The final instalment of Sam's notes from the South West Screen seminar last week. Thanks again, Sam, great report.
After lunch there was a talk on the importance of pre-sales featuring Paul Brett, Graham Begg (Content International) and Will Machin (Carnaby International) where the terminology proved too alien to make my notes a great deal of use, but the key thing here was Sell It, Make It – note the order in which things need to happen with the creation of a film – selling first - unlike almost any other product, not the other way around.
The importance of sales agents was stressed here because they know the market, they know the people, and they have established contacts and friendships that just make them an irreplaceable weapon in your promotion armoury. However the level they were speaking at here were B-list names at least and the idea of a first-time director with an unknown cast, whilst not given short shrift, was not the primary focus of the talk.
Session six and my writing hand has cramp. However there is little notation as the speakers – Al Clark and Rachel Robey (producers, London to Brighton) and Ed Blum (director/producer, Scenes of a Sexual Nature) are relative new kids on the block and don’t necessarily have as many insights as the old hands. This was an entertaining talk of their experiences however, and clips from London to Brighton looked great. One key thing I scribbled down was that “Legal fees cost the same for a tiny film as they do for a big film”. Not one to strike you with horror but worth bearing in mind.
Session seven was with film lawyer Miles Ketley (Wiggin) and devoted to the legal pitfalls of film production. Miles had a tough slot because everyone was exhausted by now and/or looking forward to the final session with Julien Temple. I have to say I made few notes at this stage but Miles began interestingly by pointing out that studios see the producer as an entrepreneur – someone who takes the risks and gets a large slice of the financial reward as a result. Directors – and certainly not writers – are not seen this way. They don’t take the risks and don’t get paid on the film’s performance, but upfront with a flat fee. We might not appreciate that perspective when we get paid the same for a labour of love as we would for a stinking dud knocked up in a weekend, but it’s worthwhile noting the producer/studio take on a writer’s position and in financial terms their stance is understandable.
Finally Julien Temple came in as a more relaxed finish to the day and spoke about his work over the years with Joe Strummer and his recent documentary on Glastonbury. Not a lot of pointers from Julien but the ideal way to wind down from a fairly intensive crash-course in producing a film in the UK
Overall it was a great day to attend and swept any vestiges of naivety away from me as a writer to hear everything from a producer’s point of view. Though I wasn’t perhaps the ideal recipient it was an invaluable day. If you’re able to make it to a SWScreen event I’d recommend it based on this experience - £50 for the whole day including refreshments and lunch.