Saturday, June 28, 2008

Rewrite by Paul Chitlik

Paul Chitlik. Rewrite. Studio City, Ca.: Michael Wiese Productions, 2008.

Rewriting is an important, indeed major, part of creating a screenplay. Many scripts go through ten to thirty rewrites. Many screenwriters work with other writers, producers, agents, managers, and film developers in creating revised scripts.

When rewriting, it is advised that screenwriters look to recreate dialogue that can produce a double impact upon the audience. This means the dialogue conveys both plot information as well as revealing a characteristic about the speaker.

The author explains the one rule of screenwriting is the lack of any rules. There are many guidelines and conventions, but no set rules.

Paul Chitlik recommends a screenwriter to first review the clarity of the movie’s story and how the structure of the story impacts the viewer. The three act structure is the most common structure. The story is the plot, which moves a character towards a goal while demonstrating the obstacles in reaching that goal. Most scripts start with strong characters and then demonstrate the motivation of a character towards obtaining the goal. Paul Chitlik suggests focusing first on how character is intermixed with structure.

Paul Chitlik recommends a script contain seven basic points. The first is “ordinary life”. This is what lets the audience learn the characteristics and especially the flaws of the main character.

The second point is the “inciting incident” that permanently changes the main character’s life. This event should be so major that the main character must react to it and it will create a goal that the character must seek.

The third point is the “end of act one”. This is where the character creates a plan for handling the changes and goods caused by the inciting incident. Often other events cause the character to respond and focus on the goal. The author suggests this usually happens around pages 25 and 35 of a script.

The fourth point is the “midpoint” or “turning point”. This is where the action in the script takes a sudden twist that could change the goal or allow the character to recognize a flaw. Often this is where the character realizes that needs triumphs wants.

The fifth point is the “low point”. This is where the obstacles have brought the character to that character’s low point from which obtaining the goal appears the most difficult. This is usually at the end of the second act.

The sixth point is the “final challenge” that the character must face before achieving the goal.

The seventh point is the “return to (the now-changed-forever) normal life”. This usually takes two to three pages.

Paul Chitlik recommends for a screenplay to establish who a main character is and then produce the inciting incident as quickly as possible.

Chitlik advises, while a writer is reviewing a screenplay, to consider these seven points. He then suggests determining if the story needs more balance or if there are points missing. A writer will reexamine the beatsheet or treatment and change scenes, by adding, deleting, or shifting them accordingly. Most scripts have 30 to 75 scenes.

The author recommends analyzing and improving the subplots. Then the wrier could examine ways the story could be improved upon by increasing the stakes in the need in order to reach the goal. This can be accomplished by looking at what the character is risking by not gaining the goal and discovering ways to increase the risks. The story should be examined for ways the barriers could be increased. The barriers should result from the main character’s flaws. The script should have a hero, which is the main character, solving the barriers and reaching the goals by the main character’s own actions. The hero cannot be saved by another, or else the audience will feel disappointed in the result.

Most films have one main dominant character. The main character can have a buddy. Very few successful films have an ensemble of characters with no one dominating. Paul Chitlik advises that the main aspect a story needs to learn is what this main character wants, or perhaps later discovers instead, needs. The premise, or central theme, or message has to be a correct fit for the main character. The character has to have the correct physiological, sociological, and psychological construction for that premise to work. A protagonist should be shown with an endearing quality. Characters should be multidimensional, which makes them more captivating to audiences.

Every scene should advance the story. The scenes should flow in sequence. Each scene should have its own inciting incident and turning point. Conflict should occur in each scene.

Screenplay descriptions within the script should be kept short and are written in the present tense.

The supporting characters should have their own arcs.

Screenplays should be 110 to 120 pages.

Dialogue should be suitable to each character.

After rewriting, the writer should conduct a Script Status Report. This checks the script’s premise, the main character and the main character’s goals, obstacles to the goals, the main character’s flaws that make the obstacles enormous, supporting characters and their needs, the genre, the characteristics of the protagonist, the inciting incident, the end of Act One, the midpoint, that a low point end of Act Two is reached, that a final challenge occurs, how the main character is forever changed and what in the screenplay works, what doesn’t work, and what must be changed.

A screenplay should not contain any camera directions.

A screenplay should be paced with ups and downs, scene to scene, sequence to sequence, with rising actions and rest. The rest can use comedic relief.

The first five pages of a screenplay are critical. They determine whether or not the movie will grab the audience’s attention. The last five pages are critical as they are the scene the audience will most remember.

Less than 5% of scripts sold to studios are made into movies.

The American War Film by Frank J. McAdams

Frank J. McAdams. The American War Film: History and Hollywood. Los Angeles: Figueroa Press, 2005.

Movies reflect the culture and public attitudes in existence when films are produced. This book explores war films. These films reflected how people thought then of war. War films both stir people to enlist and fight war, as well as to protest and resist war.

Movies can directly impact war policy. Nixon in 1970 had his advisors join him in seeing a movie about a strong General, “Patton”, before they debated and decided to bomb Cambodia.

The first film to win the Academy Award for Best Picture, in 1929, was “Wings”, a war movie that featured aerial combat scenes.

The first war film was “Tearing Down the Spanish Flag”, a 1898 patriotic propaganda short film on the Spanish American War. This was a drama set in a historical background.
In 1915, “The Birth of a Nation” movie concerned the Civil War. The film enthralled audiences by combining romantic and tragic stories in a historical context from a half century earlier. President Woodrow Wilson declared this movie as “history written in lightening”. This film generated great controversy for its positive presentation of the Ku Klux Klan. Several groups of African Americans protested and rioted against the film in several cities.

