Monday, March 29, 2010

Selling your film - when is the best time?

The Conversation took place this week in NYC, and while the entire event was great (kudos to the organizers) and I learned a bit, had some great conversations and even found some inspiration, I was also left scratching my head. How can we, as a field, get something so collectively wrong as the notion of film festival premieres and audience awareness? Thomas Woodrow, a producer who I admire, stated on one panel that you needed to sell your film at the point of its maximal awareness, and that for Bass Ackwards, that was clearly at Sundance (paraphrasing). Joe Swanberg said something to this effect regarding his decision to do a simultaneous premiere at SXSW and on IFC. We’ve seen these experiments at multiple festivals now, and will continue to see more. As currently conceived, all of them will fail.

Let me be clear - I am not critiquing IFC, the filmmakers or the festivals for experimenting - we need more of that. I also like all of them. I’m also sure that some of them would argue with me over what constitutes a failure, and I’m sure some of them will make some money, possibly even good money. That said, we’ll never know how much they might have made with a different strategy. My argument here is really with the notion that a premiere at a major festival is your point of maximal awareness. It’s not, never has been and never will be, unless such festivals do a lot of re-visioning of what they are and how they operate.

It’s truly a sign of the self-absorption of the entire industry that they can think this is remotely true. This self-absorption is sometimes a positive for film - many films wouldn’t get made if their directors and producers weren’t so singularly obsessed with their vision  that they wouldn’t take no for an answer from anyone. Unfortunately, it not only leads to just as many bad films being made, it also leads to confused thinking about the field and many bad business decisions as well. Yes, by now a large segment of the population who bother to think about films at all, know about Sundance. Some slightly smaller portion know about SXSW, and in some of the hipper circles they may even prefer it. You can also make a reasonable assumption that the most cinephilic of them follow what’s playing there in blogs, twitter updates and, perhaps a few of them, through the trades (which I bet have much less influence than anyone would guess). Even with this level of awareness, however, your film’s playing there is not known to the majority of your potential audience. If your potential audience is just the few thousand people (being generous, perhaps as many as 25,000 people?) around the country that pay attention to all this noise, you are in trouble. Many more don’t obsessively follow this news and don’t know that your film is playing at all. Even this hard-core crowd doesn’t likely have a clear sense of whether they should take a chance and spend money on your film. They’ll likely wait for more word of mouth to judge whether they should see your film. You also have to guess that some large percentage may know about the film, read the review, but still decide not to buy access to your film (through VOD, streaming, Netflix or a ticket). Perhaps 10% of them will actually follow-through to a transaction. That’s not a lot of people, or money in your pocket.

Beyond this dismal picture there lies a bigger disappointment that we all must realize - the majority of the film going public, the ones who might arguably watch something other than the latest blockbuster, don’t know about your film at all. I’m sorry, but most of them know that Sundance exists, vaguely, somewhere, but they have no idea what films are playing. Worse yet, I would posit that even if you play the top 10 film festivals in the world, they still haven’t heard about your film. Guess what? You are excited that you just played - Berlin, Cannes, Toronto, Sundance, SXSW and five other fests - your excitement is palpable. It is also distorting your mind and making you think that your excitement is felt by everyone in the film universe. It isn’t. Me, you, and everyone we know (props to Ms. July) is excited about your film. This includes a lot of people, but most of them are industry insiders, hard-core cinephiles and your Aunt in Seaside, NJ. Even with social networking tools, this crowd is likely very small compared to your total potential audience. Most of that audience has no idea what films played each of these fests and got a great review in Variety (even less now that it’s behind that brilliant pay-wall) and was the talk of the festival going crowd. For all of them, your film is still non-existent.

I used to get in an argument with one of the local critics every year when I was working at the Atlanta Film Festival. He would look at our line-up and sigh and say something like “well, all these films already played at other festivals, even in Nashville, where’s the news here?” I would then blow a gasket, trying to explain to him that no one in Atlanta knows that, so for them, the films were all still big premieres. A very small segment of the Atlanta audience reads any of the ongoing, online chatter about these films. It’s great that they do, and they are crucial early-adopters who will help any fest spread the word about that precious little film that’s about to show in town. They weren’t enough, however, to ensure a packed house in a 150 seat theater. For that, we needed to do a lot of other marketing, PR and general word-of-mouth audience building. This takes time, and it still takes time even in this hyper-timed-zone we live in now. And it is no less true for audiences for VOD, Netflix or YouTube.

