Thursday, July 26, 2012

THE INS AND OUTS OF FILM FINANCING

www.drmelcaudle.blogspot.com

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Update on KSK Casting
All About Call Backs
ACTOR CASTING BINDER FOR OLTP FOR FUTURE PROJECTS
FAVORITE COMMENTS FROM KSK MEMBERS

AND THE FEATURED ARTICLE
The Ins and Outs of Film Financing
JULY 29, 2012

STAGE 3 OF THE CALL BACK PROCESS HAS BEEN COMPLETED!


Everyone awaits the final selection for the new cast for THE KEYSTROKE KILLER!
After many weeks of anticipation by actors and total exhaustion by the KSK Casting Team the casting department for The Keystroke Killer is elated to announce that Stage 3 of the casting process is completed.  Less than twenty actors who received their official notifications through the Facebook site THE KEYSTROKE KILLER FAN SITE, did not respond.  With all things considered attrition ratio is very small.  

The Keystroke Killer casting department reviewed more than 4,200 individual auditions over a three month period during Stage 1 of the casting process.  The deadline to submit the auditions was May 30, 2012.  Stage 2 is described by Dr. Melissa Caudle, producer/screenwriter/creator, as "The most fun I have ever had."  When I asked her why, she said, "I really got to develop a clear understanding of the importance of actors and their unique set of skills impacts my writing." The team, consisting of the Executive Producer, Producers, Screenwriter and Creator, Associate Producer, and the Casting Director spent another two months deciding on the final call back list during this stage.

Stage 3 only took one week, but wasn't without its drama according to Robbyn Cook Stroud, Associate Producer for the project and Dr. Caudle's right-hand and trusted confident.  "At times it was like pulling teeth that had been cemented in with super glue from outer space," Stroud said.  "I literally had to keep reminding actors we needed their head shots and acting resumes as well as their official contact information in order for them to continue the process.  We now are moving into Stage 4 which isn't for the entire Facebook community of KSK Membership."

"Now, the fun really begins,"  Mark Freehelm, Executive Producer, stated.  "I finally get to meet all of these fabulous actors face-to-face in Stage Four."  Both Caudle and Sroud agree with Freehelm as they both have maintained constant communication with the KSK Membership on Facebook.  During Stage 4, all of the call backs for the face-to-face auditions take place.  Those actors who cannot participate in the face-to-face call backs, have the option of a Skype Group Audition.  


Dr. Mel and Robby works hard on helping the KSK Casting Team


During Stage 5, the KSK Casting Team, will select the final cast for THE KEYSTROKE KILLER.   Second rounds of auditions will only take place if they do not find a cast member for a particular role.  "I don't think this will happen,"  Dr. Caudle states.  "In every role we have multiple actors who could walk on set today and fill that role.  The hard part will be selecting each role from the cream of the crop and not having to scrap the bottom of the barrel."  Frankly speaking, the talent that auditioned are not only experience actors, but actors who can and will bring it to the table.  

Social parties consisting of KSK group members have already taken place in Los Angeles and New Orleans.  Caudle attended the event in New Orleans.  Now it is time for another KSK party.  This time, both Stroud and Caudle will be in Los Angeles and will attend that one.  "We're going to need it," says Dr. Caudle.  "After this six months, we deserve one night out."

IT'S CALL BACK TIME FOR KSK
By Dr. Melissa Caudle


Dr. Mel's Mom and her mother discover that the
abutment part of the implant malfunctioned.
What a week, and a quick week.  Lots of things happened personally and in my production company.  I really just need to take a deep breath and decide where to start.  By now, everyone knows the fiasco of my tooth implant.  Well, it was good news, bad news.  On Monday night, the temporary crown fell out.  I almost chocked to death on it and in in the process chipped off the lower molar.  Whew.  My mother said, "Mel, you really take Murphy's law seriously."  Maybe she's right.  I do - "What can go wrong does go wrong," especially when it comes to my tooth implant.  Just when she had me believing in Murphy's law the unexpected happened.  While I was at the dentist getting the molar that I cracked the night before fixed and replacing the temporary crown on the tooth where the implant is, a special delivery arrived at the office - it was the abutment and the new tooth for my implant.  Something finally went my way and I overcame Murphy.  Damn that Murphy!


As far as production goes, I got about four days behind because of my tooth implant and have done nothing but play catch up.  But thanks to a fabulous KSK team we are back on schedule.  And, a big double thank you to Robby, as she arrived back safely from Florida.  In fact, she has packed her bags and over the next several days has moved in with me since we are working nearly 19 hours a day to finalize the call back audition process and groupings for Los Angeles.  We have spent more than a total of 148 hours on finalizing the call back list alone and it took 6 complete days to send out all of the official call backs.  What a job.

Trace and Tele doing the Happy Dance.
CAUDLE CASTING CHAOS THEORY

The most difficult par,t and slowest part I might add, is behind us!  Now that is worth a Tele, the unofficial KSK Mascot Dog, a Happy Dance for sure.  From here on out, casting and call backs will move pretty fast, comparatively speaking, what we all have been through.  That is if everyone follows the directions and does exactly what each Email says to do exactly.  It really will work out and and you won't be left in limbo.  If I stopped and explained every step of this process, I would have another book written.  Now that's an idea for the book author in me.  So, this is what to expect for the call back process.

First, if you haven't figured it out by now, I am a very methodical and systematic Type A personality.  I truly believe in "All things in divine order."  While in graduate school, working on my PhD in statistical research, my professors drilled in me about the beauty and order of the "Chaos Theory."  Look it up if you are interested in learning more about this theory.  But, to make a long story short, the "Chaos Theory" stipulates that in chaos there is order.  That pretty much sums up the process of casting The Keystroke Killer.  Why?