World War I saw the rise of several propaganda films that boosted the war effort. “Heart of the World” released in 1917 included scenes depicting enemy Germans ravishing French and Belgium communities.
“The Girl Who Stayed Home” portrayed the battlefield heroics of a man who went to war against his father’s wishes that he instead have remained home.

After World War I, films looked back at what happened. The pro-war propaganda diminished and the war was seen in reflection by society and in film. In 1921, “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” presented a more realistic of war by presenting that death and famine occurred during the war.
“The Big Parade”, released in 1925, which grossed more than any movie before it, showed that death occurs in battle scenes and informed the audience of the postwar trauma that afflicted many returning soldiers. The film resonated with many veterans who identified with what was depicted.
“What Price Glory?” allowed audiences to see depictions of the horrors of trench warfare, which caught some off-guard as the scenes followed a comedic build-up. Many who saw the film debated and agreed with the film’s message that war is older men sending younger men to fight and die.

In 1930, Howard Hughes presented “Hell’s Angels”. This film had a $4 million production cost ($100 million in 1990 dollars) that included dramatic aerial combat scenes. The popularity of this film that presented war as exciting helped solidify public support for American military involvement in Central America that was occurring at that time.
Also released in 1930 was “All Quiet on the Western Front”. This film ended with its main character, a soldier, killed by a sniper while reaching for a butterfly. This memorable sad ending to a film stirred feelings for pacifism. It also stirred a counter-reaction by pro-military advocates who argued against the film’s message. In Gernany, the Hitler Youth demonstrated inside theaters against showing the film. When the Nazis took power in 1933, Germany banned any showing of the movie.

Nazi Germany saw the benefits of presenting propaganda films to the public. In 1935, “Triumph of the Will” was released to stir support for Hitler.
“The Charge of the Light Brigade” was also released in 1935. This film was based on the 1854 Crimean War. It took great liberties with facts in its depiction of a British cavalry that was wiped out in battle. Actor Errol Flynn’s swashbuckling captured audience support.

In 1937, “All Quiet on the Western Front, the Road Back” was released as a sequel. It presented veterans adjusting to their postwar lives. There was protests against this film as well in Germany.
“The Last Train from Madrid” was released in 1937. It helped inform audiences about the growing Fascist movement especially in Spain and throughout Europe.

“Gone with the Wind” was released in 1939 and depicted the South during the Civil War and was an enormously popular film.
In 1939, the United States was neutral in the European conflicts. Warner Brothers issued a public statement that they would not create any propaganda films and then proceeded to ignore this statement shortly afterwards by releasing “Confessions of a Nazi Spy”. The German government claimed this movie violated international laws regarding neutrality/

Several more films released in 1940 helped stir support for building the American military to prepare for war. “The Fighting 69th” depicted the bravery of an Irish American regiment in World War I.
MGM’s “The Mortal Storm” showed how the Nazis were harming German society. Germany retaliated by burning all MGM films.

After the United States entered World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt encouraged movie studio executives to produce war films that generated public support for the war effort. The Federal government also created the Bureau of Motion Pictures that worked with movie studios in creating military training and informational films. Censorship prevailed, and movies were prohibited from showing bloody battle wounds or negative portrayals of the military. He films also widely depicted the enemy as psychotic Nazis and subhuman “Japs”.

:A Yank in the RAF” and “I Wanted Wings” both released in 1941 successfully aimed to encourage viewers to enlist or support others enlisting in the military.
“Sergeant York” about a World War I hero also was released and helped stir patriotic sentiment.

1942 saw the release of more pro-military films. This included “Man Hunt” about a hunter desiring to shoot Hitler.
“Desperate Journey” was about escaping from a German prison campgin.
“Captains of the Clouds” was about a Canadian pilot war hero.
“Flying Tigers” was about Americans volunteering for the Chinese Air Force.
“Across the Pacific” was a war spy film.
“Joe Smith, American” was about a factory worker who helps the FBI capture Nazi spies.
“Mrs, Miniver” showed British resolve against the Nazis and reassured audiences that England would be a strong ally worthy of aide. This film won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1942.
“”Somewhere I’ll Find You” was about the war effort in Indochina.
“To Be or Not to Be” was a comedy that mimicked Hitler.
“Yankee Doodle Dandy” was a musical with patriotic songs and even depicted President Roosevelt.
“Wake Island” was about Marines fighting the Japanese.
“Sabateur” was about combating Nazi factory sabotage.
The most memorable war film of 1942 probably is “Casablanca”. It was about life under Nazi occupation. It is credited with stirring much public support for the war effort. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture the following year. Fiction and reality would mix as Casablanca, one week after the was released, would be the location where Roosevelt and Churchill would meet and agree on joint war plans.

In 1943, Roosevelt requested the motion picture industry to make more films that boosted the war effort.
The Czech commando assassination of Reich Protector Richard Heydrich, who had ordered mass executions of Czechs and Jews, was heralded in two films released in 1943, “Hitler’s Madman” and “Hangmen Also Die!”.
1943 also saw the release of “Hitler’s Children” about Nazi sterilization and brainwashing programs. Ironically, some thought the movie, which speculated what was happening, was exaggerated propaganda when later it was learned what was really happening was far worse.
“Five Graves in Cairo” presented the war effort in northern Africa.
“Air Force” was a movie that the Army Air Force suggested be made.
Roosevelt requested “Mission to Moscow” be produced. The film was intended as propaganda to stir pro-Soviet sentiments as part of Allied efforts to keep the Soviet Union in the alliance. Roosevelt appears as himself in the movie. The movie, though, lied about the existence of Soviet mass executions. The film would be condemned during the McCarty era and its screenwriter was blacklisted.
“Action in the North Atlantic” showed the Merchant Marines in action.
“The Immortal Sergeant” showed military action in North Africa.
“Bataan” presented the fight against the Japanese in the Philippines.
“Cry Havoc” told how nurses serving in the Philippines ultimately were killed by the Japanese.
“A Guy Named Joe” was about the Army Air Force. It’s ending that showed a single pilot flying into action was criticized for violating military directives that movies depict the military effort as requiring teamwork.
“Gung Ho!” was about the combat actions of a Marine Captain.
“Destination Tokyo” and “Crash Dive” were submarine action movies.
Women supporting the war effort were highlighted in “So Proudly We Hail” about an Army nurse and “Flight for Freedom” about a female aviator.
“Form Whom the Bell Tolls” was about the fight against Fascism during the Spanish Civil War.
“Watch on the Rhine” depicted German espionage within America.
“Lifeboat” was about survivors of a submarine sunk by a U-boat. The movie drew critics as a German Nazi survivor has a strong role. The director Alfred Hitchcock sought to warn audiences that the Germans were not caricatures that should be consider lightly.

