Tag: VODO

21 Great Free Thinkers of Indie Film from Ted Hope in The Wrap

21 Great Free Thinkers of Indie Film

I’m in the middle – but will bring it up here – pretty happy to be with such a great group of people:

“# Jon Reiss — After adopting the DIY approach for his film Bomb It, Jon chose to share the lessons he’s learned in ever increasing ways, from his blog (and this one), to articles for Filmmaker Mag, to finally to the must-have artist-centric distribution book “Think Outside the Box Office.” Anyone considering creating a truly free film, this book is mandatory reading first. (Full disclosure: I penned an intro to Jon’s book.)”

By Ted Hope
Published: December 28, 2009 in The Wrap To go to the original piece click here.

Earlier this year, while looking at Atlantic Magazine’s list of Brave Thinkers across various industries, I started to wonder who are of this ilk in our sector of so-called Independent Film.

What is it to be “brave”? To me, bravery requires risk, going against the status quo, being willing to do or say what few others have done. Bravery is not a one time act but a consistent practice. Most importantly, bravery is not about self interest; bravery involves the individual acting for the community. It is both the step forward and the hand that is extended.

Frankly though, I think anyone that commits to creating film, particularly independent film, and specifically artist driven truly free film, is truly brave … or at least, insane. It is a hard road out there and growing more difficult by the day.

All filmmakers getting their work made, screened and distributed deserve recognition, support, and something more significant than a good pat on the back from the rest of us. As great their work is both creatively and in terms of the infrastructure, it’s easy to lose sight of how fragile all this is. Our ability to create and screen innovative and diverse work is consistently under threat.

I know there are those whom I’ve forgotten that deserve to be included here. This list, although it includes many artists, is about those who are working and striving to carve a new paradigm, to make the future safe for innovative and diverse work, to build an artist-centric content economy.

These Brave Thinkers lead equally with their ideas, actions, and generosity. They set examples for all of us and raise the bar. These are indie films true new leaders, and for those that think they are in power, those that are just starting out, or those that want to find a new angle on industry you work in, you should make sure you meet these folks in the coming year, because they are redefining the way we fund, develop, create, define, discover, promote, participate, curate, and appreciate that thing we still call cinema.

