Monthly Archives: April 2010

TOTBO Tip of the Day 10 Blog

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Blogging helps in two ways: First, it drives traffic to your site as you link to new and interesting stories that are related to the subject of your film (For Bomb It, we post news about graffiti around the world.) And second, your blogging activity will help your site’s SEO (search engine optimization). This will result in higher search rankings for your film in relevant categories. What to blog about? Of course you should blog about your film, your filmmaking experiences and your screenings, but you should also consider blogging about subjects that relate to your film and your film’s audience. This will make your project relevant to them on a broader level and keep them coming back to your site. One simple way to come up with information to blog about is to use Google Alerts. We received a weekly Google Alert about “graffiti” and “street art” and select a few top articles to blog about.

My live workshops are coming to London on May 8th-9th and Amsterdam on May 12th-13th. Hope to see you there!

I want to know what you think! Comment here or on my blog, or @Jon_Reiss on twitter, or on the TOTBO Facebook page. Check out the book Think Outside the Box Office. I look forward to hearing from you.

The Producer of Marketing and Distribution

Posted on by Emy

This is my article published on

The Producer of Marketing and Distribution

In my first guest column for Screen Daily in November of last year, I introduced what I call the new 50/50. This idea is to convey to filmmakers that half of their work is making the film, half of their work is connecting the film to an audience.

As a filmmaker, I know how difficult adopting these new tasks of marketing and distribution are. I also know how they can interfere with making new films – and there have been a fair amount of complaints lately from filmmakers about being responsible for doing this additional work.

However, just like most filmmakers do not make their films on their own, they should not be distributing and marketing those films on their own. I would argue that from now on, every film needs one person devoted to the distribution and marketing of the film from inception, just as they have a line producer, assistant director, or editor. This person is part of your team from inception, not tacked on at the end of the process.

This is why last autumn, just before sending Think Outside the Box Office to print, I came up with the concept of the Producer of Marketing and Distribution or the PMD. I gave this crew position an official title of PMD because without an official position, this work will continue to not get done. I gave this position the title of producer because it is that important. (For someone learning the ropes, you can start them at coordinator then move them up to associate producer and so on).

Creating a crew position will cause people to seek jobs as a PMD, train to become a PMD, apprentice as a PMD just as people do this for any film crew position. (I’ve already received emails from people excited to become PMDs.) Without a title, it won’t happen. The creation of this crew position should spur schools and institutes to create curriculums in order to train people to fill this role and other people will write books about it (just as there are a plethora of books on how to be a line producer).

I look forward to a near future in which filmmakers/directors will be able to put out calls for PMDs just as they do for DPs and Editors – and that they will get an equal volume of applications. Directors will develop long term relationships with PMDs that “get them” just as they do with DPs, Editors, and Producers etc.

Responsibilities of the PMD include:

1. Identify and engage with the audience for a film.

2. Development of a distribution and marketing strategy and plan for a film in conjunction with the entire team.

3. Create a budget for said plan.

4. Assemble and supervise the necessary team/crew elements to carry out the plan.

5. Audience outreach through organizations, blogs, social networking, online radio etc.

6. Supervise the creation of promotional and (if necessary due to the lack of a separate transmedia coordinator) trans media elements: including the films website script and concept for transmedia, production stills, video assets – both behind the scenes and trans media, promotional copy and art.

7. Outreach to potential distribution and marketing partners such as sponsors, promotional partners, various distribution entities, publicists.

8. When appropriate, engage the distribution process as designed.

9. Supervise the creation of deliverables.

I have created a number of educational activities to help recognize the creation of this position and help filmmakers take control of the distribution and marketing of their films. The first was the book mentioned above which I feel is the first training manual for the PMD. The second is a distribution and tools website Finally, I am beginning a series of Think Outside the Box Office (TOTBO) Workshops throughout the world kicking off in London next week on May 8&9 followed by Amsterdam, New York, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, San Francisco and Boston. All of these resources should help define the position and the duties of the PMD and I encourage filmmakers to take advantage of these opportunities to learn and grow in their abilities and their craft.

