Build global NEO film network

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 03/01/2006 - 03:13.

At the Film Roundtable we discussed strengthening our network of NEO film stakeholders but we were largely talking regionally. After the roundtable, Laura Paglin and I discussed how important it is for NEO film makers to be connected with LA (and everywhere else in the world) - we should have branch Media Arts Centers in other film centers, just like Kent State and CIA have branch campuses in Italy.

Further, we should make it a priority to include in our network, and industry planning, all the people in the global film industry who have any connection with Cleveland whatsoever - this is consistent with the type of outreach going on in other sectors of the local economy and I believe the Cleveland Film Commission already pursues some distant connections... it shouldn't be too hard to go global quickly.

We need to build the film network to not only include but attract the global community, and we need to include all the distant stakeholders possible - each could decide to film, move, invest or hire here, if they feel part of the community.

Any thoughts? 

( categories: )

Net - working

Laura is certainly correct and it's true that without global connections, you'll only get your film seen at the gracious Cedar Lee. However, the network must begin at home.


Athough still in it's infancy, Johnny Wu and I began a local chapter of the international online forum, and through our monthly meetings we have seen some real examples of the kind of cooperative networking that so many people at the meeting felt was absent from the Cleveland film community. Several projects have benefitted from this forum and even though you can debate the individual merits of each, the success of the club itself is undeniable.


Another issue I'd like to address is the whole "raising the bar" issue. In order for us to compete with the very cities we want to connect with, we have to produce quality that rivals theirs. This is where much frustration is generated. Some of the most prolific producers in the area, consistently create low quality product, from the writing, to the acting, to the lighting, sound and camera work and they have become the very reason we aren't taken seriously.


However, rather than get into that in any depth, let me bring it back around to the Global Networking idea. If we want to attract global connections, we have to be attractive. And nothing attracts like success.

Bill Johns -

Cleveland Indie Club is exactly what NEO needs, X10

No doubt - I was really excited by everything Johnny had to say, and all the feed back from the film makers. I'm planning to join Cleveland Indie Club and check out their next meeting (which I know will grow lots from exposure through this initiative... watch), and I asked Johnny to help plan a series of Indie Film Nights at AJ Rocco's, downtown - more to post on that in a separate forum...


For now, I need to finish posting the notes from yesterday... not even half way there, yet

Cleveland IndieClub is not

Cleveland IndieClub is not just a resource of contacts and local, the we are actually part of a world wide network and part of the group, meaning, over 30,000 members around the world is connected via a forum/bulletin board/message board through the internet..


In Addition, many of us that are part of the Cleveland IndieClub (which is free to anyone, and its goal is to learn and network). We are also part of the world wide independent film community, which include Indietalk, Moviemakersportal, indietribe, and almost all forums and yahoogrouprs related to independent filmmaking, we network with them. The reason I'm bringing this is because Independent filmmaking point of view, Cleveland has been slowly garning a lot of attention, not because of Cleveland International Film Festival, also, thanks to Ohio Independent Film Festival, the 20,000 League Film Festival, and many wonderful filmmakers who had successfully had films shown at festivals (Laura Paglin, Bill Johns, Robert Banks, David Litz, Joe Ostrica, Christine Chapman of Port Clinton, and many others). These people who have helped made noise for Cleveland also resides here and helps out as part of the local IndieClub scene. And thanks to the noise each are making, it has opened up a lot of communities outside of Cleveland wanting to come and get involved. All the online forums I've mentioned above and others have heard of Cleveland, they have been impressed with the caliber of products that we have put out, and are interested to come to this town to check out what makes us tick, hence, bringing money to the hotels, to the restaurants, etc.


Another example, at Cleveland IndieClub (btw, it's March 19 from 1pm to 4pm), we have people coming from Columbus, from Youngstown, and many neighboring cities, they come and spend 4 hours networking at the same time spending money here, many stays and eat at  restaurants, etc), it's a small 'economic growth as well.


Now, those who already successfully had film screened, they are now engaging in bigger projects, meaning, bringing more people and resources together. One example, is myself, thanks to the wide success of A Joker's Card (in addition of winning 3 awards and getting invited to festivals like a feature even though it is a short film), it's already generating income, not profit, but income, plus many professionals in LA, Boston, San Francisco, Minnessotta, Michigan, etc. Are coming to Cleveland this summer to help me shoot my feature film. Hence, brinng more businesses to Cleveland, because they will need places to stay, food outside of the shoot schedule, and have time going to clubs or whatnot.


