Wanted Experts & Experienced Filmmakers To Help The Community

I was thinking about all the things that must be freaking out the filmmakers headed to their first film festival.  I feel them  It's wonderful to get into a film festival, but what happens next can be panic inducing.  I was thinking about how I could help the fortunate & the cursed.  

I have collected a bunch of posts from the past that may help some, and will run them shortly; I am currently thinking Dec. 27th.  

But so many more posts on prepping for festivals and one's career are needed.  Perhaps you know someone who'd write one for us.  Below are a few topics for suggestions.  Let me know what else we should ask for.  Would you write one?  Do you know someone that could?  Why not send them this list?  I will post what is available (and provided it is community-focused).

Audience Aggregation:

  • "How To Leave A Festival With As Many Fans As Possible"
  • "Best Practices For A Long Term Strategy Towards Building An Audience"
  • "How You Can Benefit From Free Non-monetized Content"

Career & Sustainibilty:

  • "How To Use A Festival As A Foundation For The Rest Of Your Life"
  • "An Agent Wants To Sign Me.  What Do I Do?"
  • "Do I Need A Manager Too?"
  • "How Do I Connect The Dots For Financiers Between This Movie & That One Still To Come?"


  • "Build Your Filmmaker Support Group; You Don't Have To Be Alone."
  • "Transparency 101: What Should You Share?"
  • What Should You Give Back?"


  • "If You Sell Your Film, What Are You Going To Have To Deliver?"


  • "Am I Ready For The Festival To Be My Distribution Launch?"
  • "What Can The Distributor Do That I Can Not Do Myself?"
  • "Can Long-term All Media,Territorial Liscensing Survive?"

Festival Strategy:

  • "What's Next?  Where Do You Play After Your Premiere?"
  • "Who Do You Want To Meet At A Festival & Why?"
  • "Why Shouldn't I Use The Festival To Launch My Distro?


  • "Additional Content: What Do You Need & How Can You Use It?"
  • "How Do You Speak About Your Film? Different Themes For Different Audiences"
  • "Poster Design 101"
  • "Trailer Cutting 101"
  • "What Stills Are The Best Stills?"


  • "What Makes For Good Press Notes"
  • "How To Write A Director's Statement"
  • "How To Find The HOOK Of Your Film"
  • "How To Give Good Interview"


  • "What Questions Do You Ask A Potential Buyer For Your Film"
  • "What If No One Wants To License Your Film?"

Watch F.W. Murnau's NOSFERATU Now For Halloween

Why get dressed up and hang out with the sexy nurses or the bloody zombies?  Stay inside where it is safe and catch up with classic cinema.  You don't want to go to your grave having to say you never did, do you?  It's free, unless you actually value your time.  What's 84 minutes to you?  Come on give it over to one of the creepiest monsters of all time!

Hat tip to Open Culture (again!)

Good News Re: Getting Attention For VOD Titles

This press release just came in... As a fan of both outlets, I am jazzed.  As a fan of specialized film and a dreamer of a land where we have the filters and curators necessary to deal with the challenge of The Grand Abundance (of Films), I am hopeful.  As a producer of films far too cognizant of the challenges we all face, I am happy to share this news!
Filmwax Radio, a weekly talk show about independent film, is increasing its focus to include Video On Demand (VOD) subject matter and guests. The radio show, hosted by Filmwax's Adam Schartoff, is partnering with popular online publicationOn Demand Weekly to devote a monthly episode to movies on demand. Adam has interviewed film notables such as Ed Burns, William H. Macy and Joe Swanberg for On Demand Weekly in the past.
“We recognized Adam’s passion for film and gift of conversation with filmmakers. Working with Adam on the radio will shed a stronger light to our coverage of upcoming movies on demand. We’re looking foward to expanding our reach,” said Britt Bensen, Editor-In-Chief, Co-founder, On Demand Weekly.
“With the pre-theatrical and day-and-date models, the number of VOD releases is increasing and film fans are taking notice. Working with On Demand Weekly will help us identify the best new movies and talent for our audience,” said Adam Schartoff, Filmwax Radio.
Adam Schartoff, Fimwax Radio
The VOD interviews will be available on BBoxRadio.com and will also have a presence on www.ondemandweekly.com.


