Masterlist of PMDs ("Producer" Of Marketing & Distribution)

Okay, I am not truly a fan of the term "Producer Of Marketing & Distribution", but I am even more NOT a fan of how easy we throw around the term "Producer" in general. To me the Producer of a film is the individual or team that is there from the very beginning until the very end -- there is no in between -- and ultimately responsible for EVERYTHING. If you were not involved in any aspect of either the development, financing, casting, production, post, sales, marketing, distribution, and reporting, then you are not a "producer" and should not take that credit. There: I said it. But a nickel is bigger than a dime, and we drive on the parkway and park in the driveway, so who am I to say that this world or a job title does not really make sense? And frankly, if the collaboration between a "PMD" and a film works the way I dream it can, that individual is certainly there from at the very least VERY CLOSE to the beginning and all the way to the end -- like a producer is.

Regardless of how I feel, at this moment in time we are calling those that work in DIY/DIWO films, the PMD, and the world knows they need all the incentives we can provide to do this necessary work, so who am I to quibble over semantics? But the real question really is, who are the people that do this work and where can you find them? Today I launch the Masterlist of PMDs. I will allow someone else to take it from here.

Two weeks ago I asked "Can We Create The Future Of Indie Film Marketing & Distribution -- Or Is It Already Dead?". Ultimately it was a plea for the indie world to take serious the training & utilization of people specializing in DIY/DIWO marketing and distribution. The readers of this column started a lively discussion (check out the comments). Many revealed themselves to be precisely the sort that is gaining this expertise from actual experience in the field. Jon Reiss kept the conversation going with a subsequent post.

If you are prepping a new film, you should budget to collaborate with them, and bring them aboard. Jon Reiss contributed a great post last week on the why and also another on the responsibilities of a "PMD". I wrote out a list of all the services a "PMD" could utilize (now at 31!). I thought that the excuse of why I wasn't collaborating with a "PMD" on my last production, was because I didn't know who they were. I won't let you get away with the same excuse. Nor will I use it in the future.

The important thing is to recognize that PMD's are not simply for-hire service providers. They are collaborators. They are intimate with the production and can speak with an authorial voice. Community building and audience outreach are VERY personal endeavors. To do the job, not even to do it well, but just to do it, requires a tremendous amount of earned-trust from the creative heads. It should be recognized as a job that involves creativity as well as tactics and strategy.

So... Wondering who does PMD Marketing & Distribution work? This is what I found (please add to the list by posting some comments). Many thanks to Jon Reiss who provided several of these in his recent post on the subject.

I have listed contact information when I had it and when the filmmakers okayed it. The credits have not been confirmed. It is a start though...

Michael R. Barnard- Contact: | (917) 409-7294 | 444 E 10th St #104 New York NY 10009

Michael R. Barnard, Producer of Marketing & Distribution, brings years of experience in the production and distribution of low-budget video, broadcast TV, and films, along with experience in sales and marketing, to work with filmmakers to help make their efforts as profitable and widespread as possible. Michael is looking to partner with talented, ambitious, and exciting filmmakers. His goal is: "Bringing the audience to the film. Bringing the film to the audience."


J.X. Carrera -

Bill Cunningham

I am a PMD who has created, developed and executed over 75 motion picture marketing and distribution campaigns (both international and domestic) for clients including Omega Entertainment, York Entertainment, Peace Arch Entertainment, and Artist View Entertainment.

In addition to my motion picture marketing and distribution experience:

I was the Associate Producer of .COM FOR MURDER (Starring Nastassja Kinski) I was the Producer of SCARECROW as well as its co-writer. I was the producer and co-writer for its sequel, SCARECROW SLAYER.

I have also been hired to write screenplays for several production companies here in Hollywood. In other words, I have a background that makes me useful on set, in post, and developing marketing plans to sell a producer's movie.

My specialty is high-concept, low budget movies - horror, science fiction, action, etc...

I am well-versed in setting up promotional web media, creating exceptional, compelling marketing materials and making sure a motion picture is ready for delivery to a distributor, or ready for a producer to distribute himself. I attend the AFM every year, and keep close ties with the buyers there.

