Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"this conference is being recorded" - podcast

Over the last few months, I've been compiling a bunch of interviews for the 1st edition of the "workbook" Each week I'll be posting a new interview on the workbook site. The interviews will live as a podcast and also be transcribed and included in the body of the 1st edition.

The interviews consist of a mix of people covering a wide range of topics. Everything from fundraising to distribution.

The first episode of the podcast entitled "this conference is being recorded" features an inside look at how an indie DVD label works.

If you have any suggestions or topics you'd like to see covered please let us know - work @ workbookproject.com

If you'd like to be listed in the 1st edition of the Workbook please send the following
- project description
- status (shooting, post, distro - fest, theatrical, DVD, online etc.)
- shooting format and budget
- link to sites, blogs, social pages etc.
- link to trailer

Lastly if anyone is interested in contributing to the project we're looking for links to interesting projects, stories, case studies, how to's etc.


http://workbookproject.com "a social opensource experiment "

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

Hope you have a wonderful or at least pretty cool Thanksgiving Day!

- Sujewa

Monday, November 20, 2006

Reid Rosefelt interview on WDF blog

I just published my interview with Reid Rosefelt, the indie film publicity consultant and former publicist (he worked on Stranger Than Paradise's publicity & on dozens of other landmark art/indie/foreign/specialty movies). Check out the long interview here, at The Wild Diner Films Blog.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

indie features gets a video sharing site

I know there's been talk about indie features having a centralized place to view our work, so earlier tonight I setup a ning video sharing site.

Ning is a cool service that's all about enabling community. The site will take vids from Google, youTube and most other vid hosts that allow you to embed the vid somewhere else. What's cool is it will also take
mov, .mpg, .avi, .3gp and .wmv formats. AND you can upload vid from your phone to the page if you ever want to provide some "on location" coverage.

Placing vid on the site requires a simple registration and then you can add vids etc. Plus it's ad free!


Just click on "Add Videos" and then you'll be asked to register.
Then you can upload or embed your trailers, epk's, docs etc.

Lastly, I'm working on a free DIY resource called the Workbook Project that will launch later this year. I'm working on a DIY project lisiting section . If you'd like to have your project added please send the following to work@workbookproject.com

1. project title
2. links to sites (official site, blogs, social networking sites etc.)
3. trailer link
4. synopsis
5. two photos that are less than 300k in size


Friday, November 17, 2006

Doug Block adds to the 51 Birch Street/Truly Indie interview

Doug Block, the director of 51 Birch Street (now in its 5th week in theaters), adds a few more thoughts to our discussion re: working with Truly Indie (post has link to original interview from DIY Filmmaker Sujewa/The Wild Diner Films Blog):

- Sujewa

IF06 will live on as Indie Features

Because this blog has been useful: in finding out about relevant things that I would not have heard about otherwise, in building a little community of indie filmmakers & as a place for me to post non-Date Number One stuff when my main blog is busy promoting DNO. So we'll just drop the 06 (as it was suggested by a couple of people way back when this blog was started, in early 06) and continue to welcome indie filmmakers with films in distro to post stuff about their work, into 2007 & beyond.

- Sujewa

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

No Indie Features 07

My plan for the new year is to spend less time blogging & on blog related matters & to spend more time making movies & getting them out. So, I will not be doing an '07 version of this blog. This blog rocks, glad I got to do it with my fellow awesome indie filmmakers this year. And I think this blog will be more special, in a way, if it is just a one time thing, a special thing only for 2006 :) But, it would also be cool to see other filmmakers taking this idea: a group blog for filmmakers, & using it.

On the bright side, about a month & a half more of Indie Features 06 goodness to come.

Talk to you soon.

- Sujewa

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Creating an effective online press kit

Since I handle my own promotion, I'm often asked what's the best way to land press. Knowing your audience and how to identify your press hooks is a good starting point. Once you've got that down it's time to build an effective press kit. It's never too early to have a press kit for your project and always make sure to take a ton of photos - not just behind the scenes shots BUT staged moments.

Over at the workbook project site I give a brief overview on how to build a solid kit. And I open up the online press kit that I used for HEAD TRAUMA, so you can see first hand what I'm using.

So far the kit has been an amazing tool that has saved me a ton of time. It's helped when I was on the road and someone was on deadline and needed hi-res art or photos.

When the first edition of the DIY workbook is released later this year, I'll go into detail about all phases of press and promotion. If there is anything thing that you think I should add please let me know. Thanks.

