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MOVIES ARE EXPENSIVE 06/19/2012

Posted by landfallprods in Purple Mind.
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Movies are expensive to make.  Any producer setting out to make a movie needs to have a good idea who the audience is and how much the film is likely to earn.  In other words, it wouldn’t be very smart to spend ten million dollars on a film that was only going to earn half a million.

A good example of this would be Brian DePalma’s “fictional documentary,” REDACTED, which was produced with a budget of $5,000,000 but earned only $65,000 at the box office.  Personally, I thought “Redacted” was a damn good film, but not everyone agreed.

DVD cover for “Redacted”

Redacted:  The soldiers of Alfa Company are manning a checkpoint. A car speeds past. They open fire, and a pregnant woman and her unborn child are killed. Two more hearts and minds not won over. In retribution, one of the company’s members is killed by local militia. In response, the two men who fired on the car, Flake & Rush, lead a nighttime raid during which a 15-year-old girl is raped, her family is murdered and their house set afire. Company members are informed by Flake and Rush that if they don’t keep quiet, they will die. They’re serious.

Rotten Tomatoes is a great place to check on how movies do with both critics and audiences alike.  For Redacted, 44% of critics liked the film and 45% of audiences liked it as well.  Thus, the majority of 107 reviewers gave the film a less than glowing review and audiences responded almost equally.  So, even though I was one who thought the film was quite good, a brave effort at telling a true story thru the eyes of soldiers played by no-name actors, critics and the public didn’t entirely agree and the film lost a lot of money.

Because our film, “Purple Mind,” was also a story based on real experiences of “Winter Soldiers,” to be played by a no-name but talented actor (Will Shepherd), common wisdom said it would be foolish to invest much more than “Redacted” had earned at the box office.  Thus, we set the budget for “Purple Mind’ mid-way between $25,000 and $50,000 for direct costs and knew from he start that we wouldn’t be able to pay anyone until the film started earning some money via “deferred salaries.”

Films in the budget range of “Purple Mind” are considered by many to be “no-budget films.”  But this didn’t mean we had no chance of earning the cost of the film back or of paying cast and crew their deferred salary.  Another film I’d been following, “Facing The Giants,“ the first film from the Brothers Kindrick, cost somewhere between $10,000 and $50,000 (with locations, extras, food, etc. pitched in by a large church community) and found its way to distribution with Samuel Goldwyn and Sony, grossing in the neighborhood of $10 million dollars!!!!

Facing the Giants poster

Facing the Giants poster

Facing the Giants:  A failing high-school football coach finds that in order to succeed he must convince his team that there’s more to sports than fame and glory in an inspirational tale of courage on the gridiron and the power of God’s word. Grant Taylor (Alex Kendrick) has been coaching the Shiloh Eagles for six years, and he has yet to realize his dream of a winning season. When the team’s star player transfers schools, the first three games of the new season show no promise for improvement, troubles at home begin to take their toll, and a plot among the player’s fathers to have the Coach fired finds Coach Taylor’s future in football looking bleak.  Coach Taylor is faced with the prospect of either cutting his losses and admitting defeat or turning his life over to God in an attempt to test the true power of faith. With his job on the line and nothing left to lose, Coach Taylor convinces his determined team of underdogs that there’s nothing they can’t accomplish with a little faith — including the miracle of a winning season when all hope seems lost.

The Christian Spotlight on Entertainment gave “Giants” an Excellent “Moral Rating” and five stars for the film.    Rotten Tomatoes, however, gave “Giants a 13% for critics who liked the film vs. an 84% for the evangelical Christian audience members who liked the film.

So, what was the take-away from the “Giants” story?  One might be, “With God All Things Are Possible.”  I liked the promise of a little film overcoming the odds by offering a positive, life-affirming message.  If “Giants “ could gain traction with a Christian audience, perhaps “Purple Mind” could find traction with a few of the two million soldiers returning from Iraq, Afghanistan and their families.  After all, both are stories about families in crisis.  Both show hallmarks of a “no-budget” production.  But both had positive messages and an upbeat ending – one via faith in God and the other via  faith in psychology – healing comes from overcoming the reluctance to talking about the traumatic experiences of war.

Pretty simple formula, right?  Well, maybe.

Like the Kendricks Brothers did with their first film, we are now reaching out, not to Christian groups, but to groups supporting vets, military families and PTSD support groups, offering….  Well, have you checked out our platform?  Distrify.com.  By putting your film up on Distrify, lots of filmmakers are earning a buck or two from downloads and streaming and the ability to share as many of those dollars as they like with others.  For instance, if a vet support group should embed the “Purple Mind” Distrify player on their website, they would earn half of every rental or download that came through the player.  Pretty cool, says I.  And unlike raising money from say, Kickstarter, this requires little effort, as it comes from a completed film, and all the work is already done.  All supporting groups need do is share the love.  They don’t even have to talk to me.  Just share.  We think that’s really cool.  Maybe you will too.  Check it out!

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