Bill can be reached at this email address: Or at the office:

Bill Cunningham Pulp 2.0 2908 Allesandro St. Los Angeles, CA 90039 323.662.2508 skype: madpulpbastard

Stephen Dypiangco (@Dypiangco) PMD “How to Live Forever” & Oscar winning short “God of Love” Contact: Email - Website - Twitter - @Dypiangco Facebook -

As a PMD, I must serve multiple functions on a film: strategist, project manager, communicator, problem solver and entrepreneur. But first and foremost, my primary goal as a PMD is to create and execute a customized marketing and distribution strategic plan (MDSP). I created this term, MDSP, to acknowledge the need for all film productions to have a concrete document from which to work. The term, “strategy,” is just too vague. This MDSP is a concrete strategic plan, a roadmap (a real physical document) of ALL OF THE WORK that needs to be done in the coming days, months and even years, before, during and after the film’s production. By moving forward without creating this roadmap beforehand, a PMD can become sidetracked and eventually get lost. If you don’t know exactly where you’re going, you’ll never get there.

Audrey Ewell - Contact :Stay tuned for the website launch, and in the meantime Audrey can be found at audrey[at], 347-495-1476, or at Union Pool in Brooklyn.

"I position a film so that distribution is both more likely and then more successful. As a filmmaker (and one who's done all this for myself), there are nuances to the interactions between film, filmmaker and audience that I just get, a level of engagement that comes naturally and doesn't reek of marketing.

I start by helping filmmakers identify and engage their audiences. Then I tailor multi-platform digital outreach campaigns that organically amplify core audience excitement to reach new and larger audiences. I strategize and coordinate transmedia elements and game/incentive-based audience development (when desired), do website consultation with an eye toward social and new media optimization, and implement social media campaigns with an emphasis on peer to peer marketing. During festival runs, sneak peaks, premieres, launches and theatrical or semi-theatrical engagements (whether booked by me or an outside party), I consult on promotional materials, coordinate their manufacture and distribution, develop and coordinate street teams, and set up co-promotions with localized partners to cost effectively access targeted local audiences, push early ticket sales, and build awareness and excitement. I seek out new ideas and avenues of engagement and exhibition across multiple platforms.

I help the filmmaker demonstrate audience support and then leverage that visibility and fan support during the theatrical engagement. Once that infrastructure is there the filmmaker can build on it, use it to drive distribution in other markets, and help leverage their success into the next project.

Laree' Griffith Ambient Muse Production Services 310-986-0177

Specializing in social media and promotional admin services for entertainment industry. Consulting with filmmakers and producers to create, implement and maintain an online presence for their productions. Other services are, email campaign maintenance, promotional material handling, and event organization.

Laura Hammer PMD @unicornsmovie | contact:

As Producer of Marketing and Distribution I work closely with the creative team to develop a Marketing and Distribution Strategy translating the goals of the team into a plan; identify and engage with the film’s core audience and target markets; secure brand sponsorships; assemble and supervise all necessary specialists and consultants. I believe that a successful marketing and distribution plan enhances and supports the overall vision of the film's director. I prefer to work with a film from pre-production through distribution but also offer a la carte PMD services. I have produced several narrative, experimental and documentary shorts that have screened at festivals, BAMcinématek, and the legendary Two Boots Pioneer Theater. At MUBI Garage I curate short films, produce interviews with established industry, and promote emerging filmmakers. I have set up and developed successful social media campaigns and web sites for individuals, small businesses, and feature films. I have additional experience in marketing, public relations, and audience outreach working with Broadway producers and Off-Broadway theater companies. I graduated with a B.F.A. in Drama from New York University Tisch School of the Arts and trained with Atlantic Theater Company. While an undergrad, I focused on Interdisciplinary Studies and graduate courses in Web Design at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program.

I am currently PMD for I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS from Student Academy Award nominated director Leah Meyerhoff (Slamdance Grand Jury Prize winning short Twitch), executive producers Allison Anders (Gas Food Lodging, Things Behind the Sun), David Kupferberg (Magic Valley) and Robin Leland (4th and Goal) and producers Heather Rae (Oscar nominated Frozen River) and Mark G. Mathis (Oscar winning Precious, Brick). I am also PMD for GRIOT, a feature documentary in post-production from Volker Goetze, Victor Kanefsky (Style Wars), and Samuel D. Pollard (Emmy winning When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts).

Sally Hodgson @SallyHodgson or sally@pipocapictures.)com, also see

Joe Jestus (via Jon Reiss' post)

Michele Elizabeth Kafko - PMD “Revenge of the Electric Car”

Eddie Kahlish - "Happiness"

Jason Kohl - "Acting Like Adults"; currently 3rd Year student at UCLA.

