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Today’s guest post is from filmmaker / hybrid DIY distro guru, 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 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. [...]
I forget again who sent me this link, but I found CoffeeAndCelluloid’s post on their KickStarter experience illuminating.
Although I have yet to engage in a crowdfunding attempt yet, I have been contemplating. And I have been providing some advice, thoughts, and general consulting to those that have. I think the points Joey Daoud raises about needing to raise a fan base first, having some investment pre-committed, and needing to have supporters, promoters, and blogs lined up in advance are all right on. He’s helping all of us learn how to make this better together.
Joey also posted many good links to bring more perspective on the whole crowdfunding experience:
- Kickstarter and Flattr
- How to Figure the True Cost of a Kickstarter Project
- Behavior Patterns of Kickstarter Funders
- Feature Film Editing and Kickstarter [Podcast]
Steve Rosenbaum had an interesting post on Mashable awhile back, where he started to lay out some relevant questions about what the correct equation is for creation and curation:
it’s impossible to imagine curators as adding value without a reasonable economic arrangement to content creators. But the ethical issues around attribution, re-purposing, and editorializing around others’ content is far from resolved. Respect and remuneration seem to be reasonable starting places.
Mind you: curation is very different from aggregation. Curation provides the filter and the context. With the vast myriad of options out there, how much do we value the trusted sources that point us in the right directionTweet
Today’s guest post is by John Bradburn.
Why do kids make music and not films? It’s a right of passage for teenagers up and down the land to jump in a van and travel the length of the country with instruments to play shows. These same kids save up to buy guitars and record demos. They may not make a profit but they enjoy the ride. I want to know why this doesn’t happen with filmmakers. What are the barriers to grassroots film exhibition or Film Gigging and what can we learn from the model most bands work on?
Kids don’t make films. For the cost of a set of instruments you could buy a digital camera and a laptop. Four people can make a film quite easily and with the same level of technological skill needed to record and mix a demo. But kids don’t. Jean Cocteau famously stated that film would only be an art when its materials were as cheap as pen and paper. Well now it’s certainly as cheap as an Ibenez guitar.
The film industry looks like the music industry if we thought we could only record songs with orchestras in the Albert Hall. There is no lo-fi film circuit. There are small budget shorts but 95% are aiming at the mainstream. There are even less film ‘labels’ that fund and distribute films like albums. CDs and DVDs are physically the same. If you can get an album reviewed you can get a film reviewed. So logically there should be an equal amount of indie film labels as there are music labels. [...]
Today’s guest post concludes Sol Tryon’s tale of some of what he learned and loved from making and distributing The Living Wake.
Having seen the challenges of indie films hitting theaters with little to no marketing budgets, we have set a theatrical schedule that allows us as the filmmakers really support the film in each market where we release it. We have set up a network of influential people and companies to support us by doing hosted screenings for nearly every single screening we have. This creates more of an event type of feel to the traditional theatrical experience as well as the opportunity to cross promote with our host for each particular screening. The way it works is that the host targets their friends, fans and supporters to come to their specific screening while we market to our networks as well. The idea being that we are able to bring awareness to our host and their work as well as them bringing audiences we wouldn’t have necessarily been able to reach ourselves into the theater. Ultimately what it all comes down to is a targeted grass roots network that will hopefully spread through word of mouth. While we don’t have unrealistic expectations for our theatrical box office numbers, we do believe we will significantly raise the awareness for the film in general and hopefully that will lead to larger interest in the DVD, TV, VOD, digital and foreign rights.
Today’s guest post is the second of three from filmmaker Sol Tryon, whose The Living Wake is currently in theaters.
Like many indie films, with The Living Wake we were continuing to raise money as we went and post-production was no different. We used the dailies from the shoot to show new potential investors what we were creating. Fortunately, Charlie Corwin and Clara Markowicz from Original Media saw our vision and believed in us enough to finance the completion budget and help escort us into the next phase of our journey with the project. After an extended post-production due to schedules, we had a film that we felt surpassed all of our initial expectations for the project. We were sure this was going to be a darling of the film festivals and people all over the world would appreciate our bizarre little movie.
While we knew it was a very particular film and that it wasn’t really headed for big mainstream success, we felt that the film was well crafted, had an amazing combination of comedic wit and emotional sensibilities and that the cult classic potential was off the charts. Unfortunately, we were hitting the festival circuit right at the time when the bottom was falling out of the industry. [...]