Monday, April 30, 2012

Editing: The Work Ahead

Editing a feature film is a cumbersome task that requires a solid group of people willing to put in months of work. Gathering a group of professionals for your project entails finding the right match, but those matches exist on many levels, from style, financial compatibility, work ethic, to basics like communication skills and timeliness.

When gathering team players for post production, one must understand the level of compatibility between the players. From finding people who edit on AVID and or Final Cut to finding others who work in those platforms or understand those applications, compatibility is key before starting to choose a team.

Once can easily stall a project if your sound editor has never worked with large files or massive RED ONE RAW files or has only TV editing experience and doesn't know how to edit in 5.1 surround sound.

Choosing a production house is sometimes the best choice. A one stop shop of sorts can ensure  easy flow from station to station. While this may be a more expensive alternative, it may be a great way to ensure efficiency and a cohesive timeline, especially if impending festival dates are looming over you.

If you'd like to learn more about post production or have questions about your project, feel free to send me an email and I'd be glad to help you.  Email:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Filmmaker 101. Never Use Credit Cards. A Cautionary Tale.

So you made your film, but as you were filming things were looking great and you incurred a few more expenses than you had originally planned. It seemed like a good idea at the time, so you took out a credit card to pay for the film, thinking,  I will be rich in the end right, i can do this now and not worry so much. I'll worry later.

It's "later." and now you have to pay interest on that credit card. You're editing and there is no additional funding helping you make minimum payments on that card. What do you do now?

You could try to raise additional funds. The idea is that when you have your film in the can, it's easier for you to persuade potential investors to invest in your film because you'll have something real, something concrete and tangible to show them,  right? Wrong. Having some sort of footage can work to your benefit, but it can also work to your detriment. What if the story as it was previously imagined by your first round of investors is not looking like their original idea of your film. What if the trailer is almost too much information for them,  and something about it like a kissing scene, a product or person turns them off. This can happen.

Getting funding up front for production and post production of your film is vital.  Charging anything on a credit card spells trouble.You don't want to carry any debt so that when you go to market to sell your film, you're carrying a clean bill of financial health.

Potential distributors won't want to make deals with you if you are heavily in debt, and they certainly won't want to be in debt to others. Promising too many points is another way to get in trouble with distributors. But that's a whole other article.

Please follow my blog for more important information!

Thanks, Paul Brighton

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Raise Money! Why IndieGogo or Kickstarter is NOT Exactly Begging.

Okay, so you're in a band or a stage performer. You post announcements and events on Facebook, and ask people to drive to your show, pay for gas, parking, then pay for a ticket, buy drinks or even dinner just to come see your talent, your art, or your kick-ass, rockin' new Emo band. One of your gigs could cost a couple $80 bucks when all is said and done, maybe more,  if they have to pay for a babysitter. 

So, is that begging? Are you "begging" people to support you and give you money? Or aren't you inviting them to share in your artistic bliss – giving them nothing but satisfying entertainment in return?

An IndieGogo or KickStarter campaign or any new and unorthodox method of fundraising (coined "CrowdFunding") for a film, cd project or documentary is actually not much different.
However, some people are just not comfortable "asking for money."

Raising funds is actually not asking people for money, but rtaher, asking people to be a part of an opportunity.

Every first-time director needs to raise capital. Spielberg asked friends and family for money for his first film. So did George Lucas and countless other famous directors. Every new band needs money. Hey man, it's the arts. Ever hear about the "Starving Artist Syndrome?" Yeah well, it sucks and artists do need money and financial support. So, if you're not one of these people who have way too much pride or money to request funding, unless you ask, you'll never make the movie you want to make.

I say, if you have love for your craft and would die for it, there is no shame connected to your dream—there is only drive, commitment and tenacity.– Get the fuck out of my way, I'm coming through!