Adam Daniel Mezei

About Adam Daniel Mezei's PMD-For-Hire:

PMD-For-Hire ( is a full-service, full-time, 6-days/week film marketing and distribution shop.

I serve the needs of indie documentary and features clients (mostly docs, truth be told), working intimately with production crews on a strictly embedded basis as part of a minimum 3-month introductory commitment -- or longer -- to help get projects needed audience traction and off the ground.

The overall aim of the service is to help filmmakers brand their films accordingly. I harp on the need to develop sound traditional marketing, blogging, and social media evangelism techniques -- among a dozen others -- to painstakingly replicate in "micro-version" what mini-studios devote hundreds of thousands -- millions, even -- of dollars to achieve.

My techniques are custom-designed to inculcate solid habits from the get-go for filmmakers who are deathly serious about their long-term career prospects and who wish to harness the boundless power of the newly-democratized filmmaking milieu in true DIY/DIWO-style. Moreover, the point of the exercise is to get filmmakers generating a steady cash flow from their work so they can continue to shoot films.

The techniques I employ are varied, yet standardized because they work.

While every project's ultimate marketing and distribution goals are indeed different, demanding a bespoke approach each time out after a critical evaluation of a project's current marketing assets and personnel, the methodologies I leverage are similar depending upon which stage of the production process I'm parachuted in.

Several approaches I've applied for clients in the past include: organizing themed live events from "soup to nuts" as a way to promote a project and sell product at the event. conceiving of and assembling the pieces for a comedy documentary's entire behind-the-scenes DVD Special Features section. managing a team of half a dozen editing and marketing interns as part of a film's post-production rapid rollout. representing a client at a marquee L.A.-area film festival as part of that picture's world premiere, taking potential distribution meetings in the process. providing coverage on a spec script with suggestions for possible location improvements with the aim of potentially capturing better co-branding prospects in the future. My rates are monthly, comprised of a flat fee, first and last's months paid in advance (one month is always on deposit), and I no longer accept month-to-month contracts as past experience has shown not much of impact can be achieved in just 30 days. Clients wishing to sign me for 30-day periods are throwing away perfectly good marketing budget, and I tell them so. I also tell clients I can't help projects which don't move me personally. So if I'm not "method acting" certain aspects of the production role, there's no PMD in the business who can help you.

PMD-For-Hire is proudly Toronto-based and to my knowledge I'm one of the few Canadians who does this for a living. Given how public funding bodies like Telefilm Canada have now committed to releasing grant money only to those co-produced projects with a clear audience engagement or transmedia strategy in place, the need for PMDs on indie production crews has never been more imperative.

Since I only work the projects where I think I can be of assistance, genres like soft snuff, horror, or certain types of foreign dramas are out of my league. Furthermore, I collaborate with only a limited number of projects each quarter, so once that quota is filled don't take on new clients until the current period is over.

For custom requests or to find out when the next opening is,, or dial 416-827-4196. I answer my phone almost always. Thank you.

And of course, client references available upon request.

Errol Nayci - PMD working in the Netherlands

John Oravec -

I worked with Jon Reiss as he was releasing his film Bomb-It, helped him with flyering, distributing merch, coordinating deliverables, updating social media sites etc. I also did the same for a USC Grad Thesis film Carpet Kingdom by Michael Rochford and also for the feature documentary Danny Greene by Tommy Reid. I am based out of Santa Monica, CA and my contact info is Johnny Oravec 323 698 6900 and my website is

Diana Iles Parker PMD on "Eat The Sun". Spoken Media Contact: 415.225.8121 (c) 415.388.8281 (o)

I am a PMD who partners with documentary filmmakers as early as possible in their filmmaking process so we can develop a strong, cohesive and well-supported launch for their film. I specialize particularly in hybrid models of distribution that focus on splitting rights and maximizing profits; festival strategy, publicity and marketing.

Amy Slotnick - PMD for “The Business of Being Born” (she received producer credit for her work); outreach for “Red State”; "Wake Up". Contact:

As a PMD I work with filmmakers to help them build, manage and optimize digital and traditional marketing and distribution, allowing them to better engage their audiences. This includes strategizing and executing marketing, publicity and distribution of independent films, often aimed to reach a niche audience or to promote a particular cause. Partnerships with organizations, brands and businesses as well as planning screenings with non-profit, student and regional groups has proved effective for raising awareness for a film. Creating and managing social networks, mobile and online promotions and overseeing online distribution, theater bookings and licensing deals are all part of the PMD position. A plan that is specific to a particular film’s subject matter and perspective can be crafted and implemented to leverage its assets and build momentum. Titles for which I have worked in this manner include Kevin Smith’s RED STATE (pre-release 15 city tour), THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN and WAKE UP.

