Filmmaker Grabs Publicity by Filming Filmmakers

January 31, 2008

I’m always on the lookout for innovative twists independent filmmakers take to grab publicity for their work. 

jamiehat.jpgJamie Stuart has been travelling from film festival to festival, shooting vignettes of filmmakers. He’s blurring the lines between filmmakers and press. He recently shot video at Sundance, covering the festival for Filmmaker Magazine. In the process, he was interviewed by National Public Radio.

Check out NPR’s story, radio clip and video interview of Jamie as he sets up a shot in the parking lot of an Albertson’s supermarket.

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Publicist, Producer’s Rep or Film Festival? Question from the chat widget

January 21, 2008

Q:  What comes first, the producer’s rep, the publicist, or sending the film to festivals?

A: There really aren’t any rules dictating what processes should happen first. Each film is different, and the circumstances are always different. There are so many variables at play at any given time:  the marketplace (which genres are “hot” at the time, and which aren’t selling well); the artistic quality of the film; the film’s box office appeal to the masses (or is it more suitable for festivals, arthouse theaters, cable, DVD?); the target audience, etc. If you were to talk to 100 filmmakers, each one would tell a different story of their path to success (and the definition of “success” varies).

I always suggest that if the budget allows, publicity efforts on a film should begin even before principal photography starts. I’ve written several times about how important it is for a filmmaker to reach out to one’s audience early and often, such as through blogging and twittering, to inform and update the audience about the project’s progress through the various stages of script completion, casting, pre-production through post; of the importance of shooting b-roll; taking production stills; interviewing the cast and crew; using a publicist to write production notes and compile material for a press kit. 

Many filmmakers submit their films to festivals without the benefit of a publicist, agent, or producer’s rep. The top tier festivals are extremely competitive. The filmmaker who has a film of the quality that would be of interest to the top tier festivals would likely benefit from having a support staff to help smooth the way and build buzz for the film.

Some say the time to hire a producer’s rep and/or agent is when you’re ready to take the film to market, such as IFP or AFM. Most theatrical distributors, and some DVD distributors, insist on dealing only with reps and agents.

Many times, the deciding factor in whom a filmmaker hires and when, boils down to finances available at any given time.


DGA Deals with AMPTP and Without a Box Goes Amazon

January 17, 2008

Happy New Year to everyone!  A couple of week’s rest over the holidays and now we’re back, ready to face 2008.  Two industry-related items in the news today really caught my attention.  One of them made me think there’s light at the end of a long, dark tunnel.  The other made me feel a little sad.

That the Director’s Guild of America was able to successfully negotiateDGA logo a tentative deal with the AMPTP in only six days (albeit, after weeks of informal behind-the-scenes talks), is nothing short of amazing and goes a long way to instilling hope that perhaps now the WGA and the AMPTP can get back to the table and reach a deal so everyone can get back to work.  See the DGA’s press release for more details. Keep hope alive!

But then I received an e-mail from the people at withoutabox.com, announcing they had been purchased by IMDb.com. Which is owned by Amazon.com. The e-mail sounded upbeat enough (I bolded some of the text):withoutabox logo

Dear Jane,

We’re happy to let you know that Withoutabox has reached a definitive agreement to be acquired by the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), an Amazon.com subsidiary. This presents a great opportunity for all our independent filmmakers, festivals, and industry professionals. The new arrangement preserves the vision that Withoutabox has championed for eight years, teaming it with the Internet’s number one destination for film lovers and film insiders.

 As Filmmakers and self-distributors, you can look forward to more ways to help reach your audiences and monetize your work.  As Festivals, you can look forward to more powerful tools to scout, collect, select, and schedule films, plus access to a vast audience of movie lovers that only IMDb can deliver – more than 50 million visitors a month. As film Sellers, Sales Agents, and Acquirers, you can look forward to unprecedented information, discovery, and connectivity at your fingertips, across the entire landscape of commercial and independent film.

The day-to-day operations of Withoutabox will remain much the same, including the entire management team, our experienced staff, and the dedicated customer service you love.

We look forward as always to seeing you at festivals and other industry events.  Happy New Year.  Here’s to new beginnings!

I know that everything changes, that’s life, but I’m still saddened by this purchase. I’ve used withoutabox, for a film festival I worked, for filmmaker clients, and I really liked it. Yeah, so the navigation wasn’t always the smoothest or the most intuitive, but still, it’s a good site. It’s been all about the festivals, it’s been all about independent films. It’s indie! And now…not so much. They say much will remain the same, but I don’t know that I buy into that. They’re corporate now.  Nothing wrong with that, just a little sad to see them lose their indie-ness.

Don’t get me wrong. Amazon and IMDb are great sites. I use them both constantly. But there’s something about this continuing pattern of vertical integration of entertainment web sites that troubles me.