The myth of the magical social media intern

April 11, 2012
posted by sheric

It is probably the most sought after person on an indie film production team today. The “magical social media intern” everyone laments they didn’t have when it came time to distribute the film. Boy, if that inexperienced and unpaid person had been on the team all along things would really have been different.  Apparently, this person has professional knowledge and multiple connections to audience and media to make large contributions to the success of your film, yet works for FREE! And can do this work with no budget. Someone who can make your film the next Hunger Games of the online space! You do realize that was accomplished with a budget of $45 million and a team of 21 people.

To be fair, it isn’t just indie filmmakers who seek these people, film distribution companies regularly advertise for marketing interns with social media experience to help them do the online tasks their staff apparently hasn’t learned to master themselves or doesn’t really want to devote the time to do. Why train professional staff or hire someone when you can have a free intern figure it out? This misconception needs to be addressed. There is no magic tool that will make marketing and distributing your film effortless and for no money! You won’t find it at workshops, in books, in articles or in automated software because it doesn’t exist.

Intern: A student or a recent graduate undergoing supervised practical training.

Especially in the indie film production space, most filmmakers are not trained in marketing and/or online/social media/community management work. So, who is supervising and training these interns? Do you really expect someone with strategy experience, industry and organizational connections, knowledge of online etiquette and measurement tools that could make a huge difference to the success of your film to really work for free? And if you are one of these people, why in the world would you do it? Everyone knows deferred pay is a myth, most distribution deals aren’t even covering half of the production cost and back end payments could take years to receive. Will you still be around to collect? Will the production company?

But the social sites are FREE

It is true that Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google Plus, Pinterest etc. do not charge for accounts. It is completely untrue that working those accounts effectively can be done with no budget. You will need long term, consistent effort devoted to them to see a pay off. I hear it from filmmakers all the time, how can I do this when I am trying to raise money/make my film? You’re right, how can you, especially if you don’t really use them personally and understand what works? You can try and share the effort among your team, but that often means heaping more responsibilities on them that they aren’t prepared to handle and could result in a less than stellar on screen production. Plus some resentment at taking on even more tasks. Ultimately, it just doesn’t get done.

Some social media effort involves listening and jumping into relevant discussions when they occur, coupled with constant monitoring and the ability to speak intelligently about a subject. Most people who aren’t intimately knowledgeable about your project and about the topic being discussed will be ignored or worse on these sites. Remember, no one likes the “look at me” or the “buy my xx” person who jumps into an online discussion. Don’t let someone be the voice of your production to an audience if they can’t speak intelligently and with consideration of the other people speaking.

Content development is what drives social efforts. If you aren’t making anything sharable, it won’t be shared. Word of mouth can’t spread if there is nothing notable to talk about. It isn’t all about your behind the scenes photos unless Angelina Jolie is in them. The more creative you can be, the more likely you will be talked about, written about, invited to industry events to speak about. Executing creativity takes time, effort and sometimes skills of many talented people (coders, writers, photographers, editors) with one central person overseeing it all. Every. Day. Talented people don’t need to work for free.

Please don’t let the most inexperienced member of your team figure out the marketing and distribution strategy of your film.  Younger people may spend more time personally with social media, but they generally don’t know much about business strategy. If you are ignorant of the ways films can be distributed in today’s marketplace (and I am not talking about the way your film was handled in 2007!), you need to educate yourself with the myriad of free online information (this will take lots of time to study, decipher, put together into something you can apply to your filmmaking goals) or you need to hire someone who is already educated. Again, people with that knowledge do not work for free. Just as lawyers and accountants do not work for free. (somehow I expect they really aren’t asked to like other people involved in indie film, but let me know if I am wrong). This means budget is needed. It is not a luxury expense, it is a mandatory expense. You cannot realistically think that much is going to happen with your film when it is completed if you haven’t budgeted for this effort and if you can’t find it in your budget, you really need to rethink whether you can afford to make a film.

Social media is not a passing fad or only something that geeky kids do. It is a fundamental shift in the way personal and business communication is conducted now and it isn’t going to stop. I like to think most filmmakers have gone beyond the mindset of whether they should be doing this activity to asking how they should. For the budget challenged, the information is online for free and it changes constantly. For experienced help, you need a budget to pay for it.

