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Cool Runnings (1993) and Ghostbusters (1984)

Is Cool Runnings politically incorrect now? Someone told me it was. Then again, this was an academic, who is offended by everything.

Anyway, I hope I don't offend anyone by using Cool Runnings as an example. That movie shows everything I want to talk about, about film, on this hot, 4th of July. Not the casting or directing, the shots or music, or its representation, but the actual plot.

Four guys, who never pushed a bobsled before (like, never made a film before), decide to use their transferable talents in other fields, seek out a great coach, and seek investment from the community.

They don't join a network called "sledding people." If they had one though, how would they use it?

They put the team together before they have the money. Yes, they are amateurs, but they don't even know what the nature of the sled will be. (It's not an Arri Alexa, or Lamborghini, I can tell you that much.)

The other great film about filmmaking is Ghostbusters. Three academics lose their jobs, and that frees them so go for their dreams. They've never busted ghosts before, so they must innovate, create something new. (Like Warner Brothers with sound, early Disney with innovations in animation, Pixar with Toy Story.) Three of them are working on spec, investing their own time and money, and the fourth is an employee (they also have an admin employee, very important on film too.) But, the forth employee joins before they hit it big, and while he needs the money, he's not given a super great salary.

Making a film is like that. If you want to really be part of something innovative, you've got to put something into it before it gets great.

You can't be part of Napoleon Dynamite now. You had to join back when the writer, director, cinematographer had no imdb pages.

I've had clients ask for a screenwriter who has worked with celebrities. I've had screenwriters ask for an advance when they've never written a feature. I've seen people say they can't even make a microbudget film unless they have a-list cast.

Come on. Pele didn't have a-list footballers in his first pick-up games. Marie Curie didn't have a-list scientists when she learned chemistry. The greatest, most innovative people in history grew up in poverty or at best middle income. Einstein didn't even comb his hair, nor did Mark Twain.

Often, disaster is the best opportunity. For those of you who don't have time to make films because of your day jobs, great. However, I probably can't afford you.

Those who really need the film job, who are forced to try something new, they are the ones who are most likely to make a truly great film. Those small studios who haven't made a name for themselves will take that risk that we'll remember.

I think sequels often fail to be exciting because the filmmakers don't have to succeed. They don't have to innovate. When a "creative" stops being creative, they get boring.

If you're unemployed and hungry, you might just make those great innovations in sports, film, business, art, science, education or otherwise.

Day jobs can also be useful. Transferable skills are everywhere. Films are not just about cameras and editing decks. Take a look who Aardman and Lionsgate are hiring, and you'll have more of an idea of how you run a business. (In fact, what I learned in an administration course helped me with my first feature just as much as what I learned in film school.)

If you work with me, and you have a day job, don't be shy about it. Transferable skills, and even commonality with the financers themselves, could help us sell our team to funders.

Okay, now this is about assembling those teams. I think shooting people could benefit from a team assembly tag. Sometimes, we don't have the money yet, we're looking for funding, but it helps us to approach investors or funders if we have our bobsled team in place. Even if the bobsled team is getting paid in the end.

If we don't have money, we may not go to Calgary. So, it's not an expenses only job. It's better paid, in that it pays if we raise the money. But, it's even more risky, in that it may not happen.

I think a "team assembly" or "tentative option" would be a great addition to the "paid" and "expenses only" options on the shooting people "get people" tab. I don't really have any expenses only jobs, but they can't be listed as paid jobs because we need to apply for funding as one body, which involves a minimal amount of work (pitching) before the money comes in.

  • Vasco, I agree completely. I would love to put together a team to make any kind of project with travel expenses and food covered. I want to be creative and be part of a group to create something organically. But everyone wants to get paid, which is understandable, but there are so many people who don't have any money so it would be far better to be a collective and to keep working on stuff. But will it happen?

    3 months ago
    • Matthew,

      For one project, a client contacted my company, asking for a quote. Because there was some specialist knowledge I didn't have, I went to my network. Still not there.

      So, I thought of all the recent films I watched. There was one director, who I'd never met, in another country, who had the knowledge. I could tell by his films. I didn't speak his native language, but I emailed him anyway.

      To make a long story short, we were able to work together on the initial stage of the project, remotely. Then, he suggested that the client pay any travel expenses for any face to face meetings.

      In other words, you can start a project without traveling, even if you're not in the same location.

      I see from your profile that you're a fan of Die Hard. I'm a fan of the writer of that film (have read quite a bit about him.) I wrote some stunts into my microbudgets, but there were no pyrotechnics, and had a chance to do my own stunts and work with a stunt coordinator. If you want to discuss that any further, let me know.

      Let me know about your projects, (or if you're interested in any of mine) and perhaps we can find a solution.

      3 months ago