Archive for the ‘Distribution’ Category

Vimeo Offers Crowd-Funded Indie Filmmakers Access to $500K Marketing Fund

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Vimeo just announced at this year’s Sundance Film Festival that they are launching an Audience Development Fund ($500,000) for qualifying films that have raised a minimum of $10,000 through a crowd funding platform like Kickstarter, IndieGoGo and Seed&Spark. Vimeo will give qualifying filmmakers a minimum of $10,000 in marketing services – plus a free, one-year subscription to Vimeo PRO, in exchange for an exclusive digital premiere distribution deal on Vimeo On Demand.

While crowdfunding has changed the game in getting films made, Vimeo is taking the next step supporting filmmakers to get their work seen and purchased on Vimeo and across the web,” said Greg Clayman, general manager of audience networks.”  [source: Variety]

This announcement comes shortly after the company made several improvements and updates to its video player which include “in-player purchasing” – where anyone can quickly rent or buy a Vimeo On Demand work directly from an embedded trailer.

Filmmakers who meet the funding criteria above and are interested in being considered for the Audience Development Fund can email Vimeo at this address: crowdfunding@vimeo.com.

Interview with Writer/Director Nathan Ives on his DIY Grassroots Theatrical Plan

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Every independent filmmaker has to face the innumerable challenges in every phase of making their film – which usually forces them to a ‘do-it-yourself’ solution.  Nathan Ives, writer/director and producer of It’s Not You, It’s Me is currently ‘DIYing’ his theatrical distribution by renting theaters and taking his film on the road.

Writer/Director Nathan Ives

I had the opportunity to ask Nathan about his marketing plan to tour his film.

Filmlinker: You have a unique diy/grassroots approach to theatrical distribution – booking theaters and charging the audience whatever they’re willing to pay. Was this initiative part of your original business plan that was presented to your investors?

Nathan Ives: It wasn’t, actually. I think I originally had the ‘build it and they will come’ attitude that a lot of indie filmmakers have, it’s hard to admit, but I think my basic idea was that I would win Sundance, my career would take off, and Weinstein would buy the film outright for ten times the budget. I now realize that’s not a marketing plan, it’s a lottery ticket at best, a losing one since we didn’t even get accepted to Sundance. The original business plan outlined the more traditional model of selling to distributors, domestic and foreign, based on the cast, etc.

FL: How do you approach prospective theaters with this “pass-the-hat” approach – i.e. do you need to share the revenue or are you totally four walling?

NI: When I came up with idea, I just did a Google search for ‘independent theaters in NC’ and started cold calling them about rentals. I’ve found that a typical theater, on a weeknight (they typically won’t rent on weekends) runs between $250-$800 depending on size, location, etc. I’ve learned, that for the model to work, I can only spend about $300 and still cover my rental costs and maybe a little extra for gas via passing the hat and DVD sales. I’ve also found that as I’m able to get out 50 or so people, theaters are willing to cut deals for additional rental nights since they do well on concession sales.

FL: Are you also screening your film at other, non-movie theater venues?

NI: I’ve screened at some colleges, I’ve also been speaking to college film classes, but that’s about the only non-theater stuff I’ve done.

FL: Have you used any theatrical on-demand services like Tugg or Gathr? Any other useful resources that you can share?

NI: I haven’t used Tugg or Gathr. I’ve mainly been trying to get exposure through media, blogs, newspapers, radio, etc. – I’ve found it to be the most effective. I will also come into town a day or so before a screening and walk the streets handing out fliers, but really engaging each person I give one to, telling them a little about the film. I send people to my website to the ‘special event screenings’ section where they can reserve tickets through Brownpaperticket.com which captures their email addresses.

FL: What’s your goal with this initiative – i.e. recouping your budget, exposure for marketing your film?

NI: I have a number of goals with the tour. First and foremost is to make the money for my investors, by driving VOD sales, so I can then make my next film. I want to build the ‘Mule Films‘ brand. I want to build a substantial email list of indie film lovers. Over all I want to build a sustainable business model that will allow me to continue making films until I eventually keel over.

FL: What’s the next phase of your distribution approach? Are you going to use an aggregator or do you have a “DIY” VOD plan?

