Film Festivals Offer The Life Lessons For Longevity

By Kellie Ann Benz

Okay, I’ll admit it. I think ‘Jersey Shore’ offered some of the best life lessons. I’m not too cool to reveal that I gleaned much from the leg-humping silverbacks who F-bombed their way into obscurity on that cautionary tale of a show.

Replace, if you will, their onenightstandpad with a film festival party, and you can see how they offered all of us a first rate how-NOT-to for which should be grateful. 

I cite their example as a sobering reminder for everyone packing for their first film festival.

First, the good news. Film festivals are wicked wild fun.  Truly.

Festival attendees are some of the most electric creatives you’ll ever meet – and when actors or actresses are in attendance, some of the most beautiful humans you’ll ever see with your own eyeballs - film festivals offer a throwback to Dominick Dunne-esque invitation only cocktail parties.  At the best international festivals, the ribald wits congregate as safe harbour from a cruel, cruel world that only understands their stories when told in a linear three act structure.  At the discovery-zone of regional indie festivals, you can feel welcomed into an exclusive club where only the cinematic smarty-pants go.

For the chosen ones with films competing, a film festival is the blue ribbon approval after the drudge of production, the maxed out expense of post, and the ‘pick me’ panic of festival submissions. Depending on where you’re chosen, you could very well Duplass your way into a career.

Ask any one of the indie hopefuls whose films have received the golden handshake at Sundance, Cannes, Rotterdam, Venice, Palm Springs, Toronto and you’ll get an exhausted ‘phew’ – a true sign that they had no way of seeing that life changing moment coming. 

Here’s the rub, anticipating that your life will change or that your film will sell or that you’ll leave a film festival wealthy is guaranteeing that you won’t.  Murphy and his nasty little laws.

However, anticipating that you will meet people who you will work with in the future is Lena Dunham smart and precisely the way to use a festival to benefit your career.

Since the social make-up of a film festival often mirrors the social make-up of any community, I offer these quick glance personalities-types to find and/or avoid at any film festival:

FIND:

THE MOVIE WATCHERS – Not the ones ‘screening’ films, the ones watching them. Native to the film festival circuit, this tribe’s natural habitat consists of dark theatres and festival line ups. Easily identified by their traditional garb; hoodie/vest/toque* ensemble, un-environmentally friend coffee cup, dog-eared program and OCD attachment to their smartphone. If you make movies because you love movies, these are your future collaborators, industry pals and trusted confidantes. Make friends with these people.

*Toque is Canadian for knitted ski hat. Toque is also way cooler than knitted ski hat.

THE PRODUCED PRODUCERS – Good Producers are a rare breed. Find the ones who made the new movies you loved and introduce yourself. Exchanging a business card isn’t betraying any Producer relationship you already have; it’s ensuring that you diversify. Foolish are the writer/directors who put all their eggs in one basket, so save the I-don’t-mingle hooey for the E raves*, and exchange twitter handles.

*Unless you’re a starlet or undiscovered hunka hunka movie star, don’t take the E at E raves. Note to Starlets and Hunka Hunkas – no one casts messy druggies, but they WILL sleep with you. You decide what you want.

THE COORDINATORS – Film festival staff are often a mysterious bunch. First, there are a lot of them, second it’s questionable what they all do. Here’s a hint, the people who coordinated the parties you’re attending (mostly running around making sure you’re having a great time) are the money people to know. Naturally, Festival Directors, Artistic Directors or any other variation thereof, you must thank and be gracious to.  But the Coordinators are often the ones with extra comps, free passes, late night exclusive invitations, and other unexpected goodies. Here’s the secret though – you don’t know this and you must NEVER expect them to share. They loathe people who expect perks. Best way to get the inside track from the Coordinators is to be kind, polite, talkative and genuinely interested in who they are. Besides, today’s festival coordinator is tomorrow’s Development Executive or award winning filmmaker. These might turn out to be long relationships. Pay attention. Be real.

WRITERS – Screenwriters do actually Charlie Kaufman their way through most parties, that’s their job. No one takes a gregarious screenwriter seriously. So getting screenwriters to release the death-clutch of their single malt scotch long enough to open up, could mean a future collaborator for you.  Like Coordinators, pay attention, be genuine, exchange emails. 

AVOID:

THE UN-PRODUCED PRODUCER – If the Producer you just met doesn’t have a credit on the film they say they produced at the festival, it’s not a titling mistake. Politely back away and keep mingling.

THE OVER-MARKETERS – We all want to market our films, find our audiences and feed our niche. Film Festival parties, however, are not always the best place to do that (your audience is much bigger than fellow filmmakers) If you run into someone who can’t stop giving you all the crap they’ve invested in to promote their film – worse yet, that’s not even in the festival – walk away.

NOTE ASKERS - if any filmmaker asks you for feedback or ‘notes’, don’t walk away, run!

THE DRIVERS – Don’t have an inside track to anything. Be polite, move on.

REPORTERS – This is a dicey one, because getting quoted seems like the goal.  Your publicity, however, needs to be leveraged in unison with the marketing of your film. So tread carefully. This means keep a professional distance until you’ve seen the same reporter enough times for a natural friendship to develop. 

The best thing you can do for yourself before you arrive at a festival is scan the delegates list and know who you want to meet, then stay open to who you might meet along the way.  Take cards, keep notes, assess after your home who you want to follow up with.

A festival invitation should mark the beginning of a long run for your film and herald the spark of a career for you. In the film industry, longevity is the only goal worth pursuing.

Overall, I’ll end with this; the age old manners your mother shamed you into for family dinners, also apply to film festivals – and your life in the film industry – be kind, pay attention, listen more than talk and most importantly, just like ‘Jersey Shore’ taught us all, keep your pants on.

KELLIE ANN BENZ’s four woefully inappropriate short films, have competed at 175-ish international film festivals.  A columnist for Canada’s National Screen Institute, she just wrapped her first feature film.

More Advice for 1st Time Film Festival Attendees

[tweet https://twitter.com/TedHope/status/276351869205499904]
 

A couple of  weeks back I  used Twitter to crowdsource advice on what first time attendees of Film Festivals should do. See the responses below. It makes a decent follow up to yesterday's post.  And if you'd like to be part of future discussions, just follow me on Twitter: @TedHope.

 

 

FIRST TIME AT THE FEST: 20 Guidelines for a Successful Festival

By Melanie Coombs FIRST TIME AT THE FEST: 20 Guidelines* for a successful Market or Festival  (*Producers don’t do Rules; ‘everything is negotiable’)

Over the last decade I have assisted new Producers as they attend their first market or festival.  Here are 20 tips to help you enjoy the event while looking after yourself, your project and your professional reputation.

