Monthly Archives: March 2010

IFP Announces National Distribution Lab For Independent Filmmakers

Posted on by Emy

This was posted today on

NEW YORK, March 30, 2010 | SHOOT Publicity Wire | — IFP announces the expansion of its prestigious Independent Filmmaker Labs, introducing the addition of its 2010 Distribution Lab in collaboration with Ted Hope & Jon Reiss.

While many programs are well geared toward teaching filmmakers how to write, produce, direct, and compose their films, IFP’s Labs are currently the only program in the country that supports diverse, low-budget, independently produced filmmakers when they need it most: through the completion, marketing and distribution of their first feature film. Focusing exclusively on feature narratives and documentaries at this critical stage, this highly immersive mentorship program provides participants with the technical, creative and strategic tools necessary to launch both their films – and their careers.

“The IFP was originally founded to help filmmakers get their films seen and build the audiences necessary to help them sustain full bodies of work and lasting careers. It is our mission to make sure new voices are heard and that filmmakers are continually supported by a community of peers and professionals who can help them succeed”, says Joana Vicente, Executive Director of IFP. “A lot of theory and inspiration exists about distribution on the Internet and in panels, but cold, hard facts and techniques are hard to come by. This program aims to fill that void by uniting all of the knowledge and tools that are now available to filmmakers to complete and distribute their films.”

The need for collaboration is greater than ever – and as the oldest and largest non-profit in the country supporting independent filmmakers, IFP is in the unique position to provide participants with the individualized mentorship, one-to-one strategies, workshops and community of peers and industry 10,000 strong that can help them reach their artistic goals, support the launch their film, and maximize their exposure in the global marketplace.

IFP is collaborating with Hope and Reiss on the Distribution Lab due to their extensive independent film experience and dedication to first-time feature filmmakers. Ted Hope, co-founder of This is that and Good Machine, has produced close to sixty films, including the first features of Alan Ball, Michel Gondry, Hal Hartley, Nicole Holofcener, and Ang Lee. He blogs at and co-founded the Indie Film review site Recently named one of “10 Digital Directors to Watch” by Daily Variety, Jon Reiss authored Think Outside the Box Office: The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution and Marketing for the Digital Era,the first step-by-step guide to help filmmakers navigate the rapidly changing landscape of distribution and marketing. A critically-acclaimed filmmaker, the book is based Reiss’ own experiences as well interviews with experts in the field and other filmmaking pioneers.

“Educating filmmakers about the new distribution and marketing realities is of critical importance for our community, ” says Jon Reiss “Media content creators of all types need to realize that the days in which you could merely “create” and let someone else distribute and market are nearly over. A new paradigm exists in which making films and finding a way for that film to reach an audience are not merely equally important, but need to be organically integrated into a seamless whole.”

Taking the next logical step in its five-year old Lab Program, IFP is currently in the process of selecting 20 projects (10 documentaries and 10 narratives) from a national candidate pool for an expansive, year-long Lab Fellowship that continues to assist filmmakers with their marketing and distribution plans either concurrent with or directly following their festival premieres.

Participation will include:

· Year-round access to IFP Programming Staff and Lab Leaders, including producers Lori Cheatle (51 Birch Street), Lesli Klainberg (Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema), FILMMAKER Magazine Editor-in-Chief and Producer, Scott Macaulay (Gummo), Susan Stover (Laurel Canyon) and director and marketing & distribution specialist, Jon Reiss (Think Outside the Box Office, Bomb It!).

· Ongoing one-on-one mentorship with established independent producers & filmmakers throughout the year; Mentors include producers Howard Gertler, (World’s Greatest Dad, Shortbus), Peter Gilbert, (Hoop Dreams), Ted Hope (Adventureland), Tia Lessin,(Trouble The Water, Fahrenheit 9/11) (Peter Phok, (Trigger Man), Heather Rae, (Frozen River), Anish Savjani, (Wendy and Lucy, Nights and Weekends), Amy Sewell, (Mad Hot Ballroom).

