27 May 2010

Jon Reiss' TOTBO Tips of the Day - Week 6

by guest columnist Jon Reiss.  Follow him on Twitter.

Proper Prior Planning Prevents Perplexing Problems or Some Very Practical Tips When Finishing Your Film...

Tip 26  Start Your Deliveries During Production

As I continue to create delivery elements for Bomb It (for new sales three years after its premiere) I am reminded as to how onerous they are.  Deliverables are the assets you need to deliver to distributors so that they can exhibit/sell your film.    You need to start developing them during production.  You should be organizing your contracts, keeping track of your chain of title (which actually starts at prep) and creating digital assets such as stills and video.  Stills are hugely important and you need three types of stills:  Of the Film, Of the Crew (mainly the director), and Specials of The Actors. Check out a list of conventional deliveries – and then expand that to include any trans media assets you will need.  You’ll thank me for starting earlier than you think.

Tip 27 Don’t Do Your Deliveries Alone.

Yesterday I mentioned how onerous delivering your film can be.    As a result – Having someone on your team either help with or do your deliveries is manna from heaven. This alone is a reason to have a Producer of Marketing and Distribution.   If you are self distributing or using an involved trans media project you will have many more deliverables than what is conventional. It is also a reason to start doing them during production when you have the most crew available to help. 

Tip 28 For Docs: Do Your International Cut Down When You Are Cutting Your Film

Documentaries usually need a 52-54 minute cut down of their film to sell to foreign television.  I waited a year before doing my cut down for Bomb It, which was way too long.  While it did provide me perspective and made it easier for me to slash and burn my film, I essentially had to repeat the entire delivery process for this edit – which was not fun to say the least.  Further, if you have your cut down ready when you are finishing – you can make package deals for 2 separate DIs and 2 mixes – doing them simultaneously is MUCH better than having to reopen the process later.   For perspective, I would recommend having a different editor do the cut down.  If you are on a budget – this would be an excellent perk to give to one of your assistant editors.  You can then polish it with your editor who is already on staff and might be difficult to engage later.

Tip 29 Full Frame Video Delivery Still Exists

Even though the world is moving to HD and its 16:9 aspect ratio as a standard, some television and VOD contracts require a full frame 4x3 version. In smaller deals you can often push your way out of this requirement, but on some bigger sales with bigger companies –just may not take your title if you don’t have a full frame 4x3 version.  This is not a letterboxed version that has black bars top and bottom It is the dreaded “pan and scan”.  However it is a pan and scan that you can control – and you can pay to have a pan and scan done. A less expensive approach is a 4x3 extraction. This is a down convert from HD 16:9  in which a machine pulls the center of the picture into the full 4x3 frame.   Remind yourself that you won’t have to be there when people see it. You can also wait to do this until you are forced to deliver one.  When you are doing your DI – make sure that your titles/subtitles/graphics are very title safe – so that they stay in the frame when the extraction occurs – otherwise you’ll have to replace each of those titles individually – NOT FUN (I know from experience)

Tip 30  Request to Keep Assets that Others Create for Your Film

Make sure you get all of the elements for each stage of the delivery process, whether it is the files for your authored DVD or if it is a subtitled version of you film that a foreign film festival created or if it the files for the closed captioning of your film.   I had a cc version of Bomb It created for Canadian television.   I received the master HD of this version, however not the closed captioning file.  Because of this I will need to pay for the cc process again. I was however smart enough to request copies of any subtitled version made for foreign film fest screenings or broadcast.  I just screened Bomb It in Tel Aviv.  The venue wants to screen it again, but with Hebrew subtitles.  I just completed a deal for Israeli television which requires them to provide me with the subtitles and a Hebrew subtitled DVD.  So now I have a DVD to use for the next screening of Bomb It – this time with Hebrew subtitles. 

My workshops are coming to NYC on June 5 & 6th organized through IFP – and Vancouver on June 12 & 13th.   One of the perks of attending is a digital pack of articles and documents including a delivery schedule and blank boilerplate budget in Excel.  I hope to see you there! Check out the book and workshops here
Named one of “10 Digital Directors to Watch” by Daily Variety, Jon Reiss is a critically acclaimed filmmaker who has produced and directed three feature films, most recently Bomb It (Tribeca 2007) about graffiti, street art and the battle over visual public space throughout the world. Jon is the author of Think Outside the Box Office: The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution in the Digital Era. For more information go to http://jonreiss.com/blog  or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Jon_Reiss.


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