1. PRODUCING IS NOT COOL – tragically for us all, if you haven’t been completely humiliated you probably haven’t really financed your project.  Be warm, not cool, and be all the things that make you a Producer – an Advocate, an Enthusiast, an Eccentric, a Charmer and an Artist.

2. PRODUCING IS NOT A COMPETITIVE SPORT – help each other.  It is so rare that you are ever genuinely competing with your fellow producers - you have different taste, projects, Directors and are approaching different investors at different times.  By working as a friendly colleague you will not only help others but will get their help in return.  And you wont be alone as you go about the often frightening business of pitching into the marketplace for the first time.

3. DO NOT PITCH UNLESS ASKED TO DO SO.  I know you think “That is why I am here…”, but trust me, people will ask.  Despite how it seems at first, everyone wants to meet new talent at these events, so hold back, don’t throw yourself at people (I know of one young man who pitched to a Sales Agent at the urinal – sure it’s memorable and everyone was talking about him, but I don’t think they were talking about his film!).  Do take advantage of organised pitching sessions, networking events and accidental meetings.  Have a ‘lift pitch’ ready: one line to drop into casual conversations that people can then pick up on.  (ie.  Dog Daze: He hates dogs, She’s a vet, It’s a romantic comedy).  Otherwise see this ‘non-pitching time’ as ‘networking with producing colleagues and market information gathering time’.  You do not have to pitch to everyone you meet – less is more.

4. PROTECT YOUR BRAND FROM YOUR EGO!  You are your own Brand; we are in an industry where art and business intersect, so how you act in relation to others is a KEY part of your companies profile and reputation.  Your ego will tell you to get out there, be a star and make a splash!  Your Brand needs you to do that in a measured, strategic and consistent way.  

5. BE PASSIONATE, CONFIDENT AND DETERMINED, NOT PAINFUL, DESPERATE AND PIGHEADED.  Passion is probably the most overused word in the industry, so don’t use the word, be it!  Don’t tell me your project is passionate, funny, clever, or brilliant - show me!  Let me tell you that your project is hilarious, inspired, ground breaking and magnificent.  Let me tell you that you are hiding your light, and that you need to meet this investor or that who will love your project.  Tenacity is a core producing skill but that does not mean hassling people.  Do you think you are the first and only producer to pitch them the biggest, best project ever?  Be humble and confident.  Think of dating; do you want to talk to the desperado, who’s in your face buying you drinks you don’t want, boasting about how rich, connected and important they are, and then telling you how great you’ll look on your wedding day?  OR the quietly confident person who’s standing back a little looking like they can’t wait to dance?  With you.  Be that person.   Get the opportunity to show them how you dance.  That means surviving rejections with humility, so that you are ready to show what great moves you’ve got.

6. CRY, BUT NOT IN PUBLIC.  We are not making chairs; if a chair wobbles, all agree it must be fixed.  With films we are turning ideas, literally Dreams, into a real physical product to be made, bought and consumed.  We do CARE about our precious dreams - we’ve worked so hard to get them to this point – our colleagues and loved ones have shared our dreams and now someone has pointed out the ‘wobble’. And it’s true.  Not only are we disappointed, but we are also going to disappoint all of those who have invested in our dream, everyone from our Writer to our Grandma.  And so you will HURT, and that is OK.  In fact I’d worry if it doesn’t.  Go away into a private space and cry if you need to let the hurt out.  Do it in private, alone or with a very close friend (not an industry colleague), rather than embarrass yourself in the marketplace.

7. DON’T GET YOUR MEAT WHERE YOU GET YOUR POTATOES.  Festivals and markets can be great fun, we can often enjoy a drink or 5, and if unattached we may want to have a ‘festival fling’ all of which is fine amongst consenting adults – but do make sure you’re not getting messy with someone who you want to do business with.  Especially if you are a woman - the double standards tragically still exist - so you don’t want a ‘reputation’ if you want to be taken seriously as a Producer.

8. PAY INTO THE ‘GOODWILL BANK’ AND REAP THE REWARDS.  Be the most fun, kind, polite and generous.  People like to be with fun people.  People don’t enjoy anxious, scary, annoying, irritating, draining, or emotionally unstable people.  Of course we are all ALL of these things from time to time, but do put that stuff aside and be FUN.  Lend others a hand, a band-aid, a pen or an introduction to a financier or potential co-producer.  And if you are polite people will remember - especially if someone has declined your pitch or project.  By all means swear and bitch in private but face to face politely thank then for their time.  You want to be able to open that door again and see a smiling face to greet you.  Share power and information.  Everyone you are meeting is part of the world-wide film community.  Be the way you want others to be.

9. ALWAYS BE NICE TO THE SUPPORT STAFF.  Lots of people are not; and it’s so easy to be friendly, it costs nothing.  They will remember when you need help to send an urgent email or have locked your phone inside the conference venue.  Remember they are all very likely aspiring filmmakers too.  And if you make a good impression they will remember you when their career takes off and they are in a decision-making role. 

10. LISTEN, THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING YOU DON’T KNOW.  This is especially important when getting bad news.  They have already made their decision and it’s a NO.  They will not change their minds in this meeting – especially if you are defensively talking at them.  Listen, work out if you want to work with them, hear what they are saying.  Are they actually telling you that you’ve pitched to the wrong part of their company?  Are they telling you that you need to do more work?  Are they telling you about the current state of the market?  Let them do the work.  And if you are really finding it painful, just focus on the spot between their eyebrows – it seems like you are looking at them and gives you the opportunity to internally regroup until you can listen properly again. 

11. MAKE YOUR PROJECT UNDENIABLE – know what you don’t know.  Work out why someone would say NO to your project and answer that question.  And do it again and again – budget, cast, crew, script, marketing potential.  Find the weak spots – easily identified when you are pitching, as you can literally SEE when they are loosing interest – and address the issues.  We need to be faster, smarter, braver and more agile to stay in this game.

12. DON’T BE AFRAID TO DROP YOUR PITCH.  You’ve arrived at the market to pitch but, in the first meeting or two the investor asks you lots of questions you can’t answer.  What this means is that actually you are not ready to pitch.  Stop, you are much better off not pitching that project at this market.  You really only get ONE chance to pitch a project.  Stop now, so that you can pitch properly later.   Use the time you have to investigate what other opportunities there are for this project and other projects on your slate.  If people ask you what you are doing say: ‘I have a number of projects at various stages of development so I’m doing my market research and networking’.  Give them the broad brush strokes of your project but say “I will bring it back to you when it’s ready – we are still working on the package”.  This is entirely legitimate – and in fact more of us should do it and it’s great to prep yourself by attending a market prior to pitching.

