A pleasant and warm summer rain accompanied our last days here as the Frontières Market came to a close. We also learned some tools of the trade for filmmakers. From panels to experts sharing their thoughts on genre films.
We checked out the “Presentation and Panel about Creating Proof-of-Concept Videos for Financing and Presales.” These short visual pieces are hardly indispensable for getting film projects on track. We saw examples from the market participants that were discussed right afterwards in terms of budget, production value, shooting time and financing.
All of the presented Proof-of-Concept Videos had three things in common.
First, the required resources are collected by favors of friends and industry people than by hard money. That doesn’t mean that they should have a totally DIY style—the opposite is the case—but that a lot of people need to commit and contribute to a project in the very beginning.
Secondly, in terms of the visual quality of the piece, tone and sound, it was absolutely mandatory to produce in the style what the final product will be.
Thirdly, the length is an important factor. We saw a wide range from a few seconds up to five-minutes. There is no strict rule but having a 15-minute concept video will let every potential sales agent or buyer moan. The average length was about two-minutes. (the filmmaker with the five-minute video was excusing himself already before showing the teaser.)
Since this is a film market, we asked some of the buyers in attendance what they thought about genre films today and what they like to see.
Eduardo Panizzo, Acquisitions Consultant for Umbrella Entertainment in Australia, said he looks for films with cast and that can play in a multiplex. He added, “Filmmakers should try to make more sci-fi. They’re easier to market and do well digitally.”
“I like to see passion on the screen,“ said Matthew Hechinger from The Weinstein Company, “I also like to see the line between arthouse and genre. A little humor doesn’t hurt.“
For John Von Thaden, Director of Accquisitions of Magnolia Pictures, he mentioned that genre films “need to be a cool alternative to what’s out there already and satisfy the audience for word of mouth.“ Personally, he said, “Sci-fi is my thing and films that are more auteur driven.“ He also said, “[filmmakers] shoud try not to do too many obscure homages that may alienate the audience.“
So filmmakers, make your passion projects, but make it your own. And for those who want to make that sci-fi project, you should do it.
TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival, is coming up in September. It’s one the major fall festivals and one of the only major ones that has been a long supporter of genre films. We got to catch up with Colin Geddes, International Programmer for TIFF, on his perspective. He selects for the Midnight Madness and Vanguard sections.
When asked what trends he has seen in the last few years, he said instead, “I’d like to see less zombies and found footage movies. Filmmakers misunderstand that these are quick and cheap and they just emulate other successes.“
He mentioned how he liked what filmmakers like Jim Mickle (We Are What We Are) and Adam Wingard (You’re Next). He said, “They’re doing new twists on old genre tropes.”
For aspiring genre filmmakers, he said, “Make sure some part of your character is sympathetic for the audience to relate to so they care about the journey. Also watch out about using too many in-joke reflections.”
Geddes added that he prefers supernatural films with fantastical elements. He programs for “genre cinephiles” where he wants to show films taking genre to the “next level.” He tends to stay away from serial killer/slasher pics where gore is shown for the sake of showing gore.
The Midnight Madness and Vanguard sections at TIFF usually have some of the most exciting titles of the festival. Look out for the announcement tomorrow, July 29.
We went to a crowdfunding panel where three filmmakers presented their successfully backed campaigns as well as four speakers from crowdfunding related companies giving valuable insights into their business. It was mentioned that one of the most important things—besides calculating the goal carefully—is to keep momentum. Ayah Norris from Indiegogo explained the reason with the nice metaphor of a restaurant. If you pass a restaurant with nobody sitting in there, you probably won’t go in because you may think it’s not good. On the other hand, a full restaurant where no more seats are available will attract you. It’s the same with running a crowdfunding campaign she said. You need to make sure that people are contributing to your campaign from the very beginning. Potential backers may check the campaign from time to time and if they see no significant changes within days, they won’t give you money.
We ended our time here with the closing dinner of Frontières for filmmakers. It seems like everyone had positive responses for their projects. A lot of them also will be submitting some of their work they already made to #VOFF 3.
Indiegogo hosted the Closing Karaoke Party. After three days of meetings, screenings and networking, people were ready to belt out some ‘80s and ‘90s classics.
Well that’s it. We reached out to filmmakers for #VOFF 3 and maybe you”ll see some of their work during the fest in September. If you have something to submit, you still have until August 7. Just go to festival.viewster.com.