Thursday, 29 September 2011

Jenny Ringo at the Entertainment Media Show this weekend...

I had the idea back in July at the London Film and Comic Convention. A failed 'Britain's Got Talent' contestant had set up a dealer table and was selling autographs, and as we walked past Brother Pete said 'Anyone could set up a table. You could come here with Jenny Ringo.'

I'm not sure he was serious, but this Saturday and Sunday I'll be at the Entertainment Media Show at Earls Court giving away copies of Jenny Ringo and the Monkey's Paw on DVD and trying to get people to sign up to our mailing list. This mailing list...

I have no idea whether this a good idea or not but I'll report back on how it goes. If anyone reading this is planning on going along this weekend I'll be there both days so please pop by and say hello. You can find full details on the website for the event here.

I will also be showing off our awesome new poster courtesy of Darren Berry (who also shot and edited the film!)...

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Dream Festival...

So for the first time ever I have a finished short film that I'm really happy with. It's not perfect, but it's better than anything I've made before and it's the first film that I feel really represents the kind of stories I want to tell and the type of characters those stories are about. So I ask myself, what now? What does one do with a short film?

Why enter it into festivals of course! Film festivals, where independent no-budget films are shown all over the world. Where influential rich industry people crowd into screening rooms to snatch up all that fresh, juicy new talent. The first step on the road to fame and fortune. Not really 'film' festivals at all - more like DREAM FESTIVALS.

When I screened the film at the beginning of the month a friend mentioned that the submission deadline for Cinecity - the Brighton Film Festival was coming up. Best of all it's free to enter for Brighton-based filmmakers (which I'm not technically but considering I used to be and the film was shot entirely in Brighton and Hove I figure I'm okay). Great, I pop a copy in the post and wait to hear back. And if it doesn't get accepted, fine - submitting it was no problem at all. And I think to myself 'I'll enter my film into every festival if it's this easy'.

Then I find out that the deadline for the London Short Film Festival is also on the horizon. They showed a couple of Brother Pete's films a few years ago. I'll definitely enter this one. The submission is via Withoutabox. That's fine, I set up an account ages ago in anticipation of this very moment. So I fill out the forms for my film and submit it. There's a fee for this one, but because I'm submitting early it's only £10. Yes, I am now paying someone to watch my film which seems a bit backwards, but I appreciate they need to cover their admin costs and it's not all that much really. No problem, I pay the fee, pop a DVD in the post and wait to hear back. And I think to myself 'I'll enter my film into a great many festivals if it only costs £10 a time'.

But two festivals isn't enough. Not if I'm going to get everyone to see my film and become rich and famous off the back of it. I need to enter more! So I start trawling through the other festivals on Withoutabox. And there it is, the festival I've been looking for. The British Horror Film Festival! My film is definitely British!! And it's a horror film!!! And the deadline is in 4 days!!!! I'm totally entering this one.

And then I get to the fee, which is £60. That's £60 for someone to watch my film and decide whether they like it or not. And if they don't like it I've paid £60 for someone to not screen my film. And, as a friend warned me on Facebook, they may not even tell me they don't like it.

Okay, maybe it's a one-off. Maybe there are some other festivals out there that I can afford to send my film to. I check almost every upcoming UK festival in the listings. The prices generally range between £30 and £60. If I'm going to enter as many festivals as possible, or even just the relevant ones, I'm going to run up a cost equal to or perhaps greater than the cost of making my film. And for all I know the film may not be accepted into any of them.

Before anyone tries to explain to me that film festivals cost money to run I should point out that I run a film festival. It's called MovieBar and takes place on the first Monday of every month at the Caroline of Brunswick in Brighton. It doesn't cost anything to run aside from the few quid we spend on daft quiz prizes. Mostly it just costs time. There are six of us involved, and we put the time in because we enjoy it. And because I think it's really important that these films get the chance to be screened for an audience. We don't charge for entry on the night, we don't charge for submitting films and we don't have any submission guidelines. We don't show everything and I'm really bad at getting back to people with a decision but we do watch everything that comes in and at least when we don't show something no one has lost any money over it.

