Monday, June 07, 2010

ATL-PushPush Distrib/Fundraise 101

Just back from my old stomping grounds of the ATL, where I did a few private consults and one big, long workshop for filmmakers at PushPush Theater. The experience, for me at least, was great. My slides are embedded after the fold, but first a few words of thought on Atlanta. Having been there, I'm not telling anyone who lives there anything new when I say there's some serious talent in that town. Sure, we all know about Tyler Perry, Rainforest Films, Turner and all that, but the ideas I heard from several producers/directors were pretty incredible. I also like the fact that they have great resources in town like GSU's DAEL center, the Atlanta Film Festival, a top-notch new media/gaming sector and with an amazing tax incentive, there's arguably few places better to shoot right now.

They also have innovative thinkers like PushPush Theater. Yes, I am biased as they paid me to consult and to speak, disclaimer enough? That said, I don't know of many other theater companies that are thinking about community and creativity like they are doing. They aren't just a theater company. Sure, lots of people open their doors to improv, to people showing film screenings, to training, to actors who might want to go from stage to screen. PushPush, however, is going further and thinking about how their projects can become multi-platform transmedia productions. This kinda started with a program they did called Dailies, which helped a group of filmmakers workshop a series of short film experimentations into what became Pop Film's The Signal.

Now they are taking that concept further and developing a series of projects that I think have a lot of potential for breaking new ground. One is called Slow Down, the other GRFX. Without giving much away, just the things they talk about publicly, these will be projects that originate on stage, get developed further and become a set of serial web videos with significant transmedia aspects. What I really like is they are one of the only groups I know of that are thinking of the stage as being one of their transmedia platforms - and how that might feed into not just development but also exhibition. They are also working in conjunction with other theaters across the country and in Berlin, so these aren't limited to being called Atlanta productions. I expect some great things out of these folks before too long and will update more soon.

During the workshop, we also got a chance to workshop several new projects from a few producers in town. While all of the ideas were exciting, I was most impressed with Dylan Kussman who drove all the way from Chattanooga to pitch his project The Steps. It's a web serial that's already partially finished - you can watch eight episodes online now - and he continues to create more. I haven't had time to watch all of the episodes, but they're pretty well made. But what I really liked was how honest he was about how hard all this stuff is. A lot of my presentation, as you'll see from the slides below, feature artists using social media to build their audience - and I point to some success stories that other people talking about this use often. Dylan spoke eloquently and engagingly about his frustrations having more than 4000 followers on Twitter, lots of traction on Facebook, yet how he could almost track every actual view of his content to his personal outreach to one individual at a time. Those friends/followers didn't translate easily into an audience, and while he got lots of good ideas to improve his chances of success (according to his feedback), it was refreshing to get a reality check of just how hard this (indie production and finding an audience) is, even when you are web-savvy. Anyway, in an effort to lend the guy a hand I suggest you check out his episodes, follow him on Twitter and if you like what you see, spread the word!

Here's the slides. While there is a fair amount of new stuff here, there's a lot of repetition to be found if you follow this blog and look at my slides often. The newest stuff is in the first half - where I added a lot on possible fundraising models, and some slides I got from Robert Pratten of Zen Films who I think makes a great presentation on transmedia production - we used two of his planning tools in Atlanta, so much credit to the source! And to Workbook Project, where I first found his work.

Part One - some thoughts on distribution myths, new models, fundraising, the importance of quality and a bit about localism and community building:

Part Two, on audience engagement, participatory culture and how to build an audience, including the slides we used to workshop each project.

And no, I have no idea why SlideShare dupicates the distribution words in the title card for both presentations - that's not how they look on my computer!

A couple other Atlanta notes - I was shocked that when I checked in at FourSquare, it appears to be used much more heavily in Atlanta than NYC. Wow, thousands of suggestions on every restaurant page, lots of people checked in - more than ever happens here, etc. Second, and I have to write more about this later, but I got to speak with some old friends who produced TCM's recent TCM Classic Film Festival and I'm convinced that it's the future of film festivals. Every festival I know of could learn something from them. Lesson one - they spent more on guaranteeing great projection than anyone I know of, and while yes they have deep pockets, the audience feedback was that this was one of the most important aspects. More on this soon.

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