1944 was the release of more movies boosting the war effort. “The Fighting Seabees” was released to salute workers who built airfields on islands. The Federal government required this film to be rewritten as they were unhappy with the initial portrayal of female journalist who expressed strong opinions.
“Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo” and “The Purple Heart” both depicted the Army Air Force bombings of Japan.
“The Story of Dr. Wassell” presented a doctor who saved lives after the Pearl Harbor attack. The release of the film was delayed due to Navy inaction in taking the time to view and approve this film.
“Since You Went Away” was designed to gain public support for civilian comfort sacrifices for the war effort.
“Tomorrow the World” was about a couple who adopts a 12 year old German who grew up with Nazi philosophies and sympathies. The ignorant boy was to inform audiences about Nazi plans for domination and dealing with “undesirable races”.
“The White Cliffs of Dover” was about the resolve of the British surviving the war.

In 1945, “God is My Co-Pilot” was released. It was designed to insinuate to audiences that God is on the side of the Allies.
1945 also saw films that presented more realistic images of the costs of war. “They Were Expendable” was about PT boats and showed the high mortality rate of those serving on them.
“The Story of G.I Joe” presented the story of a combat war correspondent and showed this hero character killed in combat.
“A Walk in the Sun” was a combat film where the hero also dies at the film’s end.

After the war was over in 1945, war films continued being presented. Many of these post-war films no longer were pro-war propaganda films, as that was no longer needed. Instead, society and films reflected the issues of returning veterans. Some films began looking back and raised questions on the stress of war and even corruption within the military
In 1946, “Blood on the Sun” was released. This movie presented Japanese plans for world domination and presented justifications for the war effort against Japan.
“”The House on 92nd Street” presented a Nazi spy story.
“Objective Burma” concerned soldiers fighting the Japanese. The film is noteworthy in that the British soldiers were showed in a negative light. England refused to allow the film to be shown there until 1952, and only then following a studio apology for its portrayal of the British.
“Pride of the Marines” was based on a true story of a few solders who held off over 200 Japanese soldiers.
“Captain Eddie” told of the story of World War I hero Eddie Rickenbacker surviving 22 days adrift in the ocean during World War II.
The documentary films “With the Marines at Tarawa”, “The Fighting Lady”, and “The Battle of San Pietro” gave audiences a look at some military events. It is noted, though, that it was not until “Saving Private Ryan” was produced in 1998 did audiences ever see a realistic portrayal of battlefield conditions.
The documentary “Let There Be Light” scheduled for release in 1946 dealt with battlefield fatigue (later labeled posttraumatic stress disorder) suffered by former soldiers in a psychiatric hospital ward. The Army objected to this film being released. Before its scheduled first showing, Military Police seized the film and refused to allow it to be shown. This use of military censorship kept the film from being shown for 35 years.
“The Best Years of Our Lives” presented some issue returning veterans faced. This film cast Harold Russell, a non-actor who lost both hands, in this film. Russell won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor,
“13 Rue Madeleine” was a movie presenting the much rumored American intelligence efforts in assisting the French resistance.

1947 saw the rise of movies that were not centered on war yet war was an important background to the story. “Calcutta” was such a murder mystery film.
“The Beginning of the End” had a storyline involving atom bomb scientists.

In 1948, “Homecoming” showed a doctor called to war.
“The Search” had a story about a soldier caring for a boy left orphan by the war. This film won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay.
“Fighter Squadron” was a movie about aerial combat that used actual war footage.
“Crossfire” represented a sudden change in film portrayals of soldiers. For the first time, some American soldiers were negatively presented in this story of soldiers who murder a man because he is Jewish.

1949 saw the film “Home of the Brave” show racial hatred within the Army ranks.
The film “Task Force” was critical of prewar society for not having a Navy properly prepared for the possibility of war.
“Sands of Iwo Jima” was about Marines training and then fighting at Iwo Jima.
“Battlefield” was about the 101st Airborne Division and was filmed using actual veterans of that division. The film depicts a famous scene where a Nazi truce party sought this division’s surrender, their General’s response was “nuts”. Since the word “nuts” was on the list of censored words prohibited to be stated in movies, the censor board had to be persuaded to allow this historic fact to be included in this movie.

War films continued being produced in 1950 with the release of “Twelve o’Clock High” about aerial battles.
1950 also saw the release of “The Men” that concerned a wounded soldier readjusting to civilian life.
“Hells of Montezuma” was about Marine combat.
Also in 1950, “The Red Badge of Courage”, about the Civil War, was released. This film showed some of the problems of war and enticed audiences to debate the desirability of returning to war.

1951 saw the release of “The Steel Helmet” and “Fixed Bayonet” which were about the U.N. forces in Korea. These films reflected the beginnings of growing American involvement in the Korean War.
“Bright Victory” was about a bigoted soldier who is blinded in action and then befriends a blind African American soldier.
“Decision before Dawn” was a spy movie that allowed audiences to see how Nazism destroyed lives for many Germans. This was the first postwar film to open discussion of how the German people had suffered during the war.
“Force of Arms” showed a love story between a wounded soldier and a nurse.
“Flying Leathernecks” presented the story of Marine fighter pilots.

