I recently answered a few questions for the kind folks over at Fanbridge for their blog. Below is an excerpt from that post…more to come.

First, filmmakers should start by knowing for whom their story is. NO, it isn’t for everyone. You can’t reach “everyone” so really narrow it down, even beyond demographic characteristics, to interest levels. What would this person wear to your screening? Really get down into that kind of detail. Start with yourself: why do you like this story, what draws you to tell it? From there you will know where to find people similar to yourself and how to speak to them.

Social media is about authentic voice and speaking to real people, not faceless masses. If you only have a vague idea of who your audience is at the beginning, it will stay vague and you won’t effectively be able to reach them or anyone. This work cannot be done from the outside; you can’t just hire a marketing company to tweet for your film. They have no idea what to say to someone who actually starts a dialog. This work needs to be done by someone embedded both within the production and within the audience community of your film. This doesn’t mean you as a director or producer are totally off the hook to connect with people, and you shouldn’t want that anyway, but having what Jon Reiss would call a PMD (Producer of Marketing and Distribution) to help alleviate the total burden of connecting with an audience [burden in the context of generating content that keeps them engaged] and determining the most lucrative and efficient method to release the film is a smart idea.

This work cannot wait until the film is in post because social relationships take time to build and only giving it a month or two of attention isn’t going to result in much awareness. It also takes time to prepare for distribution outlets whether you are going to use the festival circuit as your theatrical or book community screenings, or book traditional theaters. Whether you will release online at the same time, or soon after and which outlets will you use? How much will you charge? What publications do you need to develop relationships with to get great coverage, what is the website going to look like and how will it change during the production process (yes, it will change)? There will be a need for extra content, more than one trailer or a series of clips, sourcing other content or creating it. These are all jobs that cannot be done in a hurry and someone needs to be on it. What about sponsorship? Who will handle the sponsorship proposals and logistics?

These are not the skills of typical film producers but someone now needs to be overseeing it and not involved with the filmmaking process. It isn’t work that falls within the realm of traditional publicist, unit publicist or the average distribution company, so someone needs to be handling this from very early on and that someone is a member of the film team. Also, taking on the responsibility gives you more leverage. You know who your audience is, how they will consume what you make, you are in contact with them every day and you don’t need to give up rights or revenue in order to sell to them, so why would you sign away your rights to do this? It doesn’t make sense.

To read the entire piece, click here.

Importance of a good trailer continued

August 15, 2011
posted by sheric

Bill Woolery worked 2 decades in trailer editing for major studios and TV campaigns. There are mistakes he continually sees with trailers that are edited by inexperienced filmmakers. Three of the biggest are use of music cues that are too slow and weak to make the trailer work,  use of very slow fade-ups and downs, and telling the story chronologically.

Regarding music, Bill says, “Music is the life-blood of a trailer.  All theatrical movie trailers have wall-to-wall music and documentary fundraising trailers do, too.  That’s because the tension and flow in a trailer cannot be broken from top to bottom.  Also, the music must have a momentum.  Or at least some kind of pulse that constantly moves the trailer forward. If the film has been scored, my first step is to review all the cues.  Obviously, it’s best to use cues that are in the main piece and have no licensing issues.  In a majority of cases, however, I have to go elsewhere to get the right trailer music.  Sometimes mystery or poignant cues from the main piece will work in the first part of a trailer, but when I get to ‘the build,’ I usually have to find new cues. As for licensing: I first try using the royalty-free cues I have in my library.  If I can’t make these work, I move on to other cues that are in a legally gray area.  If I’m cutting a fundraising trailer, there’s no problem.  These trailers are not intended for the general public and there’s no ‘profit’ involved.  I feel free using any music I think is appropriate.  But I do avoid well-known songs with well-known singers.  Instrumental cues are generally fine.  I never touch anything that Disney owns – they’re very protective.”

I asked him about setting the tone or the emotional impact of a trailer. For me, this is the key to making a good trailer. It isn’t so much about what is the story, but giving a sense of what you will experience when you see the film. I also want the trailer to be “sticky” or resonate deeply. “As I mentioned earlier, a trailer is emotion from beginning to end.  It should have a distinctive ‘emotional temperature,’ a specific tone to it.  It should live in its own little emotional world.  Many times, it’s what people remember about a trailer – whether they’re conscious of it or not.  It’s critical that your trailer editor can create this ‘world’ and it is one of the most important reasons for hiring a professional.  This isn’t about adding something new to your material, it’s about selecting certain elements from your whole piece and utilizing them in different, creative ways.”

