||INDUSTRY INSIGHTS: Declaration of Independence - The Ten Principles of Hybrid Distribution
Peter Broderick - a NALIP conference speaker and mentor - is President of Paradigm Consulting, which helps filmmakers and media companies develop strategies to maximize distribution, audience, and revenues. This article expands upon a presentation about "hybrid distribution" that he gave at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. Click on Talk Back to discuss with other NALIPsters.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
That whenever any form of distribution becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new distribution most likely to effect their livelihood and happiness.
When a long train of abuses and usurpations reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such distribution.
- John Hancock (liberties taken by Peter Broderick)
Hybrid distribution is the state-of-the-art model more and more filmmakers are using to succeed. It enables them to have unprecedented access to audiences, to maintain overall control of their distribution, and to receive a significantly larger share of revenues.
This article is a sequel to my report, "Welcome to the New World of Distribution," which was published exactly a year ago in indieWIRE. Since the report appeared, the Old World of Distribution has continued to decline. The vast majority of filmmakers making Old World deals (in which they give all of their distribution rights to one company for up to 25 years) are ending up dissatisfied, including producers and directors who had previously succeeded in the Old World. Many of them have told me that the traditional distribution system is broken and that they are determined to find a new approach.
Register Now for "Doing Your Doc" - Durham, October 23-25
NALIP, CPB, the NEA and the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
In association with the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, UNC-TV, Southern Documentary Fund, Native American Public Television, ITVS, NBPC, CAAM, LPB, PIC, the North Carolina and California Arts Councils Present
Doing Your Doc:
DIVERSE VISIONS, REGIONAL VOICES
October 23-25, 2009 in Durham, North Carolina
A Weekend Seminar in Durham to Make Your Documentary Happen
Don't miss this unique chance to work with story consultant Fernanda Rossi, the Documentary Doctor, author of the book "Trailer Mechanics," plus receive project mentoring on your proposal, trailer or documentary idea. This intensive 3-day workshop is right for you, whether you are just beginning, have already shot footage on a documentary project, or are seeking finishing funds.
Doing your Doc is designed especially for media makers in the diverse communities of North Carolina, preparing you to receive production funding and apply to national professional programs while developing your unique stories and views.
Doing Your Doc: 3-day Workshop Fee
Early Registration by Oct. 23 - $100; Student w/ Valid ID -- $50;
$150/$100 at Door
Includes lunches, workshop materials, handouts & private project mentoring
Register online here for DOING YOUR DOC - DURHAM
Venue Address: Center for Documentary Studies, 1317 W. Pettigrew Street, Durham, NC
For more information including a full schedule visit the Doing Your Doc webpage, or call NALIP at 310.395.8880
Doing Your Doc is also coming to San Antonio, Nov. 6-8. Advance registration here.
Guerrilla Filmmaking, Dominican Style
From left: screenwriter, actor and NALIPster Manny Perez, actor Denise Quinones, director Josh Crook and actor Juan Fernandez pose at the Toronto International Film Festival.�(Matt Carr / Getty Images)
By Patrick Goldstein, The Los Angeles Times
It isn't easy making a movie in the Dominican Republic. When Michael Mann tried shooting part of "Miami Vice" there in 2005, a gunfight broke out near the film set, prompting costar Jamie Foxx to leave the country and forcing the film to relocate to Miami. The filmmakers who made "La Soga," which recently earned several standing ovations at the Toronto International Film Festival, managed to finish their movie without anyone being killed, though they do have colorful stories, which include hiring a machete fighter to handle security. As "La Soga" director Josh Crook puts it: "Our motto when we wrapped each day was, 'We didn't die!' "
As it turns out, "La Soga" isn't just the best film from the Dominican Republic ever to play in Toronto. Apparently, it's the only Dominican film ever to play there. I'd say it was worth the wait. Even though it's best known for spawning baseball players, judging from "La Soga," the country could be a potential gold mine for actors and filmmakers as well.
Largely shot in crime-infested neighborhoods and slums, "La Soga" is as much a meditation on the embattled Dominican culture as it is a crime drama, with the soulful intensity of such films as "The Harder They Come" and "City of God."
Set in the steamy slums of Santiago, "La Soga" focuses on an assassin employed by the government to bump off drug dealers and other thugs who have escaped capture or eluded the judicial process. In the film's opening scenes, a hit man tracks down a drug dealer and shoots him in the head in front of family and neighborhood onlookers. According to [NALIP member] Manny Perez, the film's Dominican screenwriter who also stars in the movie, the sequence is based on his eyewitness account of an all-too-real life event.
