Monthly Archives: June 2010

Tip of the Week: How to Cope With Symposium Brain Fry

I heard a number of comments after this weekend’s LAFF Seize the Power Symposium that people where overwhelmed – that their brain’s had been fried by so many ideas and so much information. To me that’s a sign that we succeeded. When Film Independent and the Los Angeles Film Festival asked me to help them devise the Symposium (and accompanying Distribution Boot Camp for competition filmmakers) we were in immediate agreement that the event would focus on: 1. Nuts and bolts practical information for filmmakers. 2. Forward thinking thought leaders indicating what the future might be. 3. Practical case studies of filmmakers who were using the new tools of distribution and marketing. We wanted to avoid people sitting on a panel rehashing how we got here. I also get the same brain-fry feedback when I give my weekend workshops – and I’m delighted. This is what I suggest to people:

1. Focus on the Inspiration and Creative Potential One of the best uber-takeaways is how a symposium or workshop can inspire filmmakers to new creative opportunities. Allow these ideas to run through you and don’t get caught up with any of the specifics just yet – you can delve into those when the time comes for you to act.

2. Identify on What Resonates With You. Many ideas and concepts are presented – but no two filmmakers are alike and no two films are alike. Take a moment to check in with your gut and see what resonates most with you, what makes sense for your current project, what makes sense for your artistic trajectory.

3. One Step at a Time. Don’t feel like you have to do everything at once. Do one thing first. See how it feels – works for you. The world of distribution and marketing can seem overwhelming – they each comprise an entire division at every studio. You are one person – reread item 1.

4. Connect and Collaborate. Further the connection with the people that you meet at these events. Create study groups and film cooperatives. Film distribution and marketing does take a village. I was really excited to hear that some of the attendees of my Vancouver workshop formed a PMD discussion group to process the information and more importantly to work with each other in order to act on it. I still feel that cooperatives among filmmakers is one of the ways to handle all the new work and potential.

5. Revisit the information. You can be sure that any of the speakers have written about the ideas that they have presented. The day after the symposium Henry Jenkins posted the basics of his talk on his blog. Subscribe to Peter Broderick’s newsletter. Check out The Film Collaborative’s site. Read Truly Free Film. Keep up with Film Independent’s ongoing educational program. Heck – even check out my blog or my book Think Outside the Box Office – I wrote it so that all filmmakers could have a companion to this process. And of course – if you are inclined, follow all of the above on Twitter – and then engage.

Seize the Power Why You Should Pay Attention to the LAFF Symposium this Weekend

Two weeks ago I wrote a guest post on Truly Free Film about the need to educate filmmakers on distribution and marketing their films. This weekend the Los Angeles Film Festival is hosting a truly wonderful event which I am proud to have developed in collaboration with LAFF and Film Independent (with strong push and support from Ted Hope): Seize the Power: A Marketing and (DIY)stribution Symposium.

The Symposium is designed to focus on the nuts and bolts solutions to the current distribution and marketing malaise plaguing our industry. The intention is to provide an introduction to a wealth of new tools for filmmakers (and all artists/media content creators) as well as strategic guidance from many of the key practitioners and thought leaders in our field. It is an antidote to the concerns of too much talk talk talk on this subject with little true education.

In addition there is a non-public component that you can participate in via twitter. I will be giving a distribution and marketing boot camp to the LAFF competition filmmakers Friday June 18th 9am – 12:30pm and 2:30pm – 5pm and Saturday June 19th from 9am-11:30am. All times PST. We will be tweeting bullet points on #totbo We have done this in the workshops I have given in the past month – and we have found that people around the world start to participate and chime in – creating a global discussion around these topics.

The Symposium: Starting Saturday afternoon at 1pm – Ted kicks it off with a presentation on the need for the artist entrepreneur to encourage filmmakers to think expansively about their creative output in order to create sustainable careers. This is followed by a plethora of service providers (from Orly Ravid of the Film Collaborative to Yancy Strickler of Kickstarter to Bob Moczydlowsky of Topspin) that we brought together so that filmmakers could learn the best ways to put these tools into practice in their own careers.

Sunday morning will kick off with a discussion between myself and Corey McAbee (The American Astronaut and Stingray Sam). We will explore how he uses the new distribution and marketing tools and landscape to create a viable artistic career for himself. Caitlin Boyle from Film Sprout will give one of her incredible introductions to grassroots audience development and distribution. I am super excited to see Lance Weiler and Henry Jenkins on Transmedia. (somehow Lance always has a way of frying my brain – in a good way). The inimitable Peter Broderick will lead a discussion on crowdfunding, Colleen Nystedt and Sean Percival will present different tactics for audience engagement. The event will cap with one of those incredible Film Independent public case study examinations of two films: Children of Invention and Bass Ackwards.

Last but not least – it will give filmmakers an opportunity to connect with each other and the presenters. Come on down and introduce yourself, learn and contribute. I hope to see you there (ps I won’t be there Saturday afternoon due to my daughter’s dance recital :) – but Ted will be in the house and many others!)

Jon Reiss TOTBO Tip of the Day 35 – A Meta Stream of Tips

Posted on by Jon Reiss

Today’s tip will be a meta tip. If you go to Twitter and search #totbo you will see the stream of tips, ideas, comments, suggestions etc from everyone who was engaged in the Totbo NY Workshop in the room in NYC or who virtually participated in distant lands! Kudos to all the participants at the NYC Totbo Workshop this weekend who sent out hundreds of tweets about what was being covered in the workshop. And special kudos to @khanb1 who compiled all the posts into a tumblr post – click here for the link.

