Monthly Archives: February 2010

“The Conversation” – Social Media, Digital Distribution and the Future of Film

Posted on by Emy

Started in 2008, “The Conversation” is a look at the future of filmmaking and how advancements in technology are enabling new opportunities for filmmakers.

On March 27th, “The Conversation” goes to the Manhattan campus of Columbia University. The focus will be on the new business and creative opportunities that are arising in 2010.

For more information visit

Online Collaboratives: A New Source for Film Distribution

Posted on by Emy

This was published on Variety.

Creatives network on Net: Online collaboratives a new source for film distribution

It’s no secret that directors can be discovered on YouTube and that Facebook can help market movies, but a few industryites and creatives are digging a little deeper into the Web’s networking capabilities.

Among a handful of entertainment community sites, two new ones are centered on collaboration in creative activity and film distribution.

Former Senator Films acquisitions exec Orly Ravid and indie marketing maven Jeffrey Winter have just launched the Film Collaborative, an arts-friendly nonprofit that aims to help indies find and facilitate distribution. […]

Planet Illogica (Pi) is another collaborative website, this one aimed at artists working in film, music and fashion.

Read the full story…

10 Microbudget Tips

Posted on by Emy

I just gave a class in micro budget filmmaking at Tisch Singapore and was inspired to come up with 10 top tips for micro budget filmmaking. I tweeted these yesterday individually. Here they are compiled together.

Microbudget Tip 1: You need a PMD more than anyone.

Microbudget Tip 2: Marketing and distribution starts at inception.

Microbudget Tip 3: Location. Location. Location.

Microbudget Tip 4: Create a robust transmedia strategy and integrate it into the foundation of your project from inception.

Microbudget Tip 5: Consider your audience in nearly all matters and engage them from inception.

Microbudget Tip 6: Good. Fast. Cheap. You get 2. Pick good and cheap. In other words: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Perplexing Problems.

Microbudget Tip 7: You can’t afford to pay for anything unless you have to. But you know that already.

Microbudget Tip 8: Know what is essential to tell your story. Prioritize money and time accordingly.

Microbudget Tip 9: Start with your finishing format and work the post path backwards. Do this before you shoot.

Microbudget Tip 10: A good story well told trumps all. Don’t get hung up on technology.

First-Ever Survey of Specialty Films and Financing Complete

Posted on by Emy

Jeremy Juuso Consulting has completed the first year of its ongoing survey of the U.S. specialty film market and its financing traits.

Defined as any film released into 1,000 U.S. movie theaters or fewer on opening weekend, specialty films are comprised primarily of independent films with no studio ties.

Summary statistics for the 2009 U.S. specialty market are available to the public in “The A.K.A. Report” at

Individual statistics on over 400 films are also available to the public at the same web address.

Findings about the 2009 U.S. specialty market include the following:

—– 403 films were released, excluding reissues and the Academy-nominated short films compilation.

—– 43 involved studio financing.

—– 38% were private equity financed (i.e., private equity comprised more than 70% of the budget).

—– 18% were distributor financed (i.e., at least one distributor or its parent company supplied more than 30% of the budget).

—– 12% were private equity driven (i.e., private equity comprised 30%-60% of the budget).

—– 10% were European government supported as part of an international coproduction.

—– No overlap exists among the previous four categories.

—– 137 films (34%) had at least one star, where a star is an actor who previously was a lead in at least one feature grossing $50 million or more domestically.

—– The average budget for star films released during Q1-Q3 2009 was estimated at $7.9 million (excluding P&A), with an average box office of $1.8 million for these same films.

—– The average budget for non-star films released during Q1-Q3 was estimated at $3.6 million (excluding P&A), with an average box office of $1.0 million for these same films.

—– Less than 15% of specialty films released in Q1-Q3 generated 90% of box office revenues for specialty films released in Q1-Q3.

—– Late Q4 releases are still accruing significant box office receipts.

—– 344 films (85%) debuted at a film festival prior to U.S. theatrical release.

—– The top debuted-at festivals were Sundance (64 films), Toronto (43), Cannes (37), Berlin (21), Tribeca (19), Venice (17), SXSW (13), Slamdance (7), and Telluride (6).

—– 95 other film festivals had less than 6 films represented.

—– 113 specialty films (28%) had hired producer’s reps to attain and/or negotiate their domestic distribution agreements.

—– The producer’s reps did not represent the films in the majority of foreign markets, if any.

—– Among the films released, CAA had been hired as a producer’s rep on 21 films, Cinetic Media on 20, Submarine Entertainment on 17, William Morris on 14, Endeavor on 11, and ICM on 8.

