Hybrid Cinema News

A Busy November

This past month has been a whirlwind of travel! I kicked off November in Toronto from the 1st – 7th for the Parliament of World Religions (this was for one of our projects – but I am getting quite a few spiritually oriented projects lately).

Then it was on to NYC for November 8th-15th.  First at Doc NYC to deliver a “manifesto”on independent film releases and data as part of the DOC NYC: PRO Series on Tuesday the 13th  This is approximately nine years after my manifesto on hybrid distribution that I gave at CPH:DOX just prior to launching Think Outside the Box Office. (I still remember going over proofs in my Copenhagen hotel room).  While in New York, I was also helping to run the IFP Filmmaker Lab in Marketing and Distribution for first-time filmmakers.  This year’s lab was full of exciting and inspirational projects including: 

512 Hours, directed by Giannina La Salvia and Adina Istrate. For 512 hours, hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world flocked to experience the latest exhibition by acclaimed performance artist, Marina Abramović.

Socks on Fire: Uncle John and the Copper Headed Water Rattlers, directed by Bo McGuire. Socks on Fire documents the fluidity of identity, personality, and performance in one particular place, after a failed poet returns home to Hokes Bluff, Alabama to discover that his aunt has locked his drag-queen uncle out of the family home.

Border South, directed by Raúl O. Paz Pastrana. Told against the backdrop of the North American migrant trail, Border South weaves together migrant stories from different vantage points.

The Burning Field, directed by Justin Weinrich. The Burning Field presents a unique portrait of life in an environmental wasteland through the eyes of four young people who live and work in Agbogbloshie, one of the largest unregulated E-waste dumps on earth.

Flood, directed by Katy Scoggin. In Flood, a jaded filmmaker convinces herself she can fix her strained relationship to her evangelical dad by writing a father-daughter screenplay with a happy ending.

The In Between, directed by Robie Flores. The In Between is a poetic ode to a greater reality of the border than the one portrayed on the news, offering a nuanced and intimate portrait of a place and its people at the heart of Mexican-American identity.

1982, directed by Oualid Mouaness, and edited by Sabine El Gemayel, director of Generation Zapped. In the narrative feature, 1982, an 11-year-old boy is determined to tell a girl in his class that he loves her but has trouble finding the courage to do so until the unexpected occurs; an air invasion reaches Beirut and the school is being evacuated. He gets even more determined.

Clementine, directed by Lara Jean Gallagher. In Clementine, a heartbroken woman steals away to her estranged lover’s lake house and becomes entangled with a teenage girl.

House of Hummingbird, directed by Bora Kim. Seoul, 1994 — In the year the Seongsu bridge collapsed, a teenage girl named Eunhee wanders the city searching for love.

Lost Bayou, directed by Brian C Miller Richard. After news of her mother’s death, a struggling addict ventures out into the Louisiana swampland to reconnect with her estranged “traiteur” (Cajun faith healer) father, only to discover he is hiding a troubling secret aboard his houseboat.

The DOC:NYC manifesto on data was the 2nd talk I am doing on this subject and not the last – stay tuned for more presentations as well as information coming through this newsletter and the updated blog. Sonja Henrici from the Scottish Documentary Institute and did a joint presentation on the importance of data for filmmakers at this year’s IDA Getting Real Conference in September.

Check back for our next blog when I breakdown a short case study for one of my current projects, The Gate: Dawn of the Baha’i Faith.

Creative Distribution and Audience Engagement post-Cambridge Analytica

This Wednesday at 12:45pm most people will be scrambling to get to their coveted lunch break. They’ll sit on a bench outside, breathing their allotted 30 minutes of fresh air, holding a faux-turkey sandwich in one hand and their cell phone in the other. As they scroll through Facebook, trying not to drip mustard on their new iPhone X, I’ll be co-hosting a conversation alongside Sonja Henrici from the Scottish Documentary Institute, for the IDA’s Getting Real Conference. The topic of our conversation is, “Creative Distribution and Audience Engagement post-Cambridge Analytica: A look at changing strategies, roles, demands and data.” It’s a mouth full, but to break it way down, we’re discussing the cat video you clicked on while the tomato fell out of your sandwich. Who owns that video? Why did they post that video?  What action did they want you to take? And most importantly, who’s audience do you, holder of the faux-turkey sandwich, belong to?

Long after I’ve penned books on selling your film on your own, the audience is closer than ever and yet so, so far out of reach. Large corporations whether social media giants (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… oh wait that’s Facebook now too), or streaming services (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu etc etc etc), hold all the data which is the most important key to self-distribution.

So, without these keys to the castle, how can filmmakers function in this new kingdom? We’re still figuring this out. But breathe easy because everyone else – including studios, ad agencies, brands are still figuring this out too.

