Gareth Jones Executive producer explain all about filmmaking, distribution, and international sales and what all has changed after the advent of digital aspect into filmmaking in an interview with Subodh Gupta, editor Journalism News Network in Paris at the ECU Film Festival.
Q1) How the Digital revolution has changed the filmmaking process? (Answer in first 2.2 min of video)
Ans) I have been involved in filmmaking for 25 years. Earlier films needed to be developed in laboratories and camera themselves were expensive to rent. Now with a digital camera, digital editing, and digital projection, the whole process has been more streamlined.
So all the processing is gone, all the idea of buying film stock has been gone. It’s just become faster as editing can be done on laptops instead of expensive studios, and then film doesn’t need to be developed in labs.
Q2) Has the cost of production has come down drastically?
Yes, certainly film that was made for 3 million pounds in the UK can be made in 2 million pounds now because of the speed in which you are able to shoot.
Q3) What impact has happened to the business model of films after the advent of Netflix and Amazon Prime? (From 2.36min of video)
Both these models offer additional revenue model for the filmmakers but cinema is still the best way. What we do is to use the publicity from cinema and with that sell the films to VOD subscriber-based platforms such as Netflix or Amazon and also BT Vision and Virgin. So we have several more revenue stream open up now.
Q4) For a new filmmaker are Netflix and Amazon studio are a plus or a drawback? (From 4min onwards of video)
We are in an interesting situation where the film like “Manchester by the sea” was financed by Amazon studio. There is now more independent film are having financed from Amazon Studios. They are like any other US studios. If you have film financed than Amazon is another revenue and good for a financier.
Because of the rising power of Netflix, they start paying standardized prices. There was a time when they were paying around £100,000 for a film when they were setting up their feet in the industry but now they are paying around £30,000 for a feature film as they have a lot of choose from and they don’t have much competition.
Q5) Do short films makes any money? (From 6.33 min of video)
Ans) No they don’t. Because if you think about it where does one see short films? Most probably in film festivals. People don’t buy them on video on demand. They are not shown next to features anymore. There is not a revenue model or them except YouTube. They are made more like a calling card.
(Q6) But why there is an explosion in the field of short filmmaking as in India even eminent film actors are cast into it?
Ans) It is still an interesting format and producing is cheap and if actors like, it is a day job work for them.
(Q7) What are the three main problems a new filmmaker face?
The main challenge is to find money as filmmaking is the most expensive form of art. Even at entry level to make a basic feature film it can cost £100,000 so filmmaker needs to have a good producer and film producer needs to know where to raise funding such government funding, where to get a tax credit, local investors. Most independent films have between 4 to 20 funds sources. The filmmaker needs both artistic and business skill.
Q8) If there is a decline in people going to the cinema? (10min onwards of videos)
In the UK numbers have slowed down a bit but held up impressively and the in the US quite same. The problems for the independent filmmaker is the audience tends to go for big budget Hollywood films such as fast and furious. Of the British films released last year around 40 percent of the independent one’s make around £10,000 or less at UK box office and they may be having a small release to get the film on the digital platform you described but than film-like Manchester by the sea surprise everyone. So it’s a challenge for a filmmaker to find a good distributor who can get behind the film. Films used to sit around in cinema in the past to gather the audience and that is not the case anymore.
Q9) Let’s take a practical example that I am a new filmmaker and made one or two short films and now how you are going to help step by step make a feature film? (12 min onwards of video)
First, read the screenplay,
If a filmmaker has a producer/director at the moment because I work as an executive producer and work with the producer.
The director needs to have a showreel of his shorts as we are selling two things here, screenplay and director.
I want to know the subject matter.
Who there intended audience and that is one major point because people make the film without thinking audience.
Next, I would arrange or the casting director would arrange one or two actors of caliber within the required budget.
Now by looking at screenplay, actors, directors can we sell any rights in advance and I help them in this process by sending them to distributors if somebody buys the film.
One should film in the location where we can get the tax credit back such as in the UK.
To check if any grants available for example in Wales. The local incentive in France and Italy.
Find equity finance and put a business plan together as to how the private investor would be paid because lots of independent films are made with the help of a private investor.
For a smaller budget movie say around 1 million pounds there are more chances that a first-time director being accepted but that is not the case if the budget of the film may be saying around 3 million pounds which must have established directors and actors.