My name’s Karim Davis and I’m from Glasgow, Scotland, our family is fairly mixed but our main heritage is Irish. I live in Europe and am a Filmmaker and Actor as well as a freelance editor and photographer on occasion. In the past 12 months I have been fortunate enough to work on over 30 projects in 7 different countries ranging from short dramas to social media adverts and from voice over to theatre work.
Q. Why did you get into filmmaking and screenwriting?
Karim Davis: I started doing theatre work and experimental shorts when I was in my mid teens but was put off pursuing my passion as my elders didn’t see it as a healthy use of my time, however with time came the confidence to pursue what I was passionate about along with the eagerness to submit to the temptation of filmmaking.
In August 2008 I was with two very good friends with whom I was choreographing an action sequence for a theatre play. I was taking some low resolution stills with a broken little casio that would turn off every 30 seconds by itself, I believe it had the world record for worst battery life in the history of mankind, anyways while holding the camera a voice in my head told me that I should make movies, no I was not on drugs or drunk (despite the claims my friends jokingly hurled at me) but I was high on the atmosphere we were generating as a collective creative mid-set.
Once my friends stopped making fun of me for coming up with the most obvious idea ever ( I was holding a camera after all, whilst two guys were jumping around in front of me) we started work on our first little action movie called ” Blacky Chan” that was not much to look at but was a hell of a lot of fun to make, that was my reintroduction into filmmaking and I have unshakingly stuck by my passion ever since!
Q. How Do Filmmakers Distribute Their Films?
Karim Davis: To be honest, along with funding, this is the area I have still got the most to learn about! What I do know is that 2018 seems to have produced twice as many opportunities for me than 2017 did in regards to distribution just as 2017 had twice as many opportunities as 2016 had.
More newly launched VOD platforms have contacted me in the last 5 months then in the last two years, I also recently had a Skype session with a live stream network that just launched a couple of months ago were we talked about the possibility of growing an audience first through promoting a project with behind-the-scene content first, then premiering the project and holding a real time Q&A afterwards. In my opinion it is an exciting time for Indy filmmakers all over the world looking to generate revenue from their creations.
On a personal note my last short film went a more traditional route and managed to get air time on two separate local T.V stations which helped generate interested not only in my work but also in the actors who appeared in the movie which has proved helpful in expanding their careers as well.
The funny thing about this question is that I launched a tutorial on how to find sponsors for your short film only two days ago, I spent 85 minutes talking about all the things that have helped me garner support when approaching potential sponsors, I don’t know who would want to listen to me for more than 85 seconds to be honest, but if it helps anybody in anyway then it’s a job well done!
The second video in the series will be about different things you can do to help distribute your short film.
One step you can take (I’ll try to keep this as short as possible) if you have created a project but don’t have any distribution plans set in stone yet is to rent your local theartre for an hour our 2.
Invite the local/regional press as well as your sponsors if you had any, also invite the entire crew and their families and have one of your cameramen or friends capture the atmosphere and some stills while you deal with the press. You then can share the press articles along with the photos and clips you shot that night with potential buyers/distributors/streaming/VOD platforms to show them how much trust your crew and you have in your project, plus they will see you are putting in the leg work when it comes to the business side of things!
If all else fails you have had a great night and something to show for it, which will, in turn keep people exited and on the look out for your future projects.
So not directly a distribution strategy per say, but it’s a cool existing step in the right direction that can be an awesome experience for beginners and can cost as little as 35 dollars which is what we paid to use the local art house theatre for 45 minutes. The price was reduced because we added a special thank you in the credits and in the local press release aimed at the art house style cinema.
We got 65 seats and invited local distribution companies and people who work for the local T.V station, which led to us getting airtime on their station which ultimately led to me getting offered the chance to make an image film for an airline for which I’m very grateful!
Q: When Does a Filmmaker Think About the Distribution Process?
Karim Davis: At the moment I don’t know any better than to answer that it all depends on the project and the preferred approach of the filmmaker. I personally generally start to think about different distribution strategies once I put pen to paper and my dream and fantasy starts to slide into reality.
The latest point of when I usually have different ideas put together is when I’m ready to contact sponsors and/or funders, that being said I’ve created a ton of projects for the sheer passion of it without even giving distribution or release a 2nd thought, however I owe it to all the kind people I work and create with to at least try and put a decent distribution plan together at least for the reason of getting their names out there and sharing their talents with the world!