· Participation in a five-day summer intensive Completion Lab, featuring workshops, case-studies and individualized sessions providing filmmakers with technical, creative and strategic advice needed to complete their films; programming includes editing, sound design, music rights & composition, as well as building the foundation for festival, marketing, sales and distribution strategy. ( 2009 Workshop leaders included, amongst others: Filmmakers and DIY pioneers Lance Weiler (Head Trauma), Gary Hustwit (Helvetica), Aaron Rose (Beautiful Losers); Anton Sanko, Composer (“Big Love”, Delirious, Handsome Harry); Barry Cole, Music Supervisor, Spot Music (Beauty Shop); Editors Sabine Hoffmann (Hounddog, Ballad of Jack & Rose, Brother to Brother), Michael Levine (Billy The Kid, My Kid Could Paint That), Lee Percy (The Ice Harvest, Maria Full of Grace; Boys Don’t Cry), Sam Pollard (When the Levees Broke, Mo’ Better Blues, Jungle Fever), Jay Rabinowitz (The Limits of Control, I’m Not There, The Fountain);

· Broadening filmmaker networks through access to IFP’s Independent Film Week in the fall, where fellows will attend an intensive Strategy & Networking Lab focused on specialized workshops on web building, sales & marketing and audience building. Fellows will also take part in pre-scheduled meetings with potential buyers, investors, sales agents and key festival programmers, as well as build audiences through the Lab “Sneak Preview” Showcase. All participants will additionally have full access to the 35+ interactive panels at IFP’s Future of Film: Filmmaker Conference;

· A winter intensive Distribution Lab, specifically focused on hands-on creation and analysis of the necessary tools and initiatives for each films’ festival launch, individualized distribution strategy, and web and marketing plans. Supervised by Jon Reiss, this will include the creation and review of marketing materials for each project (such as trailer, key art, press kits, social media outreach campaigns, websites etc.), as well as establishment of online and on-site audience building techniques for multi-tier, long-term release strategies.

“The hard truth is that very few filmmakers truly “do-it-themselves.” In order to get their films completed and truly take greater control over the distribution and marketing of their work, filmmakers need strong partners, collaborators and a community of like-minded artists to support their creative endeavors,” says Amy Dotson, Deputy Director of Programming for IFP. “IFP looks forward to providing these connections for our Lab filmmakers and also leading the way for helping the next generation of independent filmmakers succeed in today’s difficult marketplace.”

As part of IFP’s ongoing commitment to diversity, the Independent Filmmaker Labs also seek to ensure that at least 50% of the participating projects have an inclusive range of races, genders, sexual orientations, ethnicities and physical abilities in key creative positions. 50 % of all selected projects also come to the program from directors working outside New York and Los Angeles.

Since 2005, the Labs have previously focused on helping low-budget, first time filmmakers complete their films and launch them at festivals. To date, 87 documentaries and narrative features have participated in the Labs, with 65% participating narrative and documentary films completed and premiered at major US and international festivals (including such recent narratives The Imperialists Are Still Alive! (Sundance Narrative Competition 2010) and Zero Bridge (Venice International Film Festival 2008) and documentaries War Don Don and Beijing Taxi (SXSW 2010).

The Independent Filmmaker Lab program is supported by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council for the Arts, Newman’s Own Foundation, SAGIndie and Time Warner.

About IFP
After debuting with a program in the 1979 New York Film Festival, the nonprofit IFP has evolved into the nation’s oldest and largest organization of independent filmmakers, and also the premier advocate for them. Since its start, IFP has supported the production of 7,000 films and provided resources to more than 20,000 filmmakers – voices that otherwise might not have been heard. IFP fosters the development of 350 new feature and documentary films each year through its Project Forum of Independent Film Week, Independent Filmmaker Labs and projects in its fiscal sponsorship program. IFP believes that independent films enrich the universal language of cinema, seeding the global culture with new ideas, kindling awareness, and fostering activism. The organization has fostered early work by leading filmmakers including Charles Burnett, Edward Burns, Jim Jarmusch, Barbara Kopple, Michael Moore, Mira Nair and Kevin Smith. For information:

Contact Info
Danielle DiGiacomo
Community Manager, IFP
68 Jay Street, Suite 425
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Contact Danielle via email
212. 465.8200 x217

TOTBO Review by Chris’ MMM

Posted on by Emy

This was published yesterday on

Book Review: Think Outside the Box Office

I’m a big fan of books – or conference sessions or whatever – that manage to be educational to all levels of experience and existing knowledge without being condescending to those who are already in the know or have higher levels of experience than others who are reading the book or attending the session. It’s a fine line to walk and, when you’re talking about books that fall roughly into the “how to” category it’s especially tricky since you have to be simple in how the material is presented for the unsophisticated but still be interesting enough for those more in-the-know to continue to enjoy.

