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Marvelous Legals

I just saw the trailer for the new AMAZING SPIDER-MAN due out next year. It was way too familiar for me. Seeing a reboot so soon after just starting the last series seems a bit odd. I felt similarly about BATMAN BEGINS and it has been 8 years since the last sequel (1997’s BATMAN AND ROBIN). In this case it will have only been 5 years since SPIDER-MAN 3 and 10 years since the last franchise even started.

As an audience, we psychologically make a commitment to the characters, which means continuity of actors is far more important than film companies believe. It’s also really annoying to see the same origin story over and over again.Why would a company like Columbia (owned by Sony) do this? I will tell you why…

Sony has an “option” on the rights to the character from Marvel Comics. Sony has made over $2.5 billion on box office alone, excluding home video and television rights worldwide. This is big business. If Sony did not get into production on another SPIDER-MAN film and have it on screen in 2012, all rights to make a movie based on the character would revert back to Marvel.

Marvel Comics started their own film production company called Marvel Films. First they released IRON MAN in 2008 to huge success, and not so great success with PUNISHER WAR ZONE and THE INCREDIBLE HULK, but back to form with THOR, IRON MAN II, and CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER. Next year’s THE AVENGERS looks to be an enormous movie event, meaning gobs and gobs of money.

Both IRON MAN movies were distributed by Paramount, THE INCREDIBLE HULK by Universal, but Marvel produced them. SPIDER-MAN was produced by Sony via Columbia Pictures, so they are taking the financial risks and also reaped the financial rewards for distribution.

Similarly, the X-MEN movies are at 20th Century Fox, and the reason they rushed X-MEN FIRST CLASS was because they tried to slip X-MEN ORIGINS WOLVERINE as a part of their contract with Marvel for X-Men films and it didn’t qualify. So now they could not wait for Bryan Singer’s schedule to open up to direct X-MEN FIRST CLASS and had to rush it into production as fast as possible – just to maintain the rights.

Marvel Films has now been scooped up by Disney. So all the studios that have the rights to Marvel comics characters are rebooting or launching a movie just to keep the rights in their company. So Columbia may not care that the audience could rebel against such a hasty reboot of Spider-man.

In the case of 20th Century Fox’s other Marvel franchise, the FANTASTIC FOUR, it has a history of rights changing hands in the 1980’s and 1990’s. At one point, B-Movie legend Roger Corman owned the rights. He made a $400,000 feature film without the intent to ever release it – just to keep the rights because they sold them later for $1.2 million.

Warner Brothers owns D.C. comics, so Green Lantern, Batman, Super-man, Wonder Woman et al already have a film/television home.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Jul 27, 2011 at 10:19:24 am marvel films, comic book movies

Business Buffoonery

Okay, time for a lesson on business side of “film business”. As many of my faithful readers know, I was a broker in the 1990’s which helped because I had to know and understand investment laws of what is and is not legal. I recently saw something so glaringly illegal and stupid it blew my mind.

Some complete idiot was soliciting investments in a video on YouTube. Now that alone is bad enough, nonetheless illegal. The Securities and Exchange Commission frowns on any kind of public request for funds, but a flat out sales pitch? Ridiculous! Kids, you cannot state you are looking for investors in any public forum without an Initial Stock Purchase, which is sanctioned and monitored by the SEC. Don’t be stupid.

It gets better. In this same video, the complete imbecile also GUARANTEES a return on investment. Investing 101 – there are no guarantees and it is illegal to promise money back. This can put you on the hook for their investment without the protection of a corporation or you can go to jail for fraud.

I have not researched this, but I would bet money this moron hasn’t even incorporated his film “company”. Now, we’ve all gone through these phases of making up a name and start using a production company name without the little technicality of actually forming a legal corporation with a Tax ID number. That’s where everyone starts. Once you turn 22-23 years old, that starts to wear thin and it’s time to grow up. Spend the $30 bucks and register a company name with your state, or Delaware as many corporations do (because they are very lean on lawsuits against Corps). Now if you are asking for money for your film company and your company doesn’t legally exist or have the proper paperwork filed with the state treasurer or SEC for specific types of Limited Liability Corporations to sell shares; You are breaking the law. In this day and age of investment fraud being so rigorously investigated and all eyes are against people playing with money – DON’T DO IT. DON’T BE AN IDIOT.

