Models & Experiments In Indie Distribution

I was bummed that I missed the Sundance panel on the New World of Indie Distribution.

Luckily, Scott Kirsner has the audio for download on his CinemaTech site.  If you see me walking to work, crossing on the orange hand, headphones burrowed into my ears, you know they are speaking well of the future.  Check it out (and I guess I should take a cue from Scott and start to record the panels I partake on...).
The Film Panel Notetaker has a few posts up too on some of the other panels.  There is enough going on in the panels to fill a full year of film school curriculium.  Still, I was hoping to find some more sparks.  
I participated in "The Panic Button" and for all the heavyweights participating, I would've thought they'd be more coverage; I guess The Inauguration pulled the press away.  Go figure. Maybe the biz is getting tired of hearing the old white guys speak.  Reuters was there though.  IndieFlix too. I did my best to get the business side (I was the only filmmaker) to recognize that they have to start giving back to the community a bit more if they don't want to see what's vibrant vanish, but Reuters only got the start of that argument.

Live From Park City!

I am particularly excited about Sundance this year. Beyond the films, there is a whole series of events that I will be participating in, and I look forward to all the people I will meet and good ideas that I will get to hear.  Please come ready to share some thoughts; my ears are open.

I am now the Closing Key Note speaker at the Art House Convergence (which is actually in Salt Lake City) on Thursday January 15th prior to the festival itself.  I do feel we are on the verge of a new collaboration between filmmakers and exhibitors and am eager to share this vision.

I will also be participating in a panel at the AHC on "New World Distribution" organized by Connie White & Jan Klingenhofer on Wednesday at 5P at The Peery Hotel in SLC.  This panel also features Bob Berney and Peter Broderick who are always sure to be brilliant. All of this really makes me feel like a change can truly come with all of our efforts.
The Convergence is geared to the exhibition and booking community but speaks well of the growing relationship between filmmakers and theaters -- devoid of any force keeping them apart. I don't think it's too late to register for the convergence although the focus is on the theaters. You will be sure to learn something nonetheless.  And if you aren't going to make it, just let me know if there is anything you'd like me to address here.
But it's not all lectures and learning.  The IFP, Filmmaker, The Salt Lake City Film Center, the new media communications concern SMA, and This is that have all come together to sponsor the first annual filmmaker/exhibitor/booker mixer on Friday night, January 16th 6 - 8P -- so you get a chance to party. I had hoped that something like this would come together. The bridge between these groups is one thing preventing us all from connecting all the dots. Here's hoping that a sponsor emerges and this can become an annual event. I hope to see everyone with a film or a place to book one there.

I will also be participating in what looks to be a great panel at Sundance "The Panic Button: Push or Ponder?" at 1130A at Prospector Square on Monday, January 19th.  The assorted old guys like myself include Mark Gill (The Film Department), James Schamus (Focus Features), Michael Barker (Sony Pictures Classics), Jonathan Sehring (IFC Entertainment), Marcus Hu (Strand Releasing) and Peter Broderick (Paradigm Consulting).  It's moderated by no less than Sundance Film Festival Director Geoffrey Gilmore.

I have always considered myself a man of action -- i.e. not one to sit and ponder -- but also never believing there should even be a button to push. I promise to make this a fun and lively event. If there is anything you would like me to be sure to discuss, please let me know as soon as possible.

There are a few other things in the works too -- just in case you miss me at these venues -- for later on at the festival.  Stay tuned.

Sundance Trailers

2009 can already be marked as the year that filmmakers and distributors launched trailers prior to Sundance and Slamdance. We won't yet have the majority of filmmakers being truly prepared, but new ones seems to debut daily.

I imagine next year the festival catalogue might link to the trailers. Hopefully at least the online version. Maybe they will link to clips too. For now though, we have to be content to find them ourselves.
A few weeks back we posted about Cinematical's growing list. We can now add six more to it:
Dead Snow; dir by Tommy Wirkola (hat tip: TrailerSpy)
Disturbing The Universe: William Kunstler; directed by Sarah & Emily Kunstler
Manure (teaser); directed by The Polish Brothers (hat tip: /Film)
Roseancrantz & Guildenstern Are Undead (slamdance); directed by Jordan Galland

Taking Chance; directed by Ross Katz (hat tip: /Film)

We Live In Public; directed by Ondi Timor (hat tip: Thompson On Hollywood)
Once again though it should be noted that The Workbook Project is on it for you.  For those of you that are thinking of next Sundance already, Zak Forsman has a post on how to cut an effective indie trailer.  Check it out.