Lila Yomtoob Lila Yomtoob is a Brooklyn based producer specializing in marketing in distribution. She's got 12 years in different areas of the industry, a statuette named Emmy, and has produced three features, "Hidden Battles", "Foreclosure", and "High Life," which she also directed. As an independent filmmaker in her own right, she understands and respects directors' needs, and is especially passionate about getting good films seen by their audiences.

Jon Reiss on "What Are A Producer of Marketing And Distribution's Responsibilities?" Part 2 of 2

Yesterday, Jon Reiss explained why indie films need a "PMD" -- and if words don't work for you -- just look at Tuesday's list of all the new tools and services available that we can't afford to miss. Today, Jon takes it further, and tries to lay out the job description for both experienced and aspiring marketing & distribution collaborators. The responsibilities of a PMD are wide and varied. Not all films will utilize all of these elements (since every film is different and will have a unique approach to marketing and distribution), but each should be considered when strategizing and planning for the film’s release.

1. Identify, research and engage with the audience for the film.

2. Develop a distribution and marketing strategy and plan for the film in conjunction with the key principles of the filmmaking team. Integrate this plan into the business plan for the film. This should also be done as early as possible and should be incorporated into your business plan. This helps your investors, donors, potential grant committees know that you have a clear idea of what your goals are and how you will achieve those goals.

3. Create a budget for the M&D plan.

4. As needed and appropriate, strategize and implement fundraising from the audience of the film in conjunction with or in place of traditional financing which would include: crowdfunding, organizational partnerships, sponsorships and even modified versions of traditional fundraising.

5. Assemble and supervise the necessary team/crew elements to carry out the plan which can include social media, publicity, M&D production crew for extra diagetic material, key artists, web developers, trailer editors, bookers etc.

6. Audience research, outreach and relationship building through organizations, blogs, social media (including email collection), influencers, online and traditional publications.

7. Supervise the creation of promotional content and work with the development of trans media elements in either coordination with a Transmedia Producer, or in the case where the production is small – their might be one person who fills both roles, PMD and Transmedia Producer. Other elements to be created: the films website and social media sites, production stills, video assets - both behind the scenes and trans media, promotional copy and art/key art. Plus the PMD devises an organized content calendar to plan out what elements are released when and how they will disseminate online.

Just FYI – nearly all of the above and much of 8 & 9 happen before the film is finished.

8. Outreach to potential distribution and marketing partners including film festivals, theatrical service companies, community theatrical bookers, DVD distributors, Digital and VOD aggregators, TV sales agents, foreign sales agents as well as sponsors and promotional partners. The advantage of having the PMD on board is that it gives the filmmaking team many more options for distribution and marketing. No longer do filmmakers have to give up all rights just to get help in releasing their films. Filmmaking teams can create split rights scenarios that can be much more favorable to achieving their goals than many typical distribution deals. It puts the artistic team in the drivers seat instead of being dependent on taking any deal offered.

9. Coordinate, organize and supervise the creation of traditional deliverables in addition to creation of all media needed for the execution of the release as needed including: • Live event/theatrical: Prints either 35 or Disk or Drive. Any other physical prep for event screenings. • Merchandise: All hard good physical products including DVDs and any special packaging (authoring and replication) and all other forms of merchandise: books, apparel, toys, reproductions of props etc, and hard versions of games. • Digital products: encoding of digital products, iPhone/Android apps etc.

10. Modify and adjust the marketing and distribution plan as new opportunities present themselves during the film’s life span regarding information about audience, market, and partnerships arise.

11. When appropriate, engage the distribution process, which includes the release of: • Live Event Theatrical – Booking, delivery, of all forms of public exhibition of the film including all elements that make the screenings special events (appearances, live performance, discussion panels etc.) • Merchandise – Distribution of all hard good physical products created for the film. • Digitally – oversee all sales of the film in the form of 0s and 1s: TV/Cable/VOD/Mobile/Broadband/Video games etc. • This not just in the home territory – but also internationally. • Some of these activities may be handled in conjunction with a distribution partner in which case the PMD would be supervising the execution in conjunction with that partner.