NI: I used Bitmax in Los Angeles to get the film on iTunes and Amazon, I found them to be excellent and the cost was $1,250 and they didn’t take percentage of sales. I’m still early in this marketing plan, and think it will take six months or so to see if I’m truly driving VOD sales. Just a quick note that the process takes 6-8 weeks from giving the aggregator the film and it being released on iTunes.

FL: Are you also submitting to film festivals? Have you screened at any festivals?

Ives at Naperville Independent Film Festival

NI: We took the film to several festivals, recently won Best Actress (Joelle Carter) and best Director (Nathan Ives) at The Naperville Film Festival outside of Chicago. While I enjoy the festivals, unless it’s on of the big ones, I think they’re more social media fodder than anything else. In my opinion they do little to help recoup your budget, and it can get quite expensive to enter festivals at $40-$100 per entry.

FL: What’s worked well in this initiative and what hasn’t worked?

NI: Well, I’d say that I’ve definitely found media outlets to be the most effective way to get people in seats. Walking the streets with fliers is less effective, but I still think has value in just getting the word out. The Q&A’s after screenings seem to be quite popular and really give people that personal touch and something to remember you by, I think that’s very important in building a following for future films. Spending more than $300 for a theater definitely does NOT work. Stay away from small towns, it’s hard to get people out. I’ve found mid-size towns, think Raleigh, NC or Charleston, SC to be best. If there is a college in the area, all the better, I’ve found when I speak to a college class, word gets around and I get a number of students out to screenings.

FL: How have you utilized social media to spread the word on your film?

NI: I keep daily updates on Facebook and try to keep Twitter updated a couple of times a day, but I think there’s is simply too much content on most of the social sites and it’s very difficult to engage people over the long term. I think an email list is far more powerful. That said, keeping up with social media is definitely important and gives someone a place to go to learn about the film. Oh, and on the email list subject, use a company like Aweber.com to hold your list, that way your emails will mostly stay out of spam folders and you get great analytics about how many emails were opened.

FL: Any final thoughts – words of wisdom that you can share from your experience that can help other filmmakers?

NI: 1. First an foremost, raise as much money for marketing as you do for your film, you may win Sundance and not need it, but if you don’t, you’ll be glad you have it. 2. Before making your film think long and hard about your demographic and how you’re going to get people to pay to watch YOUR movie in the sea of other movies out there. What’s unique about your film or marketing plan? ‘It’s going to be a great film’ isn’t going to cut it. 3. If you’re making a 10K guerrilla film, I wouldn’t worry about a lawyer, if you’re raising money through equity investors, be sure to hire a good lawyer. 4. Only do films you’re passionate about, it’s far to much work to do something you don’t really love. If you’re only it for the ‘money’ there are FAR more sure-fire ways to make a buck. 5. Filmmaking can be a wonderful process, it’s a collaborative one, be kind to everyone, you never know who you’ll be working with or for down the road. 6. I’m glad to share what knowledge I have and help other indie filmmakers in any way I can, please feel free to contact me at nathan@mulefilms.com.

It’s Not You, It’s Me is about a serial commitment-phobe, played by Ross McCall), who struggles with his decision to break up with his near perfect girlfriend – played by Justified’s Joelle Carter). All the while, the couple has to deal with their inner voices – one played by Vivica A. Fox. Check out the trailer (below):

You can purchase the film on iTunes and Amazon.  I also encourage you to join their email list at www.itsnotyouitsmefilm.com, “Like” the film’s Facebook page and follow Nathan’s progress.  Show your support for a true independent endeavor.

The Unofficial Google Plus Film Festival Returns

Friday, November 1st, 2013

Call for entries are now open through November 4, 2013 for the 3rd annual Unofficial Google Plus Film Festival. The online, interactive short film fest will include several film panels – along with live Q&A sessions with the selected filmmakers.

Our live, interactive, global, short film festival allows you to attend and participate in a world class film festival from anywhere in the world! Accepting any short film or web series episode 25 minutes or less.

In addition we will be holding live local events all over the world and we are offering accepted filmmakers opportunities to create one in their hometown. Meet fellow filmmakers and showcase your film in front of a live audience.”
–from UGPFF.

All filmmakers can submit their short films or web series (25 minutes or less) through Withoutabox or directly at the official website – UGPFF.

Check out their intro video:

Even more info on their official FAQs.

