Applying to Film Festivals 10 Dos and 5 Don’ts

Applying to Film Festivals 10 Dos and 5 Don’ts

So it’s that intense festival time of year again. You’re considering festivals, applying to festivals and who knows perhaps already excited about the festivals you have been accepted to. Here are 10 Do’s and 5 Don’ts when applying to film festivals. These suggestions are based not only on my own work with clients, but also from some amazing advice from some really knowledgeable folks who I have had the pleasure of being on panels with over this past year: Basil Tsiokis (SundanceFF/DocNYC), Tom Hall (Montclair FF), Dan Nuxoll (Rooftop Films), Omar Gonzales (PMK-BNC), Ania Trzebiatowska (Visit Films), David Nugent (Hamptons International FF), Milton Tabbot (IFP) But don’t hold them responsible for everything I say – I take full... More
How to Craft a Marketing and Distribution Plan That’s Right for You

How to Craft a Marketing and Distribution Plan That’s Right for You

Here is a post published by FIND after the marketing presentation I made at Film Independent in August. by KIMBERLY MARCELA DURON So! You have a great idea for a film. Even better: the pieces are coming together for the film to actually be produced. While you’re thinking about things like funding, filling key positions and casting, other aspects of filmmaking—like marketing and distribution—may seem like they should take the back burner. But this is precisely where filmmaker, author and distribution expert Jon Reiss would disagree. Reiss begins his Members workshop at Film Independent by reminding the audience of the oversaturated film market, citing an average of 2,000 years worth of content uploaded to YouTube alone per month. “Your... More


Facebook Live: My work with NIN and Artistic Integrity

I often have clients come to me at various stages of their projects with concerns about how to keep their artistic integrity when certain decisions are being made about their films.  I recently did a Facebook Live to talk about this issue while telling you some personal stories from my career. Check it out below and hear about my time working with Trent Reznor & Nine Inch Nails, how The Defiant Ones has recently inspired me, & ways to keep your artistic... More
Reasons Why “Whose Streets” is Essential Viewing

Reasons Why “Whose Streets” is Essential Viewing

While at the Sundance Film Festival this past week I had the fortune to to see the premiere of “Whose Streets” by Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis – produced by Jennifer MacArthur. It was even more fortunate because I was able to view this powerful film on inauguration day and it provided wonderful counterprogramming. I was struck by a number of things in the film that still resonate with me almost a week later. 1. The film shows how far we still have to go as a nation to confront a legacy of slavery that is still with us. The film wisely starts with a reference to the Dred Scott decision in 1846 and compares it to contemporary St. Louis and Ferguson. (In the Dred Scott decision, the Supreme Court in one of its most notorious decisions,... More

Documentary Magazine Article – Documentary Distribution in Turbulent Times

During IDA’s Getting Real 2016 conference in September,  Susan Margolin and I hosted a two part panel on the state of documentary distribution.  I conducted a series of case studies with Nanfu Wang, from the critically acclaimed Sundance film Hooligan Sparrow. Christo Brock and Grant Barbeito’s Touch the Wall, and finally Keith Ochwat and Christopher Rufo’s Age of Champions.   Susan then dove into a panel of  industry experts including Josh Braun of Submarine Entertainment; Orly Ravid, entertainment attorney and founder of The Film Collaborative; Annie Roney of ro*co films; Nolan Gallagher of Gravitas Ventures; and Felicia Pride of Tugg, the theatrical event platform. Susan and I wrote an in-depth article of analysis and... More

Artist, Filmmaker, & Renowned Disney Producer Don Hahn Comes to Cal Arts

Hard to believe we are already halfway through the first month of 2017! So much has already happened this year. I just got back from Winnipeg where it was below -10 degrees. TALK ABOUT FREEZING. Luckily, I didn’t have to leave my hotel too much and I had a fantastic time at All Access 2017 hosted by On Screen Manitoba. I not only got to give a keynote address and take part in a fantastic panel discussion, but I also got to meet with some wonderful filmmakers. That is truly one of my favorite things. There is a lot going on in Winnipeg! Look out for some informational blog posts coming up in the next few weeks where I will be talking about the importance of planning out the marketing of your films from inception and at various stages of... More

10 Key Points on How to Move Forward With Outreach and Impact for Documentary Film

A Report from the IFP Filmmaker Lab by Jon Reiss With all the trauma of this past week, I at least had the good fortune of spending it at the IFP Filmmaker Lab in NYC.   We all showed up Wednesday morning stunned/tired from watching returns all night/depressed.   Some stayed home but by the middle of the morning nearly all the filmmaking teams had turned up. I say that I was fortunate because one of the things that I love about the labs is that we become a community of support for each other. Even though my morning presentation was on something as banal (for last week) as budgeting and timing a release – we were all reminded about how important stories and art can be to inspire, motivate, create community and express our humanity.... More

Heading to Sheffield International Doc Fest and Edinburgh International Film Festival

  I’m excited to be heading to the UK for the Sheffield International Doc Fest and the Edinburgh International Film Festival. In Sheffield I’ll be taking meetings with a number of international documentary foreign sales representatives but I’ll also be participating in Sales Sunday which is Sunday, June 12th.  Then I’ll be meeting with filmmakers as part of the distribution and marketing Switchboard Surgeries – as well as 10 Minute Meetings with impact oriented films. In Edinburgh – I’ll be there for the final sessions of Make Your Market the PMD training initiative through the Scottish Documentary Institute.   I’ll also be participating in EIFF’s Distribution Rewired program which is Tuesday the 21st.   DISTRIBUTION... More

What the F is a PMD and Why Do We Need One?

Back in 2010, two weeks before I went to print on Think Outside the Box Office, I coined a new crew position: the Producer ofMarketing and Distribution.   This concept/position has taken off in varying fits and starts over the last five years – with people calling themselves and being credited as PMDs in the United States, Europe and Australia.  A Producer of Marketing and Distribution is the person on a filmmaking team who takes charge of and directs the distribution and marketing process for that film to achieve the filmmaking team’s goals.   It is preferable for a PMD to start as early as possible in the filmmaking process. The PMD seems to be catching on again.  Why?   Because it is an essential crew position for independent films –... More

Heading to IDFA

  I’m excited to be heading to the IDFA festival and market in Amsterdam today! I’ll be attending BritDocs Global Impact Producers Assembly on Saturday – then doing three presentations over the next 5 days: First on Sunday November 22nd 10am – 11:45 I will be doing a Distribution Crash Course for the newly launched Impact Academy in the Netherlands. I’ll be covering event theatrical, educational, broadcast and VOD and how to make those releases work in relationship with each other. Location Meetberlage (Oudebrugsteeg 9, 1012 JN Amsterdam). Next same day Sunday at 13:00-15:00 I will be doing a Distribution and Marketing Masterclass for the IDFA Academy about creating an overall strategy for a film’s... More

Distribution Case Study – “Finding Hillywood”

Written by Leah Warshawski (Producer/Director) / Introduction by Jon Reiss   I recently wrote a two part article featuring four documentary filmmakers who pursued hybrid releases with their films and who were generous enough to share the real data from their films’ releases – Transparency: Four Filmmakers Give Up the Gold Pt1 and Pt 2. Upon reading these, filmmaker Leah Warshawski wanted to write something similar for the self release of her film, Finding Hillywood. This first post about the film chronicles the story of her release, finishing up with a list of 10 tips for filmmakers. When all of the data is in – about a year from now – she will write a follow up detailing all of the real data from the release. I encourage more... More

American Film Showcase Trip to Romania

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to travel to Romania with the American Film Showcase which is a collaboration between the American State Department and USC which bring mainly documentary filmmakers and film experts (yours truly) to various countries around the world. This program serves as bridge between American filmmakers and filmmakers abroad mostly in the developing world but occasionally in more developed countries.   Frankly I didn’t know what to expect – I actually thought that Romania already had a pretty amazing film industry producing some pretty incredible films.  However my one experience being in Romania (before the revolution) did not create much of a desire to go back.  Boy was I surprised – Romania is an incredible... More
Off to Romania!

