Over 100 people helped make "Did You Kiss Anyone?"

Now that I’m (almost) done editing “Did You Kiss Anyone?” I’m planning a cast/crew screening. I made a list of everyone who helped make the movie in one way or another. Not just the cinematographer and actor type help, but people who let us use their house for a set. Owners of bars and cafes who let us film during off hours. A guy who grilled food for the extras while we used his friend’s house to stage a bizarre (and hilarious to film) orgy scene. Bloggers who visited the set, wrote about it, and then became extras. Even my dad, who went to a slaughterhouse to get an actual pig’s head for reasons I won’t go into here.

So far, the number of people who helped make the movie is over 100. Over one hundred! (I’m not even including people who shared a link to a casting call or trailer on Facebook or Twitter.) Those 100 people are people who took time out of their lives or opened their doors for someone that in most cases they didn’t even know. I doubt I’d met more than 20% of them prior to this movie.

I probably wouldn’t have started making DYKA if I knew it would take 100 people (not to mention over a year for just the production phase alone). And it’s staggering and humbling to think 100 people gave me the benefit of the doubt and said “yes” to whatever favor I was asking them. I’m excited to soon show them the movie we made. And even more excited to eventually share the movie we made with the world.

Since a lot of people were involved in getting locations or populating those locations up with people, I decided to make a map of all the Portland area locations we used, featuring images from the movie. (I’d recommend opening it in a new window).

View Did You Kiss Anyone? in a larger map

If you want updates on “Did You Kiss Anyone?” check out http://DidYouKissAnyone.com

Bull Run Hydro

That’s me climbing out of a hydroelectric generator at the Bull Run hydro plant in ’92 or ’93. I worked there two summers in college. Part of the job involved working in the generator room and helping a machinist take the giant turbines apart to be cleaned and maintained. It wasn’t a job for the claustrophobic.

The other part of the job involved maintaining the wooden flume that brought water from the Bull Run watershed to Roslyn Lake. Sometimes it meant digging the soil away from the support beams. Other times they’d dam up the flume and we’d tear out the old floor boards with a shovel to replace them. I got to be very good hammering a nail in with just a tap-SMACK, tap-SMACK.

It’s fun to get all nostalgic, but honestly it was very hard work and I hated it for the most part, couldn’t wait to get back to school. I enjoyed the trolley rides along the flume and out through the forest. I got to climb a tree with just boot spikes and a rope, the way the old school loggers did. But on the other end of things, I once sat for seven hours counting fish coming over a fish ladder (there was maybe one fish every 15 minutes). I spent an entire day in a dark, giant pipe in water past my ankles digging out sludge. I used to wash machine grease off my hands by dipping them in a coffee tin full of “solvent.” On a few 80+ degree days, I wore a jeans and a long-sleeved flannel to hack brush with a chainsaw. I got teased endlessly because I was a college student. Every Monday morning I had to collect garbage and the occasional used condom from around Roslyn Lake.

Which is why I suddenly remembered all this stuff that mostly doesn’t exist anymore. On Facebook Chris Harley linked to a story about a plan to bring elephant herds to the former Roslyn Lake. He also linked to a great Flickr set about Bull Run Hydro which is where all the linked photos come from.

The power plant is shuttered and both the flume and Roslyn Lake are gone now. But Portland drinking water still comes from the Bull Run Watershed. It’s a bit of Portland history and culture located 26 miles away from downtown. Soon, maybe, with elephants.

"Right Hook" heading to Filmed By Bike

I’m making a few last second edits on my short “Right Hook” which is going to play at Filmed By Bike in April! [Updates below.] Here are two sneak peak screenshots. Plan on coming to the festival for the street party and to see “Right Hook” on the big screen! If you need to understand why I love this festival so much, the comment I left here sums it up.
Carolyn Main bashes Steve Mattson's head
Steve Mattson and Carolyn Main square off for a battle in Right Hook

UPDATE: You can see Right Hook by going to Filmed By Bike for the Street Party Friday, April 15 or the Need for Speed program Sat. 5pm (all ages) | Sun. 7pm (21+).
UPDATE #2: Right Hook was nominated for a Golden Helmet Award! Only three movies get nominated so that’s all the more reason to get to FBB and see it!

