Latinos In The Industry
  January 6, 2009  

Independent Filmmakers Working with New Technologies: Case Studies by Scott Kirsner

In an effort to keep up with the changing landscape of new technology, ITVS commissioned author Scott Kirsner to find out what independent filmmakers are doing in the field.

New technologies are creating unprecedented opportunities for social issue filmmakers, whether they are already members of the ITVS community—or aspiring members. But chasing every new opportunity can be a waste of a filmmaker’s energy and resources. Which ones will generate the biggest return, in terms of attracting viewers, making change in the world and producing positive financial results?

The ITVS Digital Initiative: Report from the Field, a series of case studies published on the ITVS website, aims to answer that question. By sharing the stories of filmmakers who are experimenting with new technologies, and trying whenever possible to quantify the results, we’ll seek to inspire other filmmakers to innovate—while trying to avoid raising unrealistic expectations.

The Report from the Field will focus on three main changes, or pillars: opening up production, finding new audiences and taking advantage of new distribution opportunities:

Opening Up Production to Participation
During pre-production and production, how are filmmakers communicating with audiences, widely dispersed teams, funders and prospective subjects in new ways? What new opportunities for involvement and participation are they exploring?

Finding New Audiences
Once a project is completed and ready for release/broadcast, how are filmmakers using blogs, social networks, games and other technologies to reach audiences that will care about their project?

New Distribution Opportunities
How are filmmakers presenting their work on websites, cell phones, iPods and the new generation of Internet-connected TVs and set-top boxes? Do these distribution avenues create conflict with more traditional outlets? Are there substantial economic benefits or simply promotional positives?

Scott Kirsner’s recommendations from the ITVS Digital Initiative: Report from the Field:

Top Five Connection-Creating Strategies

* 1. Start a blog or create a bare-bones website to generate awareness of what you’re up to; this can be a way for potential collaborators, sources, funders, and DVD-buyers to get in touch with you early on.
* 2. Participate and post in existing online communities related to your film’s topic.
* 3. Maintain a database of everyone who you’ve interviewed or who has offered help during production, so you can let them know when the film is finally finished.
* 4. Consider ways to allow interested parties to get involved with your filmmaking process; some filmmakers have “open-sourced” their research, having others contribute by shooting far-off locations and interviews, and even some editing.
* 5. Think about posting some clips/excerpts from your rough cut on video-sharing sites to begin building an online presence for your film. Provide links back to the film’s site or to your blog.

Top Five Marketing and Promotion Strategies

* 1. Leverage the lists and websites of membership organizations related to the topic of your film to communicate with viewers who may be interested in seeing/purchasing it.
* 2. Connect with bloggers who cover the issues in your film, offer them interviews, review copies of the DVD or embeddable clips from the film.
* 3. Collect email addresses (and ideally ZIP codes too) from the visitors to your film’s website; you can notify them when the film is playing in theaters or on TV, or when it becomes available on DVD or as a download.
* 4. Post clips on video-sharing sites or social networking sites, with links back to the film’s main site; this can help introduce it to new audiences.
* 5. Consider allowing Internet users to remix or “mash up” parts of your film, or create their own trailers for it. This adds their perspective to the work and, ideally, helps it reach a broader audience.

Top Five Distribution Strategies

* 1. Make sure DVDs are available when audiences are most interested in the film: during the theatrical run, during festival screenings and at the time of the first TV broadcast.
* 2. Consider producing at least two versions of the DVD, at two different price points: one for general audiences and a second version for educational/group use, with discussion guides and supplemental material.
* 3. Carefully evaluate distribution offers that wrap up digital rights with theatrical or home video rights. What will the distributor do in the near-term to generate revenues with those rights?
* 4. Focus digital distribution efforts on outlets with already-established audiences (such as Apple’s iTunes or’s Unbox); if working with a newer outlet, negotiate for premium placement on the site and additional promotion.
* 5. Whether selling DVDs or digital downloads/rentals with a business partner, insist on regular reporting of sales figures and the ability to audit them.