None of the current experiments take this into account. Yes, IFC has a huge potential audience and a great brand, arguably better than any of the fests playing in this zone, but very few people are going to sit down at the TV, with their limitless options of things to watch, and pick your film from the line-up just because it’s playing at the same time as Sundance - because they don’t even know this. Even with the marketing about it. No word of mouth has been built. The film hasn’t had time to enter the cultural conversation, and without this, it has less chance of success. (No, I don’t mean it should be part of the “big” conversation, like on Oprah or something impossible).

Now the ongoing evolution (if it isn’t regression) of the indie film world stutters and bucks along on the backs of these experiments. That’s a good thing, so at least the conversation is starting, but it’s not good enough...yet. We need to devise strategies that incorporate festivals and other screenings into building an audience that leads to more sales. For example, if Sundance had paired their YouTube experiment with their (fully operational) Sundance ArtHouse Project, which showcased films in multiple cities at the same time as the festival premiere, then these films might have gotten more traction. Instead, the YouTube experiment failed miserably, which was a shame, because with just a little bit of thinking, perhaps we’d have a success story instead of thousands of stories (there might have been 100s of thousands) saying these new models don’t work. This is just one example, but in general, if Festivals are going to start getting into this game, and pressuring filmmakers to follow them into it, then they owe it to the field to take this seriously and experiment more smartly.

I tweeted my frustration about this at the Conversation and Mynette Louie, the producer of (the great) Children of Invention followed up on Facebook with these thoughts:

"According to IMDB Moviemeter, Children of Invention had bigger spikes after Sundance, with its biggest at our NY theatrical release. That's in large part due to our trailer being on Apple trailers home page, Hulu, YouTube, national reviews, and other various promo that we're only "allowed" to get w/a theatrical release." She followed up again later, adding: "smaller films need time to marinate, build word-of-mouth, collect awards, smaller/regional reviews, blog posts, etc."

I bet this would be true for all of the films trying these strategies (she was one of them, btw, but as part of a bigger campaign that has taken over a year). I’d love to hear your thoughts on how we might improve our odds of success - what tweaks to this model might work? Or do you disagree, and think that the premiere is the best time to release your film? Let me know.


Vanessa Domico said...

It has been my experience that it takes months, which turn into years, to reach the full potential of sales for any given film. True, that getting in to festivals is a great way of promoting the film. And getting in to A-list festivals like Sundance, Cannes, Toronto, and Berlin, to name a few, is great and will then open up doors into other festivals - I'm talking snow ball effect. That said, you literally need to get in to dozens if not hundreds of festivals to reach the film's fullest world wide potential. Even then, there's no guarantee that the film is going to sell unless you do so much more work promoting and marketing the film outside of these festivals. There is a method to the madness - unfortunately, there is no one singular method - there are different models for each and every film and it's up to the filmmakers and distributors to customize the distribution strategy - to experiment, to fail, to try, try again, with the hope that you will ultimately succeed.

Holly Herrick said...

THANK YOU BRIAN for articulating this so well and for providing me with some much needed catharsis on this topic as I read this. Agree, and also think more people might look into Mynette and Tze's very thoughtful festival and release strategy, which seemed founded upon word of mouth and audience networking/ data collecting as they traveled the country with their film.

Unknown said...


You have argued in this piece what I have e-mailed, phone called, argued in person and blogged about myself during the rise of day-and-date models for independent films, and you've said it better than I ever could. This is exactly right, and one of the great frustrations of running a large regional film festival like Sarasota is the way in which our passion and desire to offer this exact type of help and support for films is roundly rejected time and again in favor of "new models" that often eliminate our ability to do any good at all.

Add to this the national trade focus on "premieres" as being the crucial element of any story (we've eliminated announcing our premieres at all, as it only tends to shed light on the festival itself-- yay us! we're important!-- and not the films in particular), and you compound the dilemma-- your premiere is a story that reaches a very limited audience, you go day and date, and in ten days (or less), your story is over. Meanwhile, we're delivering audience to other films like CHILDREN OF INVENTION, which won an award at our festival last year, helping them gain word of mouth, press and accolades over the course of a long campaign to market penetration.

Festivals like ours are often asked to suffer on both ends; we're not a market festival, so we don't get a lot of big premieres (again, fine by us), but after films do their premiere/ day and date launch elsewhere, we're asked to help the cause and show the movie anyway. We're removed from the film's business narrative, but asked help make it a continuing business success despite a complacent film press that "can't find the story" and an audience who has no idea what you film is whether you've played VOD, TriBeCa, Sundance SXSW or anywhere else.

