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I'm a Christian screenwriter/producer. I'm wondering how other producers of faith-based content have met the challenges in the industry.
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The challenges are hard for faith or no faith based productions. Don't give up. If he's with you, no one can be against you.
Thanks for the encouragement! God bless you!
Hi Kenya. You're most welcome. I've been in this dirty business a long time. Please don't hesitate to ask me any questions.
I've been in the industry for a little over 20 years. I'm primarily a writer, but learned that I had to produce and eventually direct to maintain some sort of control over my projects. I've produced several short films that have been well received. I've also written several feature screenplays that are making the rounds in film festivals/competitions. My discouragement comes at times from the fare Hollywood produces: weak stories full of profanity, debauchery and the like. I'm praying for a renaissance of life affirming, moral, films for adult movie goers.
That's what I'm doing for my next few projects. I'm going it alone, 4 walling my projects in Europe. I'm targeting a few key festivals to gather reviews, publicity, then I'm doing my own theatrical release city by city. This will allow me to generate numbers which I can use to leverage a good cable, video deal and other venues. It's extremely hard work, and costly, but you can recoup everything back eventually.
It is a lot of work. I hope it pays off handsomely for you.
Thanks Kenya. But you don't have to do a theatrical release and costly distribution like me, you can be successful doing a web release. The key is niche marketing, and affiliates program. Your's being a faith based film, you have a huge audience based to target. Find the biggest Faith based organization with the largest subscribers online, then contact them to be an affiliate to sell your DVD, Video Stream on their website. Or let them put a link to yours. Cut them in on a percentage of each DVD or video download, and you'll have instant access to everyone in their email listing. Depending on which org. you choose, it could be anywhere from 500k to millions of emails. But this model works best with micro-budget productions. It's almost guaranteed revenue.
Thanks, Ken. I thought of doing that, but with churches and religious organizations if they don't know you personally it's not easy to get their attention.
As with all films, the story and script is where it's at. Focus on the script, making a good film and you'll be able to sell it. That great script is the hardest thing to come by, more so then funding.
Yes, the script is the thing. It's the fundamental thing in filmmaking but still writers are under valued in the industry.
I think this is the best possible time to make faith-based films. With Biblical and/or faith films generating over a quarter of a billion dollars in BO over the last few months, I think the industry has taken notice. That said, I think the market for lower budget straight for DVD films is becoming over saturated.
I agree that Faith-Based feature films have become popular and lucrative, but unless you're making a film like Noah, studios aren't eager to spend big bucks producing them.
There has always been a huge market for faith based films, but Hollywood is frankly, biased.
If you work in the faith-based genre, you have to be prepared to do more with less. That's a given. The twelve million dollar budget for "Heaven Is For Real" was an encouragement. And the film delivered.
Yes, that's true but it may not remain that way. There are only so many sequels and super hero flicks that the market can handle. :-) Seriously, as faith-based films grow even larger audiences I'm hopeful that the money will follow.
My suggestion, other than live film, why not try Animation content output? It can be animated shorts, educational elearning material, webisodes or something for mobile apps that people can access easily?
We've done two faith-based animated short films.
It might be helpful (if its not already being done) for those of us who are Christians to "hang together" as a collective withinStudio32. And, Kenya, if you have a film that is complete or nearly complete, I would like to talk with you about distribution. :)
Collective? Sounds like the Borg from Star Trek. :-) Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. I wouldn't mind hanging together with like minded Christians. My produced films have been shorts but I've written unproduced features.
Hey guys, there is actually a meetup lounge here on Stage 32. You can plan and set up your own meetup - people have them all over the world and they are usually quite successful. Here is the lounge: https://www.stage32.com/lounge/stage_32_meetups
Don't get discouraged, Kenya. There has never been greater demand for faith-based scripts and films. Some are produced for only $30,000 or under such as "Standing Firm", and others like "Heaven is for Real" for mega budgets. Are you receiving InkTip.com's weekly newsletter of what scripts producers are searching for? It has constant requests for faith-based material. Are you subscribed to MovieGuide's twice-weekly emails? And ChristianCinema.com's twice-weekly emails? Do you belong to imdbPro so you can track down the people behind small & large faith-based films? And have you subscribed to FilmSpecific.com's constant flow of emails telling you exactly HOW to proceed in producing your own scripts? If not, you need to roll up your sleeves and get connected, bro. "With God nothing is impossible".
Thanks for the encouragement Erik. I really appreciate it. Great suggestions. I had 6 of my screenplays on InkTip but haven't signed up for the newsletter frankly because I have to be frugal with my funds. I've self financed 14 short films and at this point money is an issue. I do get ChristianCinema.com's twice-weekly emails. I'm with ISA and involved in every organizations where I can access job leads for free. I'm about to enter a few screenwriting competitions. My scripts have been finalists but I haven't won a grand prize or a monetary award in a while. Thanks, again for the encouragement. Pray for me. :-)
Will do, Kenya. With 14 short films under your belt, you're definitely ready for primetime and a feature film. Depending on the script, it usually costs a lot less than people think.
That's true. It depends on the number of locations, number of actors, the size of the crew, whether you shoot union or non union, if you can defer any payments, etc.Even product placement can help. I recently watched a TV Christmas movie that was pretty much shot in one house. The dialogue needed to be sharper to keep the attention of the audience. We shot a half hour film using one house basically and made it look like more than one location. I have a couple of feature scripts that require 3 INT locations and a couple of EXT locations. Prayerfully, it'll happen soon.
Yes, sounds like you're familiar with the basics. Attaching a name actor, even B-level, will help you to attract investors. You might also consider shooting two versions simultaneously, one for the faith-based market and the other for the general family market or perhaps Hallmark. They would be identical except for a change of dialogue in a few key scenes. That added market possibility impresses investors, as does a great biz plan, of course.
Thanks for the suggestions, Erik! I'm going to keep plugging away!
Hi Corean. I feel you. Some playwrights have video taped their plays and shown them to producers. Have you given that any thought? Have you taken the play to any New York venues?
Corean, are you looking to produce they play (such as off-Broadway), or get the story on film? If you are open to it, do you mind sending the script my way?
I see the play has legs. I can't sponsor it but I'll check around to see who might be interested. Keep the faith!
Have you placed an ad in the Stage32 Jobs section? There are creative types who post ads seeking producers.
I hope that works. I found this online. If you haven't read it it's worth glancing at: https://www.theproducersperspective.com/my_weblog/2009/02/how-to-get-a-p...
As an award winning actress/director/acting coach who quit the industry to rear my children in the Lord. Now they are grown and out of the house, it's been a journey coming back. I'm praying one of my investments will come through and I'll be able to direct the fund toward projects that help show how important making good choices, choosing life over death, can be If anyone puts together a place for believers in the industry to help and support each other I'd love to know. .
God bless you on your path :)