PMD’s Should Know Deliverables

April 15, 2011
posted by sheric

If you don’t, don’t worry many inexperienced filmmakers don’t know all that is expected either to deliver the film to a sales agent/distributor for a theatrical and/or DVD deal. But since you have elected to undertake the job of marketing AND distribution, you will need to be keeping up with these elements all along the production phase.

I asked my friend Orly Ravid from The Film Collaborative to give me a list of the kind of deliverables distributors are requesting right now in contracts. She sent me a few and they all seem pretty boilerplate similar.

Initial Delivery Items

A.            PUBLICITY MATERIAL

1.            Key Art – Physical delivery of key art in fully layered photoshop files on CD.

2.            Advertising/Publicity Material – All publicity which may have been prepared in connection with the Picture, but not less than one complete set of all advertising materials available, including, without limitation, press books, posters and publicity material.  In addition, a written report of all additional photography in existence, including, without limitation, special shoots, photo agency art, etc. These materials may be delivered on CD or DVD.

3.             Artwork Images - Physical delivery of fifty (50) or more color digital images of cast/characters as they appear in the film (no behind-the-scenes) with a corresponding index in English including appropriate captions identifying the subject and scene depicted in each digital image.  Any and all approvals or other authorizations that may be required in connection with the use of said digital images will be secured and delivered.  These materials may be delivered on CD or DVD.

4.            Press Kits – Three (3) press kits which include a synopsis, production notes, biographies for key players, director, producer, screenwriter, and credit list of both cast and crew (and their English translations, if in a foreign language)

5.            Electronic Press Kit – If available, delivery of EPK Materials on Digital Betacam Videotape.

B.            DOCUMENTATION MATERIAL

1.              E&O APPLICATION – Completed and signed application for Producer’s Errors & Omissions insurance (Distributor to supply form).

2.            CAST/TALENT/PERSONNEL AGREEMENTS – Fully executed agreements for all cast, crew and other entities and related personnel who have been accorded paid advertising and/or screen credit.  For any person listed in the billing block or main titles who does not have an agreement, please deliver a signed Certificate of Ownership (form to be provided by Distributor).  ANY CAST/TALENT/ PERSONNEL AGREEMENT CONTAINING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, EXCLUDED AD OBLIGATIONS, PAID AD, KEY ART, OR ON-SCREEN CREDIT OBLIGATIONS, ARTWORK TITLE ENTITLEMENTS, CREDIT TIES, NAME AND LIKENESS APPROVALS OR OTHER RESTRICTIONS OR TIES SHALL BE DELIVERED TO DISTRIBUTOR WITHIN TEN (10) BUSINESS DAYS OF EXECUTION OF THIS ACQUISITION AGREEMENT.  If there are no such credit obligations included in these agreements, they may be delivered at any time up to the Initial Delivery Date.

(a)            Cast/Talent/Personnel Agreements must include a waiver of injunctive relief, “work-made-for-hire” language, and allow for the use of name and likeness.  If such agreements do not include the aforementioned language, Licensor will obtain signed Certificates of Ownership (form to be provided by Distributor).

(b)            Composer Agreements shall include the above-mentioned language and provide for underscoring on an all media buy-out basis (Distributor to provide a Composer Certificate of Ownership upon Licensor’s request), and evidence of payment shall be delivered for each composer of underscoring for the Picture.

(c)            Agreements shall be delivered with an accompanying English translation if not in English originally.

(d)            In the event that the Cast/Talent/Personnel Agreements for the Picture do not meet the above requirements and Licensor delivers Certificates of Ownership, Licensor will also deliver the defective Personnel Agreements if these agreements include any credit obligations, artwork title obligations, name and likeness provisions, or any other provisions that would have any bearing on the creation of artwork or marketing materials for the Picture.