Off to Romania!

Tonight I’ll be heading off to Romania as an “expert” for the American Film Showcase. The AFS is a cultural exchange organization that uses film education across the world as a means to opening a dialogue about important contemporary issues. I’m very excited to work with this great organization, and to visit such a fascinating part of the world. We will be holding film workshops in Bucharest for several days, and then heading to the Transylvania International Film Festival! After that it’s off to New York to participate in the IFP Narrative Lab. Earlier this month I was there for the Documentary Lab, and it was an amazing week. I’ve already watched the 10 docs that were selected, and have started watching the 10 narrative films. They all... More

Distribution Transparency: Four Filmmakers Give Up the Gold Pt 2

  Wednesday’s post looked at Neil Berkeley and Judy Chaikin as two filmmakers who wanted to create a theatrical release for their films to boost visibility, increase ancillary value and learn for themselves how to operate in the new hybrid model of distribution and marketing. Today we will look at Paco de Onís the company Skylight he runs with with creative director Pamela Yates and editorial director Peter Kinoy and their film/media project Granito   Paco de Onís, Skylight & Granito   According to de Onís, Skylight is “as much a filmmaking organization, as a human rights organization.” Hence their goals are not about monetary gain – but about social change specifically in the realm of social justice. To do this... More

Distribution Transparency: Four Filmmakers Reveal Their Distribution Numbers, Part One

  Alternative distribution models are no longer the experiment, but are now the norm for the vast majority of filmmakers. However because of a variety of reasons, including not least contract obligations and a fear that exposing numbers may not show the filmmaker in the best light, many filmmakers have been reticent to give out the real numbers from their film’s releases. As a result, for last October’s Getting Real Documentary Conference, held by the International Documentary Association, I wanted to create a panel where the participants were required to reveal the data about the releases of their films. I wanted to see how these filmmakers might be working within new models to not only release one film, but how they are... More

IFFR, Tiger Release, and the Trend of Festival as Distributor

I’m so thrilled to be participating in two IFFR events this year! For those of you attending, I hope we run into each other. On the morning of Monday, the 26th, I’ll be serving on a distribution panel called Get Your Film Out There! (moderated by Amy Dotson). That afternoon, I’ll be participating in an “on stage workshop”-style presentation of IFFR’s new Tiger Release distribution initiative, showing how three different films each benefit from the initiative’s offerings. IFFR is now the latest film festival to adopt a distribution initiative, Tiger Release following the creation of Sundance Artist Services, Tribeca Film and the Dok Incubator at Dok Leipzig. Here’s a look back at Chapter 14... More

Join It Session Tonight with Gregory Bayne

I’ve been doing “Join It” sessions approximately once a month since last October as one of my Kickstarter rewards for Bomb It 2. In these sessions everyone who selected the Join It perk can dial in for a monthly conference call and ask anything about filmmaking and distribution and marketing. These sessions have been a mix of discussions, presentations by me and at times my doing mini consults with the filmmakers who were online. We then record these sessions (all but one) and post them for those who couldn’t attend (unfortunately the majority). I once experimented with not recording the sessions because I wanted to promote the live nature of the sessions and encourage participation – but with... More

New Selling Your Film Book Released– and it’s FREE

I’m really excited about this brand new book, Selling Your Film Outside the U.S. (click here to download the book for free) that I wrote with Sheri Candler, The Film Collaborative co-executive directors Orly Ravid and Jeffrey Winter and Wendy Bernfeld, managing director of the European content curation and licensing company Rights Stuff BV edited and published by The Film Collaborative. Selling Your Film Outside the U.S. is the second volume in the “Selling Your Film” case study book series. While our first book, Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul, focused on U.S releases and case studies, this volume takes a deep dive into digital distribution (and distribution generally) in Europe and provides several case studies of... More

Guest Post: Top 5 Webseries Tips

I’ve been talking about serialized content for some time now – and how filmmakers need to look at this as a way to engage with new methods of distribution and marketing for their work. This can take many forms – but the most obvious are episodic television and web series. I asked Carrie Cutforth the creator of Spy Whores and the Executive Director of The Independent Web Series Creators of Canada to write a post about webseries in honor of her new TO Web Fest that happened in Toronto May 9-11th. Here is her post: Don’t Overlook these 5 Top Essentials in Making a Web Series by Carrie Cutforth TO WebFest, Toronto’s screening/conference festival dedicated to web series, took place May 9-11th. Regan Latimer, the program... More

10 reasons why you should get your s–t together and apply to the IFP Filmmaker Lab

I have had the pleasure of being one of the lab leaders at the IFP Filmmaker Lab for the past 5 or so years (as you can imagine I help run the distribution and marketing component of the labs).  Each year the four times I travel to New York for the labs are some of the highlights of my calendar.  Yet I am continually amazed by the number of first time filmmakers that I talk to that didn’t apply to the lab (and many had not heard of it!).   So as the deadline for the Documentary Lab looms (March 7th! Narrative App due April 4), I thought I would take a little time to encourage filmmakers to apply – you never know what might happen! 1. It’s the first of its kind post production, distribution and marketing lab that helps shepherd first time... More

Jon Reiss on BYODocs with Ondi Timoner

Had a great time with Ondi Timoner today filming for her BYODocs Show – seen here!  We spoke a little about Think Outside the Box Office – but mostly about my docs Bomb It, Bomb It 2, Better Living Through Circuitry and even going back to Survival Research Laboratories and Target Video.   Let me know what you think! More

The BOMB IT 2 DVD is here!

This week marks the official release of the BOMB IT 2 DVD. To purchase, visit our BOMB IT 2 website. Don’t forget to check out this exclusive webisode with BOMB IT 2 artist Darbotz, where he explains his artistic process and the story behind the Squid Monster character featured in his work. Thank you for all of your support!   More

How I Made a Feature Film Right Out of Film School (Guest Post)

I’m Jaymes Camery and I just wrapped production on my first feature film, Guys and Girls Can’t Be Friends. I graduated from California Institute of the Arts with an MFA in Film Directing in May 2013. I grew up in Virginia and have always had a special affinity for stories that take place in the South. My filming partner and long-time friend, Ben Solenberger, and I have been working on this project off and on for 5 years. We’d done about 5 or 6 test shoots, tons of re-writes, and gotten feedback from all over. Our goals for this film include making a good movie and also helping start our own careers. Our website is facebook.com/guysandgirlscantbefriends Outside of production, we wanted to start our social media outreach... More

A Little About Happiness In Slavery

Early in my career I avoided music videos like the plague,  they just seemed like commercials for music.  Fortunately – this led me to one of my favorite collaborations on Happiness in Slavery – since Trent Reznor was looking for filmmakers who had never done a music video before.  He didn’t want anyone polluted by the process.  (I understood this years later after I became polluted by the process and then quit doing music videos).    He found me through Film Threat Magazine who had been fans of my shorts and my documentaries of Survival Research Laboratories.   Trent wanted to do a video that didn’t have any limits, he had a new deal (with Interscope) that gave him full creative control.  His guidelines were “consensual S&M” and... More