I know I sound like a broken record on this but as I have been saying for over 10 years: a film’s success is based on its goals. It’s important to know what you are trying to achieve before you start trying to achieve it. The most common goals for distribution are:

  1. Make some money
  2. Make your next film.
  3. Change the world
  4. Build an audience for your future films.
  5. Just get people to see your film!

These goals are all different and yet have one common factor when related to the film – they need audience engagement to succeed.

And now, we’ve circled back to audience engagement. On Wednesday, Sonja and I will be introducing a strange new world for most documentary filmmakers – data and advertising – including why you should care about data, how you can access it to help connect with your audiences, the differences between owned, paid, shared and earned media and how and why you can use, promote and track the results of your campaigns.   We’ll also be touching on the new world of GDPR (OY!) and why you need to know what that means and how you can function within the new world of data privacy while still increasing your audience.

Over the next year I will be writing and speaking a lot on this topic so stay tuned.

How to Craft a Marketing and Distribution Plan That’s Right for You

Here is a post published by FIND after the marketing presentation I made at Film Independent in August.

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So! You have a great idea for a film. Even better: the pieces are coming together for the film to actually be produced. While you’re thinking about things like funding, filling key positions and casting, other aspects of filmmaking—like marketing and distribution—may seem like they should take the back burner. But this is precisely where filmmaker, author and distribution expert Jon Reiss would disagree.

Reiss begins his Members workshop at Film Independent by reminding the audience of the oversaturated film market, citing an average of 2,000 years worth of content uploaded to YouTube alone per month. “Your marketing and distribution plan must be an ongoing document,” Reiss says, stating the need to be able to present a cogent marketing strategy as part of your business plan for investors and grant applications.

In his book Think Outside the Box Office, Reiss lays out all the components necessary for independent filmmakers to craft a personalized, ongoing marketing plan. Reiss broke down the main elements from the book for Members: clarifying your goals as a filmmaker, identifying your film’s brand, doing an in-depth analysis of your audience (and how to reach them) and lastly, how to build a realistic, results-driven distribution plan. Here’s a little of what we learned:

CLARIFY YOUR GOALS, CLARIFY YOUR BRAND

As a filmmaker in a world of daily content, the first thing you need to think about is where you want your film to take you. Maybe you want it to catalyze your career. Or maybe you just want this particular story to have an audience. Maybe you want to pay the bills. Whatever the case, it’s important that the film serve your purposes.

Similarly, your film’s brand must be clear from the start. An audience can tell when a film doesn’t know where it’s going—both onscreen and off. A film that has a clear brand can benefit from things like brand-enhancement casting (i.e. including a specific actor/influencer in the project who might appeal to similar audience.)

WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE?

The study and execution of your project’s “audience connection” can make or break your film. After all, the point of making a film is to have people see it! Reiss explains how identifying your niche audience versus your core audience (you can go after the core once you know the niche) can really help you pinpoint marketing efforts and enhance your film’s reach.

Once you identify who your audience is, you must analyze the way they receive information in order to find the best route to reach them. Some of these routes include partnerships with influencers, media outlets, non-profit organizations and sponsors. These are all two-way routes, however. So mapping out what you can offer to both partners as well as your audience is just as important as determining what they can offer to you.

THE FOUR PLATFORMS OF DISTRIBUTION

In order to maximize your return on the film, Reiss explains, selecting the best avenue (or avenues) for release is crucial. The four main platforms for your film to be seen are: Theatrical/Event, Digital, Merchandise and Educational.

Along with selecting the platform, a good way to give your film’s life span longevity is by considering “windowing.” This is essentially a way to secure the rights to different distribution methods over a period of time with “windows” of exclusivity (e.g. does educational need a six month or longer window before VOD, where does event/theatrical fit within that window, how long of a transactional window before subscription – etc.)

You’re probably thinking, “How in the world am I going to produce my film and handle all the distribution planning?” And you’re right, it’s a lot of work. That’s why Reiss recommends finding a team to help with this aspect of the film, just as you would fill in any other positions in your production/post-production team.

Having what he likes to call “a producer of distribution and marketing” can help you really find the financial return as well as maximize the impact of your film on a broader audience. At the very least, you can check out Jon Reiss’s book, Think Outside the Box, or schedule a consultation with his strategy company, HybridCinema, to get a personalized evaluation of your film’s marketing and distribution needs.

Facebook Live: My work with NIN and Artistic Integrity

I often have clients come to me at various stages of their projects with concerns about how to keep their artistic integrity when certain decisions are being made about their films.  I recently did a Facebook Live to talk about this issue while telling you some personal stories from my career. Check it out below and hear about my time working with Trent Reznor & Nine Inch Nails, how The Defiant Ones has recently inspired me, & ways to keep your artistic integrity.

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.