On Thursday and Friday of this week (Oct 20-21) I will be at the Flyway Film Festival, presenting my two-day Think Outside the Box Office workshop on the ever-changing world of hybrid distribution and marketing. Today, though, I am thrilled to share a guest post from Chilean filmmaker Bernardo Palau whose first feature film ‘Saving You’ had a small theatrical release in Chile in November 2010 and is now available on iTunes. Here is his post:
PUTTING CHILEAN FILM ON THE MAP
By Bernardo Palau
I live in Chile — a long and thin land at the end of the world — at the southernmost point of South America. Chile is a country mainly known for its wines, the variety of its landscapes and its writers and poets like Isabel Allende, Pablo Neruda and Vicente Huidobro.
I say “mainly” because every day Chile is getting more and more known for a different kind of poet/storyteller: its filmmakers. Over the last few years many Chilean films have navigated the A-class film festival circuit, which has placed Chile on the map of world cinema in the eyes of the press.
Leaving aside the recently deceased Raoul Ruiz and his prolific filmography, many directors, including Sebastian Silva (‘The Maid’), Matias Bize (‘The life of the fish’), Pablo Larraín (‘Tony Manero’), Gonzalo Justiniano (‘B-Happy’), Sebastian Lelio (‘Christmas’), and others have created a lot of buzz at various international film festivals. But is that all there is to Chilean cinema?
No, actually. There are still a lot of Chilean films out there that the world doesn’t know about yet.
Allow me to explain: In Chile we have two major kind of films, the Public (or State) co-finance films, which have big budgets for our industry (normally between $500,000 and $2,000,000), enabling them to have a great festival presence around the world. On the other hand, we also have micro-budget guerrilla / garage films that work with small budgets, small crews and a lot of good will.
Chris Horton asked me to write this post for the new Artist Services website that Sundance has set up. However, many filmmakers don’t have access to that site, and so I am posting it here on my blog for anyone to be able to read. Here is the post:
In 2005 I started a documentary project that became Bomb It which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2007, was released on DVD, iTunes and Netflix via New Video and has had an extended life on VOD (Gravitas), Web series (Babelgum), various foreign sales (PAL DVD this month on Dogwoof) etc. As many of you know, my experience releasing Bomb It inspired me to write a manual for other filmmakers to release their films in this new distribution landscape: Think Outside the Box Office. Chris Horton approached me to write a post on how I would release Bomb It in today’s distribution landscape (and knowing what I know now). I’ve actually thought about this a lot (mostly kicking my self for what I could have done better!)
Continue reading →
This was published yesterday on jeremyjuuso.blogspot.com.
UPDATE TO BASELINE JULY 2010 DIY POSTING
During the course of research, I found a film from 2009 that initially appeared to be a DIY release, but upon further inspection had to be relabeled as a non-DIY release. As a result, this has slightly shifted the numbers that initially appeared in my Baseline posting. Here is the revised table:
Turns out, DIY was on top opening weekend. Click here for the original posting (and some context).
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.
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.
This was published on voyagemedia.com today.
Author Jon Reiss on the Death of the Film Festival AND HIS BEST KEPT SECRETS THAT COULD MAKE YOUR NEXT INDIE FILM A SUCCESS!!
In his interview with Nat Mundel, independent filmmaker, author, and educator Jon Reiss unabashedly confirms one thing: the film festival acquisition model is dead or dying.
But Reiss hasn’t sat idly, waiting for his films to get picked up. Instead, he throws up his middle finger to would-be buyers. Taking matters into his own hands, Reiss has booked his own theater screenings for his film Bomb It across 27 cities, and has even sold bootleg DVDs of his film along the way (yes, he bootlegged his own film; in so many words, badass.)
Since 2007, Reiss has become one of the go-to experts on Do It Yourself (DIY) film distribution, publishing the DIY Bible Think Outside the Box Office in November of ’09. We got Reiss to open up about his book, his DIY workshops, and his predictions about the future of independent film.
Watch and listen for 4 major tips to get your next indie film project an audience before you even lens up.
Brian Newman has been tearing it up lately on his blog Springboard Media. While I don’t always agree with him, he is very thoughtful and has great insights into what is going on these days in the indie film world. I just tweeted his post from today Filmmaking and Releasing – Changing From the Male Climax Model.