3.              CREDIT INFORMATION – Statements and/or lists in English summarizing all contractual credit/likeness obligations applicable to the Picture, including, but not limited to the following.  Credits must comply with all applicable guild and union requirements, and any and all guild related waivers or determination must be obtained prior to Delivery.  LICENSOR MUST INFORM DISTRIBUTOR OF ANY EXCLUDED AD OBLIGATIONS, PAID AD, KEY ART OR ON-SCREEN CREDIT OBLIGATIONS, ARTWORK TITLE ENTITLEMENTS, CREDIT OR LIKENESS TIES, NAME AND LIKENESS APPROVALS, LOGO OBLIGATIONS, OR OTHER RESTRICTIONS, OBLIGATIONS, OR TIES RELATING TO THE CREATION OF ARTWORK OR MARKETING MATERIALS, WITHIN TEN (10) BUSINESS DAYS OF EXECUTION OF THE ACQUISITION AGREEMENT.

(a)            Screen Credits

(i)            A list of all contractual screen credit obligations.  (If there is no contractual obligation to accord a certain credit which has been accorded on screen, the “obligation” should be stated as “Licensor’s Discretion”).

(ii)            A typed list of the final main and end credits as they ultimately appear on screen.

(b)            Paid Advertising Credits

(i)            Artwork title credit obligations, inclusive of proper positioning information.

(ii)            Billing block credit obligations, inclusive of proper positioning information.

(iii)          Excluded advertising credit obligations.

(iv)            Any and all logos that Licensor is contractually obligated to include below the billing block in paid advertising, together with the underlying agreements substantiating any logo obligations, such as Sales Agency Agreements and Financing Agreements.  Any such underlying agreements shall be delivered to Distributor within ten (10) business days of execution of the Acquisition Agreement.  Logos must be provided on CD as “.psd” files in full color and B/W.

(c)            Key Art Obligations & Photograph/Likeness Approvals

(i)            A list of all cast members who are contractually entitled to appear in the key art and paid ads for the Picture, and/or whose contractual entitlement is tied to one or more other persons in the Picture, and/or who have been granted approval rights (as well as specifics regarding those rights) over the photographic images or artistic likenesses used in any artwork or marketing materials for the Picture (e.g. percentage of kills alone, percentage of kills with one other person, etc.).

4.            STATEMENT OF THIRD PARTY RESTRICTIONS – If requested, a statement in English from Licensor listing all dubbing, subtitling, editing, cutting and any other third party restrictions applicable to the Picture of which Distributor and its licensees must be aware.

5.            CHAIN OF TITLE

(a)            All documents evidencing proof of ownership and all documents evidencing proof of payment in connection with any transfer of rights (including, but not limited to, Writer Agreements, Option/Purchase Agreements, Assignments of Copyright; Assignments of Rights, etc) (translated into English if not in English originally);

(b)             A filed U.S. Copyright Registration form for the Screenplay.   If this form has not yet been submitted to the US Copyright Office, please allow us to approve the filing beforehand in order to avoid the time and cost associated with incorrect filings.  In the event that the endorsed registration form has not yet been received from the US Copyright Office (USCO), we will accept on a provisional basis a filing packet consisting of:

  • a copy of the Form PA as filed, a copy of proof of payment, and a copy of the courier receipt evidencing date of submission.  When received, a copy of the endorsed Form PA must be sent by Licensor to Distributor; or
  • a copy of the Form PA as filed, a receipt from Thomson CompuMark or other filing agency evidencing date of filing, and a copy of proof of payment. When received, a copy of the endorsed Form PA must be sent by Licensor to Distributor; or
  • a copy of the electronic Service Request Detail from the USCO reflecting the online filing of a Form CO (equivalent to the old Form PA), a copy of the e-mail payment confirmation, a copy of USCO bar-coded Deposit Copy Shipping Slip for Deposit Copies Sent to Accompany an Electronically Submitted Application, and a copy of the FedEx Airbill evidencing shipment of the DVD to the Copyright Office. When received, a copy of the endorsed Form CO must be sent by Licensor to Distributor.

