How To Get Ready For That FIlm Festival

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:

Distribution:

Preparation:

Producers' Rep (aka Sales Rep):

Publicists:

Q&A:

Sales:

Social Media:

IF YOU KNOW OF OTHER REALLY GOOD POSTS TO HELP PEOPLE PREP FOR FESTIVALS, Please share them here!!!

Peter Broderick: "The Power of Free"

As always Peter Broderick's latest newsletter is a must read -- this time it's about the documentary "Hungry For Change" and how the directors' incredibly success with the film is precisely because they gave it away for free, online. Once again, Peter's been nice enough to let me share the newsletter here with you. I can't recommend enough that you sign up for Peter's Distribution Bulletin. The extraordinary million-dollar success of HUNGRY FOR CHANGE marks a new era of opportunities for independents. It illustrates how "free" can be used to achieve broad awareness, generate revenue quickly, and build a worldwide audience.

The release of HUNGRY FOR CHANGE was unprecedented. The film: - premiered online (having never screened publicly before) - was available worldwide - was absolutely free (for 10 days only)

The results were remarkable: - 453,841 views around the world during the 10 day premiere - over $1.02 million in sales of DVDs and recipe books in the first 14 days

HUNGRY FOR CHANGE is a documentary that challenges the myths perpetuated by the weight loss industry and shows how to develop a healthy, lifelong diet. It is the second film by dynamic husband-and-wife team James Colquhoun and Laurentine ten Bosch, who I started consulting with in 2008 when they were beginning to distribute FOOD MATTERS, which went on to sell over 230,000 DVDs (see Distribution Bulletin #14). James and Laurentine are based in Australia but came to Los Angeles last week, where they told me the inside story of their historic "Free Worldwide Online Premiere."

James and Laurentine have learned how to tap the power of free. They've been experimenting with the possibilities of free for four years, first with FOOD MATTERS and now with HUNGRY FOR CHANGE.

FOOD MATTERS

Free Public Screenings - Instead of following the industry norm of charging organizations fees to hold screenings, the filmmakers took a risk and allowed anyone who registered to host a screening for free. The FOOD MATTERS website encourages the hosting of screenings:

"As part of our vision to provide life-transforming information that is accessible to all people, we are excited to allow free screenings of Food Matters around the globe."

The website provides a free screening resource pack, which includes handouts, posters, and other publicity materials. James and Laurentine believed that the cost of lost screening revenues would be much smaller than the benefit of positive word-of-mouth from a greater number of screenings, resulting in increases in visitors to the website, mailing lists sign-ups, and DVD sales.

Free, Dynamic Website Content - The filmmakers regularly added content to the FOOD MATTERS website, making it a valuable resource for their audience. This included videos that were freely available to all visitors to the website who registered, which simply consisted of inputting a name and an email address.

Free Online Screening - In December 2010, FOOD MATTERS DVDs were put on sale from the website for one week at half price. This resulted in 4600 sales, the best week in 2 1Ž2 years of sales. In October 2011, the filmmakers took a more radical approach with even better results. They allowed all comers to watch FOOD MATTERS for free for 8 days. This stimulated direct and indirect sales of 9800 DVDs, twice as many as were sold when it was offered at half price. Even more impressive, over 37,000 people joined the mailing list during this event.

As James explained, when you offer a film for free you get sign-ups from a good percentage of everyone who views the film. When you are having a sale, you only get the customer information from those who actually make a purchase. "For us, we're about creating a long-term relationship with our followers and not just selling to them," noted James.

HUNGRY FOR CHANGE

After their successful experiments with free, particularly the online screening of FOOD MATTERS, James and Laurentine decided to go all the way with HUNGRY FOR CHANGE. They were aware of some films that had been released free online, such as Michael Moore's SLACKER UPRISING, but knew of no major ones that had premiered online.

Pre-Release Marketing - They chose the term FREE WORLDWIDE ONLINE PREMIERE and released the trailer for HUNGRY FOR CHANGE on March 1, 2012. This was followed by two more eblasts with additional video content, including the first 4 minutes of the film, during the 21 days leading up to the premiere. They also partnered with the experts featured in the film. These experts had their own followers and shared in both the promotion of the free online premiere and the revenues from sales they referred.

Global Reach - The Free Worldwide Online Premiere was an instant hit. On its first day (March 21st) there were 45,211 plays. Tens of thousands of people watched the film each day. The premiere ended with a bang with 58,292 plays on the final day (March 31st). Altogether there were almost half a million views from more than 150 countries across the globe in just 10 days. These are astonishing numbers for an independent film that had never been seen before, had no paid advertising, and was not available through any retail channels.

Subscribers - There were 229,000 sign-ups in 14 days, a significantly greater number than FOOD MATTERS had gained in the previous 4 years. James estimates that less than 30% of the HUNGRY FOR CHANGE sign-ups were FOOD MATTERS subscribers, which means that at least 160,000 were new subscribers, almost doubling James and Laurentine's already substantial online following.

Revenue - Everyone who viewed HUNGRY FOR CHANGE was given access to three special offers: the DVD for $34.95, the new recipe book for $49.95, or the DVD and the recipe book for $74.95. Each order came with free bonuses and free shipping. In the first 14 days, over 20,800 orders were placed totaling over $1 million in sales. Although most purchasers had already seen the film for free, many wanted to buy a copy for themselves or purchase it as a gift for family or friends.

Access - Beyond broad awareness, revenues, and sign-ups, there are other important benefits of free. It removes a major barrier between filmmakers and audiences. If the film is available at no charge, at least temporarily, it is accessible to everyone. From the beginning, James and Laurentine have been motivated by a strong desire to get their message out to more people. Free allows their films to be seen even more widely and enables them to build relationships with viewers.

Good Will - Another major benefit of free is good will, which has allowed the filmmakers to develop a truly interactive relationship with their audience. They talk directly to their followers who tell them what they want. This knowledge has enabled them to make and market films that meet their followers' needs and continue to be seen by more and more people. -----

Taking free to a new level has also expanded awareness of James and Laurentine and created new opportunities for them. They are now writing a book for HarperCollins, which will be published this fall to coincide with the retail release of HUNGRY FOR CHANGE.

