Confessions Of A Working Director
By Eric Stanze
September 30, 2009
When Deadwood Park post-production was complete, we hired a sales agent to find us the best distribution deal, and to negotiate that deal so that it was as much in our favor as possible. This was the first time we'd ever worked with a sales agent. Maybe, because we were inexperienced in selecting such a specialist, we chose our sales agent poorly. Or perhaps a great many of the sales agents out there are inept. Either way, it was not a decision that led to anything good. My producing partner, Jeremy Wallace has functioned as our sales agent in the past, and from my point of view, he's performed in this position a thousand times better than the "professional" we hired.
This is an old story, one of positive and negative emotions. I'd say 98 percent of the time we try to hire someone outside of our organization to do a job for us, they either do the job more poorly than we do it ourselves - or they fuck it up entirely. So, for many years now, I have nurtured a constant boiling anger toward this human population that seems overflowing with incompetence (that, more often than not, costs me a lot of money and lost time). Simultaneously, I am repeatedly impressed by my own team, as they operate with conscientiousness, proficiency, and good ol' fashioned proper work ethic.
The Deadwood Park DVD release is of high quality. I'm very happy with the encoding, the chroma and luminance levels, and the sound levels. (Of course, we did the encoding and authoring ourselves.) So the presentation of the movie on the DVD meets my standards, and that is the most important thing.
However, there were "communication problems" in the authoring phase, thanks to the sales agent. We authored a two disc version of the DVD, which contained a feature length making-of documentary on the second disc. We were assured by our sales agent that the distributor had approved and was expecting this two disc release (an important point, as the distributor is responsible for the replication and packaging of the movie). After fully completing this two disc version (which represented more than a month of hard work by me and my team), we were informed that the distributor was NOT aware that Deadwood Park was to be a two disc release - and that only a single disc release was budgeted for the replication phase. So, all the extra work we did in encoding and authoring a two disc release was for nothing. It would not see the light of day, and we would not be compensated for that work. I went back to the drawing board and began work on the Deadwood Park DVD release - AGAIN. This time for a single disc version that did NOT include the feature length making-of documentary.
There are no plans to ever release a two-disc version of Deadwood Park. However, the highlight of this two-disc release was the documentary. And now you can finally see it because we've just released it as an exclusive www.amazon.com download.
Jessie Seitz was the production designer and co-story writer on Deadwood Park. She directed and edited the making-of documentary, which she produced in partnership with Jason Christ, Scott D. Muck, and Gus Stevenson. It is called Welcome To Eidolon Crossing: The Making Of Deadwood Park.
Jessie wanted her documentary to be more than just some behind-the-scenes clips cut together and dropped onto the DVD as "added value" we could list on the box. She wanted the documentary to be a real movie, with a story and a cast of characters that would engage the viewer, even if the viewer was not a big fan of Deadwood Park. Having never directed a feature length documentary, her goals were well beyond her comfort zone. It would have been a difficult project to pull off on its own, but Jessie had the added stress of directing this documentary while also functioning as the production designer of Deadwood Park. I saw first hand how difficult it was for Jessie to make this documentary.
However, she most certainly succeeded in accomplishing her goals. The documentary is very well made and I think it delivers a very accurate snapshot of where we were in our lives and careers during the making of Deadwood Park.
Looking at the documentary objectively, it is also a fascinating study of a very ambitious film being created from almost nothing - no studio support, no corporate support, no advances from distributors, no product placement deals, and no rich family members dumping money into the project. We had no resources but what we were able to beg, borrow, and steal. We had no financing but what we were able to bring in through donations, fundraisers, and small-time private investors. Sometimes, we'd collect a check for a few thousand dollars from an investor - sometimes we'd take a donation of $100. That's how we financed the movie - and the rest of the project was formed from our tenacity and hard work.
So check out Welcome To Eidolon Crossing: The Making Of Deadwood Park. You can download it here.
Also, if you have not yet seen Deadwood Park, you can get your hands on it here.
Welcome To Eidolon Crossing: The Making Of Deadwood Park delivers a steady parade of story spoilers, so if you have an interest in the documentary, be sure to check out Deadwood Park first. You'll find both projects more interesting and entertaining if you view them in that order.
Thanks for reading.
- Eric Stanze