Romania Interviews

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I just got the links to the TV and Radio interviews that I did while in Romania. We talked a lot about distribution and marketing within the film industry, and how that relates to all art forms – specifically in Romania. Check them out below.


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Digi TV

Romanian State Television

Radio Cultural

Off to Romania!

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Tonight I’ll be heading off to Romania as an “expert” for the American Film Showcase. The AFS is a cultural exchange organization that uses film education across the world as a means to opening a dialogue about important contemporary issues. I’m very excited to work with this great organization, and to visit such a fascinating part of the world. We will be holding film workshops in Bucharest for several days, and then heading to the Transylvania International Film Festival!

After that it’s off to New York to participate in the IFP Narrative Lab. Earlier this month I was there for the Documentary Lab, and it was an amazing week. I’ve already watched the 10 docs that were selected, and have started watching the 10 narrative films. They all look incredible! I’m very excited to work alongside such talented people

Should be a fun couple of weeks!

Distribution Transparency: Four Filmmakers Give Up the Gold Pt 2

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Wednesday’s post looked at Neil Berkeley and Judy Chaikin as two filmmakers who wanted to create a theatrical release for their films to boost visibility, increase ancillary value and learn for themselves how to operate in the new hybrid model of distribution and marketing. Today we will look at Paco de Onís the company Skylight he runs with with creative director Pamela Yates and editorial director Peter Kinoy and their film/media project Granito

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Distribution Transparency: Four Filmmakers Reveal Their Distribution Numbers, Part One

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Alternative distribution models are no longer the experiment, but are now the norm for the vast majority of filmmakers. However because of a variety of reasons, including not least contract obligations and a fear that exposing numbers may not show the filmmaker in the best light, many filmmakers have been reticent to give out the real numbers from their film’s releases.

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The BOMB IT 2 DVD is here!

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This week marks the official release of the BOMB IT 2 DVD. To purchase, visit our BOMB IT 2 website. Don’t forget to check out this exclusive webisode with BOMB IT 2 artist Darbotz, where he explains his artistic process and the story behind the Squid Monster character featured in his work. Thank you for all of your support!


Countdown to the DVD Release of BOMB IT 2!

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As we count down to the DVD release of BOMB IT 2 on 11/5, check out this exclusive webisode with featured artist NUNCA. Learn about his art, Brazilian culture, and family influence in his work.

Theatrical is Dead – Long Live Theatrical: Events, Experiences, Scarcity & The Age of Abundance

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Part 3 of How to Make Money in the Age of Abundance 

By Jon Reiss

Theatrical is Dead Long Live Theatrical. The holy grail of a theatrical release still rings as a delusion for many.  Fighting words still for untold thousands of filmmakers. Who doesn’t want their name in lights – long lines around the block – a packed theater of adoring fans.  I believe this live engagement with fans is crucial for artists.  But traditional theatrical is probably not the way you are going to do it.

In the first post in this series, I indicated that filmmakers need to create scarce resources in order to compete with the abundance of digital.  Today’s post will focus on events – or what I have termed Live Event/Theatrical. The essence of this renaming is for filmmakers to reformulate and to reclaim what the industry calls theatrical – for more on that see Think Outside the Box Office. (PS – I first said this was a two part series – then I said three parts – well I lied again and now it will be four parts – with Part 4 tomorrow).

When films were only available in a movie theater – that was a scarce resource that could be charged for – it was the only way to see films.  As  technology developed new ways to see films, content creators/studios created release windows to control the monetization process of their film products attempting to keep the theatrical release as providing the highest per viewer fee per view fee.

But besides competition from other platforms, a traditional theatrical release is not a scarce resource:  multiple screenings per day in multiple theaters with no end date is essentially an infinite supply. The release window is still the only way that traditional distributors create artificially scarcity and for most films this is not enough for audiences to sacrifice any of their other myriad of entertainment options.   Unless you have created a rabid fan base who has to see the film at its first opportunity – which happens for a few films, but not many – traditional theatrical does not offer the consumer anything unique.  Quite the contrary:

Traditional theatrical gives consumers an excuse not to see a film when the filmmaker wants their audience to engage with it.   Why spend the time, effort (which are often more valuable than the $12 ticket price) to see something that will be available much cheaper and more conveniently soon enough?

Creating scarcity is an independent filmmaker’s way of creating demand for their Live Event/Theatrical “products”.  The essence of scarcity is: people want what they fear they might not be able to have.  Scarcity also creates something will be unique to them and a few others.  The scarcer something is, the more demand you can create for it.   Simply put:  by decreasing supply with stable demand you increase value.

The essential consumer value of Live Event/Theatrical must be a live communal experience, unavailable anywhere else.  I will write about the importance of community and the extra value that this creates to screenings at another time.  It is important to keep in mind that this post is not just about monetizing through events – but is about creating ways to keep that important experience of watching films communally with other people – especially strangers.  Hence the event creates something new – never created before and even beyond the elements that you provide.  This communal added value experience is quite different than the consumer value of Digital Products, which is one of convenience.  Live Event Theatrical can never compete with digital on the level of convenience and must create its own value to succeed.

