Tuesday, September 10, 2013

On the Distribution Revolution

On the Distribution Revolution,

For more information, visit: Declaration of Indies: Just Sell It Yourself!

I love this article! 

Some ideas to throw around:

a) consultants or consulting firms are switching their model to flat fees from percentages. Still do your research but this makes things a little easier to negotiate for indie distribution. And its good to know that some people are finding success dealing with consultants rather than having to take the entire marketing/distributing burden on their own shoulders, or worse, taking crappy deals from larger commercial entities that don't see the income potential and won't invest the appropriate time.

b) Hybrid distribution is what happens when you maintain your direct sales rights while selling off platforms such as DVD or VOD. The original method had you providing all rights to one domestic distributor.

c) Virtual Infrastructure is the network you create cross-promoting with other content creators across the internet. Because websites can bounce information around so quickly, it means you can setup your online store, attach it to your blog, go to work sharing your story and supporting other artists and still be promoting your work and your revenue. It's like social media with the buy component (see LittleCast and VHX)

D) Transmedia is telling a story or exploiting a story elements across multiple platforms. Think your film would make a great video game, contact indie developers. Think your story would make great fan fiction or a graphic novel, continue the journey across other mediums. Spread out the universe of your world and you'll have what Lucas built, a franchise.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

Who's Buying Me Lunch (when the film doesn't sell)?

Who's Buying Me Lunch (when the film doesn't sell)?

For more information visit: No Film Distributor? Then D.I.Y.

In no instance is success guaranteed. I have always liked the idea of growing things. As a kid, when I was done eating an apple, I would throw the pit into someone's garden in the hopes that a tree would sprout up the next year.

Even with a strategy there is a chance of failure. But you can't plan to get that close to opportunity without having a system and a backup plan.

Your film costs money. And enough people joined up for the opportunity because they believed it was worth it. In this business, for some, money is just a formality. I'd rather get paid less working for a humble and passionate person than get paid a lot to work for a tyrant. And even if I need the money I'd be tempted to work in a spiteful manner if I felt disrespected, and that is bad for everyone. It makes the show a waste of time because that energy is going to end up in the soup. This is to say that if your crew signed on and stuck with it, then they probably valued your idea and there's an audience with similar interests out there just for you.

You can't begin to negotiate a sale without understanding what the project should have cost. No one worth their salt is really working for free, they are giving you a discount and you have to understand the Actual budget before you settle on a deal with a distributor.

If the right numbers aren't showing up that's a good time to consider independent methods. This article was from over five years ago but it's a taste of the uncertainty that comes up when newly successful talent finally run into the middle-men of the industry, people who probably don't know what it took or what your potential is just by looking at you.

Know the industry. Knowledge is power.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

Sunday, September 8, 2013

On the wholly unsatisfactory, discomforting reality of a career in film

On the wholly unsatisfactory, discomforting reality of a career in film,


Recently exposed myself to a collection of blog entries about quitting the film industry. Some are rallying calls in disguise and that's cool. But the ones bordering on a real loss of faith are as unnerving as "White Lightning" or "Requiem for Dream."

There is a nightmare existence comprised of the details we often compile detailing our year-to-year experiences trying to make it. So much is sacrificed and it often appears to take an insane sensibility to weather the storm of uncertainty defining the pursuit of success.

We just want to survive on creating our content. Such a simple idea is responsible for torturous crusades and pained ideals and the emergence of cold cynical behavior that betrays the love and generosity of spirit it often takes to create something worthwhile. Dealing with people is hard. But when we accomplish things together, it's a fantastic miracle. This is one of the good things about film-making. Each film is a proof of our compassion, even to a limited degree, for one another.

Still, lives are at stake. It's a compelling problem: finding stability and supporting one another.  So what do we do?

Maybe it's cell memory. Or maybe it's middle-school history lessons. But somehow I think we already know. Perhaps its more about not getting distracted, focusing on the attitude and the strategy, working smart as opposed to working hard. I think the times have changed and we need to sit back and read and think a little more. Then we need to go to work and limit our bets on unknown elements, all the while building relationships we can depend on when it really counts.

We have to make films, the smaller the better, that we care about. Presumably the more we care the more audiences like ourselves will care. Maybe that was the trick all along. I'm not sure. What I am sure of is that right now I can't quit. I've sacrificed a lot and I refuse to accept that a world created of man-made consequence has become so precarious as to prevent any degree of impassioned expression. I am a man and I'm in this and certainly I can be one of negative consequence, on in favor of equal opportunity and support of home life. A system that suffocates the lives of working filmmakers, thereby stifling their existence is a system that has to change. I'm not talking about handouts, but the culture is a bitter one and all that ire and frustration is at the bottom level, where most of us are, when in their place should be the most hope and excitement.

