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Tampa Bay model Lisa Marie Lowrey photographed by Tampa Bay photographer C. A. Passinault during a photography session for Tampa Bay modeling resource site Independent Modeling in 2003. Photography by Aurora PhotoArts photography and design Tampa Bay - Tampa Bay Film Festival PictureTampa actress and model Sarah Bray photographed poolside in Tampa Palms (New Tampa) by Tampa Bay photographer C. A. Passinault in 2002. Photography by Aurora PhotoArts photography and design Tampa Bay A Dancer in a Tampa Bay event photographed by Tampa Bay photographer C. A. Passinault. Photography by Aurora PhotoArts photography and design Tampa Bay - Tampa Bay Film Festival PictureTampa filmmaker Chris Woods headshot by Tampa headshot photographer C. A. Passinault, Aurora PhotoArts Tampa Photography and Design.Tampa Bay model, dancer, and choreographer Melissa Maxim photographed with Lance, a nightclub dancer, in a Ybor City nightclub by Tampa Bay photographer C. A. Passinault in 2002. Photography by Aurora PhotoArts photography and design Tampa Bay Tampa model and actress Roxanne Kowalska (right) and singer Michelle pose for a pre-production shoot of the short indie film “The Pledge”, in a preproduction photography session with the original cast by C. A. Passinault. Both Roxanne Kowalska and “Lowie” Laura Narvaez (not pictured) were scouted for the film at a Passinault audition. Casting crew for Passinault Entertainment Group conducting auditions for the Reverence feature film.Tampa audition photograph of actresses reading roles from the Reverence feature indie film project by Dream Nine Studios.Two actresses read during an audition for the Reverence feature film, a Passinault indie film.Tampa actress and model Harmony Layne poses for pictures to be used in the Tampa indie film, The Quiet Place. Photograph by Tampa photographer C. A. Passinault, Aurora PhotoArts Tampa photography and design.Tampa singer, model, actress, television host, pageant title holder, and entertainer Ann Poonkasem serenades an audience near Brandon, Florida, in the Tampa Bay area. Photograph taken by Tampa photographer C. A. Passinault, who was sitting in the front row judging the beauty pageant with a camera and a long, 300 MM lense.Tampa actor Rob Mussell headshot by Tampa headshot photographer C. A. Passinault. Tampa model and actress Sarah Bray during a modeling shoot with Tampa modeling portfolio photographer C. A. Passinault in Riverview, Florida, in the Tampa Bay area.Scream At The Wall Cameraman at the Horror and Hotties film festival in Tampa, Florida.


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Thursday, February 25, 2010 - 6:06 PM - Tampa Indie Film Log for Filmmaker C. A. Passinault

If You Can't See It.......... Is There A Point?

Some things continue to amaze me about Tampa filmmakers and filmmaking in the Tampa Bay market.
There is an old question, that if a tree falls in a forest, and there is no one around, does it make a sound? Well, I ask this: If you make a film and the average person can’t see it, did you make a film? What is the point of making a film if it cannot be seen?
They make these films, and some of them appear to look good, but what’s the point of making films if the average person can’t see them?
I’m not speaking for myself, as I am able to get my hands on any film that I want to see (you should see my independent film library, as well as my library of DVD and VHS movies. I am constantly watching, and studying, films). I’m talking about the average person who would be open to watching your film. You know- your target audience.
The main problem that I see is that filmmakers make it too difficult to see the films that they make. If it’s inconvenient, people are not going to bother. I wouldn’t.
An actor told me in 2008 that a certain high profile film made in Tampa obtained distribution and was available now at Walmart. Well, I went to Walmart and looked for it. This girl who worked at Walmart and I even looked up the store’s online store. You couldn’t get it. It wasn’t listed.
Then I went to Amazon (just now) and looked it up. Ok, it’s available there. New, it sells for $23.00, which does not include shipping (it does say that shipping is free for orders which are $25.00 or more, but you would have to pay shipping, still). A used copy is available, too, but just one, and it’s $10.00. Keep in mind that the filmmaker does not make a dime off of the sale of used copies, too. Anyway, with $3.00 shipping, that’s $13.00.
Ok. Not only do you have to wait to get your movie, but regardless, it’s expensive compared to the films that you can walk in to a store, buy, and watch as soon as I get home. Right now, I can get the best movies at the store, legitimate movies, for $5.00. For $10.00, you can get newer movies, and even that is a bit expensive. Why would I want to buy an independent film for over twice that (remember that the only sales that count for the independent filmmaker would be new sales); an indie film which isn’t as good as most of the $5.00 ones? I’m not going to pay $20.00 for a new DVD release of an awesome big-budget movie. Do you think that I’m going to pay even more for a film which isn’t as good?
Isn’t as good? Am I knocking indie films? Not at all. Another problem with most indie films is the filmmakers have creativity issues, and try to emulate Hollywood in their productions. The problem with that is that it is expensive, and not at all cost-effective. Unless you have millions of dollars, expensive equipment, and large, qualified crews, it’s going to be very hard to compete with Hollywood. There are a lot of indie films being made in the world today, too. If you make another me-too Hollywood rip off, do you think that you are going to stand out from the crowd of other me-too’s, which make up the majority of indie films?
Filmmakers aim too high. They are too protective of their films, too. Sure, if you make a feature film, it’s going to cost, and you have producers to answer to. The issue is that you make these indie films which try too hard to be Hollywood films and try to hard too compete with Hollywood, and it’s very difficult to make that money back, especially if the movie costs too much too buy, and no one knows who the filmmaker is (or even cares to), or even knows about the film, to begin with.
The answer? Indie films need to play to their strengths. Filmmakers need to do write screenplays and tell stories that Hollywood isn’t doing. They need to shoot quality films with the limited resources that indie films actually need, and not try to make them some impressive production (cut the fat!). They need to keep their costs low, and keep their prices low, making their profits in volume instead of pricing the films high.
They also need to build buzz, and become known for doing good, innovative films (it doesn’t cost more to be innovative, and it shouldn’t have to cost anything). You need to hook your audience with something that they can’t get from Hollywood.
I have so many answers, and I dare say answers because they have been proven (I just haven’t been able to apply them to indie films, yet). I will be writing a series of tutorials on the subjects for Tampa Bay Film, and those tutorials will be available free of charge on the site, eventually. Just don’t expect the content until I am making films, and am in the position to take advantage of those ideas, myself, in practice. These ideas, all proven concepts, are the future of Tampa indie film.
Until then, I will sit back and watch certain Tampa filmmakers knock themselves out pouring tons of resources into emulated Hollywood “features”, and not make their money back for their investors because the films are hard to see, no one knows who they are, and no one cares. Don’t do step three when you should have done 1 and 2.
Filmmakers should be seen and heard. Right now, it’s not happening, and don’t expect the Hollywood way of doing things to work well here in the Tampa indie film industry. Tampa isn’t another Hollywood, at least not yet, and we need to do what we realistically can do right now until we can do what we want to do.
Alright. I’ll post this much. Here is what I’m going to do.