Think Outside of the Box Office (Amazon Affiliate link), a new book by author, filmmaker and all around new media thought leader Jon Reiss manages to pull off this tricky task and is a recommended read for anyone looking to navigate the trails being blazed as the world of film marketing and distribution changes and evolves.

Read the full review…

Great Dialogue at Springboard Media about Festival Launches

There is a great dialogue going on at Brian Newman’s Springboard Media about when is the best time to release a film. While I don’t always agree with Brian his posts are always thought provoking – he is def someone to follow! Here is my comment on the stream – but go check out the stream yourself with the link above.

Great post Brian – if only it created a lot of great discussion. I especially loved hearing from Tom Hall – would love to dialogue with more film fests about this. I think it is important to look at this issue with a huge gray scale – it is not black and white. I concur with all the comments that “every film is different”. I also agree that if you only rely on the festival premiere to generate sales and that if you haven’t laid a strong groundwork of grassroots support before said festival premiere that you will most likely be dissapointed with the results. This is why it is essential for filmmakers to start this process as early as possible. Integrate distribution and marketing into the production process. Get a PMD (producer of marketing and distribution) to shepherd that aspect of your film from inception so that filmmakers can take advantage of all of their festival screenings as to best promote their films in an integrated strategy. I think this is what Matt is speaking to. It is impossible to rely on a fest premiere and placement in a few online sites to sell your film. That is merely a pale replacement of the old aquisition model – this time you are relying on your fest and the platforms to sell your film. And clearly this won’t work. However, having been through the experience of doing a festival premiere and not linking it to my release, I was sad that this model wasn’t aware to me at the time (for Bomb It). The reason is that it takes a lot of resources to pull off a fest premiere. It takes a lot of resources to release your film. I think for many films it makes a lot of sense to combine these efforts into said integrated strategy.

In sum – I don’t think the case is closed. I think failure is a strong term. These next years will be a very transitional period for filmmakers and how they both reach audiences and figure out how to monetize their films. Its going to be tough to make money. I think its too early to declare anything a failure yet. We are experimenting as a community. I feel it is important to keep the dialogue going and to inform each other of our successes and failures – it is the key way to become stronger as a community.

Jon Reiss

Interview With Cassidy At SXSW

Posted on by Emy

This was published today on Living Proof Magazine.


Jon Reiss has spent the last 30 years making badass documentary films about punk rock, the rave scene, and graffiti. You have almost certainly seen his film Bomb It, a feature length documentary about global graffiti culture. The film has basically become the seminal graffiti film of our generation.

Usually when a filmmaker has that kind of O.G. status you can expect an old-school hollywood mentality, and a shitty attitude. Jon has neither of those. He is chill and down to earth. And when it comes to filmmaking, Jon is on the cutting edge. His book, Think Outside The Box Office, is a bible for D.I.Y. film distribution and marketing. Jon became somewhat of a guru of this (surprisingly) new field after he self-distributed Bomb It.

These days Jon is a tough cat to get a hold of. He splits his time between traveling to film festivals and conferences to educate filmmakers about how they can self-distribute their films, and filming for his new project: Bomb It 2. Keeping with Jon’s focus on the future of filmmaking, Bomb It 2 is a web-series that will be released through

The End of the World Entertainment crew tracked Jon down in a freight yard in Austin, TX where he was filming a piece for Bomb It 2. Jon spoke on his career, the future of filmmaking, and why making movies is still fun. The interview is embedded, and the trailer for Bomb It is below. You can follow Jon’s adventures on his site and on twitter.

Note: check out Jon’s gear setup. Yes, one of the most important graffiti films of all time was made with about $3,000 worth of equipment. Dope.

Think Outside the Box Office: One of King is a Fink’s Recommended Reads

Posted on by Emy

This was posted in the King is a Fink blog.

