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April 1 at 12:30pm

The Film Distribution Spigot Is Not A Slow Drip But A Torrential Flow

We have lived so long in the era of the inverted pyramid that we don’t yet recognize that the pipes have all burst.  For the last twenty-plus years the number of movies made each year increases, but the number of movies theatrically distributed remained around the same. But theatrical release — or even a festival premiere — does not a movie make.  

No matter what camp you sit in — artist, audience, or industry — the onslaught of titles now available to you is nothing short of devastating.  We miss more than we see, and forever will.  It is a flood and no one is throwing us life rafts.  

All the new digital platforms and social media tools have effectively crushed the dam.  It was a barrier that needed crushing, but [...]


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March 14 at 8:29am

Training Our Producers For Failure

Let’s try this experiment: 

  1. Gather 5 producers:
  2. Ask them if they can do a budget and schedule for your film;
  3. Ask them what that means;
  4. When they tell you it will be a budget and schedule for the production and post of a film, tell them you are looking for a producer who can do one that will take the movie all the way through release;
  5. Want to bet that no a single one of them will know how to do that? [...]


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January 27 at 4:00pm

DEALS & DIY: A Film Distribution Duet

Today’s guest post is by Orly Ravid of The Film Collaborative(TFC), the first non-profit, full service provider dedicated to the distribution of independent film.  Orly was featured as one of HFF’s Brave Thinkers Of Indie Film, 2010.

*This is Part II of the “If I Were a Filmmaker Going Sundance…

*Part III to will be written in the aftermath of the glow of the fest.

Sundance 2011, insofar as distribution was concerned, saw a spike on both the traditional sales and the DIY front.   26 deals were done so far and more to come. One difference between this year’s Festival and those of recent years is that several acquisitions were done prior to the Festival and more deals occurred right at the beginning of the Festival rather than taken several days or weeks to materialize. In addition, some of the acquisition dollar figures were bigger than in recent times. There was a definite sense of ‘business is back’  (though mostly still for bigger films with either name directors or cast or both – and this we address below).  And DIY is seeing a new dawn with directors like Kevin Smith announcing a self-distribution plan and Sundance’s solidified commitment to helping artists crowdfund (via Kickstarter) and market their films (via Facebook for example) access certain digital distribution platforms (in the works and TBA).

Starting with the deals. So far I counted 26 (one at least was a pre-buy / investment in production) and two so far are remake rights deals.

I only list the deal points that were publicized… meaning if no $$$ is listed then it was not announced. [...]


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December 8 at 8:15am

Wanted: DIY & Hybrid Distro Liaisons Internationally

The US has a healthy supply of “bookers”  and for-hire distro/marketeers who can help you navigate the theatrical waters when you are looking at DIY or hybrid approaches, but are there the same folks in Europe, Asia, and other territories?  There’s got to be right?  So where are they and how can we access them easier?

Many a filmmaker in the US have now decided it makes better sense to split up rights across media, license on a short term or non-exclusive basis, and essentially handle the theatrical themselves on a non-traditional basis.  But why would what makes sense in the US, not also make sense in other territories?

This is one of my wishes for the new year: let’s demystify hybrid distribution internationally and build up a good list of companies and individuals to partner with.  If you are out there, let us know!


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October 27 at 8:33am

PPP: (Picture, Parties, Panels) – a formula for success

Guest post by Joao Amorim, Emmy Award nominee director of 2012: Time for Change, a feature doc offering an optimistic alternative to apocalyptic doom and gloom and featuring leading experts, scientists and celebrities including: Sting, Ellen Page, David Lynch, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Gilberto Gil, Dean Radin, Buckminster Fuller, Paul Stamets, Shiva Rea, Tiokasin Ghosthorse and many more.  It is currently playing in NYC at Loews Village 7 through Oct. 28th.

Moving towards an Open Source culture in film distribution with 2012: Time for Change

Understanding the changing distribution landscape in 2008 while we were financing this project, Mangusta Productions and I decided to build in some P&A monies into our budget.  When we completed the film in March 2010 we all agreed that [...]


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October 22 at 8:30am

Committing To Hybrid Distribution: “The Taqwacores” Story (Pt. 2 of 2)

Guest post by filmmaker Eyad Zahra.   His first feature film “The Taqwacores.” — a DIY production — world premiered at Sundance earlier this year, and opens in New York City at the East Village Cinema today, October 22nd. To learn more, visit www.punkislam.com.  Check out the 1st part of this post here.

Make no mistake.  The indie film world is pretty topsy-turvy right now.  As anybody who reads Ted’s blog knows, there are fewer buyers out there, all the while the digital revolution has allowed for movies to be made then ever.  The market is flipped upside down, and who knows when or where it will every land back on its feet.

As the producer and director of The Taqwacores, my first feature length film, I have had the highest of highs, and lowest of lows in my first filmmaking adventure.  I want to be honest here, and not sugar coat the experience whatsoever.  It has been a wild roller coaster to make this independent feature film, a roller coaster ride that has been going on for nearly 3.5 years (and counting).

As a first time feature length filmmaker, I had thought the biggest hump was production.  I figured, all we had to do was get through those 3 weeks of shooting, and everything else would be down hill.

The reality is that it never gets downhill.  It only gets uphill, and it gets steeper and steeper the more you go forward.

That said, I would do this all over again in a heartbeat. That’s how much I love the story I have chosen to tell, and the life-long friendships I have made because of this production.  To any filmmaker out there, you better make sure you love (not just “like”) the people you are working with, and that your narrative is something you can dedicate years of your life too.

To learn more about how we made the film, check out the production notes here.

Today we release the film in New York City at the East Village Cinema.

At this juncture, we are releasing the film domestically through Strand Releasing (Marcus Hu, Jon Gerrans, and David Bowlds), and these guys have been nothing short of incredible.  They have allowed me to be part of the entire release process, and I deal directly with the heads of the company, and my concerns are always answered by them in an immediate manner.   I have been even given an open invitation to swing by their offices any time.

What I love about our release strategy is that we are using a hybrid method towards launching this film.  We are doing a standard limited theatrical launch in NYC and LA, while along stressing an intense grassroots campaign effort.  It’s a bit of the old and new wrapped in one, which allows me to be involved as much as I want to be.  I have been involved in every major decision for the film.  I also manage our online media (website, facebook fan page, twitter) personally.

We originally launched the film at the Sundance Film Festival, which [...]


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July 31 at 9:48am

Theatrical: To Do… or NOT To Do.

Today’s guest post is from Orly Ravid of The Film Collaborative.

Theatrical: To Do… or NOT To Do.
(or perhaps more, HOW and WHEN To Do):

We all struggle with this, filmmakers, distributors alike. I remember giving a presentation to distributors about digital distribution and theatrical came up. I talked about the weirdness of showing a film 5 or 6 times a day to an almost always-empty house save a couple showings. This makes no sense for most films. When I released Baise Moi in 2000 we broke the boxoffice records at the time, and the “raincoat crowd” did show up at the oddest morning hours, but that is the exception, not the rule. Not every film has an 8-minute rape scene that just must be seen by post-punk-feminists and pornography-lovers alike. It’s an odd set-up for smaller films and it’s not the only means to the end we are looking for.

Recently The Film Collaborative released Eyes Wide Open in NYC, LA, Palm Beach and Palm Springs. We have a little over $10,000, all in it will be about $12,000 tops). We have made our money back and the great reviews and extra marketing / visibility will drive ancillary sales but we also did not invest or risk too much as you can see. [...]


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