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$330K indie feature s16 vs 35 costs


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#1 firsttimedirector

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 12:46 AM

it's my first post in many years so please, be gentle.
i'm a director/producer not a dp so might say something silly even though I've directed 3 projects on 35mm.

am i missing something:
on the small screen i don't care, on the big screen i def prefer 35 mostly due to the grain.
50K ft of 35mm for a 90min feature is about 6 to 1 ratio and would be equivalent to 20K ft of 16mm.
new 16 stock is 23cents/ft vs 15c/ft for 35mm re-cans. ( even with the snip test am i 100% safe with re-cans? any horror stories? )
processing is the same at about 11c/ft but more ft to process with 35.
need one more crew member if shooting on 35, one less if shooting on 16mm.
35 camera package ( 24 shooting days ) is more expensive ( how much more? ) than 16. The DP likes arri, i think moviecam is a little cheaper and can use the same lenses. panavision is more expensive, right? It's about the stock and the lenses not the cam, am i right?
i def want to have a film print. so would be saving $30K on blow up if shooting on 35mm (would than mean we would be cutting the negative instead of making a print from a D5 or an HDcam? How much would it cost to make a print if shooting on 35? I'm not talking color correction, i mean just striking a print.
35mm might attract better crew/cast but 16mm will give us more interviews ( we can play the indie card )

bottom line: because of the blow-up overall shooting on 16mm would only save us less than $30K. Even with a 10 to 1 shooting ratio the difference is not that significant. Am I right about this? I must be missing something 'cause the wrestler, half nelson, wendy and lucy, the balad of jack on rose, etc were all shot on 16 for a reason. Anyone who attempts to answer thanks in advance.
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#2 firsttimedirector

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 01:01 AM

forgot to ask:
I've worked with my dp before on a short but can't pay him as much this time.
He's photographed 2 features that had screened at top fests. and his latest just got into a top 5 fest. got a theatrical but made no money.
he's a friend and will do it for any amount. what rate would be fair? 330K sounds like a lot but with the amount of locations/cast our prelim budget looks extremely tight so we're trying to cut corners everywhere. what's the going rate? 300/day? 150/day? it's a 24 day shoot. hopefully not offending anyone on this board.

it's my first post in many years so please, be gentle.
i'm a director/producer not a dp so might say something silly even though I've directed 3 projects on 35mm.

am i missing something:
on the small screen i don't care, on the big screen i def prefer 35 mostly due to the grain.
50K ft of 35mm for a 90min feature is about 6 to 1 ratio and would be equivalent to 20K ft of 16mm.
new 16 stock is 23cents/ft vs 15c/ft for 35mm re-cans. ( even with the snip test am i 100% safe with re-cans? any horror stories? )
processing is the same at about 11c/ft but more ft to process with 35.
need one more crew member if shooting on 35, one less if shooting on 16mm.
35 camera package ( 24 shooting days ) is more expensive ( how much more? ) than 16. The DP likes arri, i think moviecam is a little cheaper and can use the same lenses. panavision is more expensive, right? It's about the stock and the lenses not the cam, am i right?
i def want to have a film print. so would be saving $30K on blow up if shooting on 35mm (would than mean we would be cutting the negative instead of making a print from a D5 or an HDcam? How much would it cost to make a print if shooting on 35? I'm not talking color correction, i mean just striking a print.
35mm might attract better crew/cast but 16mm will give us more interviews ( we can play the indie card )

bottom line: because of the blow-up overall shooting on 16mm would only save us less than $30K. Even with a 10 to 1 shooting ratio the difference is not that significant. Am I right about this? I must be missing something 'cause the wrestler, half nelson, wendy and lucy, the balad of jack on rose, etc were all shot on 16 for a reason. Anyone who attempts to answer thanks in advance.


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#3 David Auner aac

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 03:24 AM

Hi,

as for the choice of format, you'll have to work that out within your budget, but once you have settled on a film gauge, I wouldn't tell your DP what camera to use. Unless of course you get an amazing deal on one or the other. Additionally, why do you think you need one crew member less when shooting 16?

You need to change your username to first & last name as per forum rules.

Thanks, David
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#4 firsttimedirector

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 05:27 AM

oh i didn't know that. do they have to be my real names?!

