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Professor Bradshaw’s Film Math
by Doniphan Blair
Director/Cinematographer Bradshaw drops by and delivers an impromptu lecture on distro. photo CineSource
Frazier Bradshaw's "Everything New and Strange" garnered great reviews and awards from Variety to the SF International Film Festival. Shot entirely in Oakland, and about a carpenter, his young family and his crazy friends, it plays with time, internality, and deviance, making it a little too "European" for some - and hard to get theatrically released.
"We just signed with IndiePix. It is going to be released on Blue Ray and DVD," Frazier told me, the other day, when he dropped by CineSource, not far from his North Oakland residence. "I mean, if you can't make your money back on such a modest-budgeted film that won a lot of awards..." he added, trailing off.
"Everything New and Strange," see everythingstrangeandnew.com, cost $155,000 to produce but another $30K for the festival run, with over 80% spent for Sundance alone, including a publicist for $10,000.
"Worth it?" I wondered.
"Absolutely," Bradshaw retorted. "We wouldn't have a distro deal if it wasn't for Jessica [Edwards of Murphy PR out of NY. He later switched to Larsen Associates in SF]. We could have gone with a smaller footprint, not flown the cast out, but that wasn't that much. If you go to Sundance and don't hire a publicist, you are wasting your money." Edwards was responsible for getting reviews in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, among others.
"Sundance has about 120 features a year; no media outlet can see all 120 films in 10 days, and the ones with name directors and actors go to the top of everyone's list, so a publicist is a must to keep you from getting lost in the heap." Bradshaw's advizes putting publicist and festival line items in your budget.
"Sundance is the best place in North America to sell your film because it is high profile but small enough. Toronto is one of the biggest festivals in the world and more films get sold but it has 400 films - it's impossible to see that many."
"The math is: A lot of people write screenplays," Bradshaw continued, warming to the subject - and, he says, you have to be an avid student, no pun intended, to beat the game. "One in 100 screenplays gets made; one in 100 of those features gets into Sundance, and only half of those get sold," 1 in 20,000 odds, according to Professor Bradshaw.
"I wouldn't have done it, if I had known how crazy it was. I just got incredibly lucky: I made a film that people wanted to see. A lot of that comes from making 20 shorts and having shot 250 films. You get good by doing. I am privileged to have had the opportunity to have practiced my craft to such a degree."
"When people tell me they want to make a movie, the advice I give is: If you have something to say that is important enough to throw away tens of thousands of dollars, then do it. But if you think films are cool and you are going to get famous, get chicks - then go into the stock market. Your chances of getting famous are one in 100,000. Robert Rodriguez [who made "El Mariachi" for only $7,000] was twenty years ago. There hasn't been another since."
Nevertheless, Bradshaw added with a smile, "I will make another, if this one makes its money back. The only reason I am dumb enough is because everything will easier this time around." After acknowledging he had started another script, I asked what it was: "It is not fleshed out enough for me to want to talk about it."
Posted on Apr 03, 2010 - 12:24 PM