Sunday, July 18, 2010

Eskimo Joe Rocks!

I can now confirm that I have been approved for a license to use Eskimo Joe's song 'Foreign Land' the paper work is in the mail, and I'll sign it as soon as it arrives! I stated that I was going to try and get their attention, and by doing so, I got their attention, followed the process and soon I'll have the opportunity of putting my concept trailer to their song, it will have a huge impact and show that I'm serious about this film! Ex Pertinacia Victoria!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What does it all mean: Reprised

I often write to Chris Jones, the author of the Guerilla Film Maker's Handbook, talking of where I am, what's happening, film life and what he's up to. I came across an old email I sent him, which I am sharing here again, because I need to remember the core message of what I wrote. I've lifted this straight off Chris' website he's a great resource for indie film makers and an inspiration to all.

"The need to refresh and take stock of where you are was something that I had been avoiding, I'd used my holidays as time to work on my own projects, and to tell you the truth it was burning me up. After everything I've seen and everything that's happened to my family, I guess I've been looking at the world with a sense of urgency, a pressure within to succeed, before I too either faded in to obscurity and the mundane, or passed away.

Last month I was driving back from a commercial shoot about two hours drive from work, in front of us, driving in the same direction, a log truck lost control and hit a car coming the other way. It was shredded. In all my life I've never seen anything like it. I mean for years I've been attending fatal accidents after the event (note from Chris - Simon is a news cameraman), you prepare your mind for what you will see and it's a job. But to see it actually happen, in the space of seconds, people died right there, it just was numbing. Needless to say I point blank refused to film it for the news and the emergency services waved us through to leave.

It's a fragile existence we lead, and yet I didn't need anymore reminders of this fact as you know. As you said to me before, it should highlight the need within ourselves to get our stories out while we can. But this need is like pushing against a wall, a mental wall within, a metaphorical wall of bureaucracy, funding and powers that be, without.

Yet the creative drive inside needs to be expressed, like a soldier with the skills to fight, we look for a side to fight for, a story to fight for, meaning to be found in these stories, meaning to be given to this life.

I guess that's why people call you an inspiration, a title you may feel uncomfortable in wearing, but it leads to the heart of your argument. Take action, take big action, for action is experiences, and experiences added up are a life. Not many people do that.

Before reading your books, I had put a time frame on success, based on stories of other film makers who had hit the 'jackpot' of making a film young (25) and skyrocketing off to fame and fortune. I read your advice of 'make a film when you're sixty' and nodded, but I didn't truly absorb it, as I found myself in an unconscious race against myself to be successful in film, and a year has passed and I have made another doco, which I'm actually disappointed with. But I learned from the experiences.

It wasn't until I'd taken this holiday with Evita, and stopped, truly stopped, and let go that I feel happy. I'm still writing my feature script, but I'm not rushing to get it out, I'm having a glass of wine when I write. I'm reading a fiction book instead of a film reference book, I'm going to the beach as often as I can, I'm trying to enjoy the experiences of writing and living, so I can enjoy the process of production, and enjoy a creative life in general.

I hope things are well with you, I hope your endeavours are coming to fruition, I hope you and Lucia are well. Look after yourself bloke and maybe one day I'll see you around sometime,

Simon Van Der Spoel

Thanks for your email Simon. I think that in 100 years, creativity will be diagnosed as a disease. I really do. It’s not something I choose, it chooses me, and often I am it’s servant. I know that at the dinner table, family and friends can complain or exchange knowing glances when I go off into that special creative world in my head. I sometimes wish I could stop having ideas. It seems I can’t. I mentioned on the blog a few days ago that I am reading a book on copyrighting, and another phrase from that book really resonated…

‘The truly creative mind in any field is no more than… a cruelly delicate organism with the overpowering necessity to create, create, create – so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating…’
Pearl Buck

The book is called ‘The Adweek Copyrighting Handbook’ by Joseph Sugarman

And yes Simon, when you come to the UK or I come back down under, we will surely hook up at your mums for another steak on the barbie!

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author

Monday, July 12, 2010

Short Film V Concept Trailer

I am faced with a bit of a difficult decision, on one hand I have my concept trailer building momentum, lining up resources to complete the shots to get the result I'm after (things are going great!). On the other hand, it seems to me that unless you've made a film, you're not really taken seriously, no matter how technically accomplished you are.

That comes down to the fact, I am an experienced professional Camera Op/Editor in TV, not film (though I could technically argue I know how to shoot the Sony HDC 950 which is a film quality system - Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Sin City, Avatar etc) But that's it, I have the technical skill, but what people will be looking for is if I have director/writer skill, working with actors, writing a script that conveys story, emotion and snappy dialogue. But then there are fresh faced uni/film school graduates without an iota of life experience and industry technical experience out there trying to make features...

