Breaking In with Ben Phelps: a podcast

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road ahead in black and white

Welcome to BREAKING IN WITH BEN PHELPS, a new podcast about what happens when a filmmaker who has never made a feature film, makes one.

Do you love the Behind the Scenes features on DVD and Blu-ray? Now imagine sharing that experience in real time. Not after the film is made, but as it’s being made. If you enjoyed REBEL WITHOUT A CREW by Robert Rodriguez, then this podcast is right up your alley. I’m an independent filmmaker from Sydney, Australia. After making some award-winning short films, I’ll chronicle the ups and downs of making my debut feature film in 2015. There will be interviews with established filmmakers, cast, crew, friends and family. Laughs, blood, sweat and tears. It’s goin’ to be one helluva ride!

If you want to hear future episodes, just click on the links above to subscribe directly via iTunes or Stitcher.

You can reach me via email@benphelpsfilms on Twitter and @benphelpsfilms on Facebook. There’s plenty more at www.benphelps.com

Teasing the Feature: Part 2

Deadpool twitter photoPreviously I looked at inspirational clipomatics that have influenced the teaser Gabe and I are creating for our feature film. (Also known as ripomatics, sizzle reels and pitch trailers). Here are some pitch trailers that high-profile filmmakers have created, using original footage, with the goal of financing a feature length version.

Deadpool

Check out the original test footage that Tim Miller created with Ryan Reynolds for the film adaptation of Deadpool. Seeing is believing. Holy s**t! No expense spared.

Deadpool creator, Robert Liefeld, confirmed that Ryan Reynolds was filmed in a Performance Capture leotard. AKA Motion Capture or ‘mo-cap’. Then Deadpool’s superhero suit was digitally layered over the top by Tim Miller and his VFX team at Blur Studios.

BTS_Deadpool_Test_Footage_Motion_Capture

 

And it worked. Deadpool was financed as a result of this convincing pitch trailer. They’re shooting right now, as this cheeky shot testifies.

deadpool-fireplace-700-700x300

 

Ant-Man

Edgar Wright also directed test footage for a proposed comic book adaptation of Ant-Man. Sadly, after working on the script for 8 years, Wright left the project. Nonetheless, his vision for the film is intoxicating.

 

And who could have missed the ‘bootleg’ short films by Producer Adi Shankar:

Power/Rangers

Things just got gritty with Joseph Khan’s dark adaptation of a 1990s children’s TV series. 14M+ views, and counting, suggests that there’s a potential audience for a feature version.

The Punisher: Dirty Laundry 

Kudos to Phil Joanou who convinced Thomas Jane to revisit the same comic book vigilante he played in the feature version of The Punisher (2004).

Teasing the Feature: Part 1

Looper posterClipomatic. Ripomatic. Sizzle reel. Pitch trailer. Tone poem. Call it what you want. In Los Angeles, clipomatics are as ubiquitous as Starbucks. But, for some strange reason, Aussie filmmakers haven’t embraced them. I’m not sure why. I think clipomatics are a succinct and evocative creative expression of the film you want to direct. Given that my co-screenwriter, Gabe Dowrick, and I have almost completed the clipomatic for The Control Room, it’s a good moment to share a collection of my favourite clipomatics. Each of these convey the film which was subsequently financed and produced. Or in the case of Joe Carnahan, the films he really wanted to make:

 

Daredevil (NC-17 version) from Joe Carnahan

 

Daredevil (PG-13 version) from Joe Carnahan

 

Looper from Rian Johnson

 

Ironically, there’s a clipomatic by Joel Carnahan for Gemini Man which has a story that’s almost identical to Looper. It’s called Gemini Man:

 

The Hunger Games from Kevin Tancharoen

Standing up for Screenwriting

standing deskIt’s been way too long since my last post. So I thought I’d write about a screenwriting habit I’ve recently adopted.

Inspired by guru screenwriter, John August, I’ve been working at a standing desk in my day job over the last couple of months. Just a few cardboard boxes stacked on my regular desk. It’s been fantastic! I feel more tired in the evening because it’s more physical activity than being tethered to a chair. As a result I’m sleeping better.

Inspired by my experience at work, I recently adopted the same set-up at home for my passion – screenwriting. Better still, my partner built a DIY standing desk for $22 using IKEA furniture for me. I’ve been writing before dawn when it’s dark outside and – man, oh man! – standing up helps keep me awake. Try standing up for screenwriting. It’ll keep the blood and the creative juices flowing at the same time.

 

1,000 True Fans

Now, this is an interesting. We only need 1,000 true fans to finance ourselves as artists:

I am suggesting there is a home for creatives in between poverty and stardom. Somewhere lower than stratospheric bestsellerdom, but higher than the obscurity of the long tail. I don’t know the actual true number, but I think a dedicated artist could cultivate 1,000 True Fans, and by their direct support using new technology, make an honest living. 

Actually, it might a few more True Fans to support filmmakers:

Lastly, the actual number may vary depending on the media. Maybe it is 500 True Fans for a painter and 5,000 True Fans for a videomaker. The numbers must surely vary around the world.

via The Technium: 1,000 True Fans.

Festival vs Online Release

Another interesting blog about a filmmaker’s journey – to release festival or online?

One of the key aspects of my work, at this stage, is building an audience, some might call it a tribe. I think it’s essential for the modern day indie filmmaker. The unique way in which I’m doing this is by sharing absolutely everything I am going through as a filmmaker online. Through my film website, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo.  Note, building up an audience takes time, often years and it’s a great way of attracting talent to your projects as they can see quite clearly just how serious and professional you are.

via Guest Post: Getting your work out there. The festival vs the online release | Philip Bloom.

Here’s the short film too:

Hollywood: Split screens

… film-going in America is not a growth business, especially now that people have so many media to distract them at home. The share of Americans who attend a cinema at least once a month declined from 30% in 2000 to 10% in 2011…

via Hollywood: Split screens | The Economist.

Ouch! Why do I want to be a filmmaker again? Ted Hope also weighs in:

So where does this leave us?

  1. Young filmmakers interesting in quality character-driven tales should go into TV.
  2. If the studios & their heaps of cash get out of the tentpole business, who is going to take their place?
  3. The business model is broken.  Who is doing something to fix it?  Why is this not an industry level discussion?
  4. Now would be a good time to launch a micro-budget global transmedia development/production/distro company.

 

The Science of Netflix drama production

Interesting article about the strategy that went into the creation of House of Cards. Big brother is… programming.

The company financed “House of Cards” after seeing many subscribers watched Oscar-nominated director David Fincher’s movies and that others are fans of its protagonist, Spacey. It resurrected the canceled series “Arrested Development” after similar analysis.

via Netflix’s Hastings Says Viewer Data Underpins Programming – Bloomberg.

How remarkable is your project?

An inspirational video that Chris Jones drew my attention to:

Chris notes:

Youtube is filled with videos that routinely get millions of views, videos that are remarkable back flipping cats, remarkable idiots jumping off walls and breaking a leg or remarkable weddings with families dancing down the aisle. In of themselves, certainly not great art, but they are ‘remarkable’.

And to be clear, remarkable does not mean amazing or wonderful, it means, does it warrant ‘remark’.

via How remarkable is your project? | Make Film Teach Film.

For my short films and feature projects, like The Hitman’s Cookbook, it’s great advice.