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: www.cbsdiversity.com, 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
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
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
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
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
"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
Visit the NALIP Job Opportunities page for all the latest listings.
Alex Mendoza & Associates
AMARTE Design & Digital Printing
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Temple City, CA 91780
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Santa Monica, CA 90401
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
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 http://wga.org):
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 http://wga.org or http://wgaeast.org.
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
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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