* Franny Armstong — After making “The Age of Stupid” via crowdsourcing funds, Franny also looked to the audience to help distribute her film, creating IndieScreenings.net and offering it up to other filmmakers (see The Yes Men below). By relying fulling on her audience from finance to distribution, Franny was able to get the film she wanted not just made, but seen, and show the rest of us to stop thinking the old way, and instead of putting faith in the gatekeepers, put your trust in the fans.
* Steven Beers — “A Decade of Filmmaker Empowerment Is Coming.” Steven has always been on the tip of digital rights question, aiding many, including myself, on what really should be the artist’s perspective. Yet it remains exceedingly rare that individuals, let alone attorneys, take a public stand towards artist rights — as the money is often on the other side.
* Biracy & David Geertz — Biracy, helmed by Geertz, has the potential to transform film financing and promotion. Utilizing a referral system to reward a film’s champions, they might have found a model that could generate new audiences and new revenue.
* Peter Broderick — Peter was the first person to articulate the hybrid distribution plan. He coined the term, I believe. He has been tireless in his pursuit of the new model and generous with his time and vision. His distribution newsletter is a must have for all truly free filmmakers and his oldway/newway chart a true thing of beauty.
* Tze Chun & Mynette Louie — Last year, the director and producer of “Children of Invention” decided that they weren’t going to wait around for some distributor to sweep them off their feet. They left Sundance with plans to adopt a hybrid plan and started selling their DVD off their website. They have earned more money embracing this new practice than what they could have hoped from an old way deal. As much as I had hoped that others would recognize the days of golden riches were long gone, Tze & Mynette were the only Sundance filmmakers brave enough to adopt this strategy from the start.
* Arin Crumley — Having raised the bar together with Susan Buice in terms of extending the reach of creative work into symbiotic marketing with “Four Eyed Monsters,” along with helping in the design of new tech tools for filmmakers (FEM was encouraging fans to “Demand It” long before Paranormal Activity), co-founding “From Here to Awesome,” Arin launched OpenIndie together with Kieran Masterson this year to help empower filmmakers in the coming months.
* IndieGoGo & Slava Rubin — There are many web 2.0 sites that build communities, many that promote indie films, many that crowd source funds, but Slava & IndieGoGo are doing it all, with an infectious and boundless enthusiasm, championing work and individuals, giving their all to find a new paradigm, and they might just do it.
* Jamie King — The experience of giving away his film “Steal This Film” led Jamie to help build VODO — an online mechanism initially built to help artists retrieve VOluntary DOnations for their work but has since evolved to a service that helps filmakers distrubute free-to-share films through P2P sites & services, building on this with various experimental business models. Such practices aren’t for everyone, but they are definitely for some — VODO has had over 250,000 viewers for each of its first three releases in 2009 — and the road is being paved by Jamie’s efforts.
# Scott Kirsner — Scott’s book “Friends, Fans, & Followers” covered the work of 15 artists of different disciplines and how each have utilized their audience to gain greater independence and freedom. Through his website CinemaTech, Scott has been covering and questioning the industry as it evolves from a limited supply impulse buy leisure buy economy to an ubiquitous supply artistcentric choice-based infrastructure like nobody else. His “Conversation” forum brought together the tech, entertainment, & social media fields in an unprecedented way.
# Pericles Lewnes — As a filmmaker with a prize winning but underscreened film (“Loop”), Peri recoginized the struggle of indie filmmaking in this day and age. But instead of just complaining about it like most of us, Peri did something about it. He built bridges and alliances and made a makeshift screening circuit in his hometown of Annapolis, MD, founding The Pretentious Film Society. Taking indie film to the bars with a traveling projector and sound system, Peri has started pulling in the crowds and getting money back to the filmmakers. A new exhibition circuit is getting built brick by brick, the web is expanding into a net, from a hub spokes emmenate until we have wheels within wheels within wheels. Peri’s certainly not the only one doing it, but he brings an energy and passion we all need.
# Corey McAbee — It’s not enough to be a talented or innovative filmmaker these days. You must use the tools for entrepreneuarial activity that are available and you have to do it with flair. We can all learn from Corey. His films, his music, his live shows, his web stuff — it all rocks and deserves our following and adoption.
# Scott Macauley — Some producers (like yours truly) write to spread the gospel, happy just to get the word out, not being the most graceful of pen. Scott however has been doing it with verve, invention, wit and style for so long now, most people take his way wit words as a given. Not only is it a pleasure to read, the FilmmakerMagazineBlog is the center of true indie thought and appreciation. It’s up to the minute, devoid of gossip, deep into ideas, and is generally a total blast. And the magazine is no slouch either. And nor are his films. Can we clone the man?
# Brian Newman — After leaving Tribeca this year, Brian has showed no signs of slowing down, popping up at various conferences like PttP and the Flyaway Film Fest to issue missives & lectures helping to articulate both the problems facing indies these days along with starting to define how we will find our way out. Look to Brian to be doing something smart & exciting in the media world in 2010; somewhere someone smart should find a way to put this man to work shortly, but here’s hoping he does it on his own so we can all benefit from his innovative ideas.
# Nina Paley — In addition to successively adopting an “audience distribution” model for her film “Sita Sings the Blues,” Nina has been incredibly vocal about her experiences in the world of “free,” helping to forge a path and greater understanding for other filmmakers. And now her film is getting traditional distribution at the IFC Center in NYC (and our whole family, including the 9-year-old spawn, dug it!)
# Jon Reiss — After adopting the DIY approach for his film Bomb It, Jon chose to share the lessons he’s learned in ever increasing ways, from his blog (and this one), to articles for Filmmaker Mag, to finally to the must-have artist-centric distribution book “Think Outside the Box Office.” Anyone considering creating a truly free film, this book is mandatory reading first. (Full disclosure: I penned an intro to Jon’s book.)
# Mark Rosenberg — What does it take to create a new institution these days? Evidently quite a bit, because I can only think of one in the film space and that’s Rooftop Films. Mark curates and organizes with a great team of folks, who together have brought new audiences new films in new venues. N.Y. is incredibly fortunate to be the recipient of Rooftop’s work, but here’s hoping that Mark’s vision spreads to other cities this coming year.
# Liz Rosenthal — There is no better place to get the skinny on what the future for film, indie film, truly free film, artist-centric film, and any other form of media creation than London’s Power to the Pixel. Liz founded it and has catapulted what might once have been fringe truly into the mainstream. Expanding beyond a simple conference into a year round forum for future forward media thought, PttP brainstorms, curates, and leads the way in transmedia creation, curation, & distribution. (Full disclosure: I was PttP keynote speaker this year.)
# Lance Weiler — In addition to being a major force in both Transmedia thought, DIY distribution, and informative curatorial,with his role in Power to the Pixel, From Here to Awesome, DIY Days, & Radar web show but his generous “Open Source” attitude is captured by the Workbook Project, perhaps the most indispensable website for the TFFilmmaker. He (along with Scott Kirsner) provides a great overview of the year in tech & entertainment on TWP podcast here. It’s going to be in exciting 2010 when we get to see him apply his knowledge to his next project (winner of Rotterdam Cinemart 2009 prize and now a participant in the 2010 Sundance screenwriters’ lab). (Full disclosure: This is that has signed on to produce Lance’s transmedia feature H.I.M.)
# Thomas Woodrow — As a producer, Thomas has embraced the reality of the marketplace and is not letting it stand in his way. There is perhaps no other producer out there who has so fully accepted the call that indie film producing nowadays also means indie film distribution. He’s laying out his plan to distribute “Bass Ackwards” immediately after its Sundance premiere through a series of videos online. (Full disclosure: I am mentoring Thomas vis the Sundance Creative Producing Lab.)
# TopSpin Media — As their website explains: “Topspin is a technology platform for direct-to-fan maketing, management and distribution.” They are also the tech behind Corey McAbee’s activities and hopefully a whole lot of other filmmakers in the years behind. Founded by ProTools’ creator, Peter Gotcher, and Shamal Raasinghe, TopSpin has the potential to usher in the Age of Empowerment for the artist/creator class. Today it is primarily a tool for musicians, but expect it to migrate into filmdom fully pretty damn soon.
# The Yes Men — The Emma Goldman (“If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution”) TFF 2009 Award winners for keeping both politics and film marketing fun, these pranksters hit all the fests, winning awards, and using it to launch their own distribution of “The Yes Men Fix the World.” Bravery’s always been their middle name, but they are among the first of rising tide of filmmakers willing to take for full responsibility for their film.