Video Highlights of NSI Winnipeg Panel

Posted on by Emy

TOTBO Tip of the Day 8 Engage Organizations to Promote Your Film

Posted on by Emy

Step 2 of Audience Engagement is: Know WHERE your audience derives information/congregates.

Many niche’s have organizations that support those specific topics and interests. Engage those organizations early in your filmmaking process (as early as conception and prep). It is important to have the proper attitude toward your audience and these organizations. You need to think, “What can I give them?” instead of “What can they do for me?” If you think of the former, the latter will flow. People are very busy. You need to give them an incentive to be involved with you. The film is not enough. How will the film service their organization, their lives and the lives of their members? In turn, they will help you promote your film to your direct audience. This has been used by great effect by documentary filmmakers. Narrative filmmakers need to follow their lead.

My live workshops are coming to London on May 8th-9th and Amsterdam on May 12th-13th. Hope to see you there!

I want to know what you think! Comment here or on my blog, or @Jon_Reiss on twitter, or on the TOTBO Facebook page. Check out the book Think Outside the Box Office. I look forward to hearing from you.

TOTBO Tip of the Day 9 Create a Dynamic Website

Posted on by Emy

Create a dynamic web site and do it long before your film is done. Old-style film web sites are out — blogging and a constant flow of information are in. Blogging and tagging is what the little bots out in cyberspace will recognize and bring you up in the rankings. Thanks to my wonderful friend and web site savior Michael Medaglia and a lot of great blogging by producer Tracy Wares, we were near the top of Google search on “graffiti documentary” even before our world premiere at Tribeca. A great web site also helps you cultivate your niche audience and further allows the theatrical to fuel your DVD release.

My live workshops are coming to London on May 8th-9th and Amsterdam on May 12th-13th. Hope to see you there!

I want to know what you think! Comment here or on my blog, or @Jon_Reiss on twitter, or on the TOTBO Facebook page. Check out the book Think Outside the Box Office. I look forward to hearing from you.

TOTBO Tip of the Day 7 Differentiating Core and Niche Audiences

Posted on by Emy

The terms Core and Niche are often used interchangeably and this is a mistake. The niche audience for your film is that slice of the population that has a particular interest in your film or an aspect of your film. The core audience for your film is those people within each niche that are your most ardent supporters. Those people who will spread the word about your film to not only their networks, but to the rest of that niche. You can have multiple niches that are interested in your film, and within each niche there is a core who combined adds up to the core of your film.

My live workshops are coming to London on May 8th-9th and Amsterdam on May 12th-13th. Hope to see you there!

I want to know what you think! Comment here or on my blog, or @Jon_Reiss on twitter, or on the TOTBO Facebook page. Check out the book Think Outside the Box Office. I look forward to hearing from you.

Babelgum Online Film Fest Winners Announced (Courtesy of Shooting People)

Posted on by Emy

NEW YORK / LONDON (April 26, 2010) – After evaluating a shortlist of eligible films, the professional jurors of the 3rd Babelgum Online Film Festival (BOFF3) – Carlos Battilana, Jean-Pierre Bekolo Obama, Richard Linklater, Shooting People Patron Sally Potter, Annie Sundberg, Eric Watson and Jason Wishnow – announced today the BOFF3 Jury Award winners, which will screen for the public on April 28th (SV2 Theater, 9:30pm), during the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.

Annie Sundberg said “I was encouraged by the quality of the films and I’m happy to see the mission of the festival more and more fulfilled. An online and mobile competition focused on seeking out and rewarding emerging filmmaking talent has been long overdue.”

Fellow juror Jason Wishnow added “I was honestly captivated by many of the films in competition, which were eclectic but all unique in style. Choosing a definitive winner from so many fun, surprising and technically accomplished shorts was the toughest part of an otherwise enjoyable process”.

