Monthly Archives: October 2009

Indieflix Comments on My Blog

Posted on by Mark

In today’s changing Indie distribution markets, we must engage with strong marketing strategies from a project’s inception.  Find your audience.  Get to know them.  Understand their needs and how they will gain access to your art!

Check out this great article from IndieFlix!

Finding What Works in Film Marketing & Distribution

Submitted by lauren on Thursday, 15 October 2009

Filmmaker Jon Reiss has spent a lot of time working the indie film market and has accepted, if not embraced, the marriage of filmmaking and marketing. He has written a much-anticipated book on the subject, called “Think Outside The Box (Office): The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution and Marketing in the Digital Era,” which chronicles the lessons he learned while promoting his film “Bomb It,” a documentary about graffiti on five continents. The book is, he describes, a “360 page nuts and bolts guide to distribution and marketing for filmmakers,” which basically goes over all the things filmmakers have to think about when all the hard work of creating their art is over.

He deals with these subjects at length on his blog. His latest post answers a lot of questions about the state of distribution and marketing indie films and the steps filmmakers must take Continue reading →

Jon Reiss joins BAFTA panel at this year’s AFM Conference

Posted on by Mark

I’ll be sitting on the BAFTA panel at AFM discussing changes in Indie Distribution on Sunday, November 8th from 11:00am – 12:30pm.   Come on out to hear the most cutting-edge discussion of indie distribution and marketing!

Sunday November 8th


No Direction Home – Changing Indie Distribution Strategies
Programmed by: British Academy of Film & Television Arts, Los Angeles
These are confusing times for indie filmmakers. Just as revolutionary production choices are opening up, traditional distribution models are collapsing. How cost-effective is U.S. theatrical release? Does it still impact foreign sales? What kind of income streams can be generated from such new sources as on-demand, internet download, and direct website DVD sales? Our panel of experts may not have all the answers, but will attempt to provide producers with a compass to navigate the rocky shoals of a challenging and still-evolving marketplace.

Location: Le Merigot Hotel (1740 Ocean Avenue)
Cost: $40 per person

John Alan Simon, Writer-Director, Radio Free Albemuth; Producer, The Getaway; Former Staff Writer, New Orleans Times Picayune; Member, BAFTA/LA Education and Outreach Committee

Chris Hyams, Founder and CEO, B-Side Entertainment
Ted Mundorff, CEO, Landmark Theatres
Jon Reiss, Director/Producer, Bomb It; Author, Think Outside the Box (Office) – The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution and Marketing for the Digital Era
David Shultz, Founder and President, Vitagraph Films
Leslie Urdang, President, Olympus Pictures; Producer, Adam, Rabbit Hole
2:00pm – 3:30pm
Continue reading →

Range Life is putting on a Downtown series of amazing screenings and some great after-hours events!

Posted on by Mark

Venture downtown for some premium independent filmmaking and fun parties!


251 S. Main Street, Los Angeles, CA – WebsiteMap



Range Life Entertainment presents 10 energetic and irreverent independent comedies that have been turning heads and generating cult audiences at festivals across the country (Sundance, Slamdance, SXSW, and CineVegas to name a few). Following their strong festival runs, these filmmakers Continue reading →

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.


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 →

My Filmmaker Magazine Blog: A Response to Clive Davies-Frayne & Ted Hope About Self Distribution and Marketing


My posting of a strange letter from the future I received from an independent filmmaker has prompted a diverse group of reactions throughout the blogosphere. Ted Hope kindly called it “brilliant” over at his blog while an Anonymous poster here said he was “revolted” by it and hoped it was a Jon Reiss parody. One producer/distribution executive accused us of revealing his business plan. And at Film Utopia, filmmaker Clive Davies-Frayne called it “one of the most depressing articles” he’s ever read and posted a response not to the author (who, after all, is both redacted and from the future) but to Ted, who then wrote a lengthy reply of his own.

Now, making this something of a blog round-robin, filmmaker Jon Reiss. who has been preaching the gospel of a new, filmmaker-centric distribution, replies to Clive and Ted. His response is below.

Clive, Ted,

I thought I would weigh in here since it seems that Scott Macaulay’s original blog post might have been inspired either by my forthcoming book, Think Outside the Box Office or by my statements at the recent Independent Film Week panel I was on concerning independent film distribution. One of the commentators on Scott’s blog seemed to think so.