It may seem chaotic to you, not knowing answers and wanting your questions immediately answered, having to wait for each stage to be completed, prior to the KSK casting team moving to the next, not knowing what is going to happen after that, whether or not you have been cast, what role you have been cast for, and so forth.  However, in this casting chaos is order. I think I just invented a new theory; "Casting Chaos." In fact, a structured order with a precise plan of execution to discover the best talent for roles across the world through online social media..

"That is how I Roll," is how I often explain to the KSK staff.   By the end of the process, they will have a complete understanding of the "Caudle Casting Chaos Theory."  To me, it is perfectly logical.  I will show them how, and explain the whys of it, but it is much like constructing a major condo complex.  You have a blueprint from the architect, and although you may not be able to understand or "read" a blueprint, by the time the plan is executed and all people are in place to construct the complex, before you know it, it's finished.  The end result is a beautiful building ready for occupation and no one but the contractor knows each and every detail.  I certainly don't understand the constructs of electrical wiring and the issue of framing.  But, I have to trust the contractor.  So, I guess I am asking that each of you trust that this process is not only systematical, but efficient., if not to say going into undiscovered territory and casting methodology.  With anything new, you learn from your experience and each time it gets better and more efficient.

This epistemological assumption behind the "Caudle Casting Chaos Theory," in the aforementioned paragraph, isn't any different from building the condo complex; except I'm the architect putting all the plans in action with a team that trusts me.  They have learned to follow my lead and my plan and everything works out.  I guess, I am asking all of you to do the same.  Things will work out and the entire process will be clear.  I am an information "Queen" and try my best to give you information of what you need to know at that moment.  In fact, some believe I am in an information overload process.

In other words, we are growing a forest.  But, to grow the forest, we have to plant individual trees, one at a time.  The first tree we planted was announcing the online auditions; e.g., Stage 1.  The second, or Stage 2, was for the KSK casting team to review them.  The third tree, or Stage 3, is to decide on who would be selected to spread the fertilizer and make it grow; e.g,. the actors who received an official call back.  From there, the Forest Rangers are hired, or Stage 4, (call backs with face to face auditions).  Ending at Stage 5,  the final selection of the cast so we can have an overnight camping trip in the forest.  See, it really is a simple process.

I have found that the old fashion saying, "You can't see the forest for the trees," which means that people are losing themselves in the details "Trees" that you forget the big picture "The Film." I can honestly say that I can see the entire forest from the Fourth Dimension.

REMEMBER RULE #3
PRIVATE MEANS PRIVATE- GOT IT!

So, now that those actors who have received an official call back, they also received an official invitation to participate.  In that invitation, a private email address was provided.  DO NOT GIVE THIS EMAIL ADDRESS OUT TO ANYONE EXCEPT YOUR AGENT AND/OR MANAGER.  There is a reason that it is private.  Please honor this confidentiality.

No one else is to have this address as it is specifically design as an information highway tool around the forest and into the Fourth Dimension. Additionally, this email is NOT an email to ask questions or to send Thank you responses for the opportunity for auditioning or for telling me how great I am.  In fact, it is Vicky Thomas' Email address that was established just for KSK Casting process.

I know each of you are trying to be polite in sending back a response like, "Thank you, I'm so glad for this opportunity," or wanting to know more information like "I received my invitation, now what?"  I already know this as I feel the love and commitment from all of the comments on Facebook.  But when you send these types of Emails it does nothing but slow down the process of the next stage in casting because the KSK Casting Team has to sift through 500 Emails of useless information.  This doesn't even include my other three Email addresses for my books, my personal website, and for the other three reality shows and web series I am producing.   I probably get over 600 Emails daily from those combined.  I personally don't have the luxury of wasting time neither does anyone else on our team.

So, when I open the private Email account established for KSK call backs I need to be able to quickly access the information I need for the specific stage of call backs we are in.  That is why I always inform you as to what to put in the subject line.  I have set different filters on my incoming Emails so I can put information where I need it to access later.  Just imagine being me for one day and receiving five hundred Emails that has nothing to do with the information you need.  Again, it slows me down and wastes time.  Time is valuable and inefficient use of time costs the production money.  That is the line producer in me talking, but the more money I don't have to spend on repeating steps etc., the more I can spend on the production.

This brings me to my last point in the opening blog message.  Actually, I have to credit Nick Blady for reminding me of this beautiful analogy as it really does make my point and resonated with the teacher principal in me.  While Skyping one day with Nick, he told me of this professor who handed out a test to his class.  The very first sentence on the test read, "READ ALL OF THE DIRECTIONS AND THE ENTIRE TEST FIRST BEFORE ANSWERING ANY QUESTIONS."  The college students started working hard on the test completing each test question.  By the time they got to the last question it read, "DO NOT WRITE ANYTHING ON THIS TEST BUT YOUR NAME IN THE UPPER RIGHT HAND CORNER AND TURN IT IN."  Only one student had taken the time to follow the directions and passed the test.  Everyone else failed.  Therefore, I will repeat and reiterate - FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS PRECISELY AND PASS THE TEST OF CASTING.  Just remember rule #3.

At the time of the publication of this blog, The KSK team has finished all call backs for roles except for any children's roles and the specialty roles such as the Stripper.  Those will be done at a later time and date, so if you auditioned for those, don't worry yourself.  Those aren't over.  There are still about 10 actors we weren't able to contact.  We have done everything humanly possible to track you down other than calling in the CIA and the FBI.