Vimeo Announces Open Platform For Creators To Earn Money From Their Videos

Vimeo to offer Creators Two Flexible Payment Options

Vimeo® today announced two new features that enable creators to earn money from their films and videos. Available now, Tip Jar allows viewers to show their appreciation to creators by voluntarily contributing money to support their work.  Over the next several months, Vimeo will also roll out an open pay-to-view service that allows creators to sell their work behind a paywall.

Vimeo’s focus on quality and creativity has allowed it to become one of the Web’s top 10 distributors of video online [1] with more than 75 million monthly unique visitors [2] and one of the world’s largest creative networks with over 13 million registered members. Vimeo’s introduction of Tip Jar and its upcoming pay-to-view service provide a clear path for video creators to build businesses around the films and videos they create.

“Empowering creators to make money from their videos is a logical next step for Vimeo as a service and an opportunity to expand the overall marketplace for video creators and viewers,” said Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor.  “Established creators and emerging talent alike can connect directly with their audiences without the need to conform to industry standards around video format, price or timing releases.”

Vimeo’s Tip Jar enables video creators to crowdsource funds to support works directly from their viewers. Tip Jar will allow anyone to give tips before, during or after watching a video; Vimeo will pay 85 percent of the gross revenue to the creator. Starting today, Vimeo Plus or Pro members can choose to activate Tip Jar.

Vimeo’s pay-to-view service will be an open platform for video creators to sell access to their films and videos. Expanding on traditional rental and Video On Demand models, Vimeo’s pay-to-view service gives creators customizable options to sell their films and video content directly to their audiences and provide control over pricing, rental duration distribution location and other settings. Vimeo will begin rolling out its pay-to-view service in beta preview this fall with a curated series of films.  Vimeo will make the pay-to-view service available to all Vimeo PRO subscribers in early 2013.

“Creators have asked us for quite some time to help them monetize their work, but we think it needed an approach that put the controls back into the hands of the creators themselves,” said Dae Mellencamp, President of Vimeo. “We designed these tools to allow video creators to be as flexible as possible while providing the ability to financially succeed at various levels of viewership.”

For more information about Vimeo’s new creator monetization tools, please visit https://vimeo.com/blog/post:523 or watch https://vimeo.com/49684456.

About Vimeo

Vimeo® is the home for high-quality videos and the people who love them. Vimeo’s mission is to empower and inspire people around the world to create, share and discover videos. As one of the world’s largest creative networks, Vimeo reaches a global audience of more than 75MM each month. Founded in 2004 and based in New York City, Vimeo, LLC is a subsidiary of IAC (NASDAQ: IACI)

[1] June 2012 Comscore

[2] August 2012 Vimeo Internal via Google Analytics

Indie Spirit Award Nominations Due Tomorrow

Now in it's 28th year, the Film Independent Spirit Awards recognize the achievements of American independent filmmakers and promotes the finest independent films of the year to a wider audience.

Regular deadline is tomorrow: September 18

Final Deadline: October 16

For entry forms, rules and regulations, frequenty asked questions and to submit a film, visit SpiritAwards.com


They Want To Fund Your First Feature (& Take You To Venice, Italy)

Launched this year by the Biennale di Venezia in partnership with Gucci, the Biennale College - Cinema is an initiative to support teams of directors and producer to make their first audio-visual work. A community of selected filmmakers from around the world will work alongside an invited team of international experts and tutors to explore the aesthetics of micro-budget filmmaking and the new integrated models of production, which engage with an audience from the outset.

After a first 10-day workshop in Venice for 15 selected projects in January 2013, up to 3 teams will be invited to a second 15-day workshop between February and March and supported with 150.000 Euros in order to produce and screen the projects at the 2013 Venice International Film Festival. The Call for Applications is open from the 30th of August 2012 to the 22nd of October 2012 only to teams of directors at their first or second feature and producers with variable degrees of expertise who must have produced at least 3 short films distributed and/or presented at Festivals.

