Last week we told you about Dan Gaud’s trailer for LEAP, a VFX driven work-in-progress that caught our eye. We weren’t alone. io9.com picked the story up with a very nice link back to our blog (thanks io9!)
Dan was kind enough to give us the first official LEAP interview. We listened carefully to what he had to say. Dan’s in an exciting, precarious place in his career where the right moves may launch him, but the wrong moves could definitely sink him!
Dan Wants the be a Filmmaker
In his interview, Dan talked about wanting to work full-time as a filmmaker, and hoping to launch himself as a director–a goal many share. Our readers know that here at Joke and Biagio we believe the best way to break in to Hollywood is to become a Hands-On Producer, and Dan is a prime example of this philosophy at work.
Keep in mind, from a producing perspective, there’s two reasons to do a project like LEAP:
- To sell LEAP as a feature film.
- And/or to sell yourself as a filmmaker.
Dan’s Doing a Lot Right
1. Playing to His Strengths
Dan has a visual FX background (as seen here on his awesome demo reel). He’s taken that skill set and placed it front and center in LEAP, making his small, home-brewed movie look like a Hollywood blockbuster.
2. Not Going Broke
This amazing piece of work cost Dan $900 out of pocket! People have spent 100 times that on projects not nearly as epic-looking as LEAP. Dan pulled this off because he did almost everything (writing, story-boarding, shooting, editing, visual fx) himself. When he needed help, he called in favors. Just starting out? That’s the way to do it.
3. Building a Following
To launch a video and get to 5,748 views in less than a week (current count at Dan’s YouTube page) is impressive. Dan reached out to us on Twitter, and hasn’t been afraid to promote his project in online forums. He believes in LEAP, and is pointing people to it.
Advice: The Trailer
It’s clear this is a teaser more than a trailer. Dan said he didn’t want to give too much plot away and spoil the story. There’s nothing wrong with being mysterious, but in this tease, there’s practically no hint as to what the story is about.
This tactic is working to drum up internet buzz, but Dan wants to make big, Hollywood movies. Hollywood execs should watch his teaser and feel like they could play it on the big screen tomorrow.
However, the LEAP teaser, in it’s current state, would never be put into theaters. Rarely, if ever, is a blockbuster film teased with nothing but amazing imagery. A story element, no matter how mysterious, is always front and center. Further, voice over, title cards, or dialogue sound-ups help make sure the audience “gets” what the movie is about.
In our previous article, 5 Rules for the Hands-On Producer Making Their Own Reality TV Pilot, we discuss the importance of looking to the best of the best for inspiration. We’d recommend Dan checks out this post on the 10 Greatest Movie Teasers Ever, and finds a creative way to “Hollywood-ize” the LEAP trailer (if not for his main web audience, at least as a tool for meetings he might get with execs.)
Tweaking the teaser could be as simple as adding a couple of well written title cards. Perhaps hinting that LEAP is a story about finding the key to a parallel universe, but turning that key opens Pandora’s box.
Again, while the LEAP teaser is an amazing piece to look at as is, we offer the above advice in the spirit of helping Dan attract Hollywood execs with his teaser.
Advice: The Short Film LEAP
Okay, Dan, listen up! You’ve got a whole lot of people excited about your movie. It’s time to deliver. I can’t stress this enough: history says at this point, promising projects fail. Many of these amazing teasers turn into lousy movies. We sincerely hope yours succeeds. So pay attention!
First of all, remember that a movie is not a trailer. Directing a movie, (even a short one) and making a teaser are two very different skill sets.
A movie is a visual story.
A film director, especially one directing blockbusters, should put story front-and-center. Every visual effect, explosion, virtual set piece, and breathtaking camera angle must serve one thing…the story.
Story is king (and it seems like you have a really cool story to tell here.)
The worst thing you can do for your career as a movie director right now is to make your film feel like a 6 minute movie trailer.
That doesn’t mean your movie can’t be fast paced and exciting…it just means that, even in six minutes, you have to make sure you tell a story first, and dazzle us with amazing imagery and flashy editing second.
A feature film director makes movies, not trailers. Please make the LEAP SHORT MOVIE, instead of the LEAP EXTENDED TRAILER. Do this, and people will take notice.
Advice: Dan’s Career
Dan has spent over a year on LEAP. While it’s lead to a beautiful teaser (and hopefully an amazing short film), has this precious time he’s spent really been maximized to help launch his career?
Not yet. Here’s why: Dan needs a strong end-game.
Ideally, Dan would have one of two things ready to go at the exact moment his short film is done:
1. The feature-length script for LEAP, so he could use the short film and trailer as tools to get the movie made. (By the way, this is how the movie SAW was sold. You can see the original short film here. Notice it doesn’t look anywhere near as polished as LEAP, but the overall story is crystal clear.)
2. Another project, complete with script, storyboards, and concept art that Dan desperately want’s to direct.
Dan said he’s working on a more low-tech script for a superhero movie, which sounds like a great idea. This could be Dan’s end game.
After all, it will be easier to get funding for something that can be done more cheaply than a feature version of LEAP. Dan can use the short film version of LEAP to demonstrate his abilities as a writer, director, editor, and visual FX genius, and to prove he has the moxie to take on a daunting project and finish it.
But at this point, Dan’s script is still in the early stages.
Dan needs to be aggressive–NOW–about finishing this script, or finding another project he wants to direct. Immediately.
If the buzz on LEAP continues, people will get interested in Dan. But nothing kills buzz faster than when a big exec asks “So, what do you want to do next?” and your answer is “I’m still figuring that out.”
So many artists miss their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to capitalize on an amazing wave of buzz. Dan, don’t squander your chance!
Dan Gaud, Do These 3 Things to Get Hollywood Excited
1. Make a teaser that feels more “Hollywood.”
2. Be sure your short film feels like a movie and not an extended trailer.
3. Have your next project ready to go…don’t build up all this buzz and waste it!
We wish Dan the best, and have our fingers crossed for him. Many filmmakers have gone wrong at this point, but we think Dan’s a smart guy, not to mention a visual genius. Dan, do us all proud!