Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I must be Famous...

Hey Everybody,

I apologize for sending two big emails out in a month, but this is really important!

Someone in the UK is selling some of my stuff on EBay! That's right, you can own some Kelley Baker memorabilia. And you know what that means... I must be Famous.

I have always told you that my films have done well in Europe, well here's proof.

Have you ever thought about owning some of me? It's almost Christmas, and wouldn't some Kelley Baker memorabilia be the perfect gift?

What are they selling you ask? A BIRDDOG press kit, that contains: "1 page film synopsis, 2 pages of press reprints on Kelley Baker, 2 page Kelley baker filmography, and 2 pages of production notes, together with a Square One business card, all housed in a nice folder."

And here is the best part. You can "Buy it now" for a mere $3.91. That's right, $3.91 to own a piece of history. (The postage from the UK will probably cost more than that...)

Click on this link and you can go right to it...

So for all those people who have always wanted a piece of me... Here's you chance. And quite a bargain too.

Have a Happy Holiday and don't forget to check me out on EBay, because... I must be Famous

Angrily yours,


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Interview Part 2

Excerpt from an Interview with Monica Sellars, a University of Oregon Journalism Student.

This is part of a larger project that will be posted in it’s entirety on her website soon. To find out more check out her website,

Here is part two of my interview.

5. Have recent state and federal legislation centering around tax incentives been of use to you as an independent filmmaker?

No! Those tax incentives are intended for larger films, mostly from places like Hollywood and New York. I fly too far under the radar for any government agency to notice. Traditionally, Film Offices in various states that help get legislation like this passed are more interested in bringing in big Hollywood films, then they are in growing their own small film industry. Their reasoning is usually that big movies from LA or NY pump lots of money in to the local economy, which they do. But if they took the time and the effort to build a homegrown filmmaking community that would probably pay out smaller dividends, but over a much longer period of time. No one is interested in that. They want the cache of working with the big movies. It’s more impressive and better press.

I could probably travel to Kansas City, Mo or Philadelphia, PA and get more government attention then I would ever get in Oregon. Unless one of my movies becomes a hit, then the state and the city and the government officials will want to take credit for my success.

If you look at a filmmaker like Jim Jarmusch, (Ghost Dog, Broken Flowers, Stranger Than Paradise), he is one of our great independent filmmakers. From what I understand, he gets all of his financing from Europe and Japan. He will get distribution in this country, but he has to raise his money elsewhere.
I was talking to friends in Scotland about doing a movie over there. They are saying we could get government funding for it if I shoot in Scotland with a Scottish crew. It is something I am very seriously looking at. Plus I love Scotland.

6. After a film has finished production, on average how long does it take to make money? In what kind of ways do you promote your films to help expedite this?

There is no formula, there is no average time, especially for an independent movie. If you have a distributor, and it doesn’t matter how big or how small, your movie has to have a great opening weekend. If it doesn’t, it will be pulled off of movie screens within a week. It’ll be deemed a failure because it didn’t have a big opening weekend.

Independent films by their very nature take time to find their audience. They shouldn’t be expected to behave like big Hollywood films. Unfortunately with changes in the business in the last few years, all movies have to play by the same rules. That’s why so many good movies never make it on to the screen. It is not enough to know that a movie is good and will take awhile to find it’s audience, why bother even distributing it unless it can go head to head with Pirates of The Caribbean. That is becoming more and more the attitude. It is unfortunate.

I look at my movies over the long term. It can take years to make back the money that was spent. Too many filmmakers are giving away their movies to small distributors in the hopes of making quick money on a cable sale, or DVD, or on the internet. \If they don’t get an advance up front, they will never see any money.
I retain all of the rights to my movies. I promote them on the internet, thru My Space, You Tube, and any other venues I can find. I also aggressively tour the US and parts of the UK showing my work and selling it at various colleges and universities, media art centers, and art house theaters. I play lots of small cities and towns where I can get publicity and reviews and where people have an interest in not only seeing movies, but also meeting the Filmmaker. I spend lots of time in markets that most filmmakers think are beneath them, and I do quite well.
It is about getting an audience for your movie. I go back to many of the same venues year after year and each year my audience gets bigger. I don’t have an advertising budget, I have knowledge of the system and I know ways to get free publicity for my movies. I also work 50-60 hours a week. This is a business.

