Monthly Archives: March 2010

Great News about Last Week’s SXSW | TOTBO: A Great Success

Posted on by Emy

This was published on last Sunday.

Early success at SXSW: Long lines, sold-out screenings at Austin film festival

Clear skies proved a blessing to the SXSW fest this weekend, with the upswing in film registrants creating around-the-block lineups for mostly sold-out screenings, often leaving fans and buyers alike looking for a backup plan.

“The festival has blown up this year,” said Magnate/Magnolia senior VP and SXSW vet Tom Quinn, here to cheer the distributor’s gritty Gotham drama “The Good Heart,” gospel docu “Rejoice and Shout” and today’s anticipated midnight world preem of bloody sword-and-sandaller “Centurion,” from Brit Neil Marshall (“The Descent”). “The interactive portion of the festival appears to have taken over the whole town and reminds me of Sundance in 1999 with the dot-com invasion — however, this time around it feels earned,” said Quinn, who also sat on a film-interactive panel exploring ideas for a new content pipeline to restore financial viability to the indie sector. “As media converge, maybe the age-old definition of a film festival simply doesn’t apply anymore and SXSW is living proof of that.”

Indeed, after Sunday’s crossover panel on creating event-style screenings to find new auds and revenue streams for indies, panelist Jon Reiss’ nuts-and-bolts handbook “Think Outside the Box: The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution and Marketing for the Digital Era” flew off SXSW bookstore shelves.

Read the full story…

All Doc’d Out: The Ultimate Documentary Survival Guide

Posted on by Emy


Learn how to keep your film alive and thriving in the competitive world of nonfiction distribution, exhibition and film festivals from a panel of industry professionals.

Non-fiction filmmaking has now been an important centerpiece of the American film industry for most of the new millennium. Whether this resurgence can be attributed to the dominance of reality-based television, new found artistic and technical liberties or to an increase in the marketability of non-fiction films, there is now a vast new playing field for today’s documentary filmmaker. Learn how to keep your film alive and thriving in the competitive world of non-fiction distribution, exhibition and film festivals from a panel of industry professionals.

Confirmed Panelists:

Amy Halpin, Program Manager, Fiscal Sponsorships/Grants, International Documentary Association
Jon Reiss, Author, “Think Outside The Box Office”; Producer/Director, BOMB IT, BETTER LIVING THROUGH CIRCUITRY
Marina Zenovich, Producer/Director, ROMAN POLANSKI: WANTED AND DESIRED

Moderated by Film Consultant Thomas Ethan Harris.

In Hollywood at the EGYPTIAN THEATRE:
Thursday, March 25th @ 7:30pm-10:30pm
The American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre
6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028

ADVANCED TICKETS STRONGLY RECOMMENDED (only 100 seats left): $12 Cinematheque Members, $15 Students/Seniors, $20 General. General Order tickets Online at or buy them in person at the Egyptian Box Office. The Egyptian Box Office is open 1.5 hours before the first program of the day or evening.

Cheap Parking! The American Cinematheque’s Egyptian and Spielberg Theatres validate only for HOLLYWOOD AND HIGHLAND, $2 for 4 hours (each additional 20 minutes is $1.)

Click here for more info.

TOTBO Review by Adam Chapnick on Documentary Magazine

Posted on by Emy

This was published on the Spring 2010 issue of the Documentary Magazine.

Distribution Ammunition: An Indispensable Manual for the DIY Forces
Reality Ink by ADAM CHAPNICK

For those of us who follow independent film distribution, Jon Reiss burst into prominence only recently, with his 2009 series of unflinchingly honest articles for Filmmaker magazine detailing the highs and lows of his adventures in DIY releasing. In that three-part series, Reiss shared his frustrations (many), successes (fewer) and lessons learned in bringing to market his graffiti-culture documentary, Bomb It.

The articles revealed Reiss as a delicious combination of born teacher, compulsive anti-authoritarian and thorough scholar, whose nature is to measure, analyze and, most importantly, share his discoveries. That’s proved to be lucky for everyone who has ever even thought about stepping onto the hazy battlefields of independent film distribution, because with the release of his new book, Reiss has become their most valuable ally. His new book, Think Outside the Box Office: The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution and Marketing for the Digital Era, arms readers with a powerful weapon in their fight for their rights and revenue streams.