Providing people with an opportunity to contribute $25 to your film project and giving them back something like a DVD, which would cost $24.99 at Target anyway, is not "begging." Or,  giving a perk away like free tickets to a NYC premiere is more than most bands do when they ask you to come to their gigs. I was in bands for 23 years. I did a lot of asking for funds, but I also worked hard to be able to go out and print posters, buy drumheads, sticks, and even expensive equipment, to help take the edge off my parents who funded just about every dream I ever had. With a CrowdFunding campaign, you at least you get something in return when all is said and done.  For your friends and family, it's an opportunity to be a part of something special and even invest in something your close friend is doing. You may never get the chance to do that again.
I don't make excuses for my art. I work hard to make my dreams, and all the crazy stuff in my brain come true. With all great or projects that you think will be great, you have to have faith and believe in yourself if no one else will. Many of my friends got this. Some did not. Too bad for them if they judged me or were turned off.
So, what prompted this  blog entry today?

A friend of a friend complained that I was "begging" for money for my film. He's a guitarist who posts his band photos every other minute and invitations to come see his band. Oh the selfish fool. I thought for a second, and reminded myself of being a drummer in a band, asking everyone to come see me. Was I, or is anyone in a band so delusional that we think we're that great? "Dude, you need need to come see my amazing stick-twirling skills" Or...are we simply sharing what we think our friends would like to see?  Maybe I'm foolish but I had pride in entertaining my friends and playing those Rush, and Zeppelin songs for them since they couldn't afford to see those bands. They loved me because I entertained them. Not because they were feeding an ego. Sharing your music and art is a circle. It has no beginning and no end. The person who cut or interrupted that circle is the one who stops giving. Yes I made that up, but it makes sense right?

So the next time you ask people to come see you on stage, be proud, post it everywhere, on Facebook and Twitter, walls and bathrooms and never make excuses for your art. I'm not. 

How IndieGogo and KickStarter Works:

And the next time you want to fund a once-in-a-lifetime or important project try IndieGogo.
They let you keep what you get minus 9% (4% if you reach or exceed your goal). KickStarter, which has more viewers, does not allow you to keep funds unless you make your goal. Two schools of thought, both can be equally successful.

I raised close to $6,000 and it will help pay for insurance fees and printing scripts, and casting and more out of a 150k budget. I didn't feel a speck of indignity. I felt surrounded by smart and generous people who contributed. I get to see them at the premiere after 27 years, I get to have their name on my film, and have their energy and blessings be a part of my project. You feelin' me here?

There is no shame in fostering your dreams.  There is only shame in being a self-absorbed, big-headed hypocrite and, if you think IndieGogo is "begging" then next time you post your next gig or theater performance, please provide us with free tickets. That will level the playing field.

A word of wisdom to people thinking about starting a IndieGogo or KickStarter campaign: 

If you post on Facebook and think all of your friends will rally to help you, it won't happen! Out of hundreds of my dear "friends" and family only 60 came through. Many ignored my posts, but would quickly not ignored a post about a cat or food that I'd post seconds later. yes that was actually a shamelesstest, and as i suspected people love cats more than they love you! It's just the way of the world. Meow.

I actually only posted my IndieGogo link once a day, during the early part of the week, and then no postings for 5-6 days afterwards. Shorter campaigns are seemingly more effective according to most bloggers I've come to know. And, you'll notice, people will rally at the beginning of your campaign, and then it picks up slightly towards the end. The middle period is the biggest downer. You can help but feel abandoned and shunned. But that's why you don't just use CrowdFunding for your project. You have to get funding form others, offer tax incentives, get sponsored by a fiscal sponsor like, and keep making lists of people who you know to be 'patron of the arts.' You have to have faith that someone will eventually buy into your dream.

Hey, you know what? Some people will simply be jealous. They've always wanted to do what you're doing, but you beat the to the punch. Some will feign poverty, and then boast about a new "app" they just got for their iPad! You just can't win, and sometimes it feels like you're "Pissing in the wind? Is that a Paula Abdul song? ...never mind.