Q: How Do I Get My Zero – Low Budget Movie into Theatres?
Karim Davis: One way to get your zero $ project into theatres is to actually ask a local theatre to play your movie in return for a press mention and a special thank you in the credits, this might be more of a “one off closed premier” kind of thing however the event itself can be an electrifying experience which will not only teach you the basics but also remind you why you worked so relentlessly on a project in the 1st place. Seeing a group of people sit together and focus their collective attention on a movie you made is humbling, seeing them enjoy it, that’s breathtaking!
Once your project is complete you can start contacting distributors, invite them to your ” closed premier ” even and see if you can get them interested in investing in your project, if they don’t see your project as a risk worth taking box office wise, maybe they will offer you an alternative f.e. DVD/T.V./Special Event or V.O.D.
Q: How Can Filmmakers Fund Their Projects?
Karim Davis: Fortunately there are many different ways, f.e. keep 10% of your monthly wages aside just for project funding.
- Approach potential investors who wish to make a return on investment but make sure you are both clear as to the terms of your negotiations!
- Try applying for a grant at your local film commission institute.
- Share your potential project with the local press and inform them that your are trying to raise money with the help of the local communities.
- Contact film agencies and production companies and pitch them your project and share your distribution plans.
- Use PayPal continuously to receive small donations from people who find your content entertaining, give them a thank you in the credits to show your appreciation!
- Start a patreon account were people can follow and support the projects you are working on.
- Approach your local bank or even politician, many have some extra cash they use to support local events which in turn gives them good press.
- Offer small companies a 30 second free advert in return for their financial support, local bars, clubs and restaurants might be up for it!
- I recently created a tutorial if you like in which I give around 20 different examples on how to approach potential sponsors/investors however thanks to the internet there is an endless amount of information we have access to if we ever run out of ideas!
Q. What’s the Last Movie Project you Worked On? The Last Movie You Have Written?
Karim Davis: The last completed movie project I had the pleasure of working on is ” Unsocial Media” where I was writer, director and editor.
It is a 5 minute silent movie that had mutiple runs
on two different regional T.V. stations one of which has rankings going from the nr 1 spot all the way down to 400+. We were able to climb up from 354 to the 3rd place spot where we held out for a week, this was a great achievement for us and proof that we are on the right track.
The film itself explores the concept of “Social Media over – indulgence” as it follows a young and handsome man with a strong social media presence. Amongst his everyday activities are not only simple things like eating and walking but also sharing “likes” on Facebook pages of friends photos whom he doesn’t even recognize in real life anymore and watching cat videos to pass the time whilst waiting on his pizza.
It’s not until he is faced with a real life situation where sensitive communication is needed that he realizes how insensitive he has become, leading him to question himself if he might be over indulging in social media and how to cope with a situation that involves human interaction, something that seems quite foreign to him.
Q: What was the Filmmaking Process for Unsocial Media Like?C
Karim Davis: Crazy, Cruel, fun and a learning experience! Originally I convinced everyone involved to meet up with me in the city to discuss the project the next day and told them we might even start shooting. Everyone asked me what it is we are shooting and I told them we are going to make a short drama about social media and it’s over use. At that time that’s all I floating around in my head.
3 hours before we met up I started work on the story as commitment to an advert I was working on would not allow me to do so otherwise because of time restrictions. While I finished the story, the group of 4 kind crew and cast members involved actually ended up sitting eating pizza for 1 hour in the vegan pizzeria that ended up sponsoring us last minute after agreeing to let me make a 35 second solial media advert for them in return.
So quite crazy indeed up until that point, 6 hours later late into the night we had finished everything and everybody seemed happy with the resulting shots we had collected.
It was only until 3 in the morning that the man playing the begger, who plays a big role in the movie, texted me saying that he does not want the movie to be released with him in it but would like a copy of it to have a private screening with his friends. So after we went back and forth discussing the terms of agreement the we had both aggreed upon over text, we both decided to part ways, leaving me to re shoot all his scenes with a different actor.
It was quite a challenge but having done it was a lesson in patients and also how important it is not to release a film without making sure everyone is in the clear what they signed up for.
On top of it all I am glad to say there is no bad blood between the actor and myself which is just as precious as being able to complete the film!