12. Ramp up the marketing of the film to coincide with the release, which includes: • Content rollout • Additional Social Media activities such as contests, soliciting screening demands, posting press mentions . • Publicity including feature stories, interviews, reviews • Organizational Relationships • Sponsorship Relationships • Affiliate and Email Marketing • Promotions • Media Buys (as warranted) • Seeding trailers and other video content. • Any specific marketing especially tailored to the film.

This list should indicate how it would be difficult, if not impossible, to expect existing traditional crew categories to accomplish or even coordinate the work outlined above. In addition, while some of the work above is “quantifiable”, much of it is not – just like much of what a producer or even director does is not “quantifiable”. All efforts working in tandem produces the ROI.

Jon Reiss is a filmmaker and author of Think Outside the Box Office. His new book, Selling Film Without Selling Your Soul, cowritten with The Film Collaborative’s Orly Ravid and Jeffrey Winter with social media marketer Sheri Candler, is sponsored by Prescreen, Area23a Movie Events and Dynamo Player available September 13, 2011 via Apple iBooks, followed by Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, a printed edition and free ePub version.

He can be reached at:
You can order Think Outside the Box Office here, or on Amazon.

Jon Reiss on "Why A Producer of Marketing And Distribution?" Part 1

Yesterday's HFF post on the plethora of new platforms & options for truly free filmmakers should have made you leap for joy and run for the cliff simultaneously. It is wonderful that filmmakers have SO many great tools and services at their disposal. But how does anyone take advantage of this situation. The choice is overwhelming. Sure the rewards could be great -- but so is the risk. Well, the answer, my friend, is... best explained by Jon Reiss. The Producer of Marketing and Distribution and The New 50/50

On the recent discussion concerning the Producer of Marketing and Distribution on Ted’s blog recently, there was some confusion as to what are the responsibilities of the Producer of Marketing Responsibilities. I offered Ted the list of responsibilities that I wrote for the introduction of a book that I am writing on the PMD. Ted offered to post the entire introduction in three parts. This first part concerns why I think a PMD is useful to independent filmmakers. The second post concerns responsibilities of the PMD. The third post will look at how the PMD is currently being adopted and what kind of training could help not only people who want to be PMDs, but also the filmmakers who want to have them as part of their teams. Here is the introduction.

As a filmmaker myself, I am well aware of the paradigm shift that has occurred in the last several years as independent filmmakers try to get their films distributed. Through my own work – and talking to countless filmmakers - I have become a firm believer that filmmaking is a two part process. The first part is creating the film – the second part is connecting that film with an audience. There is still a strong belief in the independent film world that filmmakers are only responsible for creating the film – someone else will take care of distribution and marketing. For a very few filmmakers this might still happen. But for the vast majority of filmmakers – and all artists and media content creators – it won’t.

Loose estimates range that there are between 5,000-17,000 feature films made in North America every year and that approximately 35,000 feature films are on the international festival circuit. Most of these are looking for, hoping for, a company to give them a check in exchange for the right to distribute their films. Even in an excellent year of acquisitions – only a relative handful of films will have some form of distribution entity “take their films off their hands”. (Whether having a distributor is the best course for any film is another debate – I am also a firm believer that every film is different and each film thus needs its own unique distribution and marketing strategy and implementation – but that is for another chapter.)

So it is up to filmmakers and artists to not only own the means of production – but also to own the means of distribution and marketing.

Hence the New 50/50 is as follows:

50 percent of an artist’s time and resources should be devoted to creating a film or artistic work. 50 percent of their time and resources should be devoted to getting the film/artistic work out to its audience, aka distribution and marketing.

This is not a hard-and-fast rule. Rather, it is a guide to changing our preconceptions.

In the year and a half since I coined “the New 50/50” I feel that it creates too much of a dichotomy between creation of a film and the distribution and marketing of a film. In the best of circumstances – these two “halves” should be integrated into an organic whole. Audience engagement needs to start as close to inception as possible – and with advances in technology – mainly Internet and mobile technology, it is more possible than ever.

I believe that this integration allows for not only much better results in filmmakers achieving their goals of their releases (whatever those may be) – but also allows for the distribution and marketing process to open up to new forms of creativity as well. Distribution and marketing can be as creative as the filmmaking process – even to the point where they become indistinguishable. This should not be scoffed at, as some form of branded entertainment – rather should be embraced as a revolution of artistic possibility. (However it is actually branded entertainment in which the artis is the brand.)