Reiss has amassed an incredible wealth of pure information, analysis and, true to form, blunt warnings and mini-manifestos that simply have never been available all in one place. A natural extension of his work on the Filmmaker columns, the book is dizzying in its broad-scope ambition, but Reiss delivers, with a talent for filtering out the irrelevant while including enough actionable details to make the book a real manual for doers. I’ve been in indie film distribution for almost 10 years, and my copy of the book is dog-eared and highlighted, with to-do notes scrawled all over it. (Full disclosure: I was pleasantly surprised to read Reiss’ positive words about my company,, in the book.)

Reiss also dons a journalist’s cap to include opinions, strategies and tactics of fellow indie distribution and marketing thought-leaders like über-consultant Peter Broderick, B-Side’s Chris Hyams, Cinetic Rights Management’s Matt Dentler, publicist Cynthia Swartz and filmmakers like Todd Sklar, Joe Swanberg and Cora Olson.

Some of the book’s useful guidance covers the expected, like “Deal Points to Consider with a Foreign Sales Agent,” but the book goes beyond the useful and enters the realm of the exciting when Reiss discusses his take on new-model distribution. With chapters like “Rethinking Marketing,” “An Introduction to Transmedia” and “Creating a Live Event Experience,” Reiss demonstrates his ability to creatively relate to the audience and their preferences—before, during and after production.

Today, the world “outside the box office” obviously is largely located on the Web. Understanding this, Reiss correctly decided to include in the book careful and detailed roadmaps for success with popular, free online tools like Facebook and WordPress. These how-to’s leverage the latest platforms specifically for films—for many, his “10 Tips for Making the Most of Facebook” alone will be worth many times the price of the book.

Reiss also takes great pains to redefine what we call the theatrical experience, and while his new classifications are interesting, philosophically they are of little practical use for DIY filmmakers trying to navigate the landscape of traditional players who don’t share Reiss’ new vision.

Will all of Reiss’ insights and strategies work for everyone who reads this book? No. Could the book have benefited from a simple run-through of a garden-variety spell check program? Yes. But beyond those facts, Think Outside the Box Office is absolutely required reading for everyone making any kind of media with hopes to meaningfully connect with an audience.

Since the book’s release in December 2009, it’s been almost as instructive to watch Reiss’ moves as he works to promote it. He walks his talk. First, I noticed he re-branded himself on Twitter from “jfilm” to the more easily recognizable “jon_reiss,” and launched an intensive question-and-answer mini-campaign for Tweeters who wanted DIY distribution questions answered by the author himself. For several days, he could be seen posting dozens of personal responses per hour, into the wee hours.

He has done countless book signings and lectures. I’ve seen him everywhere, from the American Film Market to DIY Days to Peter Broderick’s and Scott Kirsner’s Distribution U (see article on page__), to the annual LA Slamdance dinner. He’s appeared on Internet radio talk shows, written guest blogs for The Huffington Post and released new columns for Filmmaker magazine. In addition to his already prolific blog, he built a new website to house all his knowledge and opened it to contributors ( He did a week-long Q&A for the popular doc website the D-Word ( And these are just the things I observed as an industry watcher. (Filmmakers: how would your release be different if you were hustling this way?)

The jury is still out on what exactly will develop into the next, workable model for independent film distribution. Will digital delivery platforms be embraced by paying consumers enough to sustain an all-digital model? Will we see more blockbusters or fewer? Will theaters proliferate or go the way of the nickelodeon? Whatever the answer, by starting with this book (and perhaps its future editions) and by following Reiss’ blogging and his own marketing moves as an author and content creator, filmmakers will have a fighting chance to stay ahead of the curve and benefit from, each new development––rather than suffer because of it.

Adam Chapnick is CEO of, a flat-fee service that places independent films on digital delivery platforms like iTunes, while taking no revenue from the filmmaker. He’s also Vice President of the IDA’s board of directors.