Digital Distribution By the Numbers

Digital distribution of films remains a nascent business, not rivaling DVD sales in most cases. But movie downloads seem to be catching on quickly: from $689 million in sales in 2006, they’re expected to hit $1.6 billion in 2008, according to the research firm SNL Kagan.

iTunes, presumed to be the leading site for sales and rentals of features in digital form, was selling or renting 50,000 movies a day by mid-2008. In 2007, an independent documentary, Tiffany Shlain’s The Tribe, briefly topped iTunes’ list of best-selling short films. Makers of the documentary 10 MPH say they sold more than 1000 downloads from their own site over the course of a few months in 2007, priced at $7.99. (By handling the technology themselves, the filmmakers held onto the lion’s share of each sale.) In just one week, the documentary Maxed Out was streamed 35,000 times on the Netflix website; Netflix passes on a fraction of its subscriber revenue to the filmmakers.

Some filmmakers have chosen to explore digital distribution possibilities on their own, while others have been working with aggregators like the Independent Online Distribution Alliance (IODA) or New Video Digital, which help negotiate deals with Internet outlets, mobile phone or cable companies and set-top box makers.

Read the ITVS Digital Initiative: Report from the Field case studies:
Byron Hurt:HIP-HOP: Beyond Beats and Rhymes
Katy Chevigny: ELECTION DAY
Curt Ellis: KING CORN
David Iverson and Michael Schwarz: MY FATHER, MY BROTHER AND ME
Hunter Weeks and Josh Caldwell: 10 MPH
Tiffany Shlain: The Tribe
Brad Lichtenstein: WHAT WE GOT

Scott Kirsner is a journalist who writes about the ways that new technologies are changing the entertainment industry. He edits the blog CinemaTech, and is the author of two books: Inventing the Movies and The Future of Web Video. Scott's writing has appeared inVariety, The Hollywood Reporter, and the New York Times.
Top Five Digital Strategies for Social Issue Filmmakers

Call for Entries: The Doorpost Film Project

The Doorpost Film Project exists to encourage truth-seeking visionaries by honoring their creativity as filmmakers, serving them in the context of building community and sharing their discoveries with the world so that others may have hope. The Doorpost is offering over $500,000 in total prizes during the '09 competition, including all-expense paid trips, final round film budgets and the following top contest prizes: $100,000 Grand Prize, $35,000 Second Place Prize, $25,000 Third Place Prize, $15,000 Filmmakers Choice Award More info:

The Doorpost Film Project recognizes, honors and equips filmmakers whose work depicts thecore of life, its struggles and its purpose. The second annual Doorpost Film Project will be held during the 2009 calendar year, culminating in Nashville, Tennessee USA, for a showing of selected short films, awards presentation and an exploratory symposium September 17–19, 2009. Filmmakers selected as finalists will be required to attend the screening of their short film and other special events at the expense of The Doorpost Film Project. These events will be designed to allow interaction between filmmakers and their films’ audience.

Each submitted film shall be a maximum of seven (7) minutes in duration and must be submitted under one of the following topics: Freedom, Forgiveness, Redemption, Joy, or Humility. A Submitted Film(s) shall not have been previously broadcast, transmitted or distributed commercially prior to its submission to the Doorpost Film Project, nor shall a Submitted Film have previously received any awards or accolades from any other film festival.

January 1 – January 31: Early Registration ($40)
February 1 – February 28: Regular Registration ($50)
March 1 – March 15: Late Registration ($60)

March 15 11:59pm EST: Round 1 Submission Deadline

Deadline Approaching: ITVS Open Call Funding

Attention filmmakers! Looking for funding for your next project? INDEPENDENT TELEVISION SERVICE (ITVS) seeks proposals for public TV programs which take creative risks, serve underrepresented audiences and express points of view seldom seen on commercial or public TV.