The answer here is for filmmakers to take control of the narrative of their own film's lifecycle, to stop allowing themselves and their content to be used by various festivals and businesses as either premiere slot filler or an excuse to save on P&A costs by going day and date and utilizing the limited press focused on the "new" and not on the story of quality filmmaking and long term audience development.

A GREAT example of this is TINY FURNITURE, which swept up at SXSW, is playing with us at Sarasota next, and whose NY Times feature, done without a distribution deal or a day and date launch, is helping sell tickets and building word of mouth here in FL. We're incredibly excited to bring Lena Dunham in at our expense so she can show her film to our audiences, who will spread the word and generate long term interest in her film.

Maybe one day, someone who is organizing one of these industry "state of the union" events will invite festival leaders to participate, because as the burden of responsibility for economic and PR success is shifting to us (and the fact that we're often built for an entirely different purpose), we should be afforded a voice in helping shape the future. There are dozens of non-profit festivals struggling to meet the new, seemingly manufactured demands of a marketplace that is replacing a for-profit theatrical distribution model (a business built on concession sales) with a non-profit infrastructure, while expecting the same for-profit opportunities for revenue. Bring us to the table, because we have a lot of ideas as well...

--Tom Hall

Laure Parsons said...

This is an important point and it ties in with a discussion I had with a filmmaker after my panel. She was wondering, given the metric that digital is currently only 10% of revenue for distributors, why the fuss? And my response was, besides the shifting proportions in general, digital is the one thing we can see is going out there and will likely be there in some form for quite some time.

The relevance to your point is that though every film is different, getting out there is something that for most films (and even the few that get into Sundance or TIFF) the audience builds organically. Whether that is helped or hampered by the availablity of the film to actually see is up for debate, I suppose, but I agree that seeing releases as frontloaded is a little anachronistic.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brian,
great post as usual. I've been following your blog since meeting you at Scottish Students on Screen in January. We did the whole speed-dating thing (they really should have given that a different name) and I was telling you about my novel.

Well, the publishing world is coming apart at the seams, just like the film world. It's amazing how much of your advice I can apply to my situation.

Just thought I'd thank you for that.

Sheri C said...

I agree with Tom Hall, lets hear some more from festivals at filmmaker panels and events and invite filmmakers to the International Film Festival Summit too.

This should be a conversation we have amongst ourselves. With both sides excluding the other, no wonder there are misunderstandings of what each is trying to do and what they can do to work together.

Fests and local screening series are the best way forward for low budget films to screen in cinemas or alternate venues across the country for a low cost to the filmmaker. In turn, filmmakers have to make more of a concerted effort to promote their titles themselves instead of relying solely on fests to do it. Fests need to stop with the "premiere" policies and the no online distribution policies. Both sides would benefit from a summit to hash all this out so both can benefit from the multitude of great stories available and the audiences eager to see them.

MTeplitsky said...

One of your best essays yet. Couldn't agree with you more. Not much for me to add (damn it, you're too fast and comprehensive:)

I guess I'll share this, a thought I wish I'd remembered to share on our panel.

I think the filmmakers who do the best marketing/distribution, who can maximize audience/sales potential, are those who retain rights and have a figured out a way to budget/pay for 1 or 2 sharp people to help them over 1-2 years.

That's the key to me - having a lean marketing team (assuming of course you've got a film with a sizable niche audience in 1st place)

Nobody talks about that. Everyone's talking about social media, online tools, festivals...Me too. They're important. But not as important as having help.

I know this from experience. One of my regrets was not spending enough time at outset of distribution finding help. So too much of the time, You do all the work yourself. And that's limiting.

I know, not everyone can afford good help. But at least budget for it and go from there.

And what is good help? Anyone tapping university business schools, marketing programs, non profit marketing depts, etc for interns or entry level people?

Oh I guess I went on my own rant there.

Matt Dentler said...

Brian, I think you're totally correct that a film launching out of a festival is not the solution, per se. But I will say that if you craft the right strategy, it is a great opportunity to use as the BEGINNING of a launch. Too many filmmakers see day-and-date as the be all end all by virtue of the elements alone.

We launched two films out of SXSW this year, and I can confidently say that we were able to get more reviews and more mentions of their availability because we hit the press outlets hard (and have help from teh folks at Falco Ink) before and during the festival. It's good to make sure you're linking the festival presence with a real-world presence, because as you correctly state, they do not naturally unite. If anything, we saw that at SXSW, where the two films had several sold-out screenings despite simultaneous availability online. And these films will play more festivals in April, and we've held back some of the press for later in the release.

