Tag: Filmmaking

10 reasons why you should get your s–t together and apply to the IFP Filmmaker Lab

Posted on by admin

I have had the pleasure of being one of the lab leaders at the IFP Filmmaker Lab for the past 5 or so years (as you can imagine I help run the distribution and marketing component of the labs).  Each year the four times I travel to New York for the labs are some of the highlights of my calendar.  Yet I am continually amazed by the number of first time filmmakers that I talk to that didn’t apply to the lab (and many had not heard of it!).   So as the deadline for the Documentary Lab looms (March 7th! Narrative App due April 4), I thought I would take a little time to encourage filmmakers to apply – you never know what might happen!

1. It’s the first of its kind post production, distribution and marketing lab that helps shepherd first time filmmakers through the difficult aspects of not only creating the best film possible but also the often arcane post production and delivery process.

2.  It is not a one-time lab – it takes place over -6-7 months and meets three times– each session building on your progress and what you learned the last time.   The first session is focused on editing and postproduction, the second on marketing and the third on distribution.  Your film is assigned a mentor who is with you during these months.  You also get continued support from the amazing team at IFP: Amy, Milton, Rose, Dan, Chantel and more.

3. You get new eyes on your film: During the post production session, you get feedback on your edit not only from a super experienced editor but also from the aforementioned folks at IFP and your peers in the lab.

4.  Speaking of peers – each lab creates a close knit group of friends who then proceed to help each other out not only through the post process but through the arduous and at times elating and at times discouraging process of distribution and marketing.

5.  It is the only lab that helps you develop a distribution and marketing strategy for your film.  Many of the films in the lab receive some form of traditional distribution deal – but many – like most films – create some form of hybrid release – combining unique theatrical, broadcast, merch and digital opportunities.  We bring in industry experts to discuss the latest trends and workshop what might be the best distribution strategy for your film.

6.  We help you identify the audience for your film, figure out ways to connect to that audience and bring in a panel of industry experts to review and hone your marketing strategy and materials.

7.  Your project is elevated within the independent film community.  Of the 50,000 films made every year – yours are one of 20 selected by one of the premiere film organizations in the world.  People pay attention.

8.  You are automatically included in IFP’s Independent Film Week either in the Spotlight on Docs or Emerging Narrative.  This is an amazing program designed for films that are just about to hit the marketplace – you are teamed up with top notch film festivals, distributors, aggregators, broadcasters, service providers who are all interested in your film.  The marketing lab is timed to help you hone your materials and pitch right before you go out and present your film to the industry.

9.  IFP will be your partner in crime after the labs are finished.  They make calls on your behalf, they help you give birth to your film through festivals, screenings etc.  Nearly every film that has come through the lab in the last few years has received some form of distribution from the incredible DIY approach of John Henry Summerour’s Sahkanaga to Dee Rees’ Pariah.

10.  All of the above for the low low price of 0!   Its Free – you just have to get yourself to NYC three times a year. And really – how bad is that?

Bonus Reason:  Best of all, you become a part of the IFP family.  (This has actually been one of the most gratifying parts of the lab for me as well – that even though I live in LA – I consider the people at IFP my second family).  They want to help you with your next films, cheerlead you, and push you in new directions.  It is truly a magical group that any filmmaker would be lucky to be a part of.

Unlike many other labs – this is a one time opportunity – only open to first time filmmakers – so if that’s not you – sorry, share it with a friend.  If it is you – why not take the plunge?

Creating Innovative Merchandise

Its the IFP Film Week in NYC where I just was for the IFP Lab and the new IFP PMD Lab – so with that in mind – I am posting my new clip about merchandise and an intro to innovative merchandise.

 

Launching New TOTBO Workshop Webclips

Posted on by admin

I am kicking off a series of excerpts from my Think Outside the Box Office Master Classes today on my new YouTube Channel TheJonReiss. I am rebooting my YouTube channel because even though I had some decent views on YouTube.com/jfilm1 – it didn’t feel like that accurate or searchable. Since I am going to start releasing regular content not only from my workshops, but also interviews with filmmakers, artists and people on the cutting edge of audience engagement, I thought it was time to start fresh. On the channel you can also see excerpts from my film and music video work as well. I look forward to your thoughts on the clips as they roll out.

This week’s post concerns setting the goals for your release. I am a firm believer that it is essential for filmmakers to have a clear idea of what their goals are for their film’s release and to prioritize one or perhaps 2 specific goals because a film team will use different release strategies to achieve different goals. I see 4 main goals that most filmmakers strive for in their releases:

1. Money (Fortune)

2. A career launch, helping get another film made. (Fame – for a traditional career based on the previous film career paradigm that only exists for a small percentage of filmmakers these days).

3. Audience (some people just want their film to be seen by an audience as wide as possible.

4. Change the World – especially for documentary.

However I encourage most (if not all) filmmakers to consider a fifth goal:

5. A long-term relationship with a potentially sustainable audience/fan base. This is an essential component of any modern media release – yet most filmmakers still do not consider this a primary goal. This goal is different in objective than the old school fame based career launch (Number 2 above). It is not about press, “heat”, ego. Its about connection, engagement and a bringing your fans with you from project to project. This goal is not achievable if you sell your film outright in an all-rights scenario. In that case your distributor has access to your audience data – not you (although most don’t cultivate this data – yet).