For more information go here, or email college-cinema@labiennale.org

Free Office Space Further Proves San Francisco Is The New Center Of Indie Film

Two years ago today, after having the first sale of the Toronto International Film Festival (at a far higher amount than I had hoped for) and my business partner having the #1 film at the US Box Office, I shut the doors on my production office for good.  As an Indie Film Producer, I could not afford the high rents of NYC.  Today I confess: my productivity went down as a result.  Further, I lost the ability to naturally collaborate with the other producers and filmmakers I shared office space with.  It sucks not to have an office (although I did love having lunch regularly with my wife).

I am thrilled that the San Francisco Film Society has confronted this problem head on (office space -- not lunches), offering filmmakers free office space in a wonderfully collaborative work space.  Seriously, how many reasons am I going to have to give you to move Indie Film to The Bay Area?  Is funding and work space not enough for you?  How about a great film culture?  Well, there is still more coming...

The San Francisco Film Society yesterday announced the reopening of FilmHouse, the residency program designed to offer free working space to filmmakers in various stages of production and provide a collaborative environment where they can share talents and resources with their peers. Located in the bustling Fillmore District of San Francisco, FilmHouse opens its doors this month on 4,800 spacious square feet of fully equipped, newly renovated office space. The latest expansion of Filmmaker360, the Film Society’s filmmaker services program, FilmHouse is made possible by generous funding from the Kenneth Rainin Foundation and additional support from the San Francisco Film Commission.

“FilmHouse is a perfect example of the kind of innovative support Filmmaker360 excels at providing to filmmakers,” said Ted Hope, executive director of the San Francisco Film Society. “It’s amazing what a difference it can make to an artist to have a dedicated working space to develop their project—in whatever stage of production—and the collaborative element included in the FilmHouse program will surely lead to many unforeseen opportunities and some truly inspired filmmaking.”

Read more about the program and how to apply for it here.

Gotham Independent Film Awards - Final Submission Deadline Today!

The 22nd Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards will take place this year again at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City, on Monday, November 26th. The first award show of the season, the Gotham Independent Film Awards honor independently distributed American feature films made with an economy of means and celebrate the authentic voices behind and in front of the camera in the year's best independent films. Submissions are now being accepted in five of the competitive categories, including: Best Feature,Best Documentary, Breakthrough Actor, Breakthrough Director and Best Ensemble Performance. The deadline for submissions is 5pm EST on September 14, 2012. Applications, along with full criteria, are available here.

Can We Help Fund Your Great Project?

I wouldn't have been so excited to become the Executive Director of the San Francisco Film Society if it didn't have the support from Kenneth Rainin Foundation.

The SFFS/KRF Filmmaking Grants support feature narrative films that through plot, character, theme or setting explore human and civil rights, antidiscrimination, gender and sexual identity and other social issues of our time. This is NOT a documentary grant.

This bold, unprecedented initiative helps realize the Kenneth Rainin Foundation’s visionary goals at the same time as it consolidates the Film Society’s position as a national leader in support of cinematic work that celebrates humanity in all its variety and vitality. “The Kenneth Rainin Foundation’s mission is to fund inspiring, world-changing work,” said Jennifer Rainin, KRF founder and president. “We are thrilled to partner with the San Francisco Film Society to harness the power and influence of film for positive social change and to support the vibrant Bay Area film community.”

The grants, which run 2009–13, is awarded in the spring and fall of each year.  It is more than just a cash grant (more than just money!).  Read about the grants here.  And read about the Kenneth Rainin Foundation here.

I Will Consult On Your Script Or Project

Here's the deal: you help the Flyaway Film Festival & I help you and your project.   Okay, it's not quite that simple, but it is still a great bargain.  I really enjoyed my time visiting the Flyaway Film Festival and I want it thrive.  They just had a very successful crowd funding campaign; it's nice to see my affection is matched  by many.  

To help them raise money, I donated a one hour consultation session.  I will also add in free the time it takes to read your script and make some notes.  This often goes for quite significant amounts.  Flyaway has it listed for bargain rates.