Theatrical is Dead – Long Live Theatrical: Events, Experiences, Scarcity & The Age of Abundance

Part 3 of How to Make Money in the Age of Abundance  By Jon Reiss Theatrical is Dead Long Live Theatrical. The holy grail of a theatrical release still rings as a delusion for many.  Fighting words still for untold thousands of filmmakers. Who doesn’t want their name in lights – long lines around the block – a packed theater of adoring fans.  I believe this live engagement with fans is crucial for artists.  But traditional theatrical is probably not the way you are going to do it. In the first post in this series, I indicated that filmmakers need to create scarce resources in order to compete with the abundance of digital.  Today’s post will focus on events – or what I have termed Live Event/Theatrical. The essence of this renaming is for... More

Ask Not What Your Audience Can Do For You – But What You Can Do For Your Audience

Part 2 of How to Make Money in the Age of Abundance When I wrote the first post in this series, I thought this would only be a two-parter, but I decided to expand this to a 4-part series because of a little voice in my head that said I needed to talk about audience engagement more. Yes, I said in Part 1 that I wasn’t going to address it in this series because I had addressed it before – sue me. The truth is, audience engagement is so central to this whole process that I needed to add my evolving thoughts on it. I think you’ll appreciate my change of heart. Audience engagement is a term that I have recently come to use interchangeably with “distribution and marketing.” What else is distribution and marketing... More

Monetizing in the Age of Abundance Part 1: The Age of Abundance

By Jon Reiss I have been giving a number of presentations on Artistic Entrepreneurship over the past year that I refined for the recentSFFS A2E Workshop and most recently presented a version of in this spring’s IFP Filmmaker Labs. In this presentation I have reformulated my approach to the challenges that filmmakers face in our current age of content abundance. I would share these thoughts to a much wider audience and get some feedback. While there were a number of factors that caused an upheaval of the distribution landscape in 2007 and while there have been many positive signs of improvement, filmmakers and all artists still face an enormously changed market for content. Supply and Demand Anyone with a smattering of economic... More

BOMB IT 2 Featured Artist: Victor Ash (Interview)

BOMB IT 2 Artist Victor Ash just might embody artistic evolution. Bursting onto the graffiti scene in the early 1980s, he went by Ash2 and Saho, and ran with the popular Parisian crew, BBC. He has since expanded his style, focusing on large- scale murals involving themes of human nature and perception. We caught up with Ash amidst his busy schedule, where he briefed us on his latest projects, his artistic transition, and themes that inspire his work. If you like what you see, head over to our Bomb It 2 Kickstarter campaign to learn more about this project and ways you can contribute! BOMB IT: What have you been up to since we filmed you in Bomb IT 2? Victor Ash: Loads of things happened, new murals in several cities across the world,... More

This Is Not a Game: An Interview With Lady Pink

By Nijla Mu’min     ***In celebration of our upcoming release of BOMB IT 2, we’re featuring this exclusive interview with BOMB IT artist Lady Pink. The interview was conducted by our social media manager and emerging writer/filmmaker, Nijla Mu’min. *** ————————————————————————————————- Graffiti/ Fine Artist Lady Pink knows her stuff. With a career spanning over 30 years, hundreds of canvasses, and walls, her knowledge of the art form is expansive, but also grounded in its tough realities. I caught up with the New York -based artist over... More

One Time in Bangkok!

Hi Everyone, I’ve shot in a number of crazy situations throughout the world shooting Bomb It 1&2, Better Living Through Circuitry and Survival Research Labs – but this expedition in Bangkok for Bomb It 2 stands out in my mind because I can still feel those red ants biting my legs – and because my humorously clumsy ways of dealing with the situation was filmed by one of the writers I was with. It also led to an incredible view of Bangkok in this oddly beautiful plein air building. I hope you enjoy it! For more, visit our BOMB IT 2 Kickstarter and help us reach 20k! We’ve got 9 more days to make it happen for the August... More

Is It Crazy to Film NGOs in Africa and Run a Kickstarter at the Same Time?

By Jon Reiss I just arrived in South Africa on my way from filming in Tanzania to speak at the Durban Film Festival.  I know it’s crazy to do this while running a Kickstarter for Bomb It 2 – and prepping the release of Bomb It 2 on August 6th – but I ultimately realized that if I waited for the right month where I wasn’t doing anything – I would never find the right time.  I think it’s the case for most filmmakers who are trying to finish their films or approaching release and running Kickstarter – but perhaps shooting in Africa might be a bit more extreme.   Two tips:  Assemble a great team and get no sleep. The projects I have been shooting are pretty incredible.  First is a primary school called Africa Schoolhouse (which is also... More

Bomb It 2 Hits Miami!

UPDATE — the U.S. premiere of BOMB IT 2 in Miami is sold out! It is finally time for the US premiere of BOMB IT 2! Thanks to our good friends at Bombingscience.com, Keepitclassic.com, and Tugg.com, you can catch BOMB IT 2 at the O Cinema in the Wynwood District on Wednesday, May 29th at 7:30 pm. But there is a catch. We still need to sell 33 more tickets in order to make the screening happen, so PLEASE help spread the word and reserve your tickets for the US premiere of BOMB IT 2 today. The screening will be introduced by host Marc Ferman of www.Keepitclassic.com. There will be a live Q&A with director Jon Reiss via Skype following the movie. If you are a fan of street art, graffiti, art, or just pop culture, this is a screening you... More

Film Business Plans: Learn to Stop Worrying (and Love the Spreadsheet)

Today we have a guest post from the New York Film Academy about writing a business plan for your film.  The one thing I would note is to be upfront with the investors with how long it takes to recoup money and the very good chance that they may not recoup at all (in fact stating this in your prospectus is required by law in the US).  Remember – if your film is cause related – many of your investors may be more concerned about how you will change the world than actually recouping. by Zeke A. Iddon, New York Film Academy                      Us filmmakers are, by nature, creative souls and abhor business plans as much as filing taxreturns. Even the very words ‘film business plan’ are enough to evoke groans from seasoned... More

Top 10 Things Learned in the IFP PMD LAB

  Top 10 Things Learned in the IFP PMD LAB By Jon Reiss I have had the good fortune to be involved in IFP’s Independent Filmmaker Labs for the past several years now and I have seen innumerable benefits to the films and filmmakers who participate.  The Labs provide an opportunity for first-time filmmakers to not only receive feedback on their films from their peers and experienced filmmakers but it is the first lab to prepare filmmakers for the essential work of distribution and marketing. This year we launched the IFP PMD LAB (Producer of Marketing and Distribution) the first of its kind.  This year, the PMD Lab worked in conjunction with the Filmmaker Labs, with all the participating PMDs attached to a film in the Filmmaker Labs.... More

SFM documentary funded by House Parties & Kickstarter

Today we are hosting a guest blog post written by the team behind the documentary STREET FIGHTING MAN. The documentary (twitter, FB) is due out in Spring 2013, and the production and post-production have been funded almost entirely through two Kickstarter campaigns, which raised over $30,000. Additionally, the Street Fighting Man team threw a series of old school house parties, hosted by some of their biggest Kickstarter cheerleaders, in cities across the United States to supplement their campaigns. The combination effect of the Kickstarter campaigns and the house parties is noteworthy. Not only did they raise the needed money to help complete production on the documentary, but they also managed to create an audience for STREET FIGHTING... More