Here are my thoughts on the subject which I feel addresses both Scott’s original post and Clive’s response to Ted’s response to the post (which was tweeted)(confused enough?):

1. New distribution models are NOT just self-distribution. Self-distribution is not the savior of independent film. Self-distribution connotes that filmmakers are doing every aspect of the release themselves with no collaboration with larger entities or support structures.

2. Honoring the process of distribution and marketing and filmmaker’s role in it as an equal component to making a film is essential for independent filmmakers from now on.

There are a wide variety of distribution opportunities and strategies available for filmmakers. I consider pure self-distribution a last resort when no other options make sense for a film. A more common scenario already being practiced by a number of filmmakers is to create a split rights strategy in which some of the work is undertaken by a filmmaking team and some of the rights are allocated to various distribution entities. However the filmmakers are in charge of the strategy in all cases.

3. Each film needs to find its own path to release. It is unclear whether the studio model that indies have been using for 20 years worked for most indie films. It certainly worked for some. But many films got lost in the process, ended up on distributor shelves or got unceremoniously dumped to DVD without much promotion. The emerging model encourages films to find a path that works best for them. Most films want to recoup, but that is not the main priority for all films. Some filmmakers like the folks from The Age of Stupid want to change the world. Filmmakers must first determine what they want from their film – and then figure out how best to get it.

4. I agree with Clive (and I believe Ted feels this way as well) that marketing is as important to independent filmmakers as distribution, perhaps more. It is relatively easy these days to put your film out for distribution in some fashion, but how do you get people to find your film? I think this is one of the big challenges for independent film these days — especially with the shrinkage in traditional print media.

5. I don’t feel that the only way that films can be discovered is through the referral power of the Internet. I do feel that filmmakers have to embrace marketing. It’s not a dirty word — it is the way that filmmakers will connect with their audience.

6. Filmmakers need marketing plans as much as a distribution strategy. By being in charge of these plans they will make sure they get enacted and work for their films so that they don’t just dump their film on DVD without promotion.

I think that a lot of tools are developing that will help filmmakers market their films. In addition, these tools will help filmmakers create a long-term perhaps sustainable relationship with their fan base. (I’m not deluded into thinking that fans are going to pay enough for filmmakers to make multimillion dollar projects at this point — but there are some hopeful signs such as the approximately $1.4 million raised by The Age of Stupid folks via crowdfunding.)

7. Filmmakers need to consider distribution and marketing from a much earlier stage than they typically have, preferably from inception, at least in production. A world of benefits awaits them if they do this. Alternatively if filmmakers don’t do this, it makes getting their film in front of an audience much more difficult when they are finally finished creating their opus.

8. I believe the Internet will develop referral mechanisms which will become some kind of bastard child of A) cable television and film festival curatorial power and B) the Netflix/Amazon recommendation algorithims.

9. Filmmakers are talking about distribution – because it is in a bit of a crisis right now. We’re all chickens with our heads cut off. How important is it to talk about films (and I think it is very important) when we’re uncertain about the future of our community, our livelihoods and our ability to make more films in the future. (However, there are still many film blogs still arguing about the merits of one film or another)

Filmmakers talking about distribution and marketing is a way to create community around this topic which is essential for us to survive as a community.

10. I agree with both of you that we have to focus on film, talk about film and support other filmmakers. I think Ted has been providing a great example. Perhaps on Twitter in addition to Follow Friday, Music Monday ‚ one day should be film recommendation day — Thumping Thursday anyone? Thursday is perhaps the best day. Anyone good at alliterations?

I don’t think anyone knows all the answers including myself. But because I struggled releasing my film Bomb It, and saw other filmmakers doing the same, I wrote a book to help filmmakers in this crazy time. It’s a 360 page nuts and bolts guide to distribution and marketing for filmmakers. I spoke to tons of people and got tons of advice that I crammed in there.

It’s coming out in November, you can sign up for a $5 off coupon on my blog. (Although I have about 40 copies of the preview edition left in LA that I will be selling at book signings in the next few weeks – and Ted has about 25 at his office in NYC).

In November, I will be simultaneously launching a distribution and marketing tools website for filmmakers.
I’m currently blogging and posting about all of these issues on Twitter, the Facebook page for the book and my blog.

Here are my deets. I look forward to hearing from you!

Jon Reiss

Venture Capitalists, VGame Designers, Tech Execs are eyeing the profit turnaround of small, indepedent, self-distributed films

Posted on by Mark

The quest for Big Hollywood distribution is not slowing down these indie filmmakers.  They demonstrate that with a prudent combination of good storytelling, smart production techniques, and the right marketing strategy, filmmakers can find investment for their projects.

