Paris, in select theaters
Through a bizarre anomaly in the space-time continuum, I received the following email in my in-box. It's dated March 30, 2010, so it's from the future. Since what's being discussed hasn't happened yet, I can't, of course, vouch for its authenticity, but the Internet routing and DNS server codes all seem accurate. I'm going ahead and posting it because this filmmaker's thinking is interesting, but I'm redacting his name and the name of his film so as to protect his privacy and his business plans. -- S.M.

Dear Friend,

What a tumultuous two months since our film premiered at Sundance! Thanks to all of you who have enjoyed our film in the last few weeks and for all of the great feedback you've sent to us. I especially want to thank our investors. When we first pitched this movie three years go, we gave them a business plan printed on fancy paper that convinced them that an independent film was a good investment. We told them about The Blair Witch Project and Little Miss Sunshine, about how foreign moviegoers loved American indies, and about how all the new specialty divisions needed product. Well, during the making of our film, all this changed. Those specialty divisions started going away, our colleagues began to tell us that the foreign market was in collapse, and all of our friends were premiering films at festivals and not selling them. Suddenly, what we thought was a business plan started looking like fantasy fan fiction.

At this point, we had a split among our producers. Some argued that we were honest with our investors, the marketplace had changed, and that, if we got into Sundance, we should just get a great sales rep, go and see what happens. Others felt we should experiment with some of the new ideas out there, the so-called DIY and hybrid approaches. I have to admit that just handing the film off to someone else was appealing to me - by the end of post I was completely exhausted. Then we started showing the film to sales reps. I was thrilled when many of them liked it, told me it was good, and wanted to represent it. And when I asked them if they thought it would sell theatrically, most of them nodded vigorously. A couple, though, were more straightforward, telling me that it was an uncertain marketplace and that while they'd try their best they couldn't offer me any assurances.

And then I had an epiphany. They said my film was good. If they were right, then why would I let the brutal marketplace give everyone the idea that it was bad? I mean, if the film really was a stinker, wouldn't that be the reason I'd just want to hand it off to someone else and move onto my next project? Believing in the film and understanding the marketplace, wouldn't I want to take advantage of the excitement of my festival premiere and all of you fans who have been following our newsletter, Twitter feed and blog and start my distribution immediately?

So, I came up with a plan and met with my investors. It was a tough meeting. I told them that I now realized that the market I described in that business plan had changed radically, and that it would be irresponsible of me to pretend that it still existed in the same form. Yes, the Sundance acceptance was exciting, but now was the time to double down, be bold, and reject the conventional wisdom. We wouldn't be one of a hundred or so films looking for distribution there; we'd be a film using our Sundance launch as the first step in our own distribution campaign. Sure, we'd work with a rep, but one that could help us build a series of windows that would follow our Sundance premiere, small DIY-theatrical screenings, and online premieres. And while it was too much to ask them to provide additional funds for all of this, I was happy when, after they cooled down, they agreed to allow me to fundraise additionally and to bring on a new full-time associate producer and booker/distribution consultant.

As you all know, the Sundance premiere was a blast, and I'm glad so many of you who pre-bought our collectors edition set were able to enjoy it simultaneously with us in Park City via our secured streaming site. And, thanks to Sundance for letting us open up the ensuing Q and A to all of you who tuned into our UStream channel. Thanks to the musicians and authors who created the great bonus material included in these collectors' sets as well as to the sculptors who came up with so many creative ways to turn USB drives into art - we had a hard time picking just six. (For those of you who didn't pick up the collectors' edition at the pre-order price of $175, there are 22 of the 500 numbered copies left at $250. And, I just saw number 1 on eBay going for $800!)

Like I said, I was exhausted after post, and then all of this distribution work was doubly taxing, so I want to thank the editors who combed through our footage and came up with the 12-part mobile cut (some would call it a remix) of the movie. I'd have never thought to order some of the material the way they did. During the lead-up to the movie everyone was telling me about trans-media and gaming, but, honestly, I'm not much of a gamer and couldn't begin to think about how to create one. So, I was delighted when our young graphic designer turned out to be an able Flash coder; his simple Flash game has now been seen by more people than have seen the movie! And, finally, thanks to all of you who, after sampling our movie via torrent (a practice I don't really approve of but realized I couldn't do much to stop), donated through our digital tip jar.

There's a lot more to write about, but I'll save that for the next newsletter. Thanks for all of your support, and look for info on our next project - and how you can be part of our crowdsourced funding process - in the next issue.