OPEN CALL provides completion funding for single non-fiction programs (not series) that are already in production. It is our largest funding initiative with two funding rounds per year. There is no minimum or maximum funding amount, though ITVS funds must be the last money in to the project. Please note that the deadline for Open Call 2009 Round 1 is JANUARY 16, 2009.

**Please note that Open Call no longer accepts submissions for fiction (i.e., narrative, drama, etc.) projects.

The online application and guidelines are posted on our website at

Deadline Approaching: TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund

The TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund will provide up to $170,000 in support of innovative and compelling filmmaking that explores scientific, mathematical, and technological themes and storylines, or a leading character who is a scientist, engineer, innovator or mathematician in fresh ways.

We are seeking exceptional narrative work of all genres (except science fiction or fantasy) with scientifically accurate themes or characters. Selected projects from eligible directors, screenwriters and producers will be highlighted at the Tribeca Film Festival in May 2009. In addition to funding, grantees will receive professional guidance and industry exposure as needed.

Apply Now! Deadline is January 12, 2009.

Visit for complete details.



Don't Miss DOING YOUR DOC in MIAMI this week, Jan. 9-11

Join us this week in Miami, Florida, January 9-11 for our NALIP signature program Doing Your Doc: Diverse Visions, Regional Voices. 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.

Register online here for DOING YOUR DOC - MIAMI

Are you in Nebraska or nearby? Check out DYD in Lincoln, Nebraska, Feb. 5-7. Click here.

Frances Negrón-Muntaner
Board member/NALIP 10 co-chair interviewed about role as a UN RRMM Global Expert

Por Tatiana Pérez Rivera, El Nuevo Dia

"La forma de contar el cuento puede generar hostilidad o resolución"

La cineasta y profesora boricua Frances Negrón Muntaner fue reclutada por la ONU como “Global Expert Finding”.

En un país cualquiera se cocina un conflicto. Hierve el malestar por razones religiosas, políticas o culturales entre diversas facciones y el panorama luce tenso y gris.

En ese momento la Organización de las Naciones Unidas (ONU) activa su joven proyecto Rapid Response Media Mechanism (RRMM), para que sus integrantes -denominados “Global Expert Finder”- conecten a los periodistas que cubren estas historias con expertos que conozcan el trasfondo de la situación y con analistas que reflexionen sobre el impacto que su desenlace pudiera tener.

Los expertos globales considerarán como un acierto que se logren historias sobre el suceso desde diversas perspectivas y libres de prejuicios.

El proyecto es iniciativa de la Alianza de las Civilizaciones, que en el 2005 fue establecida por España y Turquía -con el auspicio de la ONU- y que tiene como meta propiciar el entendimiento y la cooperación entre culturas.

Para el grupo designado a la región de América y el Caribe, se reclutó en octubre a la puertorriqueña Frances Negrón Muntaner. Desde que se radicó a los 19 años en Estados Unidos -tras graduarse de la Universidad de Puerto Rico-, ésta se ha desempeñado como cineasta, profesora en la Universidad de Columbia desde hace cinco años, fundadora hace una década de la National Association of Latino Independent Producers y columnista en diarios hispanos.

Nacionalismo, soberanía y producción cultural hispana en medios de comunicación masiva han sido las principales áreas de investigación de esta emprendedora sanjuanera nacida en el 1966.

¿Cómo la ONU los convoca cuando hay un conflicto?
“Envían un aviso de que acaba de estallar, los obstáculos a su resolución y cuáles son las narrativas dominantes que lo recrudecen.

Piden entonces intervención de sus expertos globales, ya sea en los medios de comunicación o de forma más directa como grupo. Debemos ampliar el entendimiento de ese conflicto y sus repercusiones, de modo que tenga exposición mundial”.

¿Te sirvió de práctica el reciente enfrentamiento entre la India y Pakistán?
“Sí, me familiaricé con el proceso, aunque no es la zona que investigo”.

