Showing It

GETTING IT SHOWN

There are a number of factors that determine whether or not your film will be shown.

There’s the primary question of theatrical release.

Here’s one approach: does your town have a small theatre that you can count on to provide specialty films? By the way, if it does, support it. If it doesn’t, contact a local theatre owner (call his office) and see if he will show independent films there, even if only on one of his screens. They often will, especially if they think there’s an audience for them. If so, set up a screening, or several, and invite people like mad! Promote that screening in every way you can.

Now, of what use is this to the filmmaker? You can get people to see your movie that you are pretty sure will take a strong interest. They, in turn, will speak to others to get this going. So, you’d better put something in your movie that speaks to a particular group.

In fact, if you can accumulate ANY information suggesting that there IS a group that would be waiting for your film, then it’s much more likely to get your film shown in the first place. I have produced a number of pictures that spoke to certain audiences: ethnics, political, social, etc. We got showings for each of them, by promoting THAT fact to the theatre owners.

You must be sure that a particular audience (or two, or more) would respond directly to your product.

If you’d like to assess this question about any of your own projects or potential projects, let me know.

Best,

Eric Sherman

For a complete list of books, videos and services please visit ericsherman.com

Eric Sherman
PO Box 41-1688
Los Angeles, CA 90041
323-344-6051
Fax: 323-344-6053
www.ericsherman.com

The Embodiment of Energy

When you see someone who embodies (“makes visible”) a specific value, it can be inspirational. This is a story about the great writer/director, Sam Fuller, who WAS the embodiment of creative energy and generosity of spirit.

When I first met Sam in 1967, I had come back to LA from college to interview him for my first book, THE DIRECTOR’S EVENT.

We arrived at his house, and he was moving all his furniture to a new place. After a brief handshake, he said, “Okay, fellas, please load up your car and drive it to (address).” We did, and followed this with about 8 more loads.

By then, it was mid-evening. He next said, “What’ll ya have for chow?” We told him, and he lighted up his barbecue.

While the meal was cooking, he said, ‘What’ll ya have to drink?” Without awaiting our response, he poured two tall glasses of vodka (neat – no ice).

Next, we ate. After that, he said, “Wanna rope?” (his nickname for a cigar). Before we could answer, he unsheathed two enormous smokes, removed a railroad spike from his belt, cut a hole in the end of both cigars, and lit us up with wooden matches.

I was turning green.

Finally, about midnight, he said, “What did you want to talk about?”

We got it together, and brought out our list of questions. By about 8am the next morning, we had discussed not only all of the movies he’d made, but talked about some eagerly anticipated projects for the future.

We almost passed out with exhaustion, but his energy was truly infectious.

I learned that day/night a definition of what it meant to be a professional filmmaker. Boundless energy, incessant creativity and a thirst for the action and games of life. Sam’s dedication was not bounded by time issues – only by his enthusiasm.

Over the following decades, I learned that Sam affected everyone in that same way. In fact, he wrote the script for Peter Bogdanovich’s first film, TARGETS, in one 24-hour period. And he did that for the joy of creating – NOT for the credit, money nor any of the other common factors that follow so many people’s professional drive.

When my father wrote his own autobiography, STUDIO AFFAIRS, 30 years later, Sam came to the book signing at Samuel French’s Bookshop. Though he was by now wheel-chair bound, he was a fountain of spirit and creative energy. He heartily congratulated Vincent and told glorious tales of his own Hollywood days.

A good friend of mine went over to Sam and said, “You’re an inspiration to me.” Sam asked him what he wanted to do. He answered, “Make films.” Sam responded: If you want to make films, you’ve got to have GIANT BALLS!

The courage to stand up for yourself and your projects; the tenacity to hang in there, no matter what. These are qualities you can develop yourself. I know that YOU can do it. So, remember Sam’s example. His light served as a guide for many of us along an otherwise dark and confusing path.

For a complete list of books, videos and services please visit ericsherman.com

Eric Sherman
PO Box 41-1688
Los Angeles, CA 90041
323-344-6051
Fax: 323-344-6053
www.ericsherman.com

Every Project Has Its Own Path

Many years ago, when I decided to enter my father’s field (making movies), I read every book on the subject, and spoke with dozens of professionals.