Fanta-Pstik

The explosion of DSLR filmmaking in recent years has allowed independent filmmakers to create high resolution content with a shallow depth of field. In many ways the technology has done a lot to level the playing field between the independents and major studios. One of the better known examples of this leveling was the news that the 2010 season finale of House was shot entirely with a Canon 5d Mark II. Anyone with DSLR experience knows that this high resolution imagery can be compromised by stability issues, however. Digital camcorders like the Panasonic HVX 200 had a sizable camera body that counterbalanced the weight of the lens and allowed for relatively stable hand-held shooting. DSLRs do not possess the same intrinsic balance. As a... More

Top 5 Crowd Funding Tips for Filmmakers

Good news. Another special guest blogger has been added to our arsenal. Author and filmmaker James Cooper wrote the book Kickstarter for Filmmakers after successfully funding his short film Elijah the Prophet through the popular crowd funding website. Below James shares his top five crowd funding tips for filmmakers. TOP FIVE CROWD FUNDING TIPS FOR FILMMAKERS by James Cooper Kickstarter is creating a boom in creative communities around the world! Filmmakers everywhere are chomping at the bit to get in on the action, but did you know over half of all campaigns launched on Kickstarter fail? Crowd funding is still a relatively new business model, and it can be overwhelming to make sense of it all. Without the proper preparation, though, you... More

Between the Lines: Jon Reiss Interview

Bomb It 1 + 2 director Jon Reiss speaks with the filmmakers behind “Between the Lines” about street art and graffiti, freedom of speech and democracy. “Between the Lines” is a documentary about a group of Toronto street artists who find new meaning in their work as they defend it against Mayor Rob Ford’s War on Graffiti. More

Top 5 Misunderstandings About Self Distribution

In the US many filmmakers are starting to get that they need to be responsible for distributing and marketing their films. We’ve been in this new paradigm since 2007 at least. But here in Europe – the mythology of white knights rescuing your film and you and carrying your film into the limelight is still very much alive. Most likely because there are still remnants of broadcast deals, co-production and government support even though those are declining precipitously. So Chris Jones asked me to write a blog post to address the top 5 misunderstandings of self distribution. Here it is – would love to know your thoughts. 1. “I don’t need to worry about distribution – a company will buy my film and do that for me.”... More

The Importance of Events in Your Career Toolkit

This week’s TOTBO video concerns the importance of redefining the nature of theatrical. In this clip I speak about how creating a “live event” for your film can be an essential aspect of your film’s release. As I’ve said before I feel that theatrical must be redefined as live event/theatrical. Eventually I feel the term theatrical will be dropped and people will only refer to events. I emphasize live and event because I feel that those are truly the essential nature of screening your film in public – that it is a unique communal experience unavailable anywhere else. That is what is going to motivate people to see the film live – not just the fact that it is in a theater playing Fri-Thur. Events... More

Your Audience: Niche vs Core

This weeks TOTBO workshop clip continues the process of audience identification and differentiates between the concepts niche versus core. They are not the same thing. The core are the most engaged members of any niche – the most likely to engage with you and potentially spread the word about your work. I use Bomb It as an example but in the new workshops will be talking Joffrey and other films. For Joffrey the core of the ballet niche was of course people who loved the joffrey and within that the supercore are the former members of the Joffrey and of course the current Joffrey Ballet. They have been incredibly supportive of the film, have spread the word, participated in events and much... More

Identifying Your Audience

This weeks TOTBO Episode concerns the first steps of audience engagement. To do that you must evaluate your audience – which I propose in three steps: 1. Who is your audience (s)? 2. Where do they receive information and recommendations? 3. How do they consume media? In the episode I then talk about the importance of niche audiences and distinguish them from core audiences. For independent films, and all independent artists, it is important to identify your audience as specifically as possible. You can’t compete with marketing budgets of corporations (the studios) to reach large mass audiences, so you must start small. Fortunately the internet gives you the tools to reach out to niche audiences. But within each niche are cores... More

Creating a Unique Strategy For Your Film

Today’s video concerns the fundamental principle of how every film is different and needs a unique marketing and distribution plan.  To create this plan, filmmakers need to examine: 1. Their Goals 2.  Their Film 3.  Their Audience 4. Their resources. I spend a little extra time on goals again talking about “Ride the Divide” and how right before distribution, the producer and director didn’t realize that they had disparate goals.  The director, Hunter Weeks, wanted the film to help launch a new film, the producer, Mike Dion, wanted to recoup.  They ultimately decided to pursue monetization first.  However in doing so they were actually able to meet the goals of launching new projects – but they realized... More

Launching New TOTBO Workshop Webclips

I am kicking off a series of excerpts from my Think Outside the Box Office Master Classes today on my new YouTube Channel TheJonReiss. I am rebooting my YouTube channel because even though I had some decent views on YouTube.com/jfilm1 – it didn’t feel like that accurate or searchable. Since I am going to start releasing regular content not only from my workshops, but also interviews with filmmakers, artists and people on the cutting edge of audience engagement, I thought it was time to start fresh. On the channel you can also see excerpts from my film and music video work as well. I look forward to your thoughts on the clips as they roll out. This week’s post concerns setting the goals for your release. I am a firm believer that it is... More

Excerpt: Insiders Guide To Independent Film Distribution

Excerpt from “Insiders Guide To Independent Film Distribution” (2nd Edition, Focal Press) by Stacey Parks. Available in paperback and kindle versions at www.FilmSpecific.com/Book. Interview With Filmmaker Jon Reiss On Target Audience Q: Tell us about Target Audience and what will happen if a filmmaker doesn’t identify this early on in the process? A: To me a target audience is one of the niches that exist in the world that would be interested in your film (or anything that you do).   A niche is a group of people focused on a particular interest.  They are accessible.  You can afford to market to them. For instance in the case of my film “Bomb It”, one of the niche audiences is graffiti writers and street artists.  Another niche... More

5 Do’s and Don’t’s on a Successful Video On Demand Release

I met with Nolan from Gravitas, who I feel is one of the companies that really gets VOD for independents,  and he started saying – “filmmakers should watch out for this… it would be great if filmmakers would do…”  And since he was listing them off – I immediately asked him to write up 5 Dos and 5 Don’ts of VOD for filmmakers – and he graciously obliged – and here it is – Thank you so much Nolan for your continued generosity in helping filmmakers navigate this new space: By Nolan Gallagher, Founder and CEO Gravitas Ventures Jon Reiss was gracious enough to ask me to write this blog post to help shed some perspective on how to navigate the increasingly exciting (and complex) world... More

Keys to a Successful Film Launch Pt 1

Keys to a Successful Film Launch Pt  1 By Jon Reiss and Sheri Candler For the past six months, my company, Hybrid Cinema, has been working on the release of Bob Hercules’s new documentary film Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance,about the history of the Joffrey ballet. This is a capsule post to explain the highlights of launching a documentary into the marketplace when working with a modest budget. Future posts will go more in depth on certain aspects of this release. With at least 35,000 feature films on the film festival circuit every year, by some estimates, very few films are going to premiere at one of the top 5 film festivals.   When that happens, filmmakers need to decide what is the best launch for their film.   We concluded that... More

Sound It Out!