© 2012 Peter Broderick

Peter Broderick is a Distribution Strategist who helps design and implement customized plans to maximize revenues for independent films. He is also a leading advocate of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing, championing them in keynotes and presentations around the world. You can read his articles at www.peterbroderick.com

Maximizing Distribution Through Crowdfunding

By Peter Broderick

HopeForFilm has had the pleasure of hosting several of Peter Broderick's prior newsletters, but today's is extra-special, working as a continuation of Jennifer Fox's illuminating posts on MY REINCARNATION crowdfunding campaign. My filmmakers mistakenly think of the crowdfunding platforms for financial purposes, but as Peter points out, it works to build community, involve audiences, and generate publicity and a true sense of ownership.

MY REINCARNATION shows how a well-executed crowdfunding campaign can be used to maximize distribution. In addition to enabling the funding of the theatrical rollout, the campaign increased awareness among core audiences, generated substantial press coverage, and facilitated partnerships.

I've known and admired the film's director Jennifer Fox for many years, and consulted with her on the distribution of her remarkable series, FLYING: CONFESSIONS OF A FREE WOMAN. As tenacious as she is talented, Jennifer has learned, during more than 30 years of independent filmmaking, that it's "change or die." After exhausting every familiar fundraising route from grants to pre-sales for MY REINCARNATION, she tried crowdfunding as a last resort.

Filmed over twenty years, MY REINCARNATION is a documentary about her teacher, the Tibetan-trained Buddhist master Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and "his Italian born son who refuses to accept the destiny he inherited from birth." Although the film was technically completed and being shown at international festivals, Jennifer still needed $100,000 to pay the bills she'd amassed finishing the film after a producer defaulted on that amount.

MY REINCARNATION became a crowdfunding milestone. Through a 90-day campaign, Jennifer and her team raised $150,456, three times the official goal of $50,000. 518 backers gave an average donation of $290, more than any film had ever averaged on her crowdfunding platform, Kickstarter. The average was so high for two reasons. The film attracted two associate producers at $10,000 each (one of which was a group of 50 people living in China). The campaign also offered valuable one-of-a-kind rewards, such as a hand-painted Tibetan chest and a unique statue of the deity Vajrapan, which were available to contributors who gave between $2,500 and $7,500. Contributions were received from 32 countries and more than two-thirds of the money came from abroad.

There is much to be learned from this crowdfunding success. Jennifer contributed seven articles to Ted Hope's Indiewire blog detailing her 42 crowdfunding tips. They should be required reading for anyone planning a serious crowdfunding campaign. Here are two of the essential lessons:

==> Build a strong team that can put in the necessary time and effort. While filmmakers should be centrally involved in a crowdfunding campaign, they need a substantial amount of help to maximize the effort. Jennifer spent 50% of her time on the 90-day campaign. She had three teammates - a staff member who spent 50% of her time on the effort and two part-time women (compensated by a percentage of the money raised). They handled key tasks including adding fresh content to the website, managing outreach to organizations, and expanding the mailing list.

==> Make a detailed budget for the campaign. This should include the site fee (Kickstarter charges 5% if you meet your goal, IndieGoGo charges 4% if you meet your goal and 9% if you don't); the payment processing fee (3-5%); the cost of creating, acquiring, and shipping rewards; and any staffing fees. There are also likely to be some defaults in contributors' payments (Jennifer's were 2%). If you use a fiscal sponsor, which allows donations to be tax-deductible, there will be an additional fee of 5-7% (IndieGoGo waives its fee if you use one of its partner fiscal sponsors). Jennifer estimates that the total costs of her campaign will be between 20 and 25% of the money raised. It would have been higher if she had been compensated for the enormous amount of time she devoted to the campaign.

MY REINCARNATION is now playing in theaters around the U.S. It opened theatrically in New York City in October, five months after the crowdfunding campaign concluded in late May. It has already been shown or booked in 40 theaters, and was in its seventh week in New York when this went to press. It will surely play 60-70 cities through next April and Jennifer is hoping to reach 100. Erin Owens of Long Shot Factory is booking the film theatrically.

The crowdfunding campaign of MY REINCARNATION facilitated its distribution in ten key ways. The campaign enabled Jennifer's team to:

==> 1- BUILD AWARENESS AMONG CORE AUDIENCES. Jennifer believes the key to Kickstarter success is a strong, reachable core audience. MY REINCARNATION has two sets of core audiences. One is centered on Namkhai Norbu's 8,000+ students around the world (they are connected via a listserv and many also meet in local groups). This audience also includes other Buddhists, as well as spiritual, new age, and yoga groups. The second core audience is centered on Jennifer's fans and supporters, who she has nurtured over many years and films. This audience also includes documentary lovers and independent filmmakers.

==> 2 - GROW A NETWORK OF SUPPORT. This network consisted of all of the contributors to the Kickstarter campaign plus people who were unable to help financially but contributed their time and effort. These supporters helped by blogging and eblasting. The most active ones were recognized online on the Donors Wall and onscreen in the film's end credits.

==> 3 - ACCELERATE EFFORTS TO BUILD PARTNERSHIPS. Jennifer explained that the crowdfunding campaign "got us into outreach mode early." Her team made a major effort to develop partnerships with organizations, including Tibet House and the Tibet Fund.

==> 4 - GENERATE SIGNIFICANT PRESS COVERAGE. During the campaign Jennifer shared her crowdfunding tips in her seven-part series. When the campaign ended with such spectacular results, she and her teammates widely distributed a press release and got significant coverage. Jennifer also wrote an article for The Huffington Post.

==> 5 - EXPAND AND REFINE THEIR MAILING LIST. Over the years Jennifer had developed a personal mailing list of 6000 names. Her team worked hard to expand this list of individuals and organizations, starting with California and New York and then moving on to other states. Jennifer's list has now grown to almost 10,000 names.

==> 6 - IMPROVE THE FILM'S ONLINE PRESENCE. The team started with a solid website which they expanded with fresh content and videos, including outtakes of the film. They utilized user-contributed content through the website's "share your story" section. They also made excellent use of the film's Facebook page, which attracted many people from around the world.

==> 7 - RELEASE THE FILM THEATRICALLY. $15,000 from the crowdfunding revenues seeded the theatrical rollout. Jennifer harnessed the excitement created by the Kickstarter results to find the additional money needed for theatrical from a combination of donors and loans.

==> 8 - BOOST INTEREST AMONG DISTRIBUTORS. Erin from Long Shot Factory explained that many of the exhibitors she approached were already aware of the film. She cited the Kickstarter results to show that there was already an audience for the film. The crowdfunding success also helped get the attention of festival programmers.

==> 9 - STIMULATE SEMI-THEATRICAL AND EDUCATIONAL DISTRIBUTION. Following theatrical, MY REINCARNATION will have a strong semi-theatrical release during which nonprofits and universities will arrange special event screenings. Jennifer is also perfectly positioned to do her own educational sales based on the relationships her team has built with groups and organizations.

