Monday, March 7, 2011

Packaging Ghostkeeper

Okay, so I've now finished the screenplay for Ghostkeeper 2, although it seems that any reference to a "Sequel" is not advisable these days. Rather it's a "remake" which is a term that suggests that rather than a copy, it's a whole new movie. With remakes popular (True Grit being notably the best one), I'll go with whatever the distributor things is best.

Not that they always know.

Now I begin to create a package, which, if you read the first Travel Day blogs here, way back in August of 2009, will get a really good idea of what a package should have. Trouble is, I never found the funds necessary for Travel Day.

So why do I think I can get $$ this time?

Travel Day had two Oscar nominees interested in it and that helped alot. But it was a classic "indie" film, a character drama, often referred to as non-genre. It's not family, comedy, romcom (romantic comedy), action, horror or suspense-thriller. All of those are genres. Movies like Winter's Bone, 127 Days, Wendy and Lucy, these are not genre films.

And thus, not as appealing to the distributors.

In addition we had a first-time director in Shirley, who is perfectly capable of directing a feature, in fact more talented than most of the directors I know. But every first time director faces this challenge. The fact that she was a woman also makes it a little harder. In spite of changes in attitude and Kathryn Bigelow winning an Oscar for an action film last year, women still face what is still a man's world.

These objections are often overcome but in our case, it didn't help. Also, a major investor pulled out at the last minute as well, which was the biggest loss. And weather was key to the story so by early spring, it was simply too late to try to make Travel Day until winter came back. I am still committed to producing a feature for Shirley.

Now compare that to Ghostkeeper 2.

For one, I wrote and directed the 1980 Ghostkeeper and produced it through my own company, Badland Pictures. A budget of $650,00 was raised due to a Canadian tax shelter (note: not tax credit which is popular now in Canada and US). The tax shelter then was 100%, which meant that each of the 6 investors could write off their investment completely.

This tax credit was incredible for the Canadian film industry as it began building an real industry rather than just a handful of filmmakers struggling to find money. But, as with all good things, lawyers and accountants got into it and pretty soon a $5 million budget had $2 million going to the suits rather than the movie. So Canada cancelled it.

It lasted from 1975 to 1985 and I got my money in 1980 for Ghostkeeper.

It was also my first feature, after writing and directing scores of commercials and documentaries but the big reason for investors giving me money was that I had a great money-finder who was a born salesman. Something I'm not. That and the fact that it was a horror film and shot in winter. The tax shelter ended at the end of each year and so most of the money was raised around then as rich people realized they had to find some tax shelters.

So where does that put me now?

After 30 years, I have written or rewritten 18 movies and directed 3. There is also a small cult following for the movie, which began in Britain. I've had some offers to re-release the 1980 version but I didn't have a good copy. Somewhere along the way I lost track of the original 35mm prints and negs.

But in January, a distributor called me to say he found a 35mm print and wanted to distribute the 1980 film. I said yes. And now I have finished the screenplay and also did a full budget, 22 pages worth. This week I spend on a proposal outlining everything. You might want to go to the proposal we had for Travel Day, it's still posted on the left hand side of this page under Materials.

So far I also have two of the original actors, the original DP and the original PM, (Director of Photography & Production Manager). I need to find the other two actresses, Georgie Collins and Sherry McFadden, Georgie must be in her 80's and Sherry may have married. But they all are crucial to the story.

Another cast member was Les Kimber, actually a PM himself but he started in the business as an actor. Les passed away a few years ago. His photo will be in the new movie.

And lastly I have a distributor both for Ghostkeeper 1 and 2 as well as offers to distribute from Canada, France and Great Britain. If I can't raise money with all these elements I might as well quit. Well, maybe not quit.

So once again I launch into an impossible task, to get money from people who don't want to give me money and spend it on something that they don't want to spend on and won't see until it's finished.

(Thurs: Progress?)

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