Talk to an attorney. Set up your corporation properly and don’t ever ever ever ever ever promise or guarantee a return on investment. That is fraudulent and you will screw yourself over.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Jul 12, 2011 at 3:26:36 pm

Placable and Patient

It is official; we did NOT win the contest. I am not shocked, but I am a little disappointed. Who wouldn’t be? I did however have over six months to get used to the idea of NOT winning, so it all worked out.

Now they did announce the winner and it was Patrick Boivin. This guy is an amazing filmmaker. He made the IRON BABY trailer that was awesome. He also does a lot of innovative stop motion, like with a vintage AT-AT Star Wars toy as a puppy, or action figures having epic battles. He has millions of views for his movies on YouTube. However, his entry into the contest was a French language zombie clown movie that sucked ass. The contest was supposed to be for a short film that can be made into a feature film.

I’m trying to wrap my brain around the idea of the director of ON GOLDEN POND Mark Rydell or Robert Duvall voting for the zombie clown movie. Something stinks. I expected the movie from Katie Maholic with the kids to win or the other movie with the actor Kevin Durand (from LOST and X-MEN ORIGINS WOLVERINE) to win, because their actual movies were great, but without the millions of YouTube views, I guess they didn't really have a chance.

Because of that, I think it is unlikely this (or any online contest) was real. I think they already knew who they wanted to give the prize to and we were all just patsies who paid for the privilege to promote their website for a month to make the owners look good to their sponsors.

I had a friend, a standup comedian, who told me about his experience with contests. He said that they are almost always rigged. They already know who they want to win before they start and that all of the contestants and entry fees do nothing but promote and pay for the contests. I now believe he is 100% right.

Before anyone finds me to just be a bitter, sore loser, the truth is that if I were in their position; I’d have probably given Patrick the prize too. It makes business sense. He has millions of followers and fans. He has proven that he makes movies a lot of people want to see. Mr. Boivin will probably make a great film, so my only regret was wasting $75 and a month of MY time.

Win some and lose some, they say. Business is business and I hope nothing but the best for a very talented filmmaker who deserves his shot to make a real feature film with decent money. Just don’t expect me to ever enter a contest like this ever again.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Jun 19, 2011 at 6:35:41 pm, james caan

Considerable Commensuration

PROGRESS! As I may have mentioned, after Alex I increased our intern numbers to 3. My biggest trouble is coming up with enough work for everyone, at least work that is within their skillset and in the time I have along with my own duties. I thought handing them the Cell Phone Monologues was more an exercise, but instead they have some pretty solid fin cuts done on both of them.

I still have to do the final cuts, but the big part of the jobs is done. I love the collaboration. I like getting other people’s opinions and debating the merits of creative decisions. I respect people who just say what they think when it comes to the work. If I agree or disagree, I’d rather just be out with it in terms of what people think. It’s easy to take it when it comes to work. I guess some people are ultra sensitive about their movies, but I learned a long time ago that criticism of a movie is not criticism of the person.

Audio presents the greatest challenge on these. I’ll spend a few weeks in my spare time tweaking and playing with it. I don’t think there will be a score but sound fixes and sound design will be pretty in depth for 2-3 minute long short films.

Have you ever fallen asleep on your arm and then when you shook your arm it’s all tingly because it fell asleep? I may be experiencing that, but inside my entire soul. Or it’s just the last gasps of a great chasm of deep blackness. I’ll let you know in another blog or two.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Jun 16, 2011 at 2:19:45 pm

Intemperance and Insinuation

This week I started teaching film and video at a school, as a new part time job. These first few days were more acclimating myself to their style and methods. I like teaching. I believe firmly in my methods but it is not for everyone. I try to impart that the “rules” are there as guides, but they are not gospel. They help establish the tenants of modern film and video, as they are less rules as much as methods and cinematic tricks that have been effective time and again for those who have been making movies all along.

Paid editing work ramps down in a week or so. That means getting caught up on FRAMELINES kicks in. Hopefully I can also get these two short films long since shot completed this month as well. Long overdue, getting these complete and out in the world will feel good.