Printing: Posters & Postcards

As mentioned a few days back, our Film Festival Strategy brainstorm continues...

Jon Reiss offers this up:

A very necessary expense in your publicity campaign are postcards and posters. These can be expensive but fortunately there are a number of on-line printers that are relatively inexpensive (eg 4000-5000 postcards for $100). One hidden cost when it comes to printing is shipping so I do recommend using a printer near you - so before you buy - make sure you include shipping in your cost estimate. I actually send an assistant or intern to pick up my printing from "Next Day Flyers" since the shipping almost costs as much as the printing. Sometimes your local printer will even match an on-line printers prices - or come close enough to make it worth your while. But they won't cut their prices unless you have a comparison price.

Regarding Postcards - they are cheap enough online that you could print them for each festival or theatrical screening even if you only print 500 at a time. The old way of doing this was to order a ton and then use stickers for your specific screening time. Unless you have some slave labor around - buying new postcards for $50 is going to be cheaper than paying someone to print and apply stickers to each post card - you have better things to do with your time.

Three important notes about posters:

1. Most on-line printers will not print one sheet size posters.

2. Printing standard film size posters - 27"x41" - is very expensive (for film festivals you only need one or two which will cost about $50 each - but for a theatrical release you will need more than that). The reason that these posters are so expensive to print is that they are too large for standard offset printing (the cheapest kind of bulk printing). However nearly all theaters (all the ones that I dealt with) will accept posters that are 24.5"x37.5" which is the largest size that you can have printed offset. This will save you thousands. (Although the best price I found was $1200 for 2000 posters - a pretty good price).

3. You can get a lot of mileage from 11x17 posters. Most storefronts won't put up a standard or near standard one sheet when you are promoting in a town. But they will put up a 11x17 poster. And these are much cheaper. You can get a 1000 for around $300. They are also good for wildposting/wheatpasting as they fit on most electrical boxes. (18x24s are also a good size for this) But be careful with wildposting - you can be fined thousands of dollars for illegal posting if there is anything on the poster that will track back to you or the theater!)


Next Day Flyers based in Compton California

Got Print based in Burbank California

Film Festival Strategy Round-Up

Back when I started this blog in October (oh so long ago, eh?), my short term goal was to help filmmakers not be misguided as to what a festival, even Sundance, could do for their film.  We posted a bunch about film festival strategy and it is all collected here.

There is still a lot to say on the subject and we are open suggestion as to the topics.

Hope For The Future pt. 5: The List #'s 18 -21

18.A feature film is no longer defined as a singular linear narrative told in under two hours. Filmmakers are recognizing the need to extend the filmic world beyond the traditional confines. Whether this is in Judd Apatow’s YouTube shorts for KNOCKED UP or in Wes Anderson’s prologue short for THE DARJEELING EXPRESS, the beginning of new models have emerged helping filmmakers continue the conversation forward with their audiences.

19.New models for production are being utilized. The most widely noted in this regard is “crowdsourced” work. Massify has recently brought together the horror film Perkins 14. This year brought us Matt Hanson’s and A Swarm Of Angels open sourced / free culture start-up THE UNFOLD; the trailer is mysterious (see below) and I am looking forward to the feature. These massive collaborative works are the ultimate union between audience and creator.

20. Grassroots has come to distribution. The Living Room Theater model advanced by Robert Greenwald’s Brave New Theaters empowers audience members and filmmakers alike bringing them together and invested in each others success. Filmmakers give the audience more power and control, and audiences recognize that they have to fight to preserve the culture they want. The Micro Cinema Movement's been at it longer and is still going strong.

21. The independent art house theaters are organizing. Sundance is hosting the first Art House Convergence this year prior to the festival, helping to build the knowledge base of these theaters and enhance their collaboration. This platform will be key to preserving the theaterical experience for films outside the domain of the major media corporations.

Worlds Will Shatter - The Unfold (A Swarm Of Angels) trailer

A Community Of Theaters: Film Circuit

How come it is the film festivals that pull together the theater operators?  I am very excited about the upcoming Sundance-organized Art House Convergence in SLC prior to Sundance and the potential it offers to weave together a group of sympathetic exhibitors.  We have so much great work in this country that currently goes under-screened.  There is fabulous international work too that we never get see or even learn about.  Don't even get me started about shorts.  