In fact, in my first big meeting with a pro producer, I told him I could direct, and he asked, “What do you want to make?” I realized that the then-studio chiefs were no longer dictating which pictures would be made. Rather, they would leave the subject matter up to those making the pitches. The heads did maintain the power to green-light projects, but were no longer the sources of them. So, your commitment to your own project would become a primary factor in gaining its approval.

Every idea and property would find its own unique path to being realized.

How could you find yours?

I began a study of everyone I knew who had achieved success. There were as many routes as there were projects.

One man I knew received the production funds from a family member who felt that by his not continuing with college, he was saving that amount of money on education. The picture, by the way, became a success!

Another man had done his duty for a company, directing numerous corporate-sponsored films. He finally told the parent company that he’d had enough, and they agreed to back his feature if he’d then commit to another year of corporate work. He did!

Still another man had stayed around a film company’s management for years. Nothing was happening, but he hung in there. Finally, when everyone else had left in frustration, the money arrived, and, thus, it became much easier to get his own projects approved!

In each case above, none of them followed an existing pattern. They were all created by the owner (a) deciding it should be made; (b) the owner’s finding of a resource that could see the mutual benefit.

So, when I consult with someone on the financial aspect of getting a film made, I start with (a) assessing the project; then (b) evolving a winning strategy to get it made; (c) finding one or more backers who could see the movie’s value, and then (d) negotiating to achieve the best possible alignment between owners and backers.

I like to do this! If any of it applies to you, give me a call.

For a complete list of books, videos and services please visit ericsherman.com

Eric Sherman
PO Box 41-1688
Los Angeles, CA 90041
323-344-6051
Fax: 323-344-6053
www.ericsherman.com

You Do What It Takes

In 1989, my wife and I were sitting in a movie theatre watching the premiere of a picture called FIELD OF DREAMS. It starred an almost-unknown man, Kevin Costner, an older man, Burt Lancaster, and the magnificent James Earl Jones, in one of his last roles.

None of us had ANY idea what the picture would be about.

The images came on-screen, and we watched every frame. We also kept looking at one another and clenched each other’s hands, hoping that the story would be true to itself. It was.

When it was over, we were in a state of shock – this movie REALLY was what it was, and didn’t compromise in the least.

I went up to the writer-director, Phil Alden Robinson, and (a) congratulated him; (b) asked how he could have gotten that screenplay approved. Here’s what he said:

He had written a very successful comedy, ALL OF ME, starring Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin. He thought it would be easy to get his next one approved, with him as director.

Every studio passed on it, thinking it was silly, and about baseball, and “who cares?”

By the time everyone had said “no,” all the studio management had changed, so he resubmitted it. Again, everyone had said no. And, yes, this happened a third time. Phil was nearly in despair.

One day he was crying on the shoulder of a friend of his – a horror film producer who had had many successes. The producer read the script, and he loved it. He took it to the studio who most wanted him to work there, Universal, and told them about it. They laughed, stating they’d passed on it three times before. But he took their desire to work with him seriously – and used FIELD OF DREAMS as their entrance point. They put a number of strict guidelines on the project (budget limits, etc.), and sent them off to make it.

The rest is history. The picture was a major success, started Kevin’s starring career, and revitalized a whole segment of the movie-going audience.

Who would have thought?

So, what did it take? Phil’s undying interest in the project, and his certainty that others would find it appealing. It also took some points of agreement that hadn’t been predicted.

If your idea is unique, what will it take to get it financed and made? The main thing is: YOU have to believe in it, and locate others who are similarly inclined!

For a complete list of books, videos and services please visit ericsherman.com

Eric Sherman
PO Box 41-1688
Los Angeles, CA 90041
323-344-6051
Fax: 323-344-6053
www.ericsherman.com

Orson’s last movie

A new book has just arrived: ORSON WELLES’S LAST MOVIE.

Taken from first-hand accounts of participants (including yours truly!), it’s a tale of tenacity, creativity, hesitations, fears, daring, etc.

It’s a great read – and a great movie! (Yes, I’ve seen some selected scenes.)

Order your copy now! St. Martin’s Press.

All best,

Eric