Additionally, to date, four roles have been officially cast without the need for a face-to-face call back and from their online auditions each submitted.  So, if you had any worries about whether or not your call back would have to on Skype, these individuals have clearly laid the path and proven that any one has a chance of being cast if they participate in the online Skype call back.  

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE FOLLOWING individuals and welcome to the Cast of THE KEYSTROKE KILLER.  They are:

Gypsy Elise in the role of the Fortune Teller.

Nathalie Tedrick in the role of the Belly Dancer.

Gino Galento as the one and only IMA STARR.  You go girl!!!

Ava StClaire as Eura Phan.  THIS ROLE WAS WRITTEN IN THE RE-WRITE AFTER DR. MEL WAS INSPIRED BY HER AUDITION.

Johnny Rock as Danny Stone.  Like Ava, the role was created just for Johnny and his personality.

Please congratulate each new cast member on Facebook.

CALL BACK AUDITION PROCESS
BY ROBBY COOK STROUD








1.  AFTER YOU RECEIVE YOUR OFFICIAL CALL BACK NOTIFICATION - SEND YOUR HEAD SHOT/RESUME TO THE EMAIL ADDRESS PROVIDED IN THE DOCUMENT.  THE PURPOSE IS SO SHE CAN COMMUNICATE EASIER TO EVERYONE THROUGH A GROUP EMAIL AND NOT ON FACE BOOK TO SHARE THE PROCESS OF SETTING YOUR OFFICIAL FACE TO FACE TIME AND DATE FOR THE CALL BACK.  DO NOT GIVE THIS OUT TO ANYONE BUT YOUR AGENT OR MANAGER.

2.  AS DR. MEL OPENS YOUR HEAD SHOTS AND RESUMES AND DOUBLE CHECKS THE OFFICIAL "GOLDEN CALL BACK SPREADSHEET" TO MAKE SURE 1) YOU ARE ON THE CALL BACK LIST.  (WE DON'T WANT SOMEONE TRYING TO SLIP UNDER THE MAT SO TO SPEAK BY LEARNING THIS PRIVATE EMAIL ADDRESS).  2) ONCE YOU ARE VERIFIED, SHE WILL PUT YOU INTO A CALL BACK GROUP ACCORDING TO THE ROLE YOU WERE CALLED BACK FOR. THIS MAY OR MAY NOT BE THE ROLE IN WHICH YOU SUBMITTED AN AUDITION.    

3.  ONCE ALL GROUPS HAVE BEEN ESTABLISHED (AT THE MAXIMUM THIS COMING MONDAY)  YOU WILL BE SENT AN EMAIL CONFIRMING THE SPECIFIC ROLE OR ROLES FOR YOUR CALL BACK ALONG WITH A DETAILED DOCUMENT ON HOW TO CONFIRM YOUR APPOINTMENT.

I KNOW THIS DOESN'T MAKE SENSE YET, BUT I PROMISE IT WILL WHEN YOU SEE IT.  SO BE PATIENT.  THIS IS A PROCESS AND WE TAKE IT IN STAGES.  WE DON'T START ANOTHER STAGE UNTIL ONE STAGE IS COMPLETED.

THIS WILL EXPLAIN WHY YOU HAVEN'T RECEIVED AN EMAIL YET IF YOU HAVE ALREADY SUBMITTED YOUR HEAD SHOT AND RESUME.  IT ISN'T TIME FOR THAT STAGE.

AND, PLEASE ONLY SEND YOUR RESUME IN ONE TIME AND ONE TIME ONLY.  IF YOU SEND MULTIPLY EMAILS TO THAT ADDRESS IT ONLY DELAYS THE STAGE BECAUSE DR. MEL WILL HAVE TO OPEN IT, AND DOUBLE CHECK THAT YOU ARE ON THE CALL BACK LIST FOR A SECOND TIME.  RULE #3 REALLY APPLIES HERE.  DON'T PISS DR. MEL OFF BY WASTING HER TIME HAVING TO OPEN AN EMAIL SHE HAS ALREADY LOOKED AT AND CHECKED.

BY THE END OF THIS STAGE, IF WE HAVEN'T RECEIVED YOUR HEAD SHOT, AS INDICATED ON HER GOLDEN SPREADSHEET, WE WILL ATTEMPT TO CONTACT YOU TO ASK FOR IT.  DR. MEL WILL KNOW IF YOU HAVEN’T BECAUSE SHE CHECKS OFF THE SPREADSHEET IN THE AREA “RESUME RECEIVED” AS A CHECK AND BALANCE SYSTEM SHE HAS PUT INTO PLACE.  DR. MEL THEN SORTS THE SPREADSHEET TO SEE WHO HASN’T.  THEREFORE, NO NEED TO ASK HER OR BOTHER HER IF SHE OR CASTING HAS RECEIVED YOUR HEAD SHOT AND EMAIL.  AGAIN, THIS ONLY DELAYS THE PROCESS.

4.  THE NEXT STAGE IS TO CONFIRM YOUR APPOINTMENT TIME.  THIS IS A PROCESS IN ITSELF.  YOU WILL RECEIVE A SEPARATE EMAIL WITH SPECIFIC INSTRUCTIONS WHICH WAS TESTED AND HELPED CREATED BY NICK BLADY.  WHEN YOU RECEIVE THE EMAIL  YOU WILL KNOW EXACTLY WHAT TO DO.  PICTURES ARE ALSO INCLUDED WITH DIRECTIONS.  BUT, I REPEAT AND STRESS - READ ALL OF THE DIRECTIONS FIRST BEFORE YOU START.

