by Michael Chasin
Many beginning directors, writers, and actors try to kickstart their careers—by making a feature.
And they often do so without even thinking about—the commercial marketplace.
Their passion piece, they believe—will all on its own—garner distribution.
But should there not be distribution—that ninety-minute feature may ultimately yield nothing more—than another thirty seconds—to their demo reel.
So, as an artist—if you plan to make a micro-budget, once-in-a-lifetime-called-in-favors feature—it is vital that you know—the marketplace.
Romantic comedies are a tough sell—as they don’t translate to foreign markets.
Content—and curse words—count—as markets such as China enact censorship.
Dramas now compete against great TV dramas—so are hard sells.
And most importantly—having a supremely talented but unknown cast—is doom.
Because film—like all products—is recognition driven—so having a known face—if not a star—is the factor for distributors—who will use that face to market the film.
(Of course that face doesn’t have to be the lead.)
Doubt that—just recall how you speed-scrolled past no-star-films—to make a selection.
With all that, perhaps the most important element of your DIY feature may be—the producer.
The producer—whose relationships with casting agents—may get you a face—for less than imagined.
The producer—whose relationships with sales agents—will help you know—beforehand—what distributors can sell—and therefore, what exhibitors will buy.
So be an artist—who first learns, understands, and respects—the marketplace.