13. VALUE YOURSELF – how look after your self tells others a LOT.  Dress well (and comfortably – leave the stilettos at home unless you really can walk ALL day in them with no blisters), stay at a ‘nice’ place close to the centre of the action, AND don’t talk about being poor, struggling, desperate and insecure – once again we are almost universally all of these things at times, but we are also amazing alchemists who turn dreams into reality and we deserve treats when we are out selling our wares.  Want to pitch like a Princess?  Treat yourself like a Queen!

14. DO NOT LIE.  I know… it just slips out.. “Oh yeah, I saw that film/know that company….”  This is a lose/lose scenario – nothing good is going to come from this conversation.  No one has seen every film ever made, nor knows everything about film history, culture, financing and the international industry.  And people enjoy telling you things they know.

15. DO NOT EXAGGERATE.  Do not say you have Hugh Jackman or Nicole Kidman in your film UNLESS you really do have a signed letter from them or their agent (you lucky thing!).  You will be found out and then you and your project and all your future projects will be dismissed.  Remember your project is wonderful in it’s own right.  You’ve got it to this point.  You’ve packaged it with cast and crew as best you can.  Don’t promise what you can not deliver.  You will only disappoint.

16. DO ADMIT WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW.  In fact most of the time it’s good to say you don’t know (even if you kinda do).  Letting others tell you how things work empowers others as ‘people who know’, which makes them feel good and starts a relationship of information exchange.  No one knows everything.  We are all still learning.  Be open.

17. DON’T LET ANYONE LIVE IN YOUR HEAD RENT-FREE (courtesy of Shaun Miller, of Shaun Miller Lawyers).  Sometimes despite our best efforts we have conflict in our lives, and we build the agents of these conflicts into monsters in our heads.  Sometimes they have really wronged us, or we have wronged them, but in either case what is thinking about them doing for you and your project NOW?  Nothing?  Kick them out of your head - make room for the new opportunities!

18. DON’T HANG ONTO REJECTION AND PAIN.  If you are Producing you will be hurt.  But you have a choice.  Let it dominate your thinking and thereby effect your ability to participate in the marketplace OR… Acknowledge it and let it go.   Literally, just decide not to think about it. Don’t start acting Paranoid.  Even if people are out to get you… (that is very unlikely, actually, as mostly people and organisations are too busy with their own agendas) …acting the victim will do you no good.

19. DON’T SLAG ANYONE OFF UNTIL YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHO YOU ARE TALKING TO.  We all need to let off steam sometimes, it’s human nature, but watch where, how and with whom you do this.  It’s a small world so make sure you know not only whom you are talking to but also who their friends are, who they share an office with, who they are married to...

20. HAVE THE 2ND THING TO SAY.  So, exciting, you are going to meet a hero (and yes we are all still fans!).  You have been introduced, you say lovely things about how much you like them/their work/their ethos, they say thank you…. And then you freeze up!  Unless you have the 2nd thing to say.  Doesn’t have to be deep and meaningful.  Just has to be something that can start a conversation or allow them to end the moment.  Do not compare yourself to them.  Do not try to get them to read your project.  Just tell them exactly why they are SO amazing and then say the second thing.  Flattery is universally enjoyed, so the clearer you are in describing precisely why I am magnificent, the more likely it is that I’m going to want to talk, even if being rushed off by PR staff.

Finally: Don’t overwhelm yourself, have fun and enjoy this experience.  You are at an event where people love film as much as you do.  That is cool.

Melanie Coombs has produced award winning shorts, animation, documentaries and features since 1999 under her Melodrama Pictures banner.  HARVIE KRUMPET won 2003 Academy Award ® for Best Short Animation.  The animated feature MARY AND MAX opened 2009 Sundance, won Grand Cristal at Annecy and the Asia Pacific Screen Award APSA Best Animated Film 2009 and released worldwide. Melanie was awarded Screen Producers Association of Australia SPAA Feature Film Producer of 2009 Award.  Melanie is now joint CEO of OPTIMISM FILM with Alicia Brown and Mish Armstrong.  www.optimismfilm.com

Video: The Future Of Film Festivals

Last week I gave the keynote at the International Film Festival Summit in Austin, Texas. You now have a chance to watch the video of it. Check it out here. You also get the Q&A -- which is always my favorite part of any talk. Here it is: why do we have so many festivals? Why are we neglecting the youth? How can we best address student work? How can niche festivals remain competitive when distributors favor the larger ones?

If text is more your bag, Indiewire ran the first part here, and HopeForFilm (that's me btw) ran the second part.

12 Questions Toward The Future Of FIlm Festivals

Yesterday I gave the Keynote Address at the International Film Festival Summit in Austin, Texas.  You can read the speech on Indiewire here.  Or watch the video here. I ended the talk with a host of questions -- 12 to be exact, and they follow below. The abundance of questions I’ve raised, point that we have a tremendous opportunity to unlock all ta new power of film festivals -- and I certainly can brainstorm with you they myriad of ways that can be done --but if we seek to begin to recognize the boundaries we can push at the festival level, I want to first shower you with even more questions -- not answers -- as I suspect they will allow far more solutions to flower.

I have twelve questions I am going to be pondering this year when I look at our festival, the San Francisco International Film Festival, when I come to your festivals, and when I hear the tales of the intrepid filmmaker / traveller ushering their film from one festival to another:

1. What is the full power of community and how do we transform our audiences into sustainable communities? Can we curate communities in a similar way? What if we connected like minded people in a more sustainable way and then allow audience to truly influence what is seen and discovered?

2. How doe we utilize cinema’s power to activate? What is our call to action? What is the call to action to our constituencies? How do we transition them from passive to action?

3. What do our audiences really want Film Festivals to be? What does it mean to be a communal gathering?

4. What do filmmakers really want from Festivals these days? Very few can be markets or premieres, even publicity machines. How can we deepen the utility of festivals for the creative community? Festivals deliver intelligent and engaged audiences to the films. Can we deepen the relationship between the fans and the creators?

5. If authenticity, participation, and customization are indeed what people want today, how do our programs provide that?

6. Can we work together so that films gain better momentum festival to festival and unleash the power of the combined festival community in some way?

7. Are we utilizing the strength of the festivals as an information gathering and dissemination tool as fully as we might? What information is not being gathered when we collect films and crowds and can we change that? This is the data age. Are we embracing transparency as fully as we might?