From running MovieBar I've noticed there are two types of short films - those made with money and those made without money. Some people are lucky or talented or determined enough to get funding, some people decide to go ahead anyway with whatever they can scrape together. Those in the latter category are unlikely to have money left over to enter festivals and it becomes further proof that you need money to make it in the film industry. That principle works fine in the feature world - even if you make a film for nothing you need a distributor to put money in so you can get it to people. Ideally it then makes the money back. The festival circuit seems like the short film equivalent of distribution and marketing in the feature world. The difference is that short films do not and will not make any money back.

Despite all that, I hover over the 'Submit Now' button for the British Horror Film Festival for some time before finally deciding against it. And I think to myself 'There has to be a better way to get people to see short films...'

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Jenny Ringo Plans for the Future...

This is one of those blog posts where I'm not really going to say anything of anything substance because all I've got right now are vague ideas of things I want to do and I'm a bit wary of writing them down in case you all come back here a year from now and say 'What happened to all that cool stuff you were going to do?' And with a tear in my eye I remember the man I once was, before my hopes and dreams were stripped away by the killer space robot invasion of 2012...

Mostly I'm just filling space because I haven't posted for ages. Because I've been busy with plans I daren't talk about yet.

I can confirm I have started work on another Jenny Ringo script. Except it's not me doing the work this time. Someone else is writing it. It's looking really good so far.

I can't imagine too many people care about that right now, but that's the other thing I'm working on. Figuring out how to get people to see Jenny Ringo's first cinematic adventure so they'll care when I make another one. Without just putting it up on Youtube and hoping for the best. I'll let you know how that goes.

For now I recommend you check out The Organ Grinder - a weeky music podcast curated by Charlie Khan which regularly features some of my favourite bands, especially when I request them like what I did this week:

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Short Film Diary - Week ???

I've lost count. I could go back and work it out but I've had a few drinks so I'm not sure it would be entirely accurate. I'll try to keep this brief.

Wednesday I went round to editor Darren's place to watch the finished version of the film and pick up a DVD copy. We went to the pub while his Mac was doing magic Mac things to get the film onto a DVD. We came second to last in a pub quiz. And when we got back the magic Mac things hadn't worked. I started to wonder if there was some curse preventing me from ever actually screening the film.

Saturday I tried again and this time came away with a copy of the film.

Saturday evening Andrea and I watched the finished film on a TV for the first time. I really couldn't tell  whether it was any good or not but it was at least finished. Apart from a handful of glitches but for the sake of it being finished I'll take the hit on those.

And I just got back from screening it at MovieBar where it played to a packed room and was very well received. Surprisingly well, actually. I was a bit concerned as we were running late and it's quite a long film but everyone seemed to really enjoy it. The gags got lots of laughs, the serious bits were taken seriously, and the feedback I got afterwards was really positive.

I then did a rambling Q&A in which I tried to cover everything from the origin of the character back when I was in university up to seeing the finished film on Saturday. Luckily I had a lot of help from the various crew members who came along and from friend and fellow filmmaker Ross who did the Q part.

One thing I forgot to do was thank everyone involved. So thank you, everyone involved. We made an awesome film and I couldn't have done it without you.

I'm not quite sure what I'm going to do next. At one stage I had a plan to pitch it as a TV series. I also had a plan to use the internet and my fellow bloggers to build an audience. Somewhere along the way I had a plan to use the film to help me get an agent. Recently I had a plan to make another short with the same characters. I had a lot of plans, but they all seemed a long way off. Suddenly they're not so far away and I kind of need to start doing something about them.

So please check back for more updates. I'll be posting details of how you can see the film once I've figured that part out, and once we get to work on the next short I'll start up the regular film diaries again...

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Jenny Ringo DEFINITELY screening tomorrow...

I have a DVD of the finished film in my hand which I'll be keeping on my person at all times until the screening. I've got people coming with back-up copies just in case. We may even bring a laptop along to give us a further back-up option. There is no way this film isn't screening tomorrow. If you're anywhere near Brighton please come along to the Caroline of Brunswick for MovieBar where you will finally get to see Jenny Ringo and the Monkey's Paw which myself and several others have been working on for well over a year. Hope to see you there.