Over the last five years an independent record shop has closed in the UK every three days. SOUND IT OUT (75 mins) is a documentary portrait of the very last surviving vinyl record shop in Teesside, North East England. A cultural haven in one of the most deprived areas in the UK, SOUND IT OUT documents a place that is thriving against the odds and the local community that keeps it alive. The film is directed by Jeanie Finlay who grew up three miles from the shop, and represents a distinctive, funny and intimate film about men, the North and the irreplaceable role music plays in our lives.  Sally Hodgson is the PMD on the project who I have written about before. What is also distinctive about SOUND IT OUT is the innovative merchandise that... More

My Events at Park City 2012

For those of you attending Sundance and Slamdance this year, I will be participating in a number of events which I hope you can attend: On Friday, January 20th from 11 am to 12:30 pm I will be at the New York Lounge at 545 Main Street with Matt Dendler of Cinetic Rights Management for an Empowerment Town Hall moderated by attorney Steven Beer. On Saturday, January 21st, I will be participating in the Black House Panel on Alternative Distribution from 3:30 to 5 pm. We will be discussing the latest developments in the distribution landscape and where success is being found. On Sunday, January 22nd, I will be at Dolly’s Book Store for the Sundance Film Festival book signing for Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul, the new book... More

An Innovative Launch for Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance

An Innovative Launch for Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance By Jon Reiss For the past four months, my company Hybrid Cinema has been working on the release of the new film Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance directed by Bob Hercules about the history of the Joffrey ballet. I will be writing a number of posts outlining the unique path that I and my partner on this release, Sheri Candler have taken to release this documentary about the history of the groundbreaking dance company The Joffrey Ballet. In my book Think Outside the Box Office and in subsequent posts, I have written about the advantages and challenges of launching a film after its world– premiere festival. Many filmmakers have complained that they can never recapture the... More

Wishing You An Amazing New Year in 2012

I want to thank all of my readers for your wonderful contributions, support, words of wisdom over the past year. For the past several months I have been working on the release of a new film Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance under my new entity Hybrid Cinema releasing entity – partnering with Sheri Candler Marketing and Publicity.   Over the next few months I will be writing about how we have approached the release of this film on a variety of subjects – including what I believe is the first national simulcast straight from a film’s festival premiere (January 28, 2012), Facebook splash pages via Fanbridge, Email for Media campaigns, targeted email campaigns, Facebook advertising, affiliate marketing, merchandise packaging, creative... More

Two New Documentary Film Funds

Here are two new cool opportunities for filmmakers. The Bertha BRITDOC Documentary Journalism Fund – for filmmakers from around the world working at the intersection of film and investigative journalism — films that break the important stories of our time, exposing injustice, bringing attention to unreported issues and cameras into regions previously unseen. £250,000 a year for 3 years is available to filmmakers as a mixture of grants and investments. Soniya Kirpalani’s We The People, about a miscarriage of justice against migrant workers in Dubai, is announced as the first production grant. Jess Search said, “This fund is urgently needed. Documentary is becoming an increasingly important medium for breaking stories which... More

“25 to Life” Campaign Launch

25 to Life is a feature documentary about William Brawner, a young man who contracted HIV at the age of two, and kept his HIV status a secret for over twenty-five years. Now he seeks redemption from his promiscuous past, and embarks on a new phase of life with his wife, who is HIV Negative. This film paints a riveting picture of an average American community that is upturned by one man’s HIV diagnosis. 25 to Life, a documentary film by Mike Brown, is celebrating its campaign launch on World AIDS Day on December 1st from 7:00 – 9:30 pm at BOFFO NY, located at 57 Walker Street between Church and Broadway in New York City. The launch will feature a screening of the extended trailer, music by live footage and drinks. RSVP at... More

Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance

Hybrid Cinema is pleased to announce the world premiere of the feature length documentary Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance at Dance On Camera Festival’s opening night in New York City on Friday, January 27, 2012 at 8:30pm. A repeat presentation will occur at Dance On Camera on the following day, Saturday, January 28th at 1:30pm. Both Dance On Camera screenings of Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance will be held at Walter Reade Theater in Lincoln Center. A stellar line-up of dance world panelists will be featured in Q&A sessions at both New York City screenings of the film. Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance, the first film to chronicle how the legendary Joffrey Ballet revolutionized American ballet by daringly combining modern... More

Distribs, theaters take on new media

Check out this interesting new article in Variety on the ever-changing world of film distribution. Yours truly was one of Gregg’s sources. Firstrun screenings have become events by Gregg Goldstein Can kung-fu fighting monks, cave screenings and feral, caged Santa Clauses save the movie biz? Exhibitors sure hope so. Around the globe, theaters and distribs are fighting competition from new media by turning firstrun screenings into the kind of events one expects at a theme park or state fair. London’s Future Cinema, set to hit New York and Paris next year, draws up to 17,000 people for its surprise Secret Cinema screenings, with a troupe of actors mingling with the audience in environments staged to match the film. Alamo... More

Five Question Q+A with Jon Reiss for NAMAC

I recently did a short Q+A for Rachel Allen with the National Alliance for Media Art + Culture (NAMAC). NAMAC is an invaluable resource of independent film, video and multimedia organizations, and I recommend everyone checks them out. Five Question Q+A with Jon Reiss by Rachel Allen Meet Jon Reiss. Jon is a filmmaker (Bomb It, Better Living Through Circuitry), author (Think Outside the Box Office) and consultant whose most recent book is Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul which he co-wrote with The Film Collaborative and Sheri Candler. He works with numerous film organizations, film schools and festivals to bring a variety of distribution labs and workshops around the world. His upcoming books concern new models of artistic... More

Jennifer Fox’s Reincarnation as an Artist Entrepreneur

I recently had the pleasure to speak with documentary filmmaker Jennifer Fox regarding her latest film My Reincarnation, which opens in New York and Los Angeles on October 28th before screening in theaters worldwide. A comprehensive screenings calendar is available here. Filmed over twenty years, My Reincarnation is a wonderful film that chronicles the epic story of the high Tibetan Buddhist Master, Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, and his western-born son, Yeshi. The film follows Namkhai Norbu’s rise to greatness as a Buddhist teacher in the West, while his son, Yeshi, recognized at birth as the reincarnation of a famous spiritual master, breaks away from his father’s tradition to embrace the modern world. Never before has a high Tibetan Master... More

DIY Days Workshop

I will be at DIY Days on Friday, October 28th, presenting my Artistic Entrepreneurship workshop from 3:45 to 4:25 pm.  I will be speaking about how to create long term relationships with fans through engagement, live events, merchandise and digital releases. Half the time will be allotted for presentation, and half the time will be devoted to workshopping audience projects/artistic brands. Some of the other great speakers at DIY Days include Joel Arquillos, Hunter Weeks, Henry Jenkins, Jim Babb, Yomi Ayeni, Adam Chapnick and Christy Dena, among others. At 5:30 pm I will be at UCLA’s Young Research Library for the L.A. launch party of my new book Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul cowritten with The Film Collaborative and... More

Putting Chilean Film on the Map

On Thursday and Friday of this week (Oct 20-21) I will be at the Flyway Film Festival, presenting my two-day Think Outside the Box Office workshop on the ever-changing world of hybrid distribution and marketing. Today, though, I am thrilled to share a guest post from Chilean filmmaker Bernardo Palau whose first feature film ‘Saving You’ had a small theatrical release in Chile in November 2010 and is now available on iTunes.  Here is his post: PUTTING CHILEAN FILM ON THE MAP By Bernardo Palau I live in Chile — a long and thin land at the end of the world — at the southernmost point of South America. Chile is a country mainly known for its wines, the variety of its landscapes and its writers and poets like Isabel... More

Some Basic Principles of Film Distribution and Marketing for Independents

Sheri Candler and I were just holding a week long discussion on the D-Word about distribution and marketing for filmmakers occassioned by the release of the book that I co-wrote with her and The Film Collaborative, Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul. Doug Block who was our moderator asked me to summarize my thoughts on the subject and it seemed to create a pithy little post encapsulating some of my core beliefs when it comes to helping filmmakers release their films.So I have included them here and encourage you (especially if you are a doc filmmaker) to join D-Word and to check out the Selling Your Film topic which is archived.  Please note that in trying to make sure I didn’t dither over the wording of this post –... More