Who did I forget? I know this list is very U.S.-centric, but I look forward to learning more of what is going on elsewhere in the days to come. Who will be our Brave Thinkers for next year (if I can muster the energy to do this for another year, that is)?

What can you learn from these folks? May I humbly suggest that at the very least, you do whatever you can to find, follow, and converse with these folks in 2010. The more we learn from them, the better off this film industry will be, and, hey: it may turn out to be a good new year after all
# Jon Reiss — After adopting the DIY approach for his film Bomb It, Jon chose to share the lessons he’s learned in ever increasing ways, from his blog (and this one), to articles for Filmmaker Mag, to finally to the must-have artist-centric distribution book “Think Outside the Box Office.” Anyone considering creating a truly free film, this book is mandatory reading first. (Full disclosure: I penned an intro to Jon’s book.)
# Mark Rosenberg — What does it take to create a new institution these days? Evidently quite a bit, because I can only think of one in the film space and that’s Rooftop Films. Mark curates and organizes with a great team of folks, who together have brought new audiences new films in new venues. N.Y. is incredibly fortunate to be the recipient of Rooftop’s work, but here’s hoping that Mark’s vision spreads to other cities this coming year.
# Liz Rosenthal — There is no better place to get the skinny on what the future for film, indie film, truly free film, artist-centric film, and any other form of media creation than London’s Power to the Pixel. Liz founded it and has catapulted what might once have been fringe truly into the mainstream. Expanding beyond a simple conference into a year round forum for future forward media thought, PttP brainstorms, curates, and leads the way in transmedia creation, curation, & distribution. (Full disclosure: I was PttP keynote speaker this year.)
# Lance Weiler — In addition to being a major force in both Transmedia thought, DIY distribution, and informative curatorial,with his role in Power to the Pixel, From Here to Awesome, DIY Days, & Radar web show but his generous “Open Source” attitude is captured by the Workbook Project, perhaps the most indispensable website for the TFFilmmaker.