Is fame, wealth & hot fans keeping you from being creatively productive? Perhaps you need The Artists Way

Yeah, yeah, I know what some of you are thinking: most self-help books are worthless. However, Julia Cameron's book The Artists Way has consistently helped me stay creative. My typical obstacles to creativity are not fame, wealth or hot fans - at least not yet :) - it usually is having a ton of day job work to do (so that bills can get paid), friends & family obligations, consuming art & entertainment instead of making art & entertainment, & the resulting stress from all of the above that keeps me away from the camera or the script in progress or the Final Cut file that needs my attention.

But after a healthy period of slacking I pick up The Artists Way book to get me ready for the next period of art work. The end of the year period that we are in now is a good time to plan & reflect & prepare for the next year. If you have not checked out The Artists Way yet, pick it up at your local bookstore or library & see if it might be useful to you. It has been very useful to me over the years.

- Sujewa

Monday, November 13, 2006

Doug Block interview re: working with Truly Indie

I just posted an interview with Doug Block where he talks about working with Truly Indie in getting 51 Birch Street out theatrically. Check it out here. Could be useful to filmmakers contemplating the many distribution options available right now.

- Sujewa

Thursday, November 09, 2006

DIY workbook project & a Best Buy promotion

As the release for HEAD TRAUMA rolls along I wanted to make two announcements.

Our Best Buy promo has been doing very well. It ends in three days. If we can close out strongly, it will send a positive message that smaller films deserve shelf space. And most importantly that they can support national promotions.

The performance of the HEAD TRAUMA / LAST BROADCAST promotion could go a long way to helping smaller films make it into Best Buy. Getting into retail outlets as big as Best Buy is very difficult but this promotion is proving that with the proper in-store promotion "truly independent" films can compete and even out perform certain studio titles.

So please help us to spread the word - cause in the end it could help all of us. Tell people to make their way to Best Buy or they can order online by clicking here.

I've been working on a DIY book and I've decided to make it a free online resource. The concept is part of a "social opensource info experiment" called the workbook project. It's a simple concept, the workbook is meant to be spread and edited. Meaning that content creators can add their own info, war stories, advice etc. Since the workbook is a wiki that can be saved to the desktop and edited, we're hoping that it can become a resource that is always growing.

I've included extensive info about:

  • Putting together a 17 city theatrical release
  • Building a fan base and creating buzz
  • Clearance and Delivery issues
  • A look at actual contracts
  • Getting your work into retail and rental outlets
  • Making a TV deal
  • How to deal with world sales
  • and much much more

The workbook will launch later this year but if you're interested and want to get an advance copy sign up at http://workbookproject.com

Here's a brief example of one section that details how I bootstrapped a 17 city theatrical release.

DIY THEATRICAL - part 1 of 12

The thing I find most interesting after having gone through the first couple windows of release is how broken the system is. Now I know you're probably saying no shit but I think we're at a very interesting crossroads. When something is damaged it provides new opportunities but the difficult part is identifying them. Often it seems that going in a totally different direction is an answer OR you can work the current system to your advantage. For example a theatrical release with no cash, no distributor, no booker and no publicist seems insane - and it is in the sense that it's an insane amount of work BUT it is possible.

I took on a hybrid model with the release of my newest film HEAD TRAUMA. Had a world premiere at the LA Film Fest and used it as a springboard to a platform release for HT. In other words used it to announce the project and a few weeks after was in theaters across the country. The biggest driving force for a compressed release was to maximize my limited resources and push all the press and word of mouth towards monetizing the movie. I hit 17 screens across the country by doing a bootstrapped release.

I called a number of bookers / service companies to help me with my theatrical release. I quickly discovered that there was NO way that I could afford it. So I decided to create my own model that would require little to no seed money. Here's how I released my newest feature HEAD TRAUMA http://headtraumamovie.com on 17 screens across the country.

Here's the breakdown:

Travel, lodging and some food was offset with speaking engagements at various universities and film societies. This also provided free transportation and free meals. I ended up making about $4,500 in speaking fees.

I took $1,200 from a pre-theatrical speaking engagement and applied it towards making 27 x 40 posters. I knew from past experience that posters provide a great profit margin. I got them made for a $1.40 each and then sold them for 10 to 15 dollars. To date I've sold about 300 posters and pulled in about $3,500

When it came to the screenings I found sponsors for a number of weekly city paper ads for the cities that I felt need some extra promotion. And the rest of the promotion was done via social networking sites and my mailing list / fan base from my first film. I targeted independent theaters and cold called BUT I had a pitch ready - one that explained who my audience was and how I intended to reach them. I struck a favored nations deal with all the theaters - a 50/50 split because I didn't have the cash to four wall. And I did all my own press for the release.