Some people are very generous. I had people from 27 years back, who I hadn't physically seen  since then pony up $250 bucks! Some friends came in with more than $1,000, and some kept giving what they could, a little love at a time. Not everyone is that nice. Frankly, some people don't see why they should give you money when they're musicians or directors themselves. Some people think they're taking a risk on your next Jackie Gleason, hair-brain, Honeymooner's scheme. And some are like deer in headlights, _ " What? You had an IndieGogo campaign? Oh my, really? I must have missed that."  or "I just can't take a risk right now!" 
What? These responses are always good for a chuckle.

And, since when did giving become a risk? You give, you walk away. No questions asked.  At least that's how I do it. Most of the time people will just simply do something nice back...Yup, there's that circle thing again.

You'll Find CrowdFunding to be a pretty cool thing when all is said and done, and at the very least you'll get a sense of who is really a supporter of your art and who is not. Overall, it's a great experience!

Revenge for the Non-Believers: The fun Part!

After your campaign is over,  if you end up bitter and "postal," here's what you can do to add delicious fun to the mix!

A. Un-friend them on Facebook! Who needs them anyway! 
B. Use the "Cinderella Strategy" –Don't invite them to your film, or CD party!
C. Keep them on Facebook and remind them of your premiere and have them pay to get in!
D. If you win a Grammy or Oscar mention everyone they know, their dog, but forget them!
This is particularly yummy!
E. Shoot a segment of your film across the street from their house, not only keeping them up at night with blaring HMI's pointed at their bedroom, but throw your Craft Services refuse on their lawn.

Seriously, some people are broke, and too ashamed to admit it. I get it. But $25 bucks?
Really? Are you that "morto di fame?" (starving to death).  Most people can forego going to a movie just once to help someone they know achieve a dream. It's not much to ask. 

If you have a thick skin and won't take things personally, roll with the punches and go for it! You've got nothing to lose other than Facebook friends who are really not friends anyway! 

Good luck!

-Paul Brighton
Director/Producer of upcoming feature "Brilliant Mistakes" 
Visit if you're interested in donating. See? No shame. Just trying to make a quality film!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Are Previews Spoiling Your Movie?

So you want see your favorite actor or actress and you watch the trailer thinking it will inspire you to see the movie and then BAM you're hit with a barrage of images, fast cuts, and clever editing sound effects meant to confuse and entice you.

You curiously watch,  and by the end of the trailer you get the picture. You really get the picture! Hook, line and sinker. The sinker is America's impatience for all things to come and the media's obsession with spoilers, and literally ruining the theatre experience, from movies to Broadway shows and even TV shows.

Take for instance "Spider-Man: Turn Off  the Dark." Plagued by trouble from the start, the Broadway musical seemingly turned off it's own lights when it allowed sneak previews and audiences in to see Spidey's 'dirty laundry,' in this case, wardrobe failures, technical catastrophes and bad music. In my humble opinion this should have never happened. Since we live in a world of intense competition, every movie studio and production on earth is vying for our attention and will do almost anything to get it, even ruin their own releases in the process. Julie Taymor, who was fired from the production as its director and visionary, never got a chance to bring her finished project to the table. But that's partly her own undoing. She should have never let the public in until she got all the kinks out.Now, an overhaul, cast changes and even diminished roles for some key characters are imminent until it re-opens in mid May.

On television, just before a commercial, a talk show, or even the Maury Povich show producers reveal so much, it basically doesn't make sense to continue watching. Last week, I watched a show where they were cutting to a commercial and the voice over said "when we get back, will Robert be the father of the Keisha's baby?" The clip showed Keisha mouthing " I told you, I told you, I told you were the father." What are producer's thinking? Thanks for ruining the entire piece!

A few nights ago while watching the show "Heavy," where obese people are sent away to fat farms for months, I was shocked that they had shown the subject's transformation several times before the show reached its reveal. Again, what's the point in watching?

Yes we are impatient, yes we need to be enticed, but don't spoil the program for us in the process.