==> 10 - FACILITATE TELEVISION, DVD, AND DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION. The increased awareness of the film will foster DVD and digital sales, as well as boost the viewership for its POV televisions premiere. The DVD, which is not yet available, is already viewed as a collectible.

As MY REINCARNATION makes clear, a successful crowdfunding effort can jumpstart a film's distribution. It accelerates everything that will eventually be done to foster distribution, including making a trailer, reaching out to possible partners, building a network of support, generating press awareness, and refining the mailing lists and web presence. Instead of waiting until the film is nearly done and trying to do all of this in the weeks or months before its release, crowdfunding can give filmmakers a year or two head start.

A crowdfunding campaign can also provide invaluable information and feedback, enabling filmmakers to better define their core audiences, determine the best avenues to reach them, and refine the positioning of their films.

When MY REINCARNATION'S Kickstarter campaign reached a tipping point, things began to snowball. They raised $60,000 during the final five days of the campaign. Jennifer's team has been able to maintain the momentum from the campaign into the theatrical release and should be able to continue it through the next stages of distribution.

Filmmakers should design their crowdfunding campaigns to power their distribution. While their short-term goal is to raise money, their ultimate goal should be to create a long and vibrant life for their film.

© 2011 Peter Broderick

Peter Broderick is a Distribution Strategist who helps design and implement customized plans to maximize revenues for independent films. He is also a leading advocate of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing, championing them in keynotes and presentations around the world. You can read his articles at www.peterbroderick.com

Peter Broderick on "Special Report: How Films Can Change The World"

One of my top motivations to make movies was to change the world. It still is true today. Often when I tell people that I want to make movies that either change the world, change cinema, or finance those revolutions, they often think I am joking. But I am quite sincere. To sort of quote the legendary producer Walter Wanger "Film is the world's ambassador."

I was not surprisingly thrilled to get Peter Broderick's latest newsletter, and to find it not just on this subject, but with real info precisely on films that HAVE CHANGED THE WORLD. Peter has kindly agreed to allow me to share it here with you, provided you all NOW sign up for Peter's Distribution Bulletin, here.

SPECIAL REPORT: HOW FILMS CAN CHANGE THE WORLD

Three new studies assessing the impacts of An Inconvenient Truth, The End of The Line, and Waiting For "Superman" finally prove Sam Goldwyn wrong. The Hollywood mogul famously declared, "If you want to send a message, use Western Union." These reports highlight the real world results these films sparked and provide a new framework for evaluating the impacts of documentaries and features.

In the past, there was little research or rigorous analysis of powerful films such as Fahrenheit 9/11, Sicko, Super Size Me, and Food, Inc. Instead they were evaluated primarily on anecdotal information and subjective impressions. The appearance of these three new studies finally provides the research and analysis filmmakers need to better understand how to ignite social change.

An Inconvenient Truth, The End of The Line, and Waiting For "Superman" were each made to avert a looming crisis: global warming, the collapse of the world's fisheries, and the failure of America's public education system.

This Special Report includes exclusive coverage of the studies of An Inconvenient Truth and Waiting For "Superman," along with a concise analysis of The End of The Line report.

THE END OF THE LINE - A Social Impact Evaluation

This exemplary report documents the significant changes The End of The Line produced, highlights the importance of brand partnerships, and provides useful lessons concerning social media and coordination with partners.

The film was described by The Economist as "the Inconvenient Truth about the impact of overfishing on the world's oceans." Produced in the UK by the invaluable Channel 4 BRITDOC Foundation and financed by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, this beautifully designed report is the product of an 18-month study, which used qualitative and quantitative analysis, focus groups, and media analysis. It concludes that the film had a major impact on public awareness of overfishing--directly on viewers and indirectly on nonviewers through the huge amount of press it generated. The report estimates that the PR value of this media coverage was £4,186,710, more than four times the budget of the film.

The study also concludes that the film helped create "a tipping point in corporate policy" that spurred a number of corporations to switch to sustainable sources of fish. The upscale grocery chain Waitrose sponsored the film's release and promoted it in their stores, giving customers postcards about film and the importance of buying sustainable fish. The classy Prêt A Manger chain of sandwich shops totally changed its fish buying policy after its founder saw the film.

When I interviewed the visionary Jess Search (CEO of BRITDOC and co-creator of the report with her colleague Beadie Finzi) about the report, she shared her belief that businesses are "engines of change." Top-down change (requiring legislation and/or elections) and bottom-up change (requiring widespread grassroots involvement) are very difficult to achieve, but if you can persuade corporate decision-makers that the change you are seeking is in their interest, hundreds of thousands of consumers can be affected.

The study features a brilliant graphic that illustrates the complementary and interlocking partnerships filmmakers need to build with foundations and philanthropists, NGOs and advocates, policymakers, the media and brands. The report shows how much difference a film can make - expanding public awareness of an urgent issue, changing consumer behavior, altering corporate policy, and providing advocates with an effective tool.

To read the rest of Peter Broderick's Special Report visit here.

© 2011 Peter Broderick

Peter Broderick is a Distribution Strategist who helps design and implement customized plans to maximize revenues for independent films. He is also a leading advocate of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing, championing them in keynotes and presentations around the world. You can read his articles at www.peterbroderick.com

Guest Post: Peter Broderick "Crowdfunding Takes Off"

Today is a guest post from Hybrid Distribution Guru Peter Broderick, who kindly allowed us to reprint from his Distribution Bulletin. If you don't yet subscribe to his newsletter, better get on that, and quickly right that wrong, because otherwise your life-line for really knowing what options exist before you is growing thin! Peter has consistently sourced the truth of what can be done as an alternative to corporate supported & controlled filmmaking & distribution. The generosity he demonstrates sharing his knowledge is an example for us all. This time Peter demonstrates that Crowdfunding has entered a new SIX FIGURE stage of uber-major significance and you will want to get yourself some of that...

Crowdfunding has taken off. The most successful film projects are now raising hundreds of thousands of dollars, when not that long ago they were raising tens of thousands. The top three films in the Kickstarter Hall of Fame are BLUE LIKE JAZZ ($345,992), THE PRICE ($161,774), and I AM I ($111,965).