I am not myself right now. I feel numb all over. Nothing excites me much. I don’t care about anything beyond some fleeting emotions. No matter what I do, there is no excitement or passion at the moment. I don’t have extremes of anger or happiness. It makes me somewhat of a bore. I’m still not fit for long social engagements.

Something will break soon with that. I just need a kickstart.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Jun 10, 2011 at 8:55:36 pm

The Vaunting of Ventures

In my quest to be more productive, there have been some successes and failures on my part. I wanted to do editing on these short films and hour a day. That didn’t happen. I had goals in terms of editing on Framelines and Clip Frames and those have been accomplished, including some minor shoots and interviews.

What has been accomplished thus far is over 3.5 hours of content has been shot and edited for Framelines. For Clip Frames, taking a lot of pre-existing material and several short tidbits that needed to be created for the show, I have made a far more impressive 9.5 hours of shows total, and that has been in less than a month. My obsessive-compulsive side will never let it sit at 19 shows, so I’ll have to make one more half hour episode at some point; most likely when I complete these two short films, so it will make a nice excuse to create a show and get these pieces seen shortly after finishing them.

If only I could lower my standards for Framelines, alas that is not to be. I’m working on the two 48 Hour Film Project Episodes which completely break format for the show. These are unique episodes to the run because several of the segments are all in one. We did a roundtable to cover the interviews, featured filmmakers, and on location. The whole episodes are a “spotlight on” the 48 Hour Film Project. The only thing missing are tech tips, but we did shoot something simple with several filmmakers on their advice to people doing a movie in 48 hours, so we kinda DO have tech tips, but I don’t know if I’ll use them.

My quest to watch more movies is succeeding a bit more. My latest double feature was the Blu Ray Director’s Cut of ALIEN and the Special Edition of ALIENS. Aside from one blatant biological discrepancy between these two movies, the alternate versions of both movies are superior to their originals. I am trying to force myself to watch a movie at home or at the $1 Theater every other night. I have fallen out of the habit of watching films and that is something I don’t want to do.

I start a 2nd job next week teaching film and video at a school.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Jun 2, 2011 at 8:32:22 pm

Tangible Tetris

The work never stops. Alex the Intern has left to spend the summer with family before starting his grad school film program, I’ve taken in 3 new interns. Training them will take time and then they’ll move on too. The circle of life I guess. I did get a lot done recently. I’ve been making DVD’s of the FRAMELINES shows as well as prepping a new product.

As I stated before, I have created a new education cable show called CLIP FRAMES to go along with FRAMELINES. I took the root of an old show but Alex the intern watched through a few of the pre-made episodes and begged me not to put them on the air as is because they sucked. So I took the plunge and started the re-editing process. It’s not that bad, in that I already had 75% of the content as raw footage still and thanks to Adobe Premiere’s upgrades, you can drop a VOB file from a DVD straight on the timeline and edit out what you need.

With all the raw footage being pre-edited segments; it’s like playing Tetris with the timelines in my editing software. The difference is still being subjectively creative whilst managing run times. There are certain ebb and flow I like to a show from one segment to the other. Again, CLIP FRAMES is nowhere near as polished as FRAMELINES. There’s no hosts, no exact segments, but it does have some worthwhile content, content I feel is worthy of attention and eyeballs.

The first few packages of DVD’s of the first 12 half hour shows of CLIP FRAMES are set to go out along with the first 6 episodes of FRAMELINES to outlying markets in neighboring states. I like the idea of getting short films out there with a nice Behind the Scenes look at how they were made, along with feature film Making Of segments, and other various educational bits. That’s 9 hours of programming, and I’m working on the next 7 episodes of FRAMELINES and another 8 episodes of CLIP FRAMES.

And I’ve been getting full time work too.

In a few weeks we’re set to adopt another kitten and that means even less time for sleep.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on May 30, 2011 at 8:25:04 pm

Overt Obviation

My how time is not my friend, although we are coming to some terms. Lord knows I feel better being able to edit at home again. Doing the cuts then mastering at work on the tricked out machines makes a huge difference. Even after 8-10 hours cutting at work does not deter me from cutting at home afterwards.

