This week was the punch line, the kiss of death… the single event that will forever mark the official death of indie filmmaking. Articles, blogs, tweets, posts, pages, interviews had all warned us indie filmmaking was on its death bed, including a recent article in Variety about the 5 Trends Making the Movie Business Lose Sleep.
Extract from the Variety’s article: “The Indie Filmmaking Crisis – Arthouse cinemas are beginning to feel like ghost towns. Sundance favorites like “Dope” and “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” scored big deals, only to die at the box office. In response, distributors kept their checkbooks closed at the Toronto Film Festival. Plus, there are fewer buyers after Relativity Media went belly up and the Weinstein Co. cut the number of movies it will release in half.”
Little did we know that death would come so quickly after the Variety’s article as Tarantino’s movie, The Hateful Eight, is being pushed out of one of his beloved theaters in favor of Disney’s Star Wars.
The cynicals will tell me, “get a life, it’s only for one theater, so what?” True. Or “Tarantino’s movie isn’t that original anyway.” Maybe. But that’s not the point.
All revolutions start with a single event – the Symbol of it all. And what is happening between Disney, Cinerama Dome, and Tarantino is that so important Symbol. The revolution has started and now we – indie filmmakers – have got to figure out what needs to be done to get our original stories out there to audiences who will actually buy tickets to see the movie in a theater (while there’s a decrease in the number of moviegoers who prefer to watch movies online or other at-home media).
So, in view of the changing landscape in movie watching habits, distribution channels, and other film biz practices, what’s next? First, allow me to tell you a little story about an indie film project called The Kiss, a psychological/horror thriller.
The idea for The Kiss was created in 2009 and started off as a short film. The Kiss as a short film was then submitted to several film script contests to gauge the feasibility of the story as a feature film. In spite of its originality and darkness, The Kiss got thumbs up all around, even winning first places in contests and getting glowing reviews. So off I went to write The Kiss as a feature film. Working with peers in the biz, renown script doctors, distributors, I wrote rewrite after rewrite until The Kiss won awards, got “consider” coverages, and many positive review notes. Armed with what I knew was a very good script, my core team put on their business hats determined to getting this movie made.
For three years in a row, we attended film markets in the US (AFM) and Europe (Cannes); we participated in pitch sessions in California, on-line, etc; we got distributors and investors signing up LOI’s (Letters of Intent); we attached two leads; we signed up award-winning crew members… year after year, we thought we were close to wrapping up the deal. Year after year, we were asked to reduce the budget, from $7M, down to $5M, further down to $3.5M, and now way down to $2.5M… not mentioning those producers, distributors and others who told us indie movies should really be made for less than $250,000 – OK, so you get the gist of it all.
So, what is next for The Kiss – and for all other indie filmmakers?
Honestly, I don’t know – yet. With my team, we’ve been brainstorming ideas so we can get this movie made – anything goes, from corny to wild to futuristic. No censorship. But what I know for sure is that I want to maintain the originality of the story, the production design values, and the overall quality. Short of begging for freebies in above- and below-the-line budget items, it’s all about demonstrating that The Kiss can provide our investors an ROI (Return on Investment) regardless of the distribution model.
Perhaps the answer is not about making a feature film, but a pilot for a potential TV/web show with ten episodes over three seasons. Possible to do? Yes, of course. Will The Kiss concept get a better shot at being made if it’s transformed into an episodic show? Maybe. Can it be made as a game? Maybe. Can we convert the idea into a novel or a comic book first and then make it a feature film? Maybe… etc. and etc…
So, it’s up to us, indie filmmakers, to lead this revolution together – and maybe, just maybe, we can streamline the production process, remove the costly fat (read the middle-men in-between our movies and audiences), define our own distribution model (outside the Hollywood’s tent-pole model) that can generate revenues and profits for all involved. But one single indie filmmaker can’t go it alone – “Un pour tous. Tous pour un.”
In the end, this event (aka., the Symbol) is pure avarice on Disney’s part as well as a lack of respect for what Tarantino wants to do with his movie. Today, there are very few 70 mm projectors out there, and The Hateful Eight was shot in 70 mm – not Star Wars. So, now the 70mm projectors will sit idle to give Star War one more screen.
Time to close with this wise statement from Darla Shelby: The Indie Filmmaker is dead. Long Live the Indie Filmmaker!
Meet Zarco Guerrero, Master Mask Maker for The Kiss
Zarco Guerrero is a sculptor, mask maker, and performance artist in Mesa, Arizona.
With a career beginning in Mexico in the early 1970s, Zarco’s original focus was on the indigenous people in places like Mexico and Latin America. He was first introduced to mask making while living in Mexico. For many years, Zarco traveled all over the globe researching different types of art and the significance of mask making in other cultures.
When he returned to the United States, Zarco expanded his horizons as an artist by working on murals, performance art, and poetry. His focus as an artist in the southwest is to bring the beauty of its culture to light and instill its significance in younger generations. He has been featured on PBS and is the founder of Xico, Inc. and the Cultural Coalition, Inc. Zarco is extremely influential in the Latino art community throughout the southwest.
Zarco, with his creative insight and incredible talent as an artist, will play an important part in the production of The Kiss. His experience with mask making in countries like Japan will help bring the story of our main characters, Kyle (played by Sean Patrick Flanery) and Camille (played by Caterina Murino) to life. We are incredibly excited to have Zarco as a part of our team to help us bring The Kiss to the screen in the best way possible—through beauty and authenticity.
Three Horizons Productions
CATERINA MURINO gave an interview on French TV regarding her career, her newest role in Taxi Brooklyn, and her new lead role in The Kiss, a psychological/horror thriller by Remi Vaughn, writer/director.
When asked about her future projects, Caterina Murino stated: “I have other projects, one being, a horror feature film (The Kiss), written and directed by a French filmmaker; she lives in Arizona and it’ll be shot there. It’s a genre I’ve never done and it’s a superb role.”
Check the interview in its entirety at http://bit.ly/1oiHoKC.
BELOVED ITALIAN ACTRESS CATERINA MURINO just booked the female lead for a feature in one of her favorite genres! The Kiss is a psychological thriller written and soon-to-be directed by first-time feature film director Remi Vaughn. Caterina stars as Camille, a brilliant painter whose obsession for perfection is superseded by her brilliance. Caterina is excited to take on this role because it’s a challenge for her. She says, “I’m so thrilled to be part of The Kiss. It’s my first horror movie with a deep, strong, fragile, controversial role, in search of perfection as all artists do….till a terrible truth that will change forever her life!!! Huge and exciting challenge for me!”
The time is now… time to launch into our pre-production phase for our new feature film project, The Kiss, a psychological/serial killer thriller.
Stay tune for real-time news as we plan to launch a search for talented painters and sculptors throughout the world.