7. Is there anything I haven't asked that you would like to tell me?
I can go on about REAL independent filmmaking for hours.

One of the things that I see is that too many people make their movies and unless they get them in to the Sundance Film Festival (a near impossibility unless you are famous or have someone famous in your movie), and make a big deal with a distributor then they think their movie is a failure and they never do anything with it. Their movies sit on their shelves and they rot. I think that shows an amazing amount of disrespect to their cast and crew and all of those people who helped them make their movie. They need to get their movie out somehow so that people can see the actors work, and the crews work. These people worked really hard on the movie and for audiences not to see it is a show of disrespect towards them.

People think that unless they make lots of money and become famous then they have failed. These are people who shouldn’t be making movies in the first place.

REAL Independent Filmmakers know that making their movies is only half the battle. Getting them seen is the toughest part. That’s why there aren’t that many REAL Independent Filmmakers anymore. It is hard work!

You have to define success on your own terms. I may never have lots of money, and will probably never be a house hold name, but every day I get to make the movies I want to make. I get to travel and meet other filmmakers and have my work screened all over the US and the UK. I am a success on my terms, because I am doing what I love. That’s what’s important!

I am also tired of the word “independent” being thrown. Very few independent films are released in to the theaters. Even when they are called independent they are usually tested in front of audiences and in most cases an executive has been assigned to the movie and will visit the set and look at the dailies. They are protecting their investment. These are business people, not artists. These films are not independent in any way, shape, or form. I have worked on some of them, and I have been around the independent film world for a long time. To these people it is just a marketing term.

The follow ups…

1. You talked about how you wanted to work on independent films instead of major films; what do you think major studio films' most prominent problem is?

In my opinion, the problem with most studios, major or minor, is that they are not looking for good movies, they’re looking for hits. They want every movie they release to “hit a home run”. They’ll deny this, but the truth of the matter is that all the distributors and studios are being run by business people who have to report profits to their shareholders. In the old days when the studios were run by the so called “moguls”, Jack Warner of Warner Brothers, Samuel Goldwyn of MGM, and the others, their passion was movies. They made commercial films to make money so they could fund what they considered important films. The studios were privately held so there was not this need to make huge profits with every movie. These old studio heads knew their business, they knew some of their films wouldn’t make money, but they needed to be made. That’s not the way it is anymore.

If you look at the studios now, important films get made, mostly out side of the system. A distributor will most likely pick up a so called important film if they think they can make money on it, not because of the subject matter. It’s very disheartening. Some Directors are able to make “personal, important” movies because their other films have been huge hits. Would Universal have let Spielberg make Schindler’s List if he hadn’t made Jaws, Close Encounters, ET, and the Indiana Jones movies. Doubtful. Plus every one knew that Spielberg was desperate to win an Oscar and be taken seriously by the Academy. I still don’t take him seriously. He is a mediocre filmmaker at best, he just knows how to manipulate an audience. And the way he does it is pretty transparent.

2. You also talked about how distribution was the real issue behind the "failure" of real independent films; how do you think this could be helped?

It is a mind set with the studios and distributors. They can’t think in terms of real independent films. Films to them have to have stars of some sort, something they can market. They always say, (and my films get criticized sometimes) the acting seems amateurish. Does that mean that Lindsey Lohan and Beyounce, and Adam Sandler are all brilliant actors because we know who they are? And some distributors and critics will turn around and praise a movie by some well known Director (like Steven Soderburg or Gus Van \Sant), and talk about their brilliance because they’ve made a movie using non-actors? So why is it, if you use a professional actor who is not well known and can be a great actor, they are not taken seriously because they are unknowns. Most actors in the business started out as unknowns… I think I am off subject here a bit.

Filmmakers have to ignore distributors and get their films out themselves. It’s not very glamorous, in fact it is hard damn work. If a filmmaker is not willing to do what it takes to get their movies seen, then maybe they shouldn’t be making movies. Distributors aren’t going to help us, and most filmmakers who have made it don’t help the others behind them. I don’t know why, that is just what I have seen from my experience. Over all, I think maybe DVD’s, home distribution, and the internet are good things. They can help real independent filmmakers by pass distributors. But the filmmakers have to be willing to do the work themselves, and audiences have to help support independent filmmaking by going out to see them, and telling their friends.

