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Thursday, 26 March 2015

Interview With 7DM Studios


"You say you want a revolution,well, you know we all wanna change the world" David Martin passionately believes that Indie films can uncover an untapped wealth of talent that Hollywood is ignoring. 7DM Studios are going to provide a voice for the many individuals that currently aren't being heard, James Fisher and Nick Lean tell us more...

"I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth" So quotes Withnail in the Indie, Cult classic Withnail and I. This is very much my sentiment when it comes to the output currently being regurgitated from Hollywood and has been for some considerable time. "It's not all that bad" I hear you cry and, yes there are the occasional gems to be discovered (The Imitation Game is a standout film in my mind) but it's mostly all churn with the emphasis very much on quantity rather than quality. The problem seems to be a much deeper and more concerning one when you speak to the many Indie writers and actors that are trying to get their work seen by a wider audience. Here at TheCultDen we have been long time supporters of Jonathan Chance and his vision for The Rectory, which is now heavily into production. I remember chatting to Jonathan and hearing the horrendous task he had with attempting to contact key studio personnel to look at his proposal. In most cases it's not that the work is bad or unmarketable, it's just that, unless you are a bankable or recognisable name, no one will take you seriously. So to be taken seriously you have to have your work viewable and you can't do that without it being green lit, and so on and round we go in a kind of celluloid or digital vicious circle.


Two weeks ago a promotional press release made its way across my desk and my heart leapt into my mouth. I read about the ethos behind 7DM Studios and how James Fisher and Nick Lean wanted to create a new force in film making, boldly serving, supporting and sustaining independent film production. I realised that I had to speak to them as this venture sounded like the sort of idea that our beleaguered film industry has been crying out for. What follows is the interview I conducted with them and, believe me when I say that this is a game changer. It is not unnecessary hyperbole to call it a revolution with 7DM Studios at the very forefront of it. It is hard to convey my excitement and enthusiasm for a project that promises to put the emphasis back on the talented individuals that have been overlooked by an industry that has become bloated with its own self importance and success. Yes, TheCultDen are totally supportive of 7DM Studios and for very good reason. In our day to day activities we have the privilege of viewing many Indie films that won't get the wider release that they deserve and we know the depth of talent that is out there. Read on my friends and be inspired!


"Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to me today, James and Nick, can you tell me about how 7DM Studios came into being?


Nick: Its a pleasure David and yes absolutely! James and I have 20 years of film making experience each and, very quickly, became aware that a huge number of talented individuals are being completely ignored. There so little coming out of Hollywood at the moment with any real thought behind it. Independent film personnel are really struggling to get their work seen or even made, in some cases, and there seems to be very little in terms of development and support for new and emerging talent. When we looked into this we found that there were companies providing support with key areas of the process but no one provides an end to end solution. 7DM Studios can provide either a complete management solution to productions, or a very role specific, third party support. Having spoken and worked with producers and film makers this is something that is urgently required.


James: We really want to provide the support that Indie producers just aren't getting right now so that more of the quality that we know exists is seen by the public


Wow, it sounds like a huge and wide ranging remit. How are you planning to deliver this and connect film makers to the support they need?


Nick: I think it needs to be that wide ranging. We can't just offer support in only a few aspects of the process but we also need to support film makers who need a more tailored approach. Its not a one size fits all model as it has to be a solution that is made to measure around each project. We have established contacts with the big five studios in the M25, London area and have in house expertise available for every part of the film making process. We didn't want to outsource any element and, even when it comes to the all important financing of projects, we have city based experts who will be involved.


James, you are involved with AD Lanes' Indie project, Invasion of the Not Quite Dead. He is amazing in his passion and drive for getting his project completed.


Yes and its really been amazing to be part of AD's film. When you look at the work he put in to publicise and gain funding for Invasion it really is astounding. AD is very supportive of what we are trying to do and when you see the work that he's put in, remember there are many, many more individuals trying to do the same. As Nick mentioned, there are companies out there doing bits of what we do but no one is doing it all.