The main goal for the theatrical was to help with DVD sales into retail and rental outlets. My hope was to use the theatrical release as hook for a national story, to get reviews and to prevent HT from being ghettoized as a straight to video release.

Well I got a ton of press, a lot of reviews and I ended up grossing close to 15,000 dollars. I took about half of my cut of the box office and put it into online advertising for the DVD release. I also worked out deals for a number of print ads in horror publications like Rue Morgue and Fangoria.

And so far so good - the DVD just hit retail and rental outlets nationwide. In fact this coming weekend Best Buy will be doing a special national promotion. The movie can be found at Barns & Noble, Borders, Circuit City in addition to other retail outlets. Its on Netfilx and in certain Hollywood Video and Blockbuster locations. It is also in independent video stores and can be found on various online outlets such as Amazon etc.

So for me theatrical made sense, I actually made some money AND I still own the rights to my work.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Tough Enough?

This is a follow up to my recent post about sellling my film "Killing Down"...

Everything about the film business is tough. Everything.

Writing a script is tough. Finding money to make a movie is tough. Making the movie is tough. Selling the movie (if it actually got made) is tough. And even once you do sell it... yep you guessed it, it's still tough. Why is it tough even when you sell the film?


You may not be familiar with this term if you haven't sold a film or been involved with the sale of a film. It's not an everyday word, but if you're a filmmaker and have a hope to sell your film please take note of this frustrating word.

Basically it means what it says... "You deliver the movie". But, what the actually "deliverables" are is where it gets complicated and VERY expensive.

Here are the items I'm dealing with right now since we sold the foreign rights to "Killing Down"...

Final D5-HD master, only requires “access to”
Audio stems, only requires “access to”
Production Audio, only requires “access to”
DAT of film score and songs
HD footage of deletions, etc., only requires “access to”
HD title materials of all credits, only requires “access to”
NTSC DigiBeta 4x3 full frame with M&E
NTSC DigiBeta 16x9 letterbox with M&E
PAL DigiBeta 4x3 full frame with M&E
PAL DigiBeta 16x9 letterbox with M&E
NTSC DA88 of feature with M&E
PAL DA88 of feature with M&E
NTSC DA88 of 5.1 mix
PAL DA88 of 5.1 mix
“TV Version” of stereo mix
NTSC DigiBeta of TV Version
PAL DigiBeta of TV Version
TEXTLESS MATERIAL – attach to NTSC and PAL version of film, both theatrical and TV, one-minute after finish
QC report of NTSC DigiBeta Master
QC report of D5-HD Master
NTSC DigiBeta of original trailer
NTSC DA88 of trailer
(1) Dialogue/Action Continuity & Spotting List
All Production Notes/Papers from SAG, Camera Reports, etc.
100 Color Production Stills
Key Artwork
Cast/Crew Interview footage and behind-the-scenes footage
(2) Copies of the Music Cue Sheet
(2) Copies of Composer Agreement
(10) Copies of Certificate of Origin
(10) Copies of Certificate of Authorship from each credited writer
(1) Copyright Certificate
Credit Obligations
Thomson Title Research Report
Thomson Copyright Search Report
(1) Copy of Screenplay
E&O Insurance Certificate
Characteristics of Picture
Chain of Title

As you can see this is A LOT of stuff, and as I said... A LOT OF EXPENDITURES to actually deliver the movie. I figure a rough estimate here is around $15K-$18K to get all this done. Maybe more. Not sure yet. And, we have to have all this delivered by December 1st. That's just over three weeks from now. Did I mention this is going to be tough?

For non-filmmakers reading this I'm sure many of the terms in the delivery list above do not ring a bell. A lot of it is film jargon and/or technical stuff. But, suffice it to say it is all very important and required to sell the movie and to GET PAID. That's right. We do not get paid untill we delivery all this. The next three weeks will be very, very busy for me.

So, filmmakers selling your movie... just be prepared for these costs when or if you get to this point. Like me, I'm sure most of you will be completely out of money and having to beg, borrow and steal to get the deliverables delivered.

I do find it quite ironic when you actually sell your film you still have to go into more debt. But nothing in life - especially the film business - is easy... as a matter of fact it's all really pretty tough. :)


Friday, November 03, 2006

AMERICAN MESSIAH at the Virginia Film Festival

In case you're interested, here is the report on the screening of THE PROPER CARE & FEEDING OF AN AMERICAN MESSIAH at the recent Virginia Film Festival:

Blogging the Virginia Film Festival: Day 1

And here are my reports on the subsequent screenings I attended:

Day 2

Day 3