Oh.  And they can make their money back too.

They might not have the blockbuster-style watershed profits, but they do find turnaround at a much quicker pace.  Take a look!

From the Wall Street Journal:

Venture Capital Dispatch

An inside look from VentureWire at high-tech start-ups and their investors.

Angel Group Likes Lights, Camera And Action Of Indie Films

By Tomio Geron

As an experienced tech entrepreneur and angel investor, Rizwan Virk was happy to see a solid return on one of his recent investments after just one year.

But the exit didn’t come from a software start-up or social media company finding a corporate acquirer. Instead, Virk’s quick payoff came from an independent film.

Virk is a member of FilmAngels, a Silicon Valley group whose members back film productions – mostly small, independent projects. Founded in 2005, Film Angels is made up mostly of tech executives and investors who apply their business and venture capital experience to the filmmaking world.

FilmAngels meets regularly, seeing about five pitches per month. Members are free to invest in whichever projects they choose. The group pre-screens the films, but does not endorse any particular films. About 12 films have been funded Continue reading →

Guerrilla filmmaking crosses into both sides of the political spectrum!

Posted on by Mark

Here’s something scary from the right – they can use grassroots marketing too!

From the Washington Times:

Indie filmmakers tap grass roots

By Sonny Bunch

Hoping to tap the rising tide of populist anger and activism on the right, husband-and-wife filmmaking duo Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney are bringing their new film, “Not Evil Just Wrong” — an answer to Al Gore’s global-warming documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth” — to as many people as possible through grass-roots screenings they’re calling “cinematic tea parties.”

These coordinated house-party screenings, scheduled for Oct. 18, are just one element in a unique marketing campaign that sidesteps traditional distribution avenues.

Mr. McAleer and Ms. McElhinney are part of a new breed of guerrilla filmmakers across the political spectrum Continue reading →

Ted Hope Speaks at BFI London Film Festival

Posted on by Mark

Seasoned Indie producer Ted Hope (21 Grams, The Hawk is Dying, TrulyFreeFilm) speaks in London on the future of Independent filmmaking.  How will digital technology make films more accessible?


Film industry should be more accessible, says Hope

14 October, 2009 | By Sarah Cooper

Veteran independent film producer Ted Hope called for new film business models built on “access and transparency” in his keynote speech at the Power to the Pixel Cross-Media Forum, held in London today (October 14).

The New York based producer told the audience at the event, which is part of the 53rd Times BFI London Film Festival, that the current business models for creation, financing and distributions were based on “exclusionary practice of isolated control” and that they were “running on fumes these days.”

“How long can the controlling studio model survive Continue reading →

Jeremy Thomas Speaks of Creative Pre-Sales Strategies at FIND

Posted on by Mark

Financing production with US pre-sales is becoming more and more rare, if not non-existent.  As US indie distribution faces a crisis, filmmakers must look to other sources of investment.  International pre-sales are a good start.


Don’t waste time looking for a US pre-buy, Jeremy Thomas tells film-makers

11 October, 2009 | By Jeremy Kay

Independent international film-makers who come to the US in search of financing are making “a wasted trip”, the Oscar-winning producer Jeremy Thomas said over the weekend.

Speaking at the launch of the FIND Filmmaker Forum in Los Angeles, Thomas told an audience that the stricken economy and the demise of numerous US distributors had left the US independent sector “screwed up”, although he fully expected the market to bounce back. Continue reading →

Coppola predicts cinema “as we know it” will become more “interactive”.

Posted on by Mark

If, as Coppola predicts, the cinema “as we know it” is falling apart, how can we reclaim the public’s interest?  Tell compelling stories and get them to your audience.  Engage them directly.  Interact with them.

Oct. 12 (Bloomberg) — “The cinema as we know it is falling apart,” says Francis Ford Coppola.

“It’s a period of incredible change,” says the director of “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now.” “We used to think of six, seven big film companies. Every one of them is under great stress now. Probably two or three will go out of business and the others will just make certain kind of films like ‘Harry Potter’ — basically trying to make ‘Star Wars’ over and over again, because it’s a business.”

Coppola, 70, sporting a dark suit, is being interviewed in the Lebanese capital Beirut, where his latest movie “Tetro” opened the Beirut Film Festival after premiering at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

“Cinema is losing the public’s interest,” says Coppola, “because there is so much it has to compete with to get people’s time.”

The profusion of leisure activities; Continue reading →