5.  LASTLY, YOU WILL ALSO RECEIVE A REMINDER EMAIL THAT THE AUDITIONS ARE THIS WEEK.  NOT THAT YOU’LL FORGET, BUT THAT IS HOW SHE “ROLLS.”

I hope this clarifies things for you.  And, please remember that the Email address provided for your KSK CALL BACK INVITATION is not the place to Email questions or any correspondences.  IT IS STRICTLY USED AS AN INFORMATION HIGHWAY FROM DR. MEL TO YOU AND FOR YOU TO SUBMIT THE NECESSARY INFORMATION SHE NEEDS. IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, EMAIL THEM TO ME ON FACEBOOK AND I WILL FIND OUT THE ANSWER IF I DON'T KNOW IT.

ASSEMBLY OF AN OTLP CASTING BINDER
By Dr. Mel


It is unbelievable the amount of calls and emails I am getting to my production company, On the Lot Productions, LLC for information on actors on this site.  They want my opinion on who I would cast according to their breakdown.  They realize that I have screened every actor on this site and really have a solid base for who can do what etc.  Some of you have already gotten jobs and agents from this.  I love that.

I also get local casting directors and casting assistants dropping by to look at our head shots so they too can see you.  Whew!  I can't stop what I am doing every time they come by.  Therefore, several suggested that we create an official casting binder of head shots and resumes.  We discussed it in our production meeting and we decided that this binder would also benefit us as we have many new upcoming projects besides The Keystroke Killer.  We will know exactly where to look.  So, we have established several five-inch binders eg., men, woman, teens, children, and character actors.  The only thing missing is your hard copy of your resume.  If you want to be considered for our future projects and/or other projects from those that contact us please send us a hard copy to:

ON THE LOT PRODUCTIONS, LLC
C/O DR. MEL CAUDLE
1000 W. Esplanade Ave, Suite 102/158
Kenner, LA  70065

THE INS AND OUTS OF FILM FINANCING

By Dr. Melissa Caudle
All Rights Reserved © 2012

Jumping back in time to late 1895 when the first film was shown on the big screen, filmmaking took off.  Over the years, we have seen film transcend from silent films to beautiful 3D images.  The possibilities of today’s technology for filmmakers to bring their imagination for all to see are endless.  No longer is the filmmaking tied to what can be seen in the physical form.  From the advent of computer technology used in Avatar, to the animations used by Disney, audiences are entertained.  But, it takes more than the imagination of a screenwriter coupling their talents with a creative and gifted team that includes a director and special effects editor; it takes money to make dreams come true.  Obtaining money to produce films is the greatest obstacle to success a filmmaker faces.  Trust me; I know this to be true.  I have several unproduced scripts just waiting for the right connection with funding in order to bring my dream to the big screen.

With that said, I’ve learned a great deal about film financing and the different kinds of financing a filmmaker can tap into.  And, I’m not simply talking about “Fund Raising” as this concept is a different horse of a different color all together.  What I am talking about is the different types of financing used in today’s filmmaking world.  What are your viable options if you don’t have the last name of Spielberg or Lucas?  Guy Magar, founder of Action/Cut Filmmaking says, “Raising money to make a film is like climbing Mount Everest.”

GETTING A HEAD START

Before you can jump in and get your feet wet into the world of film financing, you must make a determination as to the platform for your film project.  Why?  This single decision has the most impact on your film’s budget as it determines equipment needs, shooting schedule, cost for film or tape, and how your film will be distributed.  It is more complex than making a single decision, but it does have the long-term impact on your project.  Therefore, even before you begin to make plans to film your script or produce your reality show; make the decision on your distribution platform, e.g., film, television, DVD, Pay per View, or cable.

Once you have made your distribution platform decision the next step is to know your platform like you know the back of your hand.  This information must be embedded into your memory set and never become “Wishy Washy” when discussing your project with future or potential investors.  You never want to come across of not being able to make up your mind.  Therefore, once you make that decision, stand by it.  It is that important as this becomes part of your pitch plan, EPK packaging, and business plan for your project.

Now on to bigger and better things about obtaining film financing – your pitch packet.  You will have to write a business plan or pitch packet to present to your investors for both a film project and a reality show.  This means you will also have to do lots, and lots, of research.  Your research won’t be limited to where to obtain funding, but you will have to identify companies that distribute your kind of film, similar current projects, develop return on investment (ROI), candidates for a director, possible actors to attach to the project and more.  You will also need to research the vast differences between a business plan for a film and a business plan for a reality show.  My book, The Reality of Reality TV:  Reality Show Business Plans can help you with this journey.  The book not only distinguishes the differences between a film business plan and one for a reality show, but it also provides you with a step-by-step approach to writing a plan for a reality show.  My book does not describe how to write a business plan for a film; however, there are plenty of other books on the market for this purpose.  Again, do your homework and adequate research and you’ll discover your answers and you will be well on your way to writing your specific business plan.


By putting all of the necessary information into your pitch packet builds confidence in your investor.  They will be able to determine the “Worthiness” of your project as well as your commitment level to it.  Another added bonus to a well-defined pitch packet, it garners attention from Hollywood Insiders.  Your goal is to attract “Show Runners” to you project that almost guarantees the success of your project.

TYPES OF INDUSTRY FINANCING

There are different types of industry financing available in today’s film market – studio development, production deals, independent distributor financing, talent agency financing, end-user financing, private financing, and completion funds.  Let’s take a look at each one so you can make the best possible decision as to which one is appropriate for your project.

