Monthly Archives: April 2010

TOTBO Tip of the Day 3 Know Your Goals

I cannot stress this enough. I cannot repeat this enough. There are multiple goals that you can strive for in the release of your film. You must prioritize what is most important to you. I categorize the goals for the distribution and marketing of your film into the following five (with a sub goal number 6):

1. Money
2. Career launch, help for your next project, fame.
3. Audience/eyeballs to see the film
4. To have an impact on the world
5. A long term sustainable connection with a fan base.
6. A green release.

Choices that you make in service of one goal will often sacrifice another goal. For instance releasing your film for free on the internet might get you the most eyeballs, but it won’t help you monetize the film.

You must make sure that everyone on your team is on the same page and don’t have conflicting goals. At the Slamdance Filmmaker Summit, I gave homework to two sets of filmmakers with whom I did a live speed consult*. While Hunter Weeks, a very savvy filmmaker, had known for some time his goal for his current film Ride the Divide was to help him get another film made, what he didn’t know until that night was his goal was different from his producer Mike Dion which was to make money to return the investment for his investors. These goals are two that are traditionally in direct conflict (career launch normally associated with some form of traditional theatrical which in turn is usually a money drain).

What do you think?

* I had so much fun doing these speed consults that they have become an integral part of nearly all of the workshops I conduct. The first day of the workshops is a presentation of the principles of the new techniques of distribution and marketing from a very practical perspective. The second day is primarily limited to 20 films/projects and I do 20-30 minutes speed consult on each – with all the other teams present so that they can learn from each other.

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.

Call for Entries: 2nd Annual Film Festival for Social & Environmental Change

Posted on by Emy

fans of film

Fans Of Film 2nd annual film festival for change starting Nov/01/2010 ending Nov/01/2010. This is a festival to distribution event.
ORGANIZERS: Michael Palombo and Pattie Greer

Fans Of Film wants to see the best and get 8 winning films in “documentary/narrative social and environmental films for change” that filmmakers can dish out, and we wanna distribute them… (film contract with Fans Of Film is non exclusive with 70% gross profits to the filmmaker. Learn More)

The New Film Festival Model

Posted on by Emy

I posted this on Ted Hope’s blog yesterday.

More Thoughts On The New Film Festival Model

“Blood Simple” was the first film I bought a ticket for at a film festival. It was screening at the NYFF and I soon came to recognize that the films accepted to that fest were of a exceedingly high quality. The curatorial taste behind that festival choices was something I had confidence in. They gained my trust precisely because they have never tried to be all things for all people, and for that I have always been willing to pay a premium for. The NYFF was, and is, a trusted filter.

Too many festivals these days program too many films without revealing, or reveling in, their curatorial hands, diminishing the power of their brand in the process. If festivals are going to become the new curators, that will have to change. Festivals must emphasize their unique taste, if not overall, then within sidebars at the festival.

Read the full story…

Totbo Tip 2 Every Film is Different

Each film is unique and requires its own individual distribution and marketing strategy. A comedy about stoners will not have the same audience as a documentary about Aids orphans in Tanzania. Similarly each filmmaker has a different set of goals, needs, and resources. While the studio one size fits all model worked well for some independent films over the last 20 years – it was a disaster for others. With the new hybrid model of distribution you can craft a distribution and marketing strategy that makes the most sense for your film. You have a unique vision. Use that vision to engage your audience in a unique manner. This will help separate you from the media noise that surrounds us every day.

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.

The Launch of Totbo Tips of the Day

Day 1 – The Next Chapter

Many of you might know me from the book that I have written recently, Think Outside the Box Office (TOTBO for short). The primary reason that I wrote it was to share what I had learned while distributing my film Bomb It with other filmmakers so they could learn from my successes and mistakes. In the continuation of that mission I am launching two more initiatives – both in support of how people want to interact with this information. The first is a series of workshops around the world. It seems that the live experience is as important as the written word in imparting this information for many people. We are starting with London on May 8/9, Amsterdam on the 12/13, New York on June 5, Vancouver on June 12/13, San Francisco July 31/Aug1 with more being lined up.

The second initiative is the launching of a TOTBO Tip of the Day. This will soon be joined by Resource of the Day. In these tips, I will give not only a sense of what’s in the book and workshop, but they will be a forum to convey new tips to you as I learn them.

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

Cool Tips for Community Managers

Posted on by Emy

This was published on

By Jolie O’Dell

1. Get Zen
Community managers have to have the unflappable calm so often seen in the mothers of multiple young children. Let the juice spill, the finger paints fly, the toddler scream. All is well. Develop your sense of humor and realize that 1) very few things that happen online are ever a big deal and 2) everything on the Internet is eclipsed by something else within a few minutes. Be sure to explain these concepts to your supervisors and reports, as well.

