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   Training Review
   Producing, Financing, and
   Distributing Film
   Authors: Paul A. Baumgarten
                 Donald C. Farber
                 Mark Fleischer
   Publisher: Limelight Editions
   Format: Book, 242 pgs.
   Topic: Financial and legal advice for film.

   MSRP: $17.95

   Special Pricing:  Click Here
   Release Date: October 15, 2005
   Review Date: May 15, 2006
   Reviewed By: Kari Ann Morgan
Final Score:

For directors, the business aspect of filmmaking is an evil necessity that they'd rather not deal with. Directors have the vision and creativity to make the project, and as such, they rarely muddle too far into the dark realms of legalities and finances because "that's the producer's job!"

Legal contracts. Distribution. Pay scales. Unions and guilds. Funding. All these and more are things that a producer must be able to not only understand, but negotiate and manage. Paul Baumgarten, Donald Farber, and Mark Fleischer have undertaken the enormous task of breaking down the financial and legal aspects of film production, and explaining them in this book.

The authors begin early in the pre-production stage, by explaining the process to obtaining a literary property (play, book, biography, etc.) and developing a screenplay. Then comes all of the necessary paperwork and provisions for compensation (how people get paid and how/when the film is profitable), distribution, and financing. Next are all of the contracts and agreements for the director, producer, facilities, personnel, and equipment. Finally are all of the rights, clearances, and agreements for music and film exhibition.

The authors go into intricate and sometimes exhausting detail in covering all of these aspects, and, to a certain extent, they must. These are complicated topics, and one must be sure that s/he covers all the bases when undertaking such a large project. However, this book is one that would have benefited tremendously from end-of-chapter (or sectional) summaries or outlines. Because the topics are so complex and multifaceted, it would be extremely helpful to the reader to have some additional help in comprehension. Also, diagrams showing some of the various processes, how things are connected, etc. would have also been helpful.

Depth of Information
I will definitely say that the depth of information in this book is tremendous. It goes into great detail explaining the ins and outs of contracts, legal arrangements, finances, and much more. A college professor teaching a course on this material could use this book as the only textbook and it would be more than enough.

Interest Level
As I mentioned earlier, this is one of those "necessary evils" of filmmaking, and is very difficult to make engaging. However, I know it is possible; Deke Simon and Michael Weise's Film and Video Budgeting 4 did it. And if budgeting can be made interesting, the same is possible with legalities. Unfortunately, its overwhelming depth of information and lack of guides, charts, or summaries make this a rather tedious book.

While the information in this book is important and necessary, it is not geared toward the microfilmmaker. I know of very few ultra-low-budget films that have had to deal with unions or guilds, have agreements with complex provisions, or make extremely detailed financial contracts. For most of us, the information in this book is not something we will have to mess with until we move out of the realm of microcinema and into projects with more money, people, and requirements.

Value vs. Cost
If you are a producer of films that are more involved and expensive, and want to work on increasingly more involved films, this book would not be a bad investment. However, it is excessive and inapplicable for the microfilmmaker.

Overall Comment
This book deals with important and necessary topics, but is badly in need of some clarifying and summarizing guides. It is difficult to understand without the guidance of a professor or legal interpreter, and is not engaging for anyone not involved in one of those two fields. While it is probably a book that an aspiring mid-to-high-level producer would find useful, it is not appropriate for microfilmmakers.

Depth of Information            
Interest Level            
           Value vs. Cost            
Overall Score           

A powerhouse in management, Kari Ann Morgan successfully produced a feature length film before coming to work at Microfilmmaker as Assistant Editor. In addition to writing for the magazine, she's been successfully working with various distributors to get microfilmmakers the chance for theatrical distribution.

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