This next post was intended to be about a pitch video for a "SouthLAnd" movie. In many ways, I suppose it could be that. But, as I studied the book lent to me by my daughter Andrea -- Mark Litwak's "Dealmaking In The Film And Television Industry, From Negotiations To Final Contracts" -- it dawned on me that I was getting quite a bit ahead of myself.
For example, I learned that in order to include footage from the "SouthLAnd" TV show in a pitch video -- something that I really wanted to do -- many permissions would have to be obtained, via legal paperwork, from copyright owners, guilds and unions, every person in a clip, and (if the clip contains music) musicians and those who own the rights to the underlying musical compositions.
Frankly, I learned that there are pretty much a gazillion ways from Sunday to be sued for attempting to put together a pitch video, let alone doing a "SouthLAnd" movie in any sort of indie manner.
But, do not fear, I remain undaunted, because I am stubborn, not just a little bit competitive, and (perhaps) a tad bit crazy. I also love "SouthLAnd". And I don't want to let Deb or Stephanie down, because they are dear women who deserve a "SouthLAnd" movie. I have also realized that Ben McKenzie does, in fact, know something about Kickstarter campaigns (go support his sister-in-law's, please), so I will take his comments about the possibility of such a thing more seriously than I did before. (Sorry, Ben. I should never have doubted you.)
So, what do we need in order to begin?
In his book, Mark Litwak explains how most projects are the result of intelligent dealmaking, and he states, "Shrewd dealmakers know how to structure a deal to meet the needs, often unspoken, of all the parties."
In terms of a "SouthLAnd" movie, who might these "parties" be? A few that I can think of are:
1. the fans (if the movie is to be funded using a Kickstarter campaign, the needs of the fans are an essential part of the mix)
2. the studio (Warner Bros.)
3. the creator(s)/executive producer(s) of the TV show/movie
4. the director, cast, and crew
5. the talent agents/agencies, such as CAA
6. the distributor(s)
7. any production company that backs the film in any manner
8. possibly TNT, if they still own any of the rights to the show.
If the needs of all interested parties were intelligently met when putting together a deal for a "SouthLAnd" movie, it could lead to a solidly-funded, successful product (the actual film) and future benefits for all those participating (such as future creative opportunities stemming from having a good, versus a bad, reputation). Wisely meeting the needs of the interested parties would have the added benefit of decreasing the possibility of me (or anybody else) being sued.
What, you may now be wondering, would the "needs of the interested parties" be? There are, of course, financial needs. People and institutions will want to make money off of this project. I don't blame them for this. This is their livelihood. And making money off of one project helps to fund other projects down-the-line. Losing money on this project may rob the interested parties of future creative and professional opportunities. Although, I have also learned from reading Mark Litwak's book that there are times when a project will be given the green light, even when there is a substantial risk that it won't be a money-maker. Why is this? If there is a very good chance that the project will be solid enough creatively to enhance the reputations of those involved with it, those individuals/institutions may be willing to take a financial gamble. Therefore, the "SouthLAnd" movie project -- if it is in any way fiscally questionable -- will have to inspire enormous creative confidence in the Hollywood "Powers-That-Be" if it is to be given the go-ahead. I believe it is possible for this to happen. In fact, I read that TNT's program director chose to keep the series, even when it would have been justified for him to drop it for financial reasons, because he thought it was so outstanding. If it could be shown that a movie would be just as outstanding, it could perhaps garner the necessary support from all interested parties.
Now that I have addressed -- in a small way -- the needs of the interested "Hollywood" parties, what would be the needs of the fans? And by "needs," I mean those beyond the necessity of seeing that Cooper lives and Ben hanging off the side of a building dressed in Kevlar and holding a large automatic weapon and Sammy's amazing pecs and Lydia's bad-ass hand-to-hand combat skills. (Yes. Those would all be required elements in a "SouthLAnd" movie. If I have any say in it, anyway. Which I won't. Oh, well.) Seriously, though, the desires of the fans need to be taken into careful consideration in this project, especially if it is a Kickstarter project. The fans would need to be given satisfaction in how the story-arc and character-arcs are rounded out. They would probably like it if -- by the end of the movie -- they had some hope for the future for their favorite characters. Maybe I am a pie-in-the-sky, Pollyanna kind of lady, but this is my opinion. I will, of course, bow to the wisdom of whomever writes the story, because -- even though the series was often not good for my blood pressure -- it was my all-time favorite show. And that's saying something. Another consideration, as far as fan "needs" go, would be rewards in a Kickstarter campaign. I understand that they are a huge motivator in getting contributions, so they would need to be carefully thought out by those responsible for delivering them. They would need to be awesome enough to inspire people to open their wallets, yet actually doable (when the rubber hits the road).
A further thing I have learned from Mr. Litwak's book is that, these days, the big "....talent agencies such as CAA....exercise considerable influence in developing and packaging projects." This, in my highly inexperienced opinion, could be a key in all of this.
Therefore, I (very tentatively) propose the following:
***That a package be put together -- by CAA or another similar entity -- which includes funding sources (Warner Bros., fans, any other investors), legal needs (copyright searches, if necessary; rights acquisition, if necessary; all other required permissions; etc.), an agreement with Warner Bros. for production, and contracts with writer(s), director(s), cast, and crew. ***
-- OR --
***That Warner Bros., together with the creator(s)/executive producer(s) of "SouthLAnd", put together a production package, which would include a Kickstarter element. This might be the most efficient route, as they have the necessary resources to do so. They probably own most (or all) of the rights to the show.***
Concerning a pitch video, one could be made which would effectively convince CAA, Warner Bros., and the creator(s)/producer(s) of "SouthLAnd" that this is, indeed, a viable project. I would be willing to help write and story-board this video, and I know somebody who has expressed interest in shooting it (an actual professional, no less). In my next post, I will go into more detail about what facts, data, and sentiments such a video would need to express, in order to be convincing.
Again, I apologize for making this presentation via my blog, as I realize it is not the most professional approach.
And, again, I will send copies of this to Deb Craig, Andrea Lynch, Julia Swain, Kiaya Mangan, Regina King, Michael Cudlitz, Shawn Hatosy, and Ben McKenzie.
I do appreciate your time and consideration.
"SouthLAnd" forever. :)