Had we not received support from the portals (iTunes, Amazon, cable systems) or had a supportive and press-heavy launchpad (SXSW), we would not have STARTED the films' releases during a festival. Doing day-and-date without this synchronicity is a mistake.

M dot Strange said...

Great post Brian! Just found your blog... I'll be following now ^ ^ See you around man!

girlpaint said...

I appreciate the post and all the comments. Admittedly, I'm a total neophyte and hate to ask, but what's day-and-date?

Unknown said...

Great post Brian - if only it created a lot of great discussion. I especially loved hearing from Tom Hall - would love to dialogue with more film fests about this. I think it is important to look at this issue with a huge gray scale - it is not black and white. I concur with all the comments that "every film is different". I also agree that if you only rely on the festival premiere to generate sales and that if you haven't laid a strong groundwork of grassroots support before said festival premiere that you will most likely be dissapointed with the results. This is why it is essential for filmmakers to start this process as early as possible. Integrate distribution and marketing into the production process. Get a PMD (producer of marketing and distribution) to shepherd that aspect of your film from inception so that filmmakers can take advantage of all of their festival screenings as to best promote their films in an integrated strategy. I think this is what Matt is speaking to. It is impossible to rely on a fest premiere and placement in a few online sites to sell your film. That is merely a pale replacement of the old aquisition model - this time you are relying on your fest and the platforms to sell your film. And clearly this won't work. However, having been through the experience of doing a festival premiere and not linking it to my release, I was sad that this model wasn't aware to me at the time (for Bomb It). The reason is that it takes a lot of resources to pull off a fest premiere. It takes a lot of resources to release your film. I think for many films it makes a lot of sense to combine these efforts into said integrated strategy.

In sum - I don't think the case is closed. I think failure is a strong term. These next years will be a very transitional period for filmmakers and how they both reach audiences and figure out how to monetize their films. Its going to be tough to make money. I think its too early to declare anything a failure yet. We are experimenting as a community. I feel it is important to keep the dialogue going and to inform each other of our successes and failures - it is the key way to become stronger as a community.

Jon Reiss

Mynette Louie said...

BuzzFair, here's a definition of "day-and-date":

Matt is right, and Thomas was right to launch BASS ACKWARDS at Sundance, because it's important for microbudget no-star indie dramas to have something to sell from the get-go. But it's a marathon, not a sprint, and filmmakers need to continue to promote their films beyond the premiere and over the long-term via festival screenings and other means. It's important to have a sales mechanism in place to grab at the bits and capitalize on publicity spikes over the course of the festival year. Yes, this *may* scare some distributors away (as it did for us), but it may also generate interest from other distributors (as it did for us) because you have a chance to prove that your film can sell.

And as heady and wonderful as a big fest like Sundance is, I would say that the smaller regional fests like Sarasota (yay Tom & Holly!) and Dallas and Denver were just as important for us. That's where "real people" (and press too) actually discovered and saw our film. And that's where WE actually discovered and "saw" our film! By playing over 45 festivals, we really got to know our film and came to understand which demographics responded best, and which parts of the film resonated most with audiences--each screening we attended was like a focus group.

A note about cannibalization: we started selling the DVD of CHILDREN OF INVENTION immediately after Sundance, both online and after festival screenings (and we thank the festivals for allowing us to do that). And yet, throughout the course of the year, many of our screenings sold out. We even sold out our theatrical premiere screenings in Boston and NYC--more than a year after we had first started selling the DVD! And we continued to sell the DVD during our theatrical run, which was a great thing because the positive reviews we got bumped our DVD sales, just as the YouTube rentals stunt bumped our DVD sales.

For a small film like ours, bottom line is: have something to sell as soon as possible, or else you will miss out on opportunities to capture revenue. As Nina Paley said at The Conversation this weekend: "Attention is scarce." So grab it while you can!

Thomas Woodrow said...

I have to say that I agree with Mr. Dentler. It's surely a mistake to treat a festival as the one-and-only, flash-in-a-pan moment that you're pushing for the film.

But I can say that the press and awareness we got at Sundance, simply for having done what we did, in addition to the support of the ancillary platforms themselves, has already redounded to the value of the digital ancillaries as though we had done a modest theatrical release. What we did with BASS ACKWARDS at Sundance has been, from a financial point of view, so far (and without real basis for comparison) a success.

