Monthly Archives: October 2008

Jon Reiss at DV Expo

On November 6th I’ll be giving three classes at the DV Expo (Nov 4-6 Los Angeles Convention Center).

9am-10:15 Non Fiction Filmmaking – Production for Documentaries

10:30 – 12pm Non Fiction Filmmaking – Post or Documentaries

1:15 – 3pm Making a Micro Budget Feature

Hope to see you there!

Filmmaker Magazine Article on Self Distribution

At the urging of Jeffrey Levy Hinte – my wonderfully supportive producer on Bomb It (he’s leaving the business folks so don’t bother calling him!), I have started writing about my experiences self distributing Bomb It for Filmmaker Magazine. These articles will form the basis for the book that I am writing Reel World Survival Skills: Everything I Wish I Had Learned in Film School.

The first one just came out titled MY ADVENTURE IN THEATRICAL SELF-DISTRIBUTION, PART 1 While the article is subtitled “Or how I “invented” the two-month window and spent six months wanting to kill myself every day.” it was a positive experience overall It was gruelling – but I think the film was helped tremendously by the release. This has been confirmed by our video company Docurama/New Video.

The next article will cover DVD distribution – self distribution and working with a distributor.

Let me know what you think of the article!


Film Festival Tips – Posters and Postcards

Ted has started blogging a lot about film festivals – and tips for film festivals. So for my first blogs for Truly Free Film I will be blogging a number of additional tips as well. This is the first one.

Create a piece of striking key art. Easier said than done. This can be expensive (starting at $5,000 – $10,000 and up) – but it does not have to be. Chances are you have a few friends that are good at graphic design – ask them. If not – try a post on Craig’s List and/or Since you are in a festival – you have the ability to say that their work will get a lot of exposure. Also you might consider outsourcing your graphic design. For Bomb It we had a Uruguayan group do some of our key art for Tribeca. Try to get the designer to give you a variety of comps to choose from.

Get the key art sized for a 4×6 postcard as well as at full film poster. Its way too expensive to offset your film poster now. But you can get single printouts from most digital printers for about $50-$60 each and you only need one or two.

For the postcard, have your key art on the front and have film, contact and screening information on the back. Printing postcards are very inexpensive now. You can get 4000 for $100 at (and 1000 postcards for less). For super low budget create one postcard with your general contact and film information on the back and leave room for putting stickers for your show times. BUT since postcards are so cheap now – I really recommend printing your screening time on the back of the postcard. It can take a bit of time to print and stick the stickers on the back of the postcards and you are very busy. A compromise is to print your first festival screenings on the back (esp since this is often your most important screening) and to use the rest for other fests putting the label over your first set of screenings.

Don’t forget business cards – I recommend putting your film title treatment on the front with your films website so that people remember why they have your card. Again these can be printed very inexpensively – 1000 for around $10-$20.

In a couple of weeks I will start putting downloadable PDF samples of Key Art on my this site.

Truly Free Film Manifesto

Ted Hope recently gave a keynote address to the FIND Filmmaker Forum in Los Angeles titled: Building A Truly Free Film Culture where he outlines the death of “indi” films and celebrates the birth of Truly Free Films. It is a fascinating read for anyone interested in the former “independent” film. I have cut and pasted it here – but you can go to it via the link above which will also take you to the Truly Free Film Blog – that I will also be posting on.

How The New Truly Free Filmmaking Community Will Rise From Indie’s Ashes

Film Independent Filmmakers’ Forum Keynote 9/27/08

I can’t talk about the “crisis” of the indie film industry. There is no crisis. The country is in crisis. The economy is in crisis. We, the filmmakers, aren’t in crisis.

The business is changing, but for us –us who are called Indie Filmmakers — that’s good that the business is changing. Filmmaking is an incredible privilege and we need to accept it as such – and accept the full responsibility that comes with that privilege.

The proclamations of Indie Film’s demise are grossly exaggerated. How can there be a “Death Of Indie” when Indie — real Indie, True Indie — has yet to even live?

Yes, there’s a profound paradigm shift, and that shift is the coming of true independence. The hope of this new independence is being threatened even before it has arrived. Are we going to fight for our independence and can we even shoulder the responsibility that independence requires? That is: will we ban together and work for our communal needs? Are we ready to leave dreams of stardom and wealth behind us? Continue reading →

Reykjavic International Film Festival

I just returned from a wonderful trip to the Reykyavik International Film Festival which now ranks among one of my favorite film festivals on the circuit. Hronn Marinosdottir (Festival Director) and Marlenne Kelnreiter (Guest Coordinator) bend over backwards to make it a filmmaker friendly fest. The typical “hub” was replaced by dinners every night set up casually so that you could drop in any time, not be subjected to any speeches or presentations, and are small enough so that you could easily meet your fellow filmmakers. It was one of the best environments at a fest for making filmmaking friends. Besides the dinners they organized trips into Iceland, although I missed the daylong excursion to a glacier, I was able to partake in a trip to the Blue Lagoon with Yung Chang (Up the Yangtze), Sandi Dubowski (A Jihad for Love), David Kisnsella (Killing Girls). The screening venues were fine – to very good – although I think they were still nailing down their digital projection. We got a fair amount of press attention – more than I expected at this stage of our festival release – two interviews and two best of fest mentions. Finally – the festival set up one of the most effective panels on graffiti that I have been a part of, obtaining an official from the city government, Jakob Magnusson, to confront a decent sized group of angry graffiti writers (the city had just completed a summer long “buff” of all graffiti in the city.) Rarely if ever do city officials come to any of these panels – I think it helped that Jakob was an old friend of festival board member Sigurjon (Joni) Sighvatsson. My only regret is that I could only stay for 3 days – and it is a journey from Los Angeles – but it is surprisingly close to NY and Europe. I’d highly rec this fest to anyone!