"FN": About a group of beings based on the carhead characters, who are trying to stay sensual though their nature is essentially incorporeal and cerebral, by persistently tricking one with an innocently mortal mind set to anchor them temporarily to the sensual plane. The mortal stays ignorant of the possible, trapped in tunnels of logic. In the end, the ignorant is shown fulfillment in 200 ways, on the way to decorporealization. Animated Rene Magritte, but narrative spiritual.
"Brad Hammer": A send-up of a Max Steele Christmas special. This is the concept piece that I've hung all kinds of ideas on. A small struggling private college allows an extreme sports legend "reality" show to promote the college as its setting. Changes in student loan funding have ended the flow of easy money, and now every teacher must validate every few minutes of instruction and provide some guarantee the students will earn back their tuition. This is the backdrop for various staged extreme "challenges," which start to go awry, when additional challenges start appearing. Who could be responsible? Chief among Steele's adversaries is the love-interest head of the college spirituality club, not to be confused with the spirit squad, which has been co-opted by his parents' production company. It's not as bleak as it sounds, because the spirituality club knows a glimmer of what Christmas and life are about, and there is a chance some of this will rub off onto Steele.
"Other" is a surrealist artist in 1908 Paris, who is torn away from his metaphysical researches by a 10 year old banker's son with a project to stimulate the world economy with entertainment technology like the phonograph and kinetograph, and divert it from kleptoparadox. Other is piqued by the new technology. The viability of the transcendentalist Christian lifestyle vis-a-vis domestic economic tensions is the playground of the artist and his comrade. But not before being tried by the minions of the carbonated pickle juice consortium and its belladonna belle dame, Oasis LeFevre, who lives the twin lives of demure debutante and carbonated robber-barron. Higher deeper things, meanwhile, are being sensed by artists who are exploiting the absurd to springboard them to the essential. Great sacrifices are called for if the next two wars will lead to a positive outcome. "What are you going to do, Marcel, put on a dress and play chess all day for years?!"
"Atomic Air Force": an early script, from before I was starting to see the seams in the backdrop of mortal existence. The original was lame as a two-legged horse, but it's been punched-up by a stand-up comedian, who cut out everything that wasn't a joke or moved the story ahead. A parody of the atomic genre -- atomic sub, atomic rocket, atomovision, atomobile -- in which just the word "radioactive" causes people to drop dead, and everything is top secret -- I've already said too much. I wonder if it has potential as a parody of the thunderpuppet genre; especially with jerkier puppet-style animation. "Thunderheads" could go in a lot of directions; one of my favorite versions so far has been to have the "father" character go back in time to the present day.
"Offshore." The lead character becomes washed ashore on an island that resembles a board game like "Life." All of the characters of "offshore" have body-sized heads. He apparently has amnesia in the first Act. In Act II, he makes a friend who tries to find him work, while she struggles with her project to sell something to half of the people in China - her one idea, she is applying herself to it persistently.
Let's say you make a laugh-a-thon three minutes long. This is a BIG what-if; but let's just say you get there from here,...
And coincidentally, you found that the short was lending itself to other jokes and deeper plot points, so that you had the better part of a feature script in hand. Now what?
Look for investors, like studio's? Make copies of your video on VHS using tapes that costs $1.00 or less (in Los Angeles, many dubbing companies sell them, others may be bought online); sticklers for quality generally go direct from the computer's video card rather than dub using two VCR's. There is a chance someone may actually come to you, since you will be mailing your finished short around; first to the folks who are willing to get it broadcast under conventional screenings terms, "Distributors" like www.bigfilmshorts.com or special venues like www.scifi.com "Exposure" or www.pbs.org short film venues; second to compilation venues like contests, festivals and DVD compilation publishers; next, to individual broadcast and cable stations and networks that may find it interesting -- I have seen animated shorts run on slow news days, for instance; and finally, to the vultures, who pay nothing, cut off one's credits and sell the shorts to streaming media companies and gloat to the bankruptcy court about their media library's free-and-clear value.
If one has a strong enough script, there may arise ample opportunities to market the script without producing it oneself. In this case, I can only quote that key line from the Lord's Prayer: "Lead Us Not Into Trials." Register the script, copyright the script, and possibly let another represent your work to the script buyer. Selling your work, if it is strong and uplifting, may become a crusade that may actually nourish you with every interaction. Once sold, conventional wisdom (and several famous writers) says to have nothing to do with it, since it becomes another's project to corrupt. Large up-front fees are how scripts are developed, usually being "optioned," which allows the writer to "sell" the work many times, and also allows the developer the "cachet" of dropping one's name. If someone buys your script outright, they can then option it.
