Monthly Archives: August 2009

Another Workshop with Jon Reiss TOMORROW — The DIY Bible: A Nuts and Bolts Workshop on How To Distribute Your Film in the Digital Era

Hey everyone! I’ve been doing this workshop with Film Independent Tuesday nights (through September 8th) it’s going well. I would like to invite all of you to attend if interested.

The DIY Bible: A Nuts and Bolts Workshop on How To Distribute Your Film in the Digital Era

**Topic for Tuesday, September 1st: Digital Rights and Distribution Options
September 8th: DIY Marketing

Check out Film Independent’s posting for the workshop here.

The independent film world is abuzz with the collapse of the traditional independent film distribution model. Specialty divisions such as Warner Independent and Paramount Vantage are shuttering and the traditional releasing organizations that are left are not buying films like they once did. No longer can a filmmaker believe that if they make a good film, they can take it to a premiere festival and a white knight will swoop down and give them a million or two or four and take their film off of their hands with and wait for their theatrical premiere to miraculously occur to thousands of adoring fans and reviews. In this class students will not only learn how the film distribution landscape is changing, but how to use the new models of independent film distribution to effectively release an independent film. Emphasis will be on: Creating a Strategy for Your Film, How to Prepare Your Film For Distribution, Reinventing the Theatrical Release, DVD and Educational Distribution, Digital Distribution and Web Sites and Web Promotion.

About the Instructor: Jon Reiss was named one of “10 Digital Directors to Watch” by Daily Variety and is a critically acclaimed filmmaker who has produced and directed three feature films most recently Bomb It (Tribeca 2007) about graffiti and the battle over visual public space throughout the world. Based on his experience releasing Bomb It with a hybrid strategy and the classes he teaches at Cal Arts, Jon is now writing the book: The DIY Bible: The Complete Guide to Film Distribution in the Digital Era to be released September 15th.

WHEN: Tuesdays, August 11 – September 8, 7:00pm – 10:00 pm
WHERE: Film Independent Office
PRICE: $200 for Film Independent members, $250 for non-members
RESERVATIONS: Required – call 310.432.1222 or email Reservations@FilmIndependent.org.
Seating is limited.
Parking validated after 5:30 pm
View the MAP with directions.

King Corn is Amazing. How filmmakers should help each other.

So I finally saw King Corn, I know long overdue, especially since I know the filmmakers.

Ted Hope is always commenting on how we have to help curate each others films to help each other. Here is what I did to help King Korn:

I twittered about it – which then went on my facebook updates.
I gave it 5/5 on Netflix (where I watched it)
I went to IMDB gave it a 10/10 and wrote the review below.
I cut and pasted that review and posted it on Amazon and gave them 5/5 again.
Filmmakers need to do this for one another. It does take a little time but as we all know these rankings matter and it can only help.

My post on IMDB:
This film is a must see for anyone interested not only in food
production and food policy in the United States, but also what ailes
(sp?) us as a nation. The US government, and the agricultural industry
has unfortunately created a system that is out of whack. While we spend
less than at any time on food, we are spending more and more on
health-care (the one point I wish the film had made more directly).
This film should be seen by all Americans. I saw another comment that
quiblbed with the particulars in the film. The film is not a doctoral
thesis, it is a piece of art trying to raise awareness. I also thought
the device of the two filmmakers staking out an acre of corn and
following it through the year as a spine to the story was quite
wonderful, as well as the animations that they did with a still camera.
As far as I know you can also get the film to screen in your community
from the film’s website. I highly recommend it – would be great food
for thought.

Which now that it is on my blog, has been posted 3x.
Jon
But to make up for it I did the following things which took me all of 6 minutes.

Think Outside the Box Office The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution and Marketing for the Digital Era going to print

We just uploaded the cover and all 348 pages of the book to the printer. Come by FIT in NYC on the 22nd to see it in person!!!! Thanks for everyone who helped!

Blogging, Criticism, and Niche Audiences

Here’s an article from Chuck Tryon’s blog, on the increasingly important role of blogging with regards to independent film.

Blogging, Film Criticism, and Niche Audiences
by Chuck Tryon | August 6th, 2009

One of the ongoing questions I’ve been thinking about for a couple of years is the role of blogging in reshaping film criticism. It’s a topic I tried to address in my book, particularly through the lens of the opposition between professional and amateur critics and the role of blogging in both directing attention to movies and in creating community around shared interest in movies. But as I was writing that chapter (and especially as I look back on it now), I can’t help but feel as if I was aiming at a moving target of sorts, as the various practices of film reviewing change over time. With that in mind, I continue to be interested in some recent discussions of the role of reviews in shaping film culture.