Further details on distributors, self-distribution, foreign sales agents, genres and languages, and day-and-date VOD can be found in “The A.K.A. Report” at

Bomb It 2: Bangkok Production Photos by A.M.P.

Posted on by Emy

bomb it 2 bkk
Click here for more.

Tim Roper on Branded Content

Posted on by Emy

This was published in the yesterday.

Culture Hacker: The Art of Branded Content

Here’s my interview on branded content with Creative Director Tim Roper from award winning advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky. We met at UCLA Media & Entertainment Week.

PK – What do you feel are the biggest misconceptions about branded content?
TR – The biggest misconception is how easy it is to conceive it in a fresh way and then how willing people are to consume it when it’s not fresh. Even…

Read the full story…

Interview With Status Magazine

Posted on by Emy


How public is public space? This is the question that director Jon Reiss raises with his 2007 film Bomb It. He raised the bar on documenting urban subcultures when he exposed the war for public space being waged by graffiti artists against advertisers and even private homeowners. So which side is he on?

Grab a copy of our film issue featuring Charlotte Gainsbourg as the cover to find out. Meanwhile, here are some interview snippets from Jon himself.


SM – Considering your book Think Outside the Box Office, what are the basic things that all filmmakers should master in terms of marketing and distribution?
JR – Well this is a long question. I wrote 354 pages that cover this in the book. But the basics are – each film is different and needs a different distribution and marketing plan that is based on: the film, film’s resources, the audience for the film, the needs/desires of the filmmaker. For each film these are different. I also feel that this work needs to start as early as possible, in prep even. No later than production. And we filmmakers need to become salespeople – for our work.

SM – Bomb It has been hailed as the most comprehensive and even greatest graffiti documentary by a lot of reviewers in the net. Do you agree with your supporters?
JR – Sure – why not! We worked very hard to make it as comprehensive and as entertaining as possible. We also tried to make it informative and to appeal to the general public so that they would view public space through new eyes. From what people tell me, we accomplished that.

SM – You’ve also done music videos for the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Slayer, and Crowes. What do you do in music videos that are different from your feature films?
JR – They are similar and different. Each video reflects a different obsession of mine. What’s great about videos is you can focus on one specific topic in a short time. They are also fast and furiously done. Features take a long time – and have a much more complicated structure (even though the structure can appear simple – it probably was very complicated to create that simple structure).

Review: Filmmakers, Are You Thinking Outside of the Box Office?

Posted on by Emy

From Patty Fantasia | Filmmakers Notebook

Filmmakers: Are You Thinking Outside of the Box Office?

This year I bought myself one Christmas present – a copy of Think Outside the Box Office written by filmmaker Jon Reiss. Without a doubt it should be required reading for anyone interested in making movies from amateurs to seasoned professionals, especially since traditional distribution models have been broken and the current alternatives are being constantly evaluated and debated.

During the past year I have read numerous articles, scoured blogs and attended conferences looking for hardcore, factual information in this area and it has been difficult to find and assimilate. Several times I have wondered when the data out there would be consolidated in one place and now it finally is. Think Outside the Box Office is the blueprint filmmakers have been waiting for, providing step by step instructions for marketing and distribution including how to build audiences, plan strategies and develop and manage websites, transmedia and digital rights.

It is evident that this book was written by a filmmaker for filmmakers, as we are given the opportunity to learn from Jon’s mistakes and experiences and read in his own words how he has been promoting and selling his projects in this new world. The book covers everything from getting started, to planning theatrical events, to handling marketing and publicity. It won’t do the work for you, but it will give you the knowledge you need in order to get the job done.

Think Outside the Box Office details most, if not all, the options out there and summarizes the current confusing state of affairs plaguing the industry. It is also apparent that Reiss is very aware of the transient nature of some of the information he is writing about. Since delivery systems are in flux, this is more of a how to cope with the current situation and thrive type of book, rather than being the roadmap to a final destination. What Jon has created is a solid work in progress, answering many questions and offering specific resources that can help others succeed.

One key fact to keep in mind, is that while filmmakers are being given this data, it is going to be up to them to determine the best way in which to utilize it. The book emphasizes the need for developing a strategy from the moment a script is found and pre-production begins. Because of this I found Chapter Six, Rethinking Marketing, to be of particular interest. Jon mentions having Marketing Producers or Consultants on the development team and suggests this may be an effective solution, since not all filmmakers have the skills or the inclination to take on these tasks. From what I’ve observed it seems that many prefer limiting their focus to making films, so adding team members to handle these functions is a logical progression. There is also a lot of discussion going on about the value of marketing and how it fits into the new distribution paradigms. I think filmmakers are going to have to evaluate projects individually and then decide what is going to work best. This book covers a multitude of options that can be used to develop unique strategies, which is another reason why I refer to it as a blueprint.