Jon Reiss on Huffington Post A Christmas (and Hanukah) List to Help Save Independent Film

Here is my piece for the Huffington Post that ran on December 17, 2009 Click Here for the Original List with Links

A Christmas (and Hanukah) List to Help Save Independent Film

By Jon Reiss

Much has been written about the current crises in independent film. Studios run by corporations increasingly view their specialty divisions as a hobby, and have been eliminating them one by one. DVD sales are down. The internet is struggling to monetize.

However, it is an exciting time because it is more possible than ever now for audiences to connect directly with independent filmmakers and help support them with the films that they have made, and are making. This list is to introduce 10 gifts that you can give for Christmas (and the last two days of Hanukah) to help support independent film.

1. Buy a DVD directly from a filmmaker’s website. I know it is easier, and cheaper to buy a film from Amazon. But a filmmaker will get more than twice the amount of money from a direct sale, at least 80% of the sale as opposed to approximately as low as 30% of the sale if on Amazon. In addition the filmmaker will get your email address so they can tell you about future projects – the first step in creating a closer bond between filmmaker and audience (you can always opt out). Finally – you can buy additional gifts from savvy filmmakers as well as exclusive packages. Check out the film Ink who are a great example of this. For a catalogue of filmmaker websites go to Neoflix

2. Buy a DVD that is not widely available yet. Many filmmakers have begun to sell their DVDs while on the festival circuit. They are not waiting for a distributor, who may not come. These DVDs are usually only available from a filmmaker’s website or at screenings. Children of Invention will even explain why they are selling their film on the festival circuit.

3. Support a film that is still in production. Many films are now “crowdfunding” e.g. using the Internet to raise money via donations. The filmmakers will give you gifts (from advance copies of the DVD to a producer credit to an actual role in the film!) Check out Indiegogo’s site and Xmas list to see what is available. I feel that crowdfunding is one of the most incredible ways to connect directly with filmmakers and create a lasting relationship with them. Check out Can Bush Be Prosecuted I love the personal appeal for the comedy Love and Taxes.

4. Go See Movies Part 1: Alternative Venues
Of course seeing films supports independent film. But how do you gift it? An AMC card doesn’t help independent film. There is a new wave of alternative screening venues sweeping the country in its infant stages. They need your support. Buy some tickets for a friend at one of these venues and in your card tell them why you did it (heck print out this post and include it to save you time). Brave New Theaters is a guide to films (usually social action oriented) and alternative venues (some are people’s living rooms, many are not). Range Life is a group of 4 films touring the country. You can donate to the Rooftop Films project which needs support for their 2010 summer season.

5. Go See Movies Part 2: Traditional Art Houses
Most cities will have some kind of art house nearly all will have a Film Club or Support link. Go to the Art House Project for a list. You need to scroll down to the “Community Based, Mission Driven Art House Theaters.” Click on a theater in your city, click on the Film Club, or Support link, or Ticket Package link, purchase, print the receipt, put in envelope.

6. Go See Movies Part 3: Give a Hosting Package This is for the true film lover or activist. Many films such as Robert Bahar’s Made in LA will sell you screening packages for as low as $100. In this way you (or your friend who you are gifting) invites friends over to their house/home theater to view the film (preserving the social nature of film) and you can sell the extra DVDs to your guests or give them away. (The gift that keeps on giving.) If you or your friend really like this experience – you can list yourselves on Brave New Theaters and become your own screening venue for independent film.