So the NY workshop was great – we had over 70 people in the room – with special guests Sheri Candler, Caitlin Boyle and Lance Weiler. Next stop Vancouver, the Los Angeles Film Festival Symposium, followed by a four city tour of Australia in July and then San Francisco on July 31/August 1st. Check out the Totbo site for information.

Totbo Workshop Twitter Winner 3: How to Keep Fans Coming Back

Posted on by Jon Reiss

Totbo Workshop Pass Twitter Winner # 3

@ Missmichaelshow do u keep fans coming back to your FB fanpage thru marketing w/out crossing the line into spam world & losing fans? #dist2010

This one I could have easily responded to in Twitter: By providing content and information – especially content that is entertaining and usefull to your audience.

I would say 80% of what you tweet/blog/fb about should be about what interests your audience that is not information about your film. Social media is not primarily about promotion. It is about engagement first then if you engage people you can promote. If you provide value to people then they might be inclined to join you on your journey. For our Bomb It blog during production we rarely posted about the film – we posted about what was going on in the world of graff and street art so that we became a go-to resource about the world our audience was interested in.

Totbo Twitter Question Winner 2: What Skills Does a PMD Need

Posted on by Jon Reiss

From @Jakestetler #dist2010 What skills and/or experience do you look for in a great PMD for a film project?
I chose this because I really love when I see people adopting the PMD concept. I love this because I see this as one of the keys toward helping filmmakers cope with their new responsibilities of distribution and marketing, while understanding that they have a film to make:

A PMD should have good sales and marketing experience, should be a good salesperson, personable, good on the phone, enthusiastic. Those qualities will usually mean that they they most likely have a love of social media and connecting with people on line and in person. Additional good qualities: organized, hard worker, gets stuff done, has an understanding of the distribution world, a good numbers sense.

Alternatively especially on very small films – should posses the qualities the filmmaker does not. Eg if the filmmaker is already a good salesperson but is scattered – a PMD should be organized and focused almost more than anything.

Time to start the PMD Academy. The first step of the PMD Academy will be www.ultimatefilmguides.com. A centralized hub of information and resources about distribution and marketing.

Totbo Workshop Twitter Winner 1: How Can We Help Filmmakers?

Posted on by Jon Reiss

Here are the winning questions for the Totbo Twitter Contest – providing 3 free passes to my workshop in NY this weekend:

@Zaffi What as filmmakers is the best thing we can do to support other filmmakers? #dist2010

I love this questions – because it is about giving back to the community which I feel is especially important in this transitional time. Here are my top three quick things filmmakers can do:
Support filmmakers – go to their Live Events, buy their merch.
Promote filmmakers that you like to your networks – be a curator.
A very simple very helpful thing: Review and rate a movie you like on Amazon, IMDB, BoxOfficeMojo, etc.
Be open with your data and techniques. I created a website: www.ultimatefilmguides.com so that filmmakers could share information about distribution and marketing. Rate and review distributors and services. Write up your own case studies – use it and spread the word.

TOTBO Tip of the Day 34 When Booking Your Film: Make the Call

Posted on by Emy

When calling the theater, ask for the person in charge of programming. These bookers are generally very nice people who love film. Why else would they be involved with small theaters that make no money? And remember, it is important to call first before sending an e-mail. An e-mail cannot express your passion, nor will an e-mail exchange allow you to address the bookers‘ concerns about your film in a direct and instantaneous fashion. I always followed up my phone calls with an e-mail and not the other way around.

My workshops are coming to NYC on June 5 & 6th organized through IFP – and Vancouver on June 12 & 13th.   One of the perks of attending is a digital pack of articles and documents my theatrical pitch letter and a list of theater listings etc.  I hope to see you there! Check out the book and workshops here.

Opportunities to Work with Power to the Pixel

Posted on by Emy

Posted on powertothepixel.com.

We are recruiting an Office Administrator and an Event Coordinator for The Pixel Market…

Power to the Pixel has two new positions available with an immediate start for the right candidates.

We are looking for an Office Administrator to work across all of Power to the Pixel’s projects including our annual Cross-Media Forum in London, The Pixel Lab and The Pixel Report. As well as being super-organised, we are looking for someone keen to broaden their experience and get involved with marketing and PR.

The second vacancy is for an Event Coordinator to oversee a new two-day addition to our London Forum, The Pixel Market. Previous events and/or production experience is desired.

Full job descriptions can be found at Power to the Pixel’s WEBSITE. Deadline for applications is 18.00 Monday 14 June 2010.

TOTBO Tip of the Day 33 When Booking Your Film: Do Your Research

Posted on by Emy

Of course you have done your organizational research, but assuming you are still going to book some conventional theaters the first step is: Research. Most information you need to book your film is readily available online.  There are already lists of theaters that book independent films available online.  My distribution and marketing tools site: ultimatefilmguides.com has a list of these lists!  Most theaters have Web sites, and in nearly all of them, the office number can be found if you look hard enough. To compile your list of theaters to contact, check out where other similar independent films have played.

My workshops are coming to NYC on June 5 & 6th organized through IFP – and Vancouver on June 12 & 13th.   One of the perks of attending is a digital pack of articles and documents my theatrical pitch letter and a list of theater listings etc.  I hope to see you there! Check out the book and workshops here.

Independent Opportunities on CloudCraft Television

Posted on by Emy

Ryan Sloan’s CloudCraft Television is currently offering channels for Independents and Students and well as Collaborations. They are able to stream uncompressed video at better than DVD quality, including up to 7.1 DTS Surround Sound, and Home Media Magazine has recently reviewed their technology deeming it the best on the Internet in an upcoming article.

For more info, visit www.cloudcraft.tv.