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You are in, and now you have all sorts of wonderful problems — the kind most filmmakers wish they could enjoy. You know, you have to do all the things you have to do for a film festival. I have tried to collect the various blog posts I have written or have found written by others that will really prepare you. There’s a lot more to be written. But this is a good start: [...]
I posted my query last week whether we could truly build a class of TrulyFree / Indie marketing & distribution experts. Many people believe this can happen naturally. I think we need a unified industry effort to make this happen at the speed the all the great movies being generated these days need. Some beg to differ…
Yet, DIY/DIWO “guru” Jon Reiss has been witness to many of the efforts from this new breed, dubbed PMDs. Although, he and I agree on the need, we disagree on the term (but why squabble over semantics?). People need their films to connect with audiences. Audiences need to connect with each other, and films are a wonderful way to accomplish this. Can we hope that the market and filmmaker need & desire will solve our needs? Or do we need an intervention to solve this crisis? Jon has a front row seat to all that is happening, and today shares his observations.
I believe the amount of comments that Ted’s post last week (“Can We Create The Future Of Indie Marketing & Distribution—Or Is It Already Dead?”) indicates that this is a vibrant area of independent film and is in no way dead.
It is only 2 years since I coined the term Producer of Marketing and Distribution in my book “Think Outside the Box Office” and I continue to encounter people either working as PMDs such as Joe Jestus who is the PMD for a film production company; Amy Slotnick who functioned as the PMD for “The Business of Being Born” (she received producer credit for her work) and did outreach for “Red State”; Stephen Dypiangco who recently served as the PMD for “How to Live Forever” as well as the PMD for the Oscar winning short “God of Love”; Michele Elizabeth Kafko who is the first IMDB credited PMD for “Revenge of the Electric Car”; and Errol Nayci, who is a PMD working in the Netherlands. And there are more. Adam Chapnick of Indiegogo/Distribber told me that he gets several calls a week from people stating that they are “the PMD for _____ film”. I recently consulted with The Scottish Documentary Institute who via funding from Creative Scotland is hiring a staff PMD to work with all of their films.
I believe that the concept is taking hold because of the need for the concept. With an explosion of films (and media) in the past five years, side by side with the disruption of traditional models of media distribution, content creators of all kinds have been faced with the need to distribute and market their own work. But also they are privileged now to have access to a worldwide audience for a very low cost that was previously closed to them. However, many artists do not have the time, desire and/or skill set required to handle these new responsibilities and to fully take advantage of the opportunity. I don’t think there is an argument that if filmmakers are now responsible for distribution and marketing, then there needs to be new team/crew members to handle this new work – hence the Producer of Marketing and Distribution. There will need to be a number of other people working under or coordinated by the PMD just as there is a Line Producer for production who supervises the various production departments. Really in the best of all worlds the PMD starts with the director, writer, producer at inception and works hand in hand with all aspects of the filmmaking process – and hence the “Producer” of marketing and distribution.
But even though the need might be recognized, it is another issue for filmmakers to allot the resources to fulfill this need. I believe more and more filmmakers are allotting financial resources to distribution and marketing, realizing that no P&A genie exists or that raising P&A after the fact is starting too late. When I was in the UK recently, it was heartening to see that agencies in the UK are allowing film funds not only to be used for distribution and marketing, but also to be used for alternative distribution models that incorporate a PMD. I applaud film funds that support the distribution and marketing of independent film, but I feel that it is important for these funds to free filmmakers from an antiquated system of traditional distribution and to allow them to experiment with new models.
For territories without such funds (or for those without access to these funds), filmmakers need to find a way to fund it themselves. What is important for filmmakers to realize is that connecting to an audience can be as, or even more, expensive than making your film. Musicians who have had to deal with a changing distribution and marketing landscape for longer than filmmakers, have already realized this and recognize that it is a fact of being an artist. Many musicians also have people who help them distribute and market their work. Topspin has a team of staffers who do this work – and they are called “producers”. Musicians pay these producers to plan and execute their distribution and marketing. The sooner we as filmmakers follow the lead of our fellow artists, the better.
The flip side of having resources, is having a pool of talent to do the work required. As I indicated above, a growing talent pool of people skilled as PMDs is emerging. I do feel that organizations such as Sundance, IFP and FIND can do more to push this along as can film schools. I welcome the creation of a PMD Lab, just as there are directing labs, screenwriting labs etc. The IFP Filmmaker Lab, as the first completion, distribution and marketing lab, is a first step in this direction. This lab emphasizes distribution and marketing from day 1 and a number of the teams bring on PMDs. Ted and I also started to develop an interdisciplinary curriculum combining courses from film and business schools. Until this process becomes more uniform, it will take place on individual films. Sheri Candler and I have started training PMDs on specific films.
