Latinos In The Industry

INDUSTRY INSIGHTS: Marketing Tips for Independent Filmmakers

By Dan Schoenbrun, Filmmaker Magazine Blog

Dylan Marchetti, founder of Variance Films, donated an afternoon to mentoring filmmakers at IFP's Marketing & Distribution Labs. Variance, a distribution company that has overseen the releases of niche indies and foreign imports like Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, Littlerock, and Elite Squad: The Enemy Within, has built a reputation very much in line with the trailblazing, DIY-attitude that many of IFP's lab filmmakers hold dear. And it was a great match, as Marchetti spent the afternoon listening to these filmmakers discuss their marketing and distribution strategies, offering tailored advice about the distribution paths that he felt might best suit each project.

Perhaps most universal were Marchetti's insights into marketing. As each filmmaker screened a trailer or showed some of the key art options they were working with, Marchetti interjected with suggestions. Here are some highlights from the session, tips about gathering marketing materials that might not be obvious to emerging filmmakers:

When cutting a trailer, less is more
It's common practice for filmmakers to cut a trailer in prep for a festival premiere. This is especially useful to have to show to distributors, sales agents, or other potential partners you might meet at said festival. At the Labs, one filmmaker screened a trailer that clocked in at two minutes and thirty seconds, prompting Marchetti to advise that this type of trailer should be as brief as possible, definitely under one-minute. Marchetti argued that industry are so bombarded with projects that they will generally only give a trailer a very short amount of time to win them over. "A trailer isn't about the film, it's about how to sell it," Marchetti argued.


Call for Applications: CBS' Daytime Directing Initiative

CBS Entertainment has launched a new Daytime Directing Initiative, which will give participants educational exposure to the process of directing dramatic serials The Young & The Restless and/or The Bold and The Beautiful. This is not employment and participants will not be doing any work for the shows. The goal is to provide an experiential learning opportunity for talented and diverse candidates with an interest in directing dramatic serials.

Applications are now being accepted. Additional information and application materials can be accessed at:, click on Diversity Institute and then Daytime Directing Initiative.

It's a New Day: Collective Distribution

By Daniel James Scott, Documentary Magazine

As growing numbers of people feel estranged from our political process, they can find comfort in a participatory democracy that works. New Day Films is a filmmaker-run cooperative that has allowed its members to self-distribute their films to the educational market for the past 40 years.

Springing out of the women's movement in 1971, New Day began when filmmakers Julia Reichert and Jim Klein sought distribution for their film Growing Up Female, about the social constraints placed on women aged 4 to 35. In lieu of a good deal, the two founded the cooperative, which enabled them to distribute their film themselves and retain the earnings that would otherwise go to distributors.

"Not all filmmakers wants to be involved in their distribution," co-founder Julia Reichert admits. "But the people who do so stand a chance of earning some money in the short run, and in the long run, getting to know their audience, getting feedback and growing as a filmmaker."

New Day now offers that opportunity to a membership of more than 100 filmmakers. At a time when technological advancements have made it easier for filmmakers to make films but harder to make a profit distributing them, the cooperative has become an attractive option for filmmakers looking to maximize the impact--and income--of their works.

Of course, with new members comes new input. For a group that has predicated itself upon a system of consensus decision-making, New Day's capacity has become a subject of much discussion within the organization. "When the co-op got big enough it got to be very cumbersome to make decisions as a big group," says Reichert. "We needed help, so we actually started hiring consultants to run our meetings."

Every year, New Day conducts meetings to determine the co-op's operations policies and to vote on new steering committee members. "[The consultants] were brought in to make sure that the meetings remained democratic, that every voice was heard, that every idea was fully listened to," Reichert explains. "It was beginning to become a bunch of people who would tend to yell at each other, and the louder voices were the ones that were heard--a lot like the rest of the world."

New Day has managed to create a kind of oasis insulated from an indie film community that can often be competitive. Its members balance the betterment of the organization with their own, and the social impact of their films with their net income. The sustainability of the organization is buttressed by its business structure, referred to by its members as a "share ladder" model.

The "share ladder" stipulates that each member pays for shares of the co-op, which are used to cover its operating costs. The members on the higher end of the ladder (who are earning more from their film sales) pay more to support those on the lower end of the ladder. Since every member pays his/her share, and every one retains the bulk of his/her earnings, the ladder typifies Adam Smith's ideal of a market regulating itself.

Debra Chasnoff, the current chair of New Day's steering committee, has occupied a place at the top of the share ladder since she joined the co-op in 1997 with her seminal documentary It's Elementary, about gay and lesbian issues in grade school. "What I love about New Day is that I don't have more power in the organization than the person at the lowest place on the ladder," Chasnoff says. "In this context, the better we each do in our distribution, the more we all benefit. You're not losing a thing if somebody else in the co-op makes more money. You benefit, because your costs go down."

