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11/13/2007

The Million Dollar Feature Movie Made Using Barter

Editor�s Note: I met Mark Knudsen back in 1988, and spent several hours sharing ideas and information with him at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. Our common ground was our respective publications, Mark was the publisher of The Travel Agent�s Hotel Guide.

Before the meeting ended we had cemented a business relationship, and he became an advertiser in BarterNews until he sold his publication to the ITEX organization four years later.

That same year (1992) in issue #25, an article titled, �ITEX Revisited� highlighted how ITEX was using the newly acquired Travel Agent�s Hotel Guide to secure hotel inventory in Mexico and the USA...trading space in the publication for room nights.

We recently came across the following article in MovieMaker magazine and wanted to share it with our readers for obvious reasons. . .

Mark Knudsen, who lives in Redmond, Washington, with his wife and five children, has dedicated a good portion of his career to proving that most anything that can be bought or sold can also be traded for. When you walk through his office or home you�ll find that virtually every stick of furniture, every piece of art on the wall, every item in the yard from the shrubs to the trampoline, all bartered for. To make his 35mm feature, Summer of the Eagle, (shot in Utah) last August, Knudsen had to barter everything from raw stock, Panavision camera equipment, grip rental and lab services to talent, catering, and the expertise of over 20 seasoned crew members. The following is Mark's story in his own words:

I guess I always knew I'd make a movie someday. It's one of those things that kind of sits in the back of your mind and when somebody asks  �What would you do if you had a million dollars?� I would always answer  �Make a movie.�

When I was in college in the seventies, I had a creative writing class where I wrote the first draft for �Summer of the Eagle.� Little by little I added to the script, developed the story, and whenever I'd tell it people would say �Hey, that'd make a great movie.�

In 1975 I met Mike Karr. Mike is the son of a filmmaker with celluloid coursing through his veins. Mike had been taught all the technical knowledge about film, lighting, sound editing, etc. since he was knee-high to a tripod. He had a bunch of 16mm gear that we used to make TV commercials and industrial films for our part-time jobs during college.

One day we were introduced to a woman who told us she knew an investor who had a million dollars or so that he wanted to invest in a feature film. A few weeks after we delivered the script for �Summer of the Eagle,� we were told that he had chosen my film for his investment dollars.

At this point we both quit our jobs and went into a pre-production frenzy. We had everything lined up for a summer shoot, and we had already made plans for the big bucks we were about to receive. But the day before the investor was to sign the contracts and put the money in our bank account, he was arrested for counterfeiting!

Knudsen: sold on the beauty of barter.

After that, Mike and I both got married and started raising our families and went our separate ways. �Summer of the Eagle� went on the shelf, but Mike and I both vowed that someday we'd make that movie.

I moved to Seattle with my family and worked in advertising, publishing, and various forms of corporate barter. I published a travel magazine (The Travel Agent�s Hotel Guide) for about nine years that introduced me to the concept of bartering travel for media and vice versa. This endeavor allowed me to trade advertising space in my magazine for travel credit. I traded advertising to hotels who paid with credit for their empty rooms. I was able to generate over $1,000,000 worth of hotel credit this way.

Mike stayed with filmmaking, focusing on documentaries, TV commercials, music videos, etc. About a year before two of my boys were old enough to have the main parts in the movie, I contacted Mike. I said I'll come to the table with the script, the actors, the raw stock and processing, the grip and camera equipment, the food and lodging, and anything else I could barter for, you bring your crew and your expertise. We had about $20,000 between us for incidentals, but in almost all cases we were able to convince the cast and crew to receive payment in a combination of travel and investor points in the movie.

When we started filming last summer, everything came together. Mike and I were fulfilling a life-long dream and no one could stop us. We hope to sell �Summer of the Eagle� very soon.


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