1952 brought “One Minute to Zero” and “Retreat, Hell!” about the ongoing Korean War. The Army provided actual footage for the film “One Minute to Zero”.
1952 also presented a remake of “What Price Glory?”

1953 presented “From Here to Eternity” which was based on infantry life just before World War II began. It won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
“Stalag 17” was a comedic portrayal of prisoners of war.

1954 saw “The Caine Mutiny” about service on a mine sweeper ship and presented the issue of someone lacking the qualifications and abilities to handle wartime command.

1955 brought “Battle Cry”, a love story in a war setting.
“The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell” was about a 1926 trial of a Colonel who criticized the military for its lack of preparation in not devoting enough attention to aerial strength. Billy Mitchell had also warned that Pearl Harbor was vulnerable to attack by Japanese battleships.
“Mister Roberts” also raised the issue of poor military leadership.
“To Hell and Back” told about war hero Audie Murphy, the most decorated solider in World War II.

1957 brought “Paths of Glory” about the World War I attacks at Verdun where 700,000 French and Germans died with little change in battlefield position for either side. The films presented a true history of three French soldiers made an example in kangaroo court and then executed. They were chosen randomly among soldiers who had displeased Generals when the soldiers refused to carry forth orders for suicide missions.
“Attack” explored the issue of inept military command that seemed more concerned about the political results of command decisions even if it meant higher soldier deaths that otherwise could have been avoided. The military refused to provide any assistance to this film.
A remake of “Farewell to Arms” was presented.
“Heaven Knows Mr. Alison” contrasted a Marine and a nun who found themselves stranded together on an island where they must keep themselves hidden from Japanese soldiers living on the island.
“Darby’s Rangers” told of a battalion that fought in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy.

1958 saw the release of “Run Silent”. Run Deep” about adversarial relationships aboard a World War II submarine.

1959 saw “Never So Few” about a fictional guerilla unit. This film explored the issue of corruption in Chiang Kai-skek’s Chinese government.
“They Came to Cordura” was about an army officer in Mexico in 1916.
“The Diary of Ann Frank” was about a Jewish family hiding from the Nazis. The film helped raise awareness about Nazi atrocities.

1960 saw the release of “The Gallant Hours” about the World War II battles at Guadalcanal.
“All the Young Men” explored racism during the Korean War.
“The Alamo” showed the battle of soldiers in 1835 at the Alamo against the Mexican army.

In 1961, “Judgment at Nuremberg” was a fictionalized account of the trials of Nazi war criminals.
“The Outsider” presented an account of the World War II battle at Iwo Jima.

In 1962, the fictional “The Manchurian Candidate” presented a story of a soldier who is psychologically programmed to become a political assassin. The film raised issues about the Cold War. The film was withdrawn for viewing for several decades after President Kennedy was assassinated the following year.
“The War Lover” was about B-17 pilots in World War II. Actual war film footabe was included in this movie.
“War Hunt” was set in the Korean War. It raised issues about the manner in which war is sometimes conducted.
“The Longest Day” presented the Normandy invasion during World War II.
“Lawrence of Arabia” presented the Arab revolt against Turkey during World War I. This film was the Academy Award for Best Picture.

1964 saw “The Americanization of Emily” released, which raised issues of how politicians can adversely affect combat decisions. This film was the first film that questioned war released during the publicly controversial Vietnam War. It also seems as if the controversy decreased audience appeal for war movies as fewer were released in succeeding years.
“Dr. Strangelove” was a comedy satire of the Cold War.

1966 saw the release of the film “Is Paris Burning” about the Allied invasion of Paris during World War II.

1967 brought the release of “The Dirty Dozen” about felons awaiting execution who accepted a dangerous military mission.
“The Night of the Generals” presented a fictional story of a Nazi General who was also a serial killer.

There was a rise of counterculture films during the Vietnam War. During the war, just one war film regarding the war that was supportive of the war effort was released. This was “The Green Berets”, which was released in 1968.

“Patton” released in 1970 presented the life of General George Patton, a leading World War II General.
Films questioning war were released in 1970. “Catch-22” questioned the sanity of fighting war.
“M*A*S*H” was set during the Korean War and mocked the Cold War military mentality.

After the Vietnam War ended, several movies critical of the war were released.
“Coming Home” released in 1978 presented the difficulties of a soldier who became a paraplegic during the Vietnam War.
“The Deer Hunter” released in 1979 showed the violence of war.
“First Blood” released in 1982 was a military action movie that portrayed a solider as psychotic.

“Uncommon Valor” released in 1983 examined fighting in Vietnam. It also let audiences see what training methods were like.

“The Killing Fields” released in 1984 showed audiences the genocide in Cambodia.

“Rambo: First Blood” released in 1985 concerned the issue of Vietnam soldiers who were prisoners of war.

“Platoon” released in 1986 opened discussions on what fighting in Vietnam was like. Some were horrified by the brutality while other objected that the movie showed only a small portion of the war.

“Hamburger Hill” released in 1987 concerned a battle during the Vietnam War.
“The Hanoi Hilton” concerned American soldiers held as prisoners of war.
“Good Morning, Vietnam” concerned an armed services radio disc jockey in Vietnam.

In 1989, “84 Charlie Mopic” was a realistic portrayal of airborne combat during the Vietnam War.”
“Born on the Fourth of July” showed the difficulties that returning veterans faced and the life that some who spoke out against the war experienced.
“Casualties of War” raised moral questions as this movie presented combat soldiers who commit rape.

