Tag: Producer of Marketing and Distribution

Proper Prior Planning Prevents Perplexing Problems

Posted on by Jon Reiss

Proper Prior Planning Prevents Perplexing Problems
My thoughts on educating filmmakers about distribution and marketing.

Proper Prior Planning Prevent Perplexing Problems
By Jon Reiss

Over the last several months an argument has arisen within the independent film community as to how much (and whether) filmmakers should focus on the distribution and marketing of their films.

I am rather surprised that there is an argument. I am very surprised that lines have been drawn in the sand, armies joined and deployed. I feel that the discussion to date misses two very important points. First – there is no one kind of independent filmmaker. There is no one kind of filmmaker. Never has, never will be. Thank god. Each person who is involved in independent film has his or her own desires, interests, passions, loves, hates. Each filmmaker has different motivations for making a film. Some want to make a statement, change the world – whether it is social or artistic. Some want to make money. Some want to express an idea or emotion to as many people as possible. Most filmmakers want it all. However if push comes to shove, filmmakers will prioritize what they want from their films. And these desires are different for different filmmakers.

Similarly not everyone in independent film wants to be a director, or a writer-director, or a writer-producer-director. Some filmmakers just want to direct and prefer to collaborate with scriptwriters and producers. Some filmmakers don’t want to direct, but want to be producers, DPs, editors etc.

Second, the debate implies that directors or multi hyphenate writer-director-producers should be primarily responsible for these new tasks. I will always be among those that think directors should not be solely charged with the distribution and marketing of their films. As a filmmaker, I know how incredibly difficult this is (especially while making a film) – Frankly one of the reasons this blog post is perhaps a bit late to the debate is that I have been involved with shooting Bomb It 2.

However, I do believe that distribution and marketing should be woven into the filmmaking process just as preproduction planning, casting, scriptwriting, editing, sound mixing are all a part of the filmmaking process. Just as you don’t consider the sound for your film when you are about to mix or even when you are editing dialogue. If good sound is important to you as a filmmaker, usually you are considering the sound for your film no later than the tech scout, and often from the script stage. Similarly I feel that filmmakers will be helped both logistically and creatively to incorporate distribution and marketing into the entire process of making their films.

It should be understood by our community that distribution and marketing are not about tailoring your film to an audience that you feel you can capitalize on (however if the sole goal for your film is to make money – perhaps this might be a path for you).

A better way to view this process is that distribution and marketing are about finding the audience that already exists for your film, your vision. (I credit Marc Rosenbush with this keen perspective).

This process of audience engagement takes either a lot of money or a lot of time. Most independents do not have much of the former, and so must rely on the latter. It also takes knowledge.

Knowledge can either be learned through experience or through education or a combination.

A year ago, I felt compelled to write a book about distribution and marketing for my fellow filmmakers as a guidebook to this process. I did this so that they could learn from my experience and the experiences of others and so that they wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel each time anew. (How awful would it be that every time we shot a film we had to relearn how different lenses, different lighting, different editing affected the emotional quality of a scene). It is time to compile our knowledge and share it with each other so that each new filmmaker does not have to waste his or her time to relearn tools and techniques that have been tried by others before them.

I have begun a number of other educational initiatives to which I will devote most of the next twelve months.

I do this not to load more work onto the backs of my fellow filmmakers. The work frankly exists even if you are one of the lucky few to have a distributor swoop down with a check to relieve you of this burden.

I do this for five reasons:

1. To provide a systematic way to train a new cadre of crew people to be responsible for the distribution and marketing tasks on a film. I call these new crew people Producers of Marketing and Distribution.

I gave this crew position a name because only with a proper name will the work be recognized, rewarded and most importantly trained for.

Few directors want to do every job on their films. Many don’t want to be multi-hyphenates. They are happy to find a brilliant script to bring to the screen. They are happy to work with a brilliant DP or Production Designer. They are happy to collaborate with a creative producer who will help them realize their vision. God knows I am.

Just as filmmakers are eager to collaborate on what has been previously thought of as the work of film, directors and producers should be eager to collaborate with additional crew people who will carry out the numerous tasks of distribution and marketing.

I hope by the time I make my next project, I can put out a call for a Producer of Marketing and Distribution on Shooting People, or Mandy and I will receive a flood of emails. I hope this for all filmmakers.

In order to create these new crew people, we must provide a way to educate them. Toward this end, I am now working with film organizations around the world to create a variety of educational opportunities to teach this material in the form of classes, labs and workshops. I am also in the process of creating an online tools website so that filmmakers can share information about distributors, screening networks and the like (kind of a marketing and distribution yelp for filmmakers). This website will eventually grow into an online academy to teach these tools to filmmakers (especially to create a cadre of PMDs for filmmakers).

