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August 31 at 10:30am

New Platforms & Services For Truly Free Filmmakers

Yesterday’s list of 27 is now a list of 30.

Check it here.

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August 31 at 10:00am

Jon Reiss on “Why A Producer of Marketing And Distribution?” Part 1

Yesterday’s HFF post on the plethora of new platforms & options for truly free filmmakers should have made you leap for joy and run for the cliff simultaneously. It is wonderful that filmmakers have SO many great tools and services at their disposal. But how does anyone take advantage of this situation. The choice is overwhelming. Sure the rewards could be great — but so is the risk. Well, the answer, my friend, is… best explained by Jon Reiss.

The Producer of Marketing and Distribution and The New 50/50

On the recent discussion concerning the Producer of Marketing and Distribution on Ted’s blog recently, there was some confusion as to what are the responsibilities of the Producer of Marketing Responsibilities. I offered Ted the list of responsibilities that I wrote for the introduction of a book that I am writing on the PMD. Ted offered to post the entire introduction in three parts. This first part concerns why I think a PMD is useful to independent filmmakers. The second post concerns responsibilities of the PMD. The third post will look at how the PMD is currently being adopted and what kind of training could help not only people who want to be PMDs, but also the filmmakers who want to have them as part of their teams. Here is the introduction.

As a filmmaker myself, I am well aware of the paradigm shift that has occurred in the last several years as independent filmmakers try to get their films distributed. Through my own work – and talking to countless filmmakers – I have become a firm believer that filmmaking is a two part process. The first part is creating the film – the second part is connecting that film with an audience. There is still a strong belief in the independent film world that filmmakers are only responsible for creating the film – someone else will take care of distribution and marketing. For a very few filmmakers this might still happen. But for the vast majority of filmmakers – and all artists and media content creators – it won’t.

Loose estimates range that there are between 5,000-17,000 feature films made in North America every year and that approximately 35,000 feature films are on the international festival circuit. Most of these are looking for, hoping for, a company to give them a check in exchange for the right to distribute their films. Even in an excellent year of acquisitions – only a relative handful of films will have some form of distribution entity “take their films off their hands”. (Whether having a distributor is the best course for any film is another debate – I am also a firm believer that every film is different and each film thus needs its own unique distribution and marketing strategy and implementation – but that is for another chapter.)

So it is up to filmmakers and artists to not only own the means of production – but also to own the means of distribution and marketing.

Hence the New 50/50 is as follows:

50 percent of an artist’s time and resources should be devoted to creating a film or artistic work. 50 percent of their time and resources should be devoted to getting the film/artistic work out to its audience, aka distribution and marketing.

This is not a hard-and-fast rule. Rather, it is a guide to changing our preconceptions.

In the year and a half since I coined “the New 50/50” I feel that it creates too much of a dichotomy between creation of a film and the distribution and marketing of a film. In the best of circumstances – these two “halves” should be integrated into an organic whole. Audience engagement needs to start as close to inception as possible – and with advances in technology – mainly Internet and mobile technology, it is more possible than ever.

I believe that this integration allows for not only much better results in filmmakers achieving their goals of their releases (whatever those may be) – but also allows for the distribution and marketing process to open up to new forms of creativity as well. Distribution and marketing can be as creative as the filmmaking process – even to the point where they become indistinguishable. This should not be scoffed at, as some form of branded entertainment – rather should be embraced as a revolution of artistic possibility. (However it is actually branded entertainment in which the artis is the brand.)

The Birth of the Producer of Marketing and Distribution

I find that most filmmakers (directors and producers both) I speak to are so overwhelmed with the amount of work involved in creating “a film” –they don’t have the time to connect with audiences or create additional assets during production to aid in later marketing efforts (or as creative extensions of the project). Further, many filmmakers (especially directors) do not have the skill set or inclination to engage directly with audiences. As a filmmaker, I can relate to these feelings myself.

In addition, just like you most likely did not make the film on your own, you should not be distributing and marketing the film on your own. I would propose 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 DP.

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.

In addition, in doing the work as a PMD for my own film as well as consulting on a number of other films, (and having produced three feature films myself) I can state that this work is producorial in nature.