Part of that entails a shift in the status of popular film criticism. A number of critics and film journalists have recently pointed out that after a failed reboot with younger critics, At the Movies, the show that introduced audiences to Siskel and Ebert, has now revamped, hiring veteran film critics, A.O. Scott and Michael Phillips. As Karina points out, drawing from an observation by Patrick Goldstein, ABC’s decision to hire Scott and Phillips tacitly acknowledges that the audience for this type of format is typically middle-aged (although Goldstein hastens to add that a show like At the Movies could find new life on the web). Although the TV audience may be aging, one of the other points here may be that such shows (or reviews) now function best at the level of the niche audience, whether that’s a local readership or a group interested in a certain genre of film, such as the ongoing and borderline exhausting debates over Mumblecore: is it a genre? is it dead yet? is it killing (or saving) indie? The selection of Scott and Phillips shows that there is some room for intelligent conversation about film, but a show like At the Movies would benefit from engaging its online audience, not antagonizing it, especially when audience taste in movies may or may not match up with box office totals.

One of the more interesting discussions of film criticism has focused on Paramount’s decision not to screen G.I. Joe for most film critics, taking the film to the “heartlands” with special screenings near Andrews Air Force Base and for web critics known to be friendly to action films (such as CHUD.com). Continue reading →

Another workshop with Jon Reiss TOMORROW — The DIY Bible: A Nuts and Bolts Workshop on How To Distribute Your Film in the Digital Era

Hey everyone! I’ve been doing this workshop with Film Independent Tuesday nights (through September 8th) it’s going well. I would like to invite all of you to attend if interested.

The DIY Bible: A Nuts and Bolts Workshop on How To Distribute Your Film in the Digital Era

**Topic for Tuesday, August 25th: Selling DVDs and Other Merchandise
September 1st: Digital Rights and Distribution Options
September 8th: DIY Marketing

Check out Film Independent’s posting for the workshop here.

The independent film world is abuzz with the collapse of the traditional independent film distribution model. Specialty divisions such as Warner Independent and Paramount Vantage are shuttering and the traditional releasing organizations that are left are not buying films like they once did. No longer can a filmmaker believe that if they make a good film, they can take it to a premiere festival and a white knight will swoop down and give them a million or two or four and take their film off of their hands with and wait for their theatrical premiere to miraculously occur to thousands of adoring fans and reviews. In this class students will not only learn how the film distribution landscape is changing, but how to use the new models of independent film distribution to effectively release an independent film. Emphasis will be on: Creating a Strategy for Your Film, How to Prepare Your Film For Distribution, Reinventing the Theatrical Release, DVD and Educational Distribution, Digital Distribution and Web Sites and Web Promotion.

About the Instructor: Jon Reiss was named one of “10 Digital Directors to Watch” by Daily Variety and is a critically acclaimed filmmaker who has produced and directed three feature films most recently Bomb It (Tribeca 2007) about graffiti and the battle over visual public space throughout the world. Based on his experience releasing Bomb It with a hybrid strategy and the classes he teaches at Cal Arts, Jon is now writing the book: The DIY Bible: The Complete Guide to Film Distribution in the Digital Era to be released September 15th.

WHEN: Tuesdays, August 11 – September 8, 7:00pm – 10:00 pm
WHERE: Film Independent Office
PRICE: $200 for Film Independent members, $250 for non-members
RESERVATIONS: Required – call 310.432.1222 or email Reservations@FilmIndependent.org.
Seating is limited.
Parking validated after 5:30 pm
View the MAP with directions.

Art House Arrest: Current Trends in Small Theater Programming

This is an article I thought you might find interesting from the Sante Fe New Mexican. Just in case you ever wanted to know what that Cinematheque programmer was really thinking.

The Big Picture: Art-house arrest
Pasatiempo | The New Mexican | 8/6/2009

Size shouldn’t matter, but sometimes it seems that big is all people want when it comes to movies.

While the paying public plunks down its cash to see such summer blockbusters as G-Force, Public Enemies, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince — making these pictures instant box-office hits — managers of art-house cinemas around the country are looking for new ways to attract younger viewers and keep old-time loyalists happy while paying the rent by showcasing “small” pictures.

Changing times, fast-paced technological advancements, an aging audience, the closure or scaled-back activities of art-house distribution companies, and the fact that mainstream multiplexes — like Regal DeVargas in Santa Fe — are playing art-house titles have contributed to the challenge of maintaining a single or even double-screen cinema devoted to art films. Yet directors of art houses are putting up a valiant fight, with some finding new ways to keep their houses vibrant.

