Where Random Happens

Posts tagged “Art

Martin Scorsese You Ain’t

ShutterIsland300IF there is one constant rule among all Indie filmmakers I’ve ever personally met, it’s that they don’t have a fundamental understanding of how business works. And because they don’t have an understanding of how the movie business in particular works (and often don’t want it – some weird superstition about the very knowledge will kill their “art”), they have no idea when they Are and are Not getting screwed until it’s way too late to do a damn thing about it.

So today I’m going to explain for the n00bs how the movie business works, and believe me, this is a blade thin slice of the biz I’m talking about.

As an illustrative example, I’ll use an Oscar winning A-List Director and an Oscar winning A-List Actor as a point of reference.

Except in special cases where a director or actor or even a movie franchise has a proven track record, the box office take for any given theatrical released film is half the box office in the U.S. If the movie survives 4 weeks at the BO, the theater generally starts taking a slightly bigger cut. Add to that is the fact that every 1000 screens is roughly equal to an additional $10 million dollars in the film reels and shipping to those screens. These are distributor costs and distributors get their money back plus profit – first – before the Money Back meter starts running for the film company. If the distributor also paid for advertising (usually $1 million minimum), then add that in also.*

Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese both have their built in audience and for good reason. The problem is, they don’t have a profitable audience for the budgets they demand.

The Scorsese Caprio duo made Gangs of New York for $100 million and it returned $77.8 million. Which is a good return on a movie that cost $30 million.

The Aviator made $102.6 million on a film that cost $110 million. Ouch.

The Departed cost $90 million and brought in $132.4 million. Remember, the film company gets half the box office receipts after distribution costs.

SHUTTER ISLAND cleared around $125 million on an $80 million dollar budget.

Every one of these movies, with the exception of SHUTTER ISLAND, I think were good movies. Every one of these movies were also inordinately long movies that all suffered from scene and story padding.

Read any number of reviews (at least 5 different ones) from whoever you like and you’ll generally come away with the following.

Gangs of New York took 2 hours and 40 minutes to tell a 2 hour story.

The Aviator took 2 hours and 48 minutes to tell a 2 hour story.

The Departed took 2 hours and 30 minutes to tell a 2 hour story.

SHUTTER ISLAND took 2 hours and 18 minutes to tell a 90 minute story.

For the indie film makers reading this? Imagine how much money could have been saved from the budget if Martin Scorsese didn’t insist on having every single DiCaprio movie be a sprawling epic. Especially stories like SHUTTER ISLAND which were never written as epics sprawling or otherwise. SHUTTER ISLAND in both novel and graphic novel was written as a personal human drama that takes place on a very small island.

And this isn’t some half-assed schlub making these movies, this is Martin freaking Scorsese! Now I have no idea who is reading this, but among the thousands of people who do read my website and Facebook and the hundreds of you who may be indie film makers? I’m going to take a wild guess here and say, you sure as shit ain’t no Martin Scorsese! Not even close!

Now that any possible over-indulged – yet unproven ego – is out of the way…

It’s important to bear in mind, when it comes to budget and run time, that if Martin Scorsese can’t pull off a solid profitable movie – 4 straight times in a row – even with the likes of Oscar winning performances by Danial Day Lewis, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, and Leonardo DiCaprio, then maybe you should just pare your own little epic down to a more reasonable cost that matches your talent (and by talent I ain’t just talking about your actors) and keep the time to 90 minutes Or Less! The minutes cost money.

I recently spoke to an Indie film maker who told me they had considered going with Amazon.com to distribute the downloads of their movie, but Amazon wants 50% of the sales price, so they said “Whatta rip-off! No way!”.

This, they felt, was unfair.


Heh! (wiping the tears of mocking laughter from my eyes) Okay “Mr. Cameron”! I look forward to seeing YOUR business model. Go ahead and pay a fortune to press your own discs, print sleeves, buy cases, and see if you can somehow LUCK into having Best Buy or Target or WalMart sell them off the shelves. See how much Ka-Ching of the profit THEY’LL give you on retail!

Hey! Take your show on the road to Netflix and see what your percent is! HA!

Hey, maybe you should just pay for your own dedicated servers and T1 lines and build the security and payment software yourself and then market your movie up to the point where it will draw as much attention on YOUR site as it would at amazon! Prices at decent hosting sites that can handle the heavy streaming you require, start at a mere, $1,059 a month (that’s without firewall, virus protection or other security. It’s also without a database. You’ll need all of those things).

Yeah, you Gofrit!

*An edit of this originally appeared as my post at Facebook in 2010.

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Buy the paperback from Amazon and get the kindle free!

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Look for my second collection, WILLOW BLUE and Other Stories
Five critically acclaimed tales featuring my literary twist on Weird Sex, True Love, Monsters and Mayhem! $8.00 for the paperback, $1.99 for the kindle reader or app. As always, buy the paperback from Amazon and get the kindle free!

Horror 201: The Silver ScreamAre your shelves still too empty?

Look for my story Cedo Looked Like People, in the anthology, FEAR THE REAPER, edited by Joe Mynhardt. Available from Crystal Lake Publishing and available in Print for $12.99 or eBook for $2.99.

Not nearly filled enough?

Also available from Crystal Lake Publishing, the film making guidebook, HORROR 201: The Silver Scream. Reap the rewards of movie making experience from the likes of Myself as well as Ray Bradbury, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Tom Holland, Jeffrey Reddick, George A. Romero, Keith Arem, Richard Gray, and many more. $19.99 in Print or $3.99 in eBook.


