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March 3 at 8:15am

Beer Buzz #3: Audience Building — The Key to Success Building

By Steven C. Beer

In the marketing and distribution of independent films, the most critical and frequently overlooked key to success is the building of an audience. Whether you pursue traditional or alternate distribution platforms, or a combination thereof, your ability to identify, aggregate and mobilize an audience base directly impacts the prospect of your project’s success. Timing your audience building campaign is crucial. According to Jason Ward of Candy Factory Productions, you must begin to target and recruit your supporters the minute you decide to produce a film. Audience building is a slow and steady process that can take many months, if not years, so a multi-step game plan that evolves over time can serve as an audience building blueprint. Here are some tips I learned while moderating the Audience Building Panel at the New York Lounge at Sundance 2014: [...]


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February 11 at 8:15am

How Festival Failure Could Save Your Career

By Kellie Ann Benz

It’s what fills our daydreams.

The Duplass Brothers, Lynn Shelton, JC Chandor, Katherine Bigelow and Benh Zeitlin, Steven Soderbergh, before he started threatening to retire on an annual basis. Robert Rodriguez, before he started making kids movies.

These are the names that rotate through our filmie craniums.

But the main reason that all of us fill our daydreams of indie film mega-success is because of one man: Quentin Tarantino. [...]


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January 28 at 1:30pm

IndieStreet Post #10: Sundance 2014 — a Microcosm of a Greater Divide

By Jay Webb 

Screen shot 2013-08-19 at 4.51.06 PM

Previously: A 2014 Resolution 4 Independent Artists — Separate Your Egos

Screen shot 2014-01-28 at 12.44.50 PMWalking down Main Street of the Sundance film festival this year, it felt like there was an ever-growing gap between the east and the west side of the street.   Hollywood and Independent seem to be growing further and further apart, making the Sundance film festival, and other L.A. hyped festivals like it, such an increasingly awkward phenomena.  You have a festival director who wants to keep the slate as Independent, fresh, and intriguing as possible, an audience that attends who has come to expect way more “accessible” stories, and big biz owned media companies like Variety claiming the festival “suffered from too much Brooklyn” and squawking at 2 million dollar advance tags for indie films in today’s market.  We feel for you Mr. Redford, we do…but you created this monster, and now it ‘s become a near perfect representation of the dichotomy within the film Industry.   

The divide:  

This is not an East vs. West thing, but more of a continued divide in mentality and approach to film.  It is exclusivity, public relations, and celebrity versus collaboration, community building, and storytelling.   Old Hollywood versus new thinkers.  Creatives vs. creative exploiters.  I think there is some ancient adage about a poor old man with a paint brush who grew frightened he may never be able to buy paint again if something were to happen to his even older brother who convinces the village people that the old man’s art is worth money.  If there is no adage, then now there is.  The artist and the thinker are inherently self-critical and the Hollywood older brother is inherently opportunistic. [...]


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January 16 at 8:15am

Too Much Too Fast: The Seductive and Devastating Effects of Early Celebrity

By Morgan J. Freeman

This story won’t shock anybody who knows me — but I’m hoping it might help some who don’t.

When my debut feature, Hurricane Streets, won an unprecedented three awards at Sundance in 1997 (Audience Award, Best Director, Best Cinematography), I thought I’d arrived at the age of 27. I was sure of it. All my hard work had paid off and I was, as they said, “set.” With the struggle behind me, it was time to celebrate, to bask in the glow of my crowning achievements and settle in as one of our industry’s top directors.

EPSON MFP image

But early success went straight to my head. Bigtime. Something shifted when I won those awards — my ego was fed a huge dose of You Rule Pie — and I was consumed by it. I became completely self-absorbed with my achievements and couldn’t celebrate them enough. Fueled by a false sense of my place, I lost sight of my way — and had zero ability to capitalize off the moment in a sane, strategic way. I skipped key industry meetings, canceling last minute if at all; refused a meeting with an A-list actor because a producer wanted to be present; boycotted a critical on-set budget meeting with a financier so I could watch X-Files (he now runs a studio); was more interested in dating the lead actress than directing her; and showed up on set with last night’s party all over me.