Unlike BLUE LIKE JAZZ and THE PRICE which are both based on material written by authors with large and loyal followings, I AM I is an excellent example of how to build support for an original script. After seeing my presentations on crowdfunding, writer-director Jocelyn Towne and her producers Cora Olson and Jen Dubin from Present Pictures (GOOD DICK) convinced an investor to match up to $100,000 in donations. They built a solid website, calibrated their reward levels, planned the stages of their campaign, and created a great video. Done in one long carefully choreographed take, viewer’s found this humorous video irresistible.

They began their 38-day effort on Kickstarter through their personal networks. Jocelyn spent the month before the campaign drafting individual emails to everyone she knew and saved them for launch day. On Twitter, 40,000 people were following her actor/husband Simon Helberg (featured in the hit TV show, THE BIG BANG THEORY) and 10,000 were following Jason Ritter (another popular I AM I cast member who is the star of NBC's THE EVENT) . The team also made good use of Facebook. Jocelyn worked tirelessly on the campaign, writing personal thank you notes to almost every donor.

Donations started strong ($17,000 in the first few days), slowed down over the Christmas holidays, and accelerated as they approached the finish line ($24,000 in the closing days). Their contributors included friends, family, colleagues, and a few studio executives. 80% of their 902 contributors were total strangers. Amazingly, 3 of these strangers made $10,000 donations, for which Jocelyn and Simon promised to come to their hometowns and do private screenings just for them. Overall, as is typical with Kickstarter projects, the majority of donations were at the $20 (32%) and $100 (26%) levels.

Their campaign was so successful that it gave I AM I the momentum needed to move into production. Even after their campaign ended, people were still asking to contribute. The I AM I team added a Donate button to their website and is offering rewards similar to those they gave on Kickstarter.

In addition to the $111,965 raised, their campaign created a large network of supporters. Producer Cora Olson observed, “our initial goal was to raise as much money as possible, but when we saw how many online impressions we were making, we realized that this awareness could ultimately be more valuable than cash when it’s time to launch the film.”

© 2011 Peter Broderick

Peter Broderick is a Distribution Strategist who helps design and implement customized plans to maximize revenues for independent films. He is also a leading advocate of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing, championing them in keynotes and presentations around the world. You can read his articles at www.peterbroderick.com

Hey NYC & LA Filmmakers!! Your Personal Invite (& DISCOUNT) To Distribution U!

Today's guest post is letter to YOU from Peter Broderick. Okay, it is to me, but only so I can forward it to you.  This is a can't-miss-event.

Dear Ted,

We would like to invite your colleagues and readers  to Distribution U and offer them a special discount (see end of post).  It is a unique event that will give them the latest information about new distribution models and connect them to many of the people who are pioneering cutting edge strategies. The event is being presented by me,  Peter Broderick, a leading strategist and pioneer of new distribution models, and cutting-edge author and tech analyst Scott Kirsner.

This one-day crash course on the New Rules of Crowd Funding, Audience Building & Distribution is being held Saturday, November 13th in New York at NYU and the following Saturday, November 20th in Los Angeles, where it is co-sponsored by UCLA's School of Film, Theater, and Television.

We are very excited about the stellar roster of resource people who have already committed to participate. They are pioneers who are creating and implementing the latest distribution models and strategies.

Richard Abramowitz (who organized the successful theatrical rollout of "Anvil: the Story of Anvil") and Marc Schiller (the digital marketing expert who heads Electric Artists) will present a case study revealing how they guided the release and marketing of "Exit through the Gift Shop" so effectively, without a director to promote it.

So far our other resource people include:

Caitlin Boyle (semi-theatrical maven and head of Film Sprout)

Jim Browne (theatrical booker and founder of Argot Pictures)

Adam Chapnick (founder of Distribber, the innovative company that works with filmmakers to maximize their digital revenues)

Brian Chirls (the tech guru who developed much of the Internet strategy for "Four Eyed Monsters")

Jonathan Dana (producer and producers rep "Road to Nowhere")

Ira Deutchman (producer and Emerging Pictures CEO)

Sandi DuBowski (producer/director "Trembling Before G-d" and outreach director for The Good Pitch)

Madelyn Hammond (marketing guru and former Chief Marketing Officer at Variety)

Justine Jacob (director of "Ready, Set, Bag!" and an attorney at the law firm Lee & Lawless)

Scott Macaulay (producer and editor of Filmmaker Magazine)

Slava Rubin(CEO and co-founder IndieGoGo)

Jill Sobule(singer/songwriter "California Days" and crowdfunding pioneer)

Anne Thompson (journalist and blogger "Thompson on Hollywood")

Other directors and producers include:

Robert Bahar and Almudena Carracedo ("Made In LA")

Jennifer Dubin and Cora Olson ("Good Dick")

Roberta Grossman ("Blessed Is The Match")

Joel Heller ("Winnebago Man")

Meg McLagan ("Lioness")

Vladan Nikolic ("Zenith")

Ben Niles ("Note by Note")

Jim Tusty ("The Singing Revolution")

Our resource people will lead off-the-record discussion groups in their areas of unique expertise and will be available to participants during networking opportunities throughout the day.

The experience of these resource people will be complemented by that of participants, many of whom have also been working on the frontiers of distribution. Scott and I have designed the event to give everyone a chance to connect and potentially collaborate in the future.

Here are discount links:

Distribution U. New York, November 13th

http://distributionu-nyc.eventbrite.com/?discount=friend

Distribution U. Los Angeles, November 20th

http://distributionu-la.eventbrite.com/?discount=friend

There is also a small group rate if two or more people sign up at the same time. For 2 it is $185 a piece and for 3 or more it is $175 per person.

We hope many of your readers and colleagues will be able to attend.

Onwards and upwards,

Peter

P.S.  From Scott:

Here's what Manohla Dargis wrote about last year's event, at USC: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/17/movies/17dargis.html

We're also giving away a pass to one lucky person who tweets the URL (http://distributionu-nyc.eventbrite.com) along with the hashtag #distribu. (We'll pick the winner Wednesday at 5.)

There's also some MP3 audio of one of the case study sessions last year, featuring the director of "Anvil" and the producer of "Good Dick," both of which were at Sundance 2008.

http://scottkirsner.com/DistributionU2009-casestudies.mp3

Seize the Power – Why You Should Pay Attention to the LAFF Symposium this Weekend

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.  This is followed by a plethora of service providers (from Orly Ravid of the Film Collaborative to Yancy Strickler of Kickstarter to Bob Moczydlowsky of Topspin) that we brought together so that filmmakers could learn the best ways to put these tools into practice in their own careers.