How to Create Unique Live Experiences Unavailable Anywhere Else (AKA scarcity for Live Event/Theatrical:

1.  Time Scarcity:  Embrace the One Night Screening – All things being equal, for small films with limited budgets, one night screenings are much easier to book and will in general be more successful in terms of audience and money.   By only offering a communal experience once in a particular geographical location, is an immediate way to make it scarce (only that number of seats are available) and immediately more. The more you promote sales of tickets being sold, the more urgency you can create for the event.  When you sell out you can add more screenings “by popular demand”, creating demand where perhaps none existed before.

I have experienced this over and over again for my own films and my clients’ films.  For our recent US premiere of Bomb It 2 in Miami, the film sold out several days before the event.

One of the benefits of Live Event/Theatrical for filmmakers is publicity and awareness (events by their nature do this) – but the more you add value and uniqueness to an event – the more it will create awareness. (As a caveat – four years ago it was hard to get the press to cover one night film screenings – but now that is changing more and more – and especially if you as the filmmaker add uniqueness to the event).

2. Time Scarcity – Part 2 National and/or International One Night Screenings.

This takes time, effort, coordination but can be extremely successful.  Going through satellite service providers such as Fathom, Screenvision and Cinedigm can be expensive (although the latter has started releasing films that they acquire in this manner).   But savvy filmmakers can do this without the traditional $75,000-$125,000 satellite fee.

Two notable cases are The Age of Stupid from Franny Armstrong and Lizzie Gillet of Spanner Films (who used Fathom in the US), which still has the record for number of screenings (500) and number of countries (40) for an independent film in a 2 day period. (Can anyone beat this?)  For Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance Sheri Candler and I worked with Ira Deutchman and his Emerging Pictures to create a 45 city one day event which was also the world premiere screening of the film. The total cost of this was $1000 (Emerging’s Fee), which we was deducted from the box office.   In both of these cases the filmmakers added unique elements besides the limited time to further enhance the event.

3.  Create Unique Live Qualities Unavailable Anywhere Else – Topical Celebrities

For the Joffrey film we netcast a q&a with Joffrey Ballet alumni which our research indicated was what our audience valued the most for live events (not live ballet that I had originally thought).  We also enabled audience from around the country to participate in the Q&A via Twitter. Video documentation here.   For Age of Stupid Franny and Lizzie had a numerous celebrities participate both live and via Skype.

For the Connected New York theatrical Tiffany Shlain arranged a different notable guest speaker for every screening turning each one into a unique event and selling out nearly all of her screenings in the process.

4. Create Unique Live Qualities Unavailable Anywhere Else – Live Music

Examples abound from Anvil: Story of Anvil, DJ Spooky, Braden King’s Here, Corey Mcabee whose own band The Billy Nayer Show plays live with his films and again Ride the Divide who still take the cake by selecting bands for their soundtrack proactively who would perform in the cities they knew were geographical targets for their audience.

5. Create Unique Live Qualities Unavailable Anywhere Else – Live Music Remix. 

I am finally putting my money where my mouth is – our Austin premiere at the Alamo Drafthouse for Bomb It 2 with be remixed live by DJ Chorizo Funk.  To do this I created a D&E (dialogue and effects) mix of the film on a separate screener – and then provided all the tracks to the DJ and theater on a separate CD/download.   Other event attributes of this screening:  live graffiti painting in front of the theater before the event, local featured artist Sloke appearing after the screening (note the importance of using a local artist with his own audience base) and skype Q&A by yours truly (although this may convert into a pre-recorded pre-screening intro).  I also timed this event to coincide with the conclusion of the Bomb It 2 Kickstarter campaign to have a special event to cap off our fundraising.

6. Create Unique Live Qualities Unavailable Anywhere Else – Live Film Editing

A difficult undertaking, and only for particular films and filmmakers – but check out what Peter Greenaway did for Tulse Luper Suitcases.  He had a customized VJ board created and reedited the film live for select event screenings like this one in Krakow, Poland.   A technological update to this is Mark Harris’s The Lost Children which based on audience reaction “alters itself, hiding and revealing different aspects with each screening.”

7. Create Unique Live Qualities Unavailable Anywhere Else – Audience Participation.

Rocky Horror Picture show is the most famous example, but indies such as Best Worst Movie have had their fans dressing up and participating as well.  Corey McAbee recounted that in Melbourne Australia people would dress up as the characters in American Astronaut and sing along – for years of midnight screenings.

8. Create Unique Live Qualities Unavailable Anywhere Else – Actors Performing With the Film, Text Messaging, Immersive Experiences.

Each of these techniques can be done separately, but so far the filmmakers experimenting with this such as Lance Weiler with Head Trauma and more recently Mark Harris with The Lost Children are combining multiple aspects to create immersive experiences for their audiences.

9. Beyond Live Event Theatrical:  Experiences

This needs its own blog post – but again crowdfunding has pushed filmmakers to think expansively about creating unique scarce experiences that can be offered to fans such as dinners, set experiences, live chats, backstage access etc.  What you offer depends on your audience.  Since my audience is mostly comprised of independent filmmakers, for my Kickstarter I have offered a variety of experiences that are based on my consulting brand:  a monthly group conference call/presentation with twitter q&a,  one time conversations, monthly workshops and individual intensive consultations.  What value can you provide to your audience?  What does your audience want from you?

