Free P2 Card with Panasonic
I was struck by this paragraph that concludes Jake Abraham's piece, "A Beacon of Democracy? Distributing Lovely by Surprise," which is our Web Exclusive this week:

Our release date is today, July 7th. It feels different than opening days in the past. No premiere party, no box office reports. The effects of our plan will begin to appear over the next few weeks as we see how well the promotion has worked. Yet, our job is far from over. We will continue to actively promote the film for at least the next six months, far longer than I've ever worked on a film when it was being marketed through a traditional distributor.
Abraham is writing about the hybrid distribution of Kirt Gunn's Lovely by Surprise, which he produced. The film won festival awards and garnered good reviews, but has no obvious marketable hooks other than its quality to recommend it to distributors. So, Abraham, who formerly ran InDigEnt films, partnered with Indigenuous Film Works, who are handling DVD retail and online distribution (Netflix, Blockbuster Online, iTunes, etc.), while he is also doing limited theatrical, non-theatrical and festival playdates. I recommend the article for its honest, in-the-trenches perspective (something we really try to make sure all our articles have) on the reality of DIY and hybrid distribution strategies.

But back to that paragraph and it's discussion of a new kind of opening day. Reading it I was struck by what a big part the opening day ritual is of our experience of producing a film. Those of us who have done this for a while remember going to the New York Times on 43rd on Thursdays to get the first copies of reviews (now, of course, they are just posted online the night before and the opening day ritual consists of watching your Tomatometer score rise and fall), or cabbing it with the distributor from screen to screen to check the grosses. During all of this, of course, we've hoped that the opening day was the start of the film's life, not it's conclusion, and that the movie would be something we'd be talking about with more and more viewers in the weeks ahead.

From the side of a movie viewer, the opening day's function is even more obvious. I'd say that the majority of mainstream movies I've seen this year I've seen on the opening weekend. Like everyone else, when I purchase a ticket I'm not just purchasing a ticket to that 110 minutes of entertainment — I'm buying a continuing experience, or knowledge of a cultural meme, if you will, that I know I'll be able to share with others who are championing it in the days or, if the film is a hit, weeks ahead.

One problem both producers and viewers of the new online and DVD premieres have is we haven't gotten our rituals down. The part of the movies that's less about the experience of watching and more about the experience of sharing, talking, arguing hasn't properly found its voice online when it comes to films launched there. I know what I'm writing seems weird given that online is all about "sharing" and communicating. But when it comes to the movies right now you'll find a lot more discourse online about Public Enemies than you will an online-only premiere.

This is all due to viewer and filmmaker behavior, marketing, and the press. Theatrical marketing sets up a coherent progression of revenue-generating "windows," but it also serves to focus our attention. It makes films seem important — at least for the few days required to jumpstart their runs. I think there are other businesses and industries that are making their online marketing efforts feel important, but we independent filmmakers haven't quite cracked that nut yet, despite all of our best efforts.

This is the rambling, generalized beginning of a longer conversation, obviously. But the first step towards making our non-theatrical releases more lucrative – and more important – is for all of us to realize, like Abraham did, that opening days are different now, and to come up with new rituals to replace the ones we're losing. I have a few ideas in this area that I hope to be able to implement on the website in the months to come, and I'm curious to hear what others think. As always, you can email at editor.filmmakermagazine AT

One other quick note: the new issue of Filmmaker should be on the stands in about ten days. It's got long features on two movies opening this Friday: Humpday and Soul Power. Check those out and then read our detailed interviews with the directors and other collaborators. And, go see our current cover film, Hurt Locker, and, if you don't have the new issue, pick it up on newsstands while you can.

See you next week.


Scott Macaulay
An indie response to the Apatow "bromance" genre, Lynn Shelton's Humpday presents a sweet and funny story about two former college buddies — an average working married man (Mark Duplass) and an aimless world traveler (Joshua Leonard) — who reunite, get wasted, and propose to enter an amateur porn film festival with a video of them having sex with each other... as straight dudes. On the surface it's meant to be a dare, an effort to out-do other porn entries, but inside it's a chance for each man to change his life. The married man wants to prove he's still wild, and the vagabond wants some kind of success and validity in his life. An exploration of male friendships and conflicted identities, Humpday is self-aware of its bromance elements yet introspective enough to look past the cliches.

Culled from lost footage of the Ali-Foreman fight documentary When We Were Kings, Soul Power (directed by Kings editor Jeffrey Levy-Hinte) focuses on the music festival that Hugh Maskela and Stewart Levine organized to coincide with the media attention on the 1974 "Rumble in the Jungle" in Zaire. The inviting of big names like James Brown and ,b>B.B. King combined with African stars like Miriam Makeba and Afrisa had a deep social significance, of Africans and African-American artists together celebrating their styles and influences through music. The film focuses on the festival rather than the politics of the day or the upcoming fight, enjoying the sheer talent and musicianship of the performers as well as the skill involved in mounting such an ambitious and unconventional event.


This week on the blog, Scott Macaulay reports on Julian Grant's "fiercely indie" new film, gives kudos to the National Film Board of Canada's website on their Art of Documentary film, and gives us a head's up on the Trakovsky retrospective going on at Lincoln Center (pictured left).

To read more posts from our blog, click here.

It's not too early to register for the 31st Independent Film Week (September 19-24) – in fact there are advantages. Strategically positioned between the Toronto and New York Film Festivals, Independent Film Week (formerly IFP Market) is the nation's oldest and largest forum for the discovery of new film projects in development and new voices on the independent film scene. This year we look forward to introducing over 100+ new feature narrative and documentary works-in-progress - which have little to no previous industry exposure – through the Project Forum, special "Sneak Preview" screenings of IFP Independent Filmmaker Lab projects, and showcases of new films from the UK Film Council and Telefilm Canada. NEW THIS YEAR: Early Industry registrants can gain access to Project Forum titles through our secure, online Independent Film Week channel as early as July 31. Discover key information about participating projects, access video clips and trailers, and other valuable tracking information to best inform your project meeting selection (limited to Project Forum buyers only). And via online Conference, screening & event scheduling you can download your activities and screenings straight to your PDA device or calendar. The earlier you register – the earlier the access. Full details in the downloadable Industry Brochure.

By Jake Abraham

As I settle back in from a wonderful July 4th get-away, I am reminded of a mantra we used to chant at InDigEnt all the time (we were a spiritual bunch). It was about how the digital revolution in filmmaking truly is a democratizing factor in production and distribution. I believed it then and I believe it now. While that phrase has been thrown around to mean all kinds of things, what it really means to me is that technology is reducing the barriers to entry for the making of films and subsequently for the dissemination of those films to audiences. Doesn't democracy feel great? While experimenting with digital production tools was the raison d'être at InDigEnt, distribution was always via traditional channels. Thus, a foray into alternative distribution is a first for me. read more


Austin Film Festival
Submission Deadline: July 15
Festival Dates: Oct. 22-29

Downtown Film Festival - Los Angeles
Submission Deadline: July 15
Festival Dates: Aug. 12-22

Sacramento International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: July 30
Festival Dates: April 17-25

Find more festival deadlines, click here. And get the latest news and notes on the fest circuit at Festival Ambassador.



Forward email

Safe Unsubscribe
This email was sent to by

Filmmaker Magazine | 68 Jay St | Suite 425 | Brooklyn | NY | 11201