Monday, January 27, 2014

No more excuses...

And I mean it. Really.

Starting today I start on a project. Any project. Anything that strikes the muse, as they say.

But maybe I should take out the garbage. That's at least 5 minutes. Maybe I can find some other chore that takes longer.

The sun outside is shining early morning bright. It rained a little last night but as most of the time, it's gone by sunrise.

And this is how I spend Monday mornings, trying to figure out if I should start a project, finish a project or come up with a new project. Someone asked me what I do every day.

I look for work.

 As always I have legitimate projects to work on with the hope someone will buy one of them. But January is over in a few days and February is a fast month. You can see the previous blog to see what I'm playing around with.

This week, my Alberta producer will finish a new budget for Emperor of Mars, something around $1.6 million. Fifteen years ago the budget would have been $3.5 million but those days are gone. As I've said before, around 2005, TV movies, which I did most of my work in, started to disappear. Reality shows started in the form of Survivors.

And it took off. And at a lot cheaper prices.

And it became a buyer's market. Wherein Hallmark of Lifetime would have paid $3 million and more, they now pay around $350,000. 

Which is about 90% less.

Which means that producers have to scrounge around for money from anywhere, which means foreign countries, which means Canada and Great Britain, as most foreign language countries don't want our hundreds of Christmas movies.

And what about the crew?

You still need a sizeable crew to make a TV movie and larger for a studio-based movie.  How can a producer make a movie at 90% less cost?

They used to shoot TV movies in 4 weeks. 

Now they shoot them in 12 days. My Christmas story was made in 12 days. 

What does this mean?

You need to shoot and run. You can't do too many "over the shoulders" shots, and keep the cast small and fewer locations. 

And they can do it. 

But the only way to really make money is to be a producer like Larry Levinson, who makes 10 or 20 at a time. This way the company can get a cheaper rate for labor if the crews are guaranteed a year's steady work.

So what's the worst thing for writers;

We're being made minimum fees rather than fees our agents say we should have. There's always the privileged, writers who always work, but most of us trudge along and create our little projects that we hope someday will be bought.

And the funny thing is, some of them do get bought.

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