Sunday morning will kick off with a discussion between myself and Corey McAbee (The American Astronaut and Stingray Sam).  We will explore how he uses the new distribution and marketing tools and landscape to create a viable artistic career for himself.        Caitlin Boyle from Film Sprout will give one of her incredible introductions to grassroots audience development and distribution.  I am super excited to see Lance Weiler and Henry Jenkins on Transmedia.  (somehow Lance always has a way of frying my brain – in a good way).  The inimitable Peter Broderick will lead a discussion on crowdfunding,  Colleen Nystadt and Sean Percival will present different tactics for audience engagement.  The event will cap with one of those incredible Film Independent public case study examinations of two films:  Children of Invention and Bass Ackwards.

Last but not least – it will give filmmakers an opportunity to connect with each other and the presenters.  Come on down and introduce yourself, learn and contribute.

- Jon Reiss

Filmmakers vs. Aggregators: Distribber speaks of Win, Win!

Today's guest post is from Distribber founder Adam Chapnick responding to the question of just what IS Distribber and how can it make the world safer for filmmakers. Distribber was recently acquired by IndieGoGo, and in the wake of the publicity surrounding the announcement, we received a tremendous outpouring of enthusiasm and interest in Distribber's service.  As is inevitable, there's been some confusion around what Distribber does and doesn't do.  

Distribber was created to help rights holders maximize the payback from their work and investment.

More specifically, Distribber was conceived as a solution to several persistent complaints from filmmakers and other creative rights holders about distributors in general and aggregators in particular.  ("Aggregator" is the term used for a company that acts as a gatekeeper between a rights holder and a retail platform, such as iTunes, Netflix, Hulu or Cable VOD operators like Comcast, Time Warner, etc.)  

The complaints surrounded 3 specific pain points: 

Complaint #1.  Eternal revenue-share for finite service
Aggregators (other than Distribber) work on a revenue-share basis, meaning that they make money by keeping between 15% and 50% of your revenue that they collect from the retail platforms on your behalf.  They take this portion of revenue for the entire term of your deal with them.  The complaint from filmmakers was that while aggregators take this money "forever," they didn't seem to be working forever.  To many, it seemed that aggregators placed their film on the platforms and then moved on. 

This situation was even more frustrating for larger rights holders -- production companies, sales reps, etc. -- who controlled the rights to several (often dozens) of titles, and who engaged in significant marketing and grassroots outreach but lacked access to iTunes, except through revenue share entities.  The shared-revenue structure has continued to frustrate these larger companies as they have been the core demand-drivers.

Now, in defense of aggregators, encoding a film, ushering it through Quality Control "QC" and having the access to place it on iTunes or Netflix or Hulu or Cable VOD or anywhere else is indeed a valuable service -- and often a time-consuming one.  

However, it seemed that one could put a fair price on that service that accounted for the work and value of relationships, and offer it to filmmakers cleanly, without the burden of a revenue-share.  This would enable a filmmaker, production company or other rights holder to know their cash outflow in advance, and enjoy 100% of the benefit of their film's success.  So, Distribber adopted a flat-fee-for-service model.

Complaint #2.  Large deducted expenses, often including fees for marketing services that seemed unhelpful or nonexistent
Filmmakers complained that distributors and aggregators deducted expenses that seemed unreasonable, like $1500 for encoding, or an array of costs for marketing services that the filmmaker wasn't sure had actually been done.  

Here, the opportunity was again to charge a fair price, once.  So, Distribber adopted a fair price.  The $1295 one-time fee for iTunes placement was less than some rev-share companies charged for the encoding alone, and after only 185 sales at $9.99 on iTunes, rights holders have been entirely in profit.

Without putting too fine a point on it, it bears emphasizing:  after 185 iTunes sales at $9.99, a rights holder is in profit for the rest of the film's life on iTunes. Going forward, Distribber charges $79 per year for account access, collection and sales stats.  

The best evidence that we were on the right track came when the Age of Stupid production team chose to use Distribber -- they have been incredibly successful trailblazers in the hybrid distribution movement, and their endorsement told us that our service is providing its intended benefits for its ideal users.

To compare Distribber's model with revenue-share models, consider the illustration below.  At 1000 iTunes sales (retail price $9.99), rights holders give up 174% more money under a 15% rev-share than they pay to Distribber ($3,550 compared to $1295).  Under a 25% rev-share, rights holders pay 228% more ($4,250).  At 10,000 sales, Distribber's one-time fee doesn't change, but a 15% rev-share deal now costs ten times the Distribber fee ($13,000), while a 25% rev-share deal costs over fifteen times more ($20,000).  Obviously, at 20,000 sales, the disparity only increases.

Looking at revenue, with Distribber's flat fee, at 1000 iTunes sales, rights holders are paid 65% more than they would be with a 15% rev-share deal ($5,705 vs. $3,450), and they're paid more than twice what they'd get from a 25% deal ($5,626 vs. $2,750).  At 10,000 sales, Distribber clients keep $11,705 more than they would under a 15% rev-share, and  $18,705 more than they would under a 25% rev-share.  And again, at 20,000 sales, a rights holder does even better.


What A Filmmaker Is Charged, With:                     What A Filmmaker Keeps, With:

Distribber 15% Rev-Share 25% Rev-Share Distribber 15% Rev-Share 25% Rev-Share
At 1000 iTunes sales -$1,295 -$3,550 -$4,250 $5,705 $3,450 $2,750
At 10000 iTunes sales -$1,295 -$13,000 -$20,000 $68,705 $57,000 $50,000
At 20000 iTunes sales -$1,295 -$23,500 -$37,500 $138,705 $116,500 $102,500

(The chart assumes Rev-share companies deduct from filmmaker's revenue $2500 for encoding and/or marketing.)

And now, with Distribber's addition of Amazon VOD and Netflix's streaming service, we decided that as a limited-time promotion, for the same $1295, Distribber clients could have our Amazon and Netflix service for free. This of course only makes the above comparison even more lopsided in Distribber clients' favor, since it adds revenue without adding any expense.

Complaint #3.  Late payments, and sometimes no payment

Filmmakers complained that even after resigning themselves to a rev-share deal, and agreeing to the small payout left after expenses and revenue share deductions, they had to chase distributors and aggregators for reports and checks, and sometimes with none being sent at all.

So, Distribber has decided to do away with reports and checks, and instead employ a user account system, whereby clients login with a username and password.  Here they gain access to collection stats by platform, and see their collected funds balance.  Clients withdraw their own money on demand, with the click of a button.  Having all sales stats and collection in one account removed a major, time-consuming headache from our clients lives for $79 a year.

