Monday, February 08, 2010

Days of the Con man

Hi, how ya doin’…it’s Cooprdog here with Filmcon!

Do you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having a great film and having no way to finance it? Do you wish you had the answer to pesky investor questions like “Will I see a return?,” “Who’s going to star in this film?” and my personal favorite, “How do I know you’re not making a porno?”
Well fear not, film shooters: I have the product to make all of your worries go away…Filmcon!

Have no idea what you want to shoot? Make up some shit. Been asked for a line-item budget but don’t have one? Send them a top sheet from some other motherfucker’s film. At a loss for possible locations? Why not start with the places that you’ve always wanted to vacation?

You see, my friends, the beauty of Filmcon is that there is no film. Why do you wanna dick around with all the writing and the typing and the editing and all that bullshit when you could just smoke weed and watch TV and cash some gullible motherfucker’s investment check? Why struggle with big topics like “artistic merit” and “point of view” and “reason to make the film?” It’s going to keep you up at night, it’s going to keep me up at night, and nobody wants that. Why should you have to think about things like this when there’s perfectly watchable reality TV on that will rot your brain?

That’s why we came up with Filmcon, your answer for your wanton desire for fame, nudity and attention when you have absolutely no talent of which to speak. The Filmcon kit comes with everything you’ll need to get a successful film scam going: you get the manila folder, 100 phony film production company business cards and your very own voice mail with a professional-sounding outgoing message. It’s all you’ll really need to get your successful film scam going. Now I know you don’t believe me, I know you’re saying “Cooprdog, I just can’t believe this shit. How the fuck is it that I’m going to run game like I was Parker Brothers?” Well the answer is, simply, wear a funny hat. The world is full of people in funny hats telling us what to do like the cops, firemen -- and who’s got a funnier hat than the pope? I’m speaking the gospel here people; are you listening?

I’ll tell you what we’re going to do ‘cause we can’t do this shit all day – The Federal Trade Commission is already up our asses: If you call now, I’ll give you not one but two -- that’s right, two -- Filmcon kits. That’s two manila envelopes, 200 fake business cards and two -- count’em, two – voice mail lines with a professional sounding outgoing message and you get two funny hats. Can you believe that shit? These hookers are paying me and I can’t believe that shit! Listen, stop worrying about your career and stop worrying about how good you are and just start making shit up.

Filmcon…who the fuck has time to write?

Alright, that’s a little preposterous and a lot amusing, but the intent is clear. I know it’s a bit stylized and all that shit, but there is some truth to what I speak. Telling the truth will get you nowhere (and by nowhere I mean unfunded and unfucked), asking what you are expected to ask will get you nowhere…but you already know this – that is one of the major tenets of this blog; so what am I going on about?

My premise is that the con man is more than a curious figure of financial, economic and American history. He is not what my quantitative brethren would call a statistical abnormality, nor is he a simulacrum, which is a copy without an original for those of you who spend your days nose-deep in critical theory text (fuck you, it’s my blog, I can go off the theoretical deep end if I’d like to). I highlight this individual because he thinks what we don’t, he does what we can’t and has yet to apologize in a single instance of his capture. The con man bilks millions, billions from unsuspecting persons all the time, yet sincere filmmakers relish in comparative poverty and relative obscurity hoping their “time will come” (ha ha..sure it will). Could not the filmmaker don the guise of the con man and get people to actually give him money? Is it really that crazy of an idea? The only real difference between the con man and the filmmaker is that the filmmaker is genuinely going to shoot a film and not just abscond with the funds. Yes, it’s a major difference, but it is the only difference. All the other things that you attribute to the con man is the myth, is the legend, is the miscellany of details recanted in the incorrect order that often causes circumstance to be interpreted as genius …it’s finance, it’s trustworthiness, it’s a con…and it is already inside your domain.

Now I’m aware that this seems childish to many of you but I need you to put down your coffee and go with me on this one. I do have a point (eventually), so humor me for a second while I wax theoretical. If readers create their own narratives when they watch film and thus render the intentions of the director irrelevant, then don’t the con’s victims also create their own understanding of the con (and by that I mean the financial investment/transaction) and make it suit their needs (emotional)? Can I take it one step further and say that the investor creates his own investment as far as risk/reward is concerned and we merely facilitate the process? You have to admit, theory does make you think…but back to the story.
Before I can really get to the nuts and bolts of what the fuck I’m talking about, we need a refresher on what the realities of film production are, because some of you motherfuckers can’t seem to pay attention.

1) There are more filmmakers than possible financing deals, distribution slots
or screening times.
2) Most films will lose money.
3) “Great scripts” are not as common as many would lead you to believe.
4) The $5M-$15M negative cost range is the most profitable.
5) The digital revolution has lowered the technical level of proficiency for
6) There has been a homogenization of narratives.
7) R-rated films are more scarce than they were 5 years ago.