1990 saw the release of “Dances with Wolves” about a Civil War hero who explores Native America territory and develops sympathy for the Native Americans who he knows will soon be overrun by American settlers and soldiers. This film won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

“Gettysburg” was released in 1993. This film was about the Civil War battle of Gettysburg.
“Schindler’s List” presented some of the horrors of the Holocaust. This film won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

In 1998, “Saving Private Ryan” presented a realistic portrayal of combat during World War II and the bloody results of battle. This was the first film to have such graphic realistic depictions.
“A Bright Shining Lie” presented the Vietnam War story of a General who questions Vietnamese government corruption.

“Three Kings” released in 1999 was the first movie set during the Gulf War.

In 2000, “Rules of Engagement” concerned both the Vietnam War as well as combat in Korea.
“U-571” concerned submarine warfare and code breaking during World War II.
“The Patriot” was based on the Revolutionary War. Some historians debated the inaccuracies of historical composites of real people and events.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Movie Business edited by James E. Squire

James E. Squire (ed.) The Movie Business. 3rd Ed. New York, N.Y.: Fireside Books, 2004.

This book presents insights from movie industry insiders. It shows how film is a high risk yet potentially high financial yield industry. It requires blending creative talent, business managers, and financial handlers.

This book looks at how films are created, such as the role of writers’ agents, how ideas are sold to and developed by the film industry, how movies are funded, the process of managing movie productions, and negotiations between agents and executives as well as legal dealings. It shows the process of creating a film including the roles of directors and actors, the timing of when movies are released, marketing the finished movie product, including how market research is conducted, the business of getting theaters to show films, international marketing strategies, the role of home video releases, the role of product tie-ins to movies, and the subsequent life of film on television, the Internet, and other venues. Examined in this book are the increasing costs in making films (including escalating star salaries) since the 1980s, and notes the fears that increasing costs may soon doom industry profits. Film is a part of the global economy. American films find international distributors, and often attract international financers seeking a share of international distribution rights. The global market is critical to the film industry.

Film producer David Putnam describes his personal research methods for finding film ideas (i.e. reading newspaper stories), finding screenwriters appropriate for the genre being developed, and mentions his belief that sticking with the same screenwriter though the redrafting process works better than using multiple subsequent writers.

Putnam tells the importance of producers in reducing risk. He warns about avoiding prematurely agreeing to a release date that can thrown an entire production off balance, of avoiding focusing film’s future on one actor, as this potentially gives that actor undue influence, the importance of appropriately comparing costs of filming at alternative locations by noting that wise preproduction spending can yield later cost savings during production, recommends shooting crucial scenes early yet also noting that it often takes three days for a crew to function in sync, notes that often a producer needs to evaluate the direction of production around the end of the second week of production, tells of the importance of positive relations between the producer and the director and crew, and notes the critical importance of time and seeing that operations are properly staffed to avoid losing crucial time, including undertaking editing while shooting.

Director Sydney Pollack describes the importance of developing a film idea into a better story. He tells of the rise of agents who are more aware of the entire film market who exert more influence of decision making processes in producing films. This is something Pollack fears does little to improve films although it does often increase profits. Pollack notes that major film studios spend $150,000 to $200,000 on daily location filming. He advises directors to be alert for unexpected problems, i.e. wardrobe stolen, and to be prepared to figure out how to solve these unforeseen incidences. He urges directors to note that sound, including the soundtrack and even when using reverb, is of critical importance. He also observes the importance of cinematography in blending sound and sight in presenting the desired moods.

Versatile Mel Brooks tells of difficulties that comedies face. Studios are often leery about their potential for financial success. He believes keeping a filming journal leads to reflection and creates better results. He notes that films are often financed with 60% 70 70% of domestic financing and 30% to 40% of foreign financing. He further notes it is often less expensive in the long run to go with higher paid union labor as they are generally more experienced and act more professionally and make fewer costlier mistakes.

Independent filmmaker Henry Jaglom recommends using selling foreign distributorships to raise funds to create one’s own pictures. He then shows his films in big city theaters and then seeks to get them released to several hundred theatres. His filmmaking process is to shoot for several weeks, edit for several months, and then up with a few days of shooting. His films have a typical budget of $3 million for shooting, $500,000 for advertising and prints, and he tends to earn a profit in the $4.5 million to $6 million range.

Screenwriter William Goldman urges screenwriters to find and develop their own style. He notes that while screenwriters often are treated with less respect than are directors, the screenplay is an essential part of the movie. He notes that few directors wish for a screenwriter to be present during filming, as directors and actors usually place their interpretations on their performances and that screenwriters are often upset at the differing visions giving to their scripts.

Literary agent Lee G. Rosenberg discusses the difficulties that unknown writers face in getting agents. This is especially difficult as agents will not look at unsolicited scripts. A writer needs to get an agent. An agent, though, will accept a writer either through a trusted source or by something unique in a writer’s letter that captures the agent’s attention. Of course, getting an agent’s attention to read a script is only the first step. The agent has to then like the script before representing the writer.
An agent attempts to find a studio to purchase a script written by a writer the agent’s represents. Once sold, the agent negotiates a contract for the writer. Sometimes writer may be 5% to 15% of either net profits, gross profits after breakeven, gross profits with an alternate calculation, or some other type of calculation.
A manager handles finances and publicity and often does so in conflict when jurisdictions between the manager and agent conflict. The manager and agent work better together when they trust each other.
Agencies receive 10% of all gross monies the writer earns. It is noted that agents are regulated and managers are not regulated. Managers often receive anywhere from 15% to 50%.
Writing credits in a movie are determined by the Writers Guild as opposed to the studios so deciding.