“We are really trying to appeal to all ages, but our bread-and-butter audience is the older, aging art-film crowd from the counterculture era,” said John Ewing, director of the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque, which opened in 1986. “Our attendance was down 21 percent from our last fiscal year.”

Brent Kliewer, programmer for The Screen on the College of Santa Fe campus, echoed Ewing’s comments. “Business is off,” he said. “Looking at the Hollywood hits this year, it’s pornographic what some of them are making. Everyone has the illusion that the movie industry is better than ever. People say to me, ‘I bet you guys are doing good.’ But good times don’t mean that Séraphine is breaking records. It doesn’t mean that anything small is doing big business.”

The Screen’s future has been in limbo since the financially strapped college announced that it was closing last spring. Now, with the city agreeing to take on $30 million in debt and lease the college campus to Laureate Education Inc., it seems that the 10-year-old art house will survive for now. Kliewer said he expects to talk with Laureate officials sometime in August.

That said, he acknowledged that the art-house enterprise has changed, with many programmers, like himself, looking at the bottom line. Continue reading →

Workshop with Jon Reiss TOMORROW — The DIY Bible: A Nuts and Bolts Workshop on How To Distribute Your Film in the Digital Era

Hey everyone! I’m doing a workshop with Film Independent Tuesday nights (through September 8th) it’s going very well. I would like to invite all of you to attend if interested.

The DIY Bible: A Nuts and Bolts Workshop on How To Distribute Your Film in the Digital Era

**Topic for Tuesday, August 18th: Reinventing the Theatrical Experience
August 25th: Selling DVDs and Other Merchandise
September 1st: Digital Rights and Distribution Options
September 8th: DIY Marketing

Check out Film Independent’s posting for the workshop here.

The independent film world is abuzz with the collapse of the traditional independent film distribution model. Specialty divisions such as Warner Independent and Paramount Vantage are shuttering and the traditional releasing organizations that are left are not buying films like they once did. No longer can a filmmaker believe that if they make a good film, they can take it to a premiere festival and a white knight will swoop down and give them a million or two or four and take their film off of their hands with and wait for their theatrical premiere to miraculously occur to thousands of adoring fans and reviews. In this class students will not only learn how the film distribution landscape is changing, but how to use the new models of independent film distribution to effectively release an independent film. Emphasis will be on: Creating a Strategy for Your Film, How to Prepare Your Film For Distribution, Reinventing the Theatrical Release, DVD and Educational Distribution, Digital Distribution and Web Sites and Web Promotion.

About the Instructor: Jon Reiss was named one of “10 Digital Directors to Watch” by Daily Variety and is a critically acclaimed filmmaker who has produced and directed three feature films most recently Bomb It (Tribeca 2007) about graffiti and the battle over visual public space throughout the world. Based on his experience releasing Bomb It with a hybrid strategy and the classes he teaches at Cal Arts, Jon is now writing the book: The DIY Bible: The Complete Guide to Film Distribution in the Digital Era to be released September 15th.

WHEN: Tuesdays, August 11 – September 8, 7:00pm – 10:00 pm
WHERE: Film Independent Office
PRICE: $200 for Film Independent members, $250 for non-members
RESERVATIONS: Required – call 310.432.1222 or email Reservations@FilmIndependent.org.
Seating is limited.
Parking validated after 5:30 pm
View the MAP with directions.

Social Networking to Increase Your Independent Film’s Exposure (well, duh).

IndieGoGo – A resource you should all know about. On Monday Triplepundit (typically an environment site) issued this article interviewing the Slava Rubin of Indie GoGo.


IndieGoGo: Cause Awareness Through Entertainment

By Gennefer Snowfield | August 10th, 2009 | Triplepundit.com

The social web has opened the floodgates of communication, allowing users from all over the world to share knowledge, meet new people and connect with a multitude of content from breaking news to causes to movies and everything in between. Nonprofits, in particular, have met with much success harnessing the power of Twitter, Facebook and other social networks to generate awareness — and donations — for their causes, and digital entertainment, such as web series, are beginning to tap into this movement, giving fans the ability to help fund their shows. But thanks to Slava Rubin, and his service, IndieGoGo, independent filmmakers have an established turnkey solution for getting their films and documentaries increased exposure, funding and promotion.