Next: More Pain, More Answers

Even a casual follower of the distribution business knows that there are plenty of areas it can be improved, and in plenty of ways.  Distribber is continuing to actively developing new methods and models to serve rights holders across a variety of platforms, from internet to cable to mobile. 

With the proliferation of tools like Wordpress, Facebook, Twitter and all the plugins and apps that support those services, it's more possible than ever for innovative companies, teams -- or even individuals -- to disrupt old marketing models and connect with audiences.  Filmmaker/marketers like Gary Hustwit, Lance Weiler, Tiffany Shlain and others have shown the way to create demand via their own efforts and investment. Peter Broderick is shepherding rights holders through a hybrid strategy that teaches careful allocation of specific rights to companies that are highly specialized, with the goal of maximizing the revenue a filmmaker keeps.

The key thing to understand about Distribber is that it's a powerful tool to help enterprising rights holders keep the most of their own money.  The more skilled you are at connecting with audience, the more buzz that you've built, the better Distribber's deal works for you.  

ADAM CHAPNICK is CEO of Distribber.com, an IndieGoGo company that places film and TV content on digital sales platforms such as iTunes, Netflix and Amazon for a flat fee while allowing filmmakers to keep 100% of their revenue. Adam can be reached at adam@distribber.com .

The 21 Brave Thinkers Of Truly Free Film 2009

Earlier this year, while looking at Atlantic Magazine's list of Brave Thinkers across various industries, I started to wonder who are of this ilk in our sector of so-called Independent Film.