As I've mentioned many times, there are at least 20 filmmakers right at the same time, running around making films, are they good or bad, we will never know until it's done, but we do encourage them to be shown at IndieClub so they can learn from the experience.


Personally, I think the success of an IndieClub meeting is because of the basic rule we set at the place, it's a club to grow together, you bring your film and you show them, you get questions about how did you shoot this and that, but not a crictic of sort (if you want to criticise, feel free to do it individually speaking), Because making a film is a creative process, you will never get the same opinion more than once even from the same person, so we enourage learning but we dont' encourage people to publicaly criticise it (unless the filmmaker himself begs for it).

The other part of the club then consist of having a guest speaker to come to talk on variety of topics, from filmmaking to script writing to ethics and moral about filmmaking, etc. We try to educate to help raise the bar.


And so who comes to the meetings? everyone from corporate videographers or filmmakers to business people.


As I do also have a strong marketing and business publicity background I look at films as a products to sell and hence it gotten me much of attention more outside of Cleveland than within the City. Because I actively selling my films to festivals to reporters and to other filmmakers.


Global networking is already been done and we are continuing the process, The Film Commission here in Cleveland also are continuing trying to attract big studios to come and spend money here, where as, the film community here in town are slowly and steadily networking and sharing resources through groups like Cleveland IndieClub (oh yes, there are other groups in town), however, Cleveland IndieClub seems to be one of the major force of independent filmmaker's outlet, thanks to them, I made A Joker's Card (all the resources were there)


And when I hear people comments about they didn't know there is a film community, I encourage each of you to just do a google search, if you type in Cleveland Independent Filmmakers, you get to my site and to many others very quickly within the first few pages.


The problem however, is not there isn't a community, but more about the meeting after, like myself, Bill, Robert, Bernadette, we all have experienced this: a person calls and asks for our advice and/or help, and when we suggest them to attend one of the group meeting to get see the resource of talents (even the Cleveland Film Festival and the Cleveland Film Commission and other groups has suggested them to check out IndieClub), the person usually just hang up or claimed "he/she has no time for that" so, it's more about the mentality of the individual, and hence, making the job of 'raising' the bar much more harder.


Earlier today, I had a conversation with Robert Banks and we both agreed that the problem isn't the media or the technology, it is more about the individual who self-interest is making him/her-self famous, and the eagerness one is trying to ride the road of success but declines to listen or network with others because they are too busy within their own agenda and forgets the bigger picture, then of course later, they would always 'claim' "there isn't a community in town"


So, this is a dare to those who make such claim, I am bold in making this statement cause I am sure I speak with the same opinion of many filmmakers in town, if you feel like there isn't a community, first and foremost, do a search and see if there really isn't one, and proceed from there. And if you do find a community, start networking with them instead alienating them, after all Entertainment business is more about who you know than what you can do.


Another dare, feel free to google search Cleveland Independent Filmmakers or Cleveland filmmakers, and you definetely get a pool of information available. and feel free to go to every independent filmmaking forums online and you definetely will see Cleveland is known and exist. :) We are everywhere. :)


If Cleveland IndieClub has 200+ members and about 60-80 of them comes each month to our meetings and we are only part of the community, then there must be tons more = there is definetely a community. :)


Lastly, about need for location, if you need something, pick up the phone and call and you'll get it (most of the time). Ask Bill Johns how he got a Hammer for his feature, and how he got a million dollar mansion to use for his feature. I recently just re-secured the use of a helicopter for aerial shots for my feature, and secured an entire port (or even a town) for it as well. It's all about who you know and what you do and how you do it, but basically, pick up a phone and make a call is all it takes :)


I'm rambling too much, sorry about that

Johnny Wu


PS: You can check out my awards winning short film A Joker's Card online at


Hummer, not hammer

I already had a hammer, Johnny... lol. But seriously, I walked into Central Cadilac and just on the strength and quality of my trailer they gave me a Hummer H2 for free for two weekends.

