Retire Mechanical engineer. Student at California State university Channel Island studiyingAbout Me

August 18, 2017

Thoughts on Film Developing

Hi folks. As excited as I am that one of my published novels, “Murder on the Naval Base” has been picked up for possible film development, I must remind myself to remain level headed.

I have no experience in developing a movie and I am beginning to learn how long a process it actually is. My message to other first-time movie developers is to be cautious. I have made mistakes and what I perceived as mistakes. I hope by sharing my story, others can avoid making those same mistakes.

After my novel was published, media attention and reviews started coming in. It soon became apparent that many of the reviewers wanted to see the novel made into a movie. With this type of interest, I went ahead and had a professional movie treatment done. The fee for the five-page treatment was $3000. After it was completed and registered with the Writer’s Guild, all the publicist did was write up a press release and mentioned my novel along with other novels in a few publications in the hope of getting picked it up by Hollywood.

Having very little experience in these matters, I thought I had been swindled out of the $3000. Fast forward two years. I saw an ad looking for projects to develop and I took a chance and replied. I sent the movie treatment of my novel and it was accepted.

That $3000 I paid for the movie treatment? Well, I now realize it was money well spent. The reason? When I met with the movie developer to sign a partnership agreement, I asked him if it had been worth spending the money on the treatment. His answer was a simple, “yes.” Among all the other projects that had been submitted to him, mine was chosen because it was professionally prepared.

Wahooo!! Lesson learned. I will never submit another movie project without a professionally done treatment.

The biggest mistake I have made is telling my friends and reviewers the novel has been picked up for possible production. Now, I am constantly being asked when is the movie coming out?

Since I have let the proverbial “cat out of the bag,” to my friends and reviewers - this is the hard part. A movie is not done overnight. Yes, I have partnered with an experienced and respected movie developer, but, nothing is guaranteed.

For “Murder on the Naval Base,” the first step was the production of a professionally produced twenty-page business portfolio which is currently being submitted to investors. This process will take anywhere from three to six months before we hear anything back. Supposing we manage to secure our funding for the film? It is just beginning to move forward, my friend. I then must form a LLC for the film and submit how the funding will be spent

But, I am getting ahead of myself, again. So, while the portfolio is being submitted and we anxiously wait for an answer, I am working with a professional screen writer who is finalizing the actual script. This, in itself, is an arduous process. Once it is completed, and we have secured the financing, the script will be submitted to agencies such as CAA or WMA. Here’s the part to choke on - just to submit a script carries a fee of over 2 million dollars or whatever percentage they take.

Since the script can only be submitted to one agency at a time, this again, is a time-consuming part of the project. These agencies get back to you in their own leisurely time as to whether or not they are interested in the project. They could take up to a year just to read the script before deciding to accept or reject.

Then what? If they are not interested, the $2 million fee is gone. But if, ahhh, the big if, if they are interested in packaging the film, they provide the talent, that is the director and major stars. This process takes between two three years, sometimes even longer.

Moving forward, once an agency has packaged the project, the next stage is pre-production. The production company hires the full cast and crew, and detailed preparation for the shoot begins. All heads of departments are hired, such as location manager, director of photography, casting director, script supervisor, gaffer, production sound mixer, production designer, art director, set decorator, construction coordinator, property master, custom designer, key make-up artist, special effects supervisor, stunt coordinator, post production supervisor, film editor, visual effect producer, sound designer. The shooting script is circulated to all of them as pre-production begins.

The next stage is the actual filming of the movie. Then comes post-production with all its myriad details including, a digital cinema package-hard drive which contains the final copy of the film encoded so it can play in cinemas, a dialogue script so that foreign territories can dub or subtitle the film, and which has the precise time code for each piece of dialogue so the dubbing artist knows exactly where to place their dialogue, a campaign image (with titles and credits), and a 90 to 120-second trailer.

To sum it all up, it is a very long and tedious process. To my friends and reviewers, please be patient. I am learning as I go. Sometimes not all films fit into agency packaging, but if a project is big enough to submit to an agency, it really is just the beginning.

And, again my advice to first time movie developers. If you have a book that you believe could be made into a movie, just don’t get too excited and tell the world of your success. Calm down! Don’t even tell your wife until you are firmly into the project. Even then, it is better not to tell anyone. Let them find out through the media.