What is a Special Purpose Vehicle? (or SPV?)

wagons in a dreamlike state with ptara logoA Special Purpose Vehicle, or Single purpose vehicle, is a company that is created for a single project.

Single Purpose Vehicles are used in construction, public works and many other ventures.  While they are becoming less popular for other ventures, SPVs have become increasingly popular in film production.

Now, in the old days, film companies shied away from Special Purpose vehicles.  When film producers also owned the cinemas and actors were on contract, it made little sense to create more paperwork for each film.

But today, with changes in the way a film is financed and sold, a special purpose vehicle can be extremely useful.

Films can carry with them many long term obligations, from credits and percentage points for the actors to content agreements and more.  As most production companies don’t distribute their own films, it often makes little sense for them to continue dealing with a film after it’s made.

The “vehicle” keeps the film separate from the production company’s other activities. When the film is finished, the SPV can be sold to a distribution company, allowing the production company to focus on the next project. It also allows investors to benefit from tax breaks.

There’s a mention on the British Film Commission’s website.

http://www.britishfilmcommission.org.uk/film-production/uk-film-tax-relief/

So, while Ptara is the company that produces films, does a lot of paperwork and runs our office, another company, an SPV, may be the one that you invest in or sign a contract with.

When the SPV is taken over by a distributor, the distributor will take over the SPV’s obligations and Ptara will concentrate on new projects.

On occasion, an SPV continues as a company on its own and produce more films.

How to price your services

Ptara logo in front of currency clouds and old bank notes

When I started out, one of the things I had the most trouble with was pricing.  At first, I let the customers set the price.

This was odd, as I have spent a lot of time  writing budgets.  I earned a level 1 diploma in bookkeeping, which didn’t go into much depth, but later I budgeted films, information videos and other media projects in intricate detail.  I was writing up budgets for everyone else’s wages and freelance fees without considering the value of my own time. Continue reading How to price your services

3 ways to work with a writing partner

Ptara logo above wordcloud artwork

Or, “Three Ways to Collaborate on a Screenplay.”

A lot of people offer advice to screenwriters. We don’t. We write scripts in house, produce our own stories, and provide services to film production companies. So, screenwriters are not our target market.

So far, apart from a few student projects where working as part of a team was part of the grade, I tend to write alone.   I’m not looking for a writing partner, and unless I were hired to work as part of a team I don’t know if I’d work with one.

However, if you do write screenplays, and you have found your writing partner, I can tell you what seems to work for others.

1. Taking turns.
I found this one reading Joe Eszterhas’s autobiography. He did this with a friend and said it was a lot of fun. The resulting film wasn’t one of his biggest hits, but oh well. Taking turns is as simple as it sounds: One writer writes one draft, then sends it to the other writer for the next draft, bouncing it back and forth until they’re both happy with the final result.
2. Alternating scenes.
I also read a book by two comedy writers who’s movies I enjoy, called “writing movies for fun and profit.” I laughed at Ben Garrant and Thomas Lennon’s films (the Pacifier, Night at The Museum, even Balls of Fury), but their scripts were much better than that book. Some jokes just have to be performed to make sense, I suppose.

Anyway, since the book is mostly written tongue in cheek (their films grossed a billion worldwide perhaps, but they’ve only seen a tiny fraction of that), I can’t be sure that this is really their working method, but it might work. First, you sit together in a room, and rack your brains until you come up with an outline. Then, each writer writes a scene for part of that outline. They claim the outline is the hard part. After you’ve written the odd scenes and your partner the even scenes, you switch and polish off the other writer’s work.

3. Lyrics and rhythm.
I often hear teacher of music composition express doubt that creative collaboration is possible. When confronted with great collaborators, they assume one artist wrote the lyrics and the other composed the melody, or something like that.
This can work in musicals, as illustrated in Topsy Turvy, and sort of reflects the way the famous 1930s Wizard of Oz was written.With a non-musical script, it’s a little more tricky. But, it can be done. French films have two kinds of writing credits, one for the story line or treatment, and one for the writer who does the dialogue.

Now, before you approach me or anyone else with one of these, consider that all work best if you know your writing partner well, or if you have an existing working relationship with the writers. Do you share the same taste in films and stories? Do you have a story that you both want to tell in the same way? If you’re not on the same page, it probably won’t work.

Also, unless you’re both loaded, you’ll probably need some money to sustain yourselves while writing, or extra patience while your partner tries to find time to write. The reality is multitasking celebrities usually get ghost writers to write for them, and even a full time screenwriters would normally take 3 months, 6 months, even a year to complete a script. The mythical stories about someone writing a draft in three days leave out all the months that went into preparing that first draft and the additional months that went into writing the more careful second draft.

Design of audio-visual creative works.

