Monthly Archives: October 2009

You Stilll Can Support Open Indie on Kickstarter

Open Indie raised their $10,000 but they are still raising money. There are still 10 Filmmaker slots open for filmmakers who want to have their films available through the Open Indie system and receive 1 hour of free consultation from Arin Crumley.

Jon Reiss on IIFF Panel Thurs Oct 29th and Think Outside the Box Office Book Signing

For those LA area residents dying to get one of the preview copies of the book, I’m doing a book signing after my appearance on an IIFF Financing Town Hall meeting at Bergamont Station in Santa Monica. You can sign up by clicking here. Here are the details:

Dear Friends,

The Los Angeles chapter of the Institute for Int’l Film Financing (IIFF) continues its acclaimed gatherings at the junction of film & finance with a highly topical FILM FINANCING TOWNHALL in Santa Monica. Don’t miss this powerful learning & networking opportunity. Join us on Thursday (10/29) evening at Bergamot Station!

For complete event details, please visit –

This uniquely valuable meeting features a WORLD-CLASS LINEUP of authoritative speakers, including:

1) RANDY MENDELSOHN, ESQ., President/CEO at financing boutique Atomic Finance & Capital; Founder/Principal at law firm with emphasis on movie & TV finance, production, distribution & talent agreements; clients incl. financiers, distributors, sales agents, management co’s & filmmakers; arranges financing for movie & TV production, acquisition, distribution & marketing; represented banks/funds/investors providing funding for 100+ movies; etc.

2) JOHN CONES, ESQ., leading securities/entertainment attorney & author of “43 Ways to Finance Your Feature Film”; advises film, video, TV & theater producers about investor financing of entertainment projects & business start-ups; helped prepare business plans or required securities documents for 250+ such offerings for feature film development deals, production & completion funds, along with documentaries, music projects & TV pilots; etc.

3) BRUCE BARTLETT, veteran literary agent with 15+ years of experience, MBA from UCLA & extensive relationships with studios, producers & financiers; VP at Beverly Hills-based literary boutique Above The Line Agency; reps film & TV writers, directors & producers; sells feature film scripts & clients’ services to all industry levels; fmr. Sales Director at Independent Advantage Financial, serving as investment advisor & leading sales team of 20; etc.

4) ELSA RAMO, ESQ., successful indie producer & entertainment attorney representing corporate clients as well as filmmakers, agents & managers; Founder/Attorney at own Beverly Hills-based law firm focusing on legal services to financiers, producers & other creatives (e.g., “Loaded”, “Alone in the Dark II”, “Gene Generation”); Producer of “In NorthWood”, “A Woman Called Job”, “Heckler”, “Hack!”, “The Last Sentinel”, “Cult”, “Ghost Game”; etc.

5) JEREMY JUUSO, Harvard-educated film finance consultant; specializes in creating film business plans & advising both filmmakers & movie investors; author of new book “Getting the Money: A Step-by-Step Guide for Writing Business Plans for Film” & “The A.K.A. Report” (quarterly analysis of theatrical market for indies); financial advisor to Fly High Films; previously performed investor-database construction & treasury analysis for MGM; etc.


A comprehensive list of all speakers (plus bios), their topics, as well as AFFORDABLE TICKETS are available at –

Our friends at the Writers Boot Camp are hosting us in their state-of-the-art facilities:

IIFF/LA Film Financing Townhall Meeting
Thursday, October 29, 2009
7:00 PM – 10:00 PM

Writers Boot Camp (WBC)
Bergamot Station Arts Center
2525 Michigan Ave, Bldg I
Santa Monica, CA 90404


We would be delighted to count you among our guests on the 29th. Please bring your colleagues & associates!

Best regards,
Your Friends at IIFF

Remember the neighborhood video store?

Posted on by Mark

Every technological change in film distribution calls for an evolutionary step in how we get films to audiences.  Broadcast television, VCR, Cable, DVD, VoD, DVR, and now internet streaming: what do these changes point to in relationship to our audience?  Simple: audiences want the power to choose how, when, and where they engage content.
From The Buffalo News:

Home movie future fuzzy
By Stephen T. Watson
Updated: October 28, 2009

On a recent episode of HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher,” the host offered a “New Rule” for home entertainment.

