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Starting my own studio


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#1 Mike Atencio

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Posted 21 November 2010 - 11:52 PM

I'm opening my own production company with the intent to make high-quality (Alfred Hitchcock type) horror / thrillers and dramas. My plan is to stay away from as much CGI as possible and let my audience use their imagination instead. Cost is a major factor here for me as I am 60% disabled (former cop with a reconstructed back) and there is a serious lack of funding. No one wants to hire me because of work comp issues. Well, I don't want a government disability check, I want to earn my own money. I also have worked on many indie projects over the years and then went to school for a degree in television and film production.

My studio will do work similar in nature to "Paranormal Activity" and eventually police dramas. My biggest hurdle is a financial one. I used all of my savings on my surgery and preventing the bank from taking my home. I'm still kicking and haven't lost the house but the money planned for equipment is gone.

Anyone out there have an idea for financing my studio equipment?

FYI, I have an agreement with the local university to have students act and work as crew members once I'm ready to shoot. I just need equipment beyond my DV camera.

I figure I need about $15,000.00 for entry level camera, sound and lighting equipment. I have an X64 PC editing system with Premiere Pro, Sound Booth and After Effects - all CS5. My system ran me several thousand dollars so I'm vested for editing. Anyone want to help or know someone that can help, contact me ASAP

I chose the horror genre because the audience is going to be more forgiving than other types of movies and it's easier when you have a cast that has little or no experience in front of a camera. I can direct and know how to edit. I write screenplays (one spec has been bought but not produced) so I'm very serious about getting this going. Thanks for your assistance in achieving my dream.
Mike
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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 09:37 AM

Mike, that's a tough one. Very few people are going to just give you money for equipment, unless you take on a partner. In truth,y our best bet would be getting investors on a per script basis and not worrying about buying any equipment, as it'll quickly kill you in depreciation and insurance and maintenance costs-- trust me, I have 3 camera systems!
Once you get some funding for your film, you can rent, or factor in purchases to that budget, but now getting people to pay for your film is a tough one. Your best bet is pooling a lot of smaller fish together, a few hundred here, a few hundred there, etc. And also working out an in-kind type thing. I am certain there are a few car dealerships, lawyers, doctors around, get some money from them for the film in trade for some spec things, on the floor of their show-rooms, offices, etc, with the DV camera. Also, there are pre-sales of DVDs, get people to give you $30 and they get a DVD signed, or whatever. A good person to speak to would be Richard Boddington who brought out his first film, Dark Reprive on his own, and is finishing up his 2nd film, The Dog Father.

Now, all that being said, understand that you first movie will be a lot out of pocket, which sucks, but that's the way it goes. I worked a ultra ultra low budget film, which cost around 20K or so, and finally just sold to Netflix and Comcast on Demand, so I'm told. I don't know for how much, but I'm assuming it's made some money. The important thing with a low budget film is not to skimp on crew. It may sound like a good idea getting "free" labor from the college, but it's not. You'll wind up with a college film you're paying for -v- a better product. I know I was a college kid and god-bless 'em, they just don't yet have the experience to really knock it out of the park, in broad terms (plus you may wind up with a set full of directors.)
I hate to sound so negative, but that's the nature of this business, it's damned harsh. Good luck.
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#3 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 10:37 AM

Yes, if you're planning to go into production, rent don't buy.

Unless the equipment is earning money apart from the your own productions, one or two feature films won't make a return on an investment on anything other than perhaps a prosumer camera.

Best regard students as trainees rather than crew members or at best assistants. You may find talented exceptions, but for a commercial production that's usually the case.
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#4 Mike Atencio

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Posted 22 November 2010 - 12:55 PM

Thanks for the input. I'm hearing the things I knew all along but just didn't want to accept. Dreams have a way of making us blind to reality. That's why I posted here. For a realistic approach to the business. I'll look into the equipment rental idea. You're right about college students and students are exactly that - students. Can't expect more than that out of them. I remember my film classes and how there were all these chiefs and no indians for the work. Again, I hate to accept it but you're right about the business.
Thanks, Mike
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