Film Short: A Filmmaker’s Diary – Michael Alan Smith Found Financing His Film DIABOLICAL
I had sent my horror film script DIABOLICAL out to producers late last year and immediately was contacted by a producer in Michigan, who was very interested in the script. He said he knew of a group of Chinese investors looking for films to finance in the US to take back to mainland China for exclusive distribution there. I would retain rights for the rest of the world. It sounded like a sweet deal and it meant a film budget of $400,000 so I was in. They asked for revisions, a new sub plot with a Chinese angle to help interest the investors. Then I met my now partner in this project, Larry and we both re-worked the script to accommodate the request. Actually, we re-wrote it several times.
Before all of this, even before I had a script completely written, I began promoting the script online with MySpace and Facebook pages, trying to get the word out there. As soon as it was completed, I registered it with the Writer’s Guild of America and the U.S. Copyright Office in Washington, D.C. It was protected. Thru Facebook, I’ve mostly met a range of people in the horror film industry. I was new to the genre as a filmmaker and needed to network my ass off and I did. As I told people about my film project, they loved it and helped me promote it (in fact, one of the actresses that was originally suppose to play a role in DIABOLICAL promoted the film in Indianapolis at HorrorHound). People feel the same way I do about the script. They believe in it and are doing their part to get this ship upright and back afloat.
So, even before this producer came aboard, there was an online presence. It’s how independent filmmakers network and get the word out there about their film projects. It’s how we drum up interest. This is something someone still using the same old broken business model can’t understand and that goes double for their so called “expert legal advisors”. When my producer finally saw my Facebook page and website and informed her lawyers, they cried foul. They warned of plagiarism and said that investors would never go for a script if its’ story was available on the internet. They claimed it was going to be ripped off and that one would ever touch this script, despite the fact they had already had a phone discussion with a very interested party. This individual was not only interested in the DIABOLICAL script but possibly in a franchise. as well. That’s when my now ex-producer told me she was completely pulling out of the film project and taking her investors and their $400,000. Just like that. BOOM! Thanks for playing! I was devastated. Larry and I had worked so hard on making every request they had happen and always did so on time.
We couldn’t understand why having an online presence of a protected screenplay would be such a big deal. They kept saying they couldn’t afford being sued. I kept asking why anyone would sue the original authors. We have proof we are the original authors. I was told to change the name and change the story because someone has it now and is writing another version. Maybe she thought the script was a masterpiece? Beats me. I knew it was good, but not worth the pounds of gold she was taunting me with. I am not worried about it being stolen. It is protected and besides I work with 800 lawyers at my fulltime job. I can find one fast.
Looking at the situation in hindsight and from reading the opinions of others, who have recently sent their support in emails, it has been suggested that this person was in over her head and didn’t exactly know what she was doing. Out of their element was also a comment I heard. I agree with all of the above. It was clear that this group had never tried to tackle a horror film, especially one on this high level. They didn’t understand my casting choices. I had at one time one of the greatest b-horror movie casts in recent years with scream queens like Devanny Pinn, Rachel Grubb, Deneen Melody & Michelle Shields and had even sent the script to the legend herself, Ms. Debbie Rochon! They saw unknowns. She threw names at me like Walken & Bates, etc. They knew nothing of the scream queens I mentioned. They couldn’t understand what I was trying to do and that’s why the next producer has got to know something about the b-horror industry. Where the hell is Lloyd Kaufman when you need him!!
So now we are trying the best we can to market DIABOLICAL to the conventional masses. We’re printing up t-shirts, buttons and fliers and now have a comic book based on the original screenplay in development to help entice investors and producers. We’re. just waiting for that horror producer, who can actually think outside the box for once. Larry and I feel it’s a matter of time before something positive breaks and we’re looking forward to that phone call.
By Michael Alan Smith Writer/Director, DIABOLICAL
Note: After the experience described above, Mike is currently keeping his dream alive by developing a comic book with Comic Book Divas and starting a fund raising campaign on Kickstarter. For more info go to their Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=230725350144&ref=ts.