Hahahaha! The revolution is here they said. The tools of production are ours they said - and not only that now, the tools of distribution are ours too. But the Establishment is still a gatekeeper. It never occurred to me what this means. Well obviously it has, but not in any proper way other wise I wouldn't be here right now writing a blog about independence. All James and I ever wanted to do is make a film. We spent a couple of years trying to "make it" in Hollywood then we came to Gateshead - a counter-intuitive move in a history of counter-intuitivism. Shut up woman, what are you on about? I don't really know, but when I was about 20 I was taking a sociology course - mad eh? And as a result of one of the exercises I was labelled a rebel. I had never thought of myself as a rebel and really still don't, though I do have a perverse urge to turn left if everyone else turns right.
So what's this got to do with film or more specifically The Stagg Do? Well, we moved here had a couple of kids and started making films… What I had never realised was that not courting The Establishment could leave you high and dry when it comes to press. Nationally maybe, but not locally with what feels to me to be a local interest story. I mean I could be wrong - but here are the things that I think make this a newsworthy story:
But apparently that's not good enough. According to one of the BBC Newcastle producers I spoke to today - the reasons for our North Korea like media coverage are:
Too much swearing - the BBC has standards on taste and decency - yet covered Zombie Women of Satan (which features topless women being hacked to death) and they broadcast Mrs Brown's Boys which isn't exactly clean.
We don't share the same audience - apparently BBC Newcastle Local and Proud™ isn't listened to by people aged 35-55 in the North East of England… makes me wonder why they broadcast here then. And why I pay my license fee?
A WORLD PREMIERE is not a story unless the rest of the world knows about it! I know WTAF?
I know this sounds like sour grapes, but really it's not. It's fucking hilarious. I knew getting The Stagg Do out there would be difficult, but I NEVER thought that media outlets that have covered things as stunningly newsworthy as a woman's bad eyebrows and a Toure chant in Newcastle would blank us. Every person I know who has anything to do with films has been interviewed on BBC Newcastle or in The Chronicle or The Journal. We get a rehash of our press release in the Chron and nowt else. It's like Pravda. Anyway fuck the BBC. Come laugh yer tits off with us tomorrow night. As I put on Twitter earlier, the fact that so many people know about The Stagg Do without the help of the local media is a testament to our audience - we love you. xxx
When we talk about time and money I always find myself thinking of the MIGHTY Pink Floyd. Like many people of my age I whiled away many hours, of my youth, with a spliff and Dark Side of the Moon, bouncing around in that ethereal part of my head I always have the odd refrain "the sun is the same in a relative way…" which of course refers to Time, but could just as easily refer to money. I mean it literally is "all relative" isn't it? I don't want to harp on and on about this, but when I say The Stagg Do was made for a micro-budget or a low budget, I'm not talking about hundreds of thousands of pounds, but more like 10. Not ten pounds obviously, but circa ten thousand pounds… might be a bit more, might be a bit less, to quote Dirty Harry "to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I've kinda lost track myself."
But this isn't a blog about precision, it's about relativity. I was talking to an accountant friend the other day (I know…right?) who was telling me how she'd been to a red carpet premiere in London the other day, for a low budget British film. Now I'm fairly familiar with this film and although I don't know the specifics I *do* know that it cost best part of £150,000, which really isn't just in a different league to The Stagg Do it's actually a different game altogether. Except it isn't. When it comes down to it - to the brass tacks - as they say: it's the same. A £150k film is the same as a £10k film is the same as a £150 MILLION film. How can that possibly be true? I mean if a gadgie earns £150million is he the same as someone who earns £150,000 or even £10,000? The Tax Man may not see them as equal and nor will society at large, but at the end of the day, all three will exit stage left in a wooden box. And all three films would be seen in a cinema for the same price. A wise distributor taught me that, and it's always given me pause for thought. The cinema sets the ticket price and it's the same, whether you go to see Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow or two lads from Walker in The Stagg Do; this is another reason why we chose to self-distribute TSD.
We set the price, we recoup the money and more importantly we SHARE THE PROFITS. You see everyone who worked on The Stagg Do was unpaid, everyone signed up to profit share; that's one of the reasons it's taken 3 years to finish the film. I could've raised the money to finish it a few times, but not on MY terms. My terms involved not diluting the profit position of everyone who gave their time to make this film. But as I've said before that means we're responsible for getting the film seen by as many people as possible. This is why I've asked you all before to the spread the word, share links get people to buy tickets - when you don't have a marketing budget (and we don't) then you're relying on word of mouth. It shouldn't be that hard to go viral up here - it's only a small region, but we're relying on the press too - hopefully the BBC will do a piece on us… We could really do with more - do you have contacts at Tyne Tees or Metro Radio? Put us in touch. Help the audience find this film.
And if you haven't already BUY TICKETS TO THE WORLD PREMIERE.
It's been a very strange, very long week. On Monday I got an email from NFM saying they were going to plug the WORLD PREMIERE on their website. On Tuesday I was paying for a McDonald's at the drive up window when my phone rang, it was from a "blocked" number. Usually this would be ignored, but I was waiting for a call from someone whose phone system always shows as blocked. So anyway, I answered the phone just as I was moving to the next window… hands free of course. And it turned out that it wasn't the call I'd been expecting, but rather it was someone from the BBC! The conversation went like this:
"Hi, is now a bad time?"
"Not exactly, I mean this second is bad [being handed my order] but in about 30 seconds it'll be fine."
Anyway eventually I managed to explain what was going on and we had a really good chat. The BBC reporter was calling because she wants to do a piece about The Stagg Do and the WORLD PREMIERE.
We chatted for quite some time about what the "story" would be and as ever a reporter's angle can be quite different from your own. One thing let to another and we started talking about distribution. She initially couldn't understand why we were self releasing, ie why we don't have a distributor, it seems that the perception that the film must be shite and nobody wants to distribute it isn't just limited to film industry types…
But here's the thing, we have never sought a distributor for The Stagg Do. It was always intended that we'd self release it… There are blogs on this site and on the Pissheads one, talking about self distribution and how technology has made this a feasible concept. In fact in 2004, we made a ton of short films and I originally talked about self distributing them. Pre-selling DVDs was the plan then we'd use the profits to make the actual films. I guess in essence it was crowdfunding that I was talking about - but long before the term crowd funding had dropped into everyday parlance. People didn't have the bottle to sell and the idea fell flat on its face, but as Kickstarter and Indiegogo have proven, the idea is and was fundamentally sound. But sometimes you can be too far ahead of the game.
This blog is not about how prescient I am, people were talking about this shit in the 1990s and I only thought of it in 2004, rather it's a blog about how we as filmmakers still need to change people's perceptions. Be proud of DIY or DIWO, don't be ashamed to self release. Stick with your plan, stick with your goal and give it a go. Because even now in 2014, we are still the pioneers… Just because we're early, it doesn't make us wrong. Oh and ★★BUY TICKETS FOR THE WORLD PREMIERE★★
Will try our best to keep this busy during the shoot and post-production.