App-Only Filmmaking – Trend, Gimmick or Evolution of the Medium?

Monday, July 29th, 2013

“Haunting Melissa” is a unique filmmaking endeavor created by producer Neal Edelstein (The Ring, Mulholland Drive) and Hooked Digital Media. The horror app-only film is specifically made for viewing on iPads and iPhones (iOS6). The episodic structure delivers chapters, piece-by-piece in an unexpected schedule – heightening the tension of the horror tale through push notifications. Because of the nature of the mobile device platform, the “film” exploits the intimate nature of how we consume sound in these devices – i.e. headphones  – emphasizing this traditional ghost story’s details into a modern digital era experience.

See the trailer here…

 

“Haunting Melissa” is an example of the evolution of mobile app usage in filmmaking. We’ve seen its use primarily as a second screen experience like in the Dutch film App (filmlinker article), Tender Loving Care, and in several TV shows like AMC’s Story-Synch features for The Walking Dead and The Killing.  Here’s a chart (below) from a Wall Street Journal article titled, “TV Networks Play to ‘Second Screen” that shows the ever changing, multi-tasking viewer:


       Source: WSJ.com

Hooked Digital Media is betting on this trend to grow and evolve into a new way audiences experience storytelling.

Expect original stories exclusively for tablet and mobile devices through app technology that reinvents distribution. The hyper and hungry audiences of today can expect edgy and innovative entertainment from some of Hollywood’s best and brightest creators… The way entertainment is absorbed has changed forever. So let us tell you a story.” – hookeddigitalmedia.com/about

Download the [highlight]FREE APP[/highlight] for “Haunting Melissa” in the iTunes Store now.

Screenshots of the “Haunting Melissa” app:

Prototype – The Search for the Next Great Filmmaker

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

Prototype is an exciting new film competition from Break Media. The competition is looking for science-fiction, action and FX genre filmmakers. Eight finalists will receive $20,000 in production funding to make their short films. One grand-prize winner will be awarded a writing & directing feature film deal with New Regency.

The Phases

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[tab title=”Submissions”]

From now until August 31, submit your action, sci-fi, or effects-driven short film script; a treatment for the feature version of your film; and a sample of your directing work.

They will be evaluating projects on a rolling basis, so the sooner you submit, the sooner you’ll be in the running to receive $20,000 in production funding and the chance to win a feature film development deal with New Regency Productions.
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[tab title=”Finalist Selection”]
Eight finalists will be announced in mid-September and will be awarded $20,000 each to produce their short films.

Stay tuned throughout the production process for updates, photos and interviews from set and much more, all leading up to the premiere of the eight finalist films.
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[tab title=”Films Premiere”]
Tune in for the world premiere of the eight Prototype short films in Early 2014.

The films will be distributed across Break Media’s digital audience of over 70 Million viewers.
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[tab title=”Grand Prize Winner”]

They will announce the Prototype Grand Prize Winner in the Spring of 2014.

The winner will receive a writing & directing deal with New Regency Productions to develop their vision into a full length feature film.
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[source: BreakMedia]

 

The Steps

Here’s what you’ll need to submit:[framed_box]

  • Short Film Script – A five – ten page action, sci-fi, or effects driven short film script that is shoot-able for $20,000.
  • Feature Film Treatment – A 1-15 page treatment for the feature version of your short. A “look-book” that shows more of your vision is optional.
  • Directing Sample – A sample of your work – can be a short film, a reel, anything that shows us you can direct.[/framed_box]
[source: BreakMedia]

 

More Info:

 

Submit now!

Amazon Storyteller, A Free Storyboard Tool

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

Amazon Studios just launched a new application that lets you convert your screenplay into a movie storyboard. Amazon Storyteller is free to use for anyone on Amazon Studios. Try it out – just upload your script or play with one that’s already in the Studio.

You choose the backgrounds, characters, and props to visually tell a story. A successful storyboard can tell the full story of a script, or capture its essence in short form, like a trailer. Either approach can be a great way to build an audience for your story and see how people respond to it.” – from Amazon Studios FAQ.

By clicking on the scene from the script (see example below), the storyboard tool scans the text for descriptions and characters. It automatically selects backgrounds and character drawings from its own library database.

Example from Amazon Studios – The Alchemist Agenda by Marty Weiss

Make sure to read Amazon Studios’ FAQs regarding rights and their Terms of Service before you participate and submit anything.