Support for Film Industry

Thanks Norm.  I thought the City Club meeting was helpful, but would like to see some specific goals.  Otherwise, you risk losing people who want to help or one activity proceeds towards a goal, only to find that the goal doesn't address everyone’s needs and you have to either start over or deal with the delivery of a product that only serves one subset of the film, video and TV industry the group wants to help.  I am not a movie producer or director, but I have been on a film sound stage and I have been in a TV studio and I have been in editing suites and I shouldn’t have to point out that they are dramatically different. It's not at all clear what people want or others say they are trying to deliver.  It might be helpful to know what resources are currently available. For instance, before devoting funds to a TV studio or editing suites, it might be helpful to know that those aren’t activities that the new Ideastream building won’t provide.  The place is huge, with sound recording studios, editing bays and a small auditorium/stage area with a soft floor that permit cameras to roll around quietly. PBS officers have said the facility can be available to others. From what I’ve seen, a sound stage for full film production needs a large space like a warehouse, with very high ceiling wide-open spaces and a truck loading dock. I haven’t heard any recent discussion that something like that might be available, at least not since the Film Commission tried unsuccessfully to get the donation of a building out near Hopkins Airport (as occurred in Austin, Texas).  I didn’t hear that was even considered to be a need to generate film activity in NE Ohio, but from my perspective, it certainly needs to be on the agenda. Again, thanks for the opportunity to contribute.

Media Arts Center will be collaboration

It is clear the IdeaStream facilites and OneCleveland have a role. Michael DeAloia will have useful ideas and connections. We're in the fact finding stage, regarding the Media Arts Center. David Reed is exploring global models, as well. I spoke with Mayor Brewer about setting it up in East Cleveland - he has buildings in their landbank. We have these pieces to work with so let's start with them.

Specific goals

I have specific goals when it comes to filmmaking in Cleveland.


I am 98% done with principle photography on my first feature film, "Madness" and only need about $10K to complete post production and market it.


Finishing that film, I will find distribution for it while working on pre-production for a second film, "PsyClone".


The profits from these two films will help to secure a location for a production house which will service my own company's needs and be available for major studio and indie rentals.


As Cinevid Productions grows, we will branch out into funding other independent filmmaker projects, providing funds, support, facilities and education.


In ten years I plan to have a full production studio based in NEO that will produce motion pictures that consistently reach theatrical release in major markets.


OR, Cleveland will continue to be as short sighted, uncooperative and unsupportive as it's always been and after my first success I'll move to LA and make films for the major studios. (sorry, I'm feeling a bit like the Little Red Hen lately... anyone want to help me make the bread?)


If you watch the trailer for Madness, or get my Shorts DVD and watch the 35mm footage from tests for PsyClone, you would see that we have the talent and ability right here in Cleveland to make films that rival Hollywood, we just don't have the support.


In researching my business plan, I spent months learning about distribution, marketing, production and release strategies for motion pictures and would love the opportunity to help educate anyone who's interested in funding a film project.


I'm not really interested in creating any more of a community, than we already have. I think it's now time to get behind one project and get it done, then allow the 'community' to learn from and emulate it's success.


Bill Johns




You seem to want a community of investors

You seem to have a complete vision and lots to work with to convince investors you're a risk worth taking, and your needs are not large.  So you need a room full of prospective small investors in the hope 1 in 50 or 100 will take a chance for $10K. So where are 100 prospective investors? Gorilla Group. Community of Minds. Red Room Revolution. Talk to Cathy Panzica, just to see if she wants to diversify. OVA may have some pointers, and would probably let you pitch to their 100+ members at the Union Club. Hold an "Excellence Roundtable", investor party, or help us get Indie Nights at A.J. Rocco's going and use that to attract the right folks... I have a huge mailing list and will send out an invitation for you, and I'm sure I can find others who will as well.

Thanks Norm

I'll follow up on your suggestions, and what do you need for AJ's Indie Nights? I have a DVD compilation of five short films and can recommend others.


Bill Johns


Bill, sorry for the typo,

Bill, sorry for the typo, meant to be hummer anyway, I would think it'll be Cleveland's lost if you are moving to LA, but if you ever do, I'll point you out some people I know that would appreciate your skill :)

Opportunities are coming by soon, slowly and steadily so I'm not worrying about the lack of 'needs' because they are there, many of us already had helped many to continue their filmmaking experience, we have worked with them, allowed them to grow, etc.

As I am myself venturing to the pre-production of my summer feature, I also understand a lot about the distribution market (first hand working close with a few sales reps) and with my MBA background I have learned much during my working time in LA with top notch publicists. These have transfored into understanding what works what doesn't. It's plain that simple.

let's just continuing doing what we do best and moving forward, those who want to learn can simply ask, but if they concern of their ego getting into their ways, then they aren't interested in learning.