One Nightstand: What we read before we go to sleep

Even though Jess and I get a lot of info from the internet, we’re also still fans of books: you know, those things with the pages and the chapters and that crisp dusty smell. Here’s a peek at what we’re reading now:

Bound And Gagged: Pornography and the Politics of Fantasy in America (1996, Kipnis)
Jess loves provocative subjects (Hello, Libidoland!), and this book was a logical addition to her nonfiction library. It’s possible that Jess read a story out of this book that caused Julie to totally miss an exit while on the way to EgoFest. It’s ALSO possible that it’s part of Jess’s research for a new project…

Critical Thinking: How to Prepare Students for a Rapidly Changing World (1995, Paul)
Jess the Teacher is helping her school implement critical thinking techniques. Last summer she attended a Critical Thinking conference in San Francisco; this summer she’s returning to that conference as a presenter. Yes – she is a smarty.

The Dark Side of Genius: The Life of Alfred Hitchcock (1983, Spoto)
My mom found a big musty hardback version of this at a garage sale and sent it to me, possibly because I had recently called her in a panic to find out if she, too, was alarmed at the ocean liner scene in Marnie. When I was little, she was always watching Hitchcock movies, and I don’t think I really appreciated them until just recently. Thanks, Mom.

The Five C’s of Cinematography: Motion Picture Filming Techniques (1965, Mascelli)
In case you didn’t know, Jess is in the process of learning how to do everything related to filmmaking (and pretty much everything else, too.) This book is one of her more recent finds.

How Not to Make a Short Film: Secrets from a Sundance Programmer (2009, Munroe)
We heard the charming Roberta Munroe talk about her book on Film Courage, and we couldn’t resist snagging her book. So much good information. You can find Roberta on Twitter (@robertamunroe), and, if you’re lucky, you might catch her on #scriptchat…

Think Outside the Box Office: The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution and Marketing for the Digital Era (2010, Reiss)
So, as indie filmmakers we all need to have this book, yes? We were lucky enough to win copies at EgoFest (thanks, @philontilt!) If you’re not already, follow author / filmmaker Jon Reiss on Twitter (@jon_reiss).

Jon and Sheri Candler to Join ‘Gone Fishing’ Chris Jones in Workshop in London

Posted on by Emy

Distribution In 2010 For You And Your Film – We are flying in Jon Reiss and Sheri Candler from LA!

‘Revealing the new distribution and marketing realities is of critical importance to film makers and our community. Media content creators of all types need to understand that the days in which you could merely “create” and let someone else distribute and market are nearly over. A new paradigm exists in which making films and finding a way for that film to reach an audience are not merely equally important, but need to be organically integrated into a seamless whole.’ – Jon Reiss, Los Angeles March 2010

When we wrote the first edition of The Guerilla FilmMakers Handbook back in 1994, people wanted to know… ‘how the heck do you make a film?’ Now in 2010 and six books later, we know that you can make a film. In fact, we are pretty sure you can make a terrific film. But making a film is no longer the problem.

For the first time in the history of commercial film making, YOU THE FILM MAKER, can create powerful, sustainable and income generating distribution models WITHOUT THE EXCLUSIVE NEED for third parties such as a sales agents, distributors and even broadcasters.


Finally, we are in full control of the flow of money back to us… the entrepreneurs and creatives! It’s never been more exciting to be a film maker.

Click here for more info…

An Interesting Art v Commerce Discussion on The Auteurs in response to my TOTBO Copenhagen Manifesto

There have been a number of comments in reply to my Copenhagen Manifesto which just got posted to The Auteurs. I love how people are picking up on the need for an “organic” integration of all aspects of filmmaking – including distribution and marketing. I have been using this term quite alot lately in my presentations.

But another reponse concerned the art v commerce debate – and thought others would find it interesting – hence my posting it here. Feel free to jump over to The Auteurs to comment.

From Chris: “Excellent overall points, Elemenopii. Excellent… As an aspiring filmmaker developing a first feature, I understand.

We are in a huge transitional time with much still up in the air. Personally, I spend 3-4 hours a day trying to wrap my head around what’s going on. So thank you to people like John Reiss who are boiling things down and pioneering the way.