10.  Creating Unique Live Events – What Am I Missing?

I would love to get examples from you as to what unique screenings and events you have created or experienced?

On Tuesday I will conclude this series with a look at creating scarcity with merchandise.   I am currently running a Kickstarter campaign, so you can see how I am utilizing scarcity, membership, and digital exclusivity to raise funds for my latest film, Bomb It 2, here:

We have met our goal – but have added a stretch goal of $20K to help cover all of our expenses. More important than the stretch goal, though, is our goal to create a community of 300 backers for BOMB IT 2. As of this moment, as I am writing this for you, I have 280 dedicated backers who have not only pledged money but most of whom has dedicated time and effort toward spreading the word about the campaign. Yes, I’ll give them the movie and other perks, such as consultations, posters, original art, etc. in exchange for their contribution, but they’re giving me much more.

Please check it out, contribute if you’re moved, and – no matter what – stay tuned for the final part of this series on “How to Make Money in a Time of Abundance.”

Jon Reiss is filmmaker (Bomb It, Better Living Through Circuitry), author (Think Outside the Box Office) and media strategist who works with filmmakers, companies and organizations to help them utilize the most recent techniques of direct film distribution and audience engagement.

BOMB IT 2 Featured Artist: Victor Ash (Interview)

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BOMB IT 2 Artist Victor Ash just might embody artistic evolution. Bursting onto the graffiti scene in the early 1980s, he went by Ash2 and Saho, and ran with the popular Parisian crew, BBC. He has since expanded his style, focusing on large- scale murals involving themes of human nature and perception. We caught up with Ash amidst his busy schedule, where he briefed us on his latest projects, his artistic transition, and themes that inspire his work.

If you like what you see, head over to our Bomb It 2 Kickstarter campaign to learn more about this project and ways you can contribute!

BOMB IT: What have you been up to since we filmed you in Bomb IT 2?

Victor Ash: Loads of things happened, new murals in several cities across the world, meeting new exciting people and new directions in my work.

BI: Can you talk about your recent works? What kinds of themes are you exploring with them?

VA: Since last year I have been working mostly with the theme of “animals faces,” playing with the idea of the animals looking at the viewer and the viewer looking back, I try to symbolize the human interactions we have with nature and nature with humans.

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BI: There’s a lot of incrimination of graffiti and street artists in the news. As you’ve matured as an artist, do you feel your stance on graffiti and public space has changed? Why or why not?

VA: I started to paint outside when I was a teen. Looking for an identity, I liked the thrill the revolt and the energy I found there. Also, I like to be in direct contact with the public, it creates a communication that you wouldn’t get by staying in a studio. Now I’m not active illegally in the streets because what I do is too big and takes too long to do but I still paint in the streets, just not illegally.. I understand why others keep on doing it, but personally I find challenges elsewhere and getting responsibilities like having children and family forces you to work and think in other ways.

BI: What recent or current events have inspired your work?

VA: Many things happening are worth commenting on. I get most of my inspiration from the information I received about the current state of the world, my work has to reflect the time we are living, and getting informed about the world is important for my themes.

BI:  What inspired the change in your work?

VA: In the 80’s I was a teen, focusing in the aesthetics of graffiti, it was great, but after some years I realized that it was not enough just doing letters and characters for me to keep interested in painting and I had to look further in my development to keep it exciting.

BI: What have been some public responses to your current street art and murals?

VA: In general the response is positive, if it was always negative I would do something else with my life.

BI: What advice or insight would you give to emerging street and graffiti artists?

VA: Keep on doing it as long as it matters for you and others.

This Is Not a Game: An Interview With Lady Pink

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By Nijla Mu’min



***In celebration of our upcoming release of BOMB IT 2, we’re featuring this exclusive interview with BOMB IT artist Lady Pink. The interview was conducted by our social media manager and emerging writer/filmmaker, Nijla Mu’min. ***


Graffiti/ Fine Artist Lady Pink knows her stuff. With a career spanning over 30 years, hundreds of canvasses, and walls, her knowledge of the art form is expansive, but also grounded in its tough realities. I caught up with the New York -based artist over Skype where she candidly discussed the first women of graffiti, the dangers of public work, and the current threat of the Vandal Squad (the Graffiti Police) on her life.

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One Time in Bangkok!

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Hi Everyone,

I’ve shot in a number of crazy situations throughout the world shooting Bomb It 1&2, Better Living Through Circuitry and Survival Research Labs – but this expedition in Bangkok for Bomb It 2 stands out in my mind because I can still feel those red ants biting my legs – and because my humorously clumsy ways of dealing with the situation was filmed by one of the writers I was with. It also led to an incredible view of Bangkok in this oddly beautiful plein air building. I hope you enjoy it!

For more, visit our BOMB IT 2 Kickstarter and help us reach 20k! We’ve got 9 more days to make it happen for the August release.