The Birth of the Producer of Marketing and Distribution

I find that most filmmakers (directors and producers both) I speak to are so overwhelmed with the amount of work involved in creating “a film” –they don’t have the time to connect with audiences or create additional assets during production to aid in later marketing efforts (or as creative extensions of the project). Further, many filmmakers (especially directors) do not have the skill set or inclination to engage directly with audiences. As a filmmaker, I can relate to these feelings myself.

In addition, just like you most likely did not make the film on your own, you should not be distributing and marketing the film on your own. I would propose that from now on, every film needs one person devoted to the distribution and marketing of the film from inception, just as they have a line producer, assistant director, or DP.

Just before sending Think Outside the Box Office to print, I came up with the concept of the Producer of Marketing and Distribution or the PMD. I gave this crew position an official title of PMD because without an official position, this work will continue to not get done. I gave this position the title of producer because it is that important.

In addition, in doing the work as a PMD for my own film as well as consulting on a number of other films, (and having produced three feature films myself) I can state that this work is producorial in nature.

The purpose of the PMD is for one person on a filmmaking team to be responsible for audience engagement. {Note that I use “distribution and marketing” and “audience engagement” interchangeably. I do this so that filmmakers will start to view distribution and marketing (the whole process from beginning to end) as audience engagement. E.g. Audience engagement starts at awareness – and keeps going through consumption and beyond to the future. }

To continue: the purpose of the PMD derives from the recognition that filmmakers (filmmaking teams) need to own the audience engagement process and that this process should start as early as possible – either at inception or no later than the beginning of pre-production for the best results.

The need for a PMD also results from the recognition that audience engagement is a lot of work (perhaps as much or more work than actually making a film) and that traditional filmmakers (writers, directors, producers etc) are already busy with the task of making a great film. These traditional members of a filmmaking team rarely have the extra time to devote to distribution and marketing (so it often falls by the wayside). In addition, many traditional filmmakers are not suited or interested in the kinds of tasks that audience engagement requires. It also recognizes that most split rights distribution partners and some traditional distributors will not spend adequate time or money on promotion when the film is ready for distribution. The earlier in the process this is started, the more successful it will be for everyone involved.

Jon Reiss is a filmmaker and author of Think Outside the Box Office. His new book, Selling Film Without Selling Your Soul, co written with The Film Collaborative’s Orly Ravid and Jeffrey Winter with social media marketer Sheri Candler, is sponsored by Prescreen, Area23a Movie Events and Dynamo Player available September 13, 2011 via Apple iBooks, followed by Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, a printed edition and free ePub version.

He can be reached at:

You can order Think Outside the Box Office here, or on Amazon.