3rd Annual Babelgum Online Film Festival Call for Entries

Posted on by Emy


The 3rd annual Babelgum Online Film Festival is open for submissions—but only until March 28. This year, the Jury of illustrious filmmakers, Richard Linklater, Sally Potter, Eric Watson, Annie Sundberg, Jean-Pierre Bekolo and Carlos Battilana will be awarding $24,000 in cash awards for short films in four categories (animated, narrative, doc, non-narrative). There are no submissions fees and NO RESTRICTIONS on production year or whether your film has been previously distributed or shown at another online or offline film festival. Plus, all submissions will go live on Babelgum (online and mobile) and the winners of our Jury Awards, Audience Awards, Grand Prize, Best Viral Short, and the Stoli Emerging Filmmaker Award will all screen at a special event in late April at a soon-to-be-announced first-run theater in New York City.

Click here for submission guidelines and more details about the prizes.

James Cromwell at the Next CINEFIST Event in L.A.

Posted on by Emy

APRIL 7th, 2010 @7PM


Book Review: Think Outside the Box Office by Jon Reiss

Posted on by Emy

From Jake Thomas |

Book Review: Think Outside the Box Office by Jon Reiss

Let me save a few of you some time. If you are at all considering creating or producing an independent film, stop reading right now and just go ahead and buy this book. Jon Reiss’s Think Outside the Box Office is not only well-researched but well lived in, as Reiss himself has used many of these techniques with his graffiti documentary Bomb It. It’s an invaluable resource for strategizing what to do with your film once you’ve made it. Though not always uber-detailed, it does provide a fairly exhaustive layout for how to market yourself and your film in this age of ever-evolving digital media landscape. It also has plenty of references for further information and a website that is a frequently updated resource for more advanced research.

Read the full review…

Photos from NSI Event in Winnipeg Last Week

Posted on by Emy

Click here for more.

Quad Cinema – Indie Filmmakers’ New Ally in NYC

Posted on by Emy

Published today on

NYC Art House Unveils DIY Initiative

Filmmakers taking the DIY approach to distribution, particularly those hoping to launch a movie with a theatrical run, have a new ally in New York City. The program, with promotional benefits, gives filmmakers a run in the city for a flat fee.

Leading Manhattan art house, the Quad Cinema, has developed a new division called “Quad Cinema 4-Wall Select,” a program it styles as an opportunity for indie filmmakers to theatrically open a self-distributed movie in New York. The theater plans to “carefully select” films for the program to insure that titles participating in the new initiative “meet the Quad’s standards.”

Read the full story…

IndieGoGo Acquires Distribber – Congrats to Adam Chapnick and the Crew at IndieGoGo

Posted on by Emy

This was published today on

IndieGoGo Acquires Distribber, Expands Reach

IndieGoGo, a web-based fundraising platform for film, video and charity projects, has acquired the digital distribution service Distribber, which will give independent filmmakers access to iTunes, Amazon and Netflix Instant.

“It’s really an opportunity for us to create an entire suite of tools,” says Slava Rubin, one of the co-founders of the two-year-old IndieGoGo.

“We kept hearing from our customers that they loved our fundraising tools, that we really helped them on that end,” he says. “But they told us that they were hitting a wall when they finished their projects and started looking for distribution.”

Read the full story…

Recap of Yesterday’s Discussion at SXSW Panel Featuring The Auteurs, YouTube and Criterion Collection

Posted on by Emy

Nobody Wants to Watch Your Film: Realities of Online Film Distribution

Here’s the official description from the site:
Every respectable film festival these days has a panel talking about online film distribution and increasingly these panels end up in disputes between websites promoting their services and film distributors frustrated at their online revenues. At the same time everyone seems to agree that digital distribution is the future. So where do we go from here?
Presenters: Efe Cakarel, Graham Leggat, Peter Becker, Sara Pollack

Efe Cakarel, the moderator from The Auteurs, (a social network for cinephiles) jumped into it by describing the current situation with independent film distribution (“bleak!”) and posed the key burning question to the panelists: What is going to be the dominate business model for film distribution?

Read the full story…