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Indie Film Producer & Zombie Traditionalist – Russell Southam Wraps Zombie Week Up!

WOW what a whirlwind week! I am SO happy with everyone who choose to take part of Zombie Week! I am happy that I got to enjoy all the great posts, share some amazing authors and writers and reviewers. Just share our fun in general! THANK you EVERYONE!! A round of applause to the writers who gave up time to bring us flash fiction as well. Don’t forget to go digging through and find the almost 20  posts up for Zombie Week (click on the links people) and comment, find out who writes what, share the posts with your friends and let me know some feedback. Who knows I may do something like this again since it was such a success! AND NOW our finale, I give you something that must be shared. What would a Zombie Week be without talking about the roots of the genre, the Indie Film!

George A. Romero was an early contributor to t...

1968 Contribution to the Zombie Genre

George Romero showed up on the radar with a clever creepy catch phrase heard muttered from any zombie lovers mouth and automatically know by all Zombie Lovers world-wide

“OH Barbara… their coming to get you, Barbara….”

Zombies as portrayed in the movie Night of the...

As I stated at the beginning of the week, this is all Indie.. all week-long. We would not have the roots of this without one of the most celebrated and well known Indie films, “Night of the Living Dead”. Now there are grass root start-ups, like our guest Russell Southam here is, who are out there looking for projects to back and get some of these great Indie undiscovered creative projects up and out there for all to see… so what does he look for? What are his takes? He wraps it up in dripping ooze and gives us his take on his process. Take it from here Russell!

Don’t take the ‘P’s out of Zombie Films - by Russell Southam

Owner of Little Big Film, CO and Zombie Traditionalist talks about what he looks at when looking to back an Indie Film Project

My name is Russell and I am a zombie traditionalist and believe that zombies are a product of the occult and tribal witchcraft. I enjoy all zombie films, even the bad ones find a place to call home in this genre and are loved for being so more often than not.

Who am I? I’m just guy who made his own opportunity to join the film industry and I took it with both hands, didn’t look down, never looked back and I continue to run at break neck speed in what I think to be the right direction. I am currently involved in producing a fantastic UK project with Michael Beddoes, Phillip Biggs, Ellie Harvie- August, Adam Spinks and Laurence Timms titled ‘The Survivors Movie’ about three people who find themselves caught up in the chaos of a cadaverous apocalypse.

So, zombie films, TV shows and webisodes have been bubbling along now for a little longer than they normally do. The industry seems to have stalled its cycle through this genre for the time being as society thrives on a pre-occupation with the idea of an apocalypse requiring us to fight off hordes of newly risen dead or virus afflicted. Nothing worse than being bitten by a zombie and knowing you’re just hours away from becoming a nobody stuck in the clothes that you were left with while your ‘good’ clothes sit in your laundry hamper and end up chasing down anything with a heartbeat come morning.

As a producer and writer, when I get an email asking to look over a film script, sent a link to check out a teaser trailer or asked to review a campaign presentation; I draw out my trusty green Uniball Eye fine point pen from Mitsubishi Pencil Co Ltd to provide those asking with a constructive and n informed response. I have 4 simple rules for funding films my ‘4 P’s’. Simple stuff for a very simple guy. Here are some tips that may help you prepare your zombie film to come to life when trying to seek wider support and funding beyond your family and immediate friends.

Presentation

A film project is an extension of the writer who is judged by their screenplay, the director revered for their cinematography, an actor hailed as the next best thing for their moving portrayal. Films are judged far more than most other products and in great detail by thousands of fans and supporters as well as critics and academics. You want to join the community then you better toughen up and get your ‘A’ game on as nothing comes easy and nothing should. From the very first moment that a film idea comes into your head it has an identity, a genre that it belongs to, a style that it will seek to adopt and a personality all of its own. You and your project are like a newborn child and proud parent. Your project will need you to nurture it, guide it and allow it to be itself while being part of something bigger… a community filled with others trying to be recognised on their own merits and appeal. Like any other product, your film represents you and your brand of filmmaking. It will reflect your personality and in turn when it gets judged then so do you, when it is critiqued then so do you. Expect and embrace this at an early stage and make sure that your presentation is the best it can be as you would for yourself like the effort you put into a job interview. You can be arrogant and try and play the rebel that bucks the system because you are too cool for film school and take your chances making that work for you or you can work within the parameters of the traditional methods and standards for presenting your project but value add whenever and wherever you can. You will find that what will stand you apart from so many others trying to conform is your approach to your ‘branding’ or the packaging and presentation of your project. An example would be Brian Kazmarcks ‘Terminal Legacy’, an independent film with the personality of a Hollywood blockbuster. This film is so well styled and presented that you have to keep reminding yourself that this was made on a similar budget of most average shorts these days and yet looks like they had the budget of a Spielberg, Jackson or Scott. How did they do it? Brian planned the hell out of everything down to the last detail. Why? He wanted his project to present him to its audience as he saw himself, as a leading filmmaker destined for great things. He agonised over scenes and edits, he asked for feedback and spent time on getting the best with what he had. Like a teenager before a prom or first date… he made sure that when he was ready to send his project out, he had guaranteed it to be the best reflection of himself. Brian had done what many others forget to do…don’t let those reviewing the project make the criticisms be about poor format and presentation, not conforming to industry expectations or standard practices. Instead he made them focus directly on the work rather than have them offer comment on how he could present it later when it was in a suitable format and as an amenable package for industry influencers.