What is it to be "brave"? To me, bravery requires risk, going against the status quo, being willing to do or say what few others have done. Bravery is not a one time act but a consistent practice. Most importantly, bravery is not about self interest; bravery involves the individual acting for the community. It is both the step forward and the hand that is extended.
Frankly though, I think anyone that commits to creating film, particularly independent film, and specifically artist driven truly free film, is truly brave... or at least, insane. It is a hard road out there and growing more difficult by the day. All filmmakers getting their work made, screened and distributed deserve recognition, support, and something more significant than a good pat on the back from the rest of us. As great their work is both creatively and in terms of the infrastructure, it's easy to lose sight of how fragile all this is. Our ability to create and screen innovative and diverse work is consistently under threat.
It is a truly great thing that this list of BRAVE THINKERS is growing rapidly; I first thought it would be ten, then twenty. I expect we will see some new folks joining this list in the months ahead. I know there are those whom I've forgotten that deserve to be included here. This list, although it includes many artists, is about those who are working and striving to carve a new paradigm, to make the future safe for innovative and diverse work, to build an artist-centric content economy. The TFF Brave Thinkers lead equally with their ideas, actions, and generosity. They set examples for all of us and raise the bar. These are indie films true new leaders, and for those that think they are in power, those that are just starting out, or those that want to find a new angle on industry you work in, you should make sure you meet these folks in the coming year, because they are redefining the way we fund, develop, create, define, discover, promote, participate, curate, and appreciate that thing we still call cinema.
  • Franny Armstong - After making THE AGE OF STUPID via crowdsourcing funds, Franny also looked to the audience to help distribute her film, creating IndieScreenings.net and offering it up to other filmmakers (see The Yes Men below). By relying fulling on her audience from finance to distribution, Franny was able to get the film she wanted not just made, but seen, and show the rest of us to stop thinking the old way, and instead of putting faith in the gatekeepers, put your trust in the fans.
  • Steven Beers - "A Decade Of Filmmaker Empowerment Is Coming" Steven has always been on the tip of digital rights question, aiding many, including myself, on what really should be the artist's perspective. Yet it remains exceedingly rare that individuals, let alone attorneys, take a public stand towards artist rights -- as the money is often on the other side.
  • Biracy & David Geertz - Biracy, helmed by Geertz, has the potential to transform film financing and promotion. Utilizing a referral system to reward a film's champions, they might have found a model that could generate new audiences and new revenue.
  • Peter Broderick- Peter was the first person to articulate the hybrid distribution plan. He coined the term I believe. He has been tireless in his pursuit of the new model and generous with his time and vision. His distribution newsletter is a must have for all truly free filmmakers and his oldway/newway chart a true thing of beauty.
  • Tze Chun & Mynette Louie - Last year, the director and producer of Children Of Inventiondecided that they weren't going to wait around for some distributor to sweep them off their feet. They left Sundance with plans to adopt a hybrid plan and started selling their DVD off their website. They have earned more money embracing this new practice than what they could have hoped from an old way deal. As much as I had hoped that others would recognize the days of golden riches were long gone, Tze & Mynette were the only Sundance filmmakers brave enough to adopt this strategy from the start.
  • Arin Crumley - Having raised the bar together with Susan Buice in terms of extending the reach of creative work into symbiotic marketing with Four Eyed Monsters, along with helping in the design of new tech tools for filmmakers (FEM was encouraging fans to "Demand It" long before Paranormal Activity), co-founding From Here To Awesome, Arin launched OpenIndie together with Kieran Masterton this year to help empower filmmakers in the coming months.
  • IndieGoGo & Slava Rubin - There are many web 2.0 sites that build communities, many that promote indie films, many that crowd source funds, but Slava & IndieGoGo are doing it all, with an infectious and boundless enthusiasm, championing work and individuals, giving their all to find a new paradigm, and they might just do it.
  • Jamie King - The experience of giving away his film "Steal This Film" lead Jamie to help build VODO an online mechanism initially built to help artists retrieve VOluntary DOnations for their work, but has since evolved to a service that helps filmakers distrubute free-to-share films through P2P sites & services, building on this with various experimental business models. Such practices aren't for everyone, but they are definitely for some -- VODO has had over 250,000 viewers for each of its first three releases in 2009 -- and the road is being paved by Jamie's efforts.
  • Scott Kirsner - Scott's book Friends, Fans, & Followers covered the work of 15 artists of different disciplines and how each have utilized their audience to gain greater independence and freedom. Through his website CinemaTech, Scott has been covering and questioning the industry as it evolves from a limited supply impulse buy leisure buy economy to an ubiquitous supply artistcentric choice-based infrastructure like nobody else. His "Conversation" forum brought together the tech, entertainment, & social media fields in an unprecedented way.
  • Pericles Lewnes - As a filmmaker with a prize winning but underscreened film (LOOP), Peri recoginized the struggle of indie filmmaking in this day and age. But instead of just complaining about it like most of us, Peri did something about it. He built bridges and alliances and made a makeshift screening circuit in his hometown of Annapolis, MD, founding The Pretentious Film Society. Taking indie film to the bars with a traveling projector and sound system, Peri has started pulling in the crowds and getting money back to the filmmakers. A new exhibition circuit is getting built brick by brick, the web is expanding into a net, from a hub spokes emmenate until we have wheels within wheels within wheels. Peri's certainly not the only one doing it, but he brings an energy and passion we all need.
  • Cory McAbee - It's not enough to be a talented or innovative filmmaker these days. You must use the tools for entrepreneuarial activity that are available and you have to do it with flair. We can all learn from Corey. His films, his music, his live shows, his web stuff -- it all rocks and deserves our following and adoption.
  • Scott Macauley - some producers (like yours truly) write to spread the gospel, happy just to get the word out, not being the most graceful of pen. Scott however has been doing it with verve, invention, wit, and style for so long now, most people take his way wit words as a given. Not only is it a pleasure to read, the FilmmakerMagazineBlog is the center of true indie thought and appreciation. It's up to the minute, devoid of gossip, deep into ideas, and is generally a total blast. And the magazine is no slouch either. And nor are his films. Can we clone the man?
  • Brian Newman - After leaving Tribeca this year, Brian has showed no signs of slowing down, popping up at various conferences like PttP and the Flyaway Film Fest to issue missives & lectures helping to articulate both the problems facing indies these days along with starting to define how we will find our way out. Look to Brian to be doing something smart & exciting in the media world in 2010; somewhere someone smart should find a way to put this man to work shortly, but here's hoping he does it on his own so we can all benefit from his innovative ideas.
  • Nina Paley - In addition to successively adopting an "audience distribution" model for her film Sita Sings The Blues, Nina has been incredibly vocal about her experiences in the world of "free", helping to forge a path & greater understanding for other filmmakers. And now her film is getting traditional distribution at the IFC Center in NYC (and our whole family, including the 9 year old spawn, dug it!)
  • Jon Reiss - After adopting the DIY approach for his film Bomb It, Jon chose to share the lessons he's learned in ever increasing ways, from his blog (and this one), to articles for Filmmaker Mag, to finally to the must-have artist-centric distribution book THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX OFFICE. Anyone considering creating a truly free film, this book is mandatory reading first. Full disclosure: I penned an intro to Jon's book.
  • Mark Rosenberg - What does it take to create a new institution these days? Evidently quite a bit, because I can only think of one in the film space and that's Rooftop Films. Mark curates and organizes with a great team of folks, who together have brought new audiences new films in new venues. NY is incredibly fortunate to be the recipient of Rooftop's work, but here's hoping that Mark's vision spreads to other cities this coming year.
  • Liz Rosenthal - There is no better place to get the skinny on what the future for film, indie film, truly free film, artist-centric film, and any other form of media creation than London's Power To The Pixel. Liz founded it and has catapulted what might once have been fringe truly into the mainstream. Expanding beyond a simple conference into a year round forum for future forward media thought, PttP brainstorms, curates, and leads the way in transmedia creation, curation, & distribution. Full disclosure: I was PttP keynote speaker this year.
  • Lance Weiler - In addition to being a major force in both Transmedia thought, DIY distribution, and informative curatorial,with his role in Power To The Pixel, From Here To Awesome, DIY Days, & Radar web show but his generous "Open Source" attitude is captured by The Workbook Project, perhaps the most indispensable website for the TFFilmmaker. He (along with Scott Kirsner) provides a great overview of the year in tech & entertainment on TWP podcast here. It's going to be in exciting 2010 when we get to see him apply his knowledge to his next project (winner of Rotterdam Cinemart 2009 prize and now a participant in the 2010 Sundance screenwriters' lab). Full disclosure: This is that has signed on to produce Lance's transmedia feature H.I.M.
  • Thomas Woodrow - As a producer, Thomas has embraced the reality of the marketplace and is not letting it stand in his way. There is perhaps no other producer out there who has so fully accepted the call that indie film producing nowadays also means indie film distribution. He's laying out his plan to distribute BASS ACKWARDS immediately after its Sundance premiere through a series of videos online. Full disclosure: I am mentoring Thomas vis the Sundance Creative Producing Lab.
  • TopSpin Media - As their website explains: "Topspin is a technology platform for direct-to-fan maketing, management and distribution." They are also the tech behind Corey McAbee's activities and hopefully a whole lot of other filmmakers in the years behind. Founded by ProTools' creator, Peter Gotcher, and Shamal Raasinghe, TopSpin is a "white label" set up thathas the potential to usher in the Age Of Empowerment for the artist/creator class. Today it is primarily a tool for musicians, but expect it to migrate into filmdom fully pretty damn soon.
  • The Yes Men - The Emma Goldman ("If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution") TFF 2009 Award winners for keeping both politics and film marketing fun, these pranksters hit all the fests, winning awards, and using it to launch their own distribution of THE YES MEN FIX THE WORLD. Bravery's always been their middle name, but they are among the first of rising tide of filmmakers willing to take for full responsibility for their film.
Who did I forget? I know this list is very US-centric, but I look forward to learning more of what is going on elsewhere in the days to come. Who will be our Brave Thinkers for next year (if I can muster the energy to do this for another year, that is)? What can you learn from these folks? May I humbly suggest that at the very least, you do whatever you can to find, follow, and converse with these folks in 2010. The more we learn from them, the better off this film industry will be, and, hey: it may turn out to be a good new year after all.

One Day Crash Course In The New Distribution & Marketing

Saturday November 7th in LA Scott Kirsner & Peter Broderick lead what looks to be a mindblowing overview of the how-to in hybrid distribution. Order tickets here:

This one-day course will reveal the techniques successful filmmakers are using to:

• Design customized distribution strategies

• Harness the Internet and social media to launch their projects

• Reach core audiences directly

• Maximize revenue from multiple distribution channels

• Build a fan base to support your future work


Peter Broderick's Distribution Bulletin

Few have done as much to articulate the new paradigm as Peter Broderick.  Step by step he's been laying it out clearly for filmmakers to walk away from the corporate grip and make it work for themselves.  If you want to be free to tell stories on any subject in any manner, you have to change your way of thinking.  A regular dose of Peter's wisdom helps us all keep a clear head.

My only complaint is Peter doesn't publish his Distribution Bulletin as frequently as I would like to read it.  Luckily, a new edition just hit the internet so we can all calm down for a day or two.  This issue Peter tells us of the The Age Of Stupid and the their crowd-funding model.  Don't miss it.