Story editor Romy Kaufman urges each screenwriter to find an agent who believes in the writer’s work. It is noted that aggressive, medium sized agencies can be as effective as larger agencies. Kaufman observes the screenwriting process often takes three months for a first draft and two additional months for a redraft and another month to polish the script.

Literary agent Roberta Kent and literary manager Joel Gotier note that guaranteed advances for novelization rights reach $600,000. They observe most book publishers earn small profits on hard cover sales. The larger profits are in paperback rights and book club deals. Authors usually keep their books’ rights. Some screenplays develop as a tie-in with a book such that both a movie and the book are released simultaneously.

Attorney Peter J. Dekom notes the average major studio film budget is $50 million plus $30 million for domestic opening of the film. Lately (circa 2000) profits to movie companies have been reduced. In addition, the number of movies produced has lowered. Movie profits typically were 30% to 100% more a few decades ago. Today, the typical movie’s profits falls within a -20% to 20% range. Many film companies do not see a profit until the movie is released for home video. Studios seek to increase the value of their films by reducing costs (i.e. film in lower cost countries), sell off their own films, and lower production costs by producing films without using high paid stars. Studios are looking to increase their pools of more affordable talent, create screenplays internally rather than making costlier purchase of externally written scripts, seek outside co-financing, and use fewer megastars per film.

Attorney Norman H. Carey states it is legally important how gross and net profits are defined. For instance, someone earning 10% of gross participation from the first dollar may earn a lot whereas someone earning 10% of net profit participation may receive little or nothing.
Carey notes many low budget films are produced by limited partnerships of investors to limit liability to that partnership without risking investors’ personal liabilities.
Financing producers usually will obtain insurance known as a completion guarantor. The insurer may place penalties if the picture is not completed on time. The insurer may have a right to take control of the film away from the director and producers if the movie is not completed on time.
Negative pickup is another method of providing financing for a film that can’t otherwise raise full financing. In this case, a studio agrees to pay a fee if it receives a negative of the film; otherwise, it need not pay anything.
Upfront bank loan financing is often obtained in return for the later negative pickup.
Producers sometimes negotiate gross receipts participation deals with studios. Often, the studio receives a larger share until it receives it costs, then the share favors the producer until a pre-established gross receipts amount is reached. After that, there usually is an equal distribution from that point on.
Other varying arrangements have been negotiated. If a producer can handle financing, the studios may receive only a standard 30% domestic distribution fee. Other percentages provided are often 10% to 15% to the director and 5% to 10% to the screenwriter, and possibly some actors receive a percentage. Thus, a producer’s share with studio financing may be 10% to 20% of net profits.

Venture capital financier Sam L. Grogg observes that regional independent film production with local investors reached places such as North Carolina, Vancouver, Toronto, Texas, Florida, etc. There are numerous financing structures that are found in these regional productions.

Financial analyst Harold L. Vogel notes in 2000 that within the U.S., $10 billion was spent on video rentals and $8 billion in movie tickets. In analyzing film companies, companies with a record of past profitability are then more reliably able to retain their creative talent. Companies that invest the best are more apt to continue being successful. Some good signs of a film company’s financial strengths are if it has a large film library or it is owns many intellectual property rights. It should be noted that films have become riskier investments and movie and television profit margins were approximately 10% to 18% during 1973 to 1980, approximately 8% during the 1980s, and 5% during the 1990s.

Fox Filmed Entertainment President Tom Rothman states that many movie company executives need to be both creative and possess business and legal knowledge. He notes he tries to match similar levels of financial risks to creative risks to yield edgier but profitable films. He is distrustful of pitches and prefers reading scripts in order to determine which should be filmed. He seeks good drama and notes that a lot of dialogue is not required to produce a good drama. His company often develops films rather than passively waiting for script submissions.

Marketing consultant Richard Lederer notes that special effects technologies allow for grander visual presentations. Still, the basics of stories and relationships remain requirements for good films.
Changes in audience tastes have allow movies to present greater presentation of sexual issues than before.
He urges studio executives to be hungry and willing to take risks which more likely lead to better films being produced. Successful film managers have a good sense of what the global audience desires to see in movies, knows how to avoid inflated production costs, hires power talent, understands diplomacy in handling hired talent, and knows how to integrate inexperienced managers into existing operations.

Financier-distributor David V. Picker observed that United Artists was able to become profitable after being purchased by Arthur Krim and Richard Benjamin by working directly with the creative talent that made their films. The talent has large artistic freedom and a percentage of profits while United Artists retained all distribution rights and a percent of profits. This arrangement, unique at that time, instituted a new, and what became a more common, era of moviemaking. He worries that high risk can lead to high profit, yet it is difficult to sustain high financial yields due to these greater uncertainties.

Former motion pictures President (at Sovereign and then Valhalla) Barbara Boyle believes independent films are often riskier, more innovative, and more compelling to viewers.
She credits United Artists for operating as a financier-distributor of independent films and interceding on the creative process only if a producer violates contract terms. She sees this as the roots of modern independent filmmaking. The emergence of the home video market in the 1980s encourage the growth of independent films, as it provided greater opportunities for such films to achieve commercial success. Yet, this increased production and marketing costs and led to the demise of financier-distributor independent companies such as New Line, Miramax, and Orion, who each were purchased by larger studios. Independent filmmaking turned to the nonprofit venue with the 1980 creation of the Independent Feature Project. While financing methods may change, she notes the independent filmmaking spirit continues.

Attorney Norman H. Garey encourages agents and attorneys working for a client to work well in coordination with each other. The agent usually handles negotiations and produces the basics of a deal and the lawyer refines the details. Some frequent issues to be handled includes who has the “final cut” approval, what influence if any the writer has, and the final authority of the film between the producer and the director. Sometimes an actor will have some control over the use of the actor’s image. Credit and billing decisions often need to be negotiated and determined. An issue that often emerges regards the amount of compensation to an actor when that actor’s work is cut from the film. Negotiations that are seriously stalled may wish to turn to arbitration. Norman Garey notes that the film industry overall leads to less litigation than exists in most other types of businesses. Entrainment lawyers, though, need to understand more handling complex human relationships in negotiations than found in other type of industry negotiations.

