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.