2. Leave Users Alone
So often, we jump in too quickly when a conversation we’ve started might actually need to simmer for a few hours without our intervention. People need to go off topic, trolls need to be smacked down by power users, sidebar chats need to occur, often without direct comment from within the organization. No one likes the idea that they’re being monitored all the time. Besides, if you’re like most community managers, you could use a break from the 24/7 social media addiction you’ve been nursing for the past couple years.

Read all 10 tips…

Saskia Wilson-Brown Joins Forces with OpenIndie

Posted on by Emy

This was posted by Saskia in her blog last Monday.


I have a little announcement.

I’ve agreed to join forces with OpenIndie, Arin Crumley and Kieran Masterson’s awesome, open website tool for independent filmmakers. I’ll be joining the team as a consultant in the role of filmmaker outreach- something I know all about thanks to my time at Current TV.

As you may or may not know, I’m a big fan of searching for ways to help independent creators find new audiences for their work. I do this because in a world of corporate news, branded content and sponsored everything, I want (and need) independent art & media to thrive.

Read the full story…

Huffington Post Article: Thoughts on ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop’

Posted on by Emy

Here is my piece for the Huffington Post that ran today.

By Jon Reiss

If you are interested in the creative process and/or freedom of expression and/or the role of media manipulation in consumer culture (as I would suppose 99.9% of you are) then Exit Through the Gift Shop is a must see movie. Since there is no video release or day and date VOD release in sight, the only way you can see it in the coming month is in the theaters. You will not be disappointed. It is essential viewing. As a bonus, the film is extremely entertaining — my 14-year-old son (who usually will only go see Apatow comedies in theaters) loved it. (In fact, it’s a very cool movie to take your teenage kids to and have a discussion about consumerism and public space afterwards).

Exit is also one of the best films about street art and graffiti made to date. I have seen nearly all the others while making my own film about graffiti and street art, Bomb It.

Read the full story…


A Review of the IFP Lab by Filmmaker David Soll

Posted on by Emy

Published today on the IFP blog.

David Soll, Director of PUPPET, takes in IFP’s Doc Labs

We’re already three days into the lab, so I have a bit of catching up to do. I didn’t get to the blogging as quickly as I should have, and Danielle has good reason to be mad at me (you don’t want Danielle DiGiacomo mad at you, by the way. She puts smiley faces on your Facebook page.). Regardless, here we go and let’s decide together to make the best of where we are.

I can imagine having at one point earlier in life thought “wouldn’t it be amazing if someone created a program that X,” wherein X stands for the entire mission statement, schedule, description, leaders, mentors, editing advisers and first-time filmmakers involved in the IFP Documentary Lab. Which is to say, I’m impressed, and I’m impressed to the point that I find it hard to believe this fantastic idea was actually put in to effect.

Here is a program that takes ten first-time documentary feature filmmakers (also ten narrative filmmakers, in their own lab [we don’t mix well]) who are entirely dissimilar from one another in sensibility and subject matter, yet share with each other varying degrees of bewilderment with the state of our films, our careers, and the industry. Which are three very large things about which to be bewildered, and together suggest a common state in which nearly every first time filmmaker is finding themselves these days.

Read the full article…

jr ifp

(Jon talking about the long tail.)

2010 IFP Lab Starts this Week

Posted on by Emy

This was published on indieWIRE today.

IFP Names 10 Features for Documentary Lab

Ten first time feature documentary filmmakers are taking part in the 2010 Independent Filmmaker Labs in New York City this week, the IFP announced today. As previously announced, the documentary lab is part of an expanded year-round program for 20 projects (ten each in narrative and documentary categories) drawn from a national pool of submissions of low-budget features which have not yet completed post-production.

This week’s lab takes three principals of each selected project through intensive day-long workshops giving them technical, strategic, and creative input to assist them in bringing their projects to completion. The labs are led by producers Lori Cheatle (“The Kids Grow Up”) and Lesli Klainberg (IFC’s “Indie Sex”) and director/DIY guru Jon Reiss (“Think Outside the Box Office”), who function as mentors for the selected filmmakers. Individual workshops focus on diverse topics including music supervision, composing, editing, and post-production with experts including, among others, Barry Cole (“Trouble the Water”), T Griffin (“The Canal Street Madam”), Mary Manhardt (“Racing Dreams”), Jonathan Oppenheim (“The Oath”), Goldcrest Post, and Sound Lounge.

