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OPINION: Do you need 4K (narrative) to have shot at Distribution?


lafilm
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I would imagine, especially with VOD, that the cheaper it can be made the better, so if you can get away with good 1080p then that should be good. I assume there isn't much money in VOD anymore, the last I read, you're lucky to make 5 grand off a Netflix deal? Is that true?

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EOSHD Pro Color 5 for Sony cameras EOSHD Z LOG for Nikon CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

It definitely can't hurt to have a 4K camera. Despite the fact that we're still largely in a 2K world, in 5-10 when 4K becomes universal, it will prove beneficial to have a 4K master backed up. However, a little knowledge can be dangerous. I know for a fact that those same producers who demand that you use a 4K camera, even a cheap one like the GH4 or Black Magic 4K would gladly take an Alexa, even though it shoots 2K ProRes (I know it can do Arriraw but practically nobody under a seven-figure budget does). Because all they need to know is that it's the camera Avengers was shot on. Status is everything.

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I would imagine, especially with VOD, that the cheaper it can be made the better, so if you can get away with good 1080p then that should be good. I assume there isn't much money in VOD anymore, the last I read, you're lucky to make 5 grand off a Netflix deal? Is that true?

​yeah, netlifx is pretty bad. it's the last place you want to put your movie. cable and satellite VOD should hit first. then transactional VOD like iTunes. save the subscription VOD platforms for last. very little money in them.

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​yeah, netlifx is pretty bad. it's the last place you want to put your movie. cable and satellite VOD should hit first. then transactional VOD like iTunes. save the subscription VOD platforms for last. very little money in them.

Ask, thanks for the info, it is very enlightening to read about the holy grail from someone who has drank from it. I'm sorry if this is too personal, but will that sales model create a profit for your film? If it is too personal, then disregard, but still thanks. 

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ask away, i'm happy to share. this is our first feature film to make a healthy profit and we're not even counting future revenue from the paramount release. believe it or not, it's a very good feeling to be able to pay residuals to your cast because the thing is actually making money. we've made enough to make two more movies this year. and we plan to make a small slate of movies following this model (quickly, before it changes yet again). working with a micro budget still enables us to pay our tiny cast and crew. but will also keep us profitable so we can do it again and again. we work within the parameters of genre movies so they can be sold as such, but the content is still personal and challenges us creatively.

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Distribution? Hell no, no one will ask what camera you used. If the image looks great, it will make an impression and that's it. No one cares if it's 360p or 4k. When you do distribution deals you are selling your FILM. The film has to have merit, it has to have sellable qualities. The camera you used doesn't matter at all to distribution companies.

Do not go selling your film and start it by "We are shooting with this and that camera". That's a no-no. Make some good taglines, come up with marketing ideas and present the film as a film. No one in Cannes is selling their film with a camera. They are selling them with talent, bankable names and ideas.

Choosing a camera is just an aspect of production, when you do distribution deals, it has no merit at all. Unless you are doing a gimmicky thing like a gopro point-of-view film.

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ask away, i'm happy to share. this is our first feature film to make a healthy profit and we're not even counting future revenue from the paramount release. believe it or not, it's a very good feeling to be able to pay residuals to your cast because the thing is actually making money. we've made enough to make two more movies this year. and we plan to make a small slate of movies following this model (quickly, before it changes yet again). working with a micro budget still enables us to pay our tiny cast and crew. but will also keep us profitable so we can do it again and again. we work within the parameters of genre movies so they can be sold as such, but the content is still personal and challenges us creatively.

have you found a specific genre that is more attractive to distributors? Obviously horrors and thrillers are always great micro budget genres, but I have heard that a sci-fi is getting very desirable as well. And, do you work within any kind of sag indie contract?

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yeah, all of our productions have been with a SAG-Aftra agreement. our domestic distributor said horror and documentaries were doing well for them. paramount was looking for titles with action when we signed with them. it depends on the distributor. each has their own ideas about what's trending, what is appropriate for their label, etc.

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Okay, thanks. Now that you have a slate of films in preproduction, what camera are you going to use for upcoming projects? Will you buy, rent? 4K, 2K... 1080p? I have very little money, so I use what I have and I think the creative aspects will supersede any lack in technical perfection, but if I were to have a real budget I would obviously upgrade... At the bare minimum to a pocket cam... What will you use?

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Okay, thanks. Now that you have a slate of films in preproduction, what camera are you going to use for upcoming projects? Will you buy, rent? 4K, 2K... 1080p? I have very little money, so I use what I have and I think the creative aspects will supersede any lack in technical perfection, but if I were to have a real budget I would obviously upgrade... At the bare minimum to a pocket cam... What will you use?