What I really should have said in this weekend's panel was that I though it necessary to launch at A point of maximal exposure. And barring a major theatrical release (so rarely forthcoming these days), for a really small film, Sundance or SXSW is it. Right?

I would really like to hear an articulated strategy for when, if not at a festival launch, the actual release should happen? It seems that Brian and others here are suggesting that it ought to be at the very tail END of a theatrical run? The liability with this is that this is delaying monetization of the title domestically by a year or more and monetization, therefore, for foreign, by yet longer.

This means, too, that investors can be adding fully 30% to the total time to recoupment, which may or may not be acceptable to them as part of the overall strategy.

For those of us whose next films stand on at least the demonstrable, financial performance of our past films, not to mention the hard, cold fact that filmmakers like Mynette and Tze distributing a film for a year is financially unsustainable, doing a year-long, personal release is simply not a realistic possibility.

I do look forward to including festival programmers more in these conversations, however, and hearing their perspective on when monetization can be palatable. It's got to happen at some point, clearly, and I am curious to know more about what kinds of commercial release really do impact festival audience crowds and which do not.

Unknown said...

I can't agree with Mynette more. Each film is different, but if you are prepared - as Thomas was - engage from the beginning - what really is the point in waiting? Festivals are an essential part of your Live Event/Theatrical release because they are part of it. For Bomb It the regional fests were hugely important for us as well -and we were lucky enough to fold most of them into our release. I feel it was win win for both!

Mynette Louie said...

Thom, I would agree with you that doing a yearlong personal DIY release is likely to not be PERSONALLY financially sustainable (and quite frankly, I never want to do it again to this extent), but in terms of financial return to the film, I do believe that no distribution deal we were offered would've been able to generate the amount of revenue that we've been able to generate on our own.

Charlie Phillips said...

We're totally up for having this discussion, and to do all we can to fit a screening at Sheffield Doc/Fest into a wider marketing strategy for a new film.

We certainly would never discourage you from doing all you can to get profile and attention, for fear it'd impact on audiences.

So filmmakers, tell us what we can do for you. In our experience, the fear of releasing on multiple platforms to coincide with a festival screening often originates from the filmmakers and/or sales agent rather than from us, who are waiting for a distant white knight.

Wish we had The Conversation over here too!

Dylan Marchetti said...

A festival is great to help you get industry buzz- but the general moviegoing public doesn't give a toss. TINY FURNITURE is a good example- it's a very good movie that played very well at SXSW, and because of that (and some aggressive PR folks, and some familial connections) wound up with an article in the New York Times. But there's no release plan in sight- which means that when there is a release date, when you turn to the NYT and ask them to run something, they'll say "we already did", give you a review and call it a day.

Festivals pay off as a part of a balanced breakfast, but they're more the toast than the Captain Crunch. Doing them on their own and not as a part of a full release plan with theatrical, non-theatrical, VOD, DVD, educational, and international is like taking a vacation by only buying a plane ticket, hoping you meet someone nice you can stay with on the plane over. Great story when it happens- but does it really ever happen?

Mynette Louie said...

Btw, there is a lot of noise on my Facebook page (of all places) about this topic and others re: distribution. Director Braden King and Kate Brokaw of Kino engage in a head-to-head match! :) Check it out!

BNewmanSBoard said...