8. As trusted curators of this colossal heap of cinema culture, how do we really make a difference on a long term basis? Is a short burst of guidance enough? Growth requires consistency and do we provide that? We are the filter, the trusted source. Film festivals are discovery platform for films that might otherwise be ignored. How to carry that over to the online environment?

9. How do we transform young people into loyal cinema lovers? We are losing the youth. Can we stem the tide?

10. What is the broadest definition of film? Can we reflect that and help people embrace that? Have we forgotten what show business is and neglected the spectacle and event in favor of the practical and executable?

11. If we are moving away from the one film at a time business model towards one of artists forming long term relationships with their audiences, how do film festivals facilitate it?

12. The best thing the film industry can do to help ambitious and diverse work is to make sure that artists and their supporters are the direct beneficiaries of the rewards of the film. How do festivals do that?

We have an incredible opportunity before us. The only consistent is change. We can’t stand still. Never before have we had access to the tools that can change our world. But yet we don't know where to go. We need to ask real questions and on a consistent basis. We will find the answers and the maps. There are no boundaries but ourselves.

Survival Guide for a Small Film Festival

by Niall McKay
 
Starting film festivals seems to be a disease that I have. I founded the San Francisco Irish Film Festival,  co-founded the LA Irish Film Festival.  But, when I moved to New York last year, the idea of starting another Irish film fest in a town where these things come and go seemed daunting.   But this time last year we did it. We held the first Irish Film New York Film Festival in 2011. We hosted over 1000 people during the three-day event which included screenings, parties and industry panels. Now we're trying to get to the next stage - to build an organization rather than just an event. 
 
Some things I've learned along the way to have our small film festival survive: 
 
1.  Build partnerships with local organizations.
Yes, we have a niche, and that niche is Irish and we've embrace it, partnering with a number of organizations: from Irish Studies Program at NYU who provide us with a movie theater, reception venue and support to the various Irish cultural and business organizations in town. By attending their events, and getting to know the members and organizers, We've built meaningful connections between our respective organizations.  It takes time to nurture these connections, but its not work we've enjoyed creating some great friendships with people that support my work and the festival.  And even when there are Irish films at Tribeca or another big festival, we've partnered with them to host parties for the Irish contingent that come into the city, making everyone aware that we embrace Irish films wherever they are shown and champion Irish filmmakers as much as possible. 
 
2.  Cross promote your festival.
A friend once said to me that he doesn't take an event seriously until he sees it three times in his email box. That's where cross-promotion comes into play.  I'm not just emailing our own contact list three times, I'm also working with those organizations that I've made connections with to promote the film festival. I offer their members discount codes for film tickets and invite them first to the receptions, panels, etc. And I reciprocate the favor by promoting their events as well.  Social networking is all very well and good but Facebook events seem to fade from people's minds and tweets come and go in a second. Email on the other hand, the old workhorse of electronic communication, seems to be where it's at for our ticket sales.
 
3.  Provide funders and sponsors value. 
We always approach potential funders and sponsors with what we can offer rather than what we want. This means creating an event that actually rips people away from their 42-inch flat screens and puts them into theatre seats.  When Irish President Michael D. Higgins scheduled a visit to New York we worked with the Irish consulate and the Film Society of Lincoln Center to host a screening of Oscar-winning Irish shorts for the president, a known cinephile.  President Higgins enjoyed himself immensely and audience members got to hear him speak in a very small intimate setting. It was satisfying to all the organizations involved. Most importantly, it gave IFNY a cache that encouraged funders and sponsors to work with us. 
 
4. Build a solid team. 
The right people for our festival staff are those who can take responsibility for a task and follow it through. Seems simple enough, right?  Yet, out of the dozens of people who say they want to help out with our film festival, only a rare few can actually follow through on things. I've been fortunate enough to put together a dynamite staff, but we're all volunteers, so there's always drop-off.  And I'm also dealing with my own foibles, learning how to communicate with people, allowing others to help me instead of trying to do it all myself.  I guess it's like being the captain of a sports team.  You need the whole team to be on the same page going for the same goal at the same time.  You need good teammates to make the goal. 
 
Speaking of cross-promotion:
Please come and join us for our films and events:
 
Meet the Filmmakers
Thursday October 4th, 5:00 PM
Apple Store Soho
103 Prince Street  New York, NY 10012
Come and meet some of the filmmakers who are showing their films at IFNY film festival. 
 
Opening Night Reception 
Friday, October 5th, 6:00 pm
Glucksman Ireland House
1 Washington Mews, New York, NY
Join our email list and have a drink on us at our opening reception!
Irish Film New York October 5-7
Six great contemporary Irish films at the Cantor Film Center, 36 E 8th Street. 
For more information tickets and showtimes go to www.irishfilmnyc.com
 
Niall McKay is an Emmy award-winning independent producer and director. He's the founder and curator of the Irish Film New York. He can be reached at www.mediafactory.tv
 

Be Among The First To See Sean Baker's STARLET

Yes, it's true: STARLET premiered in the USA in competition at SXSW (where it won Best Actor) , and just recently made it's international debut in competition at Locarno (where it won the Junior Jury Award), quickly followed by Oldenburg (Germany).  And it's been getting great reviews.  Music Box is set to release in the States late fall or early winter, and we have a whole long list of places you may be able to catch Starlet first.  In fact there are six more prestigious fests that are to screen it that I could not list because they have yet to announce their line-ups.   But check out all the places you can see it first:

Upcoming festival screenings for STARLET:

• Vancouver (Canada)
Section: Cinema of Our Time 
Attending: Sean
Sept. 29th: 6:15pm
Sept. 30th: 10:30am

• Reykjavik (Iceland)
Section: Main Competition
Attending: Radium
Oct 1st: 2pm
Oct 2nd: 8pm
Oct 3rd: 10pm
 
• Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Sept. 27-Oct. 11
Screening dates tbd

• BFI London (UK)
Section: Love
Attending: Sean
Oct 12th: 8:45pm
Oct 14th: 6pm
Oct 16th: 9pm
 
• Hamptons (NY)
Section: World Cinema
Oct. 6th: 5pm
Oct. 7th: 10:15pm
Attending: Kevin, Francesca, Dree, Allan, Radium, Chris Bergoch, Blake (tbd), Sean (tbd)
 
• Woodstock (NY)
Section: Narrative Features
Oct. 12th: 2pm
Oct. 14th: 3:45pm
Attending: Blake, Chris Bergoch, Shih-Ching (tbd), Radium (tbd)
 
• Hawaii 
Section: New American Filmmakers
Oct. 16th: 6:45pm
Oct. 20th: 1:15pm
Attending: Radium
 
• Mill Valley (CA)
Section: US Cinema
Oct. 4th: 9:45pm
Oct. 6th: 10pm
 
• Chicago (IL)
Section: World Cinema
Oct. 13th: 4:15pm
Oct. 20th: 9:30pm
Attending: tbd
 
You will be able to check it out soon, and I hope you do.  I had the good fortune of being able to lend a hand in getting it done, and have an Executive Producer credit as a result.

