Geoffrey Long
Tip of the Quill: Archives
Gaiman on Long Tail filmmaking.

Last week Neil Gaiman made a post to his blog that dealt with "stuff. you know, things." And one of those things was the making of MirrorMask:

After reading all your journal entries lately about the Beowulf and Stardust movies you're working on, something is puzzling me. I admit I know nothing about the politics of movies, so please pardon my ignorance. But I don't understand how Mirrormask got so little attention, with it's small budget, no advertising, and one theater in each of the states that had it, despite the huge amount of work that went into it. Yet with Beowulf you're throwing out names like Angelina Jolie and Anthony Hopkins, who I imagine can't be too easy or cheap to get ahold of. And with all your Stardust auditions, you sound like you have some real power in the movie industry. So what happened with Mirrormask that it didn't even make it outside your fanbase? I find it hard to believe that a movie with both Jolie and Hopkins will go unadvertised and unknown, so something must have changed?

It's apples and oranges. MirrorMask was a VERY low-budget film (we made it for 2 million UK pounds) that the small division of Sony that funded it never planned to release widely cinematically. It has no star actors, and we knew that we were making it for an audience of people who would have to discover it... (The joy of making a film at that level of budget is that you're not making a film that everyone's meant to like.) If it hadn't been accepted for Sundance and raved about in the early reviews, the cinematic release it got would probably have been even smaller. Sony did some prints of it, but dozens, not thousands. It had an ad and promotion budget, but not a very big one. It's meant to make its money back for Sony on DVD sales, and I'm sure it will. (Lisa Henson told me that Sony are a bit puzzled that it's already one of the most bootlegged and downloaded films they have. I pointed out that, in all probability, a lot of the people downloading it are going to want to own a crisp, watchable version, and to enjoy all the extras...)

(Which reminds me -- here are some reviews of the MirrorMask DVD, which also list the various extras: and

Beowulf and Stardust are what they used to call "Major Motion Pictures", with Hollywood A-list talents, budgeted at twenty to thirty times what Mirrormask had. That doesn't have anything to do with my influence in Hollywood (which is miniscule) and has everything to do with them being big, commercial films with big budgets. They will be in a cinema near you; you will open your paper or turn on the TV and see adverts for them. Anthony Hopkins and Angelina Jolie and co. aren't in Beowulf because of me (except insofar as they liked the script), they're in it for Robert Zemeckis and because it's something new. On Stardust I'm certainly helping Matthew Vaughn wherever I can, but it's his film and he's directing it. (I didn't write the script.)


It's getting so a guy living in England can't even get updates about the Superb Owl from the blogosphere anymore. What is this crap about "long-tail" movies? OWLS DON'T HAVE LONG TAILS.

Tell me more about the Superb Owl. Who's winning? Injuries? SPILL THE GOODS, MAN!



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