Attorney Stephen M. Kravit notes how the rise of television viewership as well as anti-trust consent agreements during the 1950s changed the movie industry. Movie studios switched from its prior emphasis on long term contracts to contracts per picture. Sometimes, though, studios will lock desired actors into multi-picture deals. This also changed the role of agents who negotiate these film by film contracts. After reaching a basic agreement, the studio attorneys present a detailed contract, which can range from short statements to 120 pages in length. Purely oral contracts are valid and do occur. Oral contracts though are more difficult to ascertain the facts of an agreement should they later be challenged. Areas of entertain contracts that are often hotly negotiated are rights to sequels and television spinoff rights.

Attorney Norman Grudman and completion bond expert Lionel A. Ephraim note that the costs of completion bonds, compared to other film costs, have reduced since the early 1990s. Completion bonds insure studios against financial losses from movies shoots that take longer than anticipated and go over budget. If this happens, producers and/or directors can be penalized if the studio does not approve of the additional time and costs. Other means of handling cost overruns is to write into contracts with investors that they may be required to provide an extra amount, perhaps up to 20% of prior investments. A completion bond is issued by an insurer. Completion bond insurance is a very competitive industry which has kept their costs low. Sometimes a studio or investors issue their own completion guarantees. Cost insurance is also available to insure the availability of major cast members, director, and producer.

Talent agent Jessica Tuchinsky states that motion picture talent agencies start all personnel from sorting mail for one to five years. Those who succeed at this level become an agent’s desk assistant for at least one year. It often takes about ten years before a person is able to be promoted to agent.
Agents must learn to negotiate film employment deals for their clients. Agents often attempt to match clients with directors and creative people and create full package deals with studios and/or financers. To be successful, agents need to know the filed of who is available so they may put together salable package deals.
Agents need to guide clients to reasonable career choices. Accepting the correct type of role can be critical for a director. There is no established correct path that guarantees success. It may require turning down the most lucrative offer in order to develop the best long term career.

Film production manager Michael Grillo explains how production managers work with creative staff to make financial determinations, including the costs of shooting at each site location as well as the costs of casting and staffing decisions, etc. Prepatory work is done in conjunction with the creative producer, who usually develops the screenplay and the talent package, and with the line producer, who oversees production.
Production managers need to be aware of details, such as length of daytime for outdoor shots, travel arrangements between filming locations, seasonal weather likelihoods, policing crowds, local laws, etc. as well as larger concerns such as the available of a director to remain within budget.
It is noted there is a difference between above and below line costs. Above the line costs include screenplay and rights purchases, producer compensation, director compensation, cast and casting costs, support teams costs, and all labor costs including living and travel costs. Below the line costs are film production costs, salaries of the production manager, assistant directors, extras, production design, art department personnel, set construction crew, set staff, property staff, wardrobe staff, makeup artists, hairdressers, camera crew, lighting crew, sound crew, transportation staff, location staff, etc, as well as postproduction costs, including editors, music, film lab costs, post sounds, and credits, as well as insurance and other general costs.
Production managers need to consider the costs of stunts, effects, prep work such as training skills actors need in a film, seeing cast and crew are fed over a normal 12 hour filming day, and deciding the logistics of arranging all these necessities. He recommends placing importance on hiring a good caterer to boost cost and crew morale.

Director Christina Fong notes the division of directing duties often given to assistant directors. The first assistant director works directly with the director and usually oversees with actors that shooting occurs according to schedule. The second assistant director handles communications regarding upcoming work and background players. The second assistant director is usually responsible for the call sheet, which is a list of people required for the following day’s shot and time they are required to report on the set. Assistant directors usually write the production report, which summarizes what was filmed along with an inventory noting cast and crew used that day, and presents this to the unit production manager.

Independent production company president Lindy Dekoen notes there are over 100 made for TV movies annually produced. It is noted that sometimes a network will counterprogram, which is when a network will run a newsmagazine story on a topic on another network plants to run a movie. This is designed to lower interest in a subject the public has thus already seen. Networks seek original movies that can have high ratings whereas cable networks may seek movies that will induce people to subscribe to their networks. Most production companies have final approvals on what is shown in these movies. Thus, most of these films are filmed to have appeal to both their networks as well as for foreign markets.

Film marketer Robert G. Friedman notes a film can open to 3,000 theatres. Proper publicizing this release is important to its financial success. Films are publicized during shooting. Unit publicists handle media requests for information. Still photographers take photographs during or after filming to be provided to the media. Electronic video press information and behind the scenes programs are often developed for press use.
Ads for movies are subject to market research, including concept testing of audiences that present the audiences with movie ideas and ads for the movies. Audience with preset demographic representation often preview a film or ad and are then surveyed for their feedback opinions of what they viewed. Advertising can be directed that presents the parts of movies that appeals to specific demographic groups.
Exit interviews are conducted on audiences after a movie opens.. Movies that open poorly with poor reviews are often abandoned.

Market researcher Kevin Yoder notes that major studios release about 15 to 20 movies annuals with about 200 major releases in total every year. With so much competition, a movie must open strongly in its first week in order to successfully continue into being shown in subsequent weeks. Movies need to be examined for their marketability and playability. Marketability involves determining how much of an audience a movie should attract. Playability attempts to determine the degree to which audiences like the movie. Focus groups are used for qualitative research into learning what people think of materials shown to their groups. Sampling research produces some quantification analysis on how effective materials are. The results from these studies guide marketing decisions. This can be tricky as it involves forecasting trends in an uncertain future.