We lack meaningful ways to foster discussion about all this work without having it exhibited in a group context.  They have started to change this across our northern border with FILM CIRCUIT, and hopefully we can learn from their example.

A division of the Toronto International Film Festival Group (TIFFG), Film Circuit provides filmgoers in under-served communities, transformative experiences through access to Canadian and international independent films they would otherwise not have the opportunity to see. With over 190 groups in 169 communities across Canada, Film Circuit is essential in helping TIFFG lead the world in building markets and audiences for Canadian Cinema. 

Film Circuit promotes Canadian and international cinema through grassroots distribution, marketing, and exhibition. While providing filmgoers an opportunity to see films that may not otherwise be available, Film Circuit also provides distributors with an opportunity to extend the theatrical run of their films.

Recognizing that it is important that each individual community curates its own screening events to maximize community commitment and capitalize on knowledge of local demand, Film Circuit encourages collaborative programming between Film Circuit staff and individual Film Circuit Groups. Release schedules are issued throughout the year, and each group selects films according to local demand with the goal of enhancing awareness of and increasing exposure for independent cinema. The Film Circuit office then books films based on availability as determined by the distributor. Film Circuit staff arrange print traffic, provide development support, research and prepares film titles and availability lists, offer programming consulting, book guests and ensure cross-Circuit communication.
Films screened on Film Circuit are event based and generally classified as 'limited releases'; they require local marketing support to reach audiences. Some methods groups use to generate local interest in the programme include:

Word of mouth
Membership and subscriptions
Local press (ie. Newspaper articles, radio/television interviews)
Sponsored advertising

Check out the Film Circuit website.  They also feature American Independents.  Get in touch with them about your work.
Thanks to Lance Hammer for this tip!

Who Is Really Prepared For Sundance?

If only I had more hands.  And more time.  And less things that really got me excited -- like movies I want to make.

Anyway, I have been wondering what films and what filmmakers had gone ahead and made a trailer, built a website, had been blogging, placing clips on line.  You know: all the sort of stuff that needs to be done so you can truly launch at Sundance.  
It currently looks like the list of Those Who Are Prepared is not surprisingly dominated by those that have the most funding (and thus the most hands).  But it really doesn't have to be so (I know that's a lot easy to say, than do, but still...).  
Cinematical has run with a good opening list of the trailers for Sundance films.  I hope someone does a list of websites soon too.
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Art House Theaters Unite!

In order for a Truly Free Film Culture to take hold, independent theaters have to organize and work together.  Well, guess what?  Good news!  It's already happening.  

Imagine if a whole bunch of great theaters got together and decided they would accept bookings from independent and TFFilmakers.  Sounds logical, right?  But ask a DIY filmmaker turned distributor if they were able to get bookings beyond NYC's Film Forum, The Laemmle Sunset, and The Walker & Wexner centers, and I will know that the filmmaker hustled and hustled some more for each and every one of those bookings -- virtually to the point of collapse.  The sad truth is that currently to get bookings for legitimate theaters, most filmmakers have to hire an established booker to ink the deal -- and man, that ain't cheap.
But now it looks like that stranglehold may finally be broken.  And guess who's shattering these chains?  Sundance!  Freedom is looming.  Three cheers for Sundance!  Truly:  hip, hip and hooray!  A convergence of art house theatres from across the nation is to be held January 13-15, 2009 in Salt Lake City, Utah.  And from the sounds of it, Indie/TFF/Arthouse exhibition is going to take a great leap forward.
The Sundance Institute Art House Project is a partnership with art house cinemas nationwide to build audiences and develop a supportive community of theatre owners committed to independent film. Wow. Not that we can relax just yet, but this project is a great thing for both filmmakers and filmlovers alike.
The Art House Convergence is presented in cooperation with the Sundance Institute. At the Convergence, Art House theatres from all over the U.S. will gather just before the Sundance Film Festival (January 15-25) providing a rare opportunity for art house theatres to network and discuss successful marketing, programming and business models as well as current issues facing independent theatres.

John Cooper, Director of Programming, Sundance Film Festival, explains "Our organizing principle is to increase the market for film exhibition by expanding the number and effectiveness of community-based, mission-driven theatres in local communities, large and small, nationwide.”