“Blockbuster cannot announce it’s closing 960 stores. Where will I go to rent a movie in 1988? And how do they still have 960 stores?” Maher quipped, to laughter from the audience.

It’s been a hard fall for Blockbuster — from world-beater to butt of late-night jokes — but this is a sign of the state of flux that the home-entertainment industry finds itself in today.

Competition from Netflix, the online rental powerhouse, and Redbox DVD-rental kiosks — not to mention the channels available on digital cable — has walloped Blockbuster.

“Blockbuster is like the Spanish Armada. It’s out there, and the wind isn’t blowing, and everybody is taking shots at them,” Continue reading →

The distribution marketplace is changing and so are marketing strategies

Posted on by Mark

Not every film will have the same marketing strategy because not every film will have the same core audience.  What works best for you depends on who you expect will be your most devoted fans and how you expect to connect with them.

Traditional marketing methods are changing along with the surge in digital distribution.  How will you adapt your strategy to recent trends?  Keep a step ahead!  Tweet, Blog, and Connect!

From BrandingStrategyInsider:

October 27, 2009
Top Ten Integrated Marketing Trends for 2010

1. Less will get done: until we learn to do more with less.

While the year 2009 was marked as the ‘great recession’, we won’t feel its full effects until 2010. Both marketers and their marketing services agency partners are dealing with reduced resources in terms of head-count and budgets. We won’t likely see enough breakthroughs in the marketplace, simply because marketers and agencies alike have to remain focused on ‘getting the work out the door’. The only way to ‘do more with less’ is to align resources toward a single and powerful integrated marketing solution. Individual marketing tactics will simply become marginalized and highly tactical with ‘less’.

2. Marketers will mistakenly ‘whack’ a medium of the marketing mix. Continue reading →

NetFlix is just the beginning

Posted on by Mark

Does Netflix’s profitability hurt the studios?  How will the profitability gap encourage Hollywood to invest  into digital distribution strategies?  Are DVDs and Blu-Ray becoming formats of the past?

What counts is that Netflix is causing a stir.  If Disney’s Keychest program is a success, then that means consumers have more choices in how they access our films.  The more companies compete over digital distirbution, the more options Indie filmmakers have to engage their audience.

From CNet:

October 26, 2009 4:00 AM PDT

Hollywood wants share of Netflix’s windfall
by Greg Sandoval

At this point, who could begrudge Reed Hastings and his Netflix management team from celebrating, from performing the corporate equivalent of an end-zone dance?

Wall Street and Netflix subscribers appear overjoyed with the direction that Netflix’s CEO has the Web’s top video-rental store pointed in. The only people who don’t seem pleased with Netflix’s success work in Hollywood.

Just days before Netflix reported third-quarter earnings that jumped 48 percent from a year ago and subscriber growth of 28 percent during the same period, two executives from different studios told me they aren’t getting their fair share.

“The thing with Netflix is that people are taking notice that they keep reporting these big quarters,” said one studio exec. “We aren’t participating in that and that’s going to change.” Continue reading →

Developing Audience During Prep, Production and Post

What you do to help your distribution and marketing started out being one chapter in the book. Now it takes up 1/3 of the book! I feel that it is hyper important that filmmakers work towards their distribution and marketing during prep, production and post. Part of that work is audience development which was the topic today on @Jon_Reiss and on the book’s FB page. A couple of points came up – in no particular order (especially since I am trying to make these blogs as close to “automatic writing as possible”

1. The Attic Door have been documenting their process and posting on Vimeo

They put forth 3 suggestions: 1 Webseries – see link. 2. Social Networks and Video Profiles and 3 Blogged every step of the journey

2. Sean Jourdan has been crowdsourcing his script The Beekeeper out for feedback and developing an audience that way. He’s pretty happy about it.

3. I brought up crowdfunding as a form of crowdsourcing applied to film finance. A number of folks indicated that Indiegogo is having a lot of success for filmmakers – Go Slava! But also Indywood has raised $20,000 so far for their Zombie film – and its definately worth checking out how they are doing it on their site!

4. On the facebook page another filmmaker told about building their own facebook page by passing out cards while shooting their film. I think that’s great – but they should actively collect email addresses as well and start putting them into a email management system as early as possible.

Going to sign off – This is just a tip of the iceberg. Thanks for the feedback and keep it coming!


