Hey filmmakers. Welcome to Going Bionic #187. Before we get started today, I wanted to wish everyone out there a happy and healthy Thanksgiving. Whether you’re eating turkey, tilapia or tofu this Thursday, I hope you enjoy your meal with family and friends.
As some of you may have heard, last week Sony Studios announced a $250 million dollar reduction in their motion picture spending, from now until March of 2016. The move reduces the number of films Sony will make per year from 23 to 18, lowers the budgets of their new films and holds filmmakers far more accountable for making their films within the budget allotted. While Sony is the only studio thus far to announce such a drastic shift in their motion picture financial strategy, rest assured that all studios are headed straight for the mouth of Hollywood’s cost-cutting dragon.
What does it all mean for indie filmmakers? A lot, actually, and not all of it is bad news. That, of course, brings us to today’s topic: how to survive Hollywood’s cost-cutting changes. So, without further ado, here are three big reasons why upcoming cost cuts from the studios could actually benefit you.
Newly Minted Writers and Directors May Get Hired More
Make no mistake; cost cutting at the studio level will make it far more difficult, not easier, for new talent to break in. However, once you do get invited inside the “invite only” party that is Hollywood, (by winning a major film festival, or selling a hot spec script) your cinematic youth will actually help you. This is because studios should start shying away from paying A list writers and directors several million dollars up front to do a gig that newly minted writers and directors would do for ten times less money. Of course, Hollywood will first ask the A listers to take ten times less up front, before they offer those gigs to less experienced filmmakers, but at least now hiring a new filmmaker may be seen as a smart financial move for many film executives, as opposed to being career suicide for the executive who hired the newbie.
Fewer Films will go into Development Hell, aka Turnaround
With less films made, a fewer number of them will fall into the depths of development hell. This is because studios probably won’t buy many things beyond what they intend to make. While this practice will make it even harder to sell your film, if it does indeed sell, your chances of getting your film made will go up sharply. Remember, these days, only about 5% of projects acquired by the studios, actually gets made.
Actors will be More Open to Helping with Packaging
Gone are the days when A list actors could snag a $20 million dollar payday upfront, regardless if the film was a success or not. These days, everybody gets paid less, and actors are no exception. In addition, I’m not sure if there’s any actor these days that can green light a studio project, just by attaching him or herself to a film. Even a sure-fire financial bet like Adam Sandler has to keep his budgets within a specified range in order for the studio to deem his films good financial risks.
Given the overall reduction of income, coupled with a fewer number of films to be made in the foreseeable future, actors’ representatives may be slightly more open to fielding “outside the box” (i.e. outside of the traditional A list studio channels) opportunities for their clients. Of course, you still have to have money in place to make offers to actors, but I suspect they will be open to hearing what you have to say, more so than they traditionally have been.
Okay, filmmakers; that’s what I have for you today. Once again, I’d like to wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving. As always, I thank you for lending me your eyes and I look forward to borrowing them again next Tuesday! Until then, have a great week! I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.