Try to have a couple of copies of the script on hand (I started carrying a briefcase given me at an Animation Celebration, with a VHS demo reel inside). Do it the justice of good presentation, to the degree you can afford. It's okay for it to be distinctive, but you may want to settle on rubbing freshly minted $20 bills along the binding and first and last pages instead. (That's a joke.) There is no sense trying to figure out your buyer -- some buy things because they are beautiful, some buy to meet a quota or keep a crew from finding other work, some may have your vision. Materialism is a losing proposition in principle, and price negotiations may have a learning curve that is metaphysically highly suspect. Worth damaging your "intuition"? If the opportunity does not arise, move on.
The art of selling can be a funny mindset. Calling up a company with three seconds of a cartoon, seeing if they have any interest whatsoever in distribution/advertizing. Or finding an old hand to represent your short at the "Film Market" and maybe show you the sights. But your short/trailer may provide a ticket in to some meetings and film markets.
There are a few other "courses" to consider: contacting investors like dentists one at a time and "pitching" your project to them, or trying to collaborate with a few other animators, or going it alone.
There is a section below called "Raising Money" that goes into some of the dynamics of approaching investors. Essentially, one develops one's pitch around one's short; stuffing pages listing the various high grossing animated features into shiny black folders. The hardest part of this method is probably writing the script. Ideally, you will have all 600 jokes before you begin animating, but it doesn't always work that way. You don't need 600, by the way, but that's a good number for a 100 minute movie. You include things like a funny walk or little aesthetic touches like birds to indicate altitude as a "joke." Finishing a joke a day this way will take a modest animation team two years to finish a feature. Feel free to e-mail writers to see if they will lend a hand -- you have my e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org . As time allows, one improves one's pitch package. With available software, one can create a fairly strong mix of the soundtrack, and mock-up the whole film using pencil sketches on 3x5 inch cards. These can be transferred to VHS using a digital camera (faster than a scanner) and the computer's graphics card. You can even use INSPIRE to create dissolves, etc. for this "animatic." www.smacker.com "Bink" has a pretty good utility for combining sound and pictures; another is called "virtualdub."
The unsophisticated investor may not know what to make of an animatic, but I recall seeing "Secret of NIMH" when it still included pencil-animated sequences. Going from a short to a soundtrack and storyboard can be a big step; sometimes this occurs in the course of raising money to raise money. Because computer graphics soundtracks are highly disposable, raising money to raise money is going to open one up to regulator scrutiny, so a number of safeguards will be advisable, like only talking to investors with a net worth of $2,000,000 approximately. Don Bluth apparently liked the approach of the story reel pitch, so it's mentioned.
Collaborating with other beginner animators on a project comes up in all kinds of places: www.awn.com www.lalightwave.com and numerous yahoogroups and personal websites list projects looking for collaborators. One may also post one's project on a leading discussion board or get up in front of a group of animators at a local user group or www.siggraph.org meeting. To my way of thinking, three animators is probably enough of a core group to accomplish a pretty amazing project after a couple of years. But that's three guys with a fair understanding of the tool, some support products, and a means of feeding and sheltering themselves in an economy that just doesn't appear to provide food and shelter without some hustling.
Which leaves going it alone for the feature, not advised...
Going It Alone
If you are interested in producing a feature all alone, I can see your reasons. At this writing, I've produced unrelated rough shorts using INSPIRE amounting to about 34 minutes. 300 frames here, 300 frames there. It adds up. I have heard that it's common on features to assign easy parts to new animators at the start, tackling harder work as it can be handled. If you're going it alone, you may want to save the less demanding work for when you hit a snag. Going it practically alone is extremely difficult, except that Jiri Trnka, the Quays, Windsor McCay, Ubbe Iwerks and several other animators have done it, or nearly done it.
And WHY do we even consider making a feature? On the off-chance that the short film we produce is not bought and doesn't stimulate strangers to want to overpay us to do fairly simple work, do we have any choice? The models are ready, textured, and the jokes are funny. You've knocked on the doors of all of the majors like www.foundation-i.com www.pixar.com www.dreamworks.co , so they know you're there. If you're a student like Jason Wen, maybe you should set out on your own, but consult with the experts on how to streamline your workload because I wish wasted months on nobody. You probably will not embark on the whole project anyway; you'll make another short or short sequence.