A Concept Trailer may not convey that skill, it will showcase an idea, a premise of a feature. The trailer is a great promo for my concept, but is it a calling card for me? People I've spoken to suggest a short film is the best way to show what I can do in all fields.

So I wrote a 13 page short film called Past Mistakes, with Frankie Oatway as the lead.

Problem number one, Frankie has just been cast in a Feature Film 'Mei Mei' with GUY PEARCE! And then he's lined up to go to New York for talks with Vincent Pastore (of Casino and Soprano's fame!) So he's a very busy bloke, and August is the only window of opportunity to film him this year. Talk about pressure, the first draft has only just been completed, and needs tightening, and then we need to cast, and crew it!

It begs the question whether I should let the opportunity go for now, and risk losing Frankie to Hollywood, while I concentrate on the concept trailer, or try to do both, stretching already thin resources further.

It's like being a mercenary soldier and trying to decide which battle to fight...that's indie film making. I'll keep you posted how I go.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Eskimo Joe's Management contact me

Ok, so I posted my ambition of getting an amazing Eskimo Joe track 'Foreign Land' to use for my 'concept trailer' of my feature film. When I said there was movement on the progress of the song, this was what I was talking about

I had completed one application to one of the rights holders, Warner Music, for the song on the Thursday. I completed the second application to Mushroom Music on Monday and sent that off. I recieved immediate responses from both companies saying that they will get a quote for me, and things were a happening.

Looking back over my posts I saw someone had commented on Sunday. It was Cath Haridy...ESKIMO JOE'S MANAGER! How, who, what, where huh? Are Eskimo Joe secret Agents? I hadn't completed the second application yet! Cath was kind enough to ask me to contact her via the official Eskimo Joe Website so that I knew it wasn't a crank post. Well I did. And she responded.

"Indeed it was me and yes I saw your blog by independent means. I keep relatively I touch with most things that happen with the band online."

So no, the band aren't secret agents, their manager Cath is. Ha! All jokes aside, it was my including of the youtube link of their clip that may have flagged her attention to my blog. (maybe? Cath would not reveal her sources, so my secret agent suspicions remain). An unexpected result, but a welcome one!

While I was contacting the rights holders, the band manager was contacting me, based off my declaration of intent. Online. For all to see. I'm still a little gobsmacked at the speed of events. Two weeks ago I was thinking, no, they're out of reach, too big for an indie to try. But I tried anyway, and got a response I couldn't have imagined. So here I wait, with bated breath, for the monetary requirements, which actually may be within my reach.

There's a great article about Cath Haridy and her work here and I'd like to thank her for responding to my online shout out to the digital ether. I never expected to hear something back! I'd also like to congratulate the guys from Eskimo Joe for winning two APRA awards for 'Foreign Land' it really is an amazing track!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Everyone has to start somewhere

I had to travel five hours the other day to see the in-laws for a birthday, and it was a great weekend, but here's the funny thing. They live in a small country town called Chinchilla. (yes a town named after a small cat/rodent like creature once harvested for fur, go figure)

That's not the funny thing, ok well, it's mildly amusing, but this picture of me in front of a house is the reason I'm grinning - It's the childhood home of one Dr. George Miller, the director of Mad Max, Mad Max II: The Road Warrior, Mad Max III, Lorenzo's Oil, Witches of Eastwick and of course Happy Feet, and numerous producing and TV credits. His website is (if you've got qualifications, check out the jobs section.)

The wide open roads and flat horizons around the highway into Chinchilla are very similar to the ones near Lara, north of Geelong where the original Mad Max was filmed.

Looking at the place, it brings home everyone has to start somewhere, and this is where George and his brothers spent their time as kids. Doesn't matter where you are, or where you grow up, it's up to you what you do with your filmic aspirations.

On another front, there is movement on the licensing of Eskimo Joe's song, I'll report back soon!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

More Music Info from EMI

I've spoken to some lovely people from a number of publishers, and master rights holders trying to learn more about the music biz and how it affects film. EMI sent me a great frequently asked questions page and I thought I'd include it here for everyone elses benefit (It is Australian oriented slightly)


Q: Who is EMI Music Licensing in Australia?
A: EMI Music Licensing is the central licensing division in Australia for all the labels within EMI Recorded Music, which includes:
Capitol Records, Parlophone, Angel, Blue Note, Positiva, EMI Classics, Virgin, Source, Mute, Innocent and Hut.
We also license repertoire locally on behalf of labels including Spunk!, Domino, Stop Start, and Soulmate Records.