(c)            A filed U.S. Copyright Registration form for the Motion Picture.   If this form has not yet been submitted to the US Copyright Office, please allow us to approve the filing beforehand in order to avoid the time and cost associated with incorrect filings.  In the event that the endorsed registration form has not yet been received from the US Copyright Office (USCO), we will accept on a provisional basis a filing packet consisting of:

  • a copy of the Form PA as filed, a copy of proof of payment, and a copy of the courier receipt evidencing date of submission.  When received, a copy of the endorsed Form PA must be sent by Licensor to Distributor; or
  • a copy of the Form PA as filed, a receipt from Thomson CompuMark or other filing agency evidencing date of filing, and a copy of proof of payment. When received, a copy of the endorsed Form PA must be sent by Licensor to Distributor; or
  • a copy of the electronic Service Request Detail from the USCO reflecting the online filing of a Form CO (equivalent to the old Form PA), a copy of the e-mail payment confirmation, a copy of USCO bar-coded Deposit Copy Shipping Slip for Deposit Copies Sent to Accompany an Electronically Submitted Application, and a copy of the FedEx Airbill evidencing shipment of the DVD to the Copyright Office. When received, a copy of the endorsed Form CO must be sent by Licensor to Distributor.

(d)            Title Report dated within sixty (60) days of Delivery, and a Title Opinion, if available;

(e)            Copyright Report dated within sixty (60) days of Delivery; and

(f)            Two (2) original Certificates of Authorship.

6.            IRS FORMS:

  • For domestic licensors, one (1) completed and signed original Form W-9.
  • For foreign licensors, one (1) completed and signed original Form W-8BEN.  Distributor will provide all foreign licensors with full instructions on how to correctly complete this form.

7.            FACT SHEET:  One (1) completed original Fact Sheet in English.

COMPLETE DELIVERY ITEMS

A.            FILM AND VIDEO MATERIAL:

1.              Pre-Print Elements

(a)            Lab access to the 35mm fully assembled original negative, if available

(b)            Lab access to the 35mm Interpositive of the full feature, if available

2.            Videotape Elements

(a)            Physical delivery of the following high definition (“HD”) videotape masters:

For 1.85:1 or 1.78:1 films:

HD Cam SR 16:9 (1.33 side-matted)

HD Cam SR 16:9 full frame (1.78)

For 2.35:1 (or other scope measurement) films:

HD Cam SR 16:9 (1.33 side-matted)

HD Cam SR 16:9 full frame (1.78)

HD Cam SR 16:9 (2.35)

Each HD videotape master shall be recorded at 1080/23.98Psf. Each HD videotape master shall have the 2-track LT/RT printmaster on channels 1 and 2, and the 2-track LT/RT M&E on channels 3 and 4, and the 5.1 Printmaster on Channels 5-10. Textless backgrounds for the main, insert and end titles shall appear sixty (60) seconds after Picture in each videotape master. The textless backgrounds shall be color corrected to match the corresponding texted shots.

(b) Physical delivery of a Digital Betacam NTSC broadcast quality 16×9 anamorphic videotape master (respecting the original aspect ratio of the film) and 4×3 1.33:1 master with stereo mix on channels 1 & 2 and separate music and effects on channels 3 & 4 and the textless background sections included after the Picture. These elements may not be conversions.

(c)            Physical delivery of the following Sound Elements on DVD-R, DA-88 or Magneto Optical Disc or Harddrive conformed to the final version of the Picture:

Stereo 2 track Printmaster

5.1 Printmaster

5.1 M & E printmaster w/ Dialogue Guide on Ch. 7 and Optional Audio on Ch. 8

Separate Dialogue, Music and Effects Stereo Stems

Separate Dialogue, Music and Effects 5.1 Stems

3.              Promotional and DVD Added Value Materials – Licensor shall deliver a minimum of twenty (20) minutes of added value materials for promotional purposes or for the DVD release, including, without limitation, all outtakes, deleted scenes, and trims, soundtracks (whether negative, positive or magnetic) produced for or used in the process of preparing the Picture, “Making of”/ “Behind the Scenes” featurettes, storyboards, interviews, alternate openings/endings, or commentaries.  Additionally, Licensor shall deliver all added value materials resulting from any theatrical release of the Picture, whether inside or outside the Territory. Should Distributor elect to create extra commentary or other added value content in connection with the video release of the Picture, Licensor shall cause the individuals listed in Paragraph 1 of the Agreement (i.e., the director, stars, and producers of the Picture) to render services in connection therewith. Delivery of A/V materials shall be on HDCam (if available) with Stereo Comp on Channels 1&2 and Separate Production audio and Music as .wav/.aiff files delivered on DVD.