7. Go See Movies Part 4: Support Indie Films on Video On Demand An emerging distribution outlet for many indies is day and date VOD, in which the film is available in a few theaters across the US and simultaneously available on VOD. Unfortunately many VOD menus favor studio films and make it difficult to find independents. However if you look, you can find them, check out IFC, Film Buff and other new independently oriented VOD channels. When you find a new film, invite your friends over and watch it together one night this holiday season. By initiating yourself and your friends into the VOD experience, hopefully you will continue to use it as a way to watch independent movies which will in turn support them.

8. Buy A Digital Download or DVD from a Site that Supports Independent Film At Indieflix you can not only buy DVDs from a huge catalogue, but you can stream them as well. iTunes has been great for independent film, providing access to broad markets, etc. But whereas your iTunes card might be used to download Transformers, if you gift Indieflix not only are you solely supporting independent films, but the filmmakers get a much larger share of the pie, 70%. B-Side is another new innovative company that focuses on community screenings and DVDs. For LGBT content go to Wolfevideo.

9. Buy a Roku Box While not directly supporting independent film (you are buying a product from a corporation to view products distributed by corporations), a Roku box will enable you to watch your Amazon VOD and Netflix choices on your television. Amazon is still the largest catalogue of media and lists many independent films. By giving a Roku box you make it easier for them, hence helping independent filmmakers.

10. Give Your Filmmaker Friends A Book If you know an independent filmmaker, (or if you know someone who is interested in the changing film distribution landscape) and they don’t know how to engage their audience or sell their films, give them one of two books (or both) that will tell them how. Scott Kirsner’s Fans Friends and Followers or my book Think Outside the Box Office which comes with bonus gifts from free tickets to screening venues to free chapter updates when you buy it from my website (currently the only place it is available).

11. Buy Other Merchandise from Filmmakers Perhaps you’ve already seen a film, or don’t want to collect a bunch of DVDs. You can still buy products that support independent filmmakers. For Bomb It we created a variety of t-shirts, posters, stickers, hats, hoodies. Check out the RoosterTeeth store as well. Would love to hear what other filmmakers are doing as well.

12. Pay for a Pirated Film The next wave of monetization for filmmakers is to monetize piracy. Ink had 5,000,000 views but it didn’t translate into paying back their film much. James King created VODO to address this issue in a systematic way. If you can’t beat them join em. Give a gift to Vodo to support their efforts. Or tip a film, print the receipt and give it to a friend – with the suggestion that they watch the film on torrent. I hope that this starts to shift the mindset that all content should be free. For if no one pays for content, how will we as creators have the resources to continue creating?

The Value: While one of these gifts will not buy a goat for a poor farmer in Chile (those kinds of gifts are great too), they will help preserve the independence of vision and independent voices that shine a light not only on important issues of the day, but entertain us in new and innovative ways. If independent film dies, so will these independent voices in our media landscape (god forbid we are left with FOX). In addition, by giving the gift of independent film you show others how they can support filmmakers as well.

Let me know what you think by commenting here or on Twitter.

Free-to-share documentary highlights alternative distribution methods for the digital age

Posted on by Mark

British production company VODO utilizes an alternative distribution strategy using filesharing sites and free-to-share networks.  The strategy immediately engages a worldwide audience.

From ScreenDaily.com:

100,000 downloads for first VODO release

19 October, 2009 | By Sarah Cooper

Ivo Gormley’s documentary Us Now has achieved 100,000 downloads in its first five days of operation, through its release via free-to-share online distributor VODO.

Us Now tells the stories of online networks – such as a football club owned and run by its fan and a bank in which everyone is the manager – whose self organising structures promise to change the fabric of government.

Founded by Jamie King, who made file-sharing documentary Steal This Film, VODO distributes films Continue reading →