Motion graphics and voice overs are two common elements found in today’s film trailers. I asked Bill if the typical trailer editor has a skill for motion graphics and when a VO is best used. “I enjoy motion graphics and I’m always amazed by what can be done with After Effects.  When it appeared on the editing scene, I wanted to learn everything about it, but discovered these type of programs are enormously complex.  They require major learning curves and are continually being updated.  I don’t hesitate to use motion graphics when I think they’re appropriate, but I’m a story-telling editor and working out these complex graphics required hours of my time.  It took me away from doing what I do best –which is finding the ‘heart’ of the story and creating a great trailer around it.  The After Effects people I work with have little interest in story editing.  So it’s a great fit.  They love what they do and I love what I do.”

“My VO rule goes like this:

A. Let’s try and tell this story without any VO.  I think people naturally resist being told what to think.  It’s much better to let the dialogue bites tell the story and the viewer can draw their own conclusions.

B.  Sometimes there are certain story points or links that are not stated in the dialogue bites.  It’s then time for title cards or a VO to fill in the missing info.  This doesn’t have to extend thru the whole trailer.  VO or cards can setup the story in the first 20 seconds and then you can let the dramatic portion flow unimpeded through to the end.”

Many times you’ll notice that there are green band and red band trailers. Green band trailers are approved for all audiences by the Motion Picture Association of America. Do trailers and films HAVE to be rated by the MPAA? “There’s no law that says movies (and docs) theatrically released in the U.S. must be rated by the MPAA, but it’s the policy of all the major theater chains to only show MPAA-rated movies. Even when I was cutting trailers for studio features (at Paramount), every trailer had to be green-band (G or PG) even though the feature might be rated R (red-band).  Studio movie trailers are often attached to release prints of other movies and sent all over the country, so the trailers had to be able to play without any restrictions.”

Finally, I asked the question most of my readers would want to know. How much should you budget for a trailer editor? “When I created my business as a trailer editor to the documentary community, I realized the financial levels were much lower that those found in the commercial entertainment world.  For a full-service documentary trailer coming from the original material, $3500 would be a realistic figure for 3 weeks of work.  If I’m working only with scenes in your edited project, it can be less. If that doesn’t work with your budget, I offer detailed consultations that can significantly improve your existing trailer.  These range in costs according to the depth of my involvement.  I can write up notes and suggestions to improve your trailer or I actually edit a re-assembly of it that you can smooth out and finalize yourself.  Costs for these services run from $175 to $500.  Consultations are, by far, the most popular way my clients are able to achieve a successful trailer.”

My thanks to Bill Woolery for taking time to share his knowledge and expertise. If you would like to work with him or take one of his trailer workshops, head on over to his website.

The importance of a good trailer

August 11, 2011
posted by sheric

Many times when independent filmmakers send a request for help to me, they attach a link to their film trailer. This is the video they have on Youtube and on their website as a representation of their film, a reason to see it or buy it. Often, they are terrible. They are too long, they are too slow, there is no sense of what the film is about or why I would want to see it. A trailer should not be a 3 minute cut down version of your film. It is an advertisement meant to pique the interest of prospective viewers and there is a talent to making them work. This isn’t a job for your intern.

I asked professional trailer editor Bill Woolery if he would share his knowledge about what makes a good trailer, what are common mistakes he sees so many filmmakers (and distributors and studios) making, how to use trailers if you are trying to fundraise and what techniques are commonly used to ensure action is taken. Your trailer should make people say “I’ve got to see this film!” or “I want to donate money to help it reach its goal.”

For over 2 decades, Bill worked as a trailer editor for major studios and production companies on their theatrical and TV campaigns. He has since moved into editing trailers for documentaries and non profit humanitarian projects  for use in fund raising.  He has established himself as the go-to trailer expert for documentary and independent film producers and is often asked to speak and critique trailers in seminars hosted by Carole Dean and other high-profile members in the documentary community. His regularly scheduled “Trailer Clinics” help give filmmakers the tips and tools to improve their fundraising trailers.

An example of Bill’s past work is the trailer for The Unbearable Lightness of Being. “My boss tossed me the project saying, ‘We don’t know what to do with this, so come up with something.’  It turned out to be one of my most satisfying challenges. Janácek’s chamber music set the tone for the editing.  The film tanked at the box office, but AFI now includes it on their 100 best American films list.  A young Daniel Day-Lewis stars with Juliette Binoche.”

How does editing a trailer differ from editing an entire film?

“These are not only two different styles of editing, they’re two distinctly different realties.  A trailer incorporates the same scenes as the full-length piece but uses a totally different “language” to express them.  When filmmakers come to me, it’s often because they tried cutting their own trailers.  After much labor in the edit room, they were never able to achieve a sequence that felt like a trailer.  There is a characteristic pace and flow to a trailer you don’t find in narrative editing.  It’s the same material but presented with an urgency and immediacy that’s very different from your whole film.

A feature documentary has emotional moments, but a trailer is basically one emotional moment from beginning to end.  It takes you immediately into an emotional reality and holds you there until it drops you at the end.  During that span, it must also convey specific information: who the characters are, what the story is about, why the characters are doing what they’re doing.  Most importantly, it must answer the questions: Why is this doc (or feature) something you should see?  And why is it important to see it now?