My DP told me he could do without a 2nd AC on a 16mm shoot.
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#5 Delorme Jean-Marie

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 05:44 AM

also the choice of the lens will have an imput on the choice of the camera.
if your dp wants to film with arri lens you won't be able to make them fit on a pany anyway.
also with S16 there is a totally different set of primes available
it economically make totaly sens to film in 35 for a print in 35 with a regular photochemical classic laboratory work.
also if you have many sets you'll save money on the lighting as well.
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#6 David Auner aac

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 06:21 AM

oh i didn't know that. do they have to be my real names?!


Yes, this forum is real name only! I assume you did read the rules when you joined the boards?

Regards, David
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#7 Stephen Williams

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 09:57 AM

Yes, this forum is real name only! I assume you did read the rules when you joined the boards?

Regards, David


The rules changed a couple of years ago, there are still a few older members who did not change their display names.
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#8 Antonio Cisneros

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 10:37 AM

I think in the long run you'll see that doing a 35mm print is probably the most cost effective.

If you want to go the DI route on 16mm start talking to your lab now and see what it will actually cost you. Maybe you can get a deal.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 12:44 PM

It's a bit of a cashflow conundrum because most features, at some point, need a digital master, usually 24P/1080 HD, for home video & broadcast, if not just for showing it around to people.

If you have a film element, feature-length, it can take at least a week and nearly $50,000 to make a good HD transfer (of course, transferring all original camera rolls to HD is a lot more.)

So while IF all you want or need is a 35mm print... then the choice is really between shooting in 35mm in a format that can be contact-printed for sound projection (standard 1.85 is most likely), and keeping to a really low shooting ratio, using short ends, etc. -- or shooting in S16 and making a blow-up to 35mm, where the blow-up costs will eat into the savings by shooting in S16. Mitch Gross once posted a sample budget and it still worked out cheaper to shoot in S16 even with blow-up costs -- but I'm talking about an optical printer blow-up, not a D.I.

In fact, if all you need is a single or a couple of 35mm prints, a few labs in the world can do a direct blow-up from S16 neg to 35mm print stock, if your negative is zero cut with handles.

I did that a long time ago for an S16 feature (over ten years ago) and I recall that the optical printer blow-ups cost about $28,000 if using dupes (IN and IP) but each additional 35mm print after that cost less than $2000... or you could make a direct blow-up to a 35mm print, but each print cost about $12,000.

So given your budget, this may make sense.

HOWEVER... in this day and age, an HD master is becoming a required delivery format for distributors, plus if you had an HD master, you could screen the movie digitally without having to make any 35mm prints, like for Sundance or a distributor screening.

So you may want to look into an HD workflow and costs that don't involve a film-out to 35mm and see if that makes sense instead. In that case, you could shoot S16 or 35mm, transfer to HD, or you could shoot digitally.
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#10 David Auner aac

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 12:51 PM

The rules changed a couple of years ago, there are still a few older members who did not change their display names.


Oh, ok. I never knew that tidbit. And I didn't really read the thread starters info. So, firsttimedirector, sorry for that. But you may want to follow the others suit and change it anyway?

Regards, Dave
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#11 Hal Smith

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 12:54 PM

do they have to be my real names?!

Yes, almost all of the usual Internet Forum cr*p (trolling, flame wars, etc., etc.) is avoided on this forum by the requirement that you use your real name as your username. Flame someone here and you just might find yourself face to face with them someday on a set, at an NAB, etc. and they'll know exactly who you are.
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#12 Paul Bruening

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Posted 17 January 2009 - 03:40 PM

2-perf.
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#13 Sasha Riu

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 02:09 PM

Hmmmm...

How come nobody already asked what I will now :

-What's the movie about?

-Where are you going to shoot it/process it/rent equipment?

-When are you going to do it?

My 0.02$:

If you're shooting a lot of action, landscapes, nice costumes, a lot of night/dark scenes etc. than 35mm is probably better choice than 16mm.

My friend did a movie last year on s16 (indie shoot more than a million$ budget, 3 month shoot, bicoastal, many locations, many group scenes...).

His conclusion?

Never ever to shoot s16 anymore.

Why?
In his words, gate, hair and other possible dirt that slips in, despite care and caution of CA's = to many takes that needed to be repeated = lots of frustration on the long shooting days (DP's rate was I think 300/day, <imagine the rest of the crew :ph34r: >; the only way they could pull it if they wanted this movie to happen) is just not worth the money he though s16 will save him!

(nobody from that crew is willing to work with him again for low rate or to do him a favor!!!!!!)

Maybe big and sturdy productions (studios with enough money to repeat takes) can see benefit in s16mm.