The Babelgum Online Film Festival, run in association with Shooting People, was created to celebrate and reward the very best in international independent short filmmaking by providing international exposure and significant cash awards for emerging talent. This year’s festival broke new ground, not only in terms of the quality of submissions in every category, but in the truly global origins of the
competing films. Shortlist filmmakers hailed from Taiwan, Ukraine, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, India, Romania, New Zealand, Germany, Canada, Argentina and the United States.

The Winning Films Are:

Animation category
Jury Award Winner
“Shadows & Dust” Shooting People Member Jon Dunleavy (U.K.)
“Bottom of the River” Shooting People Member Alasdair Brotherston and Jock Mooney (U.K.)
Stoli Emerging Filmmaker Award
“Nature IT” Marek Straszak (Poland)
Audience Award
“Bruce McCall’s Clear Conscience” Jonas Diamond (Canada)

Narrative category
Jury Award Winner
“Where the Monsters Go” Shooting People Member Van Poynton (U.K.)
Runner-Up “The Last Piece” Shooting People Member John Dayo and Bola Agbaje (U.K.)
Stoli Emerging Filmmaker Award “Love Seat” Shooting People Member Jennie Allen (U.S.)
Audience Award “A Hustler’s Finale” Carey Westbrook (U.S.)

Non-narrative category
Jury Award Winner
“Not with a Bang” Alessandro Amaducci (Italy)
“Cine-Reminiscence” Chi Lungzin (Taiwan)
Stoli Emerging Filmmaker and Audience Awards
“Hungerford: Symphony of a London Bridge” Shooting People Member Alex Barrett (U.K.)

Documentary category
Jury Award Winner
“Families on Trial” Shooting People Member Raj Yagnik (U.K.)
“In Recovery” Shooting People Member Claire Reynolds (U.K.)
Stoli Emerging Filmmaker Award
“Under the Covers with Chip Kidd” Rachel Talbot (U.S.)
Audience Award
“Mark Webb – BMX Champion” James Harrison (U.K.)
Best Viral Short Award Winner
“Probably …” Shooting People Member Kate Anderson (U.K.)
Grand Jury Award Winner
“Beyond the Clouds” Lee Phillips (U.K.)

Jon Patricof, Chief Operating Officer, Tribeca Enterprises, stated “We’re pleased to partner once again with Babelgum, a friend and supporter of the Tribeca Film Festival, to celebrate the third edition of its groundbreaking online film festival with a reception and public screening right here in New York City. We share a common mission with BOFF, highlighting the work of globally based independent filmmakers through new platforms”.

Over 35,000 people viewed more than 275 films in the competition and over 10,000 votes were cast via the Babelgum web and mobile platforms during the twelve-day voting period. Approximately ten films in each of the four categories – Animation, Narrative, Non-narrative and Documentary – were shortlisted and made eligible for cash prizes totalling USD24,000 with the final decisions being made by the jurors. The winning films can be viewed on Babelgum’s site and on the Babelgum mobile platform along with all the films entered in the BOFF3 competition, including the Audience Award winners.

Karol Martesko-Fenster, SVP, General Manager of Babelgum’s Film Division, said “We were especially fortunate this year to be collaborating with Shooting People on all aspects of BOFF3, and to have recruited such an accomplished professional jury, all working filmmakers based in places as far-flung as Austin, Los Angeles, London, Peru and Cameroon. Their participation allowed for a truly deliberative process that reflected a range of interests and passions as varied as those of our multinational competitors”.

“It’s been an exciting few weeks, leading up to the culmination of BOFF3″, said James Mullighan, Creative Director of Shooting People, from New York.”Everyone at the Babelgum Team should be very proud – there’s been genuine industry buzz, and our members have gotten very involved. And quite right too – there’s no other online festival that so well unearths the newest emerging talent”.