Q: I don't understand what a MASTER RECORDING is versus a COMPOSITION
A: When licensing a piece of music for a visual project, rights need to be secured from two separate entities. You must gain a licence from the RECORD COMPANY who controls the rights to the MASTER (or the actual recording), as well as the MUSIC PUBLISHER who controls the COMPOSITION (or the underlying rights in the song).

Q: Who should I contact first to secure my licences?
A: The Music Publisher

Q: Why should my first call be to the music publisher?
A: Because a recording cannot be licensed without the underlying song rights being approved, whereas a song can be licensed without a specific master recording.

Q: How do I find out who the music publisher is?
A: Check the CD booklet and\or call the performing rights society below. Please note that there may be multiple music publishers for each song. If this is the case each publisher needs to be contacted for a license.

AMCOS (Australian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society)
Telephone: 02 9935 7900

Q: How do I contact the music publishers?
A: AMCOS can provide contact details.

Q: How long will it take to get my master use license?
A: Please allow at least 2 weeks for clearance, with some masters requiring much longer to gain approvals. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration as follows:

• Is the repertoire owner based in Australia or internationally?
• Does EMI Music Australia need to secure management and/or artist approval for use of the track?
• How many requests is EMI Music Licensing handling at the time?

Q: Can I speed up the licensing process?
A: You cannot speed it up, but you can avoid slowing it down by making sure you have given us all the relevant information we require at the outset.

Q: What is that information?
A: Please fill all the required fields on the Licence Application form.

Thank you so much for the info EMI, it helps clarify and aids understanding (This is something they should have covered in my uni degree all those years ago, but didn't)

Music Licensing Rights & Publishing Rights?

After further consultation with fellow creatives, and as much as I admire the Animal Kingdom trailer and the effectiveness of the clip

being inspired by it is one thing, emulating it can be seen as being a copycat, and yes, there is no such thing as an original idea just the way you present, I agree, but for the genre of action thriller, The Solomons song may not be the right one.

Yes my enthusiasm led to me chasing down the record label and talking to them about indie music meeting in the middle with indie film, and though now the Solomons option may not suit the idea, it's not to say I have wasted their time or mine.

I have a great contact with Scotty at Popboomerang and I am still keen to look through their catalogue for appropriate music for my projects!

So what song do I have in mind for the 'concept trailer', and am I dreaming to even contemplate it? Well, as I have said in the past, I have an idea, and I pursue it, if only for a fact finding mission so I know what the deal is.

Foreign Land, by Eskimo Joe, that's what I have had in my head for a long time, in fact I have written several scenes to the film while listening to this song. However, it's by one of Australia's most popular bands, surely out of my reach, so don't bother, everyone says commercial music is difficult to use... but, hang on...unless I ask, I'll never know how difficult.

What's the process? Where do I start? well tweeting at the band didn't work, they don't seem to respond to anyone.

This has to be done by the right channels, so on the CD I see it's distributed by Warner. So I google the contact details for Warner Music and call them.

BAM! Lesson number one, the distributer of the CD is not neccesarily the holder of the rights to a song, plus there is a difference between licensing rights and publishing rights, a difference that means two seperate companies.

So I contact Scotty at popboomerang to explain to me, the uninitiated in the music rights world. He said -

"Generally, from our point of view there 2 synch fees when a song is placed -the master licence fee often owned by a record company like us & the publishing fee which is either owned by a publisher or the band themselves (or a label) -and they are 50/50 -referred to as "per side"

So all our acts own their own publishing, we licenece the sound recording -we have deals with our acts which mean it is not always 50/50 for fee split but the princiap is there is 100% of a fee & split 2 ways between the master & the publishing.

Typically, a sync license is obtained from a music publisher while the master recording license is obtained by from the record label or owner of the master.
A sync license covers a specific period of time, and the license will stipulate how the song can be used.

There is one flat fee involved in obtaining a sync license, and once the license is in place, the song can be used as stipulated as many times within the license period as the license holder likes. In other words, if you obtain a sync license and use the song in a film, you do not have to pay a fee on the sync every time the film is viewed."

As far as Eskimo Joe is concerned, the master rights are held with Warners, the license application has to be requested from Mushroom Records, and the licensing is actually held by a music publisher Mana! Three seperate companies involved in one song! So I've put in an application for a quote to see how much it would cost to use such a popular song. I'll report back what they say so you can see how high the wall for commercial music is for Indie film makers.

I'd like to thank Scotty from Pop Boomerang for taking the time to explain the issue to us all. Take a look at this fantastic indie label, doing what we do in the music world!