BOMB IT 2 Screening @ Estria Invitational Graffiti Battle

BOMB IT 2 is screening at 6 p.m. at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco on Thursday, October 6th as part of the Can Film Festival, sponsored by the Estria Invitational Graffiti Battle. “The Can Film Fest” is organized by nonprofit arts organization The Estria Foundation as part of their week long Graffiti Arts Festival taking place October 6-8 in San Francisco. BOMB IT 2 goes where no graffiti doc has gone before, including the West Bank, Tel Aviv, Jakarta, Copenhagen, and Singapore, among other places. It shows the incredible range of styles and ideas that surround graffiti and street art culture throughout the world and especially in places where most people probably don’t even think it exists. Graffiti and street art is not a monolithic... More

Filmmakers: Know Your Goals and Your Audience

This is an excerpt from my introduction to the new book, Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul, that I wrote with The Film Collaborative (Orly Ravid & Jeffrey Winter), and Sheri Candler. This post also ran on Chris Dorr’s Tribeca Future of Film blog. A New Path to Engage Film Audiences and Create Careers: An Introduction The three films that I researched for this book, while different in genre, size, year of release and experience level of the filmmakers also share a remarkable number of similarities in addition to their differences. I want to compare those similarities and contrast the differences in a structure that that I use to help filmmakers conceptualize strategies for their film’s releases. Some of this system is... More

NEW BOOK LAUNCH! AND IT’S FREE!

I am super excited to announce the publication of a new book written by myself, Sheri Candler and The Film Collaborative titled Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul! I am also super excited to tell you that you can download the PDFor ePub version for free or by tomorrow you can order the paperback for $9.99 ($10 off the regular retail price of $19.99) by clicking here. Finally for any of you in New York City next week, you are invited to our Launch Party Monday Night September 19th from 6-8pm at Bamboo52 344 West 52nd Street NYNY.  For more info and to RSVP click here by September 16th. SELLING YOUR FILM WITHOUT SELLING YOUR SOUL peers behind the curtain of secrecy surrounding distribution, and celebrates the independent spirit of... More

10 Ways in Which I Would Release Bomb It Today

Chris Horton asked me to write this post for the new Artist Services website that Sundance has set up. However, many filmmakers don’t have access to that site, and so I am posting it here on my blog for anyone to be able to read. Here is the post: In 2005 I started a documentary project that became Bomb It which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2007, was released on DVD, iTunes and Netflix via New Video and has had an extended life on VOD (Gravitas), Web series (Babelgum), various foreign sales (PAL DVD this month on Dogwoof) etc. As many of you know, my experience releasing Bomb It inspired me to write a manual for other filmmakers to release their films in this new distribution landscape: Think Outside the Box Office.... More

Guest Post: Joke and Biagio on Self Distribution for Dying to Do Letterman

Today’s guest post is from Joke and Biagio who are doing an amazing job with their Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the distribution of their film Dying to do Lettermen. Check out their kickstarter page – they’re already raised $47,000.   In it they talk about why they are releasing their film themselves (plan B is the new Plan A).  And no – I didn’t pay them for all the nice things they say about me and TOTBO :)! The Number One Reason We Look At Self-Distribution First The Distributor Was Very Nice… Truly. We genuinely liked this person. Why? The distributor: Came to a screening of the movie (instead of passively requesting a DVD.) Wrote a cell number down during the credits and said “call... More

Books, Books and More Books

This morning at midnight another book that I am participating in, The Modern MovieMaking Movement launched for free on the web.  All you need to get your own copie is to click on the link above.  My chapter is on the PMD and the New 50/50.  I am in very good company as the other authors are Jurgen Wolff,  Jason Brubaker, Tom Malloy,  Sheri Candler, Carole Dean,  Norman Berns, Gary King, Gordon Firemark and Peter D. Marshall. Here is the idea behind the book: While the philosophy is evolving, Modern MovieMaking is defined by an era of entrepreneurial filmmakers who do not ask permission to make, market or sell movies. Instead of making movies and hoping the movie will get seen, picked up and sold through traditional distribution channels,... More

Report from the UK: The PMD, Digital Rights and Booking Theatrical in the UK

I’m back now from my trip to the UK – workshop and consulting at the Edinburgh Film Festival as well as a workshop at the London Film School.  What I love about travelling and doing these workshops is meeting people who are really helping change the lives of filmmakers, creating tools and resources to help them release and monetize their films! First – in Edinburgh: I had dinner with Peter and Andy from Distrify which I think is an incredibly powerful Broadband VOD platform.  The most significant aspect of it is that it not only allows your audience to share your trailer (with a direct ability to buy) but it also incentivizes your audience (and others) to do this via a built-in affiliate program.  You can also set different price points... More

Heading to the UK Next Week and Upcoming Releases

The first segment of the IFP Filmmaker Labs were very fun and exciting this year.  A great group of docs and narrative. Next week I will be in the UK. First doing a one day TOTBO workshop at the Edinburgh Film Festival on June 22nd then I’ll be doing a Keynote for Short Sighted presented by BAFTA and Shooting People on the 23rd.   I’ll also be doing one on one consultations with films on the 23rd through Creative Scotland. Next I’m doing a 2 day workshop at the London Film School June 25th, 26th, so if you are in London I hope to see you then.   For this workshop we have the some excellent special guests lined up:  Terry Stevens from Dogwoof,  Chris Jones, filmmaker and author of the Guerilla Filmmaker’s Handbook Series and via skype... More

Guest Post: Susan Youssef Crowdfunding Habibi on Kickstarter

In honor of the IFP Filmmaker Labs going on this week, today’s guest post is from Susan Youssef who was in the Narrative labs last year at IFP.  She learned about Kickstarter in the lab and decided to use it to raise money to finish her film.  She has generously outlined her story indicating what worked for her and what didn’t. In December of 2010 I launched a Kickstarter campaign for my film Habibi, which is the first narrative feature shot in the Gaza Strip in over 15 years. I waited until the absolute last minute to launch the campaign—when I needed the funds to finish the film.  I needed all the time I could get to achieve the following:  a) build a fan base that would support the film on Kickstarter, b) complete as much... More

Guest post by Lila Yomtoob: The Added Value of Blogging

The Added Value of Blogging – by Lila Yomtoob Lila contacted me via the web – introducing herself and I asked if she would like to write a blog post – and she offered to write a post  about:  blog posting! Not only the importance of it – but how to do it effectively.   Thanks Lila! Lila Yomtoob is a producer specializing in marketing and distribution. She has 12 years of experience in different parts of the industry, including directing, editing, teaching, curating, and consulting. She has been a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Science as a result of her Emmy Award, and was a card-carrying member of the Motion Picture Editors Guild until she went rogue. You can read more about her at www.yomtoob.com and... More

Guest Post by Jon Fougner: Cinema Profitability Part 5

This is Part 5 of Jon Fougner’s guest series on Cinema Profitablility – today he continues the discussion of marketing as well as margins. Marketing Continued: Once the site is in good shape, let’s get people to it. Today, a user may be unlikely to find the website in the first place, since none of the Big 3 has successfully SEO’ed its site for current releases (e.g, searching for “Wolfman showtimes” on Google). One side benefit of the affiliate program described above will be improved search rankings for this common and valuable query type, since affiliates will be linking to the site. Besides common sense, the reason for optimism that each of the Big 3 should be able to get above-the-fold on Page 1 of... More