Q: Where Can the Movie Be Watched?
Easiest place to find it is on my YouTube channel that is simply called Karim Davis Films!:
You can watch my movie about social media whilst using any good social media platform, ironically! Just don’t forget to interact with real life people now and again after watching it!lol
Q: What Are Some of the Other Projects that You Have Worked on Recently? A
Karim Davis: 45 minute short film with the working title “Never too Late” about a street cleaner who originally wanted to go to university to study but never got round to it because the personifications of life challenges and irregularities (f.e. Distractions, Chaos and Comfortable Security) have given him excuses not to pursue his life goals which eventually, lead him down a rabbit hole of depression where he finds himself with no other choice but to either stand up and fight back or risk throwing his life away and perusing a structure that doesn’t involve passion, self evolution or the application of his god given talents. The movie finished filming shooting around 2 months ago and we are currently looking to collaborate with Lo-Fi artists from all over the world to try and give it a unique and mellow soundtrack!
I did voice work for the Nollywood film, ” Payday! ” which is a Feature length comedy that was written and directed by Nigerian filmmaker Cheta Chukwu and recently won the “Diploma” award at the “Detective” fest in Russia. Cheta had watched a “Robot Chickenish” stop-motion animation that I worked on and asked me play a cheeky doctor and cheesy drug dealer! Apparently my voice is perfect to play a drug dealer which leaves me asking myself if I should be proud or embarrassed! The movie should hit theaters next month (July)!
A 2 part film / documentary called “the simplicity of Jeet Kune Do” which takes a closer look at how Bruce Lee’s martial art, Jeet Kune Do has lost its ” simplicity ” element over the years and doesn’t resemble anything that the founder intended it to be, which was a direct and practical form of self defense not intended for sport but rather self preservation, the movie features martial arts instructor Tommy Carruthers from Scotland who demonstrates how the art should look in a real life confrontation.
The 2 part documentary is available to watch on YouTube!
I’m currently working on an indy action drama based on the ANIME: Ajin and a stopmotion martial arts short film based on the Japanese gaming franshise: Tekken, which will be the third in the series.
We also literally just yesterday signed a deal with Body Bag Films producer Tony Newton who will be introducing our movie, “Positively Outrageously Violent”, a 15 minute 1st person shooter style action horror comedy, to the “Grindsploitation 666 horror anthology”.
The anthology will consist of a mixture of faux film trailers, horror shorts and all out Grindhouse and will be overseen by Troma, a well known production company that produces fun horror gore style films such as the iconic ” Toxic Avenger” and was founded by Hollywood and industry veteran Lloyd Kaufman, so I look forward to the experience and opportunity and hopefully we will get to see our crazy little film reach, humour, shock and scare a wider audience!
Q: What is Your Concept on Collaboration?
Karim Davis: I don’t have a set concept per say but the rule of thumb is I usually only collaborate with people who have a good positive energy and are passionate and respectful of their collaborators.
I don’t mind if, f.e an actor has a different vision than I do about how she or he should portray their character or if their availability for the project is restricted, but it is essential to provide each other with the willingness to hear one another out and have an open dialog about things. If everyone comes to work full of energy and passionate about the roles they play and enjoy working together as a team then that to me is not work it is literally a vibration of pure positive and passionate energy where we can take dreams and shape them into a reality that can entertain and inspire others!
I have worked on 1 man projects in order to train myself and expand my abilities but being independent is not half as satisfying as being interdependent, that’s when truly amazing things can happen.
I’m always happy to meet other artists and business minded folk! Recently I held a competition for my short film ” Unsocial Media”
during which musicians, DJ’s and composers from all around the world could apply for the opportunity to create a piece of music for the film. We ended up choosing 2 different artists to work with ( almost 3) despite promising ourselves we would only go with 1, I’m glad I didn’t limit myself listening and only engaging with a handful of artists! The runner ups were so good that we actually are looking for projects were we can use their pieces, we even gave the runner-ups letters of recommendation and some screen time on our social media posts for the effort they put in, I was truly humbled by their passion for what is now become “our” project!