¿Cuándo el temor entra en la ecuación?
“En general, la primera reacción es contribuir y uno no piensa en otra cosa. Acaba de morir gente y existe la posibilidad real de mayor violencia entre la India y Pakistán, y también entre distintos grupos étnicos y religiosos dentro de la India. Pero es cierto que también hay un momento, que no dura mucho pero uno lo registra, donde te das cuenta de que ayudar a resolver conflictos de tal magnitud te puede costar la vida, que no hay garantías”.

¿Cómo se maneja entonces el momento?
“Uno no puede dejarse atrapar por el miedo, aunque tampoco se trata de ser una supermujer. Hay que entrenarse para distinguir entre el miedo saludable y el irracional, si bien a veces es difícil”.

¿Habías tenido relación con la ONU?
“No. Me dijeron que me habían identificado por el trabajo que hacía y querían saber si estaba interesada. Ellos han trabajado en Europa con conflictos relacionados con el islam y quieren reproducir ese tipo de intervención en cualquier parte del mundo, incluyendo el Caribe y América”.

¿Te ayudó tu desempeño en la Universidad de Columbia?
“Pienso que sí. Allí trabajo en el Departamento de Inglés y en el Centro de Estudio de Raza y Etnicidad, donde se produce información sobre cómo se originan las etnias. Muchos conflictos nacen del concepto de raza o nación y toman esa cara”.

¿Qué diferencia los conflictos actuales de los de antes?
“El mundo siempre ha sido convulso, pero he vivido el tiempo suficiente para saber que ahora estamos conscientes de los sucesos y de cuándo ocurren, es difícil decir ‘no me enteré’. Además, hoy los conflictos escalan rápidamente y nos afectan aunque no estemos allí”.

Fuiste columnista en El Mundo, el San Juan Star y en el Diario La Prensa, ¿qué trabas viste en el periodismo?
“Sé que muchas veces los periodistas quieren hacer cosas y a veces no tienen tiempo de prepararse, porque hay que producir o tienen un montón de presión por vender. Dependen de fuentes para proveer perspectivas a sus artículos y la selección tiene tremendas repercusiones en cómo la gente entiende el conflicto. La forma de contar el cuento puede generar hostilidad o resolución. Sé que las cosas son complejas y no se resuelven sólo interviniendo en los medios, pero se contribuye generando modos alternativos de ver y resolver el conflicto”.

¿Intervendrías en un problema aquí?
“Claro, es el país que mejor conozco, no sólo porque nací aquí, sino porque he dedicado gran parte de mi vida adulta a estudiarlo”.

Las ideas de Frances
¿Qué atrajo tu mirada al inicio de tu carrera?

“Los primeros ocho años de mi vida intelectual los dediqué a analizar el nacionalismo en Puerto Rico y entre puertorriqueños. Uno tiene que tener alguna teorización de cómo se produce el sentido de nación. El caso de Puerto Rico es excepcional, porque la gente se siente parte de una nación pero no es una nación-estado”.

¿Cuál aspecto de la televisión te atrajo?
“En los últimos cuatro años he trabajado la representación de los grupos latinos en los medios de comunicación en Estados Unidos porque, aunque vienen de muchos países, hay presión por transformarlos en una sola raza”.

Actos soberanos, su libro que publica en el 2009, está basado en una conferencia que dictó sobre el concepto de soberanía y hasta qué punto reproduce violencia étnica. Tomó como ejemplos a Puerto Rico, Hawai, Guam y Samoa.

¿Qué te interesa hoy?
“Estoy culminando un proyecto sobre el impacto y el legado de la Segunda Guerra Mundial en Guam y lo próximo será una película sobre Vieques. Llevo diez años estudiando el aparato de guerra de Estados Unidos porque, aun cuando no hay guerra, hay guerra”.Así que metes el dedo en la llaga de vez en cuando.“Muchas veces. Critico los abusos del Ejército cuando se adueña de un territorio sin preguntar y, por otro lado, la intolerancia del nacionalismo. La gente me critica: para la derecha soy comunista y para la izquierda soy de derecha”.¿Te han insultado?“Tengo un cartapacio con cosas que me envían diciéndome cuanta cosa te puedes imaginar. No me han amenazado de muerte, pero me han ofrecido palizas. Tengo alguna noción de eso y por eso creo en lo que hago”.¿Cómo te olvidas de todo?“Pues hago ejercicio, corro tres millas y me encantan los faciales y los masajes”.

