Some production perspectives

Hi folks,

Another big weekend of helping Mickenmich Productions with their upcoming feature film – codenamed AM3. I’m the sound recordist on that project. AM3 will be going into somewhat of a hiatus shortly so I’m looking to ramp up the activity levels on the Tomekeepers project in production terms. This will include our teaser video (being shot next week) that helps to ask a lot of questions about the milieu without answering many, and a few 1 minute character-focused shorts that gives people an idea of who our character are, where they come from, what brings them into the circle of influence that our story follows.

This means I have a busy few weeks ahead of me in terms of writing and editing. Our pitch video is up, and you can see it on Vimeo or YouTube (both linked below in case of browser incompatibilities).

Tomekeepers_Crowdfinding_Pitch from Jeremy on Vimeo.

In the meantime, I want to write briefly about the bigger picture of what the Tomekeepers project is really about.

So… let’s say you have a career, but you’ve now got to the point where you’re not going to get a lot further with it, you’ve lost the passion that drew you to it in the first place. You discover a new field of endeavour that makes sense to you, and you start pursuing it as a hobby for a while, and then you realize that not only is it great fun, but the more seriously you take it, the more fun it is. And so you start thinking about how you transition from your existing career with its income that you’re attached to, into a new career path.

If you go back to uni, you’re not going to be able to pay your bills. If you do a intership/traineeship in the new career, you’re not going to be able to pay the bills. The people in their early 20s who have degrees in that field will treat you like you know nothing until you prove otherwise. Nobody in your career path is going to touch you without a degree or diploma in the appropriate field, or professional experience. The organizations that exist to provide industry support will generally not provide the kind of support you need to step across from a professional role in one field into a professional role in your chosen path without a significant volume of existing professional-level credits.

So how do you make a like-for-like career jump where you’re jumping from one career train onto a similar section of a career train on a different set of tracks?! Well… ultimately – You need to prepare for the jump.

  • You look at what other people who have that leap before you have done, and learn from that.
  • You anticipate the other train’s motion in relation to your own.
  • You recruit people on the other train to catch you if you stumble in your leap.
  • You treat it like a sales exercise. (Ultimately, all job-hunting is sales!)

In sales, you don’t think about what you want to sell… you think in terms of what other people want to buy, and how to convince people that what you can deliver is what they want.

In my case – I’m trying to transition out of IT into TV writing and production.

So… looking at what other people done to make their own leap of that sort…

  • They have had a lot of self-belief
  • They didn’t jump into things until they had done their research
  • They had a clear sense of purpose and direction
  • They were tenacious in pursuing their goals
  • They backed themselves
  • When they were told “No” they understood why, then fixed it so that the next no was for a different reason.
  • The made something of their own when they were told they couldn’t play in other peoples’ back yards.
  • Everything they did – every step they made – they made for a reason that furthered their cause in some strategic or tactical manner.

To that end, the last 4 years has seen me buy and read a lot of books; watch a lot of BTS and how-to videos; and start shooting a lot of footage – even if only for my own interest.  I have lurked in forums; contributed to FaceBook groups; attended workshops; subscribed to magazines and industry newsletters.  I have probably spent a significant percentage of the time required for a film school degree  teaching myself how the film and television industry works.  And now I’m ready to take that leap, dragging as many other people behind me as I can – actors, crew, writers and other production staff.

I also know what the television industry wants.  It wants the same bankable certainty that any industry in our country wants.  It wants proof of capability.  It wants to see the proof in the pudding before the pudding is prepared.  In the TV industry, that means an audience that’s already engaged and “locked in”.  The metrics for that lock in include FaceBook/Google+ likes, YouTube/Vimeo hits, Twitter buzz and plenty of press engagement.

So please… reach into your pockets and support The Tomekeepers.  In industry terms, we’re asking for very little.  The crowd-funding goal would put us at $10,000 per episode, which is a pittance in comparison with the kinds of shows I’m looking to compete with.  The West Wing had a budget of $6m per episode (in real terms, that would be around $9m today).  Warehouse 13 has a budget of $2m per episode.  Rake has a budget of around $900K per episode.  I’m looking to crowd-fund just over 1% of the latter on a per episode basis.  With that, I can shoot on a great camera with quality glass, use professional editing tools and workflows, and pay my cast & crew enough to keep them afloat and locked in on the project for the time it will take to make 10 episodes of TV while people involved still have day jobs.  That money will also pay for insurances, a small amount of SEO and social media marketing (which will be necessary for us to build up the buzz required to get picked up by a network so everyone can be paid), and for production essentials such as storage consumables (SSDs/CF cards), script printing (400 – 500 pages printed per episode) and equipment maintenance costs.  It might even get us some standing sets and somewhere to put them. Remember that we’re making episodes of a length to fit a commercial television “broadcast hour” (i.e. 42-45 minutes to allow for interstitial advertising), so $10K per episode breaks down to around $220/minute, which in television terms is effectively free.  In return for that, you’ll get a season of television which you can watch on the internet.  You’ll get a preview into what I’m hoping will be a fully network funded TV show.  And there’s some great rewards on offer that insiders will love.

Please head to our IndieGoGo campaign and do your bit today!