Interview: Ira Deutchman on Honeydripper and indie film marketing

December 28, 2007

Danny Glover in Honeydripper On December 18th, Ira Deutchman, CEO of Emerging Pictures, spoke with me about partnering with Writer/Director John Sayles and Producer Maggie Renzi on the marketing efforts for their latest independent film Honeydripper, opening today in New York and Los Angeles.

Film Publicity Help: Maggie spoke about Emerging Pictures as one of many marketing team partners. Is this a departure from the norm?

Ira Deutchman: Yes and no. When we get involved in distributing a movie, it’s always in partnership with the filmmakers. The only difference in this case is that because the marketing plan was more ambitious than anything Emerging has handled before, and because we had identified many different target audiences that we wanted to go after, it made sense for us to pull together a larger team of people that brought various skills to the table. Actually, I found myself one day describing this to somebody, likening it to when you put together a crew for the production of a movie. We’re all used to the idea that crews are put together on an ad hoc basis to create a movie and that the people leading the charge are essentially casting people, whether it be the cinematographer, the art director, or whomever, to do the best job possible where you need them to be, and that’s the model we used for distribution of this film, which I think is a little bit of a change from the way these things are normally done. In effect, we have different groups of people who are focusing on different parts of our target audience and being brought together as a team. Read the rest of this entry »


This week: ‘Honeydripper’ marketing interview with Emerging Pictures’ Ira Deutchman

December 23, 2007

Later this week, I’ll continue my look at the innovative marketing andep_web_header.jpg publicity campaign for Honeydripper with a Q&A with Ira Deutchman, CEO of Emerging Pictures and one of the partners on John Sayles’ and Maggie Renzi’s hand-picked marketing/distribution team.

‘Great Debaters’ Publicity Goof

December 20, 2007

Uh-oh, a publicity snafu on Denzel Washington’s new film The Great Debaters is not putting the film’s best foot forward in wooing a target audience.

In a marketing effort for the film, touted as an inspirational story of black students excelling academically despite the limitations found in inner-city schools, high school debate teams have been invited to attend advance screenings. An excellent idea, right?

However, when a group of 60 high school students in Washington, DC showed up for the screening to which they’d been invited and their attendance confirmed, they were turned away at the theater door. No seats left, they were told.

Read the Washington Post article by Marc Fisher for the whole story. The ending is a happy one.  Still, I’d wager this is not quite the kind of publicity The Weinstein Company was hoping for.

Interview: John Sayles and Maggie Renzi on hand-picking a marketing/distribution team for Honeydripper

December 19, 2007


On December 14th, John Sayles, Writer and Director of Honeydripper, honeydripper-04807.jpgwhich opens in New York and Los Angeles on December 28th, and Maggie Renzi, the film’s Producer, spoke with me about the unique self-distribution and marketing model they created for their latest indie project.


Film Publicity Help: With studios owning and operating boutique indie-style production houses, is true independent film becoming an endangered species for theatrical release?

 Maggie Renzi:  Well, the independent films are increasingly being distributed to a Hollywood standard and with regard more to box office than to art or expression. But we should go beyond just saying it’s the fault of the distributors, and say there’s been a great appetite in the press for turning the independent film system into something they could commodify and can talk about in business terms all the time. That wasn’t the way that it started. It was always a surprise that independent movies were making it into legitimate distribution systems and that they were making any money. In an article written by Patrick Goldstein in the LA Times, it stated that the standard for successful independent film now is Little Miss Sunshine at $20 million in the box office. So we can say that it’s the fault of the distributors, but there’s also been, generally a gobbling up of these independent films as commodities much more than as what I really feel confident that you could call “art”.  

John Sayles: My feeling is that the distributors who exist now who have any size to them look at a film as how much work would this be to get a bunch of people to see it. They’re only going to put out X number of movies a year and is this one that’s going to be a lot of work? Will we have to hire more sayles.jpgpeople to think up new ideas, or can we just put this out the way we always put things out and look at the opening weekend and then react to whether the opening weekend is good or bad, which is pretty much what Sumner Redstone and the guys that run the huge studios do. They just look at the numbers. When we first started, it was a much more labor-intensive process. I don’t really think it’s a problem of the big studios getting into it, I think everybody is looking for that home run that just falls in their lap. Read the rest of this entry »

Publicity questions left for me on my meebo widget

December 13, 2007

I enjoy chatting with folks who say hello through my meebo chat widget.  I wish I could stay logged in all the time.  Unfortunately, that’s impossible, so sometimes people leave me questions on the widget, but they don’t always provide an e-mail address or other contact info,  so I have no way of responding to them personally.

Hence,  from time to time I’ll be posting answers to questions folks have left me. Here’s the latest.

Question:  Our publicity person on our independent film is asking 1/3 of the profits. Is that reasonable? He has a proven track record in internet marketing.

Answer:  While I don’t think it’s very common for a publicist to get a back-end deal, it’s not altogether unheard of.  Obviously, the circumstances surrounding the production, marketing, and distribution of a film are different for every project.  If a publicist is providing unit publicity on a union production, then union rates and rules apply and must be stated clearly, along with any mutually agreed upon and allowable exceptions, in the deal memo prior to the publicist beginning work.   Non-union productions afford much more flexibility for negotiating creative deals with publicists.   You and your executive producers will have to decide on what’s reasonable.   Consulting with an entertainment attorney may also be a good idea.

Honeydripper, a film by John Sayles: a new model for indie film marketing

December 13, 2007

The movie marketplace is more crowded than ever.  In the fight for audiences, big studios are sinking increasingly huge amounts of money into marketing and publicity budgets for their tent pole films, resulting in a widening chasm between the “event” films and smaller indies.  At the same time, marketing models continue to shift away from traditional print and TV media and towards newer approaches to reach audiences on the Web and via other means.  How are independent films with limited marketing budgets finding ways to survive and reach their audience in this market environment?Danny Glover in Honeydripper

Honeydripper, the latest film by iconic independent Director and Writer John Sayles, starring Danny Glover  and theatrically released by Emerging Pictures, opens in New York and L.A. December 28, then expands over the next few weeks to a nationwide opening February First.   Faced with budget limitations and all the other challenges of attracting attention to an independent film, Mr. Sayles, his long-time Producer and creative partner Maggie Renzi, and Emerging Pictures have developed creative marketing and publicity plans for Honeydripper.  If their innovative campaign proves successful, it may offer a new model for indie film marketing.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be interviewing Mr. Sayles, Ms. Renzi, and Ira Deutchman, Emerging Pictures’ CEO. We’ll be discussing the state of independent film in the era of event films/YouTube, the challenges faced by indie filmmakers and indie distributors to attract audiences and find legs for their film, audience response so far to the film’s  official website and blog, and the outside-the-box publicity and marketing plans for Honeydripper.

I’ll be posting transcripts of the interviews in segments.  Subscribing through my RSS feed will ensure you catch all of the interviews as soon as they’re posted.

On strike

December 12, 2007

 From Guest Author Michael Klastorin

In sympathy for the writers, I have decided not to post until the strike is resolved.  Now I’m not sure whether I want a speedy resolution.