Friday, 11 December 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #412: Paramount Goes Small Time...

Welcome to the show folks...

Paramount, the studio that has defined "big" movies for decades, has decided to go small. buoyed by the $100,000,000+ plus earned by the $15,000
Paranormal Activity they are starting a new division, which will aim to make 20 films a year for $100,000 or less each.

The point of these micro-budget exercises is to find the fresh blood that Hollywood so desperately needs, create "calling card" films that could lead to bigger projects, and hopefully find the next Blair Witch or Paranormal Activity cash cow.

I wish them luck, it's a good idea, but it's often blown in the execution. Here are a few hints for Paramount to avoid some of the pitfalls that lie in their way.

1. Don't call it Paramount Atomic. You know what I'm talking about. I know folks with degrees in marketing are demanding that you brand it like a Texas longhorn, but remember, this about guerrilla film-making, not your "brand awareness." Fight the temptation to slap the name Paramount-MTV-Viacom or whatever your conglomerate is called this week on this as yet unnamed company. Create something that separates it from Paramount's gloss and reputation for overpriced under-entertainment to something that just screams under-priced over-entertainment. The name Furious D Pictures is affordable. ;)

2. Don't look for another
Paranormal Activity. Another "found footage" horror film would sink this puppy faster than you can say well... Paranormal Activity. It will brand the company as the "flog a dead ghost" company. Look to other genres or variations thereof, that can be done cheaply, especially with modern digital cameras that look as good as film. Crime, different kinds of horror, and even some kinds of small scale science fiction can be done cheaply with today's technology. Don't be limited to one style or storyline, have an open mind.

3. Don't treat this like Paramount Vantage. You want to nurture talent that can tell good stories well with limited resources, not pimp for Oscars. You must aim for the "real" or "paying" audience, who live in the rest of the country and not your immediate neighborhood. In fact, I would actively seek out filmmakers who live outside the immediate axis of ego, and even outside of California. Cruise film schools, regional film co-ops, and other groups for people willing and able to take up the challenge.

4. Hire the right person to run it. Might I suggest that you....
You can't blame me for trying, and I haven't done this in a while.

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