The purpose of the PMD is for one person on a filmmaking team to be responsible for audience engagement. {Note that I use “distribution and marketing” and “audience engagement” interchangeably. I do this so that filmmakers will start to view distribution and marketing (the whole process from beginning to end) as audience engagement. E.g. Audience engagement starts at awareness – and keeps going through consumption and beyond to the future. }

To continue: the purpose of the PMD derives from the recognition that filmmakers (filmmaking teams) need to own the audience engagement process and that this process should start as early as possible – either at inception or no later than the beginning of pre-production for the best results.

The need for a PMD also results from the recognition that audience engagement is a lot of work (perhaps as much or more work than actually making a film) and that traditional filmmakers (writers, directors, producers etc) are already busy with the task of making a great film. These traditional members of a filmmaking team rarely have the extra time to devote to distribution and marketing (so it often falls by the wayside). In addition, many traditional filmmakers are not suited or interested in the kinds of tasks that audience engagement requires. It also recognizes that most split rights distribution partners and some traditional distributors will not spend adequate time or money on promotion when the film is ready for distribution. The earlier in the process this is started, the more successful it will be for everyone involved.

Jon Reiss is a filmmaker and author of Think Outside the Box Office. His new book, Selling Film Without Selling Your Soul, co written with The Film Collaborative’s Orly Ravid and Jeffrey Winter with social media marketer Sheri Candler, is sponsored by Prescreen, Area23a Movie Events and Dynamo Player available September 13, 2011 via Apple iBooks, followed by Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, a printed edition and free ePub version.

He can be reached at:

jonreiss.com/blog

twitter.com/Jon_Reiss

facebook.com/reiss.jon

You can order Think Outside the Box Office here, or on Amazon.

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August 30 at 10:30am

How Would You Use All 27 New Platforms Available For Direct (aka DIY/DIWO) Distribution?

UPDATED 8/31 730A (Now 30 Platforms & Services!)
Thanks for the recommendations in the comments and elsewhere!

UPDATED 9/1 630A (Now 31 Platforms & Services!)
UPDATED 9/1 830A, UPDATED 9/8 8A (32!), UPDATED 9/15 6A, 9/23

UPDATED 5/15/2012 (Now 33 Platforms & Services!)

We are awash in wonderful opportunities. Distribution has long been said to be one of the top concerns of Truly Free / Indie filmmakers. Ditto on the marketing side. We’ve been neglectful to address the equally important social side, but that’s changing. Financing is always a challenge, but even there we have new help and hope. The great news is that never before have we had so many opportunities in all these areas.

Now comes the time to develop some best practices. How do we use all of these wonderful opportunities? How do we prepare for them? How do we access them? Here’s a list of the 27 platforms & tools I know of; I am sure you know some more to add to the list. Let’s get this new model started!

How about everyone pick a platform (ideally one they used) and write up some recommendations on how to use it well, and we run them as posts on this blog?

So…

How do you think we should utilize all of these great tools and platforms? We are not going to figure it out one by one on our own. The truth will only be revealed through collective endeavor (and a little good fortune). I would love to hear some advice from all the budding and experienced PMDs out there… not to mention filmmakers who have utilized or plan on utilizing any of these.

I am having a bit of a hard time coming up with the proper discriptions for the tools and services. This is very much a Work In Progress. If you have a better definition, please let me know. Several services show up in different categories. There are definitely suppliers that I have forgotten or neglected to mention (my apologies, but this is a public service and not my job job).

1. Artist Direct Distribution / Platforms: FilmDIY (promo video), MubiGarage, Ooyala, Viddler,

2. Artist Direct Distribution / Platforms – non-specialized: These are places filmmakers can “sell” their work, but are not filmcentric. Craigslist, Etsy,

3. Artist Direct Distribution / TVOD Players: Distrify, Dynamo Player (Review), EggUp (review), FansOfFIlm.tv (still in Beta) , FlickLaunch, Groupee, OpenFilm,

4. Artist Direct Distribution / Service Facilitators: Sundance’s Artist Services,

5. Audience Aggregation, Analytics, & Commerce: FanBridge, TopspinMedia

6. Audience Participation: LiveFanChat, Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, Social Guide, SoKap, Watchitoo

