Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Peter Broderick’s “New World”

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

This was originally pub’d in indieWire and is getting some linkage, but I’ve got to link to it too, as it’s an astute piece on old and new distribution. Some of it is common knowledge by this point, but it does feel more up to date than Mark Gill’s “sky is falling” speech a while back. Why?

Mark’s keynote focused on the distributors, production companies, studio specialty divisions, and foreign sales companies that dominate independent film in the Old World. Mark has many years of experience in this world. He was President of Miramax Films, then head of Warner Independent, and is now CEO of the Film Department. He sees things from the perspective of a seasoned Old World executive.

I see things from the filmmaker’s perspective. For the past 11 years, I have been helping filmmakers maximize revenues, get their films seen as widely as possible, and launch or further their careers. From 1997 until 2002, I experienced the deteriorating state of the Old World of Distribution as head of IFC’s Next Wave Films. After the company closed, I discovered the New World of Distribution in its formative stages. A few directors had already gotten impressive results by splitting up their rights and selling DVDs directly from their websites.

Read Welcome to the New World of Distribution.

Festival Advice for Filmmakers

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Just a link to a great article by AJ Schnack on some festival advice for filmmakers. Since I was in Europe, I missed linking this when it went up in early June. Still, it’s good advice to keep in mind, particularly as some major festival deadlines are on the horizon.

The Conversation… with Scott Kirsner

Friday, July 25th, 2008

Though this website is a direct result of my belief that new technologies are reshaping filmmaking, as well as the relationships that filmmakers have with their audience, I rarely write about the intersections between cinema, the web, gaming, and business. One the reason I don’t is because there’s already someone that does that much better than I could. His name is Scott Kirsner.

A journalist by trade, Kirsner is the author of “The Future of Web Video: Opportunities for Producers, Entrepreneurs, Media Companies and Advertisers”, the editor of CinemaTech (his must-read blog) and a contributor to publications as diverse as has also contributed to Variety, Wired, Salon.com, and BusinessWeek, among others.

Recently, Kirsner announced a new event to be held this fall in Berkeley, called The Conversation.

The Conversation

 

Billed as “a gathering… intended to explore the new business and creative opportunities emerging in 2008,” The Conversation is “targeted to media-makers and technologists who want to understand and help shape the future of the entertainment industry.”

If the list of organizers and “conversation leaders” is any indication, The Conversation will be well worth sitting in on.

In anticipation of the event, Kirsner and I exchanged a couple of Q+A emails. I thought I’d share this (lowercase “c”) conversation with you:

**

Your journalism has covered motion pictures, new technologies, the internet, and the intersections of all of these overlapping worlds. But I’ve, at least, always thought of you as a journalist — someone that reports, someone that analyzes. With The Conversation you’re an instigator, a participant.

I’m really interested in innovation, and how new ideas get introduced to the world. It’s fun to write about that, but it’s also fun to bring together people whom I’ve met in my journalistic travels, and get them talking to each other — in person. All kinds of cool sparks fly. That’s what we aim to do with The Conversation. I’ll be there to ask questions and instigate, sure, but I also expect that our participants will do a lot of that, too.

How did The Conversation got started (no pun intended)?

There were two dynamics, really, that led to its creation. One is that a lot of times at film festivals, the discussions about new technologies, new tools, and new business models wind up as a side-show to the main event, which is watching movies. We wanted to do something where mapping out the future and getting up to speed with what other creators are doing would be the central purpose. The second dynamic was that there used to be this great event that happened twice in Montreal, called Digimart. Lance Weiler, Peter Broderick, Tiffany Shlain and I all spoke at the second Digimart a few years ago. It was a great gathering… but it didn’t continue after 2006, and we wanted to keep its spirit alive and take it to a new geography.

One of the things the website says is that The Conversation is “definitely not a conference.” Why make the distinction?

Conferences, to me, are about listening passively. They’re often sold out to sponsors, which means they don’t serve the participants very well. They tend to feature the same old speakers delivering the same old PowerPoint presentations. We’re trying to avoid all that, and simply host a high-energy conversation among people creating change in the entertainment industry.

If you could only ask one question to all the people that will be attending — the presenters and the registered attendees — what would it be?