Check it out here: 



Film Independent is now accepting submissions for the Wildfire Post-Production Sound Grant, a complimentary Sound Mix provided by Wildfire Post-Production Studios on a feature film project selected by Film Independent Artist Development.

To be eligible, applicants must be either Film Independent Fellows, alumni of the Los Angeles Film Festival or Spirit Awards nominees/winners. Film Independent will award this grant on or before November 1, 2012.

Sound Package includes:

  • 4 Weeks Supervising Sound Editorial
  • 8 Hours ADR Recording
  • 2 Days Foley Recording
  • 45 Hours Final Mix
  • 9 Hours Final Mix Playback and Fixes
  • 9 Hours Printmaster
  • Sound Deliverables provided on Firewire Drive

Value of services: $40,000. Fulfillment of services is to be scheduled anytime before March 31, 2013, with the exception of the month of January 2013.


  • Applicants must be the director or producer of a feature – narrative or documentary – that is in the rough cut stage.
  • Applicants must be either (a) alumni of Film Independent’s Artist Development programs; (b) alumni of the Los Angeles Film Festival; (c) a past Spirit Award Nominee or Winner; or (d) solicited by Film Independent.
  • All submitted films must be feature length.
  • Applicants must be current Film Independent members.

How to Apply – Applications open September 12, 2012

To be considered for the Wildfire Post Production Sound Grant, qualifying filmmakers must apply on the Film Independent website. Applicants must complete the online application form, which includes:

  • Cover letter explaining your interest in the award
  • Detailed written plan outlining the filmmaker’s post-production process and timeline
  • Budget and detailed outline of funds raised to date
  • Project status and history, including any awards the script has won, talent development programs the project has been developed in, etc.
  • Logline and synopsis
  • Bios of key cast and crew attached
  • Rough cut or final cut of the film on DVD or via URL
  • $35 application fee

Application deadline: October 1, 2012

DVD of the film (rough cut or final cut) must be received by October 8, 2012

Selection Criteria

Film Independent employs the following guidelines in making its selections:

  • Overall quality of the film
  • Strength of post production plan
  • Uniqueness of vision
  • Original, provocative subject matter
  • Well-conceived plan for how to use the award

Overseeing the Award

Film Independent staff will select the winner of the award, oversee the administration of the award to the winning filmmaker and will monitor the services rendered.

If you have questions or need more information, please contact Jennifer Kushner, Director of Artist Development: jkushner@filmindependent.org



The San Francisco Film Society is now accepting submissions for the 56th San Francisco International Film Festival, recognized throughout the world as an extraordinary showcase of cinematic discovery and innovation in one of the country’s most beautiful cities. Works in all genres, forms and lengths are considered. Deadlines: • Early deadline Tuesday, October 9 • Regular deadline Monday, November 5 • Final deadline for short films Monday, December 3 • Final deadline for features Monday, December 10

HOW TO ENTER Entry form and information: sffs.org or withoutabox.com.

DARK HORSE Saddles Up More Some More Love

As we gallop into our 3rd week of release, the critics are still beckoning the audiences to come along for the DARK HORSE ride.  We are happily eating their hay in Providence, RI, Chicago, Long Island, and of course New York City.  If this keeps us I am going to run out of good horse puns...  Check out what the crickets are chirping. Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times : "Dark Horse" (3.5 of 4 Stars)

"Abe is the latest in a gallery of walking wounded populating the films of Todd Solondz, who has never met a character he didn't dislike. And "Dark Horse" is another of his portraits of anguish in suburbia, joining "Welcome to the Dollhouse" and "Happiness." There are times when it is dark humor, and then times when it is simply dark. But there is something more going on here, something deeper and more … hopeful?"

John Anderson, Newsday: "DARK HORSE Plays Irony Well"

""Are you for real?" Miranda asks Abe, after his proposal has registered. "I mean, you're not being ironic? Like performance art?" "Dark Horse" is certainly being ironic. Which doesn't mean it isn't a fully realized performance -- or art, of a rather perverse variety."