Cinema Profitability Part 4

This is Part 4 of Jon Fougner’s guest series on Cinema Profitablility – today he focuses on the marketing. Marketing The last time you went to a movie, how did you decide where to see it? If you’re like most Americans, you simply went to the nearest theater showing it. (Of course, if you’re reading this, you may be a cinephile and therefore a bit more discerning in your choice!) That’s even less brand loyalty than you might show in where you buy commodities like gasoline. The cinemas have historically deferred to their vendors, typically owned by large media companies, to advertise their products. (Of course, the cinemas have done the crucial re-marketing work of on-site merchandising for the products, in the... More

Guest Post by Jon Fougner: Cinema Profitability Part 3

This is Part 3 of Jon Fougner’s guest series on Cinema Profitability – today he focuses on the channels: Channels Do the Big 3 have channel strategies? The vast majority of their tickets are sold either at the box office or via 1 of the 2 online brokers: Comcast’s Fandango with 9mm monthly uniques (used by Regal and Cinemark, plus the legacy business of AMC’s Loews) and AOL-related MovieTickets.com with 3mm monthly uniques (used by AMC ex Loews, plus some legacy business from theaters now owned by Regal). My Gmail is chockobloc of order confirmations from both of these brokers. And yet, I’ve never as a result received targeted e-mail marketing from either of them nor the Big 3 whose inventory (among others)... More

Guest Post by Jon Fougner: Cinema Profitability Part 2

This is Part 2 of Jon Fougner’s guest series on Cinema Profitablility – today he focuses on the products that cinemas offer: Products Cinemas’ suppliers have leveraged the proliferation of alternative retailers for their products: DVD, cable, VOD, Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, and more. Cinemas, meanwhile, have barely experimented with sourcing alternative product. The result is an oligopoly5 (the studios) selling to a captive market (the cinemas), a game theoretical nightmare for the buyers, even if they are an oligopoly of their own. That translates to a 55% revenue share back to the studios on tickets. (The other half of gross profit comes from food, sold at an 85% gross margin.) And the theaters know it could get worse, as... More

Guest Post by Jon Fougner: Cinema Profitability

I had the fortune of meeting Jon Fougner, who is the Principal, Product Marketing Monetization at Facebook at Sundance this year (he was showing filmmakers how best to use Facebook to connect with audiences). He works with the ads engineers and Product Managers to define products that will be successful in the marketplace. I mentioned Think Outside the Box Office and he said «Hey, I wrote this white paper on how movie theaters could be more profitable if they would experiment more, especially with online and social tools. Would you like to take a look at it?»  I immediately jumped at the chance to read it and publish it with my good friend Ted Hope.   The original is 4000 words – so we have broken it into 5 sections which we will run... More

Back to Writing – 3 More Books

I have embarked on writing again and have two new books in the works and one more on the horizon.   First off, I am writing a book on the Producer of Marketing and Distribution or PMD.  In the tradition of Think Outside the Box Office, the book will define the role and responsibilities specific to the PMD, lay out best practices for those wanting to be PMDs,  lay out the tasks for a PMD over the lifecycle of a film, provide guidance on how to fulfill those tasks.  This includes developing a marketing and distribution plan and budget, the PMD in prep, production and post, audience engagement, timing of rights, as well as different marketing and distribution options available to films.  The book will cover education of PMDs and will propose... More

How to Self-distribute Online: Using E-junkie to Create an Automated Business Part 2

Here is part 2 of PMD  J.X. Carrera’s  post on how he uses E-Junkie to distribute a film that he made while doing the actual fulfillment himself. 3:  Advertising using Google Ads Making my tutorial would be useless if no one knew that it existed, so I launched an ambitious advertising campaign that utilized first-tier ad services like Google Adsense and Yahoo SM, as well as several second-tier ad services that most people never hear about.  Everything except Google Ads was a waste of my time and money.  Maybe 97% of my sales came from Google Ads, 3% came from Yahoo SM, and I never got a single sale through the lesser known second-tier services.  (Yahoo SM is supposed to be a quality service, but for some reason, it just didn’t work... More

PDF and New Special Prices on Think Outside the Box Office

We removed the DRM protection from the Think Outside the Box Office PDF.  This should allow it to play on Kindle devices and iPads, etc. since it will now be a simple PDF. To celebrate the liberation of TOTBO, I am having a special sale: TOTBO PDF:  $9.95!  (normally $14.95) TOTBO Book $14.95! (normally $19.95) Special TOTBO Book + PDF$19.95 (Normally $29.95) Thank you so much for your support!!... More

Jon Reiss giving Keynotes at IFP Prodcon 2011 and Idaho Cineposium

I will be the keynote speaker at both the IFP Media Arts’ Producers Conference (PRODCON 2011) in Minneapolis on April 16th, and the Idaho Cineposium on April 17th.  If you live in either of those two states–or know anyone who does–I hope to see you there! Also in Minneapolis I will be on the documentary panel with the incredible  Amy Dotson (Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo), and Jon Garon (author, The Independent Filmmaker’s Low and Business Guide), with Melody Gilbert (Fritz: The Walter Mondale Story, Disconnected: A Documentary) moderating. Special thanks to Gregory Bayne for hooking this up for me.   Also appearing will be Jerome Courshon, Aaton Cohen Sitt of Jungle Software and Kenny Chaplin from the Production... More

How to Self-distribute Online: Using E-junkie to Create an Automated Business Part 1

We’ve been exploring alternatives to fulfillment for filmmakers in the last month or two.  Many filmmakers are actually doing self fulfillment when their numbers are low – and using a shopping cart such as E-Junkie.    J.X. Carrera is a PMD who specializes in online media and international entertainment, particularly in regards to China and Japan.   He offered to write up how he uses E-Junkie to distribute a film that he made while doing the actual fulfillment himself. ______________________________________________________ How to Self-distribute Online: Using E-junkie to Create an Automated Business In this walkthrough, I’m going to break down how to create a simple automated business in which you are selling a video in the... More

Calling all Filmmakers: Deadline Nears for IFP Labs

I am proud to be a part of the IFP Filmmaker Labs which are the first ever completion, distribution and marketing lab. The deadlines for this year’s cycle is fast approaching. Documentary films must apply online by March 11th. Narrative films have until April 8th to apply online. Even though IFP and the labs are located in NYC, films from across the United States and the rest of the world are encouraged to apply. The labs are also FREE, but you do have to pay your own way to get to and stay in NYC for the three lab periods (May or June, September, December). Lab alumni are already showing well this year. Three premiered in Competition at Sundance 2011: Alrick Brown’s Kinyarwanda, Andrew Dosunmu’s Restless City and Dee... More

Bomb It iPhone App Launched

Very excited to announce the Bomb It iPhone app is now out and up on  iTunes stores around the world.   This is not an app to watch the film (that is available on regular iTunes).   This is an app to share the graffiti and street art you love with others.   It is free – and is intended to create a broader community around Bomb It. One of the issues with apps like this: they depend on adoption.  It is important it is important to get some early adopters to start using it.   Unfortunately it is impossible to use an iPhone app until it is on the store.  So its available to be used – but it is a little bare right now.   I welcome you to take it for a test drive.  If you have an interest in graffiti and/or street art, have an... More