IndieGoGo is a socially-driven platform built on the concept of crowdfunding, creating a central location where independent filmmakers can showcase their work, and fans can show their support through microdonations right on the site. And thanks to a new partnership with Snag Films, filmmakers also have a vehicle to connect viewers directly with the causes they support, giving them the ability to make their films — and a difference. In addition, IndieGoGo’s integration with social networks allows the impact of those contributions to be captured and spread virally within viewers’ various communities to spark increased awareness and donations, helping the documentaries and issues gain greater market traction to build fan bases and cause champions. Not to mention the added benefit of delivering important social and environmental topics in an emotionally resonant and compelling way through entertainment experiences that forge deep, lasting connections well after the film ends.

Tell us a little more about how IndieGoGo works, and some of the services you offer for linking independent filmmakers with fundraising and distribution opportunities.

IndieGoGo provides tools for fundraising, promotion, and discovery to the film and media industry. The platform enables people to showcase their work, mobilize their fans, and DIWO (Do-It-With-Others!). We are in over 90 countries and have helped projects raise nearly $150K in funds. Specific functionality includes VIP perk-based fundraising, social media promotion (widgets, social networking, real time Internet, online hub), media galleries and a two-way communications platform for fans to participate.

What inspired you to facilitate a DIWO (Do It With Others) collaborative filmmaking model for IndieGoGo?

IndieGoGo launched in 2008 to address the fundraising challenges and market inefficiencies affecting independent filmmaking today. While Obama was raising a million dollars per day in sub-$1000 contributions, film director Robert Greenwald was validating crowdfunding for film. When Iraq for Sale raised $267K in small donations via an email campaign, it became clear the entire film industry could benefit from online tools that streamlined the audience-building and fundraising efforts.

What notable films and documentaries have utilized IndieGoGo?

We have nearly 1800 projects using IndieGoGo for audience-building and/or fundraising. A few notable projects include:

* Tapestries of Hope: a documentary about a rape crisis occurring in Zimbabwe due to the misunderstanding that sex with virgins cures HIV and AIDS ($22,500 raised to-date)
* Changing the World on Vacation: a British documentary that explores the controversial trend “Volun-tourism” – the merger of adventure travel and aid work – by following a Cambodian NGO ($10,000 to-date)
* Shelter in Place: a British documentary about civil rights, environmental pollution and corporate greed in America ($7,500 raised to-date)
* Co-Ed: a documentary about co-ed soccer in New York City ($4,112 raised to-date)
* Pressure Cooker: a culinary documentary showcasing the potential of students when teachers believe in them and bust their chops; a Participant Productions film (Promotion only)
* Pelotero: a Dominican documentary on major league baseball’s overseas farm system ($2,000 raised to-date)
* FLOW: a documentary on the global water crisis; a Sundance 2007 film with distribution from Oscilloscope (Promoting only)

You recently cemented a partnership with Snag Films to create cause-based partnerships for filmmakers. Please share more details about this relationship and why you decided to link your business to causes.

We partnered with SnagFilms because of our shared belief in Filmanthropy – connecting cause-based films with philanthropic individuals, large and small. Having reduced the barriers to support a film to just a click and a few dollars, connecting in-progress IndieGoGo docs to SnagFilms’ documentary enthusiasts was a natural step. IndieGoGo’s films find new fans as Snagfilms viewers get a new way to action on their beliefs.

What types of causes will you be supporting as part of this partnership?

The beauty of the IndieGoGo platform is that it is open to all filmmakers. We therefore support all the causes our films address. Documentary is one of our most popular genres, and causes are wide-ranging. Topics include environmental pollution, sexual identity, property rights, suicide, Wall Street history, spirituality, cancer, game shows, the death penalty, biographies, politics, the Internet, education, and baseball… to name a few.

Tell us more about the concept of ‘Filmanthropy’ and why you think documentary filmmakers and viewers will benefit from it.

Documentaries are often used as vehicles to drive awareness for an issue, as story is a powerful educational tool. For example, one of our films is being made for $250K; the filmmaker plans to use the film as a marketing vehicle to raise $10MM for the rape issue it’s illuminating. Adding film to the philanthropy effort helps to expand the reach and increase the resulting impact.

How will consumers be empowered to take action? Do you plan to communicate the impact of those efforts back to viewers? How?

Through the partnership, IndieGoGo’s “Take Action” functionality is ported onto the SnagFilms platform. Within one or two clicks, SnagFilms viewers have made a contribution, signed up for updates, provided feedback or shared the project with friends across Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. With transparency as one of our core values, all filmmaker and fan activity is published on IndieGoGo, thus encouraging further action. We launched the SnagFilms partnership one month ago, and IndieGoGo’s films have already garnered a half a million impressions via SnagFilms and its partner platforms.