When my agent, manager or lawyer advised me to clean up my act, I fired them (usually over vitriolic late night emails). Without really grasping what was happening, this small window of opportunity — one I perceived as permanent, as “mine” — slammed shut. And by the time I came to six years later, it was as if it had never really been opened at all.

I was 33, scratching my head, wondering what the fuck had just happened? [...]


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January 14 at 9:15am

Want A Distributor For Your Film?

For the last two years, approximately half of the films that played Sundance got picked up for distribution. Yet as Thom Powers pointed out recently, no distribution deal is a heck of a lot better than a bad distribution deal.
 
Still, knowing how much work is required to directly distribute your film, and in particular the great challenge it is to market your film, filmmakers regularly look to team up with distributors.  The dream sort of goes first to write a script, then to make a film, then to get it funded, then finished and in a festival, and finally settling on getting a deal.
 
Granted there’s a big flaw in the dream as it [...]


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January 7 at 1:45pm

Sundance 2014 Infographic Released

Data  shows  that  spending  on  indie  films  rivals  the  major  movie  studios      

Entertainment  Media  Partners   and  Cultural  Weekly  are  pleased  to  announce  the  release  of  an  in-­‐depth  infographic  exploring  the  state   of  independent  filmmaking  by  looking  at  key  data  associated  to  The  Sundance  Film  Festival.  Although the info graphic is below on the post, you can also access the full analysis here:

http://www.culturalweekly.com/sundance-infographic-2014/

 “This  is  the  first  time  anyone  has  tried  to  quantify  the  amount  of  money  spent  producing  independent   films  every  year,”  said  Adam  Leipzig,  CEO  of  Entertainment  Media  Partners.  “The  numbers  are  huge— over  $3  billion  per  year—even  though  each  film  is  financed  one  at  a  time.”      The  infographic  provides  an  eye-­‐opening  look  at  the  importance  of  The  Sundance  Film  Festival  and  the   movies  screened  there,  by  visualizing  data  on  films  submitted,  films  accepted,  financial  investment,   and  how  many  people  work  on  indie  movies.    It  also  offers  box  office  data  associated  with  films  that   have  sold  for  the  most  money  at  the  festival,  and  those  that  served  as  opening  night  premieres.

Leipzig  identified  these  key  findings:     

• Over  $3  billion  is  spent  annually  to  produce  independent  films,  rivaling  the  production   expenditure  of  major  movie  studios.

• Less  than  2%  of  that  $3  billion  will  be  recouped.   [...]


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December 11 at 8:15am

Filmmakers Must Champion The More Disadvantaged Filmmakers, So….

I am not going to go to Sundance this year.  I need a break.  Consider it an experiment: what will I do if I skip that convention this year?  It long ago stopped being a film festival for me.  I only got to spend about 20% of my time seeing movies when I went.  I ended up doing meetings after meetings.

But that was when I was addicted to producing films. Now that I have kicked that habit, maybe I could return and just be there to enjoy the bounty.  But I don’t think so.  

If I attended Sundance, I would feel too tempted to “develop opportunities” (aka take meetings) and catch up with old friends and cohorts. And as a result I would probably miss the films I would most love.  As it is, that happens far too much at festivals now; I often get caught up with the buzz and see the popular films — and those aren’t what I personally love most. How do we make sure the undersung films get seen more?

One of the big failures I see in #IndieFilm these days is the lack of real peer review and support.  There are some nice exceptions, like Paul Thomas Anderson’s support of BREAKFASTS WITH CURTIS. But more of us need to champion the work we love of others.  We are in this all together and we have to reach beyond our personal boundaries. I want to help change that. So… [...]


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