The shift towards a new paradigm is slow, frustrating and fraught with pitfalls, and will mean a mindset shift for artists which is painful to some, but I personally see more cause for hope than for despair. Assistance from schools, labs and funds would be great and would speed the process along – helping many artists in the process, but in no way are the new concepts “dead”. The purpose of creating the role of the PMD was to formally name this needed position within independent film so there would be a pool of people trained to help facilitate that process. I know the concept will not die because there will always be people who are too driven to create work and will seek out help to connect that work to an audience.
Jon Reiss can be found on Twitter and Facebook. His new book co authored with The Film Collaborative and Sheri Candler “Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul” launches at IFP Week September 19th, 2011. His forthcoming book on the PMD will come out in 2012.Tweet
I wasn’t sure what to call this post. “Top Posts”? “Most Popular”? They are not necessarily the most engaging, as they don’t always correspond with the “most commented” — if that qualifies for engaging that is… But I thought it would make some sense to see what was the most viewed. I thought I would learn from it.
One of the things that I am proud of regarding this blog is the fact that it has become a community forum. I learn from the comments people post. I have made new friends from such comments (and identified a few I hope to avoid!). It’s been really great how much people contribute, and I love that almost half the most popular posts are from folks other than myself.
So, what were HopeForFilm/TrulyFreeFilm’s most read post of the past year? Surprisingly, they are all quite recent.
38 More Ways The Film Industry Is Failing Today – With over 10,000 views this clearly hit a nerve. Everyone likes lists, but I like to think so many folks went to this for a dose of preventive medicine. We are going to conquer this right?
Ten Things To Do Before You Submit A Script – Getting your script read by the right people will always be a challenge. As will making the best film you are capable of. We all need advice, and I probably can come up with a few more posts like this. You certainly want it. I have listened. I hope the advice was helpful!
The Hard Truth: Filmnaking Is Not A Job – I aim to be 100% truthful about what I do. I want to demystify what producers do. I think the readers of this blog and the community around it that you have built wants us all to say like it is. I must confess that occasionally I let the struggle of getting movies made and seen, get me down. Fortunately I get great support from my wife and friends, yet nonetheless sometimes I produce posts like this one!
The Good Machine No Budget Commandments- Oldies can be [...]
What do Filmmakers want from film markets and what they can realistically get?
“Discerning the difference between a film that can actually sell well enough to justify having a third party sales agent and going to markets vs a film that is best served by DIY methods that should be planned and employed BEFORE the film’s first exhibition”
Guest post from Orly Ravid, Founder of The Film Collaborative (TFC)
We get questioned all the time by members and others about which markets should filmmakers attend and which sales agents should they go with. Having unrealistic expectations is dangerous. It sets people up to do nothing on their own but wait for some third party to make their dreams come true. [...]
Today’s guest post is by Jon Reiss.
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.
Today’s guest post is once again courtesy of Jon Reiss. Back before Jon wrote the book on DIY distro in the digi age (literally), he and I started brainstorming on the need for a marketing & distribution lab for filmmakers, somewhat modeled on the existing screenwriting & directing labs that many organizations run. We had some real specific goals on this and pitched it to several key entities. Everyone wanted to do it, and I believe everyone still wants to do it. Money and time still are limited supply though, and our dreams have been deferred. Yet, the initial steps have been taken by a couple of organizations, and most recently Film Independent put together: Seize The Power last weekend. Jon’s post below, is a bit of an extension from that remarkable collection of speakers and participants and information.
I heard a number of comments after this weekend’s LAFF Seize the Power Symposium that people where overwhelmed – that their brain’s had been fried by so many ideas and so much information. To me that’s a sign that we succeeded. When Film Independent and the Los Angeles Film Festival asked me to help them devise the Symposium (and accompanying Distribution Boot Camp for competition filmmakers) we were in immediate agreement that the event would focus on: 1. Nuts and bolts practical information for filmmakers. 2. Forward thinking thought leaders indicating what the future might be. 3. Practical case studies of filmmakers who were using the new tools of distribution and marketing. We wanted to avoid people sitting on a panel rehashing how we got here. I also get the same brain-fry feedback when I give my weekend workshops – and I’m delighted. This is what I suggest to people:
1. Focus on the Inspiration and Creative Potential [...]
We are now treated to another Jon Reiss guest post. Jon holds the world record for the most comments on a single TrulyFreeFilm post, but he is one of our New Model Gurus, helping to pave the path to the emergence of a sustainable Artist/Creator Middle Class. We he speaks, I listen.
Two weeks ago I wrote a guest post here 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): 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. [...]