Ride the Divide Part 1: Set Your Goals, Identify and Partner With Your Audience

Tonight at midnight Hunter Weeks and Mike Dion launch a 2711 minute free access to their film “Ride the Divide” on You Tube to coincide with LiveStrong Day on October 2nd. The film is about three riders as they traverse the 2711 miles of the continental divide from Banff Canada to the Mexican border. I wanted to write about this film because of the smart use of free online content – the limited access actually creates an online event around which the filmmakers can generate publicity (this will actually be the subject of a later post.

In addition, I have a personal interest in the film because as Hunter told me, their strategy was kickstarted when I live workshopped the Slamdance Filmmaker Summit this past January. In that workshop I walked them through developing a distribution and marketing strategy (with the participation of the audience) based on the system that I developed for filmmakers in Think Outside the Box Office. I enjoyed that workshop so much, I then incorporated it into nearly all the workshops that I have done since then.

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Update to Jeremy Juuso’s DIY Film Releasing Article

Posted on by Emy

This was published yesterday on jeremyjuuso.blogspot.com.

UPDATE TO BASELINE JULY 2010 DIY POSTING

During the course of research, I found a film from 2009 that initially appeared to be a DIY release, but upon further inspection had to be relabeled as a non-DIY release. As a result, this has slightly shifted the numbers that initially appeared in my Baseline posting. Here is the revised table:

Turns out, DIY was on top opening weekend. Click here for the original posting (and some context).

PMD Rising

As some of you may know, I coined a new crew category titled the Producer of Marketing and Distribution (or PMD) in my book Think Outside the Box Office. I came up with the idea when trying to think of a solution to the enormous amount of work that distribution and marketing can be for filmmakers without a distributor. The concept boils down to: you didn’t make your film on your own – why should you release it on your own. You can read about the concept of the PMD in one of my other posts. I am happy to report that this concept is gaining traction. I was spurred to write this post after 25% (20 out of 80) of each of my Perth and Adelaide workshops indicated that they wanted to be PMDs (this is before my upcoming classes in Sydney and Melbourne). In Adelaide, the SA Film Corporation has plans to set up an in house PMD to help support the distribution efforts of independent filmmakers in South Australia.

Also just this week Adam Daniel Mezei who in January wrote a great blog post about the responsibilities of a PMD, has set himself up as a PMD for Hire. One of the attendees of my Amsterdam workshop has another PMD site and is already working on a Dutch film as a PMD. A group of Vancouver attendees formed a PMD support group this past month.

I feel that this beginning indicates that there a huge numbers of potential PMDs in the world who love films, don’t want to be on set and love the work of distribution and marketing. These are the people we filmmakers should seek out to be our PMDs.

This August I will be heading to the University Film and Video Conference (for US film school profs) to give 2 presentations on how and why to teach film distribution and marketing to film students. This is not just so that writer/directors can be aware of the realities of the world that awaits them, it is also to train a new generation of PMDs (and their support crew).

Finally, I will be working on my own educational initiative for PMDs (beyond the 2 day workshops that I am giving).

My goal is that in five years time, whenever a filmmaker puts out a call for a PMD they will receive as many resumes for a PMD as for a DP or Editor or AD. Even if a film ends up with traditional distribution, the work of a PMD during prep, production and post is invaluable. If the film doesn’t obtain traditional distribution (or doesn’t want traditional distribution) a PMD (and a complete distribution and marketing crew) are vital.

from Melbourne July 22, 2010

MAKING SENSE OF DISTRIBUTION PANELS – POST LAFF’s SEIZE THE POWER SYMPOSIUM

Posted on by Alexandra

The Film Collaborative was recently on a panel at the Los Angeles Film Festival as part of their SEIZE THE POWER SYMPOSIUM which focused on DIY & DIGITAL Distribution. This was the description of the panel we were on and that I moderated and will discuss below:

NEW DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION INITIATIVES
Leading digital distribution executives present new solutions for distribution
as they explain their business models and the opportunities they offer
filmmakers to reach audiences and bring in revenue for their films.

Erick Opeka, New Video
Nolan Gallagher, Gravitas Ventures
Orly Ravid, The Film Collaborative (TFC)
Scilla Andreen, IndieFlix

After the panel was over someone asked how he could decide which one of us to work with; he liked us all. It was clear to me that even though we had just finished an hour long panel at which we each presented our respective companies and then answered questions, it was not enough to make clear to everyone the way in which to relate to each company and how to make decisions about whom to work with in distribution.