7. CrowdFunding/Audience Participation:
     IndieGoGo • 4% fee if you make your goal, 9% otherwise, +3% credit card processing fee
     Kickstarter • 5% fee, +3-5% credit card fee (only funded if you make your goal)
     RocketHub • 4% fee if you make your goal, 8% otherwise, +3-5% credit card fee
     SoKap • 5% fee, 10% fee on product sold via their marketplace, +3% credit card fee
     United States Artists • 15% fee + 4% credit card fee
     Eppela • 5% fee + PayPal processing fee (~2-4%), (must use PayPal, only funded if you make your goal, Italian)
     Kapipal • Currently no fee + PayPal processing fee (~2-4%), (must use PayPal, Italian)
     And 10 others listed here

8. Digital Delivery Facilitators: Veedios (article)

9.Digital Distribution Access Providers: Brainstorm, Distribber (analysis), GoDigital, Gravitas, Inception Digital Services, IndieBlitz ,Might Entertainment, New Video, Premiere Digital,

10. Digital Download & Streaming Aggregators: Amazon, AsiaPacificFilms.com, CinemaNow (aka BestBuy), FilmDIY, iTunes, Vudu, XFinityTV (aka Comcast),YouTube

11. Digital Limited Run US Theatrical Exhibition: Cinedigm, FathomEvents, Screenvision

12. Digital Streaming Aggregators FREE (AVOD): Crackle, Snag (Owners of IndieWIre, host of my blog), Vimeo, YouTube

13. E-commerce: E-Junkie (shopping cart)

14. Educational Market: An Overview, Educational Market Streaming

15. Exhibition/Four Wall Services (i.e. self booking): QuadCinemaFourWall

16. Exhibition/New Model: Emerging’s Digital Repertory Program, Specticast

17. Free Peer to Peer: VoDo, BitTorrent

18. Fulfillment: Amazon Services, Amplifier, theConneXtion, CreateSpace, FilmBaby, IndieBlitz,Kufala Recordings, Paid, Transit Media, I got a lot more when I did a search but I don’t know one from the other.

19. Influencer / Social Media Analytics: Klout, PeerIndex, Topsy, Traackr, Twitalyzer,

20. Markets / Online On Demand For Territorial Licensing (B2B): Cinando, Festival Scope,

21. Mobile Phone & Tablet Film App Builders: Mopix (see demo here) Stonehenge

22. Mobile Video Sharing: Thwapr,

23. Platforms: Facebook, Playstation, Roku, RoxioNow, XBox

24. Search (for SEO): Ask, Bing, Google, Yahoo

25. Social Discovery Platforms ( Online TVOD): PreScreen

26. Social Networks: Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Weibo

27. Stream To View Transactional VOD (Pay): Constellation, Prescreen (review)

28. Streaming Subscription (SVOD): Amazon, AsiaPacificFilms.com, Fandor, Hulu, LoveFilm, Mubi, Netflix

29. Trailer Distribution / Online Internet Video Archive

30. Video Conferencing / Multi-party (for Fan Engagement & Remote Appearances): Watchitoo

31. VOD Aggregation: itzon.tv,

32. VOD Channels: Multichannel Video Programmers (note: not all offer VOD), FilmBuff

33. Facebook Video Players/Channels:Cinecliq, Milyoni

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August 29 at 10:30am

David Geertz on “How To Extract The Value Of Your Film When You Need It Most”

Metaphors reveal truths. Analogies help us have deeper understanding. Perhaps we have been looking at our business in the wrong way. Today Brave Thinker David Geertz offerrs up a fun new vision on how to see what we all are doing.

Stake Your Claim!

Scientists have discovered a new element called FILMIUM!

Filmium (F on the periodic table) exists oddly enough within transmission lines, servers, and other devices that can store and deliver binary information packets.

This new but quickly growing habitat of fiber where filmium is being discovered has forced scientists into creating a new periodic class to house it called the ELECTRO class.

What is most interesting is that filmium requires a gestational period of about 24 months and has rare attributes that change from each discovery or deposit making it somewhat of a hybrid and giving it oddly enough – human characteristics! No deposit of filmium has the same characteristics making it truly unique but at the same time making it prey to free markets based on factors of instability.

That being said most of these unique attributes never move past the gestational period and die with the actual lines from where they are transmitted. In fact, upon looking closer most of these deposits of filmium lie just below the surface never to be extracted at all and what scientists see and now recognize is the need to build a extraction program in hyper localized areas to allow for the filmium to flow to the surface and be consumed.