It makes me wonder about what we all think we want when we enter the field. I believe I was originally interested in fiction-writing and later this developed into a fascination with the product of film and the limitless potential of it to bring almost anything into being. 

What a trip...Yeah, I remember now. It's gold.  It's Don Quixote Gold.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

Friday, September 6, 2013

On building something beautiful and finding the world ready to chip in

On building something beautiful and finding the world ready to chip in,

For more information, visit: Dogfish Helps Get 8 Cutting-Edge Film Companies Off the Ground with $18,000 Accelerator Grants

Call me jealous yet thrilled. I'm not ashamed to say I'll probably buy some indulgent ice-cream and send crush emails all around.

But seriously, some of us know we want to have a home where our business is filmmaking all year long, but we don't give a second thought to build a structure.  Some of us do but because we aren't directed to the how's we just kind of squander the time until reality hits us in our 30s (true story).  

But look at these groups and you'll start to gain some understanding on what it means to provide a service for others that is wholly you're own, not unlike a film.  This is how the middle class will return to America.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

A 2nd Edition to the Direct-to-Fan Wave

A 2nd Edition to the Direct-to-Fan Wave,

For more information, visit: LittleCast Launches Direct-to-Fan Video Distribution Platform: Allows Producers to Sell Videos On Facebook and Mobile Apps

This one works directly with Facebook. Very cool. Filmmakers, now compare this with VHX and consider your options. Make a few short films, do some networking, make sure you take a day each week to stay abreast of the tools available. You can't continue filmmaking without revenue and since the tech is getting easier and easier, the real question is how many people can you inspire to pay your price? How much is your work worth? Where do you start? Does it compel your audience to keep you alive? Who has the time right? What a dilemma! But, the indie creators that figure out how to avoid their own mental shutdown and figure out the balance will be the people winning the race. One tip: don't go it alone.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

On Pitching

On Pitching,

For more information visit: Balls of Steel: Pitching Insights & Tips For Before You Submit Your Script

What a great and rewarding read. Bowerman hooked me into four more posts before I was able to pull myself away. One thing that stands out for me is a necessity for the emerging filmmaker to become familiar with that 2-minute (or 15 second) opportunity. You may have dreamed of making movies all your life but there's no reality check quite like that slap in the face you feel when someone with a check is finally ready to listen. This advice goes for directors and creative producers as well as writers: Prepare!

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

Online Film Festivals?! Here we fucking go.

Online Film Festivals?!  Here we fucking go.

For more information, visit: New York Times Launches First Ever Indie Online Film Festival, Curated by Film Independent (TRAILERS)

Online film-festivals ay? I'm slapping myself right now.  This was inevitable.  Now we just gotta wait for the sundance/cannes formula to hit the web.  Everything's gonna get easier and messier.  First the implosion of content cause you're talking billions of global subscribers to the web and millions of filmmakers getting in on the actions.

I don't see currently enough ways to regulate and reduce the streams of revenue.  How can anyone control advertising on the internet.  There's no physical space to get a monopoly on!  Crazy!  And since this draws attention away from physical spaces such as signage at Times Square and screens at regional theater chains, some things are definitely gonna change.

I believe ultimately it will have a lot to do with the filmmakers connection with his audience.  It will become a stock responsibility for content creators to court their viewers and word of mouth is gonna be so much more dynamite that it ever was.

The good news for now is that we digest so much content, I'm talking about the digital generation in general, that we won't experience the down side for a while.  There aren't any people equipped to understand what quality is.  No one can really be an authority on access.  It's a super free market.  And that means there's a lot to take for people with the balls to go get it.  There's just too much confusion.  Anyone with a plan and a team is going to have an edge.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

On Crowd-funding and how to set expectations

On Crowd-funding and how to set expectations,

For more information visit: The Top 10 Myths of Crowdfunding: According to Indiegogo

On Crowdfunding:

There's a little more to be drawn from this. Pitching to a crowd can be impersonal. If the only people that know you personally from your outreach are broke filmmakers like yourself then financing this way can be appear counter-intuitive.

Now lets talk about buzz, momentum, heat, or whatever that thing is. I'm still not sure what makes one idea more exciting than another. What excites me most about a script is whether or not anyone believes it'll be relevant (too few in my community are actively submitting and so we don't really know what competition might be like).  But a general audience approached as part of an outreach or grassroots campaign needs to be brought into the momentum.  What are we most worried about if, as writer-directors for example, we go the distance and try to get out there in front of a bunch of strangers?  Do we have practical goals?  Here's my take on what it means to be an audience member:

I take new concepts as a way to learn about the lives of others. If the filmmaking is done properly, I'm immersed in the world and that's it. In general one pays attention and takes away what they can. Filmmakers are just communicating ideas and I never think about one being more effective than another, I just try to pay attention to what they're saying.  And either they are effective or they aren't.  It's quite possible I wasn't their target audience.  So did they test the concept appropriately and are their creative decisions actually decisions?

