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How does one come up with a great idea for a film?

These days with remakes, reboots and novel adaptations, it seems as though most films are graduating from having a pre-existing fan base or standalone source, which means that a pre-existing work needs to facilitate the process. Studios are much more likely to back ideas that already have merit and seem bankable based on their roots. While star power certainly has its place, it seems that it's not quite as critical as it used to be. Grand productions such as Marvel's Avengers, demonstrate that it's possible to rope in a multitude of leading celebrity actors into burgeoning ensembles making their names not as important. This trend is demonstrating that film spectacles are now becoming the stars rather than the stars themselves.

While this reliance on high concept, CGI wizardry and box office blockbuster certified films, it does seem to be slowing down. Since Disney took over Star Wars, the franchise seems to have become all too regular after the first few films were staggered by years. Now with spin-offs and reboots it seems that there is a saturation point even for the most avid fans. Coupled with the feeling that there's just too much content to consume, it's getting to the point where studios need to start considering how to build anticipation between the slate of upcoming films. With thousands of films being put together each year and the technology more accessible it's no wonder that platforms like Filmocracy are becoming a very viable and possible addition to the industry. Traditional distribution channels have broken down over the years, making it a very strange and new playground for budding filmmakers.

In the past, it seemed that there was a formula to getting your screenplay turned into a film and easier to determine which films had a much better chance of being made. Now in this uncertain time where disruption from almost every industry seems to be changing the game and resetting the parameters, it's become a very fluid environment where anything can happen and ensuring your own evolution is a must.

The Netflix model is a great example of how an industry can evolve over a few years, destroying the old video store model and creating its own production wing for original content. Producing their in-house films at a fraction of the cost of the films we are used to, the inflated numbers of yesteryear and budgets have been significantly affected. With many stars struggling to find the big paychecks that they are used to, it's becoming a much more diverse field where actors are almost being forced into producing roles.

On the plus side, successful film enterprises can result in much bigger paychecks as is the case with Will Smith in Men in Black III. However, operating on smaller budgets with less marketing spend, smaller films are going to naturally attract less numbers. While Netflix is creating its own content and films, it's also buying up content at a flat rate.

You could put together a film on a shoestring budget like Oren Peli did for Paranormal Activity, which outperformed itself many times over. Coasting on the found footage trend, the director found a niche, cleverly counterbalancing the world of low budget filmmaking and home video to concoct a franchise of horror films that probably also had an influence on the way films are made today.

Picking something that has relevance, staying power and viral appeal is key to unlocking what sells as a film. While you may want to go the artistic route, it's almost necessary to pander to the commercial interests before in order to make the film you really want to. The trick is to capture a wave so that your film will still have legs years from the inception of the concept. In order to crack the box office and achieve success at the cinemas, one needs to ensure that people are talking about it before it opens. Generating hype through guerrilla marketing is a business in and of itself and without having traditional distribution channels and marketing presence, can be a extremely costly exercise.

For the indie filmmaker, it seems important to attach oneself to a project and themes that are relevant and front of mind. Ingrid Goes West is a good example of a film that taps into the current fascination with Instagram, image saturation and the new generation of Instagram stars, who are making money off their posts and lifestyles. Toying with the idea of accessibility, which has tarnished the idea of celebrity, they manage to tap into a curious grey area, leveraging pre-existing tension around the world of social media.

While it isn't a big film, it definitely has the right idea, capturing the zeitgeist and current youth culture in the position. Picking your story needs to have a crossover of viral appeal, current affairs relevant and position itself in such a way that it doesn't overextend itself. Costing along the lines of the new wave of celebrity is a good idea, allowing the film to operate without a source, pre-existing fan base relating to pop culture but one that is rather harnessed through celebrity itself.

Tapping into the film's extended meaning to leverage publicity stunts and campaigns is another important aspect. If you're dealing with a subject like organ trafficking, then it's a good idea to create publicity material around supporting causes and creating awareness. The local film Bypass did a great job of this by tying into organisations that support the anti-trafficking message at its core. While entertainment, the far-reaching message had many synergies. One of their publicity stunts involved a truck where the trailer was transparent giving drivers the strange view of a mobile surgery where organs are being harvested.

With so many films coming out, it's a real challenge to distinguish yourself from the rest of the field, which is why the process requires so much creativity, vision and an entrepreneurial spirit. Filmmaking is always a team effort, but the scope and requirements of launching a film successfully have become a much greater challenge, forcing everyone to think outside the box, become much more resourceful and smarter. With many films being self-funded, the indie film industry should be thinking about ways to make it easier to get films to market, to self-promote and monetise the product to the point that it is able to recycle and sustain.

Movies about Making Money in Sports and Business

Movies about making money through sports and other means are often popular among viewers.

Turning to various Wikipedia descriptions can often take something as complex as, say, a bet9ja promotion code, and make it rather straightforward.