"Not Dead Yet" Jon Reiss on The Tremendous Rise Of The PMD

I posted my query last week whether we could truly build a class of TrulyFree / Indie marketing & distribution experts. Many people believe this can happen naturally. I think we need a unified industry effort to make this happen at the speed the all the great movies being generated these days need. Some beg to differ...
Yet, DIY/DIWO "guru" Jon Reiss has been witness to many of the efforts from this new breed, dubbed PMDs. Although, he and I agree on the need, we disagree on the term (but why squabble over semantics?). People need their films to connect with audiences. Audiences need to connect with each other, and films are a wonderful way to accomplish this. Can we hope that the market and filmmaker need & desire will solve our needs? Or do we need an intervention to solve this crisis? Jon has a front row seat to all that is happening, and today shares his observations.
I believe the amount of comments that Ted’s post last week (“Can We Create The Future Of Indie Marketing & Distribution—Or Is It Already Dead?”) indicates that this is a vibrant area of independent film and is in no way dead.
It is only 2 years since I coined the term Producer of Marketing and Distribution in my book “Think Outside the Box Office” and I continue to encounter people either working as PMDs such as Joe Jestus who is the PMD for a film production company; Amy Slotnick who functioned as the PMD for “The Business of Being Born” (she received producer credit for her work) and did outreach for “Red State”; Stephen Dypiangco who recently served as the PMD for “How to Live Forever” as well as the PMD for the Oscar winning short “God of Love”; Michele Elizabeth Kafko who is the first IMDB credited PMD for “Revenge of the Electric Car”; and Errol Nayci, who is a PMD working in the Netherlands. And there are more. Adam Chapnick of Indiegogo/Distribber told me that he gets several calls a week from people stating that they are “the PMD for _____ film”. I recently consulted with The Scottish Documentary Institute who via funding from Creative Scotland is hiring a staff PMD to work with all of their films.
I believe that the concept is taking hold because of the need for the concept. With an explosion of films (and media) in the past five years, side by side with the disruption of traditional models of media distribution, content creators of all kinds have been faced with the need to distribute and market their own work. But also they are privileged now to have access to a worldwide audience for a very low cost that was previously closed to them. However, many artists do not have the time, desire and/or skill set required to handle these new responsibilities and to fully take advantage of the opportunity. I don’t think there is an argument that if filmmakers are now responsible for distribution and marketing, then there needs to be new team/crew members to handle this new work – hence the Producer of Marketing and Distribution. There will need to be a number of other people working under or coordinated by the PMD just as there is a Line Producer for production who supervises the various production departments. Really in the best of all worlds the PMD starts with the director, writer, producer at inception and works hand in hand with all aspects of the filmmaking process – and hence the “Producer” of marketing and distribution.
But even though the need might be recognized, it is another issue for filmmakers to allot the resources to fulfill this need. I believe more and more filmmakers are allotting financial resources to distribution and marketing, realizing that no P&A genie exists or that raising P&A after the fact is starting too late. When I was in the UK recently, it was heartening to see that agencies in the UK are allowing film funds not only to be used for distribution and marketing, but also to be used for alternative distribution models that incorporate a PMD. I applaud film funds that support the distribution and marketing of independent film, but I feel that it is important for these funds to free filmmakers from an antiquated system of traditional distribution and to allow them to experiment with new models.
For territories without such funds (or for those without access to these funds), filmmakers need to find a way to fund it themselves. What is important for filmmakers to realize is that connecting to an audience can be as, or even more, expensive than making your film. Musicians who have had to deal with a changing distribution and marketing landscape for longer than filmmakers, have already realized this and recognize that it is a fact of being an artist. Many musicians also have people who help them distribute and market their work. Topspin has a team of staffers who do this work – and they are called “producers”. Musicians pay these producers to plan and execute their distribution and marketing. The sooner we as filmmakers follow the lead of our fellow artists, the better.
The flip side of having resources, is having a pool of talent to do the work required. As I indicated above, a growing talent pool of people skilled as PMDs is emerging. I do feel that organizations such as Sundance, IFP and FIND can do more to push this along as can film schools. I welcome the creation of a PMD Lab, just as there are directing labs, screenwriting labs etc. The IFP Filmmaker Lab, as the first completion, distribution and marketing lab, is a first step in this direction. This lab emphasizes distribution and marketing from day 1 and a number of the teams bring on PMDs. Ted and I also started to develop an interdisciplinary curriculum combining courses from film and business schools. Until this process becomes more uniform, it will take place on individual films. Sheri Candler and I have started training PMDs on specific films.
The shift towards a new paradigm is slow, frustrating and fraught with pitfalls, and will mean a mindset shift for artists which is painful to some, but I personally see more cause for hope than for despair. Assistance from schools, labs and funds would be great and would speed the process along – helping many artists in the process, but in no way are the new concepts “dead”. The purpose of creating the role of the PMD was to formally name this needed position within independent film so there would be a pool of people trained to help facilitate that process. I know the concept will not die because there will always be people who are too driven to create work and will seek out help to connect that work to an audience.
Jon Reiss can be found on Twitter and Facebook. His new book co authored with The Film Collaborative and Sheri Candler “Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul” launches at IFP Week September 19th, 2011. His forthcoming book on the PMD will come out in 2012.

Can We Create The Future Of Indie Marketing & Distribution -- Or Is It Already Dead?

We speak of the need to utilize PMDs (aka Producers of Marketing & Distribution) on Indie/TFF movies these days, but how do these people get trained (not to mention, paid for)? Where do they learn their skill sets? Two or three years into this DIY Indie Movement of sorts, can you name more than three or four people (at best) who do this? Isn't this the missing piece? How come we all aren't doing more to train these folks?

Two or so years ago, Jon Reiss and I developed a pretty extensive proposal for a Marketing/Distribution Lab. Our goal was to make it long term, six months to a year, with films in all different stages participating. We brought it to most of the indie film support organizations, and got a great response. Tribeca, Sundance, IFP, and FIND all said yes. Well they said "yes, but...". Financing it, maintaining it, and in one instance, monetizing it, were unsolvable issues too big for each for them to truly take on. IFP committed to bringing Jon in to speak to their lab participants, so not all was for naught, but the problem remains. Everyone recognizes it. Where will the people who can do the M&D work well come from?