How is your relationship with your audience changing? That’s a topic I’m obsessed with right now — I think that some of the biggest changes over the next 10 years in TV, film, video, and games are going to revolve around that relationship between creator and audience.

 

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The Conversation unfolds October 17-18 in Berkeley, California. Visit the website for more information and to register.

cicadas on PBS in New York, OR: How to Write a Press Release

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Because of this website, I receive press releases on a daily basis from a multitude of PR firms. It’s clear with many of them that the sender hasn’t spent more than 5 seconds thinking about the audience for this website. Some of these are pretty unintentionally funny: My favorite media alert is probably the one about a re-recording of a jingle for canned beans by a Country music recording artist. But I digress.

The point is, few notices get my attention. And even fewer do I end up writing about. When I receive a notice like the one quoted verbatim below, though, I try to act on it.

Why? Four reasons:

1) The thing being promoted sounds interesting.

2) The people that read this website might be interested in it too.

3) The thing being promoted sounds as if it could use my help as far as promotion goes. I tend to favor humble affairs, not stuff with a big advertising budget. (In case you hadn’t noticed by now.)

4) The release sounds like it was written by an actual human being. You’d be surprised at how rare this is. Or maybe you wouldn’t.

Oh yes, I’m sure Kat Candler’s email breaks all sorts of “rules” about writing press releases. But I have noticed that there seems to be a direct correlation between points #1-3 and point #4. In the end, the result is that, Candler’s email not only makes me want to see this movie — it makes me want to tell others about it.

And in my book that’s a press release that works.


cicadas 

cicadas
Screening on PBS in New York
Saturday, 7/19, 11:55pm
Sunday, 7/20, 4:25am
WNET, Reel 13
http://www.bside.com/films/cicadas

Long ago, I made this feature film called, cicadas. We shot it over the summer of 1999 in a tiny, tiny town called Bertram (population 835). We shot the film on a Canon XL1 back when mini-DV was brand spankin’ new. Over 6 weeks, Thursdays through Sundays a cast and crew trucked out to the middle of nowhere Texas to make a story loosely based on a crush I had at age 16 on a skater punk kid.

The summer of 1999 was one of the best summers of my life. We had no expectations, no grandiose ideas of making it big … we just wanted to make a feature film just to learn how to do it. And what came out of that little film was a family of friends, a super fun summer and a little movie that could.

The film went on to win some audience awards at festivals, get picked up for distribution and then dropped by distribution. And then picked up again for distribution.

If you have friends in New York who like to stay up crazy late or can record stuff to their VHS or DVD players, pass this along. It’s fun to share your heart with people. Even if it’s super rough around the edges and frayed along the hem line.

***

One other thing to note about press releases. For me, whether or not I write about something is also a matter of timing. Some days and weeks I’m slammed. Some days, a notice will come in and, if I’ve got a few spare minutes, I’ll throw something up on the web. People that are paid to blog full time probably work differently, but that’s how I roll.

As always, thanks for reading. And if you’re a filmmaker, don’t be afraid to see if I can cover your film. Just don’t be hurt if I don’t.

©opy®ight: A Few Helpful Links

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

Some helpful links:

U.S. Copyright Office
Copyright is a kind of intellectual property monopoly. And if it was intellectual property Monopoly, this site would be “Go.” Translation: Start here.

How to Register a Work
This site takes you to eCO, where you can file a copyright registration for your work through the Copyright Office online system.

Public Domain(?):

Stanford Copyright Renewal Database
Lets you search for whether a work is still under copyright or not.

Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States
A chart to help you understand the labyrinthine laws regarding when a work will fall into the public domain. The chart is available as a PDF.

Fair Use:

Documentary Filmmakers’ Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use
If you are a documentary maker you should know this up and down.

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video
Like the Documentary Best Practices, this is something to know and learn.

Center for Social Media: Fair Use FAQ
A must.

Creative Commons:

Creative Commons. Where to go if you want to give it away, legally speaking.

Resource pages and other links:

Stanford University Libraries: Copyright & Fair Use: Charts and Tools: A great page of links.

Cornell University Copyright Information Center: More great links.

EDIT (7/9/08): This post was accidentally deleted. I think I’ve restored it pretty completely, and added some more links in the process.

EDIT (9/29/16): Fixed some broken links.