primetime Emmy Awards, which honor excellent achievements in television programming, and the Daytime Emmy Awards, which honor excellence in programming for daytime television shows. 

There are three related organizations currently involved in presenting the Emmy Awards. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (ATAS), which recognizes achievements in prime time entertainment except for sports; the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS), which honors daytime, news, sports, and documentary programming; and the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, which recognizes excellence in programming produced outside of the United States. 

The ATAS, which is based in Los Angeles, first established the Emmys as a part of a public relations campaign to build their image and give it a public face. They chose the name "Emmy" as a feminine reworking of the word "immy," which was a nickname for the image tubes that were commonly used in television cameras years ago. To go along with the feminine name, the statuette designed for the award is in the shape of a winged woman who holds an atom, which is now the symbol of the ATAS goal of supporting the art and science involved in television programming. The woman’s wings represent art, and the atom represents the science involved in producing that art. 

The first ceremony of presenting the Emmy Awards was held on January 25, 1949, but it was held only to honor television shows that were produced and shown locally in the Los Angeles viewing area. The first Emmy ever presented was awarded to Shirley Dinsdale, who was named the Most Outstanding Television Personality. 

A few years later the Emmys were expanded into being a national event, with the awards presented live on shows that were broadcast across the country. The NATAS was formed in 1955 in New York, to serve as a companion organization to ATAS, to work with members located on the East Coast. Regional chapters were established throughout the US, with each chapter developing a local Emmy awards show to honor local programming excellence. But due to various conflicts among organizations, the NATAS and the ATAS decided to split ties in 1977, but they agreed to share the ownership of the trademark and Emmy statue, with each organization being responsible for overseeing a specific set of shows. 

Each Emmy ceremony has its own grouping of award categories, and it is common for some of the awards to have the same names, such as the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series - which exists in both the primetime and the daytime Emmy ceremonies. Some award categories that are presented to people who work behind the scenes - such as costume designers, sound editors, and casting directors - are handed out at separate ceremonies held prior to the major awards ceremonies. Until this year, high school and college students had the opportunity to submit original productions to regional ATAS chapters, where they could be recognized for news, documentaries, public affairs, public service, sports, arts and entertainment, writing, and technical achievement. The school the students belong to received a plaque to display that contains the name of the student film-maker as well as an adult advisor. But the national high school program was suspended in 2009, because there was no money left to continue the program due to the downturn in the economy. However, the Emmys for high school and college accomplishments are still presented on a regional level. 

In addition to the major categories, there are a handful of special Emmys presented each year such as awards for business and financial reporting, public service announcements and programming that "advances the common good," national television newscasts and documentaries, and the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award, which is presented by the Board of Governors of the NATAS. The Governors Award was designed to recognize the achievements of a person, organization, or company whose works stand out above the rest. It is the highest and most prestigious award the Academy presents.

By Buzzle Staff and Agencies
Published: 9/29/2009


Tags: Emmy Award


Compliments a ce site
Posted On 06/07/2008 00:48:09

Je presente mes compliments à ceux la qui ont crée ce site d'internet. Je tien à y trouver mes mes meilleurs possibilités de parler de cinema. Je ne suis pas une actrice, mais je suis vraiment dévoué a la cause du cinema. Etant donnéque J'aime écrire. Je promet d'écrire une petite chose de temps en temps pour apporter aussi ma participation aux succès de mpahaiti. Je perçois que le cinema Haïtien évolue beaucoup de nos jours, mais il y a peu de gens qui écrivent là-dessus.  Si l'on veut allonger mon blog quelque part., ma question sera simple. Pourquoi il n'y a pas encore tellement d'écrivains ou de commentateurs sur le cinema haitien en tant que nouveau domaine grandissant? Faites vos jeux!


Berline Dubois

Tags: Mpa




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