Neil Marshall

Neil Marshall (DOG SOLDIERS, THE DESCENT, DOOMSDAY, CENTURION) is one of those directors who has a story better than the special effects. And I’m a man who loves special effects. Yet the only time you see SFX in a Neil Marshall movie is when it absolutely, positively serves the story.

Neil is known as something of a Splatter director even though he isn’t particularly into Horror Thriller. So when a director uses this much gore and monsters and it still absolutely serves the story? Holy cow! Even his misses are entertaining!

So I got to drawing faces today and I decided, ‘What the hell? I’m drawing Neil Marshall!’image description

Read my interview with Neil Marshall at Feo Amante’s Horror Thriller.

PerpetualBulletPB2014Want more? Get my book
PERPETUAL BULLET: A Science Fiction Collection
A trove of previously published Science Fiction Horror Thriller – plus bonus stories
Featuring: Weird Sex, True Love, Monsters and Mayhem!
By E.C. McMullen Jr.
Now on sale for $9.00 in Trade Paperback and in eBook for $1.99 and available for your Android Tablet, iPad, Kindle, Nook, and every other “E”!
Find it at (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, !ndigo, iTunes, KoboBooks, Smashwords, WHSmith, and more).

Also look for my story Cedo Looked Like People, in the anthology, FEAR THE REAPER, edited by Joe Mynhardt and available in Paperback and eBook.

Looking for a great guidebook on filmmaking? Interviews with Ray Bradbury, Wes Craven, John Carpenter, Tom Holland, George A. Romero, me, and many others in HORROR 201: The Silver Scream Vol.’s 1 & 2.

NUTSHELL: It’s Not A Ghost


It’s just a very common part of photography.

It’s called Lens Flare. Also known as Aperture ghosting. Very common with cheaper lenses on film cameras and even more expensive digital cameras because of reflection off the sensor (sensor flares are usually very blurry).

It’s lens reflection off one or more of the lens elements.

Photographers have been battling this, these “Bokehs” with film or the recent digital sensor reflections or using it to enhance their art, for nearly 100 years. J.J. Abrams used lens flare intentionally on Star Trek to a ridiculous extent.

Lensflare is common enough that it is the reason lens hoods and matte boxes exist.

In fact, it’s so common, Adobe offers it as a tool in Photoshop, After Effects, and even Illustrator. Corel offers it as well. Check out this tutorial on YouTube.

You don’t get this as bad with more expensive anti-reflection coated lenses, like the Olympus Micro, and not at all with a Carl Zeiss lens.

For more info on lens flare, just Google it!

Originally posted by E.C. McMullen Jr. at Facebook September 12, 2011

My NUTSHELL blogs mean just that. I quickly get right to the point, tell you what you want to know, and give you links to credible resources so you can learn the full story. Every word link goes to a specific page that will give you information on that specific topic. If I write, “Just Google it”, I’ve already Googled it for you.

I Can’t Say I’m Sorry

I live in an apartment with my wife and we have a cat. With pets come rituals, habits, things you have to do to see to their needs.

My cat needs to have her litter box scooped out every 24 hours.

Just a routine part of life, right? Why would I write a blago about that?

Like all married couples, my wife and I also like to dance the Mambo. Sometimes though, we get so caught up with doing a particularly … Enthusiastic … Mambo, that afterwards I forgo my nightly OTHER chore of scooping out the catbox and throwing it down the garbage chute in the hall. I mean, that’s not at the top of my list after an exceptionally  vigorous night of Mambo.

So this morning my cat wakes me up with a MeOW! And starts pushing her head in my face. I’ve got something to take care of and she needs it done Right Now!

– Cats are ALL about routine! –

So I groggily get some clothes on, go to her box, go through the motions, wind up with a particularly full bag of cat refuse,


This is when I notice (SNIFF) that this particular box of sand has had about all it can take of getting scooped out. It will stand no more (UGH! I usually do a whole box cleaning once a month) which means I have to empty the ENTIRE thing into a big bag and pour in fresh litter.

WHEW! Jesus what a stink!

I trudge down the hall toward the garbage chute, holding my weighty bag of odorific cat litter plus cat shit surprise inside. What a nasty chore!

I open the door to the chute closet, open the chute, and though I hear noises echo up, it doesn’t register with me.

I put the heavy bag in, let it go, and right at that moment I hear someone yell from below…

“Just a minute!”

Blink! Blink!

The hell? Someone is IN the dumpster below?

I reach to grab the top of the bag but it is already tipping over, coming undone, and I can only watch as it falls beyond my grasp and into darkness.

“Wait!” comes from below quickly followed by “Just a! (sound of impact) AUGH! BLEAH! BLE-AH

I hustle out of the garbage chute closet and back to my apartment. Maybe the guy didn’t see what floor it came from, but if he did, he has about 20 apartments to choose from on my level.

Jeez! I didn’t mean to rain horrible cat sewage down on some poor bastard! I’ve no idea what business he had in the dumpster, but holy shit what a terrible thing to do to a person!

And I didn’t mean to! I was just emptying the garbage! I mean, how in the hell do you apologize for something like that? You don’t dump a whole month worth of rancid ammonia smelling cat sewer on some poor bastard’s head and follow it with a hearty SORR-REEE!!!

So even though I feel really bad for the faceless stranger, I can’t go look for the guy and say I’m sorry. I just can’t!

(Originally posted at my MySpace on Friday, June 19, 2009)