Indies have to go with a safe bet!

Plus, if you shoot s16 and not going DI, seems to me like a mistake!

The big economic crisis is on it's way (not right now but probably in about few months). Unfortunate for all of us, but maybe opens the doors for all kinds of entrepreneurial deals that wasn't been possible before (to negotiate with rental house to give you 35mm package for the price of the 16mm; deal with the lab where they will be willing to give you transfer to digital for free if you process film with them etc).

Markets with more equipment on disposal that sits around will obvliously be more willing to give you a good deal.


Without more info about your movie, out of blue sky, my suggestion is:

Shoot 35mm, post it digitaly, HD master for sale screenings, get the deal with distributor to cover the rest of the processing expences.

Yuo have a big adventage: small budget!
:)

That means when selling it, you will make almost a triple profit if somebody decides to buy it for a million $.
:)

I am smiling but I am serious:

My friend spent almost 2 million $ for a production, festivals, prints, etc...

But nobody want's to buy it for a 2 million which is the price he can not go bellow since he wants his investors to at least get their money back if no profits is possible.

Though he had several offers in a range of around 1million, but he can not sell it bellow the price.
:(

Buyer's point of view:

Million dollar investment is possible to be recouped with small P&A money, limited theater releases, DVD sales etc...

2-3 million buy out of the movie, means that distributors have to invest another 5-30 million of P&A money, big thetrical and DVD releases, and the thing starts to get been very serious (and possibly ugly), only to retrieve 3 millions of initial investment.

I know it makes no sense but that's filmmaking....
:)



Good luck!

Edited by Sasha Riu, 24 January 2009 - 02:11 PM.

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#14 Vincent Sweeney

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 03:48 PM

My friend did a movie last year on s16 (indie shoot more than a million$ budget, 3 month shoot, bicoastal, many locations, many group scenes...).

His conclusion?

Never ever to shoot s16 anymore.

Why?
In his words, gate, hair and other possible dirt that slips in, despite care and caution of CA's = to many takes that needed to be repeated = lots of frustration on the long shooting days (DP's rate was I think 300/day, <imagine the rest of the crew :ph34r: >; the only way they could pull it if they wanted this movie to happen) is just not worth the money he though s16 will save him!


Your friend likely had an AC with little or no experience, was using poorly maintained equipment or had other issues that weren't mentioned. S16mm is the most cost effective way to shoot a movie for projects using film.

The days of having 35mm prints made for low budget features are now, basically, gone. If you aren't online posting in a high quality HD format, whether or not you shot 4K or Super8, then you are wasting money and your time.

If in the extremely unlikely event a distributor wants to print the project, it is up to them but it's foolish to think this will happen anymore and there is no reason to bend the production process to prepare for that. If it does happen, making prints from the HD master is a perfectly acceptable method for low budget films and many times will produce a better result than traditional blow-up processes.

Accepting a small loss in quality to save many $10K's is something everyone involved in indie film must deal with now. The business model has shifted and there is no place for money fueled egos.

The focus needs to be on this: What does the film need so that is appears the way we want it to on DVD?
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#15 David Rakoczy

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 04:46 PM

Any Feature (under $500k USD) I shot was captured on S16... but hey, it all depends on what you are doing.. and more importantly... who is doing it!
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#16 James Martin

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Posted 24 January 2009 - 07:02 PM

2-perf.


I have heard that for low-budget features the savings for this are not what one might assume - you save on stock, for sure, but you have to get a camera equipped to do it, and apparently they are usually hard(er) to come by...

Am I talking out my arse? I've never even shot 35 so I'm just going on "what I've heard" here....
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#17 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 02:10 AM

I have heard that for low-budget features the savings for this are not what one might assume - you save on stock, for sure, but you have to get a camera equipped to do it, and apparently they are usually hard(er) to come by...

Am I talking out my arse? I've never even shot 35 so I'm just going on "what I've heard" here....


Aaton Penelope seems to be available now. At least I downloaded their user manual. That will make 2 perf the way to go once it is widely available. It can handle Panavision lenses, besides PL mount lenses, out of the factory / rental house -and not neccesarily Panavision' shops. Very, very nice.

But there are some other 2 perf cameras available here and there. Indi 35's Bruce Taylor gives a good deal on his.

S16 as an acquisition format cannot be "misunderestimated" though. Either format, scan data files from the negative -hero takes only. Finish on HD. Save some bucks. Let someone else worry about the (long way off, if any) film print.