There are several gifts Reiss has added into this material, including sample budgets showing cost breakdowns for both materials and expenses. It is necessary for filmmakers to build these charges into their initial budgets, so that P & A is covered and not left to chance or else their projects will have even more limited distribution options. Another plus is the Appendix, which offers advice from such notable filmmakers as Curt Ellis and Ben Niles. If you are making films now or considering doing so in the future, Think Outside the Box Office is a tool you must have. Just think of it as the shot list for your film’s marketing and distribution programs.

A Look at the Work of Lance Weiler

Posted on by Emy

This was published in the yesterday.

The Transmedia Equation, Part 2: Grassroots with Lance Weiler

Depending on who you ask, Lance Weiler is either the face of a new, visionary breed of filmmaker, or the poster boy for the transmedia hype machine currently enveloping the indie film industry.

Wired magazine named him “One of twenty-five people helping to re-invent entertainment and change the face of Hollywood” and Business Week called him “One of the 18 Who Changed Hollywood.” That sort of praise might be what some critics latch onto—changing the face of Hollywood is no small task, after all, and without the results to-date of some of the more noteworthy names (others on the Business Week list included Thomas Edison, George Lucas, Steve Jobs and Walt Disney), it can rub people the wrong way, be they studio insiders or indie aspirers.

(In fairness to Weiler, the Wired label points to his late 90’s film The Last Broadcast, which was one of the first desktop features ever made—for about $900 on consumer gear—and which then became the first all digital release of a motion picture, distributed theatrically to multiple theaters via satellites close to a year before George Lucas would do the same withStar Wars: Phantom Menace. Business Week attributed the praise to Weiler’s 2006 film Head Trauma, particularly its use of gaming, remix and serialized content to reach over 2.5 million people via live events, in theaters, online and though mobile devices.)

But, in speaking with the approachable Weiler, you don’t get the sense that he completely buys into the proclamations or has any sort of grand plan for the industry. “A lot of the things I’m involved with are trial and error,” says Weiler. “Just trying to connect the dots and help bring creators up to speed on the next models of filmmaking and film distribution.”

It’s a fitting statement, given the nature of his films and the sprawl of community projects he spearheads.

As a writer and director, he’s known not as much for the content of his films as he is for their interactive/cross-media nature and the methods by which they are distributed. In fact, he successfully self-distributed The Last Broadcast and Head Trauma to more than 20 countries while grossing over $5 million in the process. Pocket change to the studios, but enticing to indie filmers struggling to find profitable models and audiences.

It’s been a while, however, since the Weiler actually made a film. The past four years have been spent operating his for-hire transmedia shop Seize the Media, and rolling out an admirable if not slightly confusing myriad of community based narrative projects. According to Weiler, that’s about to change.

His in-development feature film/transmedia project HiM—coproduced with Ted Hope (producer of 21 Grams, American Splendor, In the Bedroom and countless others) —won the Arte France Cinema award at the 2009 edition of CineMart and was also put through the paces just a couple of weeks ago at the Sundance Screenwriter’s Lab, marking the first such Sundance foray into a transmedia based initiative, and perhaps the return of Weiler to the director’s chair.

Weiler also just released what he calls a “feature” of the HiM mobile app, while at the Berlinale Talent Campus, taking place during the 60th Berlin International Film Festival. “This storytelling / gaming app places people in the HiM story world while at the same time, enabling them to virtualize the real world. It’s like a MMO [Massively Multiplayer Online] in your pocket,” says Weiler.

“Over the last few weeks almost 10,000 people have downloaded the android version of the app [which is a single feature of the whole HiM app] that enables user to shoot a 360 degree panoramic of spaces. Those using the app have opt’d in and are allowing us to collect a variety of useful data that helps us to further develop the game. The full version [of the app] will launch later this summer. But in the meantime those using this single feature are already creating spaces that will be used in the game world—in a sense it’s crowd-sourced game development.”

Whether HiM shapes into something that proves Weiler’s name belongs permanently engraved on that elite list of Hollywood revolutionaries remains to be seen (at this stage, a 2011 or even 2012 film release would be most likely), but the contributions he’s made towards new distribution models and in rallying the indie community to get off its hump and take charge of its own destiny speak for themselves.

DANGEROUS MINDS Interview with Jon Reiss

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Here is the Dangerous Minds interview that I did with Richard Metzger.