STUDIO PRODUCTION FINANCING
A studio production “In-House” financing deal usually comes in the form of a development deal.  This is where your pitch plan or business plan comes in handy.  Actually, there is no difference in a studio production deal for a film or a reality show project.  You have to first be able to pitch the project and then be able to leave behind “Marketables,” pieces of written documentation in the form of one pagers and/or business plan. 
Each marketing tool has a specific target but will almost always include a logline and a synopsis.  So, be prepared to bring those to any pitch meeting.  If you don’t know how to create a logline, one pager or how to develop a synopsis for either a script or a reality show, my books, How to Create a One Pager:  Quick Guidebook for Screenwriters, How to Write a Synopsis:  Quick Guidebook for Screenwriters, and How to Write a Logline:  Quick Guidebook for Screenwriters, will prove to be beneficial.  All of my books are available on Amazon.com and my author’s Facebook page Dr. Melissa Caudle (https://www.facebook.com/DrMelissaCaudle).  All books will assist you in designing your marketing tools to include in your business plan.



As with most things in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to an in-house studio deal.  The biggest advantage is that you get the money to produce your project which allows you to reach your dream of producing your film or reality show.  Also, of importance is the fact you will be able to attach a studios name to your project which garners audiences immediately.  Audiences have come to expect certain quality as well as certain genres within the confines of a studio name.  For example, if National Lampoon offers you a Development Deal, the audience expects a comedy.  Likewise, if it is Universal Pictures, you expect a large budget with the special effects to go with it.
The disadvantage lies in the fact that if your project is picked up with an in-house studio deal, most of the rights as well as the profits associated with your project belongs to them and not the screenwriter or creator.  You have to be willing to “let go” of your project and allow others to make crucial decisions which almost always includes re-writes not necessarily by the original screenwriter or creator.
If you are offered an in-house studio deal make sure you seek an entertainment attorney’s advice for your contract which will allow him or her to negotiate the best deal structure for you.  Don’t make the mistake of using the same attorney and simply signing your rights away.  After all, you created and wrote the project.  The studio deal usually comes in a form known as a “Development Deal Memo,” – a short contract between the studio, what they are offering, and you.  It won’t be smooth sailing and can be a long drawn out process which could take up to eight months.  Specific details of your future contract, such as profit margins (percentage points), your salary, shooting and prep schedules, and screen credit are usually outlined in the Development Deal Memo. 
So, if you are expecting fast financing miracles, this isn’t the route for you.  You might want to consider alternative forms of financing because this procedure often gives the screenwriter and reality show creator a false sense of success.  In actuality, you may have signed your rights away or at the very minimum, your profits.  This is especially true for in-house studio deals that offer net profit deals as they typically don’t provide a profit margin to the screenwriter or creator.  I have seen numerous contracts from in-house studio deals that included the studio adding an advertising budget for a project and combined it with an advertising campaign of another film inflating their return on their investment. Therefore, their break-even return is inflated more than their usual 30 to 50 percent. For this reason alone, is why it is critical to have your entertainment attorney review all deal memos and contracts prior to your signature for agreement.  Deal memos are as much of a legal document as are contracts between you and the studio.  Never forget this as they are enforceable in court.
Another trick in-house studios use is what is known as a “Step Deal,” that is attached to the Development Deal Memo.  What happens in a step deal, is that the personnel involved in developing your project is pain incrementally during the development which increases the amount of money the in-house studio must make prior to distributing any profits to you according to your deal structure.  It is essential that you watch out for this as well in your negotiation.  Remember that studios will structure your deal for their benefit, not yours.
There are a couple of other disadvantages with an in-house studio deal.  You always take the chance that your idea can be stolen.  Remember, a logline, treatment, script, and a synopsis is copyrightable; however, an idea isn’t.  It is possible for your project to be in development while they are developing a similar project with a twist.  There is nothing you can do about that.  Another disadvantage is that although you are the screenwriter or reality show creator, you can be fired at any moment for failure to meet deadlines etc.  Your project will either go on without you or put in what is termed as “Studio Limbo.” 
Studio limbo is dangerous as they own the rights, because you signed them over to them, and they drop your project.  When that happens, you can’t seek additional investors or even produce your project because they have your hands tied.  So, watch out for that.  Preplanning and having your entertainment attorney make sure that a statement is included in your deal memo that prevents studio limbo is well advised.  I have actually had one project of mine go into studio limbo.  A lesson I’ll not soon forget.
FINANCING WITH AN INDEPENDENT DISTRIBUTOR

As scary and as tempting an in-house studio deal sounds, there are alternatives to financing your film or reality show project by signing with an independent distributor.  An independent distributor isn’t associated with a studio and usually specializes in foreign sales and distribution.

 A key advantage is that most independent distributors are usually affiliated with the American Film Marketing Association (AFMA) and you are more than likely are able to negotiate a higher profit margin for yourself.  The main disadvantage of going with an independent distributor is that they usually won’t or can’t finance the entire project and often require that the screenwriter or creator have some sort of financing already attached to the project. 

Additionally, most require that actors and the director are already attached and the project has already been broken down and has a shooting schedule.  In other words, is ready to go into production with principle photography.  Lastly, out of all of the companies involved in filmmaking, it is the independent film distribution companies who go into Chapter 11 and bankruptcy the most.  You have to ask yourself if this is an important factor for you when entering into a deal with a distribution company. 

Again, this is where your entertainment attorney comes in handy to review all contracts prior to your agreement.  I can’t really stress this concept enough.  If I haven’t taught you anything in my books, on my blog, Dr. Mel’s Message (www.drmelcaudle.blogspot.com), or in my articles, this is one of the most important concepts I can provide to you as an independent filmmaker and reality show creator.