Best wishes,


The winner of two awards at this year's Sundance, Lone Scherfig's (Italian for Beginners) new film is a charming story set in 1960s Britain about a young girl's choice between education of her mind and of her heart. Jenny (Carey Mulligan) is a teenage cellist being groomed for Oxford, when a charismatic older man (Peter Sarsgaard) comes into her life, introducing her to jazz, art, and sex. He promises to take her to Paris, and she is tempted by throwing away her gilded education to live a wild life with him in the City of Lights. Based on a memoir by journalist Lynn Barber with a script by novelist Nick Hornby (About a Boy), An Education is a great showcase for the emerging talent of Mulligan and the established grace of Scherfig's style.

An audience winner at the Berlin Film Festival, The Yes Men Fix the World is a brave, gutsy documentary starring its filmmakers Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno posing as various representatives of corporations to expose the lies of people capitalizing from such disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Bhopal. Using satire and dry wit, their clean-cut looks works as a pass into the media and corporate events, often crashing conferences, being interviewed live on-air, making phony claims, all as a challenge for the real corporations to take responsibility for their actions and compensate the people affected by their negligence.

A feature directorial debut by Jay DiPietro, Peter and Vandy follows the lives of a young New York couple (Jason Ritter, Jess Weixler), the events out of chronological order, with a sly charm and realistic dialogue penned by DiPietro. It's not a story about falling in love, or about breaking up, but the casual comfort love of those in steady relationships who see each other as real, flawed people. Peter and Vandy removes the pretense of romantic film couples and just shows two normal people with no big revelations or histrionics, like your own friends or family. Read our interview with the film's starts, Ritter and Weixler, in our Fall issue as they talk about how they created their on-screen chemistry. The Fall issue will be on stands later this month.

In the spirit of A Clockwork Orange and Chopper comes Bronson, a gritty drama with comic wit about the "most violent prisoner in Britain" (Tom Hardy) who develops an alter ego after years of solitary confinement that is Charles Bronson, the tough guy actor of Death Wish and Magnificent Seven fame. He is unrepentant, starts fights, gets transferred to numerous asylums and prisons, all which feed his public notoriety. Nicolas Winding Refn's film is a statement on the culture of turning criminals into celebrities, demonizing them while fascinated by their brutality. Interviewing Refn for this week's Director Interviews, Nick Dawson says, "Bronson is a thrilling, dynamic cinematic experience as a result of Refn's inventive, quasi-operatic way of telling Peterson's tale (which includes a theatrical one-man show by Bronson) and Hardy's powerhouse performance in the lead role." Read our interview with Refn below.


This week on the blog, Scott Macaulay looks back on Susan Seidelman's landmark film Smithereens, which recently can be found on VOD, highlights Benny and Josh Safdie's new Red Bucket Films site (pictured left), remembers Shari Roman and updates the expansion of Paranormal Activity.

To read more posts from our blog, click here.

The Gotham Independent Film Awards™, selected by distinguished juries and presented in New York City, the home of independent film, are the first honors of the film awards season. This public showcase honors the filmmaking community, expands the audience for independent films, and supports the work that IFP does behind the scenes throughout the year to bring such films to fruition. Anchoring the evening's six competitive awards for Best Feature, Best Documentary, Breakthrough Director, Breakthrough Actor, Best Ensemble Performance and Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You, are four Tributes to film community icons. This year's Tribute selection represents a range of individuals – all veterans well-versed in the journey between lower-budget independent films and large-scale studio releases. Director Kathryn Bigelow, actors Natalie Portman and Stanley Tucci, and producers Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, will each be presented with a career Tribute at the 19th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards™ at Cipriani Wall Street on November 30th. Nominees for the 19th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards™ will be announced on October 19th. For tickets, ticket packages, and table sales go here.

By Nick Dawson

Bronson is based on the story of Michael Peterson (Tom Hardy), a petty criminal infamous for being the most violent prisoner in Britain and who reinvented himself as tough guy "Charles Bronson." Nicolas Winding Refn's Bronson, however, is not a biopic but rather a riff on some of the events of Peterson's life and his transformation from an unexceptional nobody to a prison "celebrity" to, ultimately, a much celebrated artist and writer. read more


Charleston International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Oct. 16, Jan. 21 (final)
Festival Dates: April 8-11

Honolulu International Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Oct. 20, Jan. 15 (final)
Festival Dates: March 12-14

Florida Film Festival
Submission Deadline: Oct. 23. (early), Nov 20 (final)
Festival Dates: March 27 - April 5


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