4k images are also usually compressed more than a 2k image - so you actually have to do a test and see with test charts if a 4k camera resolves more resolution than a 2k or 1080p camera.

so you and your DP do a test - is it night scenes, daylight - what's the feel of the piece - the lighting, the look - filtration.

it's not just lets shoot everything on the alexa - sometimes that's the wrong camera because it's battery hungry and heavy.

there is not just one universal camera that will open up for film and get it what you need.

I remember being nervous when I shot my first show for History channel because we used a letus ultimate on a sony ex1 - when the BBC standard was 4:2:2 8 bit dvcpro 50 - but that's a stupid abritarary rule.

no one cares anymore - really - no one cares if you shoot on the sony z1 because at the end of the day it's going to look terrible.

Did you see the movie "Once" - shot on the dvx100 - it made $40 million dollars - and the movie was out of focus the whole time.

or 28 days later - canon xl1 with the p+s technic mini35 adapter - shot on minidv- made $150 million dollars.

or avatar, the highest grossing movie of all time, shot on a 2/3' 1080p camera.

 

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Okay, thanks. Now that you have a slate of films in preproduction, what camera are you going to use for upcoming projects? Will you buy, rent? 4K, 2K... 1080p? I have very little money, so I use what I have and I think the creative aspects will supersede any lack in technical perfection, but if I were to have a real budget I would obviously upgrade... At the bare minimum to a pocket cam... What will you use?

​it really does not matter. the first two movies I made a distribution deal on were shot on a Panasonic HV200 and at 720p. i've never had a distributor ask what camera it was shot on. and if they did, it would be a red flag for me. most distributors you deal with are going to be more focused on what your key art (poster, etc) looks like, the trailer, who is in it (stars?), etc.

that being said, the only hiccup i could see is if you shot it in a 29.97 framerate (found footage horror?) as most are expecting 23.976 for delivery. not that it would be a dealkiller, but that should be made known upfront. most places are expecting a 5.1 mix as well.

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What do you guys think?  I've read major differences of opinion as of late on-line.

Do you really need to shoot 4K if you're making a narrative feature?  (to have a realistic shot at distribution?)

I'm not talking about "self-distribution" here.

A film distribution company purchasing your film for either Theatrical or VOD/Cable.

Are we at the point now of 4K or bust?

Thanks for any advice.

​No, you don't need 4K, it's purely your choice. My personal preference is to shoot in 4K and deliver in 2K.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Interesting.

It seems there is a huge portion of people that feel if you don't shoot 4K now in 2015 (on a narrative feature), you're in trouble.

Including HOSTEL horror director Eli Roth:

Watch below   

https://vimeo.com/118293793

 

​I'm guessing because what you shoot today might only be used a few years from now, and the expectations will be for the standards then, not the standards now.

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​I'm guessing because what you shoot today might only be used a few years from now, and the expectations will be for the standards then, not the standards now.

This is what I have been thinking about lately. Sure 1080p is fine now, but if I start a project today, and it's good enough to go to market, you're still looking at a couple to a few years before release. I wonder if distributors will want 4K in 2 or 3 years. 

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​I'm guessing because what you shoot today might only be used a few years from now, and the expectations will be for the standards then, not the standards now.

This is what I have been thinking about lately. Sure 1080p is fine now, but if I start a project today, and it's good enough to go to market, you're still looking at a couple to a few years before release. I wonder if distributors will want 4K in 2 or 3 years. 

​I believe if you attempt to release a feature film in 2016 - on

And you have shot only HD, you can forget about major distribution. 

Sure, self-distribution, a 'B' or 'C' distribution company (that will fuck you anyways), than ok.

For a serious deal, it's 4K or bust.

Cannot stop the future wether you like it or not.

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​I believe if you attempt to release a feature film in 2016 - on

And you have shot only HD, you can forget about major distribution. 

Sure, self-distribution, a 'B' or 'C' distribution company (that will fuck you anyways), than ok.

For a serious deal, it's 4K or bust.

Cannot stop the future wether you like it or not.

I tend to agree with your theory. My plan was to shoot in 4K and then downres to 1080p for the edit.  I know there is an ongoing debate that you gain nothing by doing that but I think the footage looks weightier, more cinematic ... To my eye anyway.

Would it be smarter to edit in 4K prores and then downres, so I have a master in 4K and then do my grading on the 1080p? Or do the whole process in 4K before I downres?

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