FINANCING THROUGH A TALENT AGENCY


Sometimes a talent agency really wants to promote a specific actor or actors and will get involved in financing an independent script.  Although it isn’t common, it does in fact happen.  Why would a talent agency consider financing a script?  Simply put, they not only make money from the film, but also their fees for representing the actor or actors increase.  It is a win win scenario for them.

Don’t get me wrong here when it comes to a talent agency getting involved in the financing aspect of a film project.  Those agencies that do, usually don’t give a producer or screenwriter the money, but will broker financing deals with investors, foreign governments, and production companies.  This gives you, the filmmaker, more flexibility as well as more control over your own project.

The big advantage of having a talent agency fund or procure funding for your project is that it becomes a “One Stop Shopping” format for production.  How?  All actors come from the agency.  Usually, the director will be signed with the agency as well, and possibly, they may represent the distributor.  Just think of the amount of money they have the potential to make at this level in the filmmaking process.  For them, it also increases their chances of getting a return on their investment.  They know everything about the project including the amount of money it takes to make the film and how much money the film profits.  Like I said before, it is a win win scenario for talent agencies to get involved in film financing.

As good as this sounds, the major disadvantage is the potential conflict of interest by having their “hands” in every aspect of the project.  One must question how one agency can represent the best deal for an actor at the same time making sure their distributor client gets the best deal.  It proves to be a very sticky and complicated situation at best.  You also have to question who is the agency making the film for; e.g., them?  You?  Actors?  Distributor? Or, the audience?

FINANCING WITH AN END-USER AGREEMENT

Now that you have read the advantages and disadvantages of in-house studio, independent distributor, and agency financing there is another alternative for financing – End-User financing.  End-User financing is when a television station, theater, or independent production company (both domestic and foreign) puts up the money in return for percentage points after the film or project is complete.  This is much like pre-sale financing in that a filmmaker or reality show creator must put up the money first and will only get reimbursed upon completion of the project.

The advantage of End-User financing is that a filmmaker or reality show creator will get his or her money back that they spend.  That is, if they kept their receipts and their bookkeeping is immaculate.  The amount to be provided is usually determined in advance of the production.

The disadvantages should be clear.  One is that if you go over the amount originally agreed upon, you won’t receive that money back.  You also must come up with the money in the first place through other investors or a bank loan which can be daunting.  You must ask yourself, “If you are able to get other investors, why are you going to share your profits with an End-User who doesn’t have any risk?”  Only you will be able to make that decision with the advice from your entertainment attorney.

PRIVATE FUNDING

Just as the term says, “Private Funding” is a way to finance your film project or reality show.  There are several ways to accomplish your goal; e.g., from family and friends, small companies, sponsors, product placement, small investors etc.  The advantage of this you get to maintain your rights and have more control.  The disadvantage is you may lack in the experience to raise funds or create the investment contracts.  Again, use your entertainment attorney for all documentation and contracts.  Keep it legal and make sure you stay informed on SEC regulations.


Never, and I repeat, Never finance your film or reality show project by going into debt with a credit card.  When it comes to distribution, it will do nothing but cause you problems and distribution companies will likely to stay clear of your project.  I don’t think I really need to go into the fact that credit card debt is expensive with the interest rates and ultimately doubles the cost of your film.  That means you have to sell twice as many films just to keep up.  Oh, did I mention not to ever use credit cards to finance your film?

FINANCING THROUGH COMPLETION FUNDS 

Financing your project through completion funds isn’t the answer either.  First of all, completion funds only are designed to provide financing during post-production if for some reason a filmmaker can’t finish the project due to lack of funds or owes money to the lab for the final product and can’t pay.  Of course, your need must be real and the completion bond company requires all of the necessary documentation for proof.

The main advantage of having a completion bond is like buying insurance for the “Just in Case” scenario.  You are buying insurance so if something truly happens you will be able to finish your film.  The disadvantage is that is it very expensive, not to mention the documentation required with a complete reveal of your business and personal banking accounts.  Trust me, if you have fudged or have something to hide, the completion bond company will access it.

IF-COME DEALS AND FINANCING

Are you a new screenwriter or reality show producer?  If so, you may have the opportunity to be presented with an If-Come Deal.  An If-Come Deal is when a screenwriter or reality show producer is offered by a production company if they are interested in your project; yet, they don’t want to put any money into it at the present time.  It is a wait and see game with a key stipulation – the production company must be actively seeking funding, financing, or a licensee interest.  Typically included in an If-Come Deal is a Writer’s Deal Memo which stipulates that the creator or screenwriter will be attached to the project if funding is secured. 

An If-Come deal has its advantage.  One such advantage is that as a screenwriter or reality show creator you get to “Gloat” that a production company is interested in your project.  This does give you a sense of success.  Also, an If-Come Deal can actually help the first-time screenwriter or reality show producers because often the production company will have previous connections in the industry to tap into for funding.  In essence, you get to come along for the ride.

The main disadvantage for an If-Come Deal is that it does tie your project to a specific production company for a specified length of time.  This means, as long as the If-Come Deal is in effect, you cannot seek additional funding or begin development of any kind.  You have to consider the possibility of the project not getting any funding at all and because the production company has no investment in the project could pitch other projects over yours to their closely tied investment network.  That is a risk you will have to take.  I would just make certain that you involve your entertainment attorney in the process and make sure that you have a “Way Out” clause which stipulates a time frame that the If-Come Deal will expire.  In fact, a “Way Out” clause isn’t a bad idea for any of the financing structures in my opinion.  When a “Way Out” clause is included contractually between a screenwriter or a reality show creator with a production company or investors, the rights to the screenplay and reality show revert back to you.  At the very minimum, a “Way Out” clause will allow the doors to be open for renegotiation of a new contract. 