Pitch

The pitch is something that comes from preparation and passion and when well executed has the audience digging into their pockets for wallets, change or chequebooks. The greatest achievement you as the idea pitcher can accomplish is to have a stranger, half way round the world hear about your idea and in these difficult economic conditions, help fund your project. Be sincere; know how the idea will look like in its final state and beyond any immediate success but rather lasting success. If you just tell me you want to make a film then I usually answer “Okay”, you tell me that you want to make a film, targeting five specific festivals you feel will lead to meeting with contacts for a distribution deal then I will say “How can I help?”. An example of those who saw the pitch video being as important as the final product was Charles Simons and Sean Penberthy with their project ‘Deader Days’. They went all out to pitch the story, the cast and crew to their prospective audience with an amazing piece of film that reflected all other three attributes – Presentation, Passion and Potential. You as the viewer were left in no doubt as to the product about to be released and made you want to get on-board and hunger for more. A true creative can sow a need for their work from no real need at all; the pair replaced a vacuum, filling it with desire. If I walk out of a meeting thinking about a project for the next day or so when normally I would have returned to more pressing thoughts of the here and now then I know that the creative team have done their job…created a desire.

Potential

By far the hardest thing for any one person to do is to accurately determine the potential of a film. Tastes change, audiences are easily bored and society redefines its values on a regular basis. What’s cool now is soon cold tomorrow. My view on this is identifying a couple of key elements that I feel will last longer than the time it takes to watch the completed film. A poorly made movie will always have a diamond in the rough somewhere, no one just drops hundreds of thousands of dollars into someone’s lap on something like a fragrant puppy pile because they can. People make decisions and so something in the story captured their imagination for them to decide that it warranted being made. This could be a cool looking character and killer dialogue, scenes that push the boundaries of society, a twist in a typical genre not explored before or just great props or new tech that heightens the wonderment. An example of this is the story that Julian Roberts wrote for ‘Before Dawn’, his vision of binding together protagonists and antagonists together in a different way with the pressure of being ringed by the un-dead appealed to me. It wasn’t the evil outside the walls that was scary but rather watching development and arc of characters clashing within that I found interesting and gripping. Yes, it ticked a lot of boxes of the genre like so many before it but it had something of its own to leave a mark and have you talking about that key element well after the rest of the film may have faded.

Passion

Does the person who presented and pitched the idea for a film have the passion to make me think that this will be a success with or without my help? Do they show me that they will do anything in order to get around obstacles and challenges that arise in the early stages that sorts out the great filmmakers from the ‘I need a new career choice’ filmmaker? Is their passion for their idea contagious and am I encouraged to want to be around this project and get my fix of ‘happy’? Passion cannot be faked, it will have already leaked out from the very moment you talk about the idea and will stay with those who listened long after you have gone. Your commitment is strengthen by your passion and can be gauged by throwing out questions and ‘What If?’ scenarios. If your easily swayed then the passion may be there but commitment isn’t and usually means that a great initial idea gets diluted to a good 20 minute short. The idea was therefore relegated to something far less than it should have been because the person wasn’t 100% committed and passion the ‘fuel’ for their project burns out well before the end of the project. That fuel needs to carry the filmmaker well beyond post production and should never die just smoulder. An example of this would be Antony Lane and ‘The Invasion of the Not Quite Dead’. 5 years of fundraising for his horror film and he hasn’t once doubted himself of his project despite everyone it couldn’t be done. I am sure he thanks all the naysayers out there!

Little Big Film Company

An Australian company, founded by Russell Southam, that is dedicated to assisting independent filmmakers and animators both domestically and around the globe.

We seek to collaborate with writers and filmmakers to bring original ideas to life and be a catalyst for creativity in the art form of storytelling.

Feel free to contact us so that we can examine ways that Little Big Film Company can possibly help with your project.

TWITTER IMBD FACEBOOK

CREDITS
Producer (7 titles)
2012Autumn of Route 66 (documentary) (co-producer) (post-production)

2011The Crown and the Dragon (associate producer) (post-production)

2012Terminal Legacy (executive producer) (completed)

2012Wave Goodbye (TV series) (executive producer – 6 episodes)

Eyes Everywhere (2012) (executive producer)

Mormons and Meeings (2012) (executive producer)

Agents & Aliens (2012) (executive producer)

The Beginnings of the End (2012) (executive producer)

There’s Something in the Tater Tots (2012) (executive producer)

See all 6 episodes »

2012Deader Days (TV series) (executive producer – 2 episodes)

Lunch Date (2012) (executive producer)

Day Job (2012) (executive producer)

2012/ILines (short) (associate producer)

2011A Man, Buried (short) (executive producer)

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