Film Short: More Filmmaking Stuff with Jason Brubaker
Hollywood based independent film producer, Jason Brubaker is perhaps best known to many for his successful website Filmmaking Stuff, which was named last January as one of the Top 50 Blogs for MovieMakers by MovieMaker Magazine. An expert on Video On Demand Distribution, Jason has been offering a number resources to independent filmmakers from his site and is also available for speaking engagements. In the second part of this Q&A interview you can find out more about Brubaker’s journey and his fascination with filmmaking stuff!
As an indie film producer you’ve been involved in many different aspects of filmmaking. What do you enjoy most about producing and what other parts of movie making are your favorites?
I enjoy the end result of watching a product come together from script to screen. And these days, it is far less challenging than years past. Thanks to video on demand distribution we can almost begin to think of movies as the next small business. And the idea that I can produce a movie, upload it to itunes and days later start receiving checks from people watching my movie all over the work is totally exciting!
What are your least favorites?
I’d have to say there are a whole bunch of overly self-important people in Los Angeles. That can wear on me after awhile. Even as an independent filmmaker, sometimes you need a favor and people won’t return calls. And I totally think asking other people for permission to make movies sucks. But sometimes you just have to make those calls. You have to pick up the phone, dial those numbers, sweet talk the gatekeeper and hopefully get things moving. You have to face rejection and the word NO. (Which I never hear or think most folks who say no are kidding.) But the worst is getting ignored.
But the best is when the jerk who ignored you for a year, finally calls you up asking for a favor. It happened with our first feature. It was rejection city. Then one day our movie became successful and the phone rang. Same jerk from before. But this time he was all sweet talking me. Suffice it to say, I did not return subsequent calls, letting him know “we have decided to pass at this time.”
Fortunately, what I described is not typical. Typically most people in this industry and in my life are good people. They want to help. They want to see you succeed. (But they would also like to make money from you too!)
Tell us about the types of projects are you interested in producing?
I love horror comedy. Making those types of movies are fun and the genre has a built in audience. Then after I make a movie about something horribly, socially irresponsible, my mom calls me and reminds me that I’m her son… And that I should “do a nice movie.” As a result, I got myself involved in a very socially responsible movie called Toxic Soup, about how careless corporations have made people very sick. My mom was very happy, but the movie is sad. So many people are hurting from chemical pollution.
Anyway, after making that movie, I can’t wait to get back to zombies or ninjas or something a little lighter. But it’s a vicious cycle. After I make my next gorey film, you can bet your bippy my mom or girlfriend or someone in my family will convince me to do something to once again, help society. And I will.
Do you think financing, distributing, marketing or some other aspect of producing films presents the greatest challenge for independent filmmakers?
No. I think financing, distributing and marketing present the greatest opportunity for filmmakers. Can we now consider movie making a small business? I mean, if you think about it, all you need to start a small business is an idea, some start up cash, raw material, production and a customer base – and a way to sell whatever it is you’re selling. And unlike years past, non-discriminatory video on demand marketplaces provide that… So why open a hardware store, or some other small business, when you can create a back yard indie? That’s what independent modern moviemaking is all about.
The toughest part is getting filmmakers to embrace this new paradigm. I don’t care what people say about their art – I would venture to guess a majority of filmmakers have had at least one dream that involves fame and fortune and a life of coolness. People have rejected my ideas about modern moviemaking, I think, because nowhere in the model do I espouse ideas about fame and fortune. Yet, at the same time, the modern moviemaking manifesto provides filmmakers with an opportunity to finally do something damn cool with their lives, without asking permission or moving to Hollywood.
How did you become an expert in self-distribution and have you been using the techniques you teach to sell your own films?
Yeah. After our first zombie movie failed to garner any sort of traditional distribution deal, I convinced the production team to forgo the offer to “sell” our movie to one of those idiot distribution companies for nothing. These types of companies are all over. They will take your movie with the promise of “we will get you into the video store” as if this is validation and payment enough… Anyway, I convinced the group to let me try to sell it on Amazon. At first, it seemed like a novel idea. But then we made our first sale. Then our second. Then a dozen. Then one-hundred.
That was five years ago. Since that time our first title has continued to sell. And given everything that has happened to erode the DVD industry, it’s obvious that we made the correct decision. So yes, the techniques I teach are the same ones I’ve used to generate my own movie income.
Taking into account all of the information you have learned and share with independent filmmakers, what is the best piece of advice you can offer with regards to producing their films?
Don’t wait around for anybody to give you permission. Pick up a camera, start shooting. When you have enough footage to make a feature, stop shooting. Edit. Then make your next movie. The goal is to never stop. If you stop, you loose.
For more information about Jason Brubaker and Filmmaking Stuff, visit his website at http://www.filmmakingstuff.com/.