Producing, Directing & Writing: Filmmaker Angelo Bell Does it All – Part 2
Part 2 of the Filmmakers Notebook Q&A with the talented and insightful filmmaker, Angelo Bell. As I mentioned before, it is not only Angelo’s creativity and abilities that made me want to find out more about him and his work, but his willingness to share his knowledge with others, so here he is once again offering valuable information I think you’ll enjoy reading.
Tell me what you are enjoying most about producing “Resurrection of Serious Rogers”?
The thing I enjoy most about producing “Resurrection of Serious Rogers” was that it was an experiment that worked! From concept to completion the goal was to shoot the film as cheaply as possible but make it look like it was shot for much more money. I needed the film to look and be different, but still marketable. Considering the interest the trailer garnered at AFM, I think we succeeded on all levels.
Also, “Resurrection of Serious Rogers” put me back on set after a long hiatus. It had been over two years since I shot my feature, “Broken Hearts Club” and I was dying to make another movie. Every film shoot is an opportunity to learn. “Resurrection of Serious Rogers” helped me identify areas where I am weak and strengthen them. That’s the beauty of shooting inexpensively. I made a ton of mistakes, but because the shoot was fluid and flexible, the team was able to work around those errors.
It’s important to note that my long-term goals transcend being a micro-budget indie filmmaker. I want to work and get paid for my work, and the only way to do this with some consistency is to have one foot on each side of the fence. I have to work with studios while I work in the freer realm of micro-budget, do-it-yourself filmmaking. “Resurrection of Serious Rogers” was an exercise in merging commercial intent with low-budget fiscal savvy. I needed to show that I could create something commercial on a low budget. Rather than create a film proposal or prospectus, I shot a film. It is the best indicator of what I can accomplish with little money and the right team.
What is the most challenging aspect of shooting an epic fantasy film like “Legend of Black Lotus”?
I expect the most challenging aspect of shooting an epic fantasy like “Legend of Black Lotus” will be to compress a grand story into a two-hour film… and not go over the budget. Capturing the essence of the love stories will also be a challenge as the story examines the sacrificial love between mother and daughter, the bonds of sisterhood and coming-of-age excitement of first love. I might add that the martial arts sequences will be a bitch to shoot, but also exciting! Finally, the simple fact that it is fiscally more sensible to shoot the film in Hong Kong versus the US and you have the logistical nightmare of language barriers and transportation. In essence, I imagine the entire film will be challenging to shoot, but what better way is there to grow as a filmmaker than to work on bigger and more difficult film projects?
In terms of DIY distribution, is there any advice you’d like to share with other filmmakers?
For me, DIY distribution begins with the cost of the film. As a DIYer I would consider the best ways to maximize my film’s profit potential. How do I do that at conception? Plan to make a film as cheaply as possible. If a filmmaker has a 90-minute movie that was made for $50,000, how much consideration will they give to the standard $2500 licensing fee Netflix pays? Not much. But, if the movie were made for $2500, the Netflix payment would immediately put you in the black. Obviously, not every movie can be made so cheaply. On the other hand, not every movie requires a high five-digit budget.
Why do you think so many other filmmakers are opposed to becoming involved with marketing and distributing their work?
When a filmmaker is developing a new film project I don’t believe his or her first thoughts are, “Yeah baby, I’m going to market and distribute this film myself!” This certainly isn’t the case for me. I’m always thinking about at what film festival the film might sell or get picked up by a distributor. There is nothing cool, badass, artistically creative or sexy about self-distribution. It’s tedious work. It’s another painstaking process to embrace after you’ve completed the painstaking process of writing, directing and producing a film. My perception: most filmmakers would rather spend the six months to a year (or more) of marketing and distribution on developing another project. That said, I know that understanding the basic principles of film marketing and DIY distribution is invaluable. Chances are if a film has a small budget and no stars, DIY marketing and distribution will be the primary way the film finds its audience.
As a filmmaker who blogs, writes articles and is active on social media sites, what is the greatest benefit you’ve received from incorporating these activities into your life as a creative artist?
I’ve been blogging and sharing filmmaking-related info for a long time. My greatest joy in blogging comes from random contact with filmmakers and writers who’ve begun using my film as a resource. Earlier this year a lawyer contacted me. He’d begun representing new clients in New York and he was using my blog as his resource to guide these young aspiring filmmakers. That was good to hear.
Occasionally, while blogging and using social media or writing articles, I come across some folks who become more than my colleagues and peers. They become my good friends. There are a lot of naysayers, fakers and posers out there, so I’ve become very particular about what and whom I allow into my “circle of trust.” The thing about social media is that it’s obvious who wants to make your acquaintance, team up or partner with you. It’s also obvious who just wants a job on your next gig. I’ve met people who inspire me, teach me, help me, guide me, sponsor me and folks who won’t let me settle for doing a so-so job.
Aside from talent, what other qualities do you consider important in order to reach your potential as a filmmaker?
Having written, directed, produced and/or worked on over 14 films, I’ve had the wonderful experience of doing almost every job on set. I believe a filmmaker should understand the basics of every department and crew position. I believe that for a filmmaker to reach his/her potential he/she must ultimately become a leader – at least on set. He or she must develop a self-confidence that commands respect. A filmmaker must learn how to surround himself/herself with like-minded people to whom he/she must delegate responsibilities. A filmmaker must learn to think fast on his/her feet, make quick decisions and never look back.
If you want to stay up to date with Angelo and his projects visit his website www.angelobell.com or connect with him on Twitter @angelobell.