When it comes to making changes in indie film Scott C. Brown is becoming one of the more recognizable names in the industry. As the founder of Max It Magazine, Pushing The Pen Productions and most recently The Indie Vision Project, he’s focused his efforts on making a global impact for indie filmmakers. We caught up with Scott just after he flew back from Oregon to his home in Orange County, California to learn what he was working on, how it would change the industry and most importantly why he was so driven to make this a reality.
Can you tell us why you went to Oregon?
Besides my birthday, I was scouting some locations for a series I’m developing. Having been raised there and heavily involved in the local film industry, I want to bring some of what I’m doing back home. Oregon has a well-developed film industry. Many filmmakers don’t realize the extent. This is a way I can shine some light on it. It’s where I started in the industry.
Let’s talk about that. How did you get into the film industry in the first place?
My family was always involved in plays at school and church, so I think the transition to film was rather natural. My first time on TV was on a local cooking show hosted by celebrity chef Horst Mager. My family frequented his restaurant Der Rhinelander in Portland. He spotted me in the audience with my mother and took me up front and talked to me while he was cooking. It wasn’t until several years later that I actually started acting on a regular basis. By then I was already writing professionally, and producing the occasional project. Lot of live performances, but then more and more into film. Until I moved back to California from Oregon, I was mostly ghostwriting and ghost producing projects for others.
As we understand it, you’ve had to overcome some major obstacles to reach this point in your life. With your success as a ghost in the industry what made you stop so suddenly and change your entire business structure?
Yes, I’ve had some great successes, from my newspapers and magazines in Arizona, California and Oregon, and time as a restaurateur in the same area it was a random attack that actually made me change my focus. I was in Laguna Beach listening to friend’s band when a guy went berserk and put a bottle through the back of my head.
Due to the traumatic brain injury and extensive damage to my neck shoulders and back I was bedridden for about a month. I’d also lost the ability to write, read, or see in my right eye. Most would take that as a horrible thing, but I’ve always had the odd mindset of finding the positives in things. This was no different. With nothing to show with my name in it, since I was penning and producing for others, I realized if no legacy to leave my daughter. As I lay in bed for those weeks I started realizing my mortality. Something I’d never truly taken the time to do prior to that. I couldn’t write, or even speak coherently, but I could think. It was like being locked in behind a two-way mirror. I could see out, but couldn’t get anything out. So I thought about things.
Didn’t you ever get depressed about what had happened?
Oh Yes! Horribly so. My passion had always been writing, so losing that ability put me into a spiral that lasted a long time. I had to fight it back everyday.
You seem to be fine now. How did you overcome such a setback?
Over three years of physical therapy and a massive effort to relearn how to speak and write. I still deal with some issues, but I now approach each day with a renewed effort to improve, to continue healing and to help those around me.
That brings us to point of this conversation. How you’re helping indie filmmakers. Let’s start with your indie film magazine. How did that come about?
Max It Magazine was actually a completely different type of publication when I first started it. It was originally an entertainment publication for the riders of the Portland Light Rail, which is called Max. It was printed and filled with short stories, games, puzzles, cartoons and even a coloring section. My business partner’s health at the time took an extreme turn for the worse, so we decided it was best to shut down when the people we were seeking it to couldn’t get their pieces together to keep it operational. It wasn’t until I came back to California and while I was recovering from the attack that I started developing it into an indie film site. When it was hacked, right before the Sony hack, I really became aware of how many indie filmmakers were relying on what we did to get attention on their projects. That’s where The Voice of Indie Film came from. So after a lot of effort and a large bucket out money, we rebuilt, relaunched and it’s been growing ever since.
Another setback you turned into a positive?
I like to think of it as another opportunity that has a positive impact.
In our research we spotted something called IndiePendence Day. Care to tell us what that is?
IndiePendence Day is a launch program for or new digital platform Max It TV, which is set to launch on the 4th of July.
What makes your platform different from all the others that are out there?
Several things actually. First, it’s not simply a digital viewing platform. It combines the viewing platforms asking the lines of Netflix and Hulu, with the crowdfunding capabilities of Indiegogo and Kickstarter, as well as several other major differences that I can speak about currently. Let’s just say it’s going to make an impact when it launches with over five thousand shows. The greatest difference though is that vast majority of the subscription fees go directly back to the filmmakers. We’re still working out the details, but it’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 75%.
That’s big for indie filmmakers. Yet that’s not the only thing you’re doing to change the industry is it? Can you tell our readers about The Indie Vision Project and specifically this new competition?
I’d be happy to. The Indie Vision Project is a very large slate of micro-budget features and series based projects to be shot in a five year period. It goes back to the old studio system that use to give talent and crew a piece of what they worked on. The Indie Vision Project’s Screenwriting & Directing Competition in the other hand is our giving screenwriters and directors a giant leg up in the industry. Unlike most competitions that just introduce the winners to those working in the industry, our competition takes the winning script and produced it with named talent and distributes it. The winning director gets to direct a funded feature or pilot from our funded slate.
Both the screenwriters and directors are actively involved in the entire process, plus then hooked into our extensive network to help drive their careers forward.
Can you tell us about some of the sponsors that are making this competition possible?
EZ Way Broadcasting was the first sponsor that came aboard. We’ve had amazing support from the get go. Our two largest, outside of EZ Way, would easily be The International Screenwriters’ Association and The Laemmle Theaters. Both have been extremely supportive and are crucial to the success.
How is the film industry’s response to the competition?
From the screen writing and directing side, we’ve started to receive a decent amount of buzz and questions on how to submit. Along with a lot of screenwriters and directors telling us that they’ll be submitting once they do a polish on their work. We actually received our first submissions the day after we launched the site. I honestly was expecting a little longer delay, since as a writer I always want to go through it one last time before sending mine to a producer or studio. I guess some have there’s already nailed down, which is a good thing.
Will you tell our readers about some of prizes?
Besides the Grand Prizes, we have over $50K in prizes for the twenty Runner Ups. From Adobe software packages, to steadicams. Even International Screenwriters’ Association memberships. The prize list of grows every day. Along with the prizes, the International Screenwriters’ Association will be presenting a special award to one lucky, at the Red Carpet Awards Ceremony & Screening in Beverly Hills. There’ll be an after party as well.