These are a few of the many elements that make a good trailer and constructing it is more complicated than most narrative filmmakers realize.  A well-edited trailer is a very busy ‘world.’  At every moment you’re moving through multiple arcs: characters’ arc, the main story arc, the emotional arcs.  They’re all intertwined.  It’s a lot to keep track of.  And over-arching all that is ‘the build.’

The ‘build’ is probably the element that most clearly defines the difference between trailer editing and feature editing.  A trailer must maintain a continuous forward momentum.  This momentum usually picks up in speed and urgency in the second half of the trailer.”

How to evaluate a potential trailer editor for your project?

“Beware the editor/producer/filmmaker who has some downtime and says, ‘Sure, I can cut you a trailer.  I’ll do it as a favor.’  Also, stay away from anyone who thinks a trailer is basically a cut-down of the feature – because you will get a cut-down of the feature and not a trailer.”

Why should a trailer editor be used instead of just an intern or the editor already working on your film?

“During the past 10 years, the role of the trailer has changed, especially in the funding strategy of documentary and indie production.  Traditionally, trailers were edited by the filmmakers themselves because (a) budgets were tight and (b) they had the edit system and media sitting there in their second bedroom.  ’Outsourcing’ a trailer didn’t make sense.   Over time, with the development of the Internet, people became accustomed to seeing videos (addicted to seeing them, really).  Eventually, the pitch, the proposal, the text on your website – all of these took second place to the video trailer.  It was as if your project wasn’t real unless your intended audience could ‘see’ something on the screen.   Today, some distributors or funders will ask to see your trailer before talking to you. So the trailer has become the most critical element to getting your project funded or distributed.  It needs to be really good, really effective.  Paying a trailer editor is now considered a sound investment.” (I totally agree!)

What are the different types of trailers?  such as theatrical, TV etc

If  you check the Doc Trailers page of my website you’ll find this:

Fundraising Trailer – the key element to your project’s success

Work-in-Progress Trailer – to find your finishing funds

Showcase Trailer – specifically pitched to buyers/distributors/broadcasters

Sizzle / Teaser trailers – to generate buzz when you don’t have much to show

Theatrical Trailers – the all-purpose video that establishes your project’s identity

The majority of my editing projects now involve FUNDRAISING trailers.  As a trailer category, it’s wide open because it depends on what you have to show, how good your footage is and what you want to accomplish with it.  In terms of length, it could be anywhere from 3 to 8 minutes long, possible up to 12 if you’ve got a compelling story and/or extraordinary footage that can sustain it that long.  It also has to do with who it’s intended for: a foundation, grant qualification, a private funder.  Research your intended viewer and find out what they’re looking for.

Everyone agrees a trailer should not reveal the end of the story.  For theatrical-style trailers that is certainly the case.  But when you’re putting together a fundraising trailer the purpose is to sell your idea to people who can share your vision and might invest in it.  They need to see what they’re buying – all of it.  It’s important for them to know you have a satisfying ending so don’t hesitate to show it.

WORK-IN-PROGRESS trailers run longer so the viewer, usually a major funder, can feel confident about the project’s progress, that their investment is worthwhile and in capable hands.  In terms of length it’s determined by the funder’s needs and could be anywhere between 4 to 14 minutes.

Every project needs a THEATRICAL-STYLE trailer.  This is the one that’s used as the all-purpose “calling card” for your project, the one you post on YouTube and Vimeo and the project’s website.  It’s normally made after your doc is finished and mastered – but sometimes there’s need for it before the projects gets to that point.  This kind of trailer is short, usually 1.5  to 3 minutes.  It’s energetic and dramatic and makes no obvious solicitation for funds and does not reveal the end of story.  The cliff-hanger ending that works so well for commercial entertainment trailers is also the most effective “out” for documentary trailers.

Finally, there are TEASER or SIZZLE trailers.  These terms are used pretty much interchangeable.  Their purpose is generating advanced buzz for the project.  In both cases, they’re often put together with rip-o-matic images from the Net with a voice-over telling you how great the project will be once the viewer contributes the funds to realize it.  These kinds of trailers might include a “pedigree” montage of the filmmaker’s past projects – if they exist.  A teaser is short, 30 seconds to a minute and a half, unless the “past projects” are very prestigious and need screen time to be showcased.”

In part 2, Bill will talk about techniques such as motion graphics, using music to set the tone, using voice overs and the biggest mistakes he sees people make in editing a trailer. Stay tuned!

On Friday, I posted about my distaste at the way Youtube, National Geographic, Cinedigm Entertainment and producer/director Ridley Scott and Kevin MacDonald were handling the crowdsourced documentary Life