I surf the web a lot. I find myself becoming more of a lurker and less of a proponent of the bad aspects of online culture. Since I am a filmmaker, I tend to read a lot on filmmakers, even local ones, or local people who aspire to become filmmakers. Recently I came across two absolutely amazingly bad things that warrant a mention on the Sonnyboo Blog. #1. A fundraising snafu from hell.

If you’re under 18 years old and make a blog entry or web page asking for money for your movie, it’s fairly forgivable for the ignorance of doing so. If you’re over 30 and claim to have all kinds of experience as a line producer, D.P., etc.; you look more like an idiot for not having the slightest clue.

It’s illegal to solicit any funds publicly. Even if you are making a documentary that won’t make a penny, it’s illegal. The sole exception is if you are a 501C3 designated non profit corporation, as in filed and approved by the state. If some cheese nut moron wants $25 and $100 investments, then he probably hasn’t gotten an attorney to set up the corporation, especially a 501C3 non profit, which is not an easy status to obtain.

What I love best are these poorly thought out ideas on how to best raise money. Why say that if you “invest” $25 you’ll get a free DVD? That immediately puts you in violation of more than one SEC (that’s the Securities and Exchange Commission, a federal organization) law. If you simply SELL the DVD’s for $25, you aren’t in violation of anything, except the obvious IRS tax evasion laws for not registering the money as income.

People who put in $100 or $250 are entitled to a free DVD of the finished movie! But wait, what if there isn’t enough money raised? What if the movie never gets finished? What happens to the money? If a percentage of it is spent in pre production, how much is returned to investors, if any?

I just can’t imagine anyone, even a family member thinking this is a good idea. For someone who claims to have successfully run several businesses, I find that to be as likely as having been a D.P. or line producer on $1 million dollar budgeted indie films. It takes near total incompetence to try to raise money this way.

#2. Hypocrisy, a perpetual state of being.

What I also enjoy is when other peoples in the film community alert me to the goings on of other local filmmakers. As if I am some conduit of information on everyone with a camcorder within a 20 mile radius. Of particular note, several of my colleagues sent me a link to a blog that was rife with irony and idiocy, an alliteration twofer.

You see, this particular poster has on several occasions criticized yours truly for writing articles with helpful tips for filmmakers based solely on my own experience. Of course, I get my book of articles published on Amazon.com, as well as with Film Threat, Internet Video Magazine, and get a job writing articles for Videomaker Magazine, but I guess the advice is not worthy of this person. That’s okay; I’m more concerned with the opinions of professionals, not amateurs with camcorders. I’ll try to hold my tears inside.

So the offending blog post is a list of tips for beginning filmmakers. It starts off pretty normal and good. Something about getting good audio is important, and then it just goes spiraling into ridiculously bad advice and even worse, just plain insults for no apparent reason.

Of particular note is he advice not to watch instructional videos or take advice from people who claim to know what they are doing… which kind of negates the entire list of filmmaking tips. Irony defined. Like many of the writings of this person, their list of filmmaking tips reads much more like the Uni-Bomber’s Manifesto and probably won’t be of much use to anyone not already under heavy medication, and definitely not for anyone serious about making movies.

I guess my one friend was right; this was more of a fan letter than anything. I guess this psycho really does want to be like me. Writing a bunch of tips for filmmakers when I’ve been doing that for years, and this person even has criticized me for writing things like this myself. Weird.

Combine this with the hypocrisy of criticizing filmmakers for calling themselves “award winning” and putting on his online profiles “won some awards”, going after people for “shameless self promotion” and his latest video has gratuitous cleavage shots of a girl. Put all this together and we’ve got ourselves a very confused, possibly psychotic individual.

Another wise friend of mine said it best. “Crazy people don’t know that they are crazy.” Indeed.

I guess there will always be psychos and morons in the filmmaking world no matter where you are. Just use your head a little bit and you can easily avoid being one of them. Unless of course, you are insane. In that case, take your meds and put on the nice jacket with extra long sleeves until the white van arrives.

Categories: blog

Peter John Ross

A filmmaker, a dreamer, and the world's only Dan Akroyd Cosplayer


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