Thanks to everyone for so passionately discussing the topic. I can't respond to all the thoughts offered, but can say that I agree with aspects of most and am glad the dialogue is happening.First, I'd like to say that Tom Hall gave a great response. I hope we can take him up on the idea to include festivals (esp regional) in this conversation.
But I have to continue to disagree with my friends (I hope, still) who gave a general defense of the strategy. I think we can all agree that we are in shades of gray here and a time of experimentation and that you need to have a strategy for such a release and someone (or many people) to help with it. My disagreement, however, is more fundamental. Thomas, you mention that you got lots of press you wouldn't have gotten and that the money back has been good (given no yardstick from which to measure). But I would argue that this is only because of the novelty of the approach. For about a year or so longer, you and others can take advantage of getting this press based on the novelty of the strategy, but this is not a long term possibility. Once the novelty wears off, the buzz for the strategy dies down, press no longer write about it and you are stuck (where we've always been) with the film itself and the buzz you can build otherwise.
Yes, all parties involved have put some legwork into not *just* releasing the film w the premiere and will continue to play fests, etc but from my perspective it's not been enough. This groundwork needs to begin well before - and I mean not a few weeks to months - the fest premiere. I think you need to have built a presence for such a release probably starting from the moment you had the idea in the shower.
I'm not arguing that the release should come at the end of a fest/screening strategy either. I'm not in agreement with Thomas' idea that given no theatrical his point of highest awareness was at Sundance (or other fest). It's somewhere between this new model and the old. In the case of these experiments, we'll never know where that point might have been. I'm arguing, just for the sake of argument (no, really for the sake of the field...) that while this may work briefly for Bass Ackwards and for CRM/IFC/etc. it won't work long term and that if you made X dollars it might seem like X dollars more than nothing, but it's probably -X dollars than you could make with a more strategic plan.
What might this be? I don't have the magic answer, but here's some ideas, in addition to the good thoughts on this from others in the comments. I could see this working with a few tweaks - perhaps launching at SXSW, coupled with a simultaneous day/date premiere in 20 cinemas across the country (perhaps in conjunction with fests, even in their "off season") to raise more press, publicity and buzz, coupled with a VOD, etc release. That's one way to break into the conversation. Another might be to preem at Sundance, play a range of fests in 20 cities as available through March and then day/date with Sarasota on VOD. Just two quick thoughts, but the idea is really just to allow for some audience building to take effect and to acknowledge what no one seems to have noticed in the original post - that industry favorite fests mean nothing to the general film-going public. Trust me, go home to wherever you are from, find 5 old friends who like movies but aren't in the business and ask them what films played at Sundance (or any other fest) that they can't wait to see. Crickets....
A quick end note to state the obvious - I hate that I am using Thomas or Matt or Sundance, or anyone else as examples here. I love what each of them are trying to do, and I like anyone bothering to try something (!) to improve the film world. I'm not against this, just arguing that we need to now take the experiment further. Invention = the first one to do something. Innovation = taking those lessons and building upon them to have greater success. Let's aim now for the latter.

MTeplitsky said...

"Industry favorite fests mean nothing to the general film-going public"


Self Helpless said...

It is quite rare to see someone on the inside take a step back and actually tell it like it is. Well spoken.

With Self Helpless we are attempting to reach a large, non-industry based audience by releasing the film on bittorrent. Self Helpless will be available on bittorrent only for one week, after that DVDs will go on sale from our website. We won't get rich off DVD sales. Maybe we will create a large enough fan base that we can quit our day jobs and travel around doing screenings combined with live comedy performances.

This isn't the great solution we are all looking for. It is just what my crew and I are trying. There is more info on our blog if you want to know what the hell we are all about.

mike vogel said...

I made a micro-budget comedy about parents trying to get their kids into preschool and we played at a few small festivals. My dilemma is how to get people to buy the movie if they don't know what they're buying. I decided to start Ustreaming the entire movie live a few times, hoping to get the attention of parenting blogs. I have no idea if this will work, but I'm confident (in my case) it won't hurt sales.

Martin Kelley said...

Definitely insightful post and comments here.

I definitely feel the window must be far longer than a Day & Date strategy. In fact, the window may unfortunately need to be several years which isn't exciting as a filmmaker first, but it is the reality these days.

I'll be joining the fray soon as my current film "Battle" jogs to the finish line of post-production.

James McNally said...

Very insightful post and discussion. I'm learning a lot. Just wondering how many festivals out there have year-round screening series? This might be a good way to keep a film in circulation while building on the brand awareness of festivals, while also allowing a film to reach corners of the country it might otherwise be shut out of.

I also think that one-off "event" screenings have the potential to be more profitable than weeklong runs in multiplexes without any marketing support.

davidpbaker said...

Great post. I dont even register in my head with festivals. Why? I try to think in the mind of the public, or at least the audience that would go and see my film, where would they be, what are they looking at, and then go try partner with those sites where my audience will be.

Lets face it, we need literally millions of eyeballs before we stand a chance of any healthy revenue.

To me, festivals were always about finding distributors. (Not now I know)Or you go there to meet the industry to plug the next project (Well, I can do that direct to them, when they are quieter, a campaign to individuals, and cheaper than festival travel)

They also used to be good for meeting other filmmakers for moral support. Good to know others are starving and facing the same struggles as you. (Well, now we have online for case studies, keynotes for that)

I really cant see a great deal of value in festival strategies anymore, as your average punter on the street does not have their eyeballs there. We all seem to be marketing to other filmmakers. And while there is a lot of us, its still a miniscule amount of eyeballs

The festival circuit is only on my radar if I specifically want to try and meet a specific individual in the industry. Plugging my film? I go where my REAL audience is.