Life After the Circuit (A New Way Of Doing A Film Festival)

By Antonia Opiah

After the close of our 2011 run last year, we at the Beneath the Earth Film Festival asked ourselves, “What happens to all the films on the festival circuit once their run is over?”

We quickly came to the realization that if a filmmaker isn’t part of the lucky 1% that get distribution, once he’s off the circuit no one really sees his film again. We also realized that even those that get into festivals are likely not seen by a vast number of people. Filmmaker Tod Miro, for example, spent a year on the circuit and estimates his film was seen by about 1,500 people.

Consequently, we decided to make a big change in our submission requirements. This year we've been accepting films from as far back as 1990 onward, looking for cinematic gems who may have sailed through the circuit like a ship passing in the night, not having reached a fraction of their potential audience. If this sounds like you or a filmmaker you know, consider submitting to our 2012 competition.

The final deadline is soon, 8/31/12 to be exact and we're offering Hope for Film readers a $20 discount off the submission.

- Just submit here: http://beneathearth.com/2012-film-submissions.html
- And enter this discount code: hope082012.
- You can learn more about us here http://beneathearth.com/about.html
- And watch our nifty call for entries video here http://youtu.be/LTpH9HF5pgE

We're looking forward to seeing all the great films that get submitted this year!

Bio: Antonia Opiah is co-founder of the Beneath the Earth Film Festival, an online film festival that’s using the Internet and its grand jury of film reviewers to get filmmakers noticed. The festival observed that many films come and go on the circuit without reaching their fullest potential of an audience. To remedy this, BTEFF accepts films from as far back as 1990 onward with the hope of unsurfacing and resurfacing cinematic gems.

16+ Thoughts On Picking A Producer's Rep

You've made your movie.  You've even applied to some great film festivals, and maybe they've been encouraging.  Now people are calling you, asking to see it, and offering to license it on your behalf.  How do you determine whom to collaborate with?  What questions need to be asked BEFORE you make a deal? The best thing you can ever do is talk to other filmmakers who have worked with the rep -- and not just the ones that the rep recommends.  Make those calls.  The second best thing you can do is to have a face to face meeting with the proposed rep.  The personal approach matters.  Look them in the eye.  Connect.  Have a beer or a cup of coffee.  Ask yourself if you'd like to have dinner with them a year for now.

Now start to ask some questions, ask for some help, and gain a better understanding of both the process and the individual or company you are considering.

  1. A good Producers' Rep will help you understand the process better.  Have them walk you through how they think the deal will go down.  Beware of the seduction but listen to what they reveal about your film and their thoughts on the industry.
  2. Hopefully they will give you insight into difficult situations.  Where might there be conflict?  How will they protect your investors?  What to do if a deal is better for the investors but seems worse for the film or filmmaker?  What are examples of these scenarios?
  3. Can they give your film the attention it needs?  How many other films will they be handling during this market period?  Do these other films enhance or detract buyers' interest in your film?
  4. Good films sell themselves, they say, but can they be helped?  What do the reps suggest the filmmakers do to further enhance the potential of the film to connect with audiences & Buyers  (i.e not with the film, but with other promotional aspects)?
  5. What can They do to further enhance the potential of the film to connect with festival programmers, critics, and buyers?
  6. Are there any deal aspects beyond advances and fees they suggest we pay close attention to?  Why?  There are a boatload of issues to consider and how the Rep portrays these will reveal a great deal.
  7. What other festivals do they think the filmmakers should consider?  What are the advantages and disadvantages of the various film festivals?  Even if they are only repping US, how do they think the filmmakers should use the international festivals.
  8. Are there press agents domestically & abroad they recommend the consider and why?  Can they help get a better deal?
  9. How would they position this film with buyers?  Why?
  10. What do they see as the marketable aspects of the film?
  11. Which distributors do they see as potential buyers for the film?
  12. Who do they see as the best home for the film, and why?
  13. What are their thoughts for a strategy for the film in North America and world wide?
  14. Is this the right size of film for the Rep?  Some are better with big movies, others with small?  Why are they the right fit?
  15. How do they feel about a hybrid approach for distribution, aiming for separate deals for different forms of distribution? Does it make sense for your film?
  16. Do they have any potential conflicts of interest?  For instance, of the Rep does foreign sales in some territories, how do they make that work for films that they sell?  If they also manage some clients and not others, how do they make that work?

This list is by no means exhaustive.  It is just some thoughts to get the ball rolling.  Please give us more suggestions.

 

The Audience Award Of Audience Awards

VOTE BEFORE SUNDAY AT 11:59PM FOR THE NOMINEES OF THE 1st EVER FESTIVAL GENIUS AUDIENCE AWARD AS A PART OF THE GOTHAM AWARDS

This weekend, voting is well underway for IFP and Slated’s Festival Genius Audience Award for the 20th Anniversary Gotham Independent Film Awards. This first-ever award gives audiences from all across the country the chance to pick five of their favorite films that took home an audience award at one of the Top 50 US and Canadian film festivals in the past year. After you, the people, have spoken, your voices will be heard on November 10th when the five finalists, the first-ever Festival Genius Audience Award nominees, will be announced on both IFP’s and Slated’s websites. This award is a fantastic, unique opportunity for you to give your favorites of this past year one last round of applause, whether you’re just a casual festival-goer or die-hard movie buff. And also, when you vote, you’re also automatically entered to win a one night’s stay at the Andaz Wall Street in New York City and two tickets to the 20th Anniversary Gotham Independent Film Awards on November 29th at Wall Street Cipriani. So go vote THIS WEEKEND at http://gothamawards.slated.com … and then run to tell your friends to vote, too. Awards season starts here…and it starts with you.

Old Problems, New Solutions: Film Fest Rock & Blues

Today's guest post is by director Allison Anders (Mi Vida Loca, Grace Of My Heart), co-founder of the "Don't Knock The Rock" Film Festival" Seven years ago I was given one of the greatest opportunities of my opportunity-rich life -- a tenured post at UCSB as a distinguished professor in the Film And Media Department at UC Santa Barbara, where I remain on faculty, teaching one quarter each year. My first quarter I created a class on rock 'n' roll films since this had long been my private passion, and called the course "Don't Knock The Rock", named for the 1956 Alan Freed, Sam Arkoff, Columbia film of the same name. I loved the experience of sharing these music rich movies so much I didn't want it to end.