Jeff Lipsky: WHY SO SERIOUS? Part 2

Jeff Lipsky continues what he started...:

6. I predict the death of mumblecore movies by 2011. Independent films will once again boast strong scripts and, as such, will reach a broader audience. This is probably as good a time as any to reiterate to critics who invoke the name of John Cassavetes in their reviews of so-called mumblecore fare: John’s only improvised film was “Shadows.” Suck it.

7. Wonderful myriad primers about self-distribution are available in current issues of magazines like FilmMaker, MovieMaker, and at this link provided by DYI guru Peter Broderick (http://www.peterbroderick.com/writing/writing.html). Such detailed first-person reporting, including specific anecdotal detail and how-to information is worth its weight in gold to independent film producers. This shared information will become much more prolific and abundant and available in the months and years to come. We don’t need more filmmakers, we need more knowhow about gaining access to audiences for the all-too-few great independent films that still manage to get made.

8. Just when digital projection saturation in all cinemas across the U.S. was about to be a tangible thing, a reality, looming not on the horizon but happening TODAY, banks aren’t lending money to anyone. That’s where the billions of dollars for this wholesale transformation was going to come from, from banks. Fewer digital screens (for a while longer, anyway – I know it’s still coming) will mean fewer bad digital movies. Audiences will be happier, critics will be happier, incisive and insightful bloggers will be happier, and more people will return to the movies, especially to good independent movies.

9. Praise the Lord, the studios became fed up with so-called independent distribution in 2008 (just as they did in the early to mid 80’s) and everyone began biting their fingernails. But let’s look at what else happened in the distribution world in 2008 (and January 2009). Two new indie distributors hung out their shingles and laid down their gauntlets during Sundance this year, Senator made a bold statement with its acquisition of “Brooklyn’s Finest,” and Summit broke through with its first $100 million grossing film (yeah, it was “Twilight,” but that shouldn’t blunt the impact of that encouraging watermark). Relatively obscure indies like Oscilloscope enjoyed a succès d’estime with “Wendy & Lucy,” Overture rode the wonderful “The Visitor” to a (nearly) $10 million gross and a Best Actor Oscar nomination, and Music Box cashed in on its rock ‘em, sock ‘em success “Tell No One.” Studio boutiques were never independent distributors anyway; by definition they were dependent on the support of their parent company. Every ten years or so that support dries up and (most of them) go away, clearing the way for a brace of new, innovative, distinguished upstarts. Even with the demise of ThinkFilm there are a greater number of pure play independent distributors now than there were one year ago.

10. Kodak continues to produce thrilling new film stocks (Vision 3, 5260) which just might encourage more independent filmmakers to dabble in this antiquated art form for just a bit longer. After all, it’s kinda nice when you don’t have to have to worry about whether the pattern of your leading lady’s costume is going to wreak havoc on your wave form. (I know, I know every film will be shot digitally someday, but that someday, I suspect, is still farther off than some people would like to think.)

A final prediction and admonition: as soon as newspapers and magazines fold up their tents for good the World Wide Web (2.0) will be longer be free. And then even more people will return to movie theatres.

The Sundance Panic Button Panel

Todd Sklar tipped me to the video of the panel I participated on at Sundance, and now you can decide: push or ponder?  

Part One:
IndieWire has covered it and condensed it, if you prefer your news in print and not to take an hour to digest -- but me I like the whole story, warts and all.
The panel was supposed to be on the future of film, but it was a bunch of old white guys -- and that's not going to be the future.  Christine Vachon and I, with some help from IndieWire, had lunch with a much different group, that was 100% filmmakers, which IndieWire filmed and will be posted soon (so stay tuned).  
As the sole filmmaker on the Panic Button panel, I found it particularly frustrating that there was so little concern expressed about how quality film will be generated, let alone exhibited.  It is all so connected: the big films to the little films, the financing to the distribution, the exhibition to the criticism.  The dots are connected but people want only to look at their domain.  That's not self-interest, that's short-sightedness.  And that's got to change, and I'm sure it will.
I get a kick out of watching/listening to these videos.  Among other things, it shows I have to work on my public speaking compared to these pros (and the control of my hair).  And it's impressive how skilled they all are about promoting themselves and their films -- and their way of doing business.  The distribs get the word out on their accomplishments, but I neglected to mention ADVENTURELAND (and did I tell you how it just killed at the festival?).  Granted, I hope to keep making films in the top indie budget range, but watching this panel, and despite some clear articulation of the contrary, it is still easy to walk away thinking there is only one way of doing business.
The important part of part one, which has gotten NO PRESS, is that Peter Broderick speaks of a number of filmmakers who have made over $1 Million on a single film on a single website.  How exciting is that?  Get your investors to talk to Peter now!  There's hope out there for a new way.
Part Two:
It's funny to notice as I post this that part one has about 20,000 views but Part Two is still under 1,000!  That said, I don't think I got my points across until that second half.  I guess the next time, I have to write some notes down like Mark Gill did and deliver a whopper right out of the gate...
There are some simple things that could really change things.  Around 11:45 or so, on Part 2, I raise the possibility of the distribs giving the exhibs back Monday night for community screenings.  This simple idea would move mountains in terms of specialized production and is doable now.  Jonathon Sehring follows this by stating that IFC will provide filmmakers with the data their film generates.  If this becomes the dominant position, filmmakers can really start to be in control.
And if you are just looking for the John Sloss bashing part of the program, that begins around 15:35 in Part 2.

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, www.bam.org
Belcourt Theatre, Nashville, TN, www.belcourt.org
Broadway Centre Cinemas, Salt Lake City, UT, www.saltlakefilmsociety.org
Coolidge Corner Theatre, Brookline, MA, www.coolidge.org
Enzian Theater, Orlando, FL, www.enzian.org
Hollywood Theatre, Portland, OR, www.hollywoodtheatre.org
International Film Series, Boulder, CO, www.internationalfilmseries.com
Jacob Burns Film Center, Pleasantville, NY, www.burnsfilmscenter.org
The Loft, Tucson, AZ, www.loftcinema.com
Michigan Theater, Ann Arbor, MI, www.michtheater.org
The Music Box, Chicago, IL, www.musicboxtheatre.com
Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, OK, www.okcmoa.org
The Palm, San Luis Obispo, CA, www.thepalmtheatre.com
Pickford Cinema, Bellingham, WA, www.pickfordcinema.org
Rafael Film Center, San Rafael, CA, www.cafilm.org
Ragtag Cinema, Columbia, MO, www.ragtagfilm.com
Railroad Square Cinema, Waterville, ME, www.railroadsquarecinema.com
The Screen, Santa Fe, NM, www.thescreen.csf.edu

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