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: "DARK HORSE Director Finds Humanity In Unsympathetic Lead " (3 of 4 Stars):

"In a compact, wittily humiliating 84 minutes, "Dark Horse" does a smart thing: It transforms from realism into a string of dreamscapes taking place in Abe's imagination, involving the sex life of his fellow office worker (Donna Murphy, on the money) and other bittersweet fancies."

Whitney Matheson, Pop Candy, USA Today: "With DARK HORSE, Solondz Issues Another Darkly Comic Tale"

" While it's not the feel-good movie of the year, fans of the director wouldn't expect such a thing. Solondz, however, does succeed in making thoughtful commentary on the fleeting nature of youth, and our desperate need to be loved."

You can read more of our early critic love here.

UPDATE Sunday 6/24

Brett Harrison Davinger, California Literary Review: "Dark Horse Is A Contender"

"Dark Horse isn’t your typical man-child comedy. It’s something greater, more honest, and significantly more powerful."

Hollywood Chicago: "Todd Solondz Brilliantly De-Constructs Man-Child Pathology":

“Dark Horse” brilliantly deconstructs Abe’s “man-child” pathology, exposing the frailties within his good-natured façade and barley concealed rage."  

TimeOut Chicago:"4 out of 5 stars"

"Dark Horse insists you look past its caricatures and see human beings-- it is the director’s tersest, most troubling study of desperation."

Charlie Kaufman On How To Not Be A Zombie Slave

Charlie Kaufman gave this speech on my birthday last year at the BAFTA lectures, but it is a gift to us all. Charlie will inspire you. He inspires me. I wish we could clone him but am also glad he is one of a kind.


Thanks to Neil Fox (@drgonzolives) for tipping me to this.

Niall McKay on "Ten Do's and Don't About Programming A Niche Film Festival"

We have to build the audiences for the things we love.  We vote for the culture we want with our dollars. It's not enough to help bring beautiful & better films into this world; we have to find the ways to make them social, so that the communities can discover them.  I hold incredible respect for the curators.  I think such activity is part of the producers' job description.  I have run a screening series now for two years; it may not be easy, but it is rewarding. For these reasons, I am quite pleased to introduce you to Naiall McKay, who has some recommendations for all of in the arena of niche film festivals -- it is a bare knuckle affair.

Zero budget Festival Programming: Ten Do's and Don'ts About Programming a Niche Film Festival.

What had started out as a hobby has taken over my life and become a full time job - but without the pay - of course.  But that's the indie film biz for you.  Few people are going to make a killing from a small film festival.  This is my third film festival that focuses on Irish films.  I started the San Francisco Irish Film Festival eight years ago then co-founded the Los Angeles Irish Film Festival four years ago. When I arrived in New York last winter, I saw an opportunity to start an Irish screening series to showcase films that would otherwise not get seen in the Big Apple. My objective is to help Irish film and filmmakers make their way in the US. Seemed odd to me that an Irish plumber or bricklayer could arrive in New York and get a job in couple of hours, but Irish filmmakers  have a tough time navigating the US market.

Irish Film is a curious beast. It's not foreign enough to be considered foreign and not American enough to compete with US independent cinema. In Ireland, local films have a hard time going up against the US blockbusters and have an equally tough time competing with US indie flicks.  Local filmmakers shy away from American's obsession with the hero's journey and try instead and follow in the footsteps of European art films. It's taken time to grow the craft of filmmaking in Ireland. Now however, Irish film is at its most interesting juncture in history. The country produces some twenty to thirty feature films each year and while ten years ago it would have been unusual for an Irish film to be featured in Cannes, Sundance, Telluride, or Toronto. Now it's unusual if there isn't.  There's four Irish films in Toronto this year. Most years, at least one film, usually a short, gets an  Academy Award nomination.

There are ten to fifteen world-class filmmakers who are producing a steady flow of excellent films. Well-known directors such as John Carney (Once) and Kirsten Sheridan (August Rush) have joined forces with lesser-known directors such as Lance Daly (Kisses) and formed a production hub in Dublin called The Factory. Meanwhile, new directors such as Lenny Abrahamson, Ken Wardrop, and Juanita Wilson are producing critically acclaimed films that are beginning to do well in Europe as in the US.

