A new website, a much-needed repair, increased distribution, viewership milestones, and a lot of sweat equity were among the many highlights and hurdles for Oskar Films throughout 2021.
The early winter was a bit of a bumpy ride for us. In January, Oskar Films’ debut film “Blacksmith” reached its 500th ticket buyer. A week later, however, our new short film, “Gardens of Life” was in early
production when the film advance mechanism on my Canon 1014 XL-S Super 8 camera decided to go kaput. There are many things that can go wrong on a film set. All professional filmmakers know that from day one. The great ones know how to overcome them. But few film-related mishaps are as discouraging as pressing your camera’s shutter release button only to hear a slight buzzing sound rather than the well-known whirring of film moving along the sprockets at 24 frames per second.
Sometimes it’s the Super 8 cartridge that’s the problem. A couple of firm taps on its bottom against a flat surface often gets the issue resolved. (The inner workings of a Super 8 cartridge give new meaning to the word “convoluted.”) But if the tapping solution doesn’t work, it typically means your camera’s insides need to be looked at; and that means shipping your baby out for an examination and possible operation.
And for a single-camera indie filmmaker, placing your baby in the mail means production comes to a halt.
I shipped my camera to Photo Center in Los Angeles, where it arrived in the capable hands of Mr. Marvin Meister, one of the best in the camera repair business. About six weeks later my camera was returned to me all fixed and ready to shoot.
During that time, however, a major change occurred at Amazon Prime Video. In early February the company decided to purge millions of non-curated short films and music videos from its website. Our first short film, “Blacksmith” was among the films that got the axe. (I submitted “Blacksmith” to Amazon Prime Video before it received a distribution contract with Filmhub. So after the film passed Amazon’s quality control review, it was accepted as non-curated.)
To keep “Blacksmith” alive online and to promote future projects, I launched OskarFilms.com on March 4, as I worked with Filmhub to try to get the film back on Amazon Prime. I also pitched “Blacksmith” to many SmartTV apps to increase viewership and sales. The film received streaming contracts from Filmzie, FlexNet TV, and GuideDoc.
These new streaming partnerships, in turn, led to a huge spike in “Blacksmith’s” global viewership. In January, the film had been viewed by streamers in 17 countries around the world. Today, that number stands at 79. Hopefully, we’ll hit 80 and more soon.
March also saw “Blacksmith’s” return to Amazon Prime Video for sale as a curated film. Crisis resolved.
The spring and summer months saw production on “Gardens of Life” continue, often in temperatures near 100 degrees Fahrenheit. (Remember, this is south Florida, where summers are often scorchers.) Nevertheless, production continued, ending with 14 reels of Kodak Super 8 film “in the can,” shot, developed and color-corrected. As of this writing, the rushes are looking great, but we’re far from finished with production.
Oskar Films ended 2021 with the launch of its LinkedIn page shortly after Thanksgiving. In just four weeks the page has garnered almost 60 followers, including some impresarios in the film business.
But regardless of who you are or what you do I am thankful for your decision to follow Oskar Films on LinkedIn and on other social media platforms. It truly means a lot.
Looking ahead to 2022, I’ve got much in the works with respect to “Gardens of Life,” including the release of the film’s first trailer. I also hope to release many promotional videos featuring the film’s four gardeners, beginning sometime next spring. Oskar Films is also in the development stages of a new, full-length documentary, the subject of which I hope to announce next fall.
This year has indeed been a fruitful one for Oskar Films. I want to take this opportunity to thank all those who have been so supportive of our projects, especially to my camera and sound assistants Tony Gallucci, Miranda Clapp, Mike Beck and Danny Caro. Filmmaking is a “crazy and beloved profession” (to quote Orson Welles), one with few guarantees and many headaches. But it’s what we love to do, and I hope it shows in our work.
In closing I wish everyone reading this post a Merry Christmas, a happy holiday season and a happy new year. Here’s to a healthy and prosperous 2022.