Since texturing absorbs an immense block of time, you will probably resort to the studio approach of animating untextured objects. Fur and dynamics elements may be added using products like www.nugraf.com "Poly Trans" much further down the line, and certain sequences will probably not be too complicated visually.
The degree to which you split your time between animating, storyboarding and pitching? I recommend a lot of prayer.
If you're still fairly new to CG animation, back everything up, often. CD-R's, floppies, e-mails, SCSI drives, whatever. It has been one of my greatest anguishes that a CD-R started malfunctioning a couple of months before a bargain hard drive failed, in that order.
Keep focussed: it is normal to meet opportunities as you provide them for others, personal and financial, but delays/detours and talking about the past/future are notorious for robbing time. I've found that when I focus on right priorities and try to listen quietly for guidance, a lot of good ideas emerge. If the script could be more uplifting, this may be revealed.
A good way to stay positive is probably to focus on positive thoughts/people/memories/projects/books/movies and pray if you feel you should and it helps. It's common for comedy writers to play some of their favorite comedies before or during writing or production. The more benign the better. There are several kinds of prayer, doing good work is a kind of prayer.
Once made, the feature needs to be marketed. If it doesn't entertain/enlighten/inform/uplift, it needs to be re-cut and/or re-shot, no matter how high the disappointment quotient.
Make people laugh while being honest.
A short run of 1,000 DVD's costs about $2,500 to press using glass masters. www.videodubs.com The cost per thousand plummets to as little as .30 each from there on. DVD's are essentially 256 color MPEG-2 720 x 480 files, though the actual formatting is a little more complicated. DLT tapes may be purchased for approximately $50, and the DLT drives may be rented, or one can bring a portable hard drive to an authoring studio. VHS recording costs approximately $1.20 per tape using good quality tape and prosumer equipment. Cardstock-printed packaging will tend to have similar costs, favoring a run of 1,000's at .20 per piece. Why mention all this? Because once this work is done, the rest of the self-distributing job is phoning video stores and mailing them product COD (and suing the living daylights out of any station that shows it.) Because of the threat of counterfeiting, one should arrange for title and other elements that discourage it, like website addresses in the film or its leader or hidden between frames. I know of one filmmaker who had his film shown in a distant market, where he had family, and who sued successfully.
By the way, this info is widely known and widely available over search engines.
Some stores, like Amazon.com, may require a UPC Code barcode, which is pretty bogus, given that UPC is a front organization for the Russian mafia -- okay, maybe they aren't, but they do charge $750 for the privilege of a worthless number. Your next 9,999 products will all be free to list, but the first number (to obtain your company number) is a doozy. www.ebay.com does not seem to have this obstruction. As for anti-piracy in an intellectual property world, it may have some appeal. One way around the UPC fee is to cooperate with an existing small studio with a UPC, possibly an arts organization.
Apart from www.netflix.com , the DVD online phenomenon still appears to be a trickle, but that may be my point of view of the iceberg. I like that Netflix.com is featuring the leading film festivals winners on its home page, since that nexus kindles the independent animator's hope. One hesitates to recommend a website that will take 35% of one's asking price for a finished film, like www.buyindies.com , though I did recognize a famous experimental filmmaker whose 15 minute film was listed there for $75.
A marketing script might be written by trial-and-error making mention of critic endorsements, awards, audience reviews, rentals statistics, price breaks, web site traffic and samples (coming attraction video's). It probably couldn't hurt to have some "trailers" on "hot titles." The video store gets these calls; they're used to them. If there are approximately 100 metropolitan areas with 100 video stores apiece, that's 10,000 phone calls, each successful call paying a margin of (let's say) $10.00 with each order. As long as the film is capable of word-of-mouth, and serves its audience, it should be worth $100,000 on this basis, before cable revenue and/or "digital theatrical." (Still holding out hope that IMAX may be first to convert its theaters to digital 3D projection with CG3D appearing sooner than later.)