Oh, BTW. Sasha's friend's AC probably didn't know what he was doing, as Vincent mentioned.
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#18 David Rakoczy

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 08:44 AM

Hmmmm...



His conclusion?

Never ever to shoot s16 anymore.


He doesn't have a clue... and probably shouldn't be shooting anything. Period.
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#19 Sasha Riu

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 11:00 AM

I am afraid your professional ego and sense of justice that called you to defend the code of honor of your guild is not letting you read my words carefully!
:)


If I am shooting Tom Cruise with my point and shoot digital camera in the movie mode everybody will pay attention to that!
If I am shooting some insignificant beggar on a street with IMAX-nobody will!


In my friend's movie case, i'ts not one AC, it was a bunch of them!

Cause you can't expect for one professional to work bellow the rate for 3 months, my friend had to hire many people in many departments. All of them had very decent, and few of them had even the very strong ones, IMDB references.
Most of them lacked a big breakthrough though, which is exactly the reason why they accepted to do that movie hoping that this is going to hit big for them.

But than the most important thing in filmmaking kicked in: Attitude!

Most of them had it wrong, and you could sense that on the set just as you could see it in the footage!

Unlike studio financed movies, where for the most part the only thing for success in that nitch, that is important is, to show up on time and not **(obscenity removed)** it up big time, indie is a completely playgame as I am sure you already know!

To see the fruits of success in indie films you have to do an extra mile-over time-harder then ever-to the point of complete exhaustion-with the right mind set up!

But that doesn't happens if your attitude is wrong!

Where does the bad attitude is coming from?

Among other things: s16mm

Even though they all were dreaming of this movie to be their big breakthrough after which they will not have to look for a good job because the job will acctually look for them, when on set, seeing the filming format been "inferior one" they all thought that the shoot is not worth their "extra mile" and the bad attitude kicked in.

As a consequence, you had a shoot where grips and PA's were dictating the shoot (not to offend any hardworking grip and production people, but on shoot, somebedy alse shoud be in charge running the show) since neither director nor producer could motivate them for extra effort, so at the end light set that can be done in 15 minuts takes up 45 minutes of working day (not because of the lack of expertise of gaffer or his crew)or an AC probably wasn't carefull as much as he was trying to convince us that he was, when changing lenses.

That's one of my points:

What's the cost of giving the extra motive to the crew to work harder then ever (crucial skill in the indie nitch)?

Indie movie is not studio movie with the only difference that it's on a smaller scale with significantly less budget!
It's completely different habitat, where even if you're not a fish you have to learn how to breathe in the water!

You can't treat it as a simple math...

I am surprised that so many of you that appear quite experienced in indies, don't take into account that pshycologycal factor of filming format.

Just as I am surprised that nobody before me give their full opinion, before even asking the first and the simpliest question of all:

What's the movie about?

Unless you 're going to argue that it doesn't matter for the choice of filming format, if the movie consist mostly of daylight close-ups with drama of slow pace, or a wide shots of gun fighting grand scale actions or if 2/3 rds of the movie is suppose to happend at night in the dark streets (during the blackout:) )?
:)


35mm is that extra fuel and fluid that keeps the film organism of indie movie run smoothly and in a healthy spirit!

If you can't afford it, than do with Hi-Def where saving money is possible if carefull enough!

David, don't worry, you can be happy and sleep calmly, since after this movie, my friend will most likely be forced to quit filmmaking!
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#20 David Rakoczy

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 11:29 AM

What the heck are you ranting about? Of course people will watch beggars in the streets in IMAX.. they already do! btw... I won't watch Cruise no matter what he is shot on. Now to the point, for someone to say 'stay away from S16 and never use it again' only demonstrates their ignorance of the Format. Having shot numerous features in S16.. including one that was picked up by HBO, I have to say that S16 is a healthy, viable format to shoot Features, Commercials, MOWs and MVs on. Especially indie features. I purchased a S16 camera and use it all the time. Just shot 4 spots on it and will be shooting 2 more next week. Also, this is the exact Camera I used on that indie feature earlier in my career. If you can't afford 35mm, S16 is fantastic! Of course you can shoot video if you want as well, but to trash S16 is ignorance.

The rest of what you wrote.. well, I don't understand any of your points. What is your point?... wait.. don't bother ;)

I would love to stay and chat but I want to go see a great little picture shot on S16... The Wrestler.... adios.

Would someone else like to pick this up as I am done...
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