Recently on Ted Hope’s blog

Jon Reiss and Ted Hope and many others including filmmakers discussed the relevance of panels and expert books and even more recently Jon Reiss wrote a blog titled “Coping with Symposium Workshop Brain Fry”. That is what I want to address here, specifically in relation to the panel I moderated and was on called “New Digital Initiatives”.

At the LAFF Panel all the companies discussed what they do and here’s some of that information below, and what we recommend a filmmaker do to make sense of information given at a panel.

Gravitas Ventures talked about its focus on Cable VOD and the fact that it works with Warner Brothers (WB) which (when WB takes a film) can lead to a film being available in up to as many as 50,000,000 homes via about 30 – 40 cable operators and up to 80,000,000 – 90,000,000 homes when one factors in digital. When WB does not take the film on Gravitas can at least get the film out to about up to 12,000,000 – 15,000,000 Cable VOD homes. Of course one in this circumstance has to realize that when WB is in the picture, there are two fees being taken as well as two companies being relied on to provide information and to pay. The other aspects to analyze are 1. the benefits of having a studio involved in VOD and Digital often leads to HIGHER revenues from Cable MSOs (Multi System Operators) and digital platforms and also MARKETING LEVERAGE. But, 2. the Studios are also glutted and not necessarily focusing on your film and you may get lost or inadvertently shafted (and I know it’s happened) so one has to have contractual commitments or protective clauses, and 3. They won’t let you keep digital rights usually, though maybe Netflix SVOD; and 4. accounting can be soft on the details. Gravitas does 2-year deals and about 350 -400 films per year and is the largest VOD aggregator at this time. Gravitas noted revenues per film ranging from as low as $5,000 – $250,000. A FILMMAKER must ADDRESS MARKETING and COSTS RECOUPMENT whether in dealing with Gravitas or any other Cable VOD & Digital Aggregator (e.g. TFC also works with Brainstorm Media & Fluent / Lions Gate), or any of the other studios who are or will be opening up to “independent product”.

The Film Collaborative’s entire purpose is to help sift through the information available at the time your film is ready or will be ready for release and help you resolve your COMPLETE DISTRIBUTION STRATEGY. Gravitas Ventures can get you the VOD and digital access you need but they don’t necessarily do much in the way of marketing so that will be more up to you to either have them commit to that effort or do it yourself (and perhaps in collaboration with us and our marketing partners). A marketing plus (+) though for Gravitas is that if WB gets behind your film, they can get iTunes and the Cable Operators to give your film a bigger marketing push. This can be very valuable.

Continue Reading The Article Use the Following URL: http://www.thefilmcollaborative.org/blog/?p=76

Seize the Power Why You Should Pay Attention to the LAFF Symposium this Weekend

Two weeks ago I wrote a guest post on Truly Free Film about the need to educate filmmakers on distribution and marketing their films. This weekend the Los Angeles Film Festival is hosting a truly wonderful event which I am proud to have developed in collaboration with LAFF and Film Independent (with strong push and support from Ted Hope): Seize the Power: A Marketing and (DIY)stribution Symposium.

The Symposium is designed to focus on the nuts and bolts solutions to the current distribution and marketing malaise plaguing our industry. The intention is to provide an introduction to a wealth of new tools for filmmakers (and all artists/media content creators) as well as strategic guidance from many of the key practitioners and thought leaders in our field. It is an antidote to the concerns of too much talk talk talk on this subject with little true education.

In addition there is a non-public component that you can participate in via twitter. I will be giving a distribution and marketing boot camp to the LAFF competition filmmakers Friday June 18th 9am – 12:30pm and 2:30pm – 5pm and Saturday June 19th from 9am-11:30am. All times PST. We will be tweeting bullet points on #totbo We have done this in the workshops I have given in the past month – and we have found that people around the world start to participate and chime in – creating a global discussion around these topics.

The Symposium: Starting Saturday afternoon at 1pm – Ted kicks it off with a presentation on the need for the artist entrepreneur to encourage filmmakers to think expansively about their creative output in order to create sustainable careers. This is followed by a plethora of service providers (from Orly Ravid of the Film Collaborative to Yancy Strickler of Kickstarter to Bob Moczydlowsky of Topspin) that we brought together so that filmmakers could learn the best ways to put these tools into practice in their own careers.

