Kevin McKeever (AKA The Bank of Kev) is a cool guy and you should get to know him. Why? Because he is a well of information about the film industry and has helped produce shows such as Jackass, Kids Say the Darnedest Things, and Guinness Book of World Records. But for we geeks he worked on Mystery Men and currently works as a marketing coordinator for Robotech. So what I have for you is the panel he recently did for A-Kon 22 on Independent Film-making, that I attended and recorded. A lot of good questions were asked, a lot of good answers were given, and a fan-girl even spent five minutes arguing why they should stop making Superman movies.
This is part two of the panel and he addresses why you should have a lawyer, the rarity of Kevin Smith, and whether or not YouTube has been more helpful or harmful to the film industry.
[YOUNG LADY IN GLASSES] In Texas it’s true we have the right to work and we don’t have to be in a union?
[BANK OF KEV] Well unions are here in Texas still, but it is an advantage because you are in a right to work state. Where in California, one of the issues that faces the state is that to be on a union show you have to be in the union and getting into the union is very difficult. One of the problems is there are a lot of amazing and wonderfully talented people who can’t get work, because there is no work for them, because the films are being shot in Texas and other various states.
Alright, you there in the glasses.
[DASHING AND HANDSOME YOUNG MAN IN GLASSES .... NAMED KOALAINTHEUSA] I heard when they did the first Paranormal Activity that it was an independent film and the director cast the actors through Craigslist. He only had 15,000$ to start with and it was considered a small budget, but my question is how do you raise a sum of money that is even that small?
[BANK OF KEV] God, casting through Craigslist. That’s got such an X-rated sound to it. *Everyone laughs* Well to raise a budget like that is considered very dangerous. First off let me state I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. When it comes to something like this get a lawyer. I still talk to my lawyer about financing and it’s very, very difficult.
You have to understand, if you are a director and I, as the Bank of Kev, give you money there’s a huge amount of SEC paperwork because I am making an investment. There is a lot of Security and Exchange Commission work that is done. I just wanted to give you a heads up, saying “Just give me money” isn’t that simple. One thing you can do is just go around and see how much money you can raise. For example if you say, “My god, I need a million dollars”, which believe it or not isn’t a lot of money in the film world. Well if ten people give you 100,000$ then you have a million dollars and if twenty people give you 50,000$ then you have a million dollars. And if you get fifty people and they give you 20,000$ then you, uh… wait is that right? *Everyone laughs*
But you see my point though? All the time in independent films and you see the end credits and there is a section that says ‘Special Thanks’ and that list that goes for three minutes? Often times that is because those are people who invested money.
You can do things with limited funds, but you have to look for ways to stretch your budget. I mean, you can make any movie for any amount of money. Theoretically, I could make Titanic for fifty bucks. Now it would not be the film you saw in theaters and the boat would be abstract to say the least. It would probably be in a bathtub and involve a rubber ducky. But you know you would have made Titanic. We have also seen the flip side, where big budget films spend millions of dollars and we all say “God, that looks like utter crap“. I mean you watch X-Men first class and go “My god, how did they screw up Wolverine so much?!”. X-Men First Class looks so good and Wolverine looks so…. bad.
When you start talking funding like that get a lawyer. You are trying to raise as much money as you can, because people can come after you. If they think you are taking that money and using it to finance your corvette and your condo in Bermuda, they will come after you with lawyers and lawsuits. A lot of people say “Look at Kevin Smith. He started with Clerks and spent 27, 000$ by taking a whole bunch of credit cards and running them all up.” But that is a rarity. There are so many people who tried that and failed. Utter failure. They went completely broke, and some even went to jail. That is why I can’t stress enough that when you start raising money to get a lawyer. Not only to protect you, but to protect your investors too.
One thing I can recommend is do not go out and say to investors “Oh my god! If you give me 50, 000$ I can give you the next Blair Witch Project” or in this case Paranormal Activity, because people will go “Oh my god, you are going to make me 100 million dollars” and they give you 50, 000$ and the film goes absolutely nowhere. Guess what? They are going to turn to you and say “Where is my 100 million dollars, you said you were going to give me the next Blair Witch Project! No? Well here’s a lawsuit.” Trust me, I have a lawyer and he even gave me a lecture on how important it is to be careful these days.
Alright, next question, you there in the back.
[MAN IN THE BACK] Do you feel that with the rise of YouTube and other internet streaming sites that it has helped or hindered independent film-making?
[BANK OF KEV] Great question. Well first, Hollywood is starting to monetize YouTube. RoboTech is now on YouTube legally and we make money on it. Yes, by the way go to YouTube and type in RoboTech, because I’d like to keep my job.
Well at the same time where it has helped, I will give you an example of how it doesn’t. I was at a convention and I won’t say where, but it wasn’t here, and I was in the autograph line with Vic Mignogna and Caitlin Glass. And the idea is that they all want to talk to Vic, but this girl came up to me and goes “Oh hi, who are you?” and I said, “Well I’m Kevin McKeever”. She asked me, “What do you do?” and I said “Well I work on RoboTech”. ”Well what’s RoboTech” she asked and I said “We just did RoboTech Shadow Chronicles and it just came out earlier this year”. She then said “Oh RoboTech! I need to go home and BitTorrent that.”
Now, I want to point out something. When she said that, she wasn’t trying to screw me over. No, that was just how she gets her anime. When she grew up, she was used to going “I want the next Naruto episode”, so she goes to BitTorrent and downloads a fan-sub. I know this isn’t the fan-sub panel, but bear with me here. And she just presses a button and that Naruto episode that was aired in Japan two days ago, starts downloading. But that’s how she saw anime. She didn’t pay for it and she didn’t buy the dvd’s and it wasn’t her attempt at being mean, it was just how she knew how to do it.
So what we did was to take that info and go “Kids these days are watching what they want on YouTube, so lets find a way to make a legal YouTube channel and monetize it”. Which we have, although I am not at liberty to tell you how. And now I can tell her to go to YouTube and watch it and it benefits both of us. But sadly that deal wasn’t in place at the time.
You see my point? It’s helpful but there is also a downside. The good news is that Hollywood is starting to take over the online angle so that it is legal.
There is a bigger point to all this and that is………
COME BACK NEXT TIME TO SEE PART 3 OF ‘THE INDEPENDENT FILM INDUSTRY AND YOU WITH KEVIN MCKEEVER’