Film festival juror Steve Montal explains that independent films can be shown at film festivals and markets in hopes they will be viewed by distribution executives who will then be willing to distribute them. Festivals involve showing movies to paid audiences as well as distribution executives and film journalists. Markets are where films are shown only to film industry insiders. It can cost around $15,000 to show a film in a festival, including costs for the film print, travel, publicist, promotion, application fees, etc. It should be noted that competition to get a film into a festival as well as the competition amongst the films at the festivals to be accepted by a distributor are both tough.

Financial officer Steven E. Blume writes how movies get revenues from theatrical showings, home video rentals and sales, pay per view and pay TV showings, TV network showings, later pay TV showings, cable TV showings, and syndicated TV showings. He notes that movies theaters usually earn 25% to 30% of their gross revenues from concession sales. These earnings stay totally with the theater and do not go to the film companies.
Many movie studios owned theatre chains which controlled what movies the theaters carried. A Supreme Court decision found this to be an improper restraint on interstate commerce. This forced the movie studios to sell the theatres.
Major studios control over 95% of the U.S. theatrical market share as well as approximately 65% of the foreign theatrical share. Some studios have partial investments in theaters. The theaters pay to the movie studios rental fees for the movies as well as a percentage of ticket sales. This percentage increases for each week of showing. Often the theater pays the movie company the larger amount of either a.) the rental fee plus a percentage or gross ticket sales above a prior set amount or b.) an amount with a lower percent of gross ticket sales with no preset amount subtracted.
When the movie is released to video, American rental receipts are usually earn approximately half the gross ticket sales and foreign rentals are often about 40% of gross foreign ticket sales. Nontheatrical revenues, such as showings on airplanes, ships, armed forces, prisons, libraries, etc. are usually approximately 5% of domestic film rentals.
In the video rental market, a distributor typically sold a VHS to a rental store for $65. Average rentals were for $3. An alternate system existed where a distributor changed around $6 to $10 for a VHS and would then receive about 45% of video rental money received.
A VHS was sold to the public for about $15 to $30 with about $20 being the typical price. Royalties paid by distributors on DVD sales typically are 20%, which is often lowered to 10% when the DVD is sold directly to the DVD market without a theatrical release. Some film talents have demanded more income that drives the royalty percentage to 25% or 30%.
Pay per view and video on demand revenues generally are set around $4 per pay TV viewing. These revenues are typically divided with 45% to the distributing studio, 45% to the cable operator, and10% to the third party biller and collector.
Paid cable television pays a share to studios of the movies it shows according to a licensing agreement with payments dependent upon the number of subscribers the cable station has.
TV networks typically pay $7 million to $10 million to broadcast a movie. Usually this agreement prohibits the movie being shown on any other TV medium. This is changing as some networks are creating deals for subsequent showing on their affiliated cable networks. TV networks seldom show a movie that has been shown in theaters. Major network movies are original movies.

Domestic distributor Daniel R. Fellman notes that distributors are usually responsible for printing film, sending film to theaters, handling licensing films to entities other than theaters such as airlines and military showings, handling legal matters regarding film distribution and exhibitions, maintaining accounting and financing operations, monitoring film negotiations and distribution, handling administrative tasks such as checking box office receipts, and providing promotional assistance to exhibitors.

Independent distributor Bob Berney notes there are numerous differing examples of what an independent distributor is. Some independent distributors have strong relationships with major distributors and others have no such relationship. Independent distributors must rely on their skill and perhaps correct timing in finding good movies to present to the public.

Exhibition executive Shari E. Redstone notes how the increasing costs of buying land for drive-in theatres drove the exhibition business towards multiple screen theatres. She recommends that theatres own the land they are on. This land can also create rental opportunities for other businesses that do well being near a cinema, such as stores selling books, music, etc. This also allows for expanding the market by opening a nearby theatre, as the rentals to other stores offsets the decreased volume at the original theatre.

Independent exhibitor Robert Laemmle states that most movies negotiate the exhibition of independent movies and foreign films. Some cities like Los Angeles are divided into zones and competition exists within each zone. Many theatres create images of themselves as ones that show specialty films. Newspaper advertising often costs theatres move than what newspapers charge retail advertisers.
Laemmle warns that attendance of indigenous films in foreign countries has not been rising as quickly as the increase in foreigners viewing American films. This is jeopardizing foreign film production.

Home video business executive Benjamin S. Feingold states home video viewing produces larger revenues to a movie than does theatrical viewing. Home video viewing is more common among people age 25 to 40. People under age 25 are more apt to see a film in a theatre.

Video reporter Paul Sweeting notes that the largest American seller of VHS and DVDs in the world is There are three major video rental chains, which (in circa 1993 data) are Blockbuster with over 2,500 stores, Hollywood Videos with 1,800 stores, and Movie Gallery with around 1,400 stores.

Studio executive Louis A. Feola notes some large studios create films meant for direct to video distribution. Some of these are cartoon movies and sequels.

Studio consumer products executive Al Ovadia notes studios often charge a producer of a product tied to a movie a licensing fee generally ranging from 3% to 14% of whole revenues. The first movie tied product ever may have been comics and books based on Charlie Chaplin’s film character Little Tramp. This can be a big business, as Star Wars products grossed over $1 billion.

Media consultant Bob Aft notes that Americans have been increasing their investments into foreign produced films. Japanese films are receiving the largest share of American nondomestic film investments.

Studio executive Steven Gerse notes that tax incentives can save a film in the range of 2% to 20% of production costs. Several countries and states offer tax incentives to attract film producers.

Film trade editor Dan Ochiva predicts that high resolution film will be the future of film. Viewing film on personal computers will also become much more common, he predicts.