Once a storyboard is published on Amazon Studios, Amazon Studios takes a 45 day option on the project to evaluate it and decide if it should be added to our development slate. If after 45 days, Amazon Studios does not option the project, the rights to the original script are retained by the original writer.” – from Variety article.

FYI… the “option” Amazon Studios offers states that they “will have the exclusive right to buy your script for $200,000 if it is a script for a feature film or $55,000 if it is a script for an episodic series.”

What If Seed&Spark Is Successful?

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

There’s been a lot already written about Seed&Spark. My first thoughts on S&S are that it’s a very interesting take on the whole crowdfunding landscape with an angle on a ‘fair trade’ filmmaking movement. The “wedding registry” wish-list is also a unique set up that gives an alternative to a cash donation. That makes a lot of sense since filmmakers will have an endless list of expenses that will use that cash. Any donation of meals, locations, loaning equipment, etc. will go a long way for a tight indie budget. Some contributors may find it easier to provide a needed service or product – rather than straight up money – times are tough. Additionally, Seed&Spark will offer a distribution outlet (80/20 split) – with 100% of the rights maintained by the filmmaker. Plus, they have a bonus (a.k.a. “Spark”) that incentivizes and rewards their consumers/moviegoers/fans to join and watch as many films as possible. Great ideas all around – right? Absolutely!

Then I had some additional thoughts on this… comes in as more of a question: what if this type of service succeeds, really succeeds and becomes the go-to standard for all indie filmmakers? Let’s think about this for a moment… it would be great, wouldn’t it? I have been looking at a lot of different filmmaking services and websites since I started working on my first feature, Nothing Without You. Through that process – I started Filmlinker. I usually gravitated to whichever service was applicable to that stage of production we were in – i.e. screenwriting, financing, pre-pro, production, festivals, distribution, etc. Back to my question – what if this type of service succeeds and becomes the go-to standard for all indie filmmakers? I think it would cover ALL the stages – from start to finish of what independent filmmakers are looking for – making a film, getting it to an audience and sustaining a creative career. Remember when YouTube first launched (before Google bought it)? YouTube now supports several video creators.

Crowdfunfing sites like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter have facilitated the financing possibilities. The current filmmaking technologies have brought production costs way down. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) has allowed filmmakers to communicate directly with and grow their fan base. There’s a plethora of self-distribution choices (VHX, Vimeo On-Demand, IndieFlix, Distribber, etc.) and many more that seem to launch everyday. All good – but Seed&Spark is combining all these services into one.

Let’s root and support this type of initiative. The future can be now.

Free Producer’s Master Class with Ted Hope and Christine Vachon

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Chris Jones – who runs workshops at the Guerrilla Film Makers Master Class just made available the 4-hour Producers Master Class seminar, titled, American Independents Day in London with veteran indie producers, Ted Hope [IMDB] and Christine Vachon [IMDB]. They’ve both produced 68 films each – so they obviously have a lot to teach us.

You can get all four hours/parts HERE (for free) – all you have to do is register an account on their site.

Here’s the first hour:

Here’s some of the eye-opening insights that they discussed:

What is the film business? The film business is about people keeping their jobs. That’s the most important thing by anyone who is employed in the film business. Not getting your movie made. Not getting an audience for your film…”  — Ted Hope – On how to strategize the production of your film – knowing their primary agenda is an advantage on how to approach it with your project.

Filmmakers are still seeing the web [production or distribution] as the second best [option] or a failure – the same way that they looked at TV a few years ago… now it’s astonishing how many A-list directors are directing their first television pilots… Scorecese with Boardwalk Empire, Jonathan Demme, David Fincher… it’s no longer a ghetto if you’re in director jail.” – Christine Vachon  – In reference to producing and distributing to the web.. Vachon uses Vuguru as an example of a web production company that she’s currently working with on some projects.