While I agree with much of what Brian says, I do still feel that a big push at the beginning does help a film “penetrate” the media landscape. Its hard to create a splash in this world filled with media noise. That is why I am a fan of live events, festivals for launches etc. Tomorrow or Monday on Ted Hope’s blog I’ll be publishing part 2 of my film fest considerations list – this time focusing on using festivals for launches adn what is neccessary to prepare.
BUT films still have a long tail life – if you are fortunate. Almost 2 years after the theatrical/dvd release of Bomb It – I am working with Babelgum to film more Bomb It episodes – Bomb It 2 as it were, still making TV sales etc. But this all was helped immensely by my initial big push.
More on this subject later.
Here’s the pull quote: “Written in a light conversational tone and beautifully organized over 354 pages, Jon, a noted filmmaker (Bomb It, Better Living Through Circuitry) and CalArts teacher, passionate about connecting filmmakers to their audiences, arms filmmakers with the arsenal needed for a killer DIY direct to fan film marketing campaign. This book drills down to specifics that allows the reader to form an actionable strategy, and is destined to become required reading for all filmmakers.”
#AFM Thinking Outside The Box Office 06Nov09
We are now midway through AFM, and things are looking up from last year. Buyers are buying, but very specific in their wants. I had a chance to catch up with John Foster, CEO, of Odyssey Pictures who recently acquired 31 hours of animated children’s content from DPM, a French-based specialty distributor of entertainment and how-to programming. Having scored this superb catalogue of cartoon classics (Superman, Casper, Bugs Bunny) at Cannes, John is shopping AFM before heading on to other markets like NATPE in January. ”We are looking to acquire content libraries for the children’s market as well as for specialty markets like health, finance and education. We are in talks with ION for television distribution, Limelight to power distribution online, and working with Spelling Communications to secure US sponsors. Odyssey already has several European sponsors signed up. Backed by a $10mm acquisition fund, Odyssey is on a tear analyzing mobile marketing opportunities as well as those with connected devices. ”Odyssey soon will be launching 1-3 hours sponsored programming via satellite and on the web. We’re starting with established content but plan to showcase outstanding original programming in time.” Interested sellers can contact John at email@example.com.
For the weekend, AFI Fest has moved to the Laemmle at 1332 2nd close to the Loews. Rush Lines are still getting into screening for free so stop by. And the price of admission to AFM drops significantly as the market opens up to half-market badgers on Sunday.
There are also several excellent seminars still being offered: Sa 11/7 at USC is Distribution U with Peter Broderick, Steve Kirsner, Jon Reiss, Adam Chapnick.. and Su 11/8 at Le Merigot is Changing Indie Distribution Strategies. At both events, Jon Reiss will be signing his timely new book: Thinking Outside The Box Office: The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution in the Digital Era. He sent me a copy to review earlier this week and I am still deeply immersed. Written in a light conversational tone and beautifully organized over 354 pages, Jon, a noted filmmaker (Bomb It, Better Living Through Circuitry) and CalArts teacher, passionate about connecting filmmakers to their audiences, arms filmmakers with the arsenal needed for a killer DIY direct to fan film marketing campaign. This book drills down to specifics that allows the reader to form an actionable strategy, and is destined to become required reading for all filmmakers. Some of his points are similar to what we’ve been covering:
- Budget as much for marketing and distribution as you do on production upfront, e.g. $100,000 production budget = $100,000 P&A budget (Jon provides detailed budgets with links to websites where assistants, publicists, bookers, sales reps/distribution consultants can be hired, and cost information to help filmmakers decide which path to take for theatrical release)
- Consider festival circuit as theatrical release, eventize screenings with cast and crew, reach out to traditional press as well as tastemaker/niche blogs for coverage, connect with fans, collect emails and zips, get venue/alcohol sponsors to throw after-parties, handout out stickers other pocketable schwag with website url, sell tees, merchandise, DVDs, CDs
The book also includes steps to create better engagement on WordPress, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and YouTube, and then in the next breath puts a call out to festival directors to see themselves as distributors, aggregators of quality indie content for traditional and new media. It seems so complete I’m still reading on hoping he addresses ways not to trip up Oscar qualification with day and date online screenings. An incredibly valuable resource. $5 off if you order through this link. Free if you’re a filmmaker who fills out the filmmaker survey (see page 17 of the book). The companion website is at www.ultimatefilmguides.com. Enjoy!