Monday, December 11, 2006

End of the Year Thank You

I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who helped make 2006 a success!

In the last year I have done three tours. I have driven 27,000 miles, flew to the UK, gave over 100 lectures and work shops, screened my work 84 times, talked to hundreds of students, eaten my weight in patty melts and club sandwiches, drank a swimming pool full of gas station coffee, (okay maybe a wading pool...), and ate three cases of Tums. And I am ready to do it all over again in 2007.

The tours worked out great. I had some amazing audiences, was only stumped on a few questions in my work shops, met a lot of talented people, and sold a lot of DVD's.

From January 12th - 14th I am going to be in Eugene, Oregon at the Open Lens Festival, (I'm the visiting Filmmaker), teaching a couple work shops and screening Kicking Bird. On January 20th & 21st I am going to be at the Hollywood Theatre in Portland, Oregon teaching 2 work shops (Making the Extremely Low Budget Movie, and Marketing & Self-Distribution). I'll be screening Kicking Bird on Saturday and showing the rare 35 mm print of Birddog on Sunday the 21st. Check out, or for further details.

And if you are still looking for a last minute gift for that Independent Filmmaker in your life, think about an Angry Filmmaker T-shirt ($15 + 3 shipping and handling), or a DVD ($12.99 + $3 shipping and handling).

I am sorry, I had to throw that in, it wouldn't be the holidays with out some crass self promotion and advertising. This is a crass and as slick as I get...

Don't forget to check out my website for new journal entries.

Moses and I had a great time on the road, and I am looking forward to 2007. Thanks to everyone. Take care and we'll see you on the road.

Angrily yours,

Kelley & Moses

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Interview Excerpt

Excerpt from an Interview with Monica Sellars, a University of Oregon Journalism Student.

This is part of a larger project that will be posted in it’s entirety on her website soon. To find out more check out her website,

Here is part one of my interview, I’ll post part two in a few days.

1. For what reasons did you become an independent filmmaker? What has been your greatest struggle? Your most rewarding moment?

When I was a kid I loved watching movies, but growing up in Oregon I never thought I could work in the film business, let alone make my own films. I was playing around with video equipment in high school. About a year after graduation I was working a horrible job, driving a delivery truck. I ran in to an old teacher who asked what I was doing. He suggested I go to college and study filmmaking. I ended up getting in to USC’s Film program, where I received both my BA and my MFA.

I left LA to become an Independent Filmmaker as I believed that they weren’t making the kind of films that I wanted to make. I moved back to Portland and started working on other people’s movies while I was making my own short films. The films that I wanted to make meant something to me. I didn’t want to do mindless entertainment, which was the reason I went to LA and USC in the first place.

In terms of struggle, every day is a struggle. It is a struggle to get financing, a struggle to make the movie, and then the biggest struggle is to get the movie out to audiences. For those who become REAL independent filmmakers, you just have to realize that your life will always be a struggle. Some days are better than others, some worse.

As far as rewarding moments, perhaps the first time I heard actors speaking the words in the script. I was watching a group of people become the characters that I had created in my head. The first time you hear your words coming out of some one else’s mouth is an amazing thing. When I finished my first feature film, Birddog, I looked at it and realized that I had created this movie. A lot of people helped me, but it was my vision up on the screen. I love the work, creating the movies. Screening them in theaters and in front of an audience doesn’t hold a candle to creating them and looking at it complete the first time.

2. What goes into creating a budget for an independent film? How do you keep costs down?

I start the budgeting process, when I am writing. I write scenes in places I know I can get, and with actors I know I can get. I make my movies on such small budgets that I am always thinking about the budget.

In my newest feature, Kicking Bird, I had written a script about a kid who runs. I made him a cross country runner instead of a track runner because I know I couldn’t afford to shoot scenes around a track meet. Track & Field takes place in the spring; you have distance runners, sprinters, javelin throwers, pole vaulters, etc. There is no way I could afford to put together a scene like that for the three races that are in the movie. By making my main characters Cross Country runners I didn’t need to worry about any of it. Cross Country teams are small, and the event takes place in the fall and very few people watch it because the runners don’t go around a track, they run thru woods, city streets, wherever. By making a change that makes no difference in the overall story, I was able to save thousands of dollars and it had no effect on the story I was telling.