There are many other little/huge opportunities to sell one's film. Film festivals and "markets" are a perfect backdrop for film buyers, even without the Netflix festivals connection; the landscape seems to be littered with bigger better productions that they can buy. Very little word-of-mouth for "premieres" makes their negotiating position even stronger. The nice thing about these groups is that they can start creating "buzz" for a film in video trailers as much as a year before releasing it. Spiritually, I am inclined to suspect this stage of the process may be an abyss worth handing over to a middleman. You didn't structure your film to hobble it with poor commitments or exhibition. God provideth the increase.
Can one send a studio a movie without a festival? Naturally. Send the finished film with a 10-day price. I am fond of Henson, Columbia, Disney and Paramount, because they have been involved in spirituality, at least historically. If your film that makes viewers laugh out loud cannot find a friend, something is very wrong.
If one is not offered a serious price, what does one do? Well, self-distributing is one option.
Self-distributing looks like a lot of work, but is it? Ten telemarketers who've sold video's before may be able to get through a list of all stores in about two weeks, at a cost of about $10,000, more if incentives allow it. I have only met a few self-distributors, and all seemed to have humble digs, but they seemed happy with the arrangement. Two were a "cult" film and "non-profit" distributors. One actually rented their film prints, the other marketed video's. Self-distributing to theaters can be done very aggressively, where one takes out newspaper ad's, prints flyers and makes special appearances at the screenings. Watching one's pennies, a few hundred or few thousand can be made per weekend, depending on the film and its audience, and reviews. Although independent film tends to be gritty, one hopes a festival print would have LIGHTWAVE 96-bit rendering and higher resolution. (A color chart should be the first image of the film for transferring purposes.)
Another way of getting the word out about your film is to find someone who can represent it to buyers for you, perhaps showing it at colleges, or festivals. It is imperative that you/they believe the project is strong and that audiences love it and benefit from it.
And renting the movie to cable? At one time, theatrical exhibition was used as a kind of advertizing for video distribution, and theatrical distribution, by definition, required an advertizing campaign costing at least $2-5,000,000. That was before "Blair Witch Project" was advertized on AOL for pennies, (and before AOL was merged with Time/Warner). There is something insidious and fleshly about grading a film according to its ad budget, whether this is through ICQ ad's or billboards or flyers, so let us take the festival "high road" for the time being.
The economics of cable have already been reviewed elsewhere; a cable station that is selling the time it has available to sell should be making over $1,000 an hour per market. Churches and non-profits buy commercial time in the wee hours and produce some of the best programming, and pay the same rate, though broadcasters also donate time to non-profits and pay less tax. A two hour movie that costs $200 per market should be attractive. With over 100 markets in this country, and more outside the US, an enobling product of high quality (with out-loud laughs) should be eagerly received, even if it is run at 2am. Rescue, anyone?
Ask anyone; raising money is its own art. I try to take the most metaphysical approach possible. I work through a lot of ideas trying to find some way for a project to be made only burdening others minimally. If you can possibly avoid it, do not read this section.
One may legitimately "trade" finished sound, story and art work, though going beyond this to "promise" anything is rarely wise. Promising is usually borrowing. A lender would not be lending if they had a better business to invest in, in theory, and the borrower is proclaiming their ineptitude and incompatability with "the system" by borrowing. What a premise to start from! Do not borrow money to make a movie? That's right!! And don't price yourself too cheap!! You aren't applying for a job, you're creating an opportunity!
If you KNOW the lender, that's different, especially if you can work for the lender in order to work off your project, if it falls through. There are laws about approaching strangers for your project, and this kind of agreement is not for the immature or those who tend to exxagerate. If you can't write a deal that lets either party out of the deal at any time, then you're probably still in the nursery. No sweat, most of us seem to be still in the nursery. Collateralize the little you borrow with a car or boat or months of underpayment? That's how it's often done.
Certain kinds of fundraising are, to some degree, collateralized by the product, such as when one raises $2,500 for 1,000 DVDs. You do not need to take too much care when making these agreements. "Small claims court" may likely be your investor's venue for conflict resolution, if you begin by arranging a "trickle" of equity instead of funding the whole project. This is usually done when the animators have a strong belief in the project and aren't eager to give it up for a few months of steady pay.
The laws strongly favor approaching the rich to fund one's project, but one's heart cries out to help the struggling. I am fond of the idea of approaching someone with a job and a mortgage but a lousy 401K and living in their extra room or income property for a year by trading animation for next month's rent. One might sell a piece of the picture each month -- being willing to drop the arrangement at any time. I better repeat that -- if you know someone with a room or garage to let who can support your animated project, you may be able to provide them with an investment, such as for their 401K, that will set them ahead and give you some freedom as well.