Indies continue to look for ways to harness the internet

Posted on by Mark

For Independent filmmaking and distribution, the internet is still nascent territory.  We’ve only begun to see how we can reach our audiences through broad-band streaming, direct download, and DVD rentals.

But the internet is not a be-all-end-all solution to distribution.  This article highlights the importance of a solid marketing strategy for digital indie distribution.  It’s not enough to get your film streaming online.  Identifying your core audience and marketing to them is a necessity.

From Variety:

Indies still looking for Internet equation
Filmmakers consider sites like Netflix, iTunes

If only more indie filmmakers could sell as many Internet downloads as “Helvetica,” the future of indie distribution might look more promising. Gary Hustwit’s documentary about the ubiquitous font has taken in a six-figure sum from its showing on iTunes at $9.99 per download.

But while more success stories are starting to be seen, the indie download business is still having problems gaining traction. The power of the Internet was supposed to level the playing field on which independent filmmakers and studios compete for audiences. So what happened?

A decade after the dot-com boom, when the Web promised to make any piece of content globally accessible to any interested viewer, Continue reading →

@Jon_Reiss Marketing Art – An Oxymoron?

Today’s discussions began with the question of why is it important to identify your audience before you finish your film. I believe there are a number of reasons, but the main ones are:

1. Takes a long time to develop your audience.

2. You can engage your audience to participate in the film process itself.

3. The audience engagement/marketing becomes a more integral part of the film.

It can even take you a while to figure out who your core and niche audiences are.

A number of comments brought up the essential issue of art vs. commerce – if you start marketing to your audience so early in the process, then you have the risk of solely catering to your audience which is contradictory to the creation of art.

I can hear Ted Hope protesting now! Ted especially has vocal in denouncing the old art v commerce divide.

Some of the best art is created without a mind to the marketplace. I get that. Chasing the market often leads to creating banal work. But that thinking is too simplistic now for the supple nature of the market in which many tastes and interests can be served.

Filmmakers have to get beyond that old art v. commerce divide and understand this:

Marketing is what helps you find the audience that already exists for your creation. You don’t need to limit your creativity in order to create a marketing strategy. You need to consider who is interested in your specific creativity. This is your niche (or niches). Your core are the most ardent followers within these niches.

So when asked does the writer, director or producer need to consider the marketplace, I would say most definately the director and producer and in many circumstances – it isn’t terrible for writer’s to think about it as well.

Not to think of how you can write the next “Transformers”, but to think creatively about writing material that mind create new opportunities and new models for discovery in today’s fractured marketplace.

This blog is the first in a series that expand on discussion threads on twitter @Jon_Reiss

Ask @Jon_Reiss a twitter/blog interface experiment

Last week I started posting questions and ideas/tips onto my twitter account @Jon_Reiss about film distribution and marketing. I started getting replies and questions back which was excellent! and I tried as best I could to answer them all in my alloted 140 characters. However, the 140 limit prevented me from responding properly in many cases. So I have decided to write a longer post that addresses most if not all of the topical queries that have arisen on @Jon_Reiss (and during the day (or past few days). If you have a specific question about film distribution and marketing you can also ask that @Jon_Reiss and I will be choosing select questions to answer in blog responses. So join me at twitter and check it out.

Disney unlocks a new form of digital distribution with its “Keychest” technology

Posted on by Mark

Allowing you to buy the rights to a movie and watch it on any rights-controlled device (computer, VoD, cellphone), this upcoming piece of technology opens new doors to Digital Indie Distribution.  Keep a step ahead!

From YahooTech:

Disney’s “Keychest”: Your DVD library in the cloud?
Thu Oct 22, 2009 10:06AM EDT
Cloud computing may have gotten a bad rap in recent weeks thanks to the recent Sidekick fiasco, but Disney’s reportedly forging ahead with its plans for “Keychest,” a digital video locker in the sky that would let you watch your purchased movies and TV shows from your PC, mobile phone, or via on-demand cable.
The Wall Street Journal (registration required) has all the details, but here’s the gist: As its name implies, Disney’s “Keychest” service would let you buy a “key” to a piece of digital video content—say, a movie, or a TV episode. You’d then be able to log into your Keychest account on “participating” devices and services (such as an iPhone, PC, or cable provider) and your videos would be waiting for you.

We’re not just talking online video, either; according to the Journal, purchased DVDs and Blu-rays Continue reading →