Entertainment films, let's say, have their agenda and we base the quality of these films on how well they respond to the expectations they have set. Everyone's a critic. If the filmmaking is done properly, it may not seem genius but competent and I at least can enjoy that, knowing what it takes.

I do not make a very discerning audience, and little more an investor (is the crew competent? are you absolutely thrilled to shoot it?  do you know what it takes to shoot it?  does anyone with experience believe you? Yes, OK then!), but as a creative producer I would invest myself heavily on every stage once involved and so for me compatibility is important. Personalities have to get along: crew with director, director with story, story with producer, producer with market, all of the above with some sensible taste - I mean in general when something is worth doing you feel it.

My point is that people have to like you and be enthused by how earnest you are. If you're not true to your vision cause your vision is fluff, it'll come to light.  If you've no energy for the job, you can't lead.  It'll show up on screen and the audience will know.  They come to believe your world and share in the excitement and the logic with which you're pursuing this project. You need to campaign long enough to get the right level of sympathy behind you and that has just as much to do with who you are as it would do with what you're project is about.  The good news is if you're clear and consistent to your target audience, word of mouth is a shoe in.

By this process, both a mass appeal or niche appeal can be conceived by doing that thing which most people are terrified by, exposing yourself. Be human, be real, be intimate and do enough of development and prepro work so that people start engaging their imaginations as early as possible.

Let's get what we came for,
C.M. Sanchez III

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Discussing NY Times 20 Directors to Watch

Discussing NY Times 20 Directors to Watch,

For more information visit: 20 Directors to Watch

Before I re-post my original digression on presale qualification, I should take a moment to actually submit a digestion on the filmmakers themselves: I realized TODAY something that I'd always known but never thought about.  I do not have a refined sense of cinema.  It either makes sense or it doesn't.  I don't value a heavy investment on captured moments without proper story.  I'm addicted to compelling narrative found in commercial cinema.  I struggle to connect with foreign cinema and of all the cinema I've seen listed by the NY Times critics, I was mainly confused by their success.  I don't hate any of it and more power to them, but I am confused.

I feel as if film is going the route of amateur poetry and is becoming meaningless in how varied the use is translated.  Everything can be recorded and what we once believed was a supposed to be a show, a tale, an escape, is quickly merging with home recording making it appear that greater accessibility to equipment means anyone can do anything and have the possibility of renown thrust upon them out of sheer brazen interest.

I feel like cinema is made primarily for the adventure or the mystery and now it's more about disguising the director's memoir (or not disguising it at all).  I'm not sure if I'm fascinated with any of it.  But many of these directors have gone on to win at several festivals and in certain cases pay their bills, so...  It makes me think about the value of pure accomplishment and the people behind it that can resist the temptations of doubt.  It makes me think about the machine that must make use of the people who dare to create anything, the press and so forth.

It makes me think that despite my education in film, there's so much more I need to understand about people and audiences, and so much more credit I have to give to people who dare to finish something.  I can't care about these films because it feels too much like I'm hearing the directors tell me of the random of their imagination - disjointed images, alien soundscapes, long awkward holds on anything, docu-style process films...what?  and why?  We could've gone through this over a couple of beers.

I'm spoiled.  I can go across the globe and witness the world of visionaries for free in just two minutes and I'm too American to care.


I just want to say that I called it AGAIN!

On August 6th I commented on a blog post explaining the new SEC Job Acts ruling that will open up public options for investment in show production.

My thinking is that since investors are always looking for an edge in information, there will be work on setting up information on film investment in such a way that it will be easier to observe successful trends and predict success. Marketing departments already do this and for generations but how producers setup the proposal is anyone's guess, although I'm sure we're looking at paperwork much like a business plan.

With the Job Acts ruling, the potential for wider investment in a non-direct way means there needs to be an objective assessment protocol mediated by experienced analysts, much the way brokers provide agency for investor capital today. This might mean something like package elements receiving arbitrary numerical values that equal a score which can indicate investor viability. It would repeat what we've done with sports, the race track, straight up gambling etc. The system was a prediction of mine but really it's likely a normal amount of common sense applied by anyone watching the weather. Still, I was impressed with myself.

In the very first excerpts from interviews of the "20 to watch," Dee Rees admits that she needs a specific element to get an indie film greenlit: a white, known, a-list action-hero because there's a foreign-value spreadsheet that scores her current package below acceptance for foreign pre-sale.

That she needed the white-guy was not what stunned me. That there is already collected data ready to support statistical evaluation did and made me think we are actually way closer to seeing a new form of broker and business emerge to answer the call of translating film potential to private investors.

As an aspiring filmmaker among filmmakers I did not anticipate having to write press releases or prepare proposals for the broker, but here goes a new spin on how funding will be acquired and another way in which we need to be looking ahead.

C.M. Sanchez III