Angelo Bell: Trans Atlantic Filmmaking and Partnerships via IFP

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by Angelo Bell

“…On behalf of IFP, thank you so much for your interest in our fellowship with the Cannes Producer’s Network. I enjoyed reading in greater depth about your upcoming slate, getting to know your work better, and hearing more about the direction you see your producing going in the coming years. The diversity and passion you have for these projects is impressive!”

Bottom line, didn’t get accepted, BUT, I did register for the Trans Atlantic Partner Program

TAP is a three-module intensive training and networking program for established film producers from Europe, Canada and the US. TAP offers a unique combination of intensive, hands-on training to help participants develop the specific creative and financial skills necessary for international co-production / co-venturing. The program’s goal is to encourage production through the discovery of new international partners and projects throughout Europe, Canada and New York.

If you’ve been following me for a little while, you’ll know that I’ve had my toes in the international arena since I first wrote LEGEND OF BLACK LOTUS in 2007. Thanks to some very enlightened mentors I’ve been fortunate enough to work with, I understand the importance of foreign. Perhaps this program will help me leverage my experience.

Angelo Bell: My Films Are On IMDB :)

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by Angelo Bell

IMDB is going Youtube style and I’ve been selected to upload my films to their website. Now you can view two of my films in their entirety on IMDB.

I’m particularly fond of the films, Renounced and The First Time. And now I hope you can become just as fond of them as I am.

Renounced

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1084730/

The First Time

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1084682/

Angelo Bell: Emergence of Imperfection in Storytelling

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by Angelo Bell

The beauty of telling a story with the written word is that you can always change it. You can improve upon the story if it lacks intrigue, you can make it more exciting, you can crank up the drama or ratchet down the sexiness. Whatever you want to do, you can do. A world of choices is available to you at the click of a keyboard key.

Most importantly — especially for the career-minded screenwriter — you can take this opportunity to fill in the plot holes. According to Wikipedia:

a plot hole, or plothole, is a gap or inconsistency in a storyline that goes against the flow of logic established by the story’s plot, or constitutes a blatant omission of relevant information regarding the plot.

Plot hole much? Sure you do. We all do. We’ve all done it. We’ve gone on a raging stream of consciousness writing frenzy with little regard for logic, sense, or the laws of physics. When we finally come up for air we look down at our magnum opus and realize that we never set the stage for our hero’s ability to fly, or shoot laser beams out of his eyes. We realize that we’ve never truly laid the proper foundation to reveal our hero is actually a woman in men’s clothing.

Give yourself a break. It’s impossible to think of everything at once, so what do we do? We scale down the possibilities, we reel in the net, we shorten the story. We may want to go big, but we end up going extra-large instead.

And it’s fine.

Screenwriting is a fluid and dynamic endeavor. Our stories evolve as we do. In March it’s a sci-fi fantasy, in June it’s a coming of age period drama, in December it’s an epic fantasy martial arts adventure.

In 2010 I cranked out two scripts in the month of October. The first one, Deterrence Theory has undergone many revolutions, evolutions, incarnations and SEAL incursions. I sit on it now, in its current state and I humbly call it, A Perfect Weapon. No, seriously. That’s the new title. For obvious and not so obvious reasons I changed it (see my blog post, “What’s in a name…“), and now with recent changes to the story and the filling in of plot holes, I believe it is a tighter, less imperfect story.

In fact, considering the recent option of one of my other screenplays (which shall be nameless) I’m happy to work day and night to get A Perfect Weapon ready for the first serious offer from Paramount, Universal, Focus Features or Revolution. Brooklyn Weaver? Call me, maybe?

Angelo Bell: Fore-thoughts and after-thoughts (I screwed up…but I did good!)

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by Angelo Bell

I’ve been trying to avoid it, but it’s no use. I screwed up. I screwed up and now I’m paying for it.

Back during pre-production of BROKEN HEARTS CLUB  I should have spent more time with the schedule and location prep. I should have hired a 1st AD to take care of those things for me. I didn’t. Now I’m paying for it.

As a result of not properly preparing for our grueling 16-day shoot, we lost 2 1/2 days of shooting, equal to over five scenes. Five VERY important scenes. Now, as opposed to shooting reshoots and exteriors I’ve got to do pickups of scenes we missed. These scenes are pivotal to the development of three of the man characters.

And as a result of not planning properly I’m spending an extra $15,000 for these pickups. This money could have been used for a post sound mix, ADR, and sound design. Instead I’m spending more money on that.

So — that’s al the afterthought shit. All the hindsight that makes me want to kick my own butt. But — you live, you learn and you keep making films.

The thing I did exponentially well was hire my composer, Rob Gokee, before a page of the script was ever finalized. This is something I did much better than many indie filmmakers out there. For many folks, the score for their film is an afterthought. I am not saying this is the case for everyone, so don’t misquote me. But I know what I’ve seen and heard. Too many filmmakers budget for everything — except the music for their film. Then they are left to beg, borrow and steal, or accept substandard music. Their dilemma often gives them the chutzpah to ask a professional composer to do the work for free (see many-a-craigslist ad to verify).  What they are missing out on is a personal relationship with people like a Rob Gokee, who’s willing to work with them and their budget (as long as it’s fair).