So why doesn't every independent filmmaker join New Day?

"First, your film has to be accepted and then you have to be accepted," Chasnoff explains. "We're screening for both a film and for someone who would work well within the culture of the association--who will play well with others, shall we say."

Members who for whatever reason don't fit into the New Day mold don't benefit from the unique position that it holds in the educational market. Tom Shepard, who served as chairman of the steering committee from 2007 to 2009, can attest to this. Shepard came to New Day with his documentary Scout's Honor (2001), about the anti-gay policies of the Boy Scouts of America. He attributes much of the film's success to New Day's 40-year history. "I think Scout's Honor was successful because there were a number of other strong films [at New Day] that dealt with LGBT issues that paved the way, namely Debra Chasnoff's work," he says. "The real benefit of New Day is working with other filmmakers who have carved out the market and developed mailing lists of professors who are interested in this kind of material. They already have a relationship and a rapport with them, which are golden."

Even as school budgets are being slashed throughout the country, New Day has found ways to maintain its standing in the educational market--namely, New Day Digital. The concept for New Day Digital came about in 2008 at the co-op's annual meeting. Anxiety pervaded a conference room of about 80 people as everyone wondered about the extent to which streaming would affect their DVD sales. Out of that meeting came a committee of Web-savvy filmmakers who endeavored to create the company's in-house streaming service.

New Day Digital, originally headed and developed by Peter Cohn, has been living as a beta prototype for the past few years separate from New Day's mainwebsite. By the end of the year, the two sites are going to be integrated. Jeff Tamblyn, the current head of New Day Digital, feels confident about this decision. "The colleges are developing a strong interest in streaming because their students are already very comfortable with streaming media," he says. "Just because streaming is for sale next to DVDs doesn't mean that putting them together is going to necessarily affect the sale of DVDs. If a student can watch a film that they're assigned at three in the morning in their dorm room, then that capability makes your library and your organization look very good."

As Tamblyn sees it, the only challenge facing customers--aside from budget cuts--is the technological hurdle that some who are unfamiliar with streaming face. To rectify this, New Day Digital has made every effort to simplify the delivery process. "What we've tried to do at New Day Digital is introduce a system that is so easy for [customers] that they don't need to build their own infrastructure. They don't even need to download special software or anything."

To consummate the transition to digital, New Day Digital plans on moving towards automated transactions. While this would mean less interaction with customers, the decision has inspired the co-op's members to make outreach efforts in other areas. Jesse Epstein, who played a key role in extending New Day's outreach to film festivals, has made a point of connecting with librarians at national librarian conferences--which is much more fun than it sounds. "I went to the American Librarian Association conference in Chicago with 40,000 librarians," Epstein recalls. "It was like the Sundance of librarian conferences. And I literally stayed up until four in the morning partying."

On a deeper level, conferences such as the American Librarian Conference and the National Media Market give New Day members the chance to convey to their customers the meaning of working with New Day, something that needs repeating as Netflix makes it easy to stream New Day titles such as Daniel Ellsberg: The Most Dangerous Man in America. "Librarians are on our side in terms of ordering the educational version [of shared titles like The Most Dangerous Man in America]," Epstein maintains. "They're pretty supportive, and they understand that with New Day they're directly supporting the filmmakers. But as a teacher myself, I know that it's really hard to not get something on Netflix and to pay for the rights. That's why we need to be continuously in contact with the people who are using the films."

As New Day evolves in size and scope, changing with the tides of technology and the marketplace, it is fortified by a solid identity. Each new member takes on the challenges of the present with the wisdom of the past. Co-founder Reichert analogizes the organization to "a living organism."

"We've really held onto our core values," she says. "The idea of consensus decision-making, empowering filmmakers to take control of their work, serving the needs of audiences, and not just being in it for the money, but being in it to explore the ability to make for a better society. It's like a '60s idea that worked."

15 Twitter Feeds Every Doc Filmmaker Should Follow

By Marc Schiller, Future of Film

In many ways, 2011 marks the year that independent documentary filmmakers found their voice on Twitter. In the course of developing social media campaigns for award-winning documentary films such as Senna, Exit Through the Gift Shop, Revenge of the Electric Car and Women, War & Peace, as well as launching the Economist Film Project, BOND noticed a growing number of approaches in the documentary world towards embracing Twitter.

On any given day, leading filmmakers are tweeting about their upcoming projects, directors of documentary film festivals are sharing their thoughts about the future of film and passionate filmgoers are directing attention to important new documentaries from all over the world. Below, we've curated a list of the Top 15 must-follow Twitter accounts for documentary filmmakers.