Perez, who is 40, grew up in Baitoa, a small town on the outskirts of Santiago. When he was 11, his family moved to Manhattan's Washington Heights neighborhood, where he still makes his home. After graduating from college with a major in drama, he returned to the Dominican Republic to visit friends and relatives and reconnected with a childhood friend who, as he puts it, had "gone in the other direction," dealing drugs and robbing banks.
"That scene in the movie, where the police assassin finds the drug dealer, that's exactly what happened to my friend, right in front of my face," he told me. "Right in front of everybody, the assassin took out his gun and shot him in the head, with my friend's mother there, crying and saying, 'Don't kill him! Please, don't kill him!' "
According to Perez, the country has a small contingent of killers, bankrolled in some fashion by the government, whose job is to finish off "bad guys who basically have three strikes against them."
Perez has been acting in films and TV for the last 15 years, having worked with Spike Lee, Sidney Lumet and Arthur Penn, among others. He frequently pops up on TV series like "Law & Order" and "CSI," where he is invariably cast as a Latin bad guy. Eager to play a less one-dimensional character, he wrote himself the leading role in "La Soga," creating a brooding assassin who not only has second thoughts about his work but, as we see through a series of flashbacks, also has a second occupation, having followed in the footsteps of his father and become the town butcher.
When Perez was acting in a low-budget movie directed by Crook, he showed him the script and suddenly found himself with a filmmaking partner. Crook, born in Brooklyn, had been making guerrilla-style low-, low-budget movies with his brother, Jeff, with such titles as "Sucker Punch" and "Ghetto Dawg 2." Guerrilla style might be putting it mildly. On one film, Crook says he had to bail his actors out of jail, while on another, finding himself out of money, he copied a key and broke into the New York Film Academy at 2 a.m. to use the editing facilities.
Crook was sold on making Perez's script, but he had no money, having refused several offers of financing that would have required shooting in a different country or filming the dialogue in English. Finally, the two guys got a lucky break. Crook showed the script to Patrick Pope, an old friend who'd been in a coma for months after barely surviving being struck by a drunken driver. After he recovered, he was looking for something worthwhile to do with the money he'd received as a settlement. Pope said if Crook and Perez could make the film for what he had in settlement funds, he'd write the check, signing on as executive producer.
Finally equipped with production funds, they headed for the Dominican Republic, ready to shoot the film. When the filmmakers first arrived, they discovered that their original line producer had hired a crew full of incompetents. Appalled, they fired everyone and started over, enlisting the aid of Fernando Luciano, a local guerrilla filmmaker who became an associate producer on the movie. "He not only knew how to hustle, but he knew everyone on the island," says Crook, "so he really helped us get things done, which also meant helping us from getting shaken down."
Much of the production was an ad hoc affair. "We didn't have a casting director, so most of the cast is made up of people that Manny knew or had worked with," Crook explains.
The acting talent includes Denise QuiA+/-ones, a Puerto Rico-born TV actress who was Miss Universe 2001, and Hemky Madera ("Weeds"), who'd been a TV star in the Dominican Republic and had family from Santiago.
The location for the key scene in which the drug dealer is killed is a teeming slum that is also a popular location for machete fights. "I know it sounds really gruesome, but that's just part of the local culture," says Perez. "We found this incredible dude who was missing fingers and had scars on his arms, but he was the king of the machete fights. To make sure we didn't have any problems, we put him on the crew. If he was around, everything was cool -- he was our protector."
For Crook, being in the Dominican Republic offered great perspective. "Let me tell you, when you're riding around in pickup trucks, going into villages where the kids are barefoot and have no real clothes, it makes you appreciate what you have back home," he says.
So far, the movie hasn't attracted any buyers, but the filmmakers say their search for a distributor is just beginning. They are still unsure of how the film, which offers a frank critique of political corruption in the Dominican Republic, will be received in its home country.
"The president of the Dominican is a big fan of films, who even has his own film festival," says Crook. "So we've heard that he wants to see the film. We've all been joking with each other, saying, 'No, you go take the film and show it to him,' " he said with a laugh. "That way, if one of us gets tossed in jail, we'll still have someone to keep things going back in the U.S. But I'm guessing that if he really likes movies that he'll end up liking it."