My Secret Weapon Part III...The Micro Pilot Could Have Saved THE HURT LOCKER
"The Micro-Pilot Could Have Saved
THE HURT LOCKER"
If I compared my three guest blog posts to STAR WARS then this would be RETURN OF THE JEDI. But, in this case, there will be no prequels and no more sequels. This is the grand finale! We blew up the Death Star and beat the Galactic Empire. -In this case, the “evil” is invisibility as an artist.
THE HURT LOCKER won 6 Oscar Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. It made history as the first woman director to win Best Picture. Most people didn’t know the behind-the- scenes story, until Jeff Steele wrote about it in his newly formed company’s, Film Closings‘, blog. Basically, the script went from Bigelow and her company through her representation with CAA to the foreign sales representatives. THE HURT LOCKER was a hard sell. On the list of film types that foreign theater markets want, Iraq War movies are definitely NOT on that list. Iraq War films then, is like 3D movies today: Too many were being pushed on audiences, and reactions were too similar. How do you make an overused topic fresh, new, and exciting? In the end, things worked in THE HURT LOCKER’S favor, and Nicholas Chartier, of Voltage, signed on to represent the film to the foreign sales market… and, even better, he was going to help produce it. Chartier really did make the film a success - on a financial level. You can read more of the story on Jeff Steele’s blog here.
I have huge respect for the entire team of THE HURT LOCKER. But, as a movie-goer (And, this is what really matters in the end…), they didn’t give me enough of that “something special” that makes me get off my butt go to the movie theater. Granted, I have absolutely no doubt that the film was great enough to earn those Oscar Awards. But, financially, it didn’t work. When the film was in theaters (prior to the Oscars), I saw dozens and dozens of Tweets about it on the Twitter stream, but I DON’T watch a film just because other people talk about it. I go to the movie theater because “I want to” see the film.
Actually, when I first saw the title, “The Hurt Locker”, the only thing that came to mind was a middle school locker room and some dweeb getting themselves beaten up and shoved into a locker by some jocks or bullies. However, when you see the poster or DVD cover, it’s a picture of an Iraq War scene… Wait a second… Wasn’t the reason foreign distributors weren’t running Iraq films because people were tired of the topic?… So, seeing a picture of the Iraq War, with an ambiguous title is supposed to make me pay good money, in a recession, to watch this particular film?
People would say, “If you had Googled the title, you would have seen the trailer.” My reaction is… SO?… As filmmakers, we don’t have the excuse, “People can just Google my film and see my stuff.” No, you’d be putting yourself in a really bad situation. We don’t want people to search for us, we want friends to tell each other to “check this out” and share a link.
Every film wants that Oscar nod. Because, usually after the Oscar ceremony, the film’s theatrical and DVD sales go up. What happened with the film, though, surprised everyone in the industry. After the Oscars, the movie was pirated so many times that the industry practically turned itself into the “police” in order to find the culprits. Now, I’m not someone who likes pirating. But, at the same time, if we convert the term from “pirating” to “file sharing” we can start to see how this works in our favor, as artists.
If a film, like THE HURT LOCKER, had originally been a micro-pilot… prior to production. Placing a micro-pilot on YouTube, or the like, could build the demand for the feature film. -- Everyone would have wanted to see this thing. (BTW, I had the same problem with the movie, FREQUENCY. Nothing pushed me to want to see it. However, when I came out of the movie theater, disappointed by GLADIATOR, I bumped into a friend who was going to go watch FREQUENCY. He paid for my ticket, I watched it, and LOVED it. It was one of my favorite movies of that year. -There could have been a great micro-pilot to that one too.)
Here’s the best part: You don’t have to be famous, rich, or have great connections to make a micro-pilot. Any filmmaker can make one of these things and have success and the possibility of tons of Internet views. For the first time in history, a filmmaker who has a really great story can find a way to build the audience demand and get the funding they need to produce it… Don’t believe it?
Believe PANIC ATTACK:
Fede Alvarez, the Uraguayan filmmaker, that made PANIC ATTACK responded to Part II of my Film Courage blog post. He clarified some details about his experience that I had been trying to figure out. I was close, but not close enough. Here’s his actual response:
“As a matter of fact, It wasn't exactly like that. I uploaded the short first, because the music video supposed to be like the soundtrack to a fake movie (Panic Attack). And I sent the link to this guys. And I got lucky, they liked it, and the post that small post. And from there West took it.... That was pretty much it... Hug! Fede”
Stop there for a second: The original PANIC ATTACK was a “fake” movie so that they could then make the music video to it afterwards. PANIC ATTACK is a “fake movie,” or I would say it was the last five minutes of a movie that could have been made. In other words… A micro-pilot!
He didn’t work some previous connections, instead, he took the link and gave it to motiongrapher.com (a site that tries to shine a spotlight on great short film projects). Yes, a site for filmmakers like you and me. After it gained hits, it somehow got the attention of Kanye West. Alvarez didn’t need to be rich, famous, or well-connected. He just needed to make a great micro-pilot.
Ditto with NUIT BLANCHE. It was made and then the link was sent to SpyFilms, who loved it and showcased it to the world.
Are you seeing this yet? Is it starting to finally make sense?
I have so many filmmaker friends pursuing financing for their films and it’s a “Catch22“ situation. Can’t get the financing without the attached talent, can’t get the talent without the financing. I tell them to make a micro-pilot and most respond: “We don’t have the money.” What are you talking about? Go buy a Canon T2i and a couple great lenses, find some local actors, write a micro-pilot, shoot it in a day or two, put it on the Internet, and build your audience! (You can do all that for less than $1,500.)
The “evil empire” can be defeated… we don’t have to be invisible anymore!!!
By the way, here’s the teaser to my micro-pilot, AWAKENING… it comes out on February 28th and will be available here.
John Wayne Bosley is writer/director/producer who created "The Allan Carter Saga Part I: Amnesia" (2008) and created the first Twitter-Based Film Festival, Rebfest (2009). He is currently working on Awakening, which is planned for a Feb 2011 release, on the internet.
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