I applaud the others who are engaged in this teaching – Peter Broderick, Lance Weiler, Ted Hope, Scott Macaulay, Sheri Candler, Scott Kirsner, Tiffany Shlain, Marc Rosenbush, Thomas Mai, Sandy Dubowsky, Caitlin Boyle, Stacey Parks, IFP, FIND etc. We should embrace this education as a community – not eschew it. (I do agree that panels are a poor way to educate. Go to any university (or any school) and you find very little education being done via panels. )

2. Filmmakers who have no intention of shooting their films still take classes in (or read books about) cinematography so as to understand the art. Similarly, I feel that filmmakers should at least have a sense of what is entailed in distribution and marketing a film so that they can understand that process. This does not mean that they have to devote their life to this education (or to the work). But with knowledge comes power. I advise my film directing students at Cal Arts to learn the basics of budgeting and scheduling, even if they never intend to produce, AD, UPM or line produce. I believe by learning the process, they will however acquire the tools to look at a budget and schedule and understand where resources are being allocated so that they can have an informed discussion with their line producer about said resource allocation.

3. As independent filmmakers, we need to be prepared to take on any task in the filmmaking process, because we are never sure if we will have someone else to do that task for us. You might not be lucky enough to have someone shoot your film, edit your film, help you with the distribution of the film. Hence any of these roles might fall to you. I can’t afford to take a DP with me around the world to film Bomb It 2 (or a producer or sound person) – so I am doing it myself. Independent filmmakers have always been Jacks and Jills of all trades. Distribution and marketing is one of the trades we thought we could hand over to others. We know now that this (fortunately or unfortunately) is not always the case. As I learned from my odd 7th grade math teacher: Proper Prior Planning Prevents Perplexing Problems.

4. Maybe, just maybe, in learning about distribution and marketing you might discover some new creative way to express your vision that you did not previously know existed. I love feature films. I love great shorts. I even love great television of either conventional length. But these are four forms that have become ossified in the filmmaking world for too long as the only forms. I feel that great creativity will come from expanding filmmaking – nay media creating – forms. Why slaughter your babies in the editing room? Find new life for them. Why not create multiple babies in the script stage to express your thoughts in a myriad of new directions? And still make a feature film if that is your passion. Why not collaborate with other filmmakers to help you create these new forms of content and reach those audiences, if your goal is to focus solely on making the feature?

5. Maybe, if you are interested, you might create a long-term relationship with a core audience, that might help to sustain you as an artist.

The central point is this: Don’t limit yourself. Open up your arms to the vast amount of creative potential that awaits you, and do so with the collaboration of others who are eager to help you. I believe this should be the model for us as a community to face the new financial realities of our world. There is too much work to be done for those in our community to vilify others. It is a time ripe for great opportunity to create and engage with audiences as we have been doing as a species since we first sat around fires telling stories. The form will change, the meaning to us, as human beings will not.

I am doing a workshop in conjunction with IFP on June 5th and 6th. Instead of panels, we are having a cocktail party for participants to meet with distributors and other distribution and marketing service providers.

I will be doing another workshop in Vancouver on June 12 – 13th.

Finally for June I have collaborated with the LA Film Festival and Film Independent to create a three-day distribution and marketing symposium. A day and a half boot camp for the competition filmmakers, and a day and a half open to the public focused on 1. Tools instruction 2. Exploring the potential available to us all.

For more information: www.thinkoutsidetheboxoffice.com
Or www.jonreiss.com/blog

10 Solutions to Ted Hopes 38 More Ways The Film Industry Is Failing Today

Posted on by Jon Reiss

On Truly Free Film today Ted Hope writes about 38 More Ways The Film Industry Is Failing Today.

My response is to propose 10 Solutions that Filmmakers Can engage in to work against these failings:

1. Consider marketing and distribution of your films as part of the entire filmmaking process. If you do this it will be easier and more organic.

2. Hire a distribution and marketing crew – just as you would a production crew. Hire a Producer of Marketing and Distribution or PMD to run this crew. As a producer/line producer run production crew.

3. If you are interested in film, business, marketing, social media – train to become a PMD so that you can be hired by filmmakers. This is a growth field – if you want a new career.

4. Budget for and raise money for distribution and marketing at the initial raise. That way you can promise your investors a release of the film. This way there will be some assured path to monetization and all share the risk in the costs of that monetization.

5. Put the money for marketing and distribution in escrow – you know what I mean.

6. Consider the audience for your film, the specific audinece(s) that exist for your film. Reach out to them as early as possible. They will help you.

7. Think of how and what that audience consumes. Make products that they want related to your film. Eg Shepard Fairey designed posters printed on linen paper signed by the director of the film Bomb It – 🙂

8. Think of interesting Live Events that you can create that appeal to your audience and are relevent to your film. Steinway brought pianos and pianists to the screenings of Ben Nile’s “Note by Note”

9. Think of interesting ways to reach out to audiences that might engage with the content of your film, but don’t want to watch a feature film (yes transmedia). Check out “The Way We Get By” and their Returning Home community site. Check out Bomb It’s Babelgum webisode site.

10. Remember that you are creating a film or media project for an audience. Creation is one part of the whole, connecting with the audience is the other part to that whole.

Jon

The Producer of Marketing and Distribution

Posted on by Emy

This is my article published on screendaily.com.

The Producer of Marketing and Distribution
BY JON REISS

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 www.ultimatefilmguides.com. 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.