Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dov S-S Simens' 2-day film school sells sizzle and steak

Janet Hetherington and Dov Simens
Quentin Tarantino! Guy Ritchie! Will Smith! Stephen King! And now Janet Hetherington... all graduates of Dov S-S- Simens' 2-day film school.

Simens squeezed Ottawa into his globe-trotting schedule on August 4 and 5, 2012, which made me very happy. I had seen the ads and was intrigued. My key interest is screenwriting, but I wanted to know more about the industry.

Then Dov came to Ottawa and delivered the unvarnished truth.

It was a very hot -- the air conditioning at the Great Canadian Theatre Company wasn't functioning well -- and a very intense, jam-packed 2-day session. Producing. Directing. Screenwriting. Distributing. Protecting your work. Film vs. digital. How to shoot in 3D on an ultra-low budget.

Dov worked as a line producer for legendary indie film-maker Roger Corman. where he learned how to make films that are quick, cheap and most importantly, will sell. He passed along that knowledge with loud authority.

Dov Simens, Brooks Hunter and Dale Windle
Dov's key advice for "nobodies" like me with big Hollywood dreams... make an independently financed low-budget -- nay, micro-budget -- feature and get your name out there. He provided the blueprint to do it right here in Ottawa, but stressed that it's up to the budding film-maker to bring the originality and talent.

Dov also talked about how to raise money for each little epic. Some of the strategies were old-school (I kept thinking of Mel Brooks' "The Producers") and included strategies like "sell the sizzle, not the steak." However, Dov also discussed the new arena of crowdfunding through venues like Kickstarter (for U.S. citizens) and Indiegogo (which Canadians can utilize).

During the course, Dov revealed that he has been talking to Mark Burnett productions about being a judge on a reboot of the film-maker reality TV series "On the Lot." While not making films himself (he doesn't have the talent, he says, though he has a grand idea for a boob-a-licious feature), Dov is seeking investors for a new venture called Moviecloud.com, which would provide a virtual forum for micro-budget movie downloads.

After Day 2, Dov was joined by Canadian film-makers Brooks Hunter ("Kenneyville") and Dale Windle ("Rulers of Darkness") for a director and producer Q & A and pitch session, sponsored by A.C.T. (Acting for Cinema and Television), Aventus Films and Wired Wisdom.

I nervously pitched my contained horror feature "Basement," and while it wasn't the winning pitch, I came away with some useful notes on how to improve the story... and some colleagues who made the point of running up to me to say they'd love to see that film.

Now that's incentive to complete the screenplay and make the movie! (And yes, it's registered.)

 -- Janet Hetherington

No comments: