Justine Jacobs on DIY Distribution and her film Ready Set Bag

Doug Block from D-Word turned me onto filmmaker Justine Jacobs and her film Ready Set Bag.

She did a post on D-Word and he turned me onto it – I contacted Justine and she is letting me republish it here:

I wish there was a secret recipe. Bottom line we got tired of waiting for people to give us permission to distribute our film. Sounds cliche, but we waited for over a year to try traditional distr. angles, get funding, etc. and it got pretty discouraging always waiting for a phone call or email. We even got an offer (it sucked, but we got an offer.) The fact is I love my film. I know it’s not perfect and it’s not issue driven and OK, I’ll admit Chris, it’s not sexy. But, it’s really great and fun and people especially have a really good time seeing it with an audience in a big theater. Yes, it’s a competition film and beside the mean knuckle head from Variety who hates competition films and called us smarmy directors (look at that review to see how NOT to critique a film here on D-Word), people like competition films and it turns out really like our film.

We are committed to DIY and throwing a whole bunch of stuff to see if it sticks. We’ve thought long and hard about it, really tried to listen to those who follow the DIY model, and really tried to focus on what’s best for the film and our goal – to make this whole wonderful filmmaking thing a viable business for us.

So, a few things:
- we decided to make an event of it and “tour” it rather than open in 20 places at once.
- We are being very strategic about where we take it – starting in our home town, going to where the folks in our film are, and going to states/cities that hold bagging competitions (24 states).
- we connected it to a good cause to continue the good feeling we have about our film and the audience’s good feeling, which created another angle for stories in the news.
- we just started by calling local theaters around our area to start to the ball rolling even though not everything was in place yet. When they said yes it was a mad dash to get it all together to rebrand the film, retitle the film, make posters, dvds and pretend we are PR agents. It’s amazing what a few committed dates and deadlines can do.
- as far as core audience for our nonsexy, non issue, non major award winning film, to answer you specifically, we have a few groups:
– older individuals, especially with kids who understand what it means to try to teach your children about doing their best
– folks who work in supermarkets
– interestingly, from the last screenings we found that kids 6-12 love our film – who knew?! We are now marketing to them and their parents.
– Not high school students or college students or folks that critique for variety.
– Untested, but have potential: – Religious groups – it’s a feel good, family friendly movie

As you can tell, it is a work in progress and we work really hard. We don’t know what we’re doing, but we’ve stopped complaining and are just doing it. As corny as it sounds, I actually have a little note posted on my wall that says, “strive for excellence, not perfection.” I can’t be perfect, but I certainly can be excellent.

Thank you for your wishes for success. I really hope I can say at the end of next year that our film recouped it’s costs – really. I want to be a success story. And if it doesn’t, this is still SO much better than handing all rights over to a distributor for 15 years, for basically nothing, and not seeing anything at all.

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