A couple points:

1) John and Sheri (above) advocate a quasi-product development approach to making films. This is where I get stuck with John’s approach. I’m an artist. Yes, I unapologetically claim to be; the dreaded “A-word” in film. Personally, I don’t care, absolutely don’t care who my audience is, will be, will never be, when I am developing my film and even creating it. In the end, I believe, my filmmaking is a personal process, which I hope to share with others. I believe the best films (and all of art) are intensely personal and not catering to any particular taste or preference. During his wonderful speech, John mentions Renaissance artists who worked for commission, yet made their work their own. That may be true, but Michelangelo fought day in, day out with the Pope himself. In fact, the Pope struck the recalcitrant artist with a stick many times. And, in the end, Michelangelo’s work was censored, some parts of the FINAL JUDGEMENT were painted over.

My point is that there is a huge danger when a creator begins considering the tastes and preferences of an anticipated audience. You can do that, but in the end, it will invariably hinder your personal expression, which often leads to the best work!

2) COMMUNITY: God bless John for not only including community in his manifesto, but concluding with it. I love that he proposes we support each other and even buy one another’s movies!!! How great is that. Let’s do it. Let’s stop the competitive, win/loss, Western individualistic limited good mentality. I’m so sick of it…..


Here is my comment:

“Ok – so one note above I wanted to address specifically – from Chris at Follow My Film: In the book I make your case, I understand your point of view (being a filmmaker myself). I have created much work with this in mind. I have 2 main responses:

1. Most importantly – using these techniques are about finding the audience that already exists for your film. The web allows you to access about a billion people right now. Eventually more and more. There are people with like minds out there – but you need to connect with them. The earlier you start engaging with them, the easier the process will be.

2. Completely being blind to the marketplace makes it a tougher road for you. If you just make your film – then try to find an audience, it might take a long time. You might also find that the audience for your film, or who you can access, might be very small. So it just might be hard to make some $ back on your film with this approach. However, if you keep your costs low, don’t care about recouping, and are not really worried about if you reach an audience – then who am I to say otherwise. In fact who am I to say otherwise to anything you wish to do. Seriously! My goal is to give guidance to people who want to make this potentially arduous process both easier and more productive for filmmakers, to help their work find an audience.

I also think that some of the best work has come out of constraint – indies work with financial constraint. Michelangelo (and many incredible artists before and after) have dealt with one form of censorship or another. Even if parts of the Sistine Chapel were censored, it is still an amazing work of art. My point is that there is no one way to create, however there are some new methodologies and tools which might make your life easier as an artist.

What do you think?”

Age of Stupid Director Franny Armstrong’s New Distribution Channel for Social Justice Docs

Posted on by Emy

This was published on yesterday.

Social justice films get into the fast lane

Bideford Sustainability Group in Devon was formed last week following a screening at the local Baptist church of the climate change film, The Age of Stupid. The organisers of Good Screenings, a new distribution channel for social action films, launched today, hope it will lead to more public screenings of low-budget social justice films and a growth of campaigning groups on the back of the issues raised.

“Schools, churches, voluntary groups and associations will all be able to use the screenings as a vehicle to raise both awareness and funds,” says Franny Armstrong, director of The Age of Stupid and the driving force behind Good Screenings.

Read the full article…

Copenhagen Documentary Festival Forum Keynote Speech Opens Debate on The Auteurs Website

Posted on by Emy

Posted by T on The Auteurs Website.


In this exclusive video for The Garage’s Production Journals Jon Reiss, director, filmmaker and author of ‘Think Outside The Box Office’, delivers the keynote speech at the 2009 Copenhagen Documentary Festival Forum, talking about the future of independent film distribution, the collapse of the festival acquisition model and the wider marketing challenges facing the contemporary filmmaker.

I’d like to use this film as a starting point for a series of Garage threads and a wider debate on independent film production, distribution and marketing. The crisis of industry that Jon describes in this speech is accurate: but are his proposals for change definitive? We are clearly at a juncture in the development of global film culture: the means of production have been democratised (to an extent), but getting control over distribution remains a serious difficulty for many many filmmakers.

Anyone who’d like to take part (and take this debate seriously), please watch the film and drop your thoughts back into this topic. We have more interviews with producers, distributors and independent filmmakers coming— this is simply the opening shot.

Join the discussion here.

Bomb It Upcoming Screening in Wiesbaden, Germany

Posted on by Emy


Check out here for more info.