FINANCING THROUGH OPTION DEALS

When you option your script or reality show you enter into an “Option Deal” with a production company.  What this means is that the production company believes in your idea or script and agrees to pay you the screenwriter or creator a small fee in order to shop your project to other production companies, television networks, or investors.  In general, it is much like renting a house with the option to buy it.  If in fact your screenplay or reality show is sold, both you and the production will make money.  They make money by selling your work.  You make money by getting the amount agreed upon which is more than likely at the rate stipulated by the Writer’s Guild of America.  When the time-frame expires for the option, all rights revert back to you.

IN SUMMARY

Now you have been introduced to several types of financing which includes the pros and cons of variety of methods to finance your film.  I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a viable alternative and that is to raise the funds yourself through several fundraising techniques.  In fact, I have written two books that address this topic.  The first book, Fundraising for Independent Filmmakers, presents 150 creative ideas to raise funds.  The second book, 150 Ways to Raise Funds for Reality Show Creators, provides similar techniques but is directed for reality shows.  You need not purchase both books to benefit from the contents as I specifically address fundraising for either the independent filmmaker or the reality show creator.  Purchase the one that address your needs.  Both books are available on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and on my Facebook author page Dr. Melissa Caudle (https://www.facebook.com/DrMelissaCaudle).

In conclusion, when it comes to money and financing a film or reality show project, be upfront, honest, and stay in control.  Above all else, seek the advice and counsel of your own entertainment attorney.

GYPSY FREE RADIO

Over the last several weeks I have introduced you to Gypsy Elise and the Royal Blues.  They are awesome and I love their music.  In fact, this is the band that did the original first soundtrack for The Keystroke Killer which is available for sale.  Another bit of good news is the fact that both Gypsy and I celebrate original music and musicians.  There isn't a day that goes by that music doesn't impact either one of us.  Now, in support of all musicians, single, duets, and bands, of all kinds, you can have the opportunity to have your music played on Gypsy Free Radio.

That's right.  Gypsy has created a Internet radio station featuring new and established artists to get their music out to the world.  The radio station features all of the original music by Gypsy Elise and the Royal Blues as well as ten other albums and new bands.  If you are an musician and want a to have your music added to Gypsy Free Radio, send your original music in a mp3 file and your liner notes to:  RadioFreeGypsy@gmail.com.  To listen to the station while you are reading this blog (HINT HINT) click here.  Happy listening and happy reading of Dr. Mel's Message.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MEMBER SPOTLIGHT LIST?



THE ROAD TO KSK CASTING
This week the member spotlight will not be posted as we have moved into the call backs.  We cannot publish the official call back list at this time until everyone has been notified.

FAVORITE KSK MEMBER COMMENTS

Challa Sabree<---(just got his callback!!!!!)...I feel as though I just won an award sooo..."I'd like to thank my mama and daddy, because without that one night in a drunken stupor in a sleezy motel, I wouldn't be here today!")...I'm just kiddin y'all...(the motel wasn't THAT sleezy!...lol)

Summer E. Sinclair I can now pull out the pins, but the needles are stuck 'til after my callback! SO excited to meet the KSK team and bring my best in L.A.!!! Congrats to all

M Gerard Pavuk Just got a callback on my desk and I am grabbin my cigars and heading down to New Orleans!!! Whooo Hooo

Raven LexY
-(((happy dancing))) YayYYYYYYY! wasn't sure if we were sharing until I scrolled down.. I can NOT wait to meet all you cali auditioner's at the face to face callbacks... & the "make-up" ksk la party. (wine glass in hand... ok second glass) Wanted to raise a toast & cheer us all on this amazing journey. (I think I will be cheering all night with this excitment- might to walk to trader joes now for another bottle of 2 buck chuck)

Chip Carriere Thank you so much, I cannot wait for the callback in New Orleans. I would like to wish everyone luck. This has been a very rewarding experience. Regardless of how it works out after casting, I have been fortunate to meet and make new friends from coast to coast and even abroad. That to me is already a win. I have no doubt that when I get to L.A. some day, I can call Jack E Curenton and he will feed me and house me. LOL! All kidding aside, this has been one of the most rewarding experiences I have had while pursuing my craft. Starting with great leadership, throw in an abundance or great talent, mixing in a huge helping of mutual support and love and you get a BIG helping of KSK Jambalaya. You all make this recipe ROCK!

Vito Viscuso So many KSK member to say congrats to, and so little time to write to each one of you individually. So, I will write a mass congrats to all KSK members who received callbacks! And to the those who may not have received a callback know this, it takes great courage to open yourself up as a artist and take a chance on an oppotunity like this one. Every member of KSK should be proud of themselves and each other. Great Job to ALL


Sabrita Gordon Oh my God, this is the best birthday present ever! I just got a callback! Thank you so much! Happy birthday to me...

Blanca Avalos Thank You both for the callback!!! Looking forward to meeting you. Actually live in Baltimore.....but working on a feature film in LA the entire month of August.....THE STARS ARE ALIGNED!!!