Call For Entries: Queer Women of Color Film Festival

Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project (QWOCMAP) invites African Descent/Black, Asian/South Asian, Arab, South West Asian/North African, Pacific Islander, Chicana/Latina, Native American and Mixed-race people who are Lesbians, Same-Gender-Loving, Queer, Questioning women of color or Transgender, Genderqueer, Gender Non-Conforming people of color to submit films to our 8th annual Queer Women of Color Film Festival, June 8-10, 2012 at the Novellus Theater, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco.

Submission Deadline (to be RECEIVED in our QWOCMAP office): 5pm, Friday, December 30th, 2011
Visit the festival's webpage for details and entry form.

  NBC News Preps Latino-Focused, English-Language Site
(Multichannel News) - NBC News in early 2012 will launch NBC Latino, an English Hispanic news and lifestyle website. The site focuses on English-language information that is relevant to U.S. Hispanics and promises a unique Latino angle on current news. FULL STORY

Jobs & Opportunities

Visit the NALIP Job Opportunities page for all the latest listings.

From the Editor
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Latino/as Nominated for Golden Globes, SAG Awards, and Writers Guild Awards

The 69th annual Golden Globe nominations were announced this week, along with the actors nominated for the 2012 SAG Awards. Among them, some notable Latino/as to celebrate:

Nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television is Sofia Vergara for her comic performance in "Modern Family." NALIP recognized her outstanding achievement in creating Gloria Delgado at our 2011 Gala Awards.

The Screen Actors Guild also made a significant Latino recognition this week, nominating Demian Bechir for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role for his stirring performance in Chris Weitz's film A Better Life. SAG also nominated Sofia Vergara for Outstanding Performance By A Female Actor In A Comedy Series, as well as the entire Delgado clan of Modern Family for Outstanding Performance By An Ensemble In A Comedy Series, including Vergara and Rico Rodriguez, who plays her son Manny.

The 18th annual SAG awards will be presented on Sunday, January 29 while the Golden Globes Award ceremony will be held on Sunday, January 15.

Both the SAG-Producers IAC Fund and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Foundation, sponsors of the Golden Globes, are generous supporters of NALIP's professional development programs for Latino/a film and television producers, writers, and directors.

The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) have announced nominations for outstanding achievement in television, news, radio, promotional writing, and graphic animation during the 2011 season. The winners will be honored at the 2012 Writers Guild Awards on Sunday, February 19, 2012, at simultaneous ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York.

A smattering of Latinos nominated include (For a complete list of nominees go to

Jose Arroyo : Comedy/Variety (Including Talk) Series - "Conan," Other Writers: Andres du Bouchet, Deon Cole, Josh Comers, Dan Cronin, Michael Gordon, Berkley Johnson, Brian Kiley, Laurie Kilmartin, Rob Kutner, Todd Levin, Brian McCann, Conan O'Brien, Matt O'Brien, Jesse Popp, Andy Richter, Brian Stack, Mike Sweeney; TBS

Eric S. Garcia : Children's Episodic & Specials - "Hero of the Shadows" (Supah Ninjas), Other Writer by Leo Chu, Nickelodeon

The 2012 Writers Guild Awards will be held on Sunday, February 19, 2012, simultaneously at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles and at B.B. King Blues Club in New York City. Nominations are for TV, News, Radio, Promotional Writing, and Graphic Animation

For more information about the 2012 Writers Guild Awards, please visit or

Frances Negrón-Muntaner
NALIPster wins the 2012 Lenfest Distinguished Columbia Faculty Award

Columbia University's Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race (CSER) is pleased to announce that director and NALIP Board of Advisors chair Frances Negrón-Muntaner is a winner of the 2012 Lenfest Distinguished Columbia Faculty Award. One of the most prestigious awards conferred by the university, the Lenfest recognizes members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences "of unusual merit across a range of professorial activities-including scholarship, University citizenship, and professional involvement-with a primary emphasis on the instruction and mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students."

Professor Negrón-Muntaner is a leading scholar in various fields: Caribbean, Latino, and Media Studies. She has published five books, including the award-winning study Boricua Pop: Puerto Ricans and the Latinization of American Culture and the edited collection, Sovereign Acts. Among her six independent film productions is the recent television documentary War in Guam.

A versatile and exciting teacher, students often comment on her ability to inspire and challenge them to think differently about the world that they live in and their own lives. Over the last two and a half years, Professor Negron-Muntaner has also been actively working to expand the Center's curriculum and public programs. At present, she is collaborating with other faculty on a new CSER curricular initiative named "CSER 2.0," which will develop a Media and Idea Lab to support collaborative work in multiple media.

The award ceremony will be held in early February, 2012.


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