What trends have you been observing in the independent filmmaking space? Have you seen any spikes in indie filmmakers? Do you think that’s a result of new media and web-enabled resources like IndieGoGo?

As production and distribution costs fall, demand for niche content increases, social media becomes increasingly mainstream, distribution platforms proliferate, and online revenue streams for digital content mature; the opportunity to make a living making film by going directly to one’s target audiences will increase. Tools are replacing middlemen, thereby reducing the friction involved in identifying, engaging and monetizing one’s fans.

Yesterday, filmmakers had one way to monetize their film: get picked up by a distributor. With 8,000 filmmakers applying to Sundance 2008, 150 getting in and just a handful getting distribution deals, the distributor option has never been a likely one for most. As more filmmakers leverage web-based tools like IndieGoGo, fan-funding will become an increasingly common monetization method during production, while self-distribution will become an increasingly viable and attractive monetization method post-release.

Do you think indie films and documentaries will ever reach critical mass in reaching a mainstream audience, or will they always be more niche entertainment?

In aggregate, niche content is already reaching critical mass. A majority of Netflix titles rented each month are not “New Release” titles. Many people refer to this as the Long Tail of film distribution. The tail will only continue to fatten as distribution platforms integrate better with social media and technology to become more efficient in delivering desired content to people – where they want it, when they want it.

What are your future plans for IndieGoGo and where do you hope to take the concept?

IndieGoGo’s mission has always been, and continues to be, the democratization of film. IndieGoGo currently enables “filmocracy” by providing filmmakers an open platform to showcase their projects to the world, and giving the fans a vehicle to experience and influence the once inaccessible world of filmmaking. In the future, we plan to expand our toolkit beyond fundraising and promotion to distribution, thereby helping filmmakers through the continuum of their films – and their careers.

As studios cut back, indie spirit serves directors — More Independent Filmmakers are going DIY.

Check out this great article I found in the New York Times. Keep up the indie spirit, everyone!

As studios cut back, indie spirit serves directors
By Michael Cieply | New York Times | Aug 12, 2009

LOS ANGELES » Quentin Tarantino never had to go through this.

When “The Age of Stupid,” a climate change movie, “opens” across the United States in September, it will play on some 400 screens in a one-night event, with a video performance by Thom Yorke of Radiohead, all paid for by the filmmakers themselves and their backers. In Britain, meanwhile, the film has been showing via an Internet service that lets anyone pay to license a copy, set up a screening and keep the profit.

The glory days of independent film, when hot young directors like Steven Soderbergh and Tarantino had studio executives tangled in fierce bidding wars at Sundance and other celebrity-studded festivals, are now barely a speck in the rearview mirror. And something new, something much odder, has taken their place.

Here is how it used to work: aspiring filmmakers playing the cool auteur in hopes of attracting the eye of a Hollywood power broker.

Here is the new way: filmmakers doing it themselves — paying for their own distribution, marketing films through social networking sites and Twitter blasts, putting their work up free on the Web to build a reputation, cozying up to concierges at luxury hotels in film festival cities to get them to whisper into the right ears.

The economic slowdown and tight credit have squeezed the entertainment industry along with everybody else, resulting in significantly fewer big-studio films in the pipeline and an even tougher road for smaller-budget independent projects. Continue reading →

THANKS FOR VOTING ON THE BOOK TITLE!

Hey everyone –

Just wanted to shout out a big THANK YOU for everyone who voted on the title of my new book. The winning selection was “Think Outside The Box (Office): The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution in the Digital Era”. It will be available for sale here on my blog, as well as my website mid-September of this year.

THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX (OFFICE): The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution in the Digital Era is aimed at filmmakers in various stages of the production/post production process. The book will serve as an extensive field guide for navigating the world of independent film distribution.

Learn How To:
- Strategize, budget and build a team for your film’s distribution
- Identify and connect with your audience
- DIY your theatrical release
- Negotiate and Work with a DVD distributor and still release your DVD yourself
- Navigate digital distributors, aggregators, and the world of digital rights
- Market your film on the web
- Use Social Networks for driving traffic to your website and webstore
- Monetize film festivals, DVD sales, and digital rights
- DIY your publicity and Marketing
- Use the old-school publicity and marketing machine to your benefit
- Create live theatrical events for your film and using those events to create awareness
- Pilot the merging television/cable and digital markets
…..and MUCH MORE!

To find the book on MYSPACE, click HERE. Please add us as a friend!

To be part of our FACEBOOK group, click HERE.

See us on INDIEGOGO by clicking HERE.

And