The casualties to this are sleep and movie watching, although I am definitely going to rekindle my love affair with the 2nd run movie theater for $1 movies and $3 for 3D. I acquired 2 Blu Rays for my essential viewings which are ALIENS, the James Cameron film and SOM LIKE IT HOT, which to me is Billy Wilder’s masterpiece from 1959 with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis.

Today we shot some Behind the Scenes and interviews for the FRITZ THE NITE OWL show that happened to be using our greenscreen. I have never met Fritz before, but I loved his old midnight movie show on channel 10. One of my first memories moving back to Columbus from El Paso Texas was staying up way too late the night before my first day at a new high school watching the Alan Smithee version of DUNE until 4:00AM. The midnight movie hosts are mostly a thing of the past, but nostalgia has a way of swinging the pendulum of popular culture back around; As is evident by the popularity of Fritz on the screenings once a month at the Grandview theater.

For this new Education Channel show I’m working on, I wanted to get some new intro’s and behind the scenes for shorts I’ve made in the last 2-3 years. I almost always shoot “Making Of” footage on my shoots, with a notable exception on the last two. Since we were setup and lit for interviews, I thought it was ideal to just start shooting tomorrow…. And on the drive home I had some vague recollection of having shot these intros last year when I did something else, like the Accidental Art pitch video. I will have to check that footage toot-sweet when I get into work tomorrow.

Editing at home reinvigorated me, but now I need at least 2-3 Terabytes of portable hard drive storage so I can have everything in two places at once….

Posted by: Peter John Ross on May 23, 2011 at 8:59:08 pm fritz the nite owl, nite owl theater

Ampersands and Ands

I noticed a strange screenwriting credit back in 1992 (yes, I am old) for LETHAL WEAPON 3 where they credited things as

screenplay by Jeffrey Boam and Jeffrey Boam & Robert Mark Kamen Story by Jeffrey Boam

which struck me as kind of weird.

From the WGA handbook:Quote:
When credit is accorded to a team of writers, an ampersand (&) shall be used between the writers’ names in the credit to denote a writing team. Use of the word “and” between writers’ names in a credit indicates that the writers did their work separately, one usually rewriting the other. This distinction is well established in the industry through custom and practice.

So, this means that Jeffrey Boam came up withthe main plot points, then wrote a draft by himself, then did a collaborative draft writing WITH Robert Mark Kamen.

I highly recommend reading the WGA's Handbook on credits, CLICK HERE

Posted by: Peter John Ross on May 16, 2011 at 12:50:45 pm

Imperceptible Impressions

I am a big fat geek. I know it. I don’t mind it. I know this because I get excited by techie things that no one outside a small tiny circle of people could possibly care about, nonetheless comprehend. That doesn’t make me exceptional or anything, as much as weird and dorky. Matrox released a Codec to the public that used to be proprietary to their hardware, which is what we edit with at work. I haven’t been editing at home for close to 4 years now. This means I can do some basic editing at home, an “offline” edit then take it back to work to master it.

What this really means is that when my inspiration (read – OCD) hits at 3:22AM (just when an episode of Framelines will have ended on WOSU), I can edit or make changes on projects brought home on portable drives. I have been without the ability to edit outside of work for some time. It made me more relaxed and less stressed on one hand, but a lot less prolific on the other. I want to get back to doing more projects, especially more artistic ones that have been started and left unfinished.

Already today, away from work, instead of surfing the web, meandering on meaningless sites or research on episodes of Dallas circa 1982, I was cutting on a long dormant short and even started to re-edit another 11 year old short, from the master tapes in a higher resolution than ever before, thanks to the newly released codec from Matrox.

This makes me feel more whole, more complete. Next week is lightening up, so I can get on some web work I have to do too. I’m still going to put in a long day tomorrow finishing another episode of FRAMELINES before I accomplish much more of anything. At least my Obsessive-Compulsive side still adheres to a high degree of responsibility.

I hate being torn between multiple projects. I like them all, but there always tends to be one that WANTS to supersede the others. It makes the work harder, longer but not insurmountable. My brain lights up at one project while I have to focus on another, or two or three. What I hate is that there are weeks and weeks where I don’t have that electricity and cavalcade of ideas. Then when the muse visits, I’m buried under a heap of existing projects. It can be frustrating.At the same time, I LOVE when the creative energy flows like a river.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on May 14, 2011 at 8:34:40 pm

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