'Bookies is a 2003 German comedy thriller film written by Michael Bacall and directed by Mark Illsley. Three college students, Toby, Casey, and Jude, start up a bookie business taking bets from various clients. Their business immediately booms. They subsequently are able to purchase many expensive items such as big screen televisions and new computers to help them manage their complex business.'

The Big Short

'The Big Short is a 2015 American biographical comedy-drama film directed by Adam McKay. Written by McKay and Charles Randolph, it is based on the 2010 book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis showing how the financial crisis of 2007–2008 was triggered by the United States housing bubble. The film stars Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Melissa Leo, Hamish Linklater, John Magaro, Rafe Spall, Jeremy Strong, Finn Wittrock, and Marisa Tomei. The film is noted for the unconventional techniques it employs to explain complex financial instruments.'

Let It Ride

'Let It Ride is a 1989 American comedy film directed by Joe Pytka and starring Richard Dreyfuss, David Johansen, Teri Garr, Jennifer Tilly, Cynthia Nixon and Robbie Coltrane. It was written by Nancy Dowd (credited as Ernest Morton) and based on the novel Good Vibes by Jay Cronley. The story's light comedy is centered on a normally unsuccessful habitual gambler who experiences a day in which he wins every bet he places. Let It Ride was primarily filmed at Hialeah Park Race Track, which was closed in 2001 and reopened on November 28, 2009.'


'Moneyball is a 2011 American sports film directed by Bennett Miller and written by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. The film is based on Michael Lewis's 2003 nonfiction book of the same name, an account of the Oakland Athletics baseball team's 2002 season and their general manager Billy Beane's attempts to assemble a competitive team. In the film, Beane (Brad Pitt) and assistant GM Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), faced with the franchise's limited budget for players, build a team of undervalued talent by taking a sophisticated sabermetric approach to scouting and analyzing players. Columbia Pictures bought the rights to Lewis's book in 2004.'

3 Gambling Movies Now Available to Stream

21 (Netflix)

The number 21 denotes a significant birthday, but also has strong links with the popular card game, Blackjack. Based on a true story, we follow several MIT students who are taught the art of card-counting in order to win big in 21. They make millions in the process, opting to forgo online casinos that offer bet bonus codes in favour of taking Las Vegas in person and in style. Starring Jim Sturgess as Ben, a smart young man with great ambition and a desire to secure a scholarship, he plays the lead in this fact-based crime drama.

Trying to raise $300,000 to transfer to Harvard School of Medicine and ultimately realise his dream of becoming a doctor, he finds a way forward after being introduced to a maths professor and a secret card-counting club. Learning the skill, driven by the desire to pay for his studies and learning a unique signal system, this gambling film dramatises the man's rags-to-riches tale. Supported by Kevin Spacey, Kate Bosworth, Laurence Fishburne and Josh Gad, it's a sturdy crime drama about beating the odds and placing high-stakes bets.

Two for the Money (Netflix)

Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey star in Two for the Money, a sports drama directed by D.J. Caruso, which centres on the world of sports gambling. We follow Brandon, a former college football player, who develops a talent for picking winners after an injury sidelines him for good. The young hot shot is recruited by Walter, head honcho of a sports consulting firm. Serving as an apprentice to the slick businessman, it's not long before they're making an absolute killing.

Following a similar concept to Wall Street with Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas, the film deals with the promising Lang whose in-depth knowledge skyrockets his career and fast new lifestyle to the point of clashing with Walter's personal affairs. Steered by these two charming big-name actors, the film's meandering plotting relies quite heavily on talking the talk without walking the walk. Supported by the likes of Rene Russo, Armand Asante and Jeremy Piven, it's a rock solid ensemble, in a betting movie that comes up shy against bigger and better sports dramas.

Safe Bet (Showmax)

The South African action comedy tells the story of two friends who get in over their heads. When Khaya arrives on the scene with yet another get-rich-quick scheme, Frank, his lifelong buddy caves in... risking everything by betting a stash of money in his care on a fixed boxing match. This action-packed misadventure tests the bonds of friendship as two buddies go on the run, trying to stay one step ahead of a furious and well-connected boss.

Starring Wandile Molebatsi, Godfrey Thobejane, Luthuli Dhlamini and Jerry Mofoken, this award-winning South African action crime comedy feature deals with the allure of greed as an honest man forgoes his simple life for the opportunity of a lifetime.

Talkin' About a Guerilla Film Revolution

South Africa is regarded as top film-making destination. A diverse people, a beautiful country, a beneficial exchange rate and some of the best crew, it's easy to see why many filmmakers are opting to take their productions to South Africa. The country has attracted many international TV and film projects, but it's still calibrating its local content. While more than competent, the local film industry hasn't turned into the runaway success you'd imagine given the outlook.