With the help of producer Elizabeth Stanley who was at that time at the DGA, and who connected me to festival producer Gianna Chacere (now with The Hamptons Film Festival) , I began to lay out plans for a festival in Los Angeles showcasing rock 'n' roll movies. My musician daughter Tiffany Anders was returning to Los Angeles, after living in Brooklyn for a good chunk of her 20s, so I immediately welcomed her home and enlisted her to curate live music for my hair-brained idea. The first year she delivered Sonic Youth, J Mascis, The Tyde, Dead Meadow, Wayne Kramer, and Ariel Pink before I even knew he had been born!

We are now launching our 6th annual (we took one year off) DKTR Fest July 8th and will run every Thursday of July and August at The Silent Movie Theater, Los Angeles. From our first Don't Knock The Rock Film And Music Festival, our agenda was, and remains, the same: to showcase music films and live music performances for die-hard fans and music nerds and to get the word out to them. We are dedicated to that agenda, even though the struggles of the niche film festival like ours are many, well actually, money; the struggle is always money.

We are blessed to have returning sponsors who have been supporting us every year since our beginning, BMI Music, Criterion Collection, Globe Shoes and more. But we are finding it harder to survive, and have watched well-heeled festivals disappear while we remain the little festival that could. This year, just when we wondered if we could go on, we discovered community funding as an option. In particular, Kickstarter! We weren't sure if we qualified since we have already been established but our project was accepted and we launched our pledge drive on Kickstarter to raise additional funds to bring filmmakers to us so they can see their film with a live audience (which for many filmmakers these days is becoming a rare experience) and to be able to compensate our musicians, who perform live for far below their quote, with a token of our appreciation for giving our audience a one-of-a kind experience.

The model for Kickstarter is brilliantly simple and effective: if everyone kicks in a donation to projects they'd like to support, these films, events, books, music, art will all see the light of day. And the even more beautiful part of it is that by donating to each other, we can help bring to life a culture we want to share. For every pledge to donate money to a Kickstarter project, you will get something tangible in return. We are loving our Kickstarter project and urge everyone to check it out cause we think we have some of the very coolest rewards ever from our awesome sponsors!

And we are very excited about our line-up this summer! Whenever possible we try to open our festival with a film which exemplifies an artist band or genre of music born right here in So Cal. "The Wrecking Crew", "Chicano Rock", "Gram Parsons: Fallen Angel" and "Ghost On The Highway: A Portrait Of Jeffrey Lee Pierce" have been a few of our LA-centric openers. This year we are so happy to launch DKTR 2010 with a beautiful film by Italian filmmaker/musician Cosimo Messeri, "The One Man Beatles: Something About Emitt Rhodes" Hawthorne's own son. In 1967 upon hearing and falling in love with the first 2 singles ("Live" and "You're A Very Lovely Woman") of Emitt's band The Merry-Go-Round, I ached for more till his long lost solo records were rediscovered in the late 80s and distributed on a collection by Rhino. These are melancholic yet accessible pop melodies that will stay with you, and a story that will move you as much as the music. Emitt Rhodes himself will be in attendance and we are thrilled to be able to celebrate his work in person with him. A tribute concert will follow the screening! Merry-Go Round/Emitt Rhodes expert Rhino's own Andrew Sandoval will DJ a brilliant set including never before heard Emitt Rhodes material.

From Australia we have a restored print of 1984's "Dogs In Space" with Inxs singer Michael Hutchence, a film not screened in LA in ages, along with the LA premiere of "We're Living On Dog Food" by director Richard Lowenstein on the vibrant Aussie punk and post punk scene of the early 80s, co-sponsored by "Part Time Punks" with DJ Michael Stock spinning tunes. We also have an amazing film of one man's quest to reunite the not-on-speaking-terms band The Kinks, in the film "Do It Again", and will follow up with a unique live Charles Beardlsey Kinks clips-mix from his private collection. And speaking of private collections of clips, Target Video pulls together a unique mix of Joe Rees video live performances late 70s early 80s "So Cal Uber Alles".

And following in a tradition of honoring our electronic music pioneers, to kick off the month of August we have the LA premiere of "Deconstructing Dad", a film by Stan Warnow about his father Raymond Scott with a special tribute to Scott's varied career followed by an incredible feast of WB Looney Tunes bearing the music of Raymond Scott curated by Jerry Beck, animation historian! Scott pal Skip Heller DJs! On Saturday afternoon Aug. 7, we will host as we do each year our ever popular BMI Music Roundtable Chat with pros in the music and film businesses discussing how to get your music into films, and for filmmakers how to find affordable music for projects. Aug 12, we have a full night Lee Hazlewood blow-out with 2 ultra rare titles "Cowboy In Sweden", "Nancy And Lee In Las Vegas" coming from the estate of Swedish filmmaker Tor Axelman.

And Also in August, an evening with legendary LA filmmaker and LA cultural historian Thom Andersen (LA Plays Itself) premiering his new film "Get Out Of The Car" and 2 rare music-filled LA pieces "--- -------" and "Olivia's Place" as well as other music-related films curated by Andersen who will be present for Q&A's and hangs! And closing night we will premiere a film by songwriter Mark Sebastian and filmmaker Todd Kwait "Vagabondo" a film about legendary Greenwich Village folk singer Vince Martin. Martin will also be present for a lively Q&A, and a tribute concert to his beautiful songs will follow the film.

In a world in flux in terms of film financing and distribution, festivals have changed too. Sales agents have become far more powerful and their budgets smaller. Unless you're a major festival where they can sell their movie, and recoup for the investors, they cannot be bothered to even answer an inquiry from a smaller niche festival (this happened to us repeatedly this year). It's a shame cause this means that the very audience who would care don't get to see the film, it means the filmmakers don't get to experience their film with as many audiences, and it means that when the film comes out, if ever, no one goes to see it, cause no one knows about it, and it perpetuates this idea that music films don't make money, so less of them get made. When in fact, people would come, if they knew about it and if they were targeted as the viable audience that they are.

This is clearly a dead model. I'm looking forward to new models. And community-based funding and supporting local venues for niche festivals are a step in the right direction ahead!

For the DKTR Kickstarter page go here: http://kck.st/cmuBAi

For the complete DKTR 2010 line-up and to buy tickets go here: http://cinefamily.org/calendar/thursday.html#july

Festivals Should Reveal Original & Projecting Formats

Manohla Dargis' recent thoughts from the Cannes Film Festival pointed out this hole in film festival information. Particularly in this day and age of a plethora of choices and easy access & distribution of information, why aren't festivals telling the audience these details? Fests, please take note. Filmmakers, please make this request when you apply. Without A Box and Festival Genius, please allow and supply this information.