So who are these theaters?  Mark them down, and then add to the list!

BAM, New York, NY,
Belcourt Theatre, Nashville, TN,
Broadway Centre Cinemas, Salt Lake City, UT,
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline, MA,
Enzian Theater, Orlando, FL,
Hollywood Theatre, Portland, OR,
International Film Series, Boulder, CO,
Jacob Burns Film Center, Pleasantville, NY,
The Loft, Tucson, AZ,
Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor, MI,
The Music Box, Chicago, IL,
Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, OK,
The Palm, San Luis Obispo, CA,
Pickford Cinema, Bellingham, WA,
Rafael Film Center, San Rafael, CA,
Ragtag Cinema, Columbia, MO,
Railroad Square Cinema, Waterville, ME,
The Screen, Santa Fe, NM,

The conference will include a keynote address by John Cooper, Director of Programming for the Sundance Film Festival, as well as panel sessions on:
- How to use the not-for-profit business model to grow audiences for Art House films
- An exploration of new film distribution paradigms (participating in these panels will be Bob Berney, formerly of Picturehouse and Peter Broderick, Paradigm Consulting, Ted Hope, This Is That Productions -- that's me!)
- Innovative marketing and showmanship techniques
- Tutorials on emerging film exhibition and Art House theatre operations technology

What Financiers Want Now

Producer-turned-financier Dan Cogan and I worked together years ago on the classic geriatric swinger doc THE LIFESTYLE.  Since the, Dan has built a truly unique financing entity IMPACT PARTNERS, who provide a diverse group of investors committed to social change filmmaking with both regular deal flow and creative and logistic oversight.  Impact Partners has consistently placed films in the Sundance Festival, but more importantly is committed to having they both reach an audience and to facilitate change.  Their success speaks of Dan's knowledge, and now he's sharing it with you right here.  Listen up!

Dan writes:
It strikes me that this is a particularly important moment in the indie film calendar for the Truly Free Film movement. Films are being quietly notified about acceptances to Sundance. It's a moment of excitement for filmmakers and financiers alike.

And so right now it's especially important to remember that the great fairy tale sale is only going to happen to a few films. The rest will have to take the great boost of Sundance and turn it into something for themselves.

There has never been a better moment for filmmakers to do this, especially doc filmmakers who do social-issue films, which is mostly what we finance. But they have to know what they're doing, and they have to be passionate and devoted to outreach as much as to filmmaking. When we finance a film, here are some of the things we look for:

1) Once we like a project, we want to know, Does the filmmaker have a plan for outreach to get to the film's natural audience? In the age of DVD, streaming, download-to-own, etc., outreach around social issues related to your film has become deeply intertwined with distribution. Most docs, even great docs, may not be theatrical, but they can have huge potential for direct sales over the web to audiences who are part of a political or social community that the film addresses.

2) Don't worry about preaching to the choir. Yes, it's always nice to reach new audiences. But if Barack Obama's campaign proved anything, it's how powerful you can be if you really inspire your base. If you can turn people who care about an issue into people who will take the time to knock on doors, make calls, donate money, and ACT on their values, you can have a huge impact. The irony is, of course, that this preaching-to-the-choir passion you create can spill over from your core audience to infect completely new communities.

3) Indie filmmakers have to hustle as much after the film is done as they do to get it made. Directors have to get out on the road and do speaking tours, organize screenings in alternative theatrical venues, develop audiences and drive them to the theater or to their web sites, etc. The work is just beginning when the film is done. And you're the one who has to do -- not a distributor.

4) Actually, the work begins while you're still making the film. The more you can work on outreach while you're in production, the better. The goal should be to build partnerships with those in the community you're making a film about during the filmmaking process, so that as soon as the film is done, you have devoted partisans who are invested in your film and want to help make it a success. You are building your audience as you make your film. I've learned a lot about outreach from Diana Barrett at The Fledgling Fund. Check out their site:

5) Make it easy for interested groups to run and publicize their own screenings of the film, and even let them make money off them, or at least break even. The best plan I've seen for this is Robert Bahar's screening kit for MADE IN L.A. Check it our here:

6) In the old world, P&A made all the difference. Today, it's about knowledge. Who are the bloggers who can get word out about your film? Where does your audience gather online? Etc. Today, knowledge is more valuable than money.