Festival Jury

Carlos Battilana Producer (The Blindness of the Woods, Amauta Project), Jean-Pierre Bekolo Director/Producer (Quartier Mozart, Les Saignantes, Aristotle’s Plot), Richard Linklater Writer/Director (Before Sunrise, School of Rock, Me and Orson Welles), Shooting People Patron Sally Potter Writer/Director (Orlando, Yes, RAGE), Annie Sundberg Director/Producer (The Trials of Darryl Hunt, The Devil Came on Horseback, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work), Eric Watson Producer (Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain), and Jason Wishnow, Director/Curator (Oedipus, Director of Film & Video, TED).


Animation Shorts – stop-motion, anime, hand-drawn, CGI, paper-cut, or any other animation form (5 min max.); Narrative Shorts – story-based, fictional live-action films in any genre (comedy, drama, etc.) (15 min max.); Non-narrative Shorts – visual, experimental, artsy live-action films (5 min max.); and Documentary Shorts – cinema verite, observational, presenter-led, narrated, real-life storytelling (15 min max.)


The Stoli Emerging Filmmaker Award is presented to a new or emerging filmmaker who displays clear and outstanding achievement through direction, animation, writing, and/or camerawork in any of the four categories; The Audience Awards are presented to an outstanding film receiving the highest number of votes determined solely by the voting totals from the global Internet and mobile Babelgum audience; The Best Viral Short Award is presented to an outstanding film with “viral” potential and a running time of less than 3 minutes. The winner receives a USD2,000 cash award; The Jury Awards are presented to an outstanding film in each of the four categories, determined by members of the Jury. Four first-place winners receive a USD3,000 cash award and four second-place winners receive a USD1,000 cash award; The Grand Jury Award is presented to an outstanding film chosen by members of the Jury. The winner will receive a $6,000 cash award.

TOTBO Tip 6 Identifying and Engaging Your Audience

Here is the Jon Reiss TOTBO 3 Step Approach to Audience Development and Engagement:

1. Know WHO your audience is. This is not 18-25 year old boys/men. Or 35 – 55 year old women. As an independent filmmaker, if you cross over into a mass audience great – but you need to be much more specific. Tomorrow’s tip will discuss niche vs core audiences.

2. Know WHERE your audience derives information/congregates. In other words how you can contact them, engage them, communicate with them.

3. Know HOW your audience engages media, or HOW they will support you.

I want to know what you think! Comment here or on my blog, or @Jon_Reiss on twitter, or on the TOTBO Facebook page. Check out the book here. I look forward to hearing from you.

PS I was going to address budgeting this week, but I have shifted that topic to next week.

TOTBO Tip of the Day 5 Budget for Distribution

Jon Reiss TOTBO Tip of the Day 5 – Budget for Distribution and Marketing

In order to successfully execute a marketing plan for your film, a budget must be developed in tandem with your production budget. This is not an optional expense to be decided at the end of post production. A marketing and distribution budget is a tool that balances what needs to be spent against what can be afforded, and helps make choices about which methods will be priorities and which ones cannot be implemented due to cost. A well analyzed, affordable budget will help to focus achievable marketing efforts without wasting time and money. Doing this will also make it seem that you have a sense of how you are going to make your investors money back (and that you care).

Next weeks tips will give expand on this topic – to help you navigate this process.

I want to know what you think! Comment here or on my blog, or @Jon_Reiss on twitter, or on the TOTBO Facebook page. Check out the book here. I look forward to hearing from you.

TOTBO Tip of the Day 4 Setting Marketing Strategy

Jon Reiss TOTBO Tip of the Day 4 Setting Marketing Strategy

Two helpful ways to think about marketing: 1) Reaching the audience that already exists for your film and 2) thinking creatively of what audiences might be interested in your film. I recommend that you consider and conceive of a marketing strategy for your film early in the production process, even at inception. Who is its audience? How are you best going to reach them? Are there particular blogs, organizations, print media that they subscribe to? Who will you bring on to help you outreach to your audience? How does this audience consume media? Answering these questions will help to fashion your release strategy.

I want to know what you think! Comment here or on my blog, or @Jon_Reiss on twitter, or on the TOTBO Facebook page. Check out the book here. I look forward to hearing from you.