Tuesday, July 08, 2008

CHAPTER #40: TITLES (7/1/2008)

Chapter #40

“Give Credit, Where Credit is Due”

THE $1,000,000 FEATURE

1. Producer $10,000-$16,000
2. Writer/Script $5,000-$10,000
3. Director $10,000-$15,000
4. Cast/Actors $6,000-$9,000 (+$25,000)
ABOVE-THE-LINE...........................................................$31,000-$50,000 (+$25,000)
5. Film Stock $20,000-$40,000
6. Film Lab I (Shoot) $15,000-$30,000
7. Camera $18,000-$36,000
8. Expendables $2,000-$5,000
9. Sound Equipment $6,000-$11,000
10. Sound Transfer $3,000-$5,000
11. Light/Grip $6,000-$24,000
12. Dolly $2,000-$3,000
13. DP $10,000-$15,000
14. PM & AD $14,500-$21,000
15. Production Designer $6,000-$8,500
16. Crew $23,000-$35,500
17. Art & Props $5,000-$9,000
18. Wardrobe & Makeup $3,000-$5,000
19. Permits $2,000-$6,000
20. Insurance $3,000-$10,000
21. Dailies $4,000-$6,000
22. FX/Stunts/Car $0-$0
23. Locations $2,000-$10,000
24. Office & Paperwork $1,500-$6,000
25. Publicity $2,000-$10,000
26. Food $6,000-$9,000
IN-THE-CAN.......................................................................... $148,500-$305,000
THE SHOOT (Total Above & Below..…………………………… $179,500-$355,000
27. Film Edit $12,000-$18,500
28. Film Lab II (Edit) $2,000-$3,000
29. Sound Edit $7,500-$12,000
30. A.D.R. $2,000-$3,000
31. Foley $2,000-$3,000
32. Music/Score $5,000-$7,000
33. Mix (Re-Record) $5,000-$7,000
34. Optical Track $2,000-$3,000________
35. M&E $2,000-$3,000
THE EDIT........................................................................ $39,500-$59,500
36. TITLES $1,500-$3,000________
37. Negative Cutting
38. Lab III (Answer Print)
TOTAL PRODUCTION COSTS..................…............................ ________________

Remember that happy-but-neurotic family (your crew) who loved you during pre-production and absolutely hated you towards the end of production? Well, they’ll love you again during post-production when it’s “Title & Credit time”. You’ll get phone calls. “How ya doing?” asks a grip who now wants a Dolly Grip credit. “Anything I can do to help?” offers a three-day-hire actor you hated, who’s vying for an Opening rather than Closing credit.

The phone rings. A cast member who was a one-day hire--and a royal pain in the ass during that day-asks if his credit, instead of “Thug #4” in the rear crawl, could actually be a name. This will set him apart from Thugs 1, 2 and 3. Then, rather than a Production Assistant credit, a crewmember asks for a Second Assistant Director credit. A principal actor, who worked the entire shoot, but is not famous, will ask that his opening title credit be ahead of the celebrity actor who only worked three days.

When approaching credits a rule of thumb is to keep each opening title on the screen just long enough to be able to read aloud twice. If the titles are too fast, the audience is frustrated. If the titles are too slow, the audience gets bored. Experiment with pacing and rhythm and don’t ever forget or misspell anyone’s name. Your production crew credits must be scrutinized, and you should add post-production personnel and facilities to include: film editors, sound engineers/mixers, sound assistants, Foley artists, mixers, negative cutter, the post-sound house, the mixing facility, the lab, the sound transfer facility, the optical facility, etc. Make absolutely sure every name is spelled correctly.

Titles can be as simple as white letters on a black background or as elaborate as animation superimposed over live-action, utilizing stop-action. First determine your budget. The simplest method is to type the titles into your computer, using the fonts you prefer, and print the titles with a laser printer. Then make photolith negatives of each sheet and shoot them with a pin-registered camera, with fadeouts, using high-contrast black and white negative stock, and deliver this to the lab on clear leader strips. The lab will make an interpositive and superimpose over the original moving picture. You’ll have your credits and they won’t cost more than $1,000. If this sounds to technical then call your DP ($100 check) and he/she will tell you what to do.

If you're lucky, you'll have a lab that does credits. See if you can negotiate eight to ten opening title cards and the closing crawl included in your lab deal. In this case, you provide the lab with clean computer printouts of the titles, and they shoot them and take care of the rest. If you're not shooting the titles yourself, and your lab is not playing hero, then you will get bids from Title Houses that specialize in film credits, or Optical Houses that have title departments. Then outline the titles you need and negotiate a flat deal.

IMPORTANT POINT: When creating your titles, remember that they jiggle. If you’re superimposing them over action, create a drop shadow to rim the letters and separate them from the backdrop. If superimposing, be sure the backdrop action does not have excessive movement. Also, keep your opening title cards within the TV safe area (4:3 aspect ratio) so when your movie shows on TV, the titles will be seen in their entirety. Otherwise, a title card created for a wide movie screen will be cut off when shown on the narrower TV screen.

If you have signed with any guilds or unions, their rules and regulations will dictate the sequence of the titles. If you haven’t, the general rule for opening title card order is; Actor (if anyone has negotiated for an Above-the-Title credit); Movie Title; Actors; Production Designer; Composer; Editor; Director of Photography; Executive Producer(s); Producer(s); Writer(s); and Director last. If you have an Associate Producer, Line Producer or Co-Producer, their credits go between the Director of Photography and the Executive Producer(s). The pecking order for the rear title crawl is usually Actors, Production Manager, Assistant Director, Cinematographer, camera crew, lighting crew, sound crew, art crew, editors, post-production personnel, facilities, music credits, special thanks and your copyright notice. Your final decision is whether to give yourself the ego-oriented possessory credit of “A Film By” in the opening titles.

Although titles you create will cost no more than $1,000, for an additional $500 you can hire a storyboard artist or cartoonist to draw 10-15 panels at $30-$50 each. You’ll place these illustrations under the opening titles (one drawing/title), with some slight camera movement towards the lettering. Finally, you can hire a company with a graphic designer that specializes in titles, or an optical effects house, but never pay more than $3,000. Your titles will be done for $1,500-$3,000.

1. Get names of three title houses from you lab or film directory and compare prices.
2. Price typesetting, shooting and developing 10-15 title cards.