The filmmaker/composer relationship should be a win/win situation. The composer gets paid to do what he/she does best while perhaps securing future work, and the filmmaker gets an original score for his/her film. Details can be negotiated. I was lucky because two years ago when we met Rob believed that I’d continue making films. He believed that there were other opportunities for us to work together so he was very flexible with pricing. We ended up working together on six films. He created 86 minutes of distinct original music for Broken Hearts Club. And more than that, he’s also now a good friend.

So while I screwed up in the production planning phase, I hit a home run in hiring a composer to create an original score for my film. But you filmmakers reading this can learn from my mistake and my good luck.  If your cousin isn’t a film composer don’t let him write music for your film. Treat your film professionally. Hire a composer. Don’t let music for your film be an afterthought.

Angelo Bell: How to conduct proper research for your indie film

Good tips from a good guy:

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by Angelo Bell

The trouble with showbiz research is… everyone tosses around that word, “research” but many don’t tell you where to go to conduct that research. Too often I go to websites or read books that say stuff like this:

You must research film festivals that screen films like yours…

You must research what distributors buy you kind of film…

You must research the right acting coach…

You must research what talent agencies are hiring of looking for your type…

Well, sir/madam, the fact is, I was doing research. That’s what led me to your so-called expert website. I put in a few search words in Google and DogPile and found your link. You said you had tips. Now you’re telling me that you actually don’t have the answer. Just vague direction. Even in your blog you seem to be hoarding information from me.

Yes, I get it. There is tremendous value in discovering things for yourself. The journey of discovery often leads to other peripheral tidbits of information that will help one’s quest. But come on! You said you had real information for me, but instead you’re just sending me back into the information jungle, fending for myself against a sea of inaccurate information.

So ladies and gents reading this blog who happen to be interested in showbiz. You are in luck. I am about to share with you my “research tlinks” and books to start you on your way. During my travels many folks have come to ask me “how do I get started [writing, acting, producing,etc].” While many of them were merely trying to get an ‘in’ with me, thinking I was some high-falootin’ producer with money and power (go figure!), many were earnest in their quest for info.

SCRIPTS- Wanna find out who’s selling and buying scripts? Go to http://www.donedealpro.com. It costs $24/year for the info but it is one of the best sites for this info. Often you’ll get the names of the studio/prodco, agencies involved and of course, the writer.

FILM FESTIVALS – there is no better book (I’ve found) then Chris Gore’s “Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide.” Here you’ll learn about Tier 1 and Tier 2 festivals, festival politics, finances, etc. I kick myself in the ass for not buying this book years ago. It is truly invaluable to the filmmaker with a feature (or a short) that’s ready to be seen. Oh, and read the personal interviews with filmmakers!

TV WRITING – wanna be on the boob tube. Then check out TVWriter.com. Managed by the famously infamous Larry Brody (who wrote for the Six Million Dollar Man and The Fall Guy). The site manages three contests including a contest for a TV series proposal and MOW (Movie of the Week). The user bulletin board has tons of answers to your every question. I personally know a woman who won the contest, got an agent and now writes for TV.

AGENTS, MANAGERS & ACTORS – there is none better than IMDB Pro. http://pro.imdb.com. This is the professional version of the fan database IMDB.com. Cost is $100+ per year. I’ve gotten A-list actor’s agents names, their lawyers, publicists, managers, etc. By the way, the gatekeepers (agents) are harder to get through than managers. Always go to the manager first if you’re trying to attach A-list talent to your film. I’ve had their service for five years.

SCREENPLAYS – wanna write one, then you better learn how. You have to learn the rules first, before you decide what rules you can break. Second to none is the foundation of all screenplay books, Syd Field’s “Screenplay” and the introduction of the plot point. Read it. Know it. Live it. Get it on Amazon.com or go to my inks page, http://www.angelobell.com/filmmaking_tools.htm GROUPS – IFP.com and FilmIndependent.com are great groups to join. A membership perk is getting access to low-cost equipment rentals, networking events, free film screenings, seminars, other vital resources– and people! Find actors and crew for your film.

ACTING COACHES – If you’re in LA acting coaches are everywhere. Some better than others, of course. And the well-known ones have waiting lists. What technique works for you? Meisner? Ivana Chubbick? Stanislav? Method?

FILM REVIEWS – need a third-party review for your film? Send it to http://www.filmthreat.com. But be prepared to wait a while. However, if you send a cool little gift with your screener you might get moved to the top of the list Tip: cool and elaborate packaging does wonders!!

INDUSTRY NEWS – http://www.variety.com and http://www.hollywoodreporter.com ‘Nuff said

FREE PRESS RELEASES – http://www.prweb.com. Submit your press release to Yahoo! news, Google and tons of other outlets and local markets…for free. Or pay a small fee and go national.

ScriptPIMP – http://www.scriptpimp.com a writer’s database of people looking for scripts. $99/year

InkTip – a online screenplay warehouse that gives access to professionals looking for scripts. Upload your new script and watch the studios come to you!! http://www.inktip.com

And there’s more coming in a later blog so stay tuned!