The last of the Soul Searcher anniversary featurettes is a completely frank and open breakdown of the budget. Find out how I raised the money, what I offered my investors, what distribution deals were put on the table, how much the film made worldwide and how much of that money came back to me (you may be shocked). Most importantly, discover exactly what was spent on each element of the budget, from travel and catering to make-up and lighting.
Corrections: 1. UKTI stands for UK Trade & INVESTMENT, not Industry; 2. After completing the programme I discovered two more distribution contracts I was offered, both from Californian companies. Neither offered an advance. One proposed taking a 25% cut of the profits, the other 40%; 3. I misspelt Kevin MacLeod’s name, apologies. Visit his website at http://www.incompetech.com
For more information on film distribution I recommend The Guerrilla Filmmaker’s Movie Blueprint by Chris Jones.
What’s involved in developing a feature script? These documents from the early days of making Soul Searcher may provide some insight. (Though I’m certainly not claiming that Soul Searcher had a particularly great screenplay!) Here are a series of emails that my co-writer James Clarke and I batted back and forth while forming the script, followed by my first draft outline, and the final shooting script.
James and I finally met Mya – the concept designer who has been providing us with stunning artwork for the film for nearly a year now – in person. We explained all about where we’re at with the project at the moment and how useful his work had been for engaging people’s interest. Then he said, “There’s just one thing I wanted to ask you… What’s the story?” To our embarrassment, it transpired that we’d never sent him a copy of the script. D’oh!
We met a lady from Malvern who has offered to help us in our microbudget fundraising efforts by compiling a list of potential local investors and ringing them all up. Her 15-year-old son seemed really into what we were trying to do (he came along to the meeting, since we’d agreed to fix him up with some film related work experience in return for his mum’s endeavours).
I cut the featurette and it’s now available in the video gallery. Developing Soul Searcher, the featurette from this time last year, is also now present in its entirety,
I’ve been rewriting some of Soul Searcher‘s action scenes. At present, virtually all the film’s action is in the form of sword and hand-to-hand fights. James and I decided recently that this would get boring, especially after we saw Matrix Reloaded (which I loved and he hated) and realised that Hollywood is really overdosing on chop socky right now. So we’re starting to convert some of the fights to chases and the like. I’ve also been watching the Ghostbusters movies to get inspiration for new ghostly creatures.
James came over and we shot some live action elements for the videomatics. This involved James taking a piece of cardboard with a smiley face on it hostage. Then we sat down and recorded interviews with each other, as part of our ongoing effort to document the process of getting this film off the ground. I plan to edit a short featurette and upload it to this site soon.
While the rest of the filmmaking community was in Cannes, we were in Canon Pyon. We were visiting Maggie, our development producer, in her natural habitat, deep in the Herefordshire countryside (ie. about a mile outside the city centre, ho ho). We got our first reply this morning to the letters we sent out last week (Channel 5), the first of many rebuttals, I’m sure.
Today I played with Lego. I’d like us to meet with potential miniature FX wizards soon and so I need to film videomatics of the relevant shots. Suffice to say this involved spending two hours in my parents’ attic, scrabbling through big buckets of bricks in floor-bound positions which made me ache much less when I was 10, then setting the (very crude) model up in my flat and shooting it with my trusty Canon XM1. And it’s not over yet, since some of the shots require bluescreen elements and/or a more involved miniature set, possibly including someone’s garden pond. Still, James was telling me that George Lucas used Star Wars action figures to block out the fight sequences in Return of the Jedi.
We sent a few more letters off, and are meeting the development producer again on Wednesday for an update. Meanwhile, down in sunny (I assume) Cannes, Tom Muschamp is engaged in a slew of meetings pursuant to the distribution of Beyond Recognition, the film I DOP-ed on in New York last year. All the best to him.
Busy Soul Searcher day. Our very helpful development producer friend sent a long list of financing options and contact details to us, so James and I spent the day going through this, making phone calls, sending e-mails and typing up our pitching materials. So far we have sent a treatment, character designs and crew info to two sales agencies, a TV station (with mention of a possible series stemming from the film) and also Screen West Midlands. We are also working on getting a mentor on board, an executive producer with a track record in fantasy films whose support would greatly improve our chances of securing finance.
We are continuing our efforts to raise private investment as well, and to that end we have sent out press releases today to all the local newspapers.
We met with a development producer who provided us with some useful contacts and general comments on the commercial viability of the project. Her background is in conventionally financed, theatrically released films, so her take on the whole thing was refreshing, James and I having lived in the land of no-budget/public-funding for so long. Her suggestion was to think about it in much bigger terms, ie. a budget of around UKP850,000, shooting on film. I just want to make it. I really want to make it. This journal’s been going for a year now and we don’t have a single frame of video to show for it. Still, on we plod…
Things have progressed very slowly of late. James has been finishing up his latest book on Francis Ford Coppola, and I’ve been working on a few different things. We finally got it together to have a meeting tonight. We talked Soul Searcher for about five minutes. Then, ahem, we talked about other stuff. When discussing with James what I should write in this entry, he said: “We were both suffering from romantic confusion,” then hastily added, “but not between ourselves.”
We do have a meeting on Friday that may prove useful, however.