Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ira Deutchman at the TIFF Filmmaker Bootcamp

Ira Deutchman at the TIFF Filmmaker Bootcamp

For more information, visit: TIFF Filmmaker Bootcamp on How to Use Festivals to Sell Your Film

I think it's easiest to assume we'd rather not do that whole thing Ira's talking about.

Press and word-of-mouth.  That's what it boils down to.  And it's different and complicated and I'm tired.

Look at the scenario: over-supply of content, over-stimulation of the crowd, not enough discernment, the studios are hard pressed to distinguish their bank-rolled capacity and so have retreated to the tent-pole where they are the safest.  Even still, attendance has hit a plateau.  So, 101 films between all of them.  NO film for you!

For the rest of us, there is no formula save hard work AND it's not where you might have thought.

The quality of a film is subject to whatever, whenever.  It's all relative.  That is the most disheartening truth of this industry.  No expectations work if you're just trying to game mass appeal after the fact.  And you can suffer and sacrifice all you like but there's no ultimate protection against sucking or failing at any point in the process.  This is why a finished product anywhere close to the original intention is a boss statement.  And still, there's no assurance that being boss in your own world with an audience of friends and family will ever mean more than that.

Or is there?

As long as you are a fan of something, obsess over something, are a fanboy of something, you have hope.  It's recreating that thrill that is the core of our potential.  It's through that singular emotion of gleeful worship that  you might navigate your film to the answer of audience members just like you.  Let me reiterate: there are audience members out there just like you.  And by your shared appreciation of something can you reach them.  Not all of them can make films, but together you can all be fans of your type of film.

I believe strongly that a successful filmmaker knows why their film is this and not that.  They understand every decision in the filmmaking process with that amount of certainty.  I believe a successful filmmaker also understands why those decisions are important to his kind of audience and so is effective at communicating the value of the truth shared about the story.

Simply put:
Know what you're doing
Know why what you're doing is going to matter to the people that should care about it

From the producing angle, it's not much different:
Know who the film matters to and why it matters to them
Know how you're going to effectively reveal why this film matters to the people it matters to

All too often I speak with directors who don't get their own premise or don't know how it's going to matter to an audience.  But they want a career in directing.  OK, good luck.

When Ira spoke about Press and Word-of-mouth, I thought that's pretty damn near close to what an indie strategy should be.  It's about galvanizing an audience and then exploiting their enthusiasm and letting the rest take care of itself (ideally the money comes bidding to take advantage of the relationship you've secured with the consumer).  There are case studies to prove the value of this as well as how social media blasts this approach wide-open.

The take-away is the heart of your potential success: what is the takeaway you intend to provide for the people who will pay to see your show?

Some people call this IMPACT.  Others just call it marketing.  But the truth is that the vast supply numbers just confuse the issue.  The real competitors are those truly understanding the equations regarding the demand for what they've produced.  Too much of the discussion is going to people who don't even know how to compete.  I wanna hear what happens when multiple entities are trying to harvest a similar market.  Until we get to that point I feel like the game is wide open for anyone with enough of their shit together to walk up and take it.

Turning around and looking at my own production process, I can see so much easier said than done.  But maybe, in the practical application of living life, my attitude's been in the wrong place.  Being positive, innovative, and having conviction aren't just good ideas.  I daresay they can save you a lifetime of going nowhere.

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