Here’s the outline of the first part/hour:
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0.20 Introduction of Ted Hope & Christine Vachon
1.30 Killer Films and how Christine started producing films.
4.30 How to find an audience for you’re film.
6.30 How to produce lots of films regularly & why its important to make the right choices.
9.20 The making of a horror film and how to make a B movie.
13.50 Why ignorance is bliss and how direct contact with industry professionals pays!
16.00 Lessons learnt and why its important to go out to film festivals.
19.05 The film Super and how to negotiate your terms.
20.40 How fear is the key ingredient to making films & why its good to keep an open mind to do things in a different way or platform.
23.35 Online film platforms and the benefits from distributing online.
27.25 The importance defining a brand & how to make a living out of making films.
31.30 Ways of getting an audience for your low budget film & the importantance of communicating through different platfroms.
34.50 Why you can expand your brand into different genres & how it is easy to get trapped.
36.30 How to find the right producer for you & why its about finding the right fit for that project.
39.45 Why it’s important to play the long game in working with collaborators.
43.00 How collaboration teams are the way of the future & why you should have a wide range of collaborators.
46.20 Legal issues and how to get your project permitted.
49.00 How online video on demand services have changed the model of distribution.
51.25 How does online platforms effect the way we tell stories.
53.00 Why making content for platforms like Hulu can benefit your career.
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Get access to all the four parts/hours at americanindependentsday.com.

Photo above from Andy Wright of Evermore Films (who attended the seminar and wrote about his experience here).

New MPAA Report Shows Hispanics Trending As Higher Percentage Moviegoer

Saturday, March 23rd, 2013

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) released its annual Theatrical Market Statistics Report for 2012 this week. The report illustrates that global box office revenue for all films worldwide reached $34.7 billion in 2012 (+6% over 2011). The U.S & Canada rev was up 6% to $10.8 billion with a 6% increase in admissions to 1.36 billion. One very noticeable piece in the report was that Hispanics – while only representing 17% of the population in the U.S & Canada – encompassed 26% of all movie ticket purchases.

Although Caucasians make up the majority of the population and moviegoers (140 million), they represent a smaller share of 2012 ticket sales (56%). Hispanics are more likely than any other ethnic group to go to movies, and purchased more tickets in 2012 compared to 2011. (source: MPAA)

Hispanics report the highest annual attendance per capita, attending on average 6.4 times per year, compared to closer to 4 times per year for African Americans, Caucasians, and Others. (source: MPAA)

In 2012, the ethnic composition of frequent moviegoers looks much the same as in 2011, with Hispanics oversampling as frequent moviegoers relative to their proportion of the population. (source: MPAA)

So what does all this information this mean to the independent filmmaker? For one – we can see that there’s a target audience that is not being directly served by the big studio films. This also seems to be a great opportunity for four-walling a film and bypass traditional distribution system. If you have an eager audience that wants to see films, why not make films for them.

Click HERE (PDF) for an infographic of the report.

Click HERE (PDF) for the full 2012 MPAA Theatrical Market Statistics report.

Tribeca Film Festival’s Vine Competition Announced

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

The Tribeca Film Festival just announced a call for entries for Vine powered 6 second shorts (#6SecFilms). After its initial release in January, Vine has become a popular platform/app for creating very short videos (6 seconds is the limit) that are shared on Twitter (its parent company) and Facebook. The 6 second limit on the Vines have forced its users to be even more creative with their looping films – same as Twitter has revolutionized the creativity of the 140 characters written snippet.

Here’s the gist of the competition:

– Create a Vine (a.k.a. short film) that tells a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

– Tag your Vine with #6SECFILMS and the appropriate category hashtag of in one of the following areas:

#GENRE (Horror, Comedy, Sci-Fi, etc.)
#AUTEUR (artistic visionary story or script)
#ANIMATE (animated short)
#SERIES (serialized Vines – up to three)

– Then post it to Twitter (you must also follow @TribecaFilmFest).

– The deadline is 11:59 pm ET on 4/7/2013.

Read their Official Rules (here).

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Here’s the rest from TFF’s official announcement:

All Vines submitted to Twitter using the relevant hashtags before the deadline of 4/7/2013 will be reviewed by the Tribeca Film Festival programming team. A shortlist of select Vines that meet the creative requirements will be chosen by the programmers and displayed on Tribecafilm.com the week of 4/17/2013.

Our panel of distinguished judges will deliberate over the shortlist and select a winner in each category. The winners will be announced 4/26/13.

SHORTLIST, WINNERS AND PRIZES

Shortlisted Vines will be recognized and showcased on TribecaFilm.com.
Winners in each category will receive $600 (a hundred bucks for each second).

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