Sunday morning will kick off with a discussion between myself and Corey McAbee (The American Astronaut and Stingray Sam). We will explore how he uses the new distribution and marketing tools and landscape to create a viable artistic career for himself. Caitlin Boyle from Film Sprout will give one of her incredible introductions to grassroots audience development and distribution. I am super excited to see Lance Weiler and Henry Jenkins on Transmedia. (somehow Lance always has a way of frying my brain – in a good way). The inimitable Peter Broderick will lead a discussion on crowdfunding, Colleen Nystedt and Sean Percival will present different tactics for audience engagement. The event will cap with one of those incredible Film Independent public case study examinations of two films: Children of Invention and Bass Ackwards.

Last but not least – it will give filmmakers an opportunity to connect with each other and the presenters. Come on down and introduce yourself, learn and contribute. I hope to see you there (ps I won’t be there Saturday afternoon due to my daughter’s dance recital 🙂 – but Ted will be in the house and many others!)

Totbo Twitter Question Winner 2: What Skills Does a PMD Need

Posted on by Jon Reiss

From @Jakestetler #dist2010 What skills and/or experience do you look for in a great PMD for a film project?
I chose this because I really love when I see people adopting the PMD concept. I love this because I see this as one of the keys toward helping filmmakers cope with their new responsibilities of distribution and marketing, while understanding that they have a film to make:

A PMD should have good sales and marketing experience, should be a good salesperson, personable, good on the phone, enthusiastic. Those qualities will usually mean that they they most likely have a love of social media and connecting with people on line and in person. Additional good qualities: organized, hard worker, gets stuff done, has an understanding of the distribution world, a good numbers sense.

Alternatively especially on very small films – should posses the qualities the filmmaker does not. Eg if the filmmaker is already a good salesperson but is scattered – a PMD should be organized and focused almost more than anything.

Time to start the PMD Academy. The first step of the PMD Academy will be www.ultimatefilmguides.com. A centralized hub of information and resources about distribution and marketing.

Totbo Workshop Twitter Winner 1: How Can We Help Filmmakers?

Posted on by Jon Reiss

Here are the winning questions for the Totbo Twitter Contest – providing 3 free passes to my workshop in NY this weekend:

    Question:

@Zaffi What as filmmakers is the best thing we can do to support other filmmakers? #dist2010

    Answer

I love this questions – because it is about giving back to the community which I feel is especially important in this transitional time. Here are my top three quick things filmmakers can do:
Support filmmakers – go to their Live Events, buy their merch.
Promote filmmakers that you like to your networks – be a curator.
A very simple very helpful thing: Review and rate a movie you like on Amazon, IMDB, BoxOfficeMojo, etc.
Be open with your data and techniques. I created a website: www.ultimatefilmguides.com so that filmmakers could share information about distribution and marketing. Rate and review distributors and services. Write up your own case studies – use it and spread the word.

TOTBO Tip of the Day 34 When Booking Your Film: Make the Call

Posted on by Emy

When calling the theater, ask for the person in charge of programming. These bookers are generally very nice people who love film. Why else would they be involved with small theaters that make no money? And remember, it is important to call first before sending an e-mail. An e-mail cannot express your passion, nor will an e-mail exchange allow you to address the bookers‘ concerns about your film in a direct and instantaneous fashion. I always followed up my phone calls with an e-mail and not the other way around.

My workshops are coming to NYC on June 5 & 6th organized through IFP – and Vancouver on June 12 & 13th.   One of the perks of attending is a digital pack of articles and documents my theatrical pitch letter and a list of theater listings etc.  I hope to see you there! Check out the book and workshops here.

TOTBO Tip of the Day 33 When Booking Your Film: Do Your Research

Posted on by Emy

Of course you have done your organizational research, but assuming you are still going to book some conventional theaters the first step is: Research. Most information you need to book your film is readily available online.  There are already lists of theaters that book independent films available online.  My distribution and marketing tools site: ultimatefilmguides.com has a list of these lists!  Most theaters have Web sites, and in nearly all of them, the office number can be found if you look hard enough. To compile your list of theaters to contact, check out where other similar independent films have played.

My workshops are coming to NYC on June 5 & 6th organized through IFP – and Vancouver on June 12 & 13th.   One of the perks of attending is a digital pack of articles and documents my theatrical pitch letter and a list of theater listings etc.  I hope to see you there! Check out the book and workshops here.

Independent Opportunities on CloudCraft Television

Posted on by Emy

Ryan Sloan’s CloudCraft Television is currently offering channels for Independents and Students and well as Collaborations. They are able to stream uncompressed video at better than DVD quality, including up to 7.1 DTS Surround Sound, and Home Media Magazine has recently reviewed their technology deeming it the best on the Internet in an upcoming article.

For more info, visit www.cloudcraft.tv.