People are still submitting and introducing themselves even though the movie was finished almost 3 months ago. Right now I am in the process of mapping out all the contacts and putting them in both alphabetical and genre order. I now have over 110 musicians that are willing to apply for the “lo-Fi” soundtrack I am looking forward to creating with them for ” Never too late” and the fact that they are all very good in their respective fields makes it twice as overwhelming for me. I also pass their information on constantly to other filmmakers in need of scores, so if anyone needs a Hip Hop DJ, composer for video games or Violinist for heavy metal let me know! I’ve got it all!
Q: How Do You Find the Process of Filmmaking as an Indie FILMMAKER?
Karim Davis: Amazing! Fun! Easy!
It’s a simple process, you wish to express yourself and share your vision and artistry with the world! You become a creater who brings thoughts to life and personifies them, you awake emotion in the viewer, thoughts of joy and sadness, you awaken desires they might not have known was there before, you give food for thought, take people to alternate realities so they can escape their own and at the same time you give them the inspiration they need to cope with their own realities, doing all this with a simple scene or well written inspirational piece of dialog is humbling and exhilarating at the same time.
If a pationate person who practices what they are passionate about in a passionate way tells you that it’s hard or tough or depressing then either they have yet to finish their sentence or they have not yet realized and aligned with the confidence within themselves to accept and enjoy their passion and let you in on the joy. Creating life, emotion, joy… it’s easier than people would like to believe because they take themselves serious all the time and like the complication of things that society consistently provides them with, but love is simple and if you are passionate and infatuated with what you do then let it be a joyful experience, which is what I let happen during every frame I shot.
And when things go differently as planned, enjoy the contrast!
Q: Describe Your Latest Work or Film, Take Us Through The Process. What Challenges did you encounter?
Karim Davis: The latest / current project we have the privilege working on is Ajin : Demihuman, Mr Satou!
It’s a short action sci fi based on the antagonist of the Ajin Anime / Manga series and is meant to give you an alternative take on Mr Satou (who will be portrayed be me), a ruthless but clever tactician who is planning to rush what he believes to be the natural process of evolution along by finding out who amongst “Ajin Haters” are actually themselves “Ajin”, a unique race of people who cannot die, by killing them and waiting to see if they reanimate, a process they themselves have no way of knowing will work until they have died, all whilst trying to avoid a group of highly trained mercenaries who have received anonymous funding to help them capture mr Satou!
Filming took 6 weeks in total I believe, with a kind private sponsors steping in to help us by letting us film in his old abandoned property. Unfortunately for us the property was -2c in temperature and the entrances were all covered in mould, in took nearly a week of bed rest, tea and pineapple juice until everyone one recoved from our tough but extremely enjoyable shot!
The movie is currently in post production with around 15 actors of which only half of whom can speak English so the dialogue will have to be dubbed, also the low lighting caused dramatic noise gain during the shot so I’m trying to smooth the frames out in After Effects without “watermarking” them all to much, after all we want the viewer to have the best and most enjoyable experience possible while watching us shot and kick the crap out of each other!
I can’t reveal too much just yet as there are still one or two details that are being ironed out but by July we will be all set and ready to go!
And as already mentioned earlier on, my voice can be heard briefly in the comedy “Payday” this coming July and our movie “Positively Outrageously Violent” will appear in the Grindsploitation film series “666” later this year both of which were absolute thrills to work on!
Q: What Are Your Future Goal?
Karim Davis: To act more, create more, experience more, write more, experiment more, earn more, help more, appreciate more, connect more and to do it all with passion and to love every minute of it!
Q: What Traits Do You Think Independent Filmmakers Need Nowadays?
Karim Davis: Confidence, appreciation of the efforts of others helping them, flexibility, appreciation of being fortunate enough to practice what they love, willingness to learn, patience, simplicity, perseverance, passion and a camera!
Also taking yourself lightly helps, remember: angels fly cause they carry themselves lightly!
So basically, enjoy!
Q: What Effect Has Working on Different Kinds of Projects, in Different Countries with Different People Had On You?
Karim Davis: A positive one! I have been able to expand my horizon, consciousness and expectations from life which is something I cherish deeply, I have been to so many cool locations, got to meet and work with so many positive people and go on journeys of self discovery with them, I feel truly blessed and continue to look forward to all the crazy experiences that life hast to offer me if I continue to be bold and dream big!
Q: Can You Share How People Can Follow or Get in Contact with You?
Karim Davis: Certainly, you can find me on Facebook at Karim Davis Filmmaker
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