I put up the Introduction and table of contents on Indiewire:
As some of you know, I have written a book Think Outside the Box Office. It’s purpose it to help filmmakers release their films in today’s marketplace – especially in the collapse of the festival acquisition model. The book is being released on November 16th. Indiewire has offered to release a few advance chapters of the book so that you can get a sense of what is inside. For the first week it seemed to make sense to release the introduction which explains why I wrote the book in the first place. I’ve also included the Table of Contents so let us know which chapter you would like to see next. I’m also available on twitter and facebook where I post about distribution and marketing for filmmakers. You can sign up for a $5 off coupon for the book at www.thinkoutsidetheboxoffice.com
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX OFFICE
The independent film world is abuzz about the collapse of the traditional independent film distribution model. In recent years, more than 5,000 feature films have been submitted to the Sundance Film Festival annually, and only a few hundred get the golden ticket. Of those accepted, perhaps a handful at best will make a sale that might cover at least half of their production expenses. Another handful might be offered a 20-year deal for all rights to their film — with either a token advance of about $15,000 or no advance at all. No longer can filmmakers expect someone to come and take their film off their hands and guarantee them theatrical release and full recoupment. Any filmmaker who doesn’t understand the current state of affairs is going to have a rude awakening.
I had my own rude awakening in 2007 when I brought my film Bomb It (a documentary about the global explosion of graffiti art and culture, and the resultant worldwide battle over public space) to the Tribeca Film Festival. We did our festival launch the old-school way:
o We saved our world premiere for a top U.S. film festival that had a history of acquisitions.
o We got a top-class sales agent to marshal the distribution world and get people excited about our film.
o No advance screeners went out to potential buyers.
o We paid a ton of money for a conventional publicist to get the film written up, so potential distributors would know that there was interest in our film.
o We spent more money on a variety of marketing efforts to get our audience into the theaters (the festival’s theaters).
o We held off creating DVDs for sale so as not to compete with any potential distributor.
And the results: Each of our five screenings (in 500- to 600-seat venues) was sold out. People lined up around the block; 100 to 200 people were turned away at each screening! The audiences were engaged in the film: People laughed in places that I didn’t expect; there were eruptions of applause after the screenings and mobs of adoring fans.
And nothing in terms of sales. No overall deal with an advance that made any financial sense. We were offered extremely low money deals for theatrical and DVD, tied together so that we were sure that we would never see a dime. No television or cable. No foreign. 2007 was the tipping point in the collapse of the studio-based independent distribution model. We did get interest from a few DVD companies — however, none with any significant advance. What the F? The market had changed — drastically.
A week after Tribeca, our film was available for sale on Canal Street — as a bootleg.
We could have sold copies of our film to our enraptured audiences (2,500 people in the theaters, plus the 800 turned away). Converting just 10 percent of those 3,300 would have meant $6,600 in sales.
In short, we received a good, no advance deal from New Video, who also handle our download-to-own digital rights. The DVD was scheduled to be released at the end of May 2008. I was still committed to having a theatrical release. After an unfortunate sidestep with a company who said that they would release the film theatrically, I decided to do a theatrical release on my own, knowing that I had a very small window in which to do so, as determined by my DVD release. I started in January 2008 and ended the official theatrical at the end of June 2008 (note the crossover with the DVD release).
Part of the reason I wrote this book is because I wish I had had it before I released my film. Filmmakers are hungry for information on how to distribute and market their films. Many are shooting themselves in the foot in the process (like I did many times). While there are some disparate sources of information on these new methods, no single resource exists that combines all of the knowledge and tools now available to filmmakers.
Think Outside the Box Office is the first step in filling that void. It is a nuts-and-bolts guide for filmmakers who want to take control of their own destiny and create a strategy that works for their specific film. Each section and the chapters therein address an essential aspect of distribution and marketing and give specific techniques for independent filmmakers to release their films in today’s marketplace. It is designed as a first step to develop a series of best practices for filmmakers and other visual media content creators wishing to distribute and market their work.