The animation general or limited partnership has the profile of an IRA that most certified financial planners and stockbrokers are promoting to their clients, if I understand correctly. The worst that can happen, besides losing the investment, will be for the IRS to declare the IRA not an IRA, and apply income tax to it after all your trouble.
And if they want to contribute from an IRA? www.entrustadministration.com www.eiranet.com www.sterlingtrustcompany.com www.milleniumtrustcompany.com www.securitytrustcompany.com are companies that specialize in self-directed IRA and Roth IRA investments. This is extremely generous for the filmmaker to do, since the IRA method tar-and-feathers the filmmaker for the sake of the investor. No self-dealing is allowed. If one wants to "donate" a script in order to see it polished with IRA money, that is probably possible, but once finished, it will have to be "auctioned" in most cases. IRA money can pay to canvas investors, polish a script or scripts, or produce them, but there must be arms-length protections according to current IRA rules to assure fair valuations, among other reasons. The closest exception I have come across was an investor whose brother was in the same industry, and who happened to be an identical twin. Investment in parents or children's businesses is forbidden but siblings are allowed. IRA money must not be listed as collateral for a loan, or the amount attached is immediately taxed and withdrawn , though in my experience, IRA's are typically attached after-the-fact for debt judgments. (I cannot guarantee ANY of this info, sorry, free is what it's worth, in this case.)
I should mention that there are a number of borderline-constitutional laws protecting investors from hucksters making wild promises that discourage approaching anyone with an investment unless they have $2,000,000 at least. Many who've "been around" try to respect the law and only approach people with less than $2,000,000 with deals where the investor sells the weeds from their front yard and gets a new lawn in exchange. That's one of the many instances where you're all right approaching the "little investor," but they all sound about the same, free money in exchange for nothing. (This is another reason for selling one's investment to the wealthy.) Otherwise, if you touch more than 10% of one year's earnings of a "small" investor, don't expect a lot of sympathy if the investor needs their money back early, they can sue you for no reason at any time. If they discover someone else who wants to live in their garage and pay them more, it's moving time, ESPECIALLY if the total is more than the 10%.
There are other ways one may find support; for instance, bartering with friends who have great modelling acumen by pawning them your camera, antiques, 200 hours of time, gag-writing. Pawning or borrowing services have the advantage f being less-taxable than straight barter involving property, which may incur state use tax plus federal income tax. Federal income tax may be avoided if one has a low income, but state use taxes are regressive, so consider pawning. Lending is generally not taxable.
One's honesty must be top-notch: no hidden anything (you should know the price of everything from notepad to VHS box already so your answers aren't a blank stare), no promises, no guarantees the sky won't erupt in flame, and especially no continued communication after "misspeaking." If you say something fraudulent to an investor, just chalk it up to incompatible communication styles, apologize and move on. If one intends to manipulate another into making a purchase, one should not sell.
Don't know any rich folks? Believe it or not, you do. The $2,000,000 number is not all that high and includes the $1,000,000 house they typically own. Although it is better to meet investors through Church or Golf Club, "cold-calls" to rich neighborhoods can be an adventure, though I don't have a lot of experience with them. If you are reasonably certain that you are contacting a $2,000,000 person, you can send them whatever you like. Video on VHS tape, nifty black folder, a poster, dinner for two. Usually, you will use a form that says that they have those kinds of assets so you can start spending their check. Needless to say, if they are Bill Gates, you don't sweat this.
Plus, you know me, and I know of one, who may know others.
Need to know more? CPA's often know several. Friends of friends seem to know a few, and provide much "warmer" leads than the average list service. The average list service, in my experience, has provided names and phone numbers of beach home addresses, in case one lives near lakes or affluent neighborhoods. Some large public libraries provide directories compiled by companies like Dun & Bradstreet. In the mood to explore? www.forbes.com/billionaires is a link to the Forbes 500 wealthiest individuals in the world. Did I mention prayer? If your motives are pure -- reduce suffering, end nightmares, actualize humanity, prioritize, improve, affirm the true, revoke frauds -- that is prayer.