In this new world, the opportunities for success are in the filmmakers' own hands. But filmmakers have to be willing to take on these challenges and not expect someone else to do the work for them.

The Mainstream Is Waking Up

The LA Times and NY Times have each run their requisite articles on DIY Distribution.  Now Screen International is speaking up on the need to bring the films to the audiences (vs. bringing audiences to the films).

The trick now is to mobilise audiences, market and increasingly distribute to the places they want to watch the film. And, of course, set the budget accordingly.

But it's also vital to ignore the orthodox - surely the mission of independent film. It is, for example, snobbish and self-defeating to suggest that no one outside an educated elite wants film that challenges. If that's true, then why make films? Music and books don't seem to share that view. And the big film franchises from Batman to Bond have done their very best to apply as much shade as possible.

The indie film-maker needs to take on the fight. This is the time for a little less "we're doomed" and a little more "yes we can".

I am really curious if we will see this "yes we can" spirit invade Sundance this year, or will filmmakers keep believing in angels and demons.

Film Festival Plan A: DVD sales

Your film screens and everyone loves it.  They want their friends and family to see it too, but there are no more screenings left.  Your audience loves your film, how are you going to mobilize them into action?

Festivals are a great place to sell DVDs of your film, but will the Festival let you? It's probably a good idea to inquire in advance. Will you be able to set up a table outside the theater? Will you need to have a website in order to sell them? Will you need to have some one do the fulfillment? Figure this out before you show up.

People that buy your DVD at a festival are your core base and they want to help you out.  Give them your card and ask them to email you.  Get theirs and email them.  Let them know that this is a special sort of DVD they bought; tell them that is a DVD for house party use.  Let them know that if they can get a certain number of friends to come over (25? 50?), you will do an iChat with them live for an hour and discuss how you made the film.  Let them know that you will get them more of these "House Party DVDs" for their House Party that they can sell on your behalf and keep a cut for themselves.  Trust people; it will do more for you than the harm the few times you do get ripped off will hurt.

Film Festival Plan A: Online Screening

Major Festivals are great for media exposure, but they reach a really limited audience. Sundance is predominately film industry professionals and wannabes; what about the real ticket buying people? If someone hears about your film and they can't attend the festival, how will they get to see it?

With your audience's interest piqued, is it a good time to get your film online soon after the festival screening? What method will best serve your film: streaming, ad-supported, pay per download? There are many variations on this, but the point is you need to have it figured out before your screening if you are going to take advantage of it. And you need to have some way to let people know.
Some festivals, like Slamdance, are doing this directly themselves, and I think that's a great idea.

Film Festival Plan A: Getting The Word Out

Word of mouth is the key thing in generating want-to-see and future revenues for your film.  You want to shape that conversation as much as you can.  
It once was that film critics truly helped shape these discussions, but most have them now have been fired and lost their platforms.  Even before that, many had shifted to a simplistic way of reviewing, reducing things to a yay or nay and a synopsis.  But whom is doing this now?  There certainly is a galaxy of film bloggers out there.  And they are a lot easier to reach than their prior generation of film critics.  
If you got your film into a major film festival, I am sure the blogosphere will want to hear from you.  But why not go that extra step and get them a DVD in advance.  It's hard to see more than 25 films at Sundance and since there is five times that amount there, why not make sure that they see yours in advance?

Film Festival Plan A: Corporate Sponsorship

Corporate Sponsorship of a film, in any way, is a tricky thing.   A viewer who becomes aware of multiple agendas in a film, generally is no longer going to be "with" the film.  They become suspect.  But sponsorship is not the same as turning your art into a commercial.  There are many methods and many benefits to consider when considering corporate sponsorship (I will try to cover the negative side in another post in the future).