1. At first, I’ll shoot short films with strong scripts, good actors, and respect for the limitations of low budgets and limited sets (and no, I will not be making boring PBS-type soaps, either... I used to hate those, and I’m sure that I’m not alone). Most of my short indie films will be shot for less than $1,000.00, with a crew of less than 5, and small casts. Although it is possible to shoot such films now for less that $1,000.00 in equipment, dropping production costs of subsequent films to almost nothing, since most of the costs are in equipment overhead, I’ll do mine with $2,000.00 in filmmaking equipment, which includes the computer editing workstation and the camera, and make my films(after the first one) for less than $200.00 each.
Can you make a good short film for less than $200.00? Someone else already beat me to it, and showed that it can be done. Chris Woods did his short film, Spaventare, last year, for less than $50.00 (he already had the camera and gear), and it is, in my opinion, one of the best indie films ever made in the Tampa Bay area. Chris Woods did it, too, with a cast of 2, and a crew of 3 (which could have been 2, also). I’m going to be hard-pressed to get things done in such a cost-effective manner. This film will be the ultimate bang for the buck for quite some time.

2. Build a strong portfolio of short films covering a wide range of genres, demonstrating that I can make good films with limited resources which can stand up to any other indie film out there, if not beat them altogether (and, yes, even better than the emulated Hollywood films being made now with tons of resources.... my efforts will make those look excessive and wasteful, with limited returns on those investments compared to mine).

3. Use my range of film festivals (already-established marketing support infrastructure) to expose my target audience(s) to those films, building recognition and buzz. It helps to own Tampa Bay Film, here, and don’t worry- I will allow other filmmakers to take advantage of all of these resources, too, as I genuinely care about Tampa indie film and the advancement of indie film in this market. What’s good for me is also good for others.

4. Allow all of my short films, which make up my indie film portfolio, to be seen online, free of charge. After debuting at my Tampa film festival events, all of my short films will be playing 24/7 on the Tampa Bay Film Online Film Festival (as well as others).
I will also make best-quality versions of my shorts available with my future feature film product as extras, or sell compilations of short films (no short films sold individually for $15-20.00, which is not worth it).

5. A few years after I start making shorts, I will have a marketing portfolio to show investors. I will also be well-known, and have a lot of buzz (I am shocked at how many Tampa filmmakers don't know how to market themselves, and most do not have professional tools such as web sites!). I will then use investment money to obtain high-end filmmaking gear, and make more complex feature length indie films. These feature films will be sold.
How do the numbers work out, there? Let me tell you. Sure, I’ll have DVD versions of my films available with a ton of extra features and short films added, making them collectable, for around the price that DVD’s are available in the stores. The bulk of my business, however, will be online distribution. Let’s see. Make a feature film from between $10,000.00 and $50,000.00, and then sell those films in a download file format for less than $5.00 a pop, and make a profit in volume. Convenience, and quality, are the keys. My films will be seen, and the business will snowball from there.

That’s it for now. I'll post a lot more, soon.


UPDATED 01/03/11

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