"" Rob Parnell's Writing Academy Blog: Onward and Upward

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Onward and Upward

As you've probably noticed, I've been moving into film and the visual media a lot more over the last year or so.

This is because, from a writer's perspective, film has it all.

Film starts with writing - nothing can happen without a script -  and is film about story telling. Even non fiction on film is about being able to string together coherent images that tell a story - the director's version of the truth - to the viewer.

That and the fact that I love the editing process and recording my own music has meant that I find making videos and short films very satisfying indeed.

In this last year I (under the R&R banner) have put together five music videos, eleven Write On programs, a 60 minute documentary on the paranormal and a couple of short movies, the most recent being the horror spoof, Bearz.

We are currently in pre-production of a thirty minute thriller called First CUT.

Now, I feel, is the time to announce to you the long term picture.

But with some background first...

As you know, we've had some success with our screenplays.

Initially - some five years ago - it was our intention to write scripts and sell them - and perhaps oversee the resulting projects to some degree.

It quickly became apparent to us that there were a lot of sharks in the film industry - many so called 'producers' ready to ensnare hapless writers, steal their work and take all the credit for any success that comes out of a project - and treat the writer like so much (necessary) scum.

Add to that the appalling lack of vision from state and federal funding bodies - who refuse point blank to give creative development grants to writers!

We spent a few years working with SA Film - trying to get to know them, see what they wanted and work within their guidelines.

We did all we could - as writers - to fulfill their needs. We learned a lot. But we also learned that we would never be taken seriously as film makers until we became a working production company.


Success in the film industry is dependent on three main elements.

1. Control.

It is imperative that a production company owns all the rights to the projects it develops. Mainly because, when it comes to raising finance and budgeting and allocating money, any whiff that the entire copyright does not belong to the initiating production company can result in your potential backers pulling out entirely - which can be disastrous for any cinematic project.

2. Talent.

You need the best writing you can find along with the best directors, producers, crew, cast and PR people. We've been told by many film people that our writing is - for film - of a rare high quality. Indeed, this has actually worked against us - because everything we pitch has production companies literally foaming at the mouth!

We stopped pitching when we realized we could spend our entire lives fighting to keep hold of our legal copyrights!

3. Promotion.

Video, film and TV projects succeed or fail in direct proportion to the number of people aware of your product. Production companies survive - like many businesses - on borrowed money. You're only as good as your last success - and your next. The visual media is expensive to produce - in man hours and in cash. But the rewards, now that programs have a much longer shelf life thanks to cable, DVD, cross territorial promotion and the film festival circuit, make it more than worthwhile to develop meaningful entertainment  based programming.

So, knowing all this is one thing.

Acting upon it is another.

Robyn and I are solitary folk - we're writers after all.

It's taken me in particular a long time to come to the realization that if we're going to become a working production company, we have to start by showing the world we're capable of producing quality shows right here, and right now.

We can't wait for big projects to manifest over time - developing tenuous relationships with other so called film people round here that might never eventuate.

No, the answer is, as Nike says, to just do it.

Why not? YouTube is probably one of the greatest assets for aspiring filmmakers that's come along in the last decade. The best thing is that you get instant feedback - so you know what's working immediately.

And TV networks and even Hollywood DO take notice of what's going onto YouTube - and you really can get into the film industry by 'cutting your teeth' online.

But it's not everything.

You also need to get your work seen on the off line festival circuit and be able to put your film up for awards on a regular basis.

It's taken me a few years to fully equip R&R with all the gear necessary to make shows. Most young film makers rent or borrow the equipment they use to make movies - an expensive process that means many of the crew don't know how to use the gear they're hiring! Hence, terrible movies.

I never wanted that. I believe that if we're going to compete in house, we need the gear first.

So, as you may know by now, we're in pre-production of our first big venture - First CUT.

It's an exciting thriller about a doomed relationship. We have the stars - two young kids from South Australia. We have the studio, the lights and the cameras. We have all the technology to make it happen. It's due to start shooting on the 12th of November.

After that, we'll be putting it out to the world - via film festivals and putting it up for awards and competitions...

All good, but here's the but:

We need help getting the film out there. Just entering a short film to a festival or an award costs a minimum of $50 a pop. Sometimes more.

Now, if we enter the film into a dozen or perhaps 50 festivals, you can immediately see that the expense quickly mounts up.

So, if you know any rich uncles or sugar daddies - or just have friends that want to invest in an exciting new production company, ask them to look here: http://pozible.com/firstcut

So far - since yesterday - we have raised $50! Thanks to one enterprising funder!

If you'd like to invest yourself, I'd love to have your support.

You can pledge as little as one dollar - and be a friend of R&R for life!

Go here to see what we're doing - and what YOU can get!

Keep writing!
 rob at home

Previous Newsletter includes:
Article: "The New Reality for Writers"

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