The Future of Film: True Independence

The Future of Film: True Independence

Tweet This is a guest post by Emily Best, of Seed&*Spark a new community/platform for crowdfunding and distributing your film online. My introduction to the world of film distribution was nothing short of terrifying. At a distribution panel at SVA in early 2009, I sat in the audience and watched three out of four panelists, defeated, their heads in their hands, saying, “There just is no silver bullet like iTunes for film. The numbers just don’t work. We don’t honestly know what to do.” It was pretty dire. But the fourth panelist, attorney and sales agent Steven C. Beer (the only one who didn’t look scared) said, “Look, filmmakers are going to have to work harder for less money.” I thought maybe I didn’t want be be in film after all. But over the last few years I have come to understand that what he was saying was, in fact, the great hope for film: true independence that might mean smaller “box office” numbers but much larger returns directly to the filmmaker. Making movies is hard! Fundraising is hard. Production is hard. Post-production is more inundated with digital options every millisecond. But nothing, NOTHING is harder than actually getting an audience to watch your movie, no matter what the budget is. Today, the market is more fragmented than ever. Tens of thousands of independent films are made per year. To be sure, not all of them are necessarily worthy of an audience, but they’re competing for it anyway. About 1% of those films get picked up for traditional distribution. That means more than half of the films that premiere at...
Why Every Filmmaker Should Learn How to Be Black + Tools You Need to Do It

Why Every Filmmaker Should Learn How to Be Black + Tools You Need to Do It

Tweet Here is my conversation today with Craig Cannon (@craigrcannon), the campaign manager for How To Be Black written by Baratunde Thurston, Director of Digital at The Onion. Pardon my voice, I am still recovering from SXSW in this talk. Make cool content. Don’t worry about giving away scalable, digital content away for free. Because that’s how you bring people in. In this he breaks down the phases of the campaign and formation of their digital street team and the tools they used, a list of which I make after the jump. He also discusses the related collateral/mini-projects that have been created to support the book and make it more participatory. Audience Engagement Tools Wufoo – Online Form Builder for street team applications Vokle – Live videocasts and recording Facebook – Private group for street team Knodes – Deep social media analysis, allowed street team to see who is most influential in their network and see their missions Asana – Project management/shared task list (Not mentioned in the interview but Baratunde told me during a separate conversation)...

Bust the windows please: Day & date rules!

Tweet The only WINDOW anyone in the film industry needs to focus on is closing the one between when a person discovers a film and when they can watch it. End of story. All these windows do just is provide a place through which the desire to watch a film can escape. There will always be people who won’t spend any money on anything, but for the most part people just want to see what they want to see how they want to see it. The same with music. I um, had a friend who used to use something Napster-like back in the day. Most of the collection was dedicated to import versions of songs that I, um, she could not get in the States or she would have to pay $40 for what was essentially one song. When it comes to films for me personally, it’s about seeing soon as possible with the least amount of effort. “Oh that sounds like a cool film” “Wait, I can’t see it now? Not showing in my area? Guess I’ll check it out later then. I hope I remember.” Then you have to go through the work of getting my attention again when it comes out on whatever other platform, assuming of course that you support them. That’s so… inefficient. I was at the North Carolina Black Film Festival last weekend where I saw a documentary called Film Hustle. In it the subject of the documentary talks about his travails to sell his DVDs of Confessions of a Thug, hosting special signings at outlet stores across the country. While a decidedly...

5 Ways a Filmmaker Could Use Broadcastr to Promote Their Film

Tweet As some of you may have seen from my tweet during DIY DAYS I was impressed by Broadcastr and its capabilities. Scott Macauley, editor of Filmmaker Magazine (who was nice enough to allow me to pick his brain for a bit after the talk) had a fireside chat with Scott Lindenbaum of Broadcastr and Electric Lit. Broadcastr is a mashup (remember when those were novel?) of audio recordings and a Google Map and you can access it on the Internet, or an iPhone/iPad/Android application. From the site: “Users can take a GPS-enabled walk as stories about their surroundings stream into their headphones, like a museum tour of the entire world. Users can record their own content, create playlists, follow their friends, and share on Facebook.” It just launched recently and already they have some impressive partners. A search in the area of Haiti will pull up several UNICEF broadcasts, a search of Chapel Hill, broadcasts by live storytelling organization, The Monti. Fodor’s and MTV personalities are also using it. Lindenbaum talked about it as a great way for local businesses to drive traffic or to just be more interesting by having people record stories about the place. The other Scott said Broadcastr is “what Foursquare should have been.” The benefits are obvious I think for poets, orators and comedians, but what about filmmakers? Don’t worry, I got you. This post will focus on 5 ways I think Broadcastr can be useful to filmmakers. 1. Create a Director/Producer’s/Somebody Important’s guide to a location I’ll go ahead and get this example Lindenbaum gave out of the way. The idea is...

The Black Girl Project: Real Colored Girls Speak

Tweet I recently had a chance to talk to Aiesha Turman about her exciting film The Black Girl Project and how she’s going beyond the box office with it. With another film about Black women premiering this weekend this one is sure to be a welcome alternative (and it was out first!) What a novel idea, letting Black girls speak for themselves! Find out where The Black Girl Project is screening next at its site. BTBO: What first inspired you to do The Black Girl Project? Ms. Turman: The Black Girl Project is both a documentary film and a non-profit organization. I have worked with young people in New York for over a decade, with the past few years being dedicated primarily to high school students. It was in this work, I began to hear the stories of young women, many of whom were outwardly accomplished, but were dealing with a lot of issues from homelessness to sexual assault and depression. I was lucky enough to be trusted enough by them that they would talk to me. Their lives reminded me of mine as a teen aged girl. I was highly accomplished academically, but when it came to dealing with issues, many of which were shared with my peers, I turned inward for fear of embarrassment or disappointing my parents. The non-profit is an outgrowth of the film and my commitment to helping young women reach their fullest potential. BTBO: Any thoughts right now on how you will distribute your film? Ms. Turman: I am very interested in the idea of independent distribution. I’ve been inspired by Nina Paley...

Copy Esquire’s fun use of online video to promote your film

Tweet Yaya DaCosta who is playing Mark Ruffalo's love interest in this summer's The Kids are All Right is also Esquire's Woman of Summer.  They have done what I think can be easily modeled by an indie filmmaker to promote their film in a fun non-salesy way. It's also a great way to build a list or as a gift for a project you are crowdfunding. The best part is it utilizes a skill you already have. Esquire has created a series of funny videos where Yaya gives you a short affirmation. My problem with it is it seems I have to go to the site to get the affirmations unless you set up an RSS feed. It's much easier for people to remember to come to your site, if that's what you want, if you push something to them. I would never have remembered to go to Facebook in the early days if they didn't send me email notifications of activity. Creating your own online video series You could do exactly the same thing, enlist your leading lady or leading man to shoot a series of short affirmations. You could have them do it in character or out. If you are a director with a fun personality you could be featured in them yourself. Regardless of what the exact content is I would have people submit their email addresses or mobile numbers and push it directly to them. Collecting the info helps build your list of potential fans to continue to engage. Sending a series of affirmations is preferable to one because it keeps your film in their...
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