This year, I've been fortunate because I will have the New York premiere of the documentary Knuckle, a visceral look at bare knuckle boxing among the Irish Traveller community (HBO are turning it into a dramatic series), the Galway Film Fleadh-winning feature Parked, with Colm Meaney, and The Runway, starring  Demián Bichir (Weeds).  All three films will get be released in the United States in the next few months. I will be bringing all three films and their filmmakers on a three city tour of New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Irish Film New York is co-presented by NYUs Glucksman Ireland House and funded by Culture Ireland's Imagine Ireland Program, The Irish Film Board and Moet Hennessy USA.  So here are some of the lessons that I have learned about creating a new festival:

Top Ten Dos and Dont's

1. Do

Know your audience. Like independent film, each start-up film festival needs a base.  The base for the San Francisco Irish Film Festival and for Irish Film New York is Irish ex-patriots between ages 25 and 50.  They are a vastly different audience from the Irish immigrants of yesteryears. Find this core base that will be the foundation of your festival audience. But having said that,  your base will keep your festival alive, but it's not what will make it prosper.  You'll need to reach beyond the niche to independent cinema lovers.

2. Do

Program only those films that you want to watch until the end.  What are my criteria?  Films that make me laugh or cry, make me angry, frightened, or sad, films that crawl into a space in my brain and just won't leave.

3. Do

Create as many partnerships as possible. Partnerships are the key to a low budget and a big success. Where possible, partner with film distributors, cultural organizations, museums, newspapers and businesses. Partnerships are free and they help grow your festival's reach and presence.

4. Do

Low budget festivals like Blanche Dubois "always depend on the kindness of strangers." Your festival will get nowhere without lots of favors.  In turn, always treat your festival as an opportunity to provide services to others.  This can mean something as small as taking a filmmaker out for a pint or making sure you introduce a filmmaker to a potential distributor.  If you're only in this for what you can get out of it, then your festival will be short-lived.

5. Do

Be careful how you define your niche films. Irish Film has become a little tricky in the last few years. I define it as films made in Ireland or with an Irish cast. There are a number of  excellent films that are financed by the Irish Film Board and made by an Irish directors abroad that I'd love to program.  Irish filmmaker Juanita Wilson's "As If I'm not There," for example is beautiful film, but it takes place during the Bosnian war so it's a hard sell as an Irish film. I am not against programming these films but I may need to create a special  program called The Irish Abroad to tell my audience what they are getting.

6. Do

Go to events where your target audience may be and announce your festival. Nothing works better than a personal invitation. Tell them about the rare opportunity they have to attend your festal.  This is by far the best way get your audience.

7. Don't

Don't produce large gala events unless you want to spend your time producing large gala events. This will become your job. They generally soak up all the money they earn. They can be useful for building profile but building profile becomes its own job and you want to focus on screenings films.

8. Do

Do be aware that inviting celebrities and stars to come to your festival will cost a great deal of money. They usually fly first class, take limousines and bring their own hair and makeup people. And why not? They are at the top of their game.  But make sure you have an extra $10 K in the kitty jar.  Speaking of the kitty jar…

9. Do

Reduce your budget to zero or as close to zero as possible. Partner and profit share with your festival venue, if possible. Find sponsors who will underwrite specific costs. For example, perhaps they can give you a voucher for your postcard  printer or lend you their PR agency or pay for airline tickets out of their travel budget. Cash donations are hard to come by and all your time will be spent fundraising instead of putting on the festival.  Having said that find a way to pay yourself for your time. [OK, so I've not quite figured that one out yet but I'll let you know.]

10. Don't

Take it personally. Remember the people who let you down, don't give you their films, don't return your phone calls, ignore you pleas and walk straight by you at parties don't hate you personally. So move on and remember you're doing this for fun.

Niall Mckay is a filmmaker and festival programer. He can be reached at mediafactory.tv or at irishfilmnyc.com