Guerilla Film Revolution

The calibre of films from our shores has shown a marked improvement and steady maturity, yet it just seems that there's been a bit of a slump in terms of the number of productions. Last year was one of the country's best years for film with at least five films that could easily travel. Perhaps one can attribute the slowing down to the global recession, which has made it that much tougher to get funding for films in an already difficult market.

While the budget isn't there, the talent is brimming. It's never been easier to put a film together thanks to the advances of digital technology. With several feature films already having been shot on a mobile phone, including Steven Soderbergh's Unsane, the question is quickly becoming why aren't more doing it? In a country where we have the locations, crew and talent, it seems strange that more cooperative ventures aren't happening.

Filmmakers need to stay current, keep their credits relevant and be constantly showcasing their talent in order to attract more business. A team enterprise, it seems strange that these low budget productions aren't happening more sporadically. The art of guerrilla film-making can translate into financial success, just look at Oren Peli's Paranormal Activity. Armed with directional microphones and high-end smart phones, we should be compelling our youth to go out there and make stuff - much like the training offered at Big Fish.

A Four-Step Tweet from Spling (@MovieCriticSA)

Want a ZA film revolution?

1. Partner with Vodacom, MTN or Cell C

2. Empower filmmakers with training e.g. Big Fish School

3. Equip them with an iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy 6 or LG G4 and directional Rode mics

4. Give them the burning desire to tell their stories!


Instilling a sense of entrepreneurship, there should be courses focused on equipping ambitious young filmmakers with the necessary know-how and tools in order to make a success of this path. Great characters and good stories overcome low budgets, which is why a low budget feel shouldn't deter filmmakers from bringing their stories to life. A great example of a high quality local feature film shot on a shoestring budget is the Clerks-inspired black-and-white comedy drama, Casting Me...

Perhaps a shift of mindset is what's necessary, giving youth a sense of empowerment rather than entitlement. Going out there and doing it for yourself should be the mantra rather than sitting around and waiting for things to happen. Doing something for nothing in order to reap rewards down the line should also be fully realised. Finally, the power of cooperation is yet another cornerstone of a successful individual, realising the importance of teamwork.

While the entire process can be very daunting, challenging and troublesome, new platforms are being created every day which serve the independent filmmaker from valuable screenwriting services to hiring cast and crew. Creating brilliant content is half the job, getting people to watch your film is the other half and this is where concepts like Filmnation light the way. We should be having these conversations with young filmmakers, inspiring them to be more proactive in their approach, more inquisitive in finding the answers and creating a market for this kind of content. Showmax have added some of AFDA's student short films to their bouquet and perhaps streaming services could be the answer to high quality short films or features looking for a worthy distribution model.

. Partner with , or 2. Empower filmmakers with training e.g. 3. Equip them with an , or and directional 4. Give them the burning desire to tell their stories!
The Labia Theatre Celebrates 70 Years to the Day with 'Rocketman'

Labia Theatre 70thThe Labia Theatre celebrated its 70th anniversary on Sunday night, exactly 70 years later, with the first international screening of Rocketman. The biographical musical based on the life and times of Elton John first screened at the Cannes Film Festival, gracing the Labia's silver screen just three days after its French debut. A mystery to attendees until the opening credits, it's only scheduled to open in the United Kingdom tomorrow on 22 May and in South Africa on 7 June. While the anniversary celebrations saw friends and family gathering to hear speeches and enjoy canapés, refreshments and the cake-cutting ceremony, the festivities will continue later this year with a festival of Labia highlights.

Originally opened as a theatre for live stage performances on 19 May 1949, it only had one screen when current owners Ludi and Ann Kraus took over on 1 September 1989, almost three decades ago. Kraus has a long history with cinema, having had his first film encounter at the age of nine in his father's movie house in Windhoek. From a career in law to owning a cinema, Ludi hasn't looked back, offering loyal moviegoers cinema magic at affordable prices. Screening art house movies, documentaries foreign films and extreme sports, the Labia is the last surviving independent movie theatre in Cape Town after the transition from reel-to-reel projectors to digital.

Over the years, the cinema has had many upgrades moving from one to four screens but has retained much of the charm and nostalgia with an old-fashioned ticket booth and retro design. While moving from film to digital was a costly exercise, it's enabled the Labia to compete with the commercial cinema circuit screening films as soon as they are released. Showing a marked improvement in terms of quality and accessibility, it's helped widen their audience, attracting younger viewers looking for retro places in favour of mainstream cinemas.

Labia Theatre 70th

Ludi curates the selection of films, being sure to focus on quality, merit and commercial value. A loyal fan base, the film community showed their love when a crowdfunding campaign was initiated to upgrade the equipment, which ensured they were able to continue showing films after upgrading their four cinemas to digital. Kraus says, "we hope that we still provide a little bit of magic by allowing our patrons to make an evening out visiting the Labia", with reference to the evolution and future of film. Together with Roodeberg Wine, which also celebrated its 70th anniversary this year, the cinema seems to be going from strength-to-strength.

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