On the agency level, I hear the problem amplified. Their clients, filmmakers, can make excellent movies at a very low out-of-pocket price point, but how can the movies get out and find audiences. Creators who have any regular work can not usually make the commitment to push their work out to audiences, let alone build vibrant communities. And often the agencies don't want them to, as it is perceived to "devalue" the clients if they go the DIY route. They need to find reputable and ideally prestigious entities to take on the film, and hopefully not in a manner that takes the rights forever and has little hope of upside.

Sundance has made great strides under new Executive Director Keri Putnam to not only recognize that most independent film won't find a traditional corporately-backed distribution home, but also most shouldn't even opt for that. Sundance's Artist Services is the first real step The Industry has taken to help build a true Artist/Entrepreneur class. Through this lens we can see a real creator middle class being born, not dependent on building their work to appeal to the widest audience, not self-censoring from the start, but recognizing that every option is theirs, if they are willing to take responsibility for their work.

But their lies the rub: are artists willing to take responsibility for their work yet? Is it even what is best for them? Twenty years in to being led to believe that great work will always not just find an audience, but also make money for all concerned courtesy of the golden hand of distribution entities, can we even glimpse what an alternative approach may bring?

I encounter the problem with myself. I know what I need to do to truly prep a film, but have a hard time allocating the labor and expense to it. I can imagine a better life where I distributed the majority of my films. Yet, how do I shift my priorities when I feel that my top skill set is in the development and production of feature length movies? Really, what I would like to do is supervise talented up & comers on the marketing and distribution of my films -- but I can't trust my work to total newbies. And I don't see a supply of PMDs coming out or up the pipeline and ladder.

Is it enough to hope that the producers that are pushed into or opt for the DIY or Hybrid approach are the ones who will build those skills and turn to that type of producing, if they enjoy it and are successful -- much the same as other producers focus on financing or packaging or development or physical production? Can we rely on partnerships developing between those who focus on it and those who focus elsewhere in producing pipeline? One can hope that this develops, but if I had to wager a guess, at the very least it is a ten year wait for such a natural progress, and that is ten years of not only good movies not being seen, but the entire chain of distancing from audiences and communities that will be indie's ruin.

In the studio world, there are producers more focused on marketing and distro than any other part of the process, and they are very successful at it. But Indie Film is a different calling, and a far different reward structure. Those of us in it, have chosen it fully because of the content, and are not compensated well for that choice. Fees for indie producing consistently have dropped over the last five years, requiring working producers to take on more jobs and commit less time in the process. The focus on marketing is something those in the indie world simply cannot afford to do.

So what is to be done? I could be wrong, but I think pure economics prevents a PMD sector from developing naturally in the indie world. Intervention is required. Starting out, I recognized I wanted to be a "creative" producer, but could not get a job remotely in that area for the longest period. Production skills were what was valued in NYC -- and still are. I was fortunate enough to have paying script reading work (in addition to my production stuff) that exposed me to some of the process and players -- but that wasn't enough to earn a living on. To get development work I had to first save my money, and then sell myself cheap in the dead production months to producers who were happy to find there was someone willing to be exploited. I eagerly agreed, but it was the only way open.

The newbie producers coming out of film school understandably look to make movies, and the desire to make the next one is never as strong as when you have just wrapped the prior -- you can feel your skill set at it's peak power and it wants to play in a new field.

We've known we need new blood in the distro field for decades, but as the previous crew won't (and some shouldn't) yield their seats at the table, there has never been much incentive for folks to try to step in that direction. The new generation has taken over international sales, but there is no equivalent in domestic distribution. Glen Basner who runs Film Nation, one of the true leaders in international sales. He was my assistant and for the longest time resisted the move into sales -- despite everyone at the company recognizing it was his calling. He was drawn to the lure of creative producing. Now he gets more movies made than most producers combined, and earns a far better living too, but it wasn't something that happened over night. He was fortunate to have great mentors in the sale business and a corporate structure that allowed for it. I can think of several others in his field that have a similar story. To foster similar innovation, growth, and success to that of the international sales arena that Glen and his compatriots have delivered, we need a structure in the marketing and distro world that can actual facilitate it.

We simply don't have the time to hope that a natural process of film by film growth will yield the new breed that we desperately need. I don't think it can be done without incentivizing producers to venture in that direction. They need to know that they will not only be expanding their skill set but also gaining prestige, connections, and opportunity. It won't just come naturally. People show their best when you can give them a path that promises the best view. They need a lab and other incentives. Where will the funding and leadership come? Can we get them to act before it is too late? Will the community recognize this as a real need and act to make it a reality?