Keeping these ideas in mind, you can see how “easy” it would be to position your fake film in the minds of potential investors. A good con man knows the industry he’s pretending to be in and more importantly, he knows what motivates the mark. I don’t think it’s important to be the “best” film, I think it’s important to be an “unusual” film, a.k.a. a once in a lifetime opportunity on which you definitely don’t want to miss out. The con man is careful to not oversell his “product”. He makes every meeting seem like a chance encounter and he sets a firm date in the future (normally sooner than the mark is expecting) that he is trying to be funded by. He wines him, he dines him. I think this is the key that we are missing as filmmakers. The con man begins with a basic idea about what he’s trying to do, but he begins with a pitch … “I build IT infrastructure for cities that have sizeable gaps in wireless broadband coverage.” This is followed several sentences later by a casual mentioning of this new project he is undertaking and the unfortunate loss of an investor. What is important about this pitch is that it doesn’t sound like a pitch, yet there is a definite date by which the monies would need to be received and an expectation of the result of the investment. This is what we don’t do.
We have been taught to be a little modest and not to be money hungry; to be respectful and humble and patiently wait our turn. We have been taught to be thankful for just the opportunity to shoot film…yeah, well -- that’s bullshit!
I think we need to stop asking and start taking. I think we need to stop following the trends and start dictating the trends. If you don’t create intellectual property, you don’t get a vote. It’s that fucking simple. (Yeah, I’m on a rant, what about it?)

I am proposing a change in attitude. The con man thinks of the con as his right. He thinks that those he takes advantage of are suckers, and will be manipulated by one person or another so there’s no real harm in what he is doing. But this goes deeper, much, much deeper. I do not think it is possible to dupe, deceive or coerce someone in this manner without a fair amount of disdain for them, their story and the horse they rode in on. You must posses a certain amount of misanthrope in general for this to be effective. So what the fuck does that mean? It means “we” aren’t making a movie – “WE” are making a movie, it means bitch-betta-have-my-money, it means fuck-you-pay me, I need another fucking take, it means it’ll be ready when it’s fucking ready …it means whatever I say it fucking means. Got it?
What if we were to assume the role of being owed a film deal? What if we were to assume that deal will be written, and so will many others, for films that will never make money? Thinking along those lines, you can drop your honesty approach and your “stand-up-guy” approach (which is another reason that you’re not getting fucked) and get down to the business of separating the investors from their money. What I am trying to stress is the “good” part of filmmaking must be put by the wayside. It’s time to lie…yes, that’s right, lie. “Is your film going to make money?” …”Hell fucking yeah! You ain’t got enough room to store the long dollars I’m going to be bringing up in this bitch!”

Ok, maybe you don’t need to get all “Sookie the Pimp” on ‘im, but you get my drift.

The answer is yes, my film will make money…how much is dependent on how quickly we can get the film in the theaters and how effective of a marketing push we can give it and if these hookas do what I tell’em. We all know that the previous sentence is a bold-faced lie, but so-fucking-what? We are talking about a fake film that is never going to get made; fuck, you could even promise Academy nods if you think you can say it with a straight face.

Ok..ok.. I’m probably moving a little too fast for the public school graduates, so let me underscore what we know about filmmaking and why people invest in films:

1) They think filmmaking is sexy and exciting.
2) They think making films will indirectly get them access to hot women, sex
and drugs.
3) They want a lot of people sweating them and walking around eggshells when
they are present.
4) They want their name on something larger than a cake.
5) They want to be one of the “behind the scenes” persons of a successful media
6) They want to be part of something larger than themselves.

My point with this list is that all of these are intangibles, all of these are things you won’t need to “produce” to keep it all going. Films are about ideas and the idea that I am trying to give to you is that there is no film; just the idea of a film and the process of selling it to an investor. What I need to be good at is appearing like I’m making a film and ratcheting up the intensity (and the schedule) to get a check from this guy. See, here’s the thing: this is the process with which you directly ask for funds. No more trying to position yourself and make it relevant to his needs – instead you create what he thinks he’s looking for and you sell it to him.

What do you really need? A bunch of scripts in your apartment and a crazy friend who drinks too much? (I could throw a house party with those constraints). C’mon, you have to admit – this is fucking flawless! This is some out-of-the-box, stanky-danky, super-secret probation-type advice I’m dispensing here! For this to work you can’t act like a con man, you have to be a con man. No more being nice and working for cause and all that documentary bullshit. I’m talking women, cars, money, glamour, excess, speeding, cussing, drinking, drugs…I’m talking about doing this, like, for real.

First of all I need you to do your homework:

Okay, you got it, you see what I’m getting at. Something legendary, something extraordinary…something earth-shattering. Just give it a thought.



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