Tom Ramcigam (magicmarmot) wrote,
Tom Ramcigam

Worst Case Scenario

A zombie movie-- or technically a trailer for a zombie movie that doesn't actually exist yet, but cool concept. And nicely done trailer.

This isn't the first time that I've heard of the strategy of making a trailer to try and generate interest in funding for a feature. It's actually a pretty old strategy, but it's also one that I thought had gone by the wayside some years ago because it never seemed to work (anybody remember War of the Oaks?), and with the price of technology down to levels where you can make a feature for less than the cost of a used Yugo, why bother?

Of course, these guys are shooting on 35mm as opposed to DV or HD. And they have a cool-ass crane.

Okay, I'd love to shoot on 35mm, assuming that somebody else is footing the bill:
1.) a 1000-foot roll of 35mm motion-picture film (4-perf Academy) is roughly 11 minutes long, and that's raw footage.

2.) a 1000-foot roll of raw 35mm neg stock fresh from the factory will run somewhere around $4000, depending on the stock.

3.) Processing on the cheap is about 50 cents a foot, but usually has a minimum of 10,000 to 20,000 feet, plus setup charges. And that just gives you the processed negative; usually you need to do multiple steps so your original neg isn't destroyed in the editing process.

Film is a very forgiving medium for lighting, much more so than video. Primarily this has to do with its exposure latitude, which is how well the film responds to changes in light, or the difference in detail between the maximum and minimum amounts of light. There is also the non-linearity of response, various darkroom techniques, the thickness of the emulsion layers... there's a lot about film that makes it unique and lovely.

To me, the beautiful thing about film is that once the film is exposed (and say exposed well) and developed, you can bring it to a film scanner which does a wonderful thing: you can focus in on a particular area and adjust the exposure, color, and all those fabulous visual things to mark the specific medium in which you're working.

But it's hella expensive.

On a movie with a hundred-million-dollar budget, the cost of the film stock and processing are really pretty inconsequential compared to the rest of the costs. The Episode III extras contain a fabulous breakdown of a 43-second sequence in the final film that involved something like 70,000 man-hours of work.

An indie film producer, particularly one that works at the budget level that I'm likely to be involved with for some time to come, does not have the luxury. The amount of money required to purchase a single roll of film and processing is more than the total budget of all of the films that I've worked on (not including equipment purchases).

A nice compromise is shooting in high-def. I can actually purchase a camera and editing system and be able to shoot and edit in 4:2:2 720p/24 for less than $20,000.00 (which is phenomenal considering as short as a year ago it wasn't possible for less than five times that). And that format looks really amazing, even when finally burned down to a DVD.

Of course, coming up with the $20k is a bit of a problem. But hey, it's all fantasy at this point anyway.

  • (no subject)

    1015/100. Hard to make it tonight, legs are shaky.

  • (no subject)

    1180/100. Watched some of the extras for The Host. Came up with a short film idea for a contest. Made oven-baked potatoes & onions. Having dinner,…

  • (no subject)

    1070/100. Glad I took yesterday as downtime. Pushed upper body on this one a bit.

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