Let's go back to the day when we heard a movie was coming months away, then only a few weeks ahead of time, we'd see a cleverly done preview, where in lieu of telling the whole story, we simply got teased. They were effective, not too revealing, and they really led us to the theater.

This month "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One" is released on Blu-ray. Disturbingly, it comes with a "first look" at the opening scene of the finale (Part 2), set to come out this summer. What is the point of this?  Every scene, every photo, and every trailer released, some of them minutes long, is ruining the theater-going experience. I don't need to see the opening scene!
So to avoid the temptation, I'm not buying that Blu-ray either... Marketing FAIL.

As a movie lover,  I now refuse to read certain books, read magazine articles and even have to turn my head when watching TV for fear that I will see too much. If the point of these spoilers is to entice your audience, and get them to fill seats at the theater, you're going to lose at least this one guy right here.

How do you feel? Does it bother you? Am I over-acting, or do you feel the same way?

Let me know by commenting below!

Written by Paul Brighton

Monday, April 4, 2011

Why People Don't Go To Movies!

So, I'm about to direct my first feature-length film, and there's all this talk about the fall of the movie theater as an institution and vehicle for viewing films. It's time for me, as a person with his finger on the pulse of emerging technologies, to sit back and figure out what the heck is happening!

What we're seeing is people loving the comforts of home even more, while going back to more interactive experiences with watching movies with friends. At home people can stop the film, go to the bathroom, take a snack break and resume watching at will. At the theater you're likely to explode if you have a small bladder, or if you have an even lower tolerance for people with diarrhea of the mouth. It's almost always connected to bodily functions– eating, drinking, urinating, passing gas, diarrhea of the mouth, a bodily function that has no place in the theater.

On top of this pile of obstacles to ensure a positive theatrical experience, we have the cost of food at the concession stand to blame for the imminent demise of the movie theater experience.

The prices of candy and popcorn in the theaters is bordering on rape. My butt actually hurts as I walk away from the concession stand, and those uncomfortable seats in some theaters do not alleviate this infliction. But what if they charged an extra two dollars for a ticket?  Would people feel as violated? I don't think so.

I was once a hardcore film goer. I'd see 20 films a year in the theater. I loved the experience, but now it's a circus and a "sensaround" experience that borders on the nauseating.

With theaters expanding their menus to include pizza, tacos, and burgers, going to a theater and sitting next to someone eating a pizza is NOT only an unpleasant experience, but a major deterrent for many people. Cheese smells much like vomit unless you're eating it.

I also feel strongly that children aren't raised with the same level of discipline I was raised with. There's texting, talking, game-playing and way too many distractions that make the movie experience less than a moving experience. People are rude, and so self-centered they feel they are now the stars. Why who wouldn't be  a star if they were sporting an iPad 2 in row 3.

We cannot simply make comparisons between watching a movie at home or the theater and place the blame on technology. We must embrace the fact that movies are now best enjoyed in the home, as a matter of convenience, tolerance, and the reinfoced idea that it's simply more comfortable!
If "Video Killed the Radio Star," then  Pay Per View and the internet killed the theater...flat dead.

As a new filmmaker this frightens me. I much prefer the theater.  I love the big screen and the rumbling sound and larger -than-life experience,  but I fear while some theaters are spending millions to upgrade their systems, people like me are opting for the big screen on the wall in my den, by the bathroom and kitchen....oh...and in peace and quiet!

Paul's Tips to the Movie Industry:

Heed these suggestions or face the same fate as the 8-track cassette.

A. Lower the price of food at the concession stands.  If you charge more for tickets people are more likely to appreciate that then paying 9 cents per kernel of corn. Really now. Enough is enough.

B. Stop serving Taco's and smelly cheesy foods at the theater! "Dinner and a movie" does not mean eat and watch a movie in the same chair for 2 hours.

C. Require all phones to be turned off and placed in lockers at the theater. Here's a novel idea!
Charge .50 to place the phone in the mini locker. There goes a whole new revenue stream.
If people don't pay the .50 they have a choice to go back to their cars and put their phones away where  they can be stolen.  Get it?

