Coelho puts MySpace on hold for Festival gamble

January 11, 2009

After first signaling that he was ushering in a new era of filmmaking and distribution, Paul Coelho is apparently re-thinking the distribution plans  for  Experimental Witch.

When I first heard about it, I looked forward to following  Coelho’s crowd-source filmmaking experiment for Experimental Witch, when he announced his plans to solicit MySpace friends to help make the film, and then distribute the film in partnership with MySpace. The plan sounded innovative and fresh, and his announcement of the winners of the MySpace competition signaled this might really work. I had visions of a new model for filmmaking and film distribution.  Very exciting stuff!

Turns out, the monumental shift I was anticipating may be a while coming. Coelho appears to be sliding back towards the classic ‘festival first’ mentality. It seems a “major European Festival” is considering accepting the film as long as it’s not shown anywhere else first, including on the internet. Coelho, hoping to grab critical attention, as well as a possible theatrical distribution deal, by showing the film at major festivals, announced he’s delaying the MySpace premiere while he woos the festival circuit.

This is turning into to a textbook case of old-world film distribution clashing  against, rather than embracing, new-world approaches to reaching audiences:

Old-world: Exclusivity.  Filmmakers allow their films to be trapped by a festival vs. New-world:  Open and accessible.  Filmmakers insist on distribution freedom.

I wonder if the day will ever come when festivals drop this archaic requirement of  our-festival-first exclusivity, and realize that festival audiences are not necessarily the same as global audiences, and that one doesn’t negate the importance of the other. 

I can only imagine the MySpace filmmakers that contributed to Experimental Witch, not to mention Coelho’s fans, are disappointed in the delay.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens next.


Winners selected for Coelho’s “Witch of Portobello” MySpace film experiment

September 5, 2008

When I first heard about Paulo Coelho’s MySpace collaboration for turning his latest book into a film, I knew this was the kind of experiment in filmmaking by crowd sourcing that would be interesting to follow. 

Over 6,000 people subscribed to Coelho’s proposition.  I don’t know if that means he received 6,000 video entries, or if it also represents other forms of participation from MySpace users.  In any case, he recently announced the provisional selection of the winning videos that will be part of the film.  As expected, the provisional winners will have to comply with some fine print and complete required legal transactions. 

Coelho mentioned the film now runs at 380 minutes, much too long for commercial distribution. He does want, however, to show the full cut on the Internet, before submitting an edited version to film festivals.

In the meantime, you can watch the provisional winning videos.

Paulo Coelho turns his book into a feature film with MySpace users’ videos

June 10, 2008

This should be interesting. Author Paulo Coelho is going to collaborate with MySpace to make his latest book into his first feature film. The MySpace collaboration will center around creating a mashup of videos and songs created and submitted by MySpace users.  Coelho will choose the winning videos and songs to use in his film.

But here’s the rub: Coelho is going to own the film.  What do the MySpace filmmakers and musicians get?

Winners will enjoy significant publicity, and their work will be featured across MySpace worldwide including the homepage, MySpaceTV and an extensive banner campaign.

Well, exposure is always a good thing, right?  Not as sweet as a percentage of the gross, or residuals, but you have to start somewhere.

Oh, and the fine print says that if there aren’t enough videos and songs submitted that meet the required standards, the whole project will be scrapped.

It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this. [Via Publishers Weekly]


Your film discovered in an AWESOME new festival

February 9, 2008

I occasionally volunteer my services to a film-related activity (seminar, educational article, festival, charity benefit).  I don’t volunteer very often.  I don’t have much free time on my hands, and frankly, I’m discriminating about which projects I want to support.   They have to fit with my own desire to advocate and publicize quality films, to educate filmmakers about publicity and promotion in the era of social media and social networking, and to support the art.  They’ve got to be something really special.

I’ve recently signed on to support something very special.  Actually, a better word for it is ‘awesome’.  Founded by DIY filmmaking pioneers Lance Weiler (The Last Broadcast, Head Trauma), Arin Crumley (Four Eyed Monsters) and M dot Strange (We Are The Strange), From Here to Awesome – a discovery and distribution film festival is the first of its kind, and if you’re a filmmaker it just might be the perfect system to get your film blasted to audiences in theaters, living rooms, online and via mobile phones.


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Online Publicity Case Study: Focus Feature’s “Reservation Road”

October 17, 2007

Chris at lets us know about SearchEngineWatch’s analysis of online publicity for Reservation Road.  It provides an interesting case study on the basics of film publicity on the Web.

It’s well worth reading the entire analysis.  The cliff notes version of the lesson to be learned would be:

  1. Every film needs its own website.
  2. Every film needs a presence on a major social networking site, like MySpace or FaceBook.
  3. Every film needs production stills and promotional photos that can easily be downloaded and shared.
  4. Every film needs SEO.

Movie fans are our friends. Seek them out. Talk to them.

July 23, 2007

Unless you’re a big Hollywood studio, or independently wealthy, chances are slim to none that you’ll  purchase 30-second commercial time slots on primetime TV to show the trailer of your new film.  The odds that you’ll get a “coming soon” preview article in the pop culture national print magazines, or even be included in Yahoo’s Greg’s movie previews are also stacked against you. 

No worries, though.  With a little time, effort,  creativity, and the power of Web 2.0,  you can still garner some recognition for your film.  Here’s an idea, one that filmmakers are embracing more and more these days:  Go around the traditional avenues for promoting your film, and go directly to fans of movies.  After all, you didn’t make your film for the press, or critics, you made it for people, everyday people, to watch.  Right? 

If you don’t have a MySpace page for your film, then shame on you. It’s totally free, for pete’s sake. Make your way to the filmmaker forum, do the free registration, create your film’s page, upload some production stills, a trailer, and start adding friends like there’s no tomorrow. And once you get those friends, talk to them. That’s right, interact with people about your film. There are tons of websites that provide code you can load into your MySpace page that helps you to talk to people: you can set up a form on your film’s MySpace page for people to sign up for e-mail newsletters from you so you can keep them informed on what’s happening with your project; you can add an instant message widget, like from to your MySpace page and/or your website and chat live with people.

Moviegoers absolutely love to interact with filmmakers. Talk about breaking that fourth wall! What better way to get someone excited about seeing your film than to talk to them about it?And then something magical happens, in this world of Web 2.0. They tell someone about you and your film, and then they tell someone, and they tell someone, and so on. Who needs a 30-second prime-time commercial spot that may be seen by a few hundred thousand people (the rest have gotten up from the couch to get a snack, or more likely, will fast forward right past it on their DVR) when you can potentially reach millions of people?

Tip: Interact directly with movie fans.
Talk: What are some of the ways you’re reaching out to talk about your film?