Friday, July 30, 2010

Labor Can Be Longer Than Nine Months

My non-movie-making friends often ask about a movie we're making-- wondering why it isn't out yet and in stores.  Over ten years, I've made five films... So there's the average pace from start to finish, for me, of two years per movie.  Sure I'd like to see that shrink.

In the studios, a director can do two or three movies a year tops.  A producer can do a bunch because he's multitasking and doesn't have to be exclusive for a long time on a movie.

Once we yell "wrap," people often wonder why they don't see the movie in the theaters a few months later.  Here's what happens in the indie world.  My fastest film to distribution from wrap, was about nine months-- "A Promise Kept."  We wrapped at the end of January and it was available through the distributor by October.

The next film "Striking Range," took significantly longer.  We wrapped in early June.  By the next June we were talking with Sony, and in late November, it was released.  So wrap to shelf was 18 months-- double the time of APK.

Right now, we're coming up on the year anniversary of the shoot for "Rising Stars."  We wrapped at the very end of August.  Looks like a late September release in a few select theaters, so wrap to screen time is right in the middle of the average-- 12 to 13 months.

Why so long?  Well first, the filmmakers have to perfect the edit, and this is what can take so long.  Watching it amongst the team... focus groups with others... constantly questioning every little cut in every little scene.  Getting to the locked edit can be three or four months on average-- a lot longer other times.  Then after Lock, it will take minimum of six weeks, but more likely three or four months for sound and music, lab and color to take place.  Then you have your "screener."

So then you schedule distributor screenings and this can take a month or two.  Distributors are thinking and talking amongst themselves-- acquisitions bring it to the team, marketing watches and weighs in, then the big dog decides yes or no.  If a yes, then an offer is made.  Then there's at least a couple of weeks of going back and forth on the offer.

The distributor will need a minimum of five months or so to properly prepare a release.  If you're starting with foreign sales, then it can be the following month (hence the quickness of APK).

Now for studio films, it's different-- they're in an assembly line.  They don't have to try and get the movie picked up.  But locking can take a lot longer and various suits try to justify their studio position by weighing in on the edit.  Movie making by committee.  Ewwww.

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