D. Offer "Movie Day" passes that allow theater goers the ability to see 3 films in a theater per day with one $20 ticket. Why isn't this happening already?

For an industry based in creativity,  they'd rather succumb to the advent of technology than to fight it.

Shame on movie theaters for their lack of "vision."

Paul Brighton is a writer and Filmmaker in Connecticut.
His directorial debut is "Brilliant Mistakes" Filming in September.
To learn more go to:

Monday, March 28, 2011

In Natalie Portman's Defense

That's it! Everyone knows that Natalie Portman didn't do all of her ballet sequences in Black Swan. She's ruined forever. Well, not quite.

Ms. Portman is a brilliant actress and there's nothing wrong with Hollywood bringing in a body-double to perform her most difficult ballet scenes.

The stand-in - American Ballet Theatre dancer Sarah Lane - griped "Of the full body shots, I would say five per cent are Natalie... I do want people to know that you cannot absolutely become a professional ballet dancer in a year and a half no matter how hard you work. I've been doing this for 22 years."

Well note to Ms. Lane, when you're hired to do a job in a film, just do it and shut up!
Hollywood is all about creating an illusion and telling a story, it is a work of fiction and Ms. Portman did not claim to do all of her scenes in the first place.

The bad press is doing nothing to remove any of the shine from her abilities as an actor. Portman worked for a year and half to learn ballet and become more fluid in her movements. That speaks volumes about the dedication she has to her craft and the respect she has for the world of ballet.

In a  noble move to defend Ms. Portman, Fox Searchlight issued the follwing statement:
"We were fortunate to have Sarah there to cover the more complicated dance sequences and we have nothing but praise for the hard work she did. However, Natalie herself did most of the dancing featured in the final film."

Natalie, you did your job. You acted the part perfectly, and we don't care which scenes were you in and which you were not. As moviegoers and film lovers, we subscribe to the story and we release ourselves from expectations that everything we see is real. It's the movies for God's sake.

By Paul Brighton

Sunday, March 27, 2011

How To Choose A Cinematographer for Your Indie Film Project

Choosing a Cinematographer or Director of Photography for your film is like choosing an eye.
Recently, I have been interviewing DPs and have met some interesting guys. Some were late, some never called back, and some were amazing. I'll talk about the amazing ones, and how you can choose someone that will make your vision come to life.

When I met with aDP last week we sat and discussed details about my film from color to tone to lighting. I was impressed with his CV and long list of feature films he'd shot,  from beautifully lighted and shot interiors, to shots where he was literally hanging off a cliff. The guy had done it all. His demeanor was gentle. His smile was sincere. I got a good vibe from him, and he seemed to be someone who might be considerate to a first-time director.

Interviewing someone I consider to be a peer was challenging. Yes. I am the director, and yes, it is my vision, but being generous of spirit and even more generous creatively will ensure I get the best film made. I'm not the kind of Director who will spend time in "Video Village." So, I want a person I can work with side-by-side.

• Choose a person you feel like you can laugh with, watch a movie with and break bread with. If you don't feel at least two of those, you're in trouble! Go with your gut!

• Be generous in the creative process. If you don't like something be sure to say why. If you do like something give praise, if you have a better idea be careful about how you present it. As a Director it is your vision, but the DP expertise is to make your vision happen. Respect goes a long way.

In Filmmaking you either check your ego at the door and be respected, or you can be virtually blacklisted. Since making a movie is like giving birth, the pain can be intense and the process ripe with volatility, nerves and pressure. So choosing the person is (no pun inteded) "paramount" in making your film a successful and pleasant experience.

When interviewing a prospective DP for you film, do the following:

• Be prepared. Come to the meeting with a general outline about your film, but don't be overwhelming and go too deep yet. Remember, the DP not only shoots the film, but he's also involved in location tech, pre-production, storyboarding and even scouting locations. There will be time for all the details later.