The borderline-constitutional laws I mentioned before? They are meant to keep sane people from going insane with dreams of profit, and they tend to appear and disappear as court and conscience dictate. I usually regret cynical statement like that, but if I were convinced that my salvation rested in publishing a book of poetry, no overzealous bureaucrat, regulation or timid salesman would keep me from it.
The burden is on the investment manager or seller; if you show your DVD "roadshow" to anyone who says they know a rich person, and give them a copy TO GIVE TO THE PERSON WHEN THEY CAN, no harm, no foul, the viewers become sworn couriers. I've worked for UPS, it's a noble profession. Actually selling to any small investors gets complicated, though, because word-of-mouth from them to small investors who then approach you would be advertizing, etc. As it is written, the law seems to make it easy to pay extra fees and become a stockbroker selling companies one doesn't know very well -- in other words, the law lies. I have asked for lawyers to give me their input on various webpages I've prepared similar to this one, but haven't gotten any nibbles yet. The amounts offered by small investors sometimes don't merit a CPA or lawyer's involvement, so you would probably have to write the small investors off. Want to sell them one minute of your movie on the condition you can buy it back for ten times the price? If you respect the "intention" of the law, you probably won't, though this might be a proper investment in terms of selling and advertizing.
Can you walk through a ritzy neighborhood dropping your VHS tapes in mailboxes that you find attractive and trust that the rich owners will pass them along to someone who can do you some good? If this is a mental universe, what have you got to lose?
It is right to advertize (newspaper, Mensa magazine, Kiwanian, letter campaign, telemarketing,...) "I want to sell this investment to the very rich, tell them to call me please." The SEC/NASAA/NASD/NASDR's policies are somewhat vague, because the leading group responsible for stock investments is a not-for-profit monopoly,and they have a poor reputation for sharing information. "Licensing" advertizing that takes the form of mailed letters also strays into "first amendment" territory. Just the same, I am inclined to side with the principle of complete transparency when a referrer may get a $25,000 commission on an investment, which would appear to be an abuse of free speech. One way around this is for a company to only pay a "finder" a commission after the company is well in the black and/or some time has passed, and only when the referrer is named in a "prospectus." This "cost of money" adjustment should still be expensable by the company. I admire the idea that if an investment is worthwhile, the "finder" should NOT get their fee out of seed money, but I would also like to see this applied to Bank/NASD brokerage, wouldn't you? One other thing should be mentioned about "selling": one should have a large stake in the project, and not just hours and equity, if at all possible. The money investment changes your demeanor.
Hopefully, one will insist that all workers on the project also have some shares, on principle, even if they are not made aware of it.
[Last legislation soapbox item: a "referral" can be "expensed" as a "cost of money," and there is a conflict-of-interest with banking regulation implied in being fairer to small investors by prohibiting referrals and their expensing when every other business has them. Glass-Steagall addressed this kind of problem. Nevertheless, the small business fundraiser, grateful to a referrer, is free to make an unexpected gift to the referrer, out of their personal account.]
So: make a trailer for your movie, copy it onto 50 5-minute tapes, mail them to rich folks you hear about. Apartment owners, beach-dwellers, etc. CPA's and CFP's can be good, too, believe it or not. If someone asks you about your investment but says that they are retired and on a fixed income, they probably work for the NASD and are trying to keep the world safe for capitalism. That's been my experience. You can say "no," but the law suggests if they know someone who is a financial expert like a stockbroker or a CPA, that they may okay the investment, according to their resources. In my experience, I have met an investor who had tied up a large portion of their investments, and had suffered through some schemes/programs/systems (but was keen to try more), but who was open to letting a room.
Do you have to sell them shares in your LLC or corporation? Not at all; you can fill out a "letter of credit" or invoice, for all of the film, or partly completed stages of the film. You come to an agreement that when the script is done and it is good enough to attract a name from a list of names, that a certain amount will be paid, or the agreement is abrogated. These agreements work best with a single investor, but may probably be adapted to more. These agreements also work better with smaller investors, where it is understood that if the investor changes their mind, the filmmaker gets to hunt for support elsewhere. Having a buyer(s) for a finished work, even with "soft" letter-of-interest commitment(s) is sometimes enough to get the ball rolling. But be aware that using an invoice to try to avoid regulators -- not too smart.