Next week’s clip will talk about the importance of prioritizing your goals. In other words you are better off pursuing one goal. If you don’t, you are at the risk of not achieving any of your goals. Upcoming posts will concern identifying and engaging audience, creating events, merchandise, digital rights, timing as well as interviews with artists and filmmakers such as Timo Vuorensola, Molly Crabapple, Corey McAbee and many more.

I’m launching the channel today as part of my Spring Workshop Kickoff. Yesterday I gave a “Strategic Distribution Workshop 202” at Hot Docs Toronto. I will be helping lead the IFP Filmmaker Labs in NYC in May and June. I will also be giving a mini-workshop at Sheffield Doc Fest in June 15th and then in London on June 23, 24th for a newly revamped two day TOTBO Distribution Master Class.

I’ve also created some Hot Docs Specials on my store where you can get a PDF of TOTBO for $4.95 and a hard copy for $9.95.

Follow on Twitter
Like on Facebook

Five Question Q+A with Jon Reiss for NAMAC

I recently did a short Q+A for Rachel Allen with the National Alliance for Media Art + Culture (NAMAC). NAMAC is an invaluable resource of independent film, video and multimedia organizations, and I recommend everyone checks them out.

Five Question Q+A with Jon Reiss by Rachel Allen

Meet Jon Reiss. Jon is a filmmaker (Bomb It, Better Living Through Circuitry), author (Think Outside the Box Office) and consultant whose most recent book is Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul which he co-wrote with The Film Collaborative and Sheri Candler. He works with numerous film organizations, film schools and festivals to bring a variety of distribution labs and workshops around the world. His upcoming books concern new models of artistic entrepreneurship and the concept Producer of Marketing and Distribution.

RA: What drew you to your work?

JR: I made a film called Bomb It, which is about graffiti all over the world. We frankly thought that we were going to sell the film in a traditional fashion and we didn’t. There’s a long story behind that. Basically, I ended up distributing the film mainly myself, but I had other distribution partners. I started writing about it and people liked the writing that I did. I realized that I enjoyed talking to filmmakers about this process and I decided to write a book about it. I enjoyed talking to people about new ideas and how filmmaking has changed in terms of engaging with audiences. Continue reading →

Putting Chilean Film on the Map

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.


Continue reading →

10 Ways in Which I Would Release Bomb It Today

Posted on by Emy

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 →

Bomb It 2 on Babelgum To Watch List for Fast Company Magazine

Posted on by Emy

Babelgum Actually — gasps — Pays for Users to Create Videos
By PATRICK J. SAUER

So far as I know, Babelgum is the only company paying Web-video creators money up front,” says chief revenue officer Douglas Dicconson. And not for low-brow stuff, but ambitious professional works such as British documentarian Daniel Edelstyn’s Vodka Empire, the unlikely 25-part saga of his discovery that he’s heir to a Ukrainian vodka factory, and his attempt to bring Zorokovich 1917 to the modern spirits world. [...]

Dicconson says that he closed more revenue in the first quarter of 2010 than in the past three years combined. And momentum continued this past spring as Babelgum’s traffic spiked to 5.7 million visitors a month, when Vamped Out and Vodka Empire first aired. Na zdorovye!

3 to Watch

Dirty Oil
Babelgum’s first fully financed feature film, helmed by Academy Award-nominee Leslie Iwerks, will get its U.S. debut as an episodic series. Dirty Oil examines the economic and ecological impact of the oil sands in Alberta.

Vamped Out
When we last saw our vampiric out-of-work-actor hero Alowisus Hewson (Jason Antoon) in season one, he was sucking a young Hollywood starlet’s blood while formerly skeptical documentary filmmaker Elliot Finke (series writer and director Kevin Pollak) wigged out. Will the 172-year-old thespian find work in a Twilight world?

Bomb It 2
Babelgum produced the original street art/graffiti documentary, and the sequel will profile artists from locations such as Singapore (third offense is a caning!) and the Middle East. “In Israel, there’s a blossoming street-art culture with percolations of ideas,” says director Jon Reiss, “but in the Palestinian refugee camps, everything is political.”

Read more here or on the September issue of Fast Company magazine.

10 Solutions to Ted Hopes 38 More Ways The Film Industry Is Failing Today

Posted on by Jon Reiss

On Truly Free Film today Ted Hope writes about 38 More Ways The Film Industry Is Failing Today.

My response is to propose 10 Solutions that Filmmakers Can engage in to work against these failings:

1. Consider marketing and distribution of your films as part of the entire filmmaking process. If you do this it will be easier and more organic.

2. Hire a distribution and marketing crew – just as you would a production crew. Hire a Producer of Marketing and Distribution or PMD to run this crew. As a producer/line producer run production crew.

3. If you are interested in film, business, marketing, social media – train to become a PMD so that you can be hired by filmmakers. This is a growth field – if you want a new career.

