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From Reel to Deal: Everything You Need to Create a Successful Independent Film    by Dov S-S Simens order for
From Reel to Deal
by Dov S-S Simens
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2003 (2003)

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Simens provides a detailed hands-on, how-to manual for independent filmmaking - chock full of references to additional resources, such as books, videos/DVDs and relevant websites. The author tells us, 'I am not a great filmmaker, but I am a great teacher' and then walks us through his own attempts at 'fame and fortune' that eventually landed him in a successful teaching career (apparently alumni of his filmmaking course range from producers like Quentin Tarantino to actors such as Will Smith).

The first section of From Reel to Deal covers the basics - idea, script, financing, pre-production - followed by the physical steps needed to make a feature film, and a final set of chapters on marketing, selling and distribution. Text is interspersed with 'Top Secret' notions in bold - such as the author's perspective that 'Hollywood is not a film-making industry - it is a film-marketing industry' - and 'Important Point' paragraphs that emphasize ideas (I enjoyed the funding suggestion to make a dentist's accountant your executive producer).

Though this book is aimed at those serious about the film business, it does includes many tidbits of interest to the curious. Learn from it for example the meanings of seven producer titles, the difference between a producer-filmmaker and a producer-dealmaker, how to option a script, and 'to think of filmmaking more as a business than as an art form.' We're told that 'Every great script has five "Uh-Ohs" (problems, five "Oh-shits" (further complications), and two "Oh-My-Gods."' and that one can learn dialog from court depositions.

Simens walks us through stuff like budgeting and camera rental, insurance and paperwork, hiring a soundman and renting light equipment. He gives a crash course on directing, explains what to expect while shooting, how to organize locations, and what's involved in the post-production process. Next comes marketing. Simens says to hire a publicist; 'Toot your own horn and you're an egomaniac. Have someone else toot your horn and you're undiscovered talent'. He explains film markets and distribution windows and finishes by talking about innovations that have 'permanently altered the film industry' - inexpensive equipment for production and the Internet for distribution.

It's clear from reading this book that making even a low-budget independent film is a huge amount of work. If you're interested in taking it on, you really should read From Reel to Deal first.

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