Beyond these practical, hands-on discussions, lab participants are also individually mentored before and after the Lab by established directors and producers Robert Bahar (“Made in LA”), Doug Block (“51 Birch Street”), Ross Kauffman (“Born into Brothels”), Anne Makepeace (“Rain in a Dry land”), Elizabeth Mandel (“Arctic Son”), Andrea Meditch (“Man on Wire”), Michel Negroponte (“Jupiter’s Wife”), Nancy Roth (“Operation: Dreamland”), Ira Sachs (“Married Life”), and Marco Williams (“Banished”).

When introducing this year’s documentary lab fellows, Milton Tabbot, IFP’s Senior Director, Programming, said in a prepared statement, “The Labs exist to help ensure that their debut features achieve maximum impact, both artistically and in defining and reaching their audiences in a constantly shifting landscape of distribution and exhibition.”

The 2010 Documentary Lab projects and fellows are listed below, with descriptions provided by IFP:

“25 To Life”
William Brawner was infected with HIV before he turned two and kept it a secret for over 20 years. Now he seeks redemption from the women of his promiscuous past and embarks on a new phase of life with his pregnant wife, who is HIV-negative.
Fellows: Michael L. Brown (Director, Producer); Yvonne Shirley (Producer)

“Damelo Todo” (Give Me Everything)
Los Angeles bar Silver Platter is a refuge for transgender women who have immigrated from Mexico and Central America fleeing war, poverty, and prejudice. A present-day Stonewall, drag shows meet avant-garde performance artists, giving rise to new alliances and modes of resistance.
Fellows: Wu Ingrid Tsang (Writer, Director); Felix Endara (Producer); Suzanne Mejean (Editor)

“Dear Mandela”
South Africa promised to eradicate the slums by 2010 in time for the Soccer World Cup. Three extraordinary young slum dwellers journey from the chaos on the streets to the highest court in the land to join their communities in resisting mass evictions. Their efforts unleash a deadly backlash, putting Mandela’s promise of a ‘better life for all’ to the test.
Fellows: Dara Kell (Director, Producer, Editor); Christopher Nizza (Director, Editor)

“Fambul Tok”
This insider’s view of an unprecedented post-conflict forgiveness program enters the lives of offenders who confess to crimes, and victims who forgive them, beginning together the process of reconciliation.
Fellows: Sara Terry (Director, Producer); Brian Singbiel (Editor)

“Give Up Tomorrow”
Simultaneously a murder-mystery and an exposé of endemic corruption in the post-Marcos Philippines, “Give Up Tomorrow” looks intimately at the case of Paco Larrañaga, a young Spanish mestizo sentenced to death for the abduction, rape, and murder of two Chinese-Filipino sisters on the island of Cebu.
Fellows: Michael Collins (Director, Producer); Marty Syjuco (Producer); Sara Kiener (Outreach Director)

“Our School”
The film follows three Roma children – Alin, Beniamin, and Dana – strugling to break down the barriers of segregation as they move from a dead-end segregated school into a mainstream school where they will learn together with Romanians.
Fellows: Mona Nicoara (Director, Producer); Miruna Coca-Cozma (Director); Erin Casper (Editor)

“The Patron Saints”
A disquieting and at times surrealistic exploration of an assisted living facility. Bound by first-hand ruminations of Jim, the nursing home’s youngest and recently disabled resident, the film is a revealing portrait of the changing nature of bodies and minds.
Fellows: Brian Cassidy (Director, Producer, DP, Editor); Melanie Shatzky(Director, Producer, DP, Editor)

Puppet interweaves a big picture look at the fraught history of American puppetry (its marginalization as children’s theater and its sudden explosion as high art) with an intimate thread following Dan Hurlin, a downtown artist who is creating a complex puppet work about the strange life of an eccentric, Depression-era photographer.
Fellows: David Soll (Director, Producer, DP, Editor); Jared Ian Goldman (Executive Producer); Andrew Schwartztol (Associate Producer)

“A Rubberband is an Unlikely Instrument”
Walter Baker is an eccentric, multi-instrumentalist struggling to find his creative voice in NYC even as he must also bear the roles of family man and business owner. An unexpected Texas family gathering triggers deeper conflicts that find him grappling to reconcile fractured roots in the South and at home.
Fellows: Matt Boyd (Director, DP, Editor); Jason Ross (Producer); Michael Carter (Editor)

“Salmon Dreams”
A young Tlingit Indian makes a pilgrimage to remote rural Alaska to spend a summer living off the land and preparing traditional food, a winter’s supply of smoked salmon. He is forced to confront the dichotomy between his history and the modern world he lives in, creating a parallel with his culture’s disintegration and struggle to revitalize itself.
Fellows: Luke Griswold-Tergis (Director, Producer, Writer, DP); Maureen Gosling (Editor)