Prevent Film Piracy and Globally Monetize Instantly

Today’s guest post is by filmmaker Solomon Mac-Auley who contacted me to offer his opinion about a DIY Digital alternative that I have been intrigued by called Egg Up.   Egg Up offers an elegant solution for filmmakers to monetize their films via Electronic Sell Through (previously known as Download to Own) by selling a film digitally while protecting it from being copied.    I was curious as to how consumer experience was with the service – so here is Solomon’s feeling about Egg Up: Prevent Film Piracy and Globally Monetize Instantly by Solomon Mac-Auley, QNX LTD The Challenge: Piracy is the biggest worldwide threat to the film industry. The internet and social media have made it easy for consumers to pirate and share movies illegally.... More

PMD and the Oscar’s

We are so excited to announce the Oscar success of “God of Love” (in the category of live action short film), which, our good friend and former assistant here at TOTBO, Stephen Dypiango, acted as PMD. Stephen, now working on several projects as PMD, was given a special shout-out by director, Luke Matheny‘s Oscar acceptance speech. Congratulations Stephen and to the rest of the “God of Love” production! Check out, a short interview of Stephen when he found out about the films Oscar nomination and Luke Matheny’s acceptance speech and... More

Guest Post: How to Maximize Revenue Selling on Amazon

Today’s guest post comes from filmmaker Jed Riffe who I met this year at Slamdance. He told me that he was surprised at how little money filmmakers make selling their films through Amazon and that he had a system that maximized return from Amazon sales at 80%. I of course immediately asked him to write a post to tell other filmmakers how to do it – and he has generously obliged: How independent filmmakers can maximize their profits selling and fulfilling DVDs on Amazon.com by Jed Riffe There are two main options that I use to sell DVDs: 1) Self fulfillment for the orders from my websites. 2) Self fulfillment for the orders from my Amazon. I don’t use Fulfillment by Amazon and I will tell you why: Self Fulfillment from sales on... More

Guest Post: Fulfilment Options from Breakthrough Distribution

First off – the next Totbo workshop is in Vancouver in just 2 weeks: February 26 and 27th being organized by DOC BC with support from the NFB and British Columbia Film.   If you are in the Vancouver area – I hope to see you there! Today’s guest post is from Jeff Rosen from Breakthrough Distribution who helps clients replicate their DVDs and  connect with fulfillment companies.  For those of you who have bought the book from my store – you’ll perhaps remember one of the bonus gifts when you buy the book is a discount on replication provided by Breakthrough Distribution for purchasers of the book.   In the aftermath of the Neoflix debacle, Jeff has taken the time to outline a few fulfillment options for... More

PMDs In Action

As you know, Sheri Candler, and I have been reaching out to working Producer’s of Marketing and Distribution (PMDs) and a few have contacted me with some festival and awards news: Stephen Dypiangco who is currently working as a PMD on “How to Live Forever” by Mark Wexler is also working as a PMD on a short film  “God of Love” which was just nominated for an Oscar.   Pretty exciting for Stephen and his team – and the first Oscar nom for a film with a PMD.   Perhaps next year there will be a feature nominated with a PMD! Sally Hogsdon who is based in England is working as a PMD for “Sound It Out” was just announced as part of the SXSW lineup.  She is working with James Collie of “Beyond... More

Troubles at Neoflix – What Fulfillment Alternatives are There for Filmmakers Part 1

Troubles at Neoflix – What Fulfillment Alternatives are There for Filmmakers Part 1 For those of you who have read my book Think Outside the Box Office and my Filmmaker Magazine article on fulfillment from last winter, know that I thought highly of the shopping cart and fulfillment company Neoflix. I used them for Bomb It and had a good experience with them. I also liked what seemed to be an honest commitment to independent film and DIY solutions for filmmakers. The head of the company JC seemed genuinely interested in helping filmmakers. I am deeply saddened and disturbed that this has turned sour. I have received reports from a number of filmmakers that they have not been paid by Neoflix for months. Some filmmakers are owed... More

Exciting Times in Park City

I just returned from Park City where I had the pleasure to judge the Slamdance Documentary Competition. I saw some compelling and inspiring work. Being a judge forced me to actually see films at a film festival for the first time in two years since embarking on the TOTBO project (usually I am lucky to see one film). In addition, I got to catch nearly all of “Gandu Asshole” – a stunning visual and narrative feast by first time Indian filmmaker Q that is headed to the Berlinale. Last but not least, I got the opportunity to see the finished version of the moving and brilliantly structured Kinyarwanda, a film I mentored in the IFP Filmmaker Labs. It was a very exciting time at Park City. First off, more films have sold at this year’s Sundance... More

Conclusion of Guest Post: The Secrets of The Secret

Today concludes Julie Eckersley’s wonderful 5 part series on the methods used by The Secret to create such a success – big kudos to Julie for being so generous with her information. I love that she emphasizes audience engagement at the earliest stages and being generous to your partners and fans!: Here’s Julie: In early 2006, Australian TV producer Rhonda Byrne launched her feature length documentary online. It was called The Secret. The film spread like wildfire around the globe as viewers took up the viral campaign Byrne had begun. This blog post is part 5 of the lessons we can learn from her success. So far: Lesson 1: Start strong Lesson 2: Tap into people’s passion Lesson 3: Understand the power of your title Lesson... More

Part 4: The Secrets of the Secret

Today is Part 4 of Julie Eckersley’s 5 Part amazing Guest Post Series on the distribution and marketing of “The Secret”. Here’s Julie: In early 2006, Australian TV producer Rhonda Byrne launched her feature length documentary online. It was called The Secret. The film spread like wildfire around the globe as viewers took up the viral campaign Byrne had begun. This blog post is part 4 of the lessons we can learn from her success. So far: Lesson 1: Start strong Lesson 2: Tap into people’s passion Lesson 3: Understand the power of your title Lesson 4: Plan your marketing campaign from day 1. Lesson 5: Align yourself with the key influencers in the area. Lesson 6: Alternative release and some very good news. Lesson 7:... More

Part 3: The secrets of the Secret

Today is Part 3 of Julie Eckersley’s 5 Part excellent Guest Post Series on the distribution and marketing of “The Secret”. As anyone who has read this blog or my book, knows that I am always talking about the subject of today’s post: Start your campaign as early as possible and engage your audience, natural allies in the process. Here’s Julie: In early 2006, Australian TV producer Rhonda Byrne launched her feature length documentary online. It was called The Secret. The film spread like wildfire around the globe as viewers took up the viral campaign Byrne had begun. This blog post is part 3 of the lessons we can learn from her success. So far: Lesson 1: Start strong Lesson 2: Tap into people’s passion Lesson... More

Part 2: The secrets of the $300 million independent film.

Today – Part 2 of Julie Eckersley’s 5 Part series Guest Post on the distribution and marketing strategy and execution for The Secret: Lesson 3: Understand the power of your title In early 2006, Australian TV producer Rhonda Byrne launched her feature length documentary online. It was called The Secret. The film spread like wildfire around the globe as viewers took up the viral campaign Byrne had begun. So far we have learned the following lessons from her success: Lesson 1: Start strong Lesson 2: Tap into people’s passion While Byrne’s viral campaign was clever and well organised (more on that in my next 3 posts) it was also the passion that she tapped into which propelled her film around the globe. Not only did this idea have... More

The Secrets of the $300 Million Independent Film

During the Melbourne Think Outside the Box Office Workshop last year, I had the pleasure to meet Julie Eckersley who told me that she had written her master’s thesis on the runaway success of the independent film “The Secret”. She generously offered to share her findings with my readers. While much of the success of The Secret is unique, in these posts Julie has focused on the aspects of the distribution and marketing campaign for the film that are most relevant for other filmmakers to apply to their own work. I will be featuring Julie’s series of guest posts this week and next. Here is part 1: The secrets of the $300 million independent film. by Julie Eckersley A few years ago a small independent film made over... More