Scott Wright Congratulations to everyone who has received a call back. I feel truly honored to be a part of such a talented group of people and look forward to seeing what is brought to the table as we delve deeper into these characters and bring them to life in this second round. Thank you again to Melissa Caudle and Robby Cook Stroud for what has definitely been one of the most unique and rewarding experiences I have had as an actor thus far. Just for fun, here is a pic of that short angry gunslinger I've been portraying lately :)

Jenny Jones Best day ever!!!!!!!! 1) I get to leave the hospital tomorrow so I am soooo happy that I am feeling so much better and finally get to go home! 2) I just got an email saying I got a callback for the role of jenni for ksk !!!!!!!! Omg I am over the moon excited about this!! Thank you guys sooo very much for giving me the chance to audition again it means everything to me!!!!!! It's been the hardest year of my life and I really wanted something happy to happen so thank you!!!! Congrats to everyone who got a callback you guys did amazing and great job to all those who auditioned everyone is a winner when you follow your dreams :) loop love to everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ellery Truesdell I am so jazzed to get a call back. I say jazzed because all of the other adjectives have been taken by now. Now we get down to the real nitty gritty of things. Let's all do so great that they will have one hell of a time making the final cut. I've seen some pretty awesome audition videos on here, so I know the face-to-face auditions are going to be even better. Good luck to ALL the KSK'rs.

Cela Yildiz How about the callbacks for Europeans???... specially the Belgian area ! :

Phyllis Chafe Comoletti ok so my daughter uses my facebook and while we were eating dinner, she said "mom you got a message from Robby Rae! I yelled and ran over to the computer! Thanks so much!!! :) ok now I can go back to eating my lasagna! ( maybe!) I so fit this part!! :) I am an indigo child!

Natalie Sharp Holy crap, holy crap, holy crap, holy crap....oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh....just got my call back invite and that was my reaction. Thank Yall soooooooooo much!!! I am so excited. My husband thought something was wrong b/c i was screaming.

Joel Cole Sooooo excited! Got a callback for Malcolm in Los Angleles! Thank you, Melissa Caudle and Robby Cook Stroud! I hope to land the role and work with you two on this exciting project! I've seen some amazing auditions in this group, there is a lot of talent here. All the best wishes to everyone in this group, the KSK'rs. Congratulations to everyone else that has received callbacks as well! Best of luck!

Bonnie Jane Levinson I am jumping for joy to be able to meet with you face to face. I feel so fortunate to have gotten a callback. I am so happy my audition caught your eyes.......... spinning around in circles.....Please fly safely everyone and have a lovely, fantastically successful healthy week. :-)

Jenny Jones jenny jones here got the TUBES OUT OF MY NOSE,THROAT AND STOMACH.. AND I CAN FINALLY EAT!! HERE IS A PIC OF ME SMILING WHILE EATING MY FAV FOOD EVER.. CUSTARD!!!!!! :

Diana Marzigliano Thank YOU GUYS....Dr. Mel, Robby, and all of your team and the great friends I have had the honor of getting to know... I got a callback...I am so excited....doing cartwheels and a round off HANNAH... LOL

Johnny Rock Right on! I have a callback for the role of Alex..... thanks to all involved in the selection process. Time to bring my A+ game :-)

Everett Booth Hello Robby, and Dr. Caudle, First I would like to thank you both, and the entire KSK Production Team for selecting me for a callback! I am looking forward to meeting with you face to face. This news has made my week! I will be sending you my email as per your request later! See in LA!!

William T EnsleyWhew!!!! Felt Like I was waiting to be drafted to the NFL on day three...lol Just kidding I will be joining you Talented Folks for Call Backs and I am Honored:)

Kennedy Moronta OMG I'm so excited i can hardly type lol, i just got the official Callback for the amazing upcoming television series "The Keystroke Killer" for the role of Lorenzo.. Looking forward to Meeting you guys in person!!!! Thank you Melissa Caudle, Robby Ray, God and my Family & Friends for sticking with me and my dreams.. Hugs For All......LOVE IT!!!!!

Jack E Curenton What a Day....got offered the lead role in a 3 hr made for TV Historical Docu/drama, an got the call about approved for a special project with one of the Studios filming on Friday and now the call back for KSK....Oh Yea, I'm doing my Happy Dance...(and those at the LACA KSK Skype to NOLA KSK Party have already seen that)....now All Y'all will just have to attend the Call Back KSK Party with Dr Melissa Caudle and Robby Cook Stroud and the CAL contingent to see it again
  • THE END.

6 comments:

  1. Hi Dr. Mel, thank you for your blog and all the info! I was asked to remember to do stage 4, but I'm confused as to whether I need to do anything because I am already cast as the belly dancer. I'm assuming nothing yet until I receive further instructions. I will send my headshot and resume to your office address in the next day for future role considerations. Out of curiosity, what is the belly dancers role in the story? Is she just a featured dancer, or does she play a role that ties in with the story? Thanks again!! :)

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  2. Girl, how do you find the time to do this !!!?!!!

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  3. Thank you Melissa for all of the information. I am so happy to be a part of this process and to see everything unfold, and don't worry, I am following the rules read everything then reply ;)

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  4. Hi Dr. Mel, I was instructed to place any questions here on the comments section of your blog. I received the call back notice, I'm anticipating receiving my group today (YAY), however when I went to the keystrokekiller web site it didn't recognize my email. Can you please check that my email is listed in the invitations? greg@gregorydepetro.com.
    Thanks so much, can't wait for the audition!!!
    Gregory DePetro

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  5. Hi Dr. Caudle: Need a couple questions answered. Got my callback (yeh!!), sent my info and got confirmation. Today (Tuesday) received an email with instruction to join the website and and attachment with color groupings and times for the LA castings (I am in the New Orleans session). I have not received a color group or what role I am auditioning for. I don't just want to assume its for Janice Bennett (which I submitted with). Also tried to join the website and it states I am not invited. . . .not feeling the love Mel! lol :o) Any help is appreciated. Analiese Anderson (email: analieseanderson@aol.com)

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