Film Short: Which Websites are Worth Paying For?
Every week I receive several emails promising to deliver a wealth of knowledge related to the filmmaking industry and all I have to is ….yeah, that’s right, click on the link and pay for the latest course, ebook or access code that will unlock the treasure chest and teach me how to be a fantastic screenwriter, producer, filmmaker etc…
Now, obviously, some of these offers are worth the price ,whether they cost $200, $500 or in some instances, even more. However, when you’re on a budget or just starting out, how do you determine which paid memberships have the value you’re looking for? Here’s a few factors I take into account.
First, decide exactly what it is that you want to do. If your goal is to become a screenwriter with no intention of ever producing one of your scripts or directing then you might want to focus on materials aimed in this one particular area. On the other hand, if you’re not sure what you want to do become familiar with a wider variety of programs, websites and newsletters.
I started out taking several screenwriting courses at the community college and wrote three scripts, plus have about three more in various stages of development. However, that said, I discovered that I’m much more interested in marketing, distribution and producing. As a result, I’ve attended several different types of conferences from the Film Finance Forum West in L.A. (the East Coast version is being held in NYC this week), to the Section 181 seminar with Entertainment Attorney Corky Kessler in August that I’ve written about. For the past year and a half I have been exploring and assessing various programs and websites offering both free and paid content and now I’d like to share with you three of my personal favorites and explain why they’re worth it to me. To begin with, they recognizing the budget constraints of those of us not having huge paydays and offer monthly membership plans, so a large sum of money isn’t required up front. Next, all of the people who started these sites and programs are known for their expertise and finally, all of them invite you to join email lists, which provide valuable info for FREE when you sign up.
Let’s begin with Stacey Parks, author of the book “The Insiders Guide to Independent Film Distribution”, who founded Film Specific, which has been voted one of the best websites for moviemakers by MovieMaker Magazine It features more information and access to data in the area of distribution than any other place online I’ve discovered so far. If you are thinking of distributing your film or working in that part of the industry, a Film Specific membership is an investment you need to make. You’ll be invited to virtual and audio seminars with some of the best authorities in the field, have access to numerous databases and sample contracts and be able to share thoughts and ask advice from other filmmakers on their Forum. Stacey’s background includes several years of experience working as a sales agent and currently she provides advisory services and consultancy packages to filmmakers seeking distribution deals for their films. She also runs special programs for those planning to seek deals at AFM and MIPCOM and offers special one-on-one consultations. To sign up for her free emails or become a member go to the Film Sprecific site at www.filmspecific.com.
Next is Marvin V. Acuna, who recently produced the Tom Hanks film “The Great Buck Howard”. Starting with the launch of The Business of Show Institute (www.thebusinessofshowinstitute.com), he has developed a site and program second to none for helping to inform and mentor aspiring screenwriters and/or producers. As someone who has continued to grow and advance in Hollywood, Marvin is familiar with how the system works and is willing to share that knowledge in many ways. He offers a free newsletter just for signing up on the website which is filled with valuable info, but the real gems are contained in his new Shortcuts to Screenwriting Success…Meeting with the Masters program. Here, you are given access to a monthly teleconference featuring one of Hollywood’s key players, a screenwriter, agent, project developer – all high profile and well established. There’s also additional emails with access to industry information, video tips and the opportunity to receive answers to legal questions from a well known entertainment attorney, Gordon P. Firemark. Come for the free emails, stay for the wonderful mentoring program.
Finally there’s the master of film marketing and producer of “Zen Noir”, Marc Rosenbush, who is also known for his interview about distribution in MovieMaker Magazine. He is the man you want to get to know if you are interested in marketing or self distributing your films. He also has a private consulting practice and teaches both on site and online courses as part of Internet Marketing for Filmmakers. In order to assist those who can’t afford his more expensive programs, he started the Indie Film Insiders Online Marketing Club for indie filmmakers which you can join here at http://bit.ly/PAvGR for a modest monthly membership fee. If you’re not sure, sign up for the free video marketing mini seminar. Marc’s Club offers access to a blog describing his own marketing efforts related to his current film project and slideshows he put together for his investors. You can find out how he deals with problems that arise during his production and there are also articles about film marketing and video clips from some of his seminars. Marc is a specialist in this part of the industry combining his film knowledge with marketing skills to design ways in which indie filmmakers can set up affiliate marketing programs to self distribute their DVDs, repay investors and earn money.
Filmmakers Notebook already has a resource section for screenwriters. Soon, we’ll be adding other sections with more websites related to areas of the filmmaking industry. In the meantime, start by taking a look at these.
This Tuesday’s Tweet Hearts
John Rackham - Writer, actor, producer, director – film and theatre. in Kent, UK
Double Edge Films – Indie Film Production Co. who brought you Spin and now fighting to bring you INK.
Indiemoviemaker – Filmmaker, actor. Currently distributing my feature film Mission X . A film student goes on an attack with a gang of mercenaries in UK city centre