LLC's and incorporation have their place, and are charitable to investors like arranging a custodian for a self-directed IRA is charitable, in the extreme. At one time, I reviewed the procedures for registering corporations for stock listing, and discovered that all of the same restrictions which applied to contacting small investors for an LLC still apply to the stock. Restrictions on advertizing, especially, apply to small stocks, and included arbitrary "cooling off" periods as well. Plus, did you think you would be able to mail your prospectus to every one of the 600,000 NASD registered stockbrokers? NASD is a private organization, and has kept its mailing lists private, not public, just as they have kept their brokers without voting rights or what some feel is worthwhile information. The NASD has instituted a rule whereby if one approaches an NASD broker-dealer to "market make" one's stock, they are prohibited from charging one a fee, but that doesn't preclude their simply saying "no." I have not yet read of a viable company being rejected by hundreds of market makers, but frankly, when I think about the NASD, I get sick. But there is one good reason to be aware of stock: although there may be many investors who buy stock, who borrow against it and buy more stock with the borrowed money, exploiting the paradox of lending also known as "hypothecation" "leverage" or "rediscount," while the minimum wage worker struggles oblivious to the expanding balloon of artificial money supply, only a handful of mortal constructs like stock and patents begin to compensate for this injustice, and we can embrace and promote them, or seek something higher.
On a similar note, may I strongly encourage the reader to avoid offshore "sweatshop" work arrangements for two reasons: webcams make it possible to speak to every worker and know that they are being paid as indicated; and giving workers money in countries with caste systems, poor education and scant opportunity is probably supporting that system, not helping the workers. If you can compensate them with a plane ticket to a better country, or some land there, you might do them more good.
If you are interested in writing a feature, my condolences. Write something the world hasn't read before but needs to. In the Tipathon, there is a section about writing . I am fond of first pages, myself, with ten big ideas per page; I've heard that only Gertrude Stein wrote only first pages. If you would rather produce than write, there are many sources of writing for animation: stand-up comedians, animation writers, small theater writers and producers, cartoonists, and guild members. Some will have inventories of work and be flexible and astute -- try to be the same way, and have an inventory of work, flexibility and willingness to put the project first, when it's worth making. "Project it and expect it."
Where is there a group of people who appear to be suffering, and is there some wisdom to convey to them which can be best served using CG animation? Animation allows excellence with: scale, inventiveness, complication, alacrity, detail, business, metamorphosis, shading, composition, allusion, juxtaposition, etc. In other words, conveying information with uplifting impact.
Who else is suffering or being abused or isn't living to their potential? If you feel as I do that the majority of movie stories are about rescue, how we become rescued as we rescue others, then it is probably equally important to provide real solutions in character interactions. The trick seems to be how to take your 300 suggestions for a better world and weave them into your rescue narrative.
My qualifications for adjudicating the literary limbo bar? Here are some shorts . I confess my better long material is in the form of bundles of pages, but here are some of the projects that seem to have promise.
For what it's worth, I've observed that the hero is often reluctant to change or be changed, like our audience, and knows something is the matter before the first frame, but feels they have problems enough. In science fiction and historical epics, society is on the brink. In smaller films, personal potential is surprisingly great, but threatens to be squandered. (Duh!)
At one time, I felt that a hold-the-pillow-down-harder mantra-like poem alone might help make a dent in alcoholic addiction. I should have posted my scribblings on the Internet, which didn't exist. (Now, I would be more inclined to recommend spiritual treatment and humility; so I guess someone else will have to champion the mantratoon.)
How to get the impulse onto 100 pages? How about parody? Parody holds the mirror up to a familiar touchstone, perhaps the crux of a problem, and parody is at the heart of many stories. "Shrek" is sopping-wet with parody, but unless "The Wiz" emerges, the venom-temptation with parody may lead to an energy vacuum.
If one begins without an audience or a set of suggestions or meaningful observations dramatized, one had better hope to find some. In my own experience, I can throw out 200 ideas on a character like a Russian cartoonist or a mad ventriloquist, but until I figure out how the mad ventriloquist speaks to a pressing issue or is uniquely suited to rescue anyone, I can't get past page 20. Have I written anything past 70 pages lately that was aimed at helping anyone? Yes, but I try not to talk about scripts that are possibly missing key points still. A script is an argument or parable, and the flawed ones are so much mental graffitti, at least, that argument is as good as any for keeping unfinished work to oneself. When at a finished stage, a "reading" can help expose places where jokes falter, etc.