What I think is more important than a distribution and marketing manual, though, is that the book serves as a first step to reconceptualizing the way we think about creating and distributing visual media content throughout the world. Some of the most exciting techniques in here, such as transmedia, refer to a new way telling stories that a few forward-thinking filmmakers are already experimenting with. These new ways of storytelling will not only help filmmakers get their work out to new audiences, but will expand their creative horizons as well. This book is about connecting filmmakers with audiences and creating long-term relationships with them. It is about thinking outside the box in terms of form and content. It is about new storytelling techniques that make sense for new modes of distribution. It is about embracing the changes in our industry that are facing us all — and using them to spur new creativity.
MY HOPES FOR THE BOOK
My first hope is that the ideas and opinions expressed in this book will cause you to think differently about how you can connect your film to its audience.
My second hope is that you will then use this book to create a strategy to make your film (and career) a success, whatever you define that success to be.
My third hope is that the book contains the practical advice necessary to put that strategy into practice.
My fourth hope is that this book will help you see how new forms of storytelling, distribution, and marketing can expand your creative horizons.
Think Outside the Box Office
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Foreword by Ted Hope p7
Who the Book is Written For p19
How to Use this Book/A Note on DIY p21
SECTION 1 – GETTING STARTED
CHAPTER 1 Your Film, Your Needs, Your Audience p29
CHAPTER 2 Your Resources: The New 50/50 p37
CHAPTER 3 Overview of Rights, Markets and Windows p45
CHAPTER 4 Creating Your Strategy p53
CHAPTER 5 Building Your Team p61
SECTION 2 – PREPARING FOR DISTRIBUTION AND MARKETING BEFORE YOU FINISH YOUR FILM
CHAPTER 6 Rethinking Marketing p75
CHAPTER 7 Art vs. Commerce p79
CHAPTER 8 Preparing Conventional Distribution and Marketing Materials During Prep, Production, and Post p85
CHAPTER 9 Your Website p93
CHAPTER 10 Increasing, Cultivating, And Partnering With Your Audience p107
CHAPTER 11 Utilizing Social Networks p115
CHAPTER 12 An Introduction To Transmedia p127
SECTION 3 – LIVE EVENTS/THEATRICAL
CHAPTER 13 Redefining The Theatrical Experience p133
CHAPTER 14 Film Festivals and Your Distribution Strategy p137
CHAPTER 15 Conventional Theatrical p149
CHAPTER 16 DIY Theatrical p161
CHAPTER 17 Creating A Live Event Experience p171
CHAPTER 18 Booking Non-, Semi-, And Alternative Theatrical – An Introduction To Grassroots/Community Screenings p181
CHAPTER 19 Budgeting Distribution And Marketing p197
SECTION 4 – MARKETING AND PUBLICITY
CHAPTER 20 Conventional Publicity .p213
CHAPTER 21 Creating Publicity Materials And Events p219
CHAPTER 22 Pushing Content On The Web p229
CHAPTER 23 Direct Web Marketing Basics p235
CHAPTER 24 Transmedia, Part 2 p243
SECTION 5 – MERCHANDISE
CHAPTER 25 Working With A DVD Distributor p251
CHAPTER 26 DVD DIY p257
CHAPTER 27 Educational Sales p265
CHAPTER 28 Merchandising p275
SECTION 6 – DIGITAL RIGHTS
CHAPTER 29 Redefining Digital Rights p283
CHAPTER 30 Television/Cable p289
CHAPTER 31 An Introduction To Digital Rights p295
CHAPTER 32 Selling Your Digital Rights p305
CHAPTER 33 Digital Rights Outlets p315
CHAPTER 34 DIY Digital Rights p325
SECTION 7 – FOREIGN SALES
CHAPTER 35 Conventional Foreign Sales p331
CHAPTER 36 Hybrid Foreign Sales p337
SECTION 8 – SANITY AND THE FUTURE
CHAPTER 37 Keeping Sane p343
CHAPTER 38 The Future p347
APPENDIX Advice From Filmmakers p350