Wanted: Film Fest Panels On Privacy Issues

As traditional media merges with new & social media, the issues we need to be concerned about also start to change.  Filmmakers are only now starting to wake up to the fact that they should be the owners of the data that their work generates, particularly if they are being asked to license their work for such low fees as currently are in vogue. Let's say that you do gather 500,000 email addresses during the build and release of your movie.  What are you going to do with those addresses?  What moral and ethical issues are related to this?

Is it just my imagination or have I really not seen a privacy panel at a film convention?  Who is going to take the lead on this?

And whom would you suggest be on this panel?

Have you checked out the Electronic Privacy Information Center?

What Film Festivals Should Do To Better Serve Their Communities

Over at The Workbook Project, Saskia Wilson-Brown continues her thoughtful consideration of the role of film festivals and how to improve it.  She provides a good bullet list precisely about what festivals can do to better serve both filmmakers and their communities.  Read it.  Absorb it.  Adopt it.  Spread it.

More Thoughts On The New Film Festival Model

"Blood Simple" was the first film I bought a ticket for at a film festival.  It was screening at the NYFF and I soon came to recognize that the films accepted to that fest were of a exceedingly high quality.  The curatorial taste behind that festival choices was something I had confidence in.  They gained my trust precisely because they have never tried to be all things for all people, and for that I have always been willing to pay a premium for. The NYFF was, and is, a trusted filter. Too many festivals these days program too many films without revealing, or reveling in, their curatorial hands, diminishing the power of their brand in the process.  If festivals are going to become the new curators, that will have to change.  Festivals must emphasize their unique taste, if not overall, then within sidebars at the festival.

One of the reasons festivals once mattered so much to indie filmmakers was that acceptance in them was a virtual badge of quality for the filmmakers to display.  As festivals proliferated and premieres became a matter of policy, the filter aspect of festivals vanished.  Festivals seemed to open up the gates to anyone and anything.  Where's Waldo?  How do you spot the curatorial hand in swarm of over 100.  The question then becomes how do festivals regain that curatorial stamp?

A return to less could be more.  If less films were selected, it would mean more for the filmmaker, in terms of prestige and discovery.  More for the audience, in terms of a filter and confidence.  A common complaint heard in industry circles is that films "get lost" at such and such festival.  I have always liked the idea of a festival within the festival, curators within the larger curation.

Another benefit of smaller selections could be that more festivals could develop distinctive flavors making them more of a required stop by the cineaste (particularly if they also transcended their geographic boundaries).  Festivals need, just like movies, to sell their individuality.  I was excited to stumble upon Saskia Wilson-Brown's post (at the indispensable Workbook Project) on the relevance of small festivals today (it is a good post and well worth your time).  She articulates what festivals provide quite well:

Empowering a community and its artists through coherent promotion; leveraging the festival name to garner publicity and opportunity for its participants; facilitating radness in general– Art for art’s sake, as it were. The efforts of the core team, then, were mostly spent on promoting and advocating for micro-communities through programming decisions, and fostering creativity and creative collaboration in our neighborhood and beyond.

Acceptance to a festival used to always mean a review by a major critic at a major publication because their was a major critic at every major newspaper. That itself was worth whatever other risk the festival brought with it (because they do bring risks). With the dismissal of the film critics from the US newspapers, there are a few such critics left -- and there is no way that they can cover all the films at all the major festivals.  Movies get lost at festivals with a wide swath.  Sure, the blogsphere's picked up a lot of the slack, but those reviews are hard to garner the same interest or generate the same want-to-see from audiences.  How can web reviews be used to generate more interest?  Can the different review sites team up and time review releases simultaneously or even post to a common site so that more traction can be generated with audiences?  Where are the new ideas that can make festivals once again a value-added proposition?  Festivals should be transparent with filmmakers upon acceptance as to how they will help market the movie to the festival's community (and beyond).

If the VOD model is going to work in these days of never-ending supply and availability, reviews are more than necessary.  They need and are needed to get traction and facilitate action.  Review aggregators should drive traffic to the VOD platform.  We need widgets that link these two services seamlessly.  Shouldn't we have all this stuff integrated by now?  But alas, we don't.  So what can we do in the interim, in this in-between-days sort of time?

In considering the joining of film festivals with a VOD extension, it is hard not to see the logic of the relationship.  Festivals offer the overwhelmed consumer a filter -- the curatorial service.   Festivals serve to generate the reviews that films need so much.  If festivals can leverage their brand and marketing muscle to heighten awareness for the individual films, maybe a film has a chance of popping out of the crowded herd at the end of the dial.  If a festival can help a filmmaker understand how to make the most of this opportunity, more power to them both.

But if the films that are offered by a festival on VOD don't arrive with that flavor and spice, the rhyme and reason of why they are in a festival in the first place, will anyone really pay attention, particularly after the novelty has worn off?  Doesn't it precisely require more than just the brand of a festival but also the highly selective curation that festivals once promised?  The potential of festivals to provide the allure of a red velvet rope and shining spot lights is there.  Will we get to see what it looks like?  It is going to need to be a lot more than public twitter boards.  If the festival can not really add a lot of value in the marketing and positioning of their specific selections, aren't they taking advantage of the films they invite?

Festivals have always been a great place for the cineaste -- and not just because we get to see good movies.  The important part of festivals has always been the conversation.  What we expect from quality content is an even better social experience around it. Online users only spend 30% of their time looking at content; the rest is search and social -- discovery & discussion.  For film festivals to successfully evolve into a cross-platform non-geographicly specific discovery tool, they have to offer not just the added value of promotion, but heightened level of conversation & appreciation.

I know festivals can provide a lot more than currently do.  Particularly with a little help from their friends.  There's a lot of good thought going on about this, but when you see that filmmakers are questioning the very value of a film festival attendance, we can all discern that festivals are not offering enough value for the films that participate in them.  The answer is to offer more.

I have written about the need to utilize something like Festival Genius.  I think expanding the festival beyond it's geographic confines is similarly key.  A clear and understandable hand in the curating should be a given.  Guided and memorable conversation that transfers leisure time into intellectual capital and social capital is of the essence.  What more do you want?

Update Tuesday 4/20:  There's a lot of good conversation on what ideal festivals would look like.  Thom Powers recently held a breakfast discussing what a new Doc Fest in NYC would look like.  Brian Newman contribute a thoughtful post encouraging community, embrace of new tools, a focus on conversations over panels, a de-emphasis on formats, an abandonment of the demand for premieres, and a true collaboration with filmmakers by sharing data, audiences, and the opportunity to sell.  And yes, to pay filmmakers.