When I make my budgets it comes down to what can I borrow, what can people donate, what can I get for no money. After that it becomes a game of trying to save money every where possible, with out hurting the integrity of the movie, and pissing off the cast and crew. I have been doing this for a long time; I know what I can usually get away with, and what I am going to have to pay for.

I always budget lots of money for food and beverages for the cast and crew. I never scrimp when it comes to them.

3. On that note, how do you finance an independent film? What resources do you call upon?

I do it differently then most. On Birddog I used almost all of my own money. I took everything I made as the Sound Designer on Good Will Hunting and put it in to the film. I ended up owing the IRS about $80,000, and the state of Oregon around $20,000, and a few other agencies. I figured since I had so many contacts in the Independent film world that I would get a distributor and be able to pay the money back thru the money I made on the movie. It didn’t work out the way I planned…
My last two features I made for $4000 and $6000 respectively, and I have called in a lot of favors. A lot of favors! Those movies would have easily cost $100,000 if I would have had to pay for everything.

The Gas Café I self funded with a friend. On Kicking Bird, I sent out a letter to 100 people I knew asking for $100 and all I promised them were “2 really nice seats” at the movies premiere. I raised $5800 in 2+ weeks, so I went out and shot the movie.

I self fund because after I made Birddog I spent almost 2 years trying to get a distribution deal and to put together my next movie. It was then that I realized that “Independent” film is really no longer Independent. It has been taken over by corporations in Hollywood and they only use the words “Independent” as a marketing phrase. There is nothing independent about them at all.

I keep my budgets small, and I make the movies I want to make. And I tour with them thru out the US and parts of the UK and audiences come out and like what they see. I also sell them on the internet.

When it comes to getting things for my movies; props, locations, whatever. I will ask any one for anything! Most filmmakers are afraid of the word, “No.” I’m not. My philosophy is “don’t ask, don’t get.”

4. Is there anything, in your opinion, that would make financing and producing an independent film easier?

You have to define “Independent”. If you are talking about 10 Million dollar Hollywood independents with TV stars in them, I have no idea. If you are talking about low budget REAL independent films with no one famous in them like I make, then I’ll tell you that financing isn’t the problem. Distribution is the problem.
The “Independent Film World” tells us we need big stars and at least 3 million dollars to make an “Independent” movie, otherwise they can’t sell it to an audience. That’s bullshit! The so called independent film distributors just want a 10 million dollar movie with Bill Murray in it. That’s what they call independent.
Real Independent filmmakers will always find a way to get their movie made. It is getting an audience to see it that’s the problem.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Safe at Home...

Where did the time go! I have been home for a couple weeks trying to recover. It gets a bit harder every time out. But it's not age, it's intensity!

I think I did okay on the Fall 2006 tour. Good audiences, good questions from students, sold quite a few DVD's and T-shirts, and best of all no diseases! Wait a minute, what are you people thinking? Get out of the gutter! I was talking about diseases like Scurvy, and Rickets. The diseases that haunted the early explorers. Isn't that what I am? I think so.

Anyway, I have been getting lots of good feedback about my piece in Filmmaker Magazine, (for those of you who still haven't seen it, it's in the Fall 2006 issue on page 122), so thanks everybody for the notes.

Speaking of Filmmaker Magazine, and the IFP, and the (Independent) Spirit Awards... Boy it took me a long time to get there. The nominations are out once again and it is all "Industry Independents" again. Do people really care about these things? I am so sick of Independent as a marketing tool. Most of those films with TV stars and minor Film stars aren't INDEPENDENT! It's crap! Then they have the nerve to pat themselves on the back for making these movies. Why don't you just leave the self promotion to the professionals. One award show a year is more than enough! Keep the Oscars and ditch everything else. I just hate organizations and groups of people that pat themselves on the backs for no apparent reason! Most of us ignore those awards anyway...

I hope people are out there making their own stuff. I have a bunch of writing I need to get done, more of my own self promotion, and some editing to do on a lot of the things I have shot on the road over the last two tours.

So excuse me, I am tired and going to have some dinner. Then it's back to work. I'll write more in the next day or two.

angrily yours,