4.              Foreign Language Dub Versions –

(a)            If available, physical delivery of the Neutral Spanish (i.e. non-Castilian) overlay.

(b)            If available, free access to the Neutral French (i.e. non-Canadian) overlay.

5.              SHOOTING SCRIPT

(a)            Physical delivery of the final shooting script of the Picture.

(b)            If available, physical delivery of the final shooting script of the Picture on disk.

6.             DIALOGUE CONTINUITY/SPOTTING LIST

Combined dialogue action continuity and spotting list containing all spotted dialogue, narration, sound vocals, all opening titles and complete end credits appearing in Picture, as well as a cut-by-cut description of the action of the Picture in its final form, with footage and frame counts showing footage in, footage out and total duration of each line of dialogue (translated into English if not in English originally).

B.            TRAILER MATERIAL:

1.              Videotape Elements

(a)            Physical delivery of a Digital Betacam NTSC broadcast quality videotape master with stereo mix (if applicable) on channels 1 & 2 and separate music and effects on channels 3 & 4 and the textless background sections (if applicable) included after the Picture.

(b)            Physical delivery of Sound Elements on DA-88 or Magneto Optical Disc conformed to the final version of the trailer, with separate Narration, Dialogue, Music, and Effects tracks.

2.              Foreign Language Dub Versions – If available, free access to the Neutral Spanish (i.e. non-Castilian) overlay.

3.              Foreign Language Dub Versions – If available, free access to the Neutral French overlay.

4.              Dialogue Continuity/Spotting List – Required only if Distributor uses Licensor’s Trailer.

Combined dialogue action continuity and spotting list containing all spotted dialogue, narration, sound vocals, all opening titles and complete end credits appearing in Trailer, as well as a cut-by-cut description of the action of the Picture in its final form, with footage and frame counts showing footage in, footage out and total duration of each line of dialogue (translated into English if not in English originally).

C.             DOCUMENTATION MATERIAL

1.              MUSIC DOCUMENTATION

(a)            Music Cue Sheet – A Music Cue Sheet in English stating for each composition in the Picture: the title, the composer(s), publisher(s), copyright owner(s), performer(s), arranger(s), usage, performing rights society, timecodes indicating where each cue appears in the Picture (“ins” and “outs”), as well as the film footage and running time.

(b)              Music Licenses – Fully executed synchronization and master use licenses on an all media buy-out basis for each item of licensed music used in the Picture with the Term stated as “in perpetuity” and the Territory stated as “the world” for each license.  Evidence of payment under each synchronization and master use license and composer agreement shall also be delivered.  Licenses and Agreements shall be translated into English if not in English originally.

2.              CERTIFICATE OF ORIGIN – One (1) notarized original of a Certificate of Origin.

3.              MPAA RATING – A paid rating certificate from the Motion Picture Code and Rating Administration of America, Inc., no more restrictive than R.

4.              GUILD AFFILIATION LETTER – A letter in English, signed by the producer or director of the Picture setting forth all United States and foreign guilds and unions whose members rendered services on the Picture (for specific guilds, see below). If none, then a letter in English, signed by the producer or director of the Picture setting forth that no members of any United States or foreign guilds and unions rendered services on the Picture.

(a)            SAG:  If the Picture was produced under the jurisdiction of SAG:  Completed copies of the SAG “Final Cast Report” covering all actors engaged on the Picture, including without limitation actors rendering singing, looping and “voice-over” services in post-production. (b)            DGA:  If the Picture was produced under the jurisdiction of the DGA:  The name, social security number, loan-out information (where appropriate) and job description of all DGA members engaged on the Picture; and the DGA approval of the final main and end title credits, signed by an authorized representative of the DGA.