Perhaps the most important consideration regarding sponsorship is does the brand have a natural fit with your film (I know some will argue that the amount of money is the most important thing, but still).  If the film and sponsorship is not aligned, it will read to the public as a crass money grab (which maybe it is) and they will approach the film from a feeling of distrust.
Brands have their own audience.  Corporations maintain their own data on their "audience".  This is what you want most from the alliance: audience sourcing.  In considering sponsorship, ask them what they will do to reach out to their audience.  This may very well be a much longer term relationship with many phases to it, but it's hard to leap into such an arrangement.  As people like to say about investors and other supporters: "you have to get them pregnant first".  It's surprising that such a caveman philosophy dominates in so many areas, but you get the logic.  I prefer the "one step at a time" way of thinking myself.
You do need to keep the long term forever in mind though in working with a sponsor.  You want them there with you ever step of the way, hopefully deepening their commitment with your combined success.  Work the relationship.  Give them new opportunities.  
What do you want from the sponsorship from the get go though?  Well, beyond building for the long haul, you want to do something that has immediate impact.  Generally people think that is a big blow out party.  Personally, I am not a fan of this approach, particularly at Sundance.  They don't have much impact as they are over a few hours after they start.  Further at many festivals, you are competing with many parties.  And all parties get unruly; they just aren't a good experience and they don't leave much of a memory.
I am a big fan of dinners for fifty close friends.  This approach only works if your publicist can get you high end journalists to attend.  But who doesn't like a nice meal?  The question is though how would this benefit the sponsor.  Depending on your film and your sponsor,they may very much like the one on one interaction with your stars and team.  They might want to offer this to their top level execs, as Sundance has become a bit of a corporate getaway, another perk in their arsenal.  This approach can certainly extend beyond dinners: skiing with the stars, one on one sit downs, presentation of the movie at different branch offices.
Publicity materials are a relatively high cost item that you will need to have every step of the way.  Will your sponsor pay for the cost of posters and postcards, t-shirts and hats?  What can you offer them in return?  Is it such a big deal to have their corporate logo on the poster?  Is that too much to give away for such an investment?

Film Festival Plan A: Still Need To Hire A Publicist

When I first started going to Sundance, it was just a bunch of filmmakers and a bunch of filmlovers.  Filmmakers had no entourage.  No one told them what to do or what they thought was right; instead they shared information and secrets.  But that was then.

For the last ten years, it has seemed that filmmakers arrived at major festivals with a horde in tow: lawyers, agents, managers, producer's reps, foreign sales agents, and publicists.  The list actually goes on from there.  But that was then.
These days, recognizing that a sale is very unlikely, how much do you really need?  There's definitely another few posts worth of material in that question, but I can tell you that the one I think is critical is the publicist.  After all, it is all about getting the word out about your film.
The traditional media still holds the most weight (okay, that's debatable), and any a publicist worth their salt will know how to reach them.  More importantly, the publicist will know what these critics and journalists look like, and will be able to find out what they thought of the film immediately.  Their opinion matters as it influences everyone: buyers, festival programmers, independent bookers, and other journalists.
The publicists also know the distributors and as long as you want to keep Plan D (sell your film) alive, that is invaluable as the publicists can help facilitate meetings with the buyers.
A publicist will help you draft your press notes in advance of the festival and arrange key interviews.  Sometimes they can even help find a corporate sponsor for a party (more on that later).  The publicist will collect all of the press you receive, and survey the journalists on their response.  They will collect all this material so you can share it with everyone you reach out to later.
How do you find your publicist?  Well these days they often find you if you get into Sundance or a major festival.  The key filmmaking community organizations like IFP and Film Independent can also help direct you.  Maybe I can put together a list and post it here (I will get back to you on that).

Film Festival Plan A: Beyond Bonding

For years, I have recommended filmmakers do all they could to bond with the other filmmakers they met at festivals, for as the films travelled festival to festival, these other filmmakers would become their support group, their friends, perhaps even more. 

As we enter the Post-Festival Era, this support group needs to be transformed into a far more important alliance. It remains a top priority to find like-minded filmmakers, but now these fellow conspirators should be sought out as fellow distributors. With five united filmmakers you have a booking block, a touring film festival of your own making. 
If there was a way to locate all the other festival programmers, community center programmers, or independent theater bookers that attend the festival, this alliance would be in business.  Hopefully this type of independent booker will recognize that this is a new era and they can go to the filmmakers directly for an engagement.  Somehow I don't think that's going to happen this year, and these people remain hard to find.  Filmmakers need to share this information where ever they can find it.
I recognize that some may be hesitant to pursue this approach immediately after the festival.  The dreams of acquisition will still be strong.  Yet this sort of booking engagement is not a theatrical release in the traditional sense.  It is closer to a publicity tour -- a publicity tour on someone else's dime.  Field publicity is direct communication with the audience and that is the most successful way to build word-of-mouth on your film.