Festivals are going to change for both audiences and filmmakers. It is going to be exciting to see who really takes the lead.

Using Social Media Tools To Build A Truly Free Film Community

If only 30% of people's online time is spent viewing content, then there is real hope for indie film.  The other 70% of users' time is spent in search and social.  We know that people not only want to discover stuff (like great stories and films) but even more so, they want to talk about it. One way to define Film is as the transformation of leisure time into intellectual capital and then into social capital.

The question all filmmakers need to ask themselves is what can we do to get the others to talk about film more.  How can we improve the conversation people have about film?  We have the tools.

I loved B-side's Festival Genius and hope it doesn't go away now that the company has. One of major festivals, or indie film support orgs should acquire it (for their own benefit as well as ours).

(UPDATE 4/10 : Okay, I admit I have a crystal ball: the day after I wrote this, IFP announced it was acquiring Festival Genius.)

I was recently hipped to Dan Zeitman's FilmFest from a comment on this blog by Weak Species' Dan Faltz.  FilmFest looks like it is much of the same thing as FestivalGenius.  All festivals should utilize these tools (please!). As they are available, it is safe to say that a festival that does not provide these tools are doing both their audience and their filmmakers a disservice.

Filmmakers should INSIST all festivals to utilize these tools, or refuse participation in them.  Or maybe it's the other approach:  Let's build a list of all the festivals that use these tools and encourage participation in them.

I spoke before about the idea of film festivals using Foursquare to engage audiences, but there are no doubt many more of this sort of ideas.   It might be time to develop a new list!  If only I had wasn't trying to get my movies made, I would have some time to do something really important.  Lend a hand though: we can make it better together.

The Exhibitor Audience Collaboration

I ran into Chris Dorr last week and had a good conversation with him about the many different ways the film world needs to engage with social media. One of the ideas here offered was exhibitors and festivals utilizing FourSquare. I tweeted the genius idea and sure enough soon learned that at least one film festival was ahead of the curve. AMERICAN SPLENDOR created a soft spot in my heart for Cleveland and now learning what the Cleveland International Film Festival was up to brought a sweet pang of joy. What's FourSquare you ask? CIFF explains:

Foursquare, a social networking tool for mobile devices, is a cross between a friend-finder, a social city-guide, and a game that rewards you for doing interesting things. Anytime you log your location with Foursquare, you earn points that translate into virtual “badges.” Frequenting a place more than anyone else will earn you the title of “Mayor.”

My only question though is what does becoming Mayor of CIFF get you? It's the kind of thing that I think all festivals should engage in and Mayor status should bring a free pass for next year. Theaters should also do the same and offer free tickets.

Simple promotions awarding the monthly "Mayor" is just the start of things that could come from a FourSquare alliance.  Mike Vogel pointed out that filmmakers could come up with ways to entice people who had earned a "Swarm" badge with 50+ attendees.  What such ideas do you have to share?

Let's recognize and accept that it is not just the movie that audiences want, but also the social experience. We have to work harder to find ways to enhance that. One thing is for sure though, the more you know the regulars at a theater then more you feel at home -- and the more you feel at home the more that you are going to be there.

Update 3/21:  The comments below are full of good ideas.  I hope the film festivals & exhibitors  listen (and foursquare too).  Please let me know of any that are doing it right (and why) as you come across them.

Who Can Really Help Indie Film? #3: Small Film Festivals

Today's post is a guest post from Mathew Seig of New York Foundation For The Arts.  We are thankful he's picked up on this question and hope many of you also offer up suggestions.

WHO CAN REALLY HELP INDIE FILM?
Small film festivals, but they need help from larger ones.

Assuming that we care about films playing to a live audience in a dark theater, film festivals are the most likely venue that most independent filmmakers are going to have. For that purpose, the thousand or two thousand small U.S. festivals are as important as the largest. So instead of focusing solely on the large festivals that usually dominate our attention, let’s consider the small local and regional film festivals where independent films get most of their exposure. Large or small, film festivals have an important place in the changing world of independent film discussed by Ted Hope (“The New Model For Indie Film: The Ongoing Conversation”) at New York Foundation for the Arts on May 28, 2009 and then posted on TrulyFreeFilm.

As with so many of the independent films that they show, small festivals (and community micro-cinemas and similar venues) exist thanks to the largely unpaid efforts of serious film lovers. They don’t offer premiers of star-driven films or attract distribution representatives, but we increasingly rely on small festivals to nurture artists and audiences, and to bring personal and specialized cinema of all kinds to out-of-the-way communities. Yet small festivals share with filmmakers an urgent need to adapt to the changing circumstances of the entire business. Unlike the concern we regularly hear for filmmakers, distributors and theaters, there isn’t much hand-wringing about the fate of small festivals, or their quality, or much information about how they can keep up with the times, grow and improve.

Small festivals are largely staffed by people with a strong love of film but often without much knowledge of exhibition. To survive, prosper and grow, they need information, support, encouragement and useful criticism. The people who can best help them are those who have experience managing successful festivals, and who know how to develop relationships with audiences, sponsors, distributors and filmmakers.

Large festivals are some of the most logical places to institute this process. They provide important access to films, filmmakers and distributors, so they are already attended by representatives from smaller festivals. Adding educational programs, festival labs, and networking opportunities for their smaller cousins and for people entering the business would strengthen the entire community. A thousand healthy film festivals will help many thousands of filmmakers.

Matthew Seig
New York Foundation for the Arts

Cheat Sheet #3: Profit From Festival Play

Today's post is again brought to you courtesy of Jon Dieringer, and is part of continuing series of cheat sheets from prior TFF posts.

Other ways to profit from festival play (from Jon Reiss)
(http://trulyfreefilm.blogspot.com/2008/11/film-festival-plan-having-film.html)
1. Some festivals will pay you
2. Maybe they can do a PAL dub for you
3. Foreign fests could supply you with translation that you can use later on DVD
4. Connection to local theaters

-With five united filmmakers you have a booking block, a touring film festival of your own making. (http://trulyfreefilm.blogspot.com/2008/10/film-festival-plan-beyond-bonding.html)

-What about using a festival to launch direct DVD sales/promote self-distributed film rather than looking for distribution (see links to other “post-festival” posts: http://trulyfreefilm.blogspot.com/2008/10/post-fest-era.html

(will festivals let you sell there? Check in advance)

-Festival Secrets book, download full pdf: http://www.filmfestivalsecrets.com/book/issuu/