(c)            WGA:  If the Picture is subject to WGA jurisdiction:  The name, address, social security number and loan-out information (where appropriate) for all writers receiving credit on the Picture; a copy of the final WGA notice of final determination or credit on the Picture, signed by an authorized representative of the WGA; and the WGA approval of the final main and end title credits, signed by an authorized representative of the WGA.

5.              ADDITIONAL AGREEMENTS / STATEMENTS – As applicable, copies of all agreements and documents relating to the Picture not delivered as part of Initial Delivery delivered with an accompanying English translation if not in English originally, including, but not limited to:

(a)            Minor confirmations:  If applicable, and to the extent required by applicable law, all talent agreements for all minors shall be confirmed by the court.  In the event that court confirmation is not applicable, a letter from an attorney in the jurisdiction in which principal production took place stating that the agreements are valid, binding and enforceable under the laws of said jurisdiction shall be provided.

(b)            Nudity Riders:  If applicable, all actors appearing partially or wholly nude on-screen, or in simulated sex scenes, must give written consent to such nudity.  If Talent Agreements do not include nudity language, Licensor will obtain signed Nudity Riders (form to be provided by Distributor).  However, if an actor is a member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), a SAG Nudity Rider must be provided even if language pertaining to nudity appears in Talent’s contract.

(c)            Clip Documentation:  If clips from other films are used in the Picture, Licensor shall provide copies of all necessary Clip Licenses, or permissions granting the rights to use the clips in the Picture (translated into English if not in English originally), and a proof of payment for each clip used.  Licensor shall also deliver a Clip Cue Sheet in English stating for each clip used in the Picture: the title of the original work, the licensor of the clip, the film footage and running time, and timecodes indicating where the clip appears in the Picture (“ins” and “outs”).

(d)            Releases – If requested, signed releases from all persons identified by name or likeness in the Picture, who do not have signed contracts.

(e)            Coverage – If requested, access to the original negative, answerprint, work picture, magnetic or digital soundtracks, filled music and effect tracks and the original sound recordings, of all alternative takes, cover shots looped dialogue lines and other materials (collectively referred to as “coverage”) for the purpose of re-transferring and / or conforming to rating requirements, broadcast standards and practices and censorship.

(f)            Dolby License – If applicable, a copy of the executed license agreement in full force and effect between the producer and Dolby Laboratories, Inc. in connection with the Picture, as well as a copy of the license with the appropriate digital entity (e.g. SRD, Sony Digital/SDDS or Digital Theater Systems).

(g)            Laboratory Access Letter – If delivering 35mm pre-print materials, Laboratory Access Letter in the form attached as Exhibit “E” to this Agreement, signed by the Licensor and each respective Laboratory and/or facility having possession of the preprint and sound materials for the Picture (all versions) and trailer(s), including film, sound and storage facilities.

(h) Negative Cost Statement – If delivering 35mm pre-print materials, a one line statement in English of the final negative cost of the Picture and signed by an officer of Licensor or a completion guarantor.

Whew! Best to print this out, organize it in a folder so you can keep track of the forms and other elements. While on bigger productions, many of the crew roles are tasked with keeping track of these items. On small productions, these things come as a surprise when they seek distribution agreements and to go back and pick these items up can be time/financially costly. Best to be prepared well in advance. Incidentally, Orly tells me that foreign distributors will often pay for delivery as part of the deal.

Just setting up, please be patient

April 5, 2009
posted by sheric

Hello everyone looking to find information on me. I have decided to use this as my website for introducing my services, my advice and my portfolio. But, like with everything, design takes time. Please excuse this site while it gets up and running. I am having a designer whip up a cool site with lots of useability and this work is totally out of my skill set. I utilize the space, not design it. Check back within the next month and see what I have come up with.

In the meantime, here is a link to a great article for all of you indie producers who want to do some distribution but are not up on the latest techniques. Please note, these techniques do not get you out of the obligation to self promote, only to self distribute.

http://www.studiodaily.com/main/work/10321.html

I will continue to blog in this blank slate until I get a prettier one.

“What really matters is what you do with what you have”-Shirley Lord
and Sheri Candler