Ptara logo over historical image of men working at Sevastopol.You might have a great graphic designer, an artist at your company, who can draw anything that you can imagine. You may have someone else who is handy with the camera, and creates videos that look and sound amazing. But, sometimes simply looking good is not enough. Sometimes, you need images that fit a strategic context, that make sense within a whole, and that tell the message you want to convey. Sometimes, you need something that is interesting to watch, and sometimes you need more than that.

You don’t always need to design an audio visual work.  Here’s a video that was unplanned, shot and edited within a day:

It works well enough for footage for a news story, but not much else.

Ptara can help you design a video that does what it’s supposed to do.

Giving constructive advice

Part of consulting, or teaching, or in some ways planning, is advising others on a course of action.

You may know someone who smokes, or have an employee who doesn’t follow the health and safety procedure.  Or, maybe you just want to motivate someone who’s not living up to their potential.

  1. People can change, have faith in that.  Prove that you know they can change for the better by reminding them of times when they did things right.  Provide a positive role model in the person themselves.
  2. Take time to observe and listen.  Find out why they are doing what they are doing.
  3. Act on what you can improve yourself.  Perhaps you could offer to run alongside a friend, or have a motivated team member take time out to work alongside one who needs motivation.  It’s usually easier to make a change when there’s support.
  4. Relate any stories, especially personal ones, that may inspire personal change.  You could talk about a time when you struggled with a similar issue and overcame that.  Or, you could talk about a time when you got hurt because someone else wasn’t watching where they were going.
  5. Assemble a plan of action.  This should take you from where you are now to where you want to be.

If there’s a message you want to get across to a large number of people, we at Ptara can help people visualize change with films and videos.   If you’d like help creating a plan of action, we can do that through our consulting services.

Hopefully, you can deal with most issues quickly without our help.  But, if you think we can help, please feel free to contact us.

5 Remakes that pass for originals

We’re growing tired of remakes.  Some rehashes claim to be better than the original, but we’re not sure “better” is the right word.

Do we need another Karate Kid, another Dr Doolittle, another Ghostbusters, another Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, another Steel Magnolias?  What was wrong with the first film?

(The second Karate Kid was okay,  but “Pick up your coat” is incredibly lazy compared to “wax on, wax off.”)

However, some remakes add something, and in some ways improve upon the original.  A few, in fact, are so good that we sometimes think that the remake is the original. Continue reading 5 Remakes that pass for originals

Easter Eggs.

For most, Easter is a wonderful time of year.  Schools (and even many employers) are closed, so families of all religions can celebrate together.  Some paint boiled eggs, which are then hidden for children to find. Others use chocolates (or even toys) in the place of boiled eggs.  In any case, they are hidden in places that aren’t obvious, but for obvious reasons aren’t too hard to find.

Children then seek out these treats, which they enjoy and share.  This is called the Easter Egg hunt.

When children look for the eggs, they come equipped with baskets. Though some make it competitive, organisers usually ensure that there are enough eggs for everyone. Sometimes we even limit what each child can gather.

The spirit of Easter is about giving, and even sharing, not competition. (Although there are sports competitions that sometimes accompany the hunt.) Continue reading Easter Eggs.

The carrot and the stick are for donkeys

A lot of people ask whether it is better to lead with a carrot or a stick.  Well, Mu.  The carrot and the stick are great for leading a jackass, but a person with direction will benefit from knowing where they’re going.

We can sometimes get people to do what we want if we offer enough money, and most of us have had to take a at least one job just because we “needed” the money.  But, unless you’re in sales or banking, you’ve probably been at least partially motivated by something other than money when you chose your profession.  And, even if you work for a hedge fund, you probably can’t do your job if you’re constantly thinking about the financial rewards.

The way to lead people, the simplest way, is through telling them your destination.  We call this the power of Ptara. Continue reading The carrot and the stick are for donkeys

Multiculturalism

At Ptara, we work with people from all backgrounds. We love the dance of Ukraine, the hip-hop of the streets of LA and New York, the traditional Hispanic dances from Iberian peninsula and all over Latin America, as well as the Waltzes of Europe, barn dances of the old south and sock hops of middle America. And the arts of all continents interest to us, from music to theatre to painting and so on, and yes, we really love film.

As we are based in Europe, we create art with a European perspective. As Josephine Baker the dancer and Terrence the playwright became European when they came to live here, eventually, so did we. We hope to one day add to European culture in the way they did, wherever we came from originally. Continue reading Multiculturalism

Screenplays

Are you looking to develop an original script?

Ptara offers a script writing service starting from £79,599.

This includes an outline, treatment and first draft.  By first draft we don’t mean that we just send you a rough set of words, but that we work on the script until we feel it’s ready.

Scripts are charged at half before we start work, 10 percent upon delivery of the outline, another 10 percent upon delivery of the treatment, and 30 percent upon delivery of the first draft.

Subsequent drafts are priced from £29,995 per draft.  Half is to be paid upon commencement of the draft, the other half upon completion.

Film and history