The Blog Model of Film Distribution

It’s pretty clear that traditional indie film distribution is broken. It’s even more clear that bitching about it isn’t going to make the old days (which I was never a part of) come back. When I made my first movie three years ago, I was hoping to get it on iTunes, Hulu, and Netflix. I didn’t even consider theatrical, aside from doing my own screenings.

Here’s the problem: no one wants to buy your movie–on DVD, on iTunes, on Amazon, on whatever third party platform is offering a chance to help you sell it. As I write this, a company called Neoflix is going out of business because no one wants to buy indie movies by 250 different filmmakers.

The fact was the Neoflix model was not sustainable unless we had at least 300 filmmakers selling at least 2 films a day. In reality, during Neoflix’s best year we had 250 filmmakers selling a combined average daily volume of 80 units, which equated to 0.3 films per day per client. The long tail concept did not track for most clients as most films would receive a burst of sale in the initial weeks or perhaps even months, and tail off sharply thereafter.

I put my movie The Waiting List on IndieFlix because I wanted to have an option for selling it on DVD, and hopefully on iTunes, Hulu, and Netflix. Here’s the thing: those other distribution options don’t want your non-celebrity, non-famous movie. You can pay a company like Distribber to get your movie on iTunes etc, but that doesn’t mean anyone will want to buy it. So you’ll just be out another $1,200 plus $75 a year. To put this in perspective for me, the entire budget of The Waiting List was less than what it would cost to use Distribber.

So what are the other options?

I started to think about how I watch movies: Netflix (declined me) or Hulu (declined me) or YouTube (de– wait, I’ve got movies on YouTube). YouTube is going to be around longer than Neoflix, IndieFlix, hell I’d even say longer than MOVIE THEATERS. So I uploaded my entire feature to YouTube (google how to do this if you didn’t know you could).

Here are some immediate benefits:

  • You can now watch The Waiting List on mobile devices, including iPads (photo above). As new mobile devices and Internet TVs come out, you can guarantee YouTube will support them and I won’t need to do anything aside from watch my movie on the latest techtoy.
  • It’s like Netflix Watch Instantly, without requiring a Netflix account.  It’s like Hulu without 1,000 pre-roll advertisements. It’s like iTunes without the payment, download, and having to use iTunes.
  • I can link to specific points in the movie. Want to see The Princess Scene or a vulgar take on what people really means when couples say they’re trying to have kids?
  • I can annotate it with a DVD-like commentary (coming soon, maybe, if it’s not too annoying).

This is all a freaking dream come true. It’s amazing to me that I can even do this. But… but I know you’re all business-like and want to point out there’s no way to monetize it on YouTube. As opposed to not monetizing it by not selling DVDs or some other form of “units.” That’s when I had the idea that the concept of selling a piece of entertainment is coming to an end, if not already there. You pay for a theatrical experience. You pay for a Netflix subscription. You don’t (or rarely) pay for an individual piece of content. I know I don’t. (What’s that? You buy individual ebooks for your Kindle?)

I started brainstorming. What do other creatives do? What do bloggers do? Bloggers offer content for free because no one will pay for it. But they put ads on their blog and offer premium services. Getting someone to click on an ad or buy something else they want through an affiliate link can’t be impossible, can it? Maybe not lucrative, but better than paying someone to put it on platforms no one will buy it from.

So I fixed up TheWaitingListMovie.com with various types of ads and a pitch as to how you help the filmmakers when you click/buy from the ad. There’s a place to buy the toys mentioned in the movie. A place for screenwriting tools. Places to just click an ad and give the filmmakers .03¢ (every tiny amount helps).

The coolest thing (to me) is The .99¢ Screenplay. I created a PDF of the script and linked each scene header to that section of the movie. See how a nano-budget movie went from script to screen. See how things changed, what was left out, what was improvised on set. No one in the history of the world has ever done this before (note: I have not verified this claim, nor wish to be informed if it’s incorrect).

I know you’ve already thought of a million things wrong with this model that you can’t wait to point out. Instead of doing that, point out a BETTER solution. If you have a better idea, I’ll do that too. I’m not Kevin Smith, I can’t rent out Radio City Music Hall and take my movie on the road. But if I could, I would in a second. Right now, the blogging model for indie film distribution seems like the most promising way to get people to see my movie.

The question is… can AdSense ads, affiliate links, and a .99¢ Screenplay help a nano-budget film break even? Make it profitable? Stay tuned….