• Show artwork, a few ideas, and pass along a treatment or script if you have it complete.
If they're perceptive, even a rough draft is good to wet their appetites.

• Nothing will get a DP on your project more than a good story!

• Explain your situation clearly and truthfully. If you're a first-time Director, say it!
Putting on a BS air about who you are and what you've done is starting off on the wrong foot.

• Ask questions about how they work. Every DP is different. Some like to be involved in everything, some don't. If you have a very low budget some DPs may want to work with you in a different way than they're usually used to. They may whittle down their team if they think they can make due with a smaller crew.

• Don't be afraid to discuss budget. Look, you've got nothing to hide. Chances are you don't have a 3 million dollar budget. If you did, you would have your pick of DPs and you'd be able to choose the people on your team a little more freely. Being honest up front creates good Karma all around.

• Take copious mental notes and listen. Even if you don't use that person, you can learn a lot. What you don't like makes it easier to weed through the things you do like.

Another DP I interviewed just last week was great. He had a great attitude, listened and seemed generally psyched about my story. I think he also loved the fact that I offered to discuss the possibility of cutting him on the profits of the film should it get picked up. Yes, this is a risk for both of us. But I wouldn't be any happier if I couldn't enrich a fellow artist's life. So I believe in giving back and completing the circle. We discussed all types of benefits like his proximity to the shoot, his access to a RED one, which he's been using for years, and a general love of the vicinity we both live in.

• If you love the DP you've interviewed, think about a mutually beneficial payment plan. Something like a deferred payment would work for some people. Or, for instance, if the movie makes a certain amount he/she'll get paid a percentage.

• Offer perks like a percentage of the Gross. This never happens in Hollywood and DPs are keen to this. They know a "Net" profit means no money. So be fair, and come out of the gate with honesty and truth about what you'll offer. This will get them excited about your project. In many cases, if they're used to working on larger budget films, they may never get offered a percentage of a film. It's not common. But in today's world of digital technology and with the advent of cheaper cameras, more and more people are living out their dreams of being a cinematographer and getting into the film industry. Some are good, some are not.

This lead me to my final section: Choice.

How do you know who to use? Who will represent your story the best way possible?
What if you choose the wrong person?

When setting up interviews I trust and hope you have the understanding that doing your homework is key. It is important to understand the DPs style role and camera package, if they even own one. Some DPs like to cast a wide stylistic net, so they own nothing on purpose. As a Director it's your job to know that how the DP is handling the camera is what's most important. Color, tone, 2k, 4k, that comes later.

• In determining which DP is right, you'll have to ask yourself if you love the way the DP moves you through a film or how their reel paints them as an artist. Are you impressed by the sleek movements, the subtle pushes and pulls, or do you like a flashy track-ridin, crane-lovin hotshot?
 For some applications like commercials a lot of intentional movements may be appropriate, for a subtle character-driven story, the camera work may need to be disciplined, controlled and as unobtrusive as possible. Your story can lead you to that decision early.

• The wider the style a DP has the better they are. If you see one style, one look, one camera package, you may get stuck looking like everything else that person has shot. They may work in one or two instances, but overall, the more diverse reels are most attractive to me.

• Go with your intuition. You're going to be spending weeks and months with this person. If something is off, chances are you're keying in on something that you don't like. You may like that he's cheap so you can be easily swayed to making an excuse for that negative feeling. Don't so it! Go with your gut.

When it comes down to it, you'll be going through at least 5 or 10 people before you settle on the one you like, and even then, there's no guarantee they're free when you're shooting your film, or willing to shoot it at your price. Choosing a DP is a difficult and lengthy process. If you're shooting your film in 6-8 months, start talking to them now.

Help us make our film by going to:
Your contribution will help us, and if you have a film on IndieGogo Please post it here!

Good luck with your film!

Written by Paul Brighton
Director/Producer /Writer
"Brilliant Mistakes"