Frances y el cine
Escribe sus guiones, dirige y produce sus filmes. Ve una película al día. Convertir historias en una realidad fílmica parece su eterna meta.

Su primer documental, AIDS in the Barrio: Eso no me pasa a mí, de 1989, retrató la incidencia del sida en las comunidades boricuas en Filadelfia.

“Como muchos otros cineastas latinos, queríamos intervenir en debates de forma más amplia y llegar a más gente. La película estaba diseñada para generar discusión”, dice.

En el 1994 vino Brincando el charco, su segunda narrativa de corte experimental que habla sobre las interrogantes que la migración despertó en la identidad de los puertorriqueños.

“Se explora el racismo hacia y entre boricuas, la inmigración de la clase media, y de homosexuales y lesbianas que no sentían cabida en la Isla. En el 1995 fue seleccionado para participar en la bienal del Whitney Museum”, recuerda.

¿Siempre has vivido en Nueva York?
“Viví en Miami seis años, pero cuando Columbia llama y te dice ‘ven’, tú vas. Llevo mucho tiempo visitando Nueva York antes de vivir en él y te digo que este lugar se ha ‘disneyficado’, el carácter de la ciudad ha cambiado”.

Conflictos, cine, academia, ¿hay espacio para más?
“Sí, invito a los jóvenes a expresarse a través del video. Me gusta el rol de mentora. Invierto tiempo dialogando con ellos, porque así uno puede evitarles dificultades”.

Anayansi Prado
NALIPster's doc selected for American Documentary Showcase

NALIP member Anayansi Prado's (LPA 2003) film Children in No Man's Land, a documentary about unaccompanied immigrant minors who cross the US/Mexico border to reunite with family, has been chosen to be part of the 2009 American Documentary Showcase. The showcase, a cooperative program with the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of States, is a curated program of contemporary documentaries that is offered to US Embassies for screening abroad. The goal of The Showcase is to offer a broad diversified look at life in the United States and the values of a democratic society as seen by American documentary filmmakers.




Painting the Face of Hispanic Market
(Marketing y Medios) - The May issue of Latina magazine features something that one does not often see in Hispanic media: a black Latina on the cover. Black Latinos in media are a rarity, as clients and agencies opt for generic 'Latino look'. FULL STORY

Jobs & Opportunities

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

Producer for Thesis Film
I'm looking for a talented individual / team to produce "Take My Wife," a comedic short to be my graduate level thesis film. FULL JOB DESCRIPTION

Foley Artists for Feature Films
We're looking for Foley Artists based in Los Angeles for several independent feature films. FULL JOB DESCRIPTION

Casting: Comedy Short
Primo Pictures is seeking talented, Hispanic actors for a comedic short film, “Spanish Fly”: A slice of Latino life as seen through a fly’s point of view. FULL JOB DESCRIPTION

Casting: Latino Boxing Short
Johnny Kirk is casting a HDV intense dramatic grad short for CSULA about a teenage boxer competing against his brother in the ring for the approval of their demanding father. FULL JOB DESCRIPTION

Three Positions at Media Arts Center San Diego
Media Arts Center San Diego is announcing the following three part-time, paid Program Associate positions as well as Festival Volunteer positions - some positions granted stipends for individuals committed to achieving specific goals for San Diego Latino Film Festival (March 12-22, 09). FULL JOB DESCRIPTION


From the Editor


Alex Mendoza
Alex Mendoza & Associates
AMARTE Design & Digital Printing
9513 Longden Avenue
Temple City, CA 91780

1323 Lincoln Blvd., #220
Santa Monica, CA 90401

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