4. Budget for and raise money for distribution and marketing at the initial raise. That way you can promise your investors a release of the film. This way there will be some assured path to monetization and all share the risk in the costs of that monetization.

5. Put the money for marketing and distribution in escrow – you know what I mean.

6. Consider the audience for your film, the specific audinece(s) that exist for your film. Reach out to them as early as possible. They will help you.

7. Think of how and what that audience consumes. Make products that they want related to your film. Eg Shepard Fairey designed posters printed on linen paper signed by the director of the film Bomb It – :)

8. Think of interesting Live Events that you can create that appeal to your audience and are relevent to your film. Steinway brought pianos and pianists to the screenings of Ben Nile’s “Note by Note”

9. Think of interesting ways to reach out to audiences that might engage with the content of your film, but don’t want to watch a feature film (yes transmedia). Check out “The Way We Get By” and their Returning Home community site. Check out Bomb It’s Babelgum webisode site.

10. Remember that you are creating a film or media project for an audience. Creation is one part of the whole, connecting with the audience is the other part to that whole.

Jon

TOTBO Tip of the Day 10 Blog

Posted on by Emy

Blogging helps in two ways: First, it drives traffic to your site as you link to new and interesting stories that are related to the subject of your film (For Bomb It, we post news about graffiti around the world.) And second, your blogging activity will help your site’s SEO (search engine optimization). This will result in higher search rankings for your film in relevant categories. What to blog about? Of course you should blog about your film, your filmmaking experiences and your screenings, but you should also consider blogging about subjects that relate to your film and your film’s audience. This will make your project relevant to them on a broader level and keep them coming back to your site. One simple way to come up with information to blog about is to use Google Alerts. We received a weekly Google Alert about “graffiti” and “street art” and select a few top articles to blog about.

My live workshops are coming to London on May 8th-9th and Amsterdam on May 12th-13th. Hope to see you there!

I want to know what you think! Comment here or on my blog, or @Jon_Reiss on twitter, or on the TOTBO Facebook page. Check out the book Think Outside the Box Office. I look forward to hearing from you.

The Producer of Marketing and Distribution

Posted on by Emy

This is my article published on screendaily.com.

The Producer of Marketing and Distribution
BY JON REISS

In my first guest column for Screen Daily in November of last year, I introduced what I call the new 50/50. This idea is to convey to filmmakers that half of their work is making the film, half of their work is connecting the film to an audience.

As a filmmaker, I know how difficult adopting these new tasks of marketing and distribution are. I also know how they can interfere with making new films – and there have been a fair amount of complaints lately from filmmakers about being responsible for doing this additional work.

However, just like most filmmakers do not make their films on their own, they should not be distributing and marketing those films on their own. I would argue that from now on, every film needs one person devoted to the distribution and marketing of the film from inception, just as they have a line producer, assistant director, or editor. This person is part of your team from inception, not tacked on at the end of the process.

This is why last autumn, just before sending Think Outside the Box Office to print, I came up with the concept of the Producer of Marketing and Distribution or the PMD. I gave this crew position an official title of PMD because without an official position, this work will continue to not get done. I gave this position the title of producer because it is that important. (For someone learning the ropes, you can start them at coordinator then move them up to associate producer and so on).

Creating a crew position will cause people to seek jobs as a PMD, train to become a PMD, apprentice as a PMD just as people do this for any film crew position. (I’ve already received emails from people excited to become PMDs.) Without a title, it won’t happen. The creation of this crew position should spur schools and institutes to create curriculums in order to train people to fill this role and other people will write books about it (just as there are a plethora of books on how to be a line producer).

I look forward to a near future in which filmmakers/directors will be able to put out calls for PMDs just as they do for DPs and Editors – and that they will get an equal volume of applications. Directors will develop long term relationships with PMDs that “get them” just as they do with DPs, Editors, and Producers etc.

Responsibilities of the PMD include:

1. Identify and engage with the audience for a film.

2. Development of a distribution and marketing strategy and plan for a film in conjunction with the entire team.

3. Create a budget for said plan.

4. Assemble and supervise the necessary team/crew elements to carry out the plan.

5. Audience outreach through organizations, blogs, social networking, online radio etc.

6. Supervise the creation of promotional and (if necessary due to the lack of a separate transmedia coordinator) trans media elements: including the films website script and concept for transmedia, production stills, video assets – both behind the scenes and trans media, promotional copy and art.

7. Outreach to potential distribution and marketing partners such as sponsors, promotional partners, various distribution entities, publicists.

8. When appropriate, engage the distribution process as designed.

9. Supervise the creation of deliverables.

I have created a number of educational activities to help recognize the creation of this position and help filmmakers take control of the distribution and marketing of their films. The first was the book mentioned above which I feel is the first training manual for the PMD. The second is a distribution and tools website www.ultimatefilmguides.com. Finally, I am beginning a series of Think Outside the Box Office (TOTBO) Workshops throughout the world kicking off in London next week on May 8&9 followed by Amsterdam, New York, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, San Francisco and Boston. All of these resources should help define the position and the duties of the PMD and I encourage filmmakers to take advantage of these opportunities to learn and grow in their abilities and their craft.