The story of getting a film made ........again!

Give them what they want!

Getting_Ready_sm

Imagine this. You’re in the market for a new car, so you take yourself off to the nearest sparkling glass and steel showroom to kick some tyres. You resist the temptation to don your shades, such is the blinding brilliant gleam from the array of choice motors. But wait, what’s this. There’s a guy in corner, behind a counter selling bicycles. Curious, you amble over. The conversation might go something like this.

You

Hi….what’s the deal. Buy a car and get a free bike?

 Bicycle Seller

No, they’re for sale.

You

Really….but that’s ….why are you selling bikes in a car show room?

Bicycle Seller

Well, I figure people are here to purchase a form of transport and that’s what I have to sell. Bikes.

You

Yes but,….there’s no one coming in here to buy a bike. Wouldn’t you be much better off setting up a shop in town or selling directly online or both.

Bicycle Seller

I don’t think so. As a form of transport the bike predates the motor car. It’s good for your heart and good for the environment. I think people should be happy to support that.

You take a closer look at a price tag.

You

Yikes, this can’t be right, twelve grand for a bike.

Bicycle Seller

No it’s right alright.

You

How in hell can a bike cost that much.

Bicycle Seller

That was a condition of selling in here. We had to charge no less than the cheapest car.

You

But you’ll never sell a bike for twelve grand.

Bicycle Seller

Well I haven’t so far that’s for sure.

You

Although, you’re probably looking at 95% profit, so if you do make a sale I suppose it’s happy days.

Bicycle Seller

Well, not quite. Fifty percent goes to the showroom and another 25% to the distributor after he’s deducted his costs. So I could be maybe looking at 5% of sale price for myself, if I’m lucky.

You

You do realise this is an insane business model, right?

Bicycle Seller

Well, it’s no more insane than say…independent Irish films in cinemas ……..I suppose.

You

Check out last Sunday’s Times. They’re not making money either.

Some moments of silence.

You

I’m gonna go …….buy a car.

Last Sunday, the Times ran a piece called “Cinemas shout cut on Irish films”. It told us that cinemas make commercially minded decisions based on the performance of films and if that’s deemed to be poor, the film is pulled in favour of something else. The IFI, our most prominent art house cinema has now decided to follow suit having up to now block booked films which stayed screening for the duration, no matter how they performed. I guess they’ve got to make money too.

I applaud Joe Lawlor for having his up and coming film release mentioned a number of times in the piece, I would suggest though that if he had managed to spend more time telling us about his new film rather than bemoaning the harsh realities films have to deal with on release, it might have been time well spent. I know when you give an interview, you have no control over how much of what you say goes into print. But the part that really jumped out at me was this. “he did not blame cinema staff for making commercial decisions, (good move Joe as you will pretty soon be at the mercy of the Monday morning meeting) and that audiences had to take some responsibility for the relatively poor performance of domestic movies of late.”

Now I know we’re getting used to the blame game arriving at all our doors. Since 2008 we’ve had a parade of government ministers, European autocrats and banksters telling us all we are to blame for our economy crashing. Before them the Catholic Church had made an art form of trading in guilt until we discovered they were a cabal of hypocrits. But in addition to all that, it would now appear that it’s my fault and your fault that Irish films are getting the boot before taking its coat off.

Imagine this conversation.

Fiona

Let’s go see a movie tonight.

William

Sure, …anything in mind?

Fiona

I’ve heard good things about “The Way Way Back” or maybe “About Time” with Domhnall Gleeson?

William furrows his brow.

Fiona

Or maybe something a little less girly?

William

We haven’t seen an Irish film for some weeks now.

Fiona

Must we …….OK what’s on?

William

There’s something playing in Dundrum, can’t remember what it’s called.

Fiona

Then maybe it’s not worth seeing?

William

That’s not the point Fiona. We have to accept some responsibility for the poor performance of Irish films. If we don’t go to see them, well, we’ve only ourselves to blame when they disappear off our screens.

Fiona

And your point is?

 

Kevin Spacey, an actor and producer from the heart of the Hollywood system gets it. Netflix gets it. Give them what they want, where they want it and how they want it. Like it or not, when you make a film, you’re in business. I’ve seen countless shops open and close again in quick succession in these unforgiving times. I have yet to hear one entrepreneur complain that the people on the street are to blame for a closure. If they had come in and spent money, I’d still be open. That would be just too ridiculous. Fact is, if they don’t want your film, no end of pseudo-guilt trips is going to change that.

I hope Mr. Lawlor’s film does really well, as I do all Irish films. But if it doesn’t, then maybe we’re selling bicycles in car showrooms. There’s a whole new world of marketing and release opportunities out there and they are yielding credible results for those who get it. Have a listen to Mr. Spacey, he gets it.

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  3. Give the Irish public what they want? Then write a script called ‘Hardy Bucks visit a man about dog’, that might do the trick? Lawlor’s new film isn’t Irish so who cares about him? Our best films appeal to international audiences e.g. ‘Once’. Their stories are universal, that’s the secret. Trying to succeed at home is a waste of time. Anyway we’re still tied into the British box office system and they HATE Irish movies (except Mrs Brown’s new one). If you’re trying to make ‘Miles to go’ appeal to your pals sitting in the Kilkenny Omniplex then give it up and build houses for those poor black people in South Africa. It would be a more worthwhile and rewarding experience for everyone involved.

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