One of the criticisms in regards to Indie films seems to be over quality and financiers who are unwilling to back them because of this. What are your thoughts with regards to these concerns?


James: Financiers want to back great films but the issue is there is no definitive standard to be reached and size of budget cant be a real indication either.


Nick: It is something that we hear time and time again from film makers who cannot get productions companies to take them seriously because they are independent. With technology now so well developed that just about anyone can make a film with little or no experience and post it online, I can see why the point of view is held. The problem is one that needed a solution because, at the end of the day, financiers want to ensure their investment. 7DM Studios are going to be developing the first Indie Film standard or Kite Mark that will be awarded to all films that make the grade. In order to achieve the Kite Mark, each film will go through a rigorous process of assessment. Rather than having one individual making the decision the project will be passed to designated departments that cover all aspects of the process. Our Kite Mark will provide a standard of excellence that is recognised at industry level and should ensure that financiers will invest as the quality of the project is supported. We are really excited about this development, there isn't anything like it currently for the Indie Film market yet it is something which is desperately needed.


What are your concerns with Hollywood's output at the moment and what do you perceive the issues are?


Nick: I grew up with classic, epic films such as Lawrence of Arabia and Zulu. Huge films with amazing vision and delivered on a scale that just took your breath away. We don't see that sort of standard nowadays from Hollywood, it seems so cut and run. I see Hollywood, in terms of a model, as a pyramid. You have 10-15% of the industry working all the time on everything but the remaining, and larger 85-90% fighting for the scraps of what's left. It's a real gorilla fight and I do mean gorilla, with huge Silver Backed creatures fighting with each other for work. It's messy and it's destructive with the film industry not fully supporting and investing in new and emerging talented people. It just shouldn't be like that and the issues of not getting work seen or even finished is something that is fuelling this in fighting. Currently, there is no stability, no connectivity and there is constant fighting and aggression. 7DM Studios aim to put the quality back into an industry that has been kidnapped by the minority.


James: I think that we really wanted to do something to change this issue and to start a company that would actively support rather than add to the fight. Our Industry is in a bad way and unless we support and invest now its only going to get worse


What sort of projects would be in 7DM's remit to support and can you explain a little more on what would be offered?


James: Essentially we will offer a three tiered support structure with the focus on the first and third tier initially.


Nick: The first tier would be bespoke support with 7DM taking an active production role to ensure the project delivers. Utilising the contacts and talent we have in house to deliver the agreed vision of the film maker but not watering down what they want to achieve. We would be looking at projects with a budget of no less than £300,000 and each film would have to achieve the standard we have set for our kite mark. The third tier, or Apex, would be a way for us to support and develop smaller independent projects. These would be still highly commercially viable but also an opportunity for film makers to show what they can do. We would provide a budget of, say, £50,000 and then work very closely with the project to ensure that the finished film is what was intended to be delivered.


This really does sounds amazing and, I agree, something which the industry really does need. I love that you are trying to support but also invest in an industry which just seems so one sided. Where are you currently with funding for the company?


Nick:We are currently in the process of developing a working capital for the first two years so that we can deliver on our company ethos. 7DM Studios have a commitment to release two, in house, films per year and the first to be released will be a horror comedy called Shed of the Dead. I can't say much about the project at the moment but the writing and film development is of an outstandingly high level. We are not a digital studio and will make a project using whatever film type it needs. We already have links in America and we know that we can support Independent film making here but also over the pond.


James: I think that we can make it easier for better films to be made and not only ones that happen to have the backing of the huge, production houses. There really is a place for Indie films and they do deserve better recognition.


This really has been an exciting conversation and you have the passionate support of TheCultDen, please can you keep us up to date with developments and we can continue in our vocal Indie film championing.


James: No problem at all we really want to work with people who are as passionate about Indie films as we are."


You can follow 7DM Studios on Twitter @7DMStudios and we will bring you more news as we receive it. 7DM Studios represents the future of Independent Film-Making and the view from the front line has suddenly become a lot less one sided.


Follow David Martin on Twitter at @ventspleen2014

Image courtesy of 7DM Studios.

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