In the past deposits of other minerals and elements required the staking of claims and were very cost intensive, but scientists, business people and consumers alike are now seeing that the cost of staking a claim and becoming a purveyor of the goods within the lines at these hyper local locations is very affordable. So affordable that some people are calling filmium the next gold rush!

The pre-selling of future revenues in the past via way of staking a land claim was limited to those who had large amounts of capital but filmium is now demonstrating that staking a claim could be as low as buying a large pizza. This of course has speculators sniffing around and wanting to hear more about the first public deposits that will be made available, and the timing couldn’t be better as many people are looking for alternative sources of income, but are not prepared to lay down huge amounts of capital.

The first offerings of Filmium deposits are set to hit the market in about a month’s time and it will be interesting to see which deposits the market flocks to and more importantly…for what reasons.

It might also be noted that since the time of writing this post there have been 3 other discoveries within the electro class. Scientists have duly named them Musicum (MU), Bookite (B), and Gamium (Gm).

David Geertz has worked in the film business since 1992 and is a partner in Binoir Media, a diversified holding company that has a focus in the content sector and is heavily engaged in building social utilities for the producers to assist them in funding, marketing, distribution and audience participation of independent media based projects. David’s work currently focuses on finding the new sweet spot for ensuring a balanced approach to funding and profiting in the content sector through his newest technology company SoKap.

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August 29 at 8:30am

This Should Be Day 1 Of Film Schools Everywhere

After insipid subject matter, complete avoidance of emotional truth, ignorance of film history and the effects of representation, I think the redundant and derivative film language of most films is what truly gets my goat.

Cliches are not without their power and use, but it’s not a bad rule of thumb to try to avoid them at all costs. The great things about them is that cliches are easy to learn — and then hopefully easy to avoid.

It would be great to have a a check list. If I managed a film viewing community I would hand out badges to everyone that spotted and marked a cliche in a movie. I would love to see the list of what films and filmmakers traffic most widely in them.

But I guy can’t have everything he wants, and I have to say I am pretty content in what I have in this regards anyway. Film fans world wide have taken control of their culture and have made a hilarious collection of short films parading the cliches in all their glory. I have featured a few of these when they came my way inthe past. But now FilmmakerIQ have done us all a tremendous service and collected MANY of them on one page.

If you ask me these should be playing in constant rotation in the lobbies of film schools the world over. We are so connected to each other now, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t police ourselves from such fatal flaws.

Suffice it to say that I was so impressed with FilmmakerIQ’s post, that I couldn’t restrict myself to a simple tweet.

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August 28 at 8:30am

Come To Warsaw This October For The Killer/Hope Celebration!

What? You claim you can’t make it to my “mogul” talk at TIFF. So, what are you doing this October? Among other things, I am going to the 27th Warsaw Film Festival. The very same international film fest where my wife’s production THE IMPERIALISTS ARE STILL ALIVE! last year won the 1-2 Competition. This year though I am headed for a very special event.

Ages ago, the Olympia WA Film Festival, the Philadelphia Film Festival, and the Waterville Maine Film Festival all did tributes to me. I love all those festivals but they are small regional American Festivals. So when an A-List International Film Festival told me that they wanted to do a celebration of my work, but even better, they wanted to celebrate my work alongside that of my friend and fellow collaborator Christine Vachon I did a little leap of joy.

I don’t know if you saw it, but this friday, Variety reported, that the Warsaw International Film Festival was going to be putting on a really good show this year. After all the really important stuff, there was this paragraph:

Other WFF highlights include the Killer/Hope Celebration, an event dedicated to the careers of two leading independent Gotham producers: Killer Films’ Christine Vachon and Ted Hope (Good Machine, This is that, Double Hope). WFF’s program will include a selection of their works, and both Hope and Vachon will be in town for a producers master class.

We actually don’t have the master class booked yet, so if you know anyone in Warsaw that wants to sponsor us, give us a shout won’t you?

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August 27 at 8:30am

Where The Tax Credits For Film Are In America These Days

Tax credits and subsidies for the film business are job stimulus. As a producer asked to ALWAYS squeeze a buck, I simply won’t shoot my films where the tax credits are not. Luckily I live in the wise and wonderful state of New York, that has one of the best tax subsidies for film and television any where in the world, not to mention the BEST talent pool in the universe too.

But it’s not the only place to go. The Incentives Office offers a clear MUST READ review of the state of the union of where to go for how much.

I received this email from The Incentives Office today. You should visit their site to receive such emails yourself.

Although many states have curtailed or terminated their incentives programs, others have expanded or enhanced their programs. There is still a substantial amount of money available – to find it:

THE INCENTIVES OFFICE TELLS YOU WHERE TO GO…

Alabama – $6 million available now, with new funds will be available on October 1st. $10 million annual cap.

Alaska – $50 million is available. Alaska has no caps on talent or projects, but requires a CPA audit to sell their 30-44% credits.

Colorado – $500,000 remains for their 10% rebate.

Connecticut – no annual cap. Regulations have tightened up for this (up to) 30% transferable credit.

Florida – (film only – see below for television). Only Florida resident cast and crew qualify, plus FL goods and services.

Georgia – 20% transferable credit, plus 10% uplift for logo (totaling 30%), requires audit/tax return. New sound stages, lots of post facilities. No annual ceiling.

Hawaii – refundable credit of 15% to 20%, requires a tax return. No annual cap.

Illinois – only resident cast and crew qualify, but Chicago is a major production center. Transferable credit of 30%. $100,000 per hire cap, but no annual ceiling.

Indiana – $2.5 million remains for the remainder of this calendar year.

Louisiana – top choice of producers, transferable credit of 30%, plus 5% bump for resident labor. The state redeems credits at 85 cents after CPA audit, or they can be sold (brokered). Many films now in prep or pre-production, so crew is getting strained. No annual ceiling, and three great stages.

Massachusetts – 25% transferable credit; state redeems at 90 cents. No caps or ceiling, and the credits are easy to sell after CPA audit.

Mississippi – a rebate of 25% for materials and non-resident crew, 30% for resident crew, $1M per hire cap. “The Help” was shot in Mississippi. Not a lot of crew depth, but growing. New sound stage in Canton. Costs are low, and the state is eager for production. $18 million is available.

Montana – refundable credit of 9% to 14%. No annual cap.

New Jersey – $14 million available, but half of this will be gone very soon, as earlier shows complete their submissions. 20% transferable credit, sellable after the CPA audit.

New Mexico – annual allocation is $50 million, for this 25% refundable credit which requires a NM tax return. First come, first served; if funds not available when you apply, you wait a year. Depending on total amount, credits awarded over 1, 2 or 3 years.

New York – fiscal year started July 1st, so new funds are available. Below-the-line credit of 30%, payable over 1-3 years with filing of NY state tax returns.

North Carolina – refundable credit of 25%, $1M per hire cap, and project cap of $7.5M. NC requires a tax return. No annual ceiling.

Pennsylvania – Some funds remain, but not for long. However, applications are stil being accepted, as films may drop out of the queue, freeing up funds for new projects.

South Carolina – $14 million currently available for their 10% to 30% rebate.

Texas – The incentive has now been raised to 15% for video game production. The previous rate was 5%. Only Texas resident cast and crew qualify, plus TX goods and services.

Utah – $11 million of fully refundable credits at 25% (with tax return), $3 million for 25% cash rebates (up to $500,000 per project).

West Virginia – $10 million annual cap, $10 million available. 27-31% credits.

AND WHERE NOT TO GO (FOR NOW)

Arizona – program was allowed to sunset, new legislation was defeated.

Florida(television only) – funds for the TV queue are exhausted, and without new legislation, new application will not be accepted.

Missouri – the film commission was not funded.

Idaho – program is not funded.

Iowa – program has been terminated.

Ohio – all funds gone until next fiscal year. Applications are being accepted in case something drops out of the queue

Oklahoma – no funds available until fiscal 2013, which starts July 1, 2012. Applications will be accepted beginning January 1, 2012.

Oregon – a good program, but they are out of funds until July 1, 2012.

Washington – program was allowed to sunset.

Wisconsin – allocation of $500,000 per year.

OTHER LOCATIONS TO CONSIDER

California – all funds allocated. Applications will be accepted starting June 1, 2012, for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1, 2012.

Michigan – Funds currently exhausted, but $25 million via a grant becomes available October 1, 2011. $2M cap per hire, and qualifying rates vary from 30-42%.

Minnesota – $1 million has been allocated; please contact the commissioner for details. Rules and requirements will change – no additional information is available.


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