Hi, Attended a workshop (



Attended a workshop (free) at American University in DC last week put on by filmmaker Kelly Baker (Angry Filmmaker Inc.).

On the subject, his advice is make friends with local musicians. Give them the set list for your soundtrack (i.e., the familiar songs). Dont have them do cover versions, but have them improvise songs in the style of the familiar songs. This is the widely used practice of generators of buy-out music, the filmmakers friend.

He related some instances where he has acquired rights for well known songs. It cost him $6000 for a character in one of his feature length films to whistle a few bars of the song People as made famous by Barbra Streisand way back when. (I’m second guessing myself here; doing this from memory; didn’t take notes; thought he said $60,000 but that can’t be right, can it !!!???!!! I mean gosh B.S. is not the Rolling Stones. Anyway, lotsa money.)

Kelly has been in charge of sound design for 6 Gus Van Zandt films. He is a funny guy. He said the most frightening call he ever received was from the Academy asking if he would be interested in being nominated for an Oscar for Best Sound Design for the film, Good Will Hunting. He said that was horrible because he didnt want to be pigeonholed as an A-List Hollywood Sound Design Hack.

He made a large income as the sound designer for the much honored and profitable Good Will Hunting. He decided to roll the dice and not pay taxes on this income. He invested the entirety of this windfall into his own independent feature length production, which cost $2 million to make. He knew the film was really good and that a decent theatrical distribution deal was inevitable, which would enable him to pay his taxes and then some. Didnt happen. Potential distributors said the film was great but declined to distribute because the film didnt have a star. He became really good friends with the IRS for 7 years and eventually sold his house in Portland Oregon to pay his taxes. Some might call what he did crazy; spouses might call it a divorce; filmmakers might call it dedication.

He seems happy not owning a house. He spends 6 months of the year traveling in the US and Europe selling his DVDs out of his trunk. He also sells off of his website and on Amazon (he gets 40% of selling price); he strongly preached against signing up with any DVD distributor who wants exclusive rights. Another interesting tidbit is that he has two best selling shorts, a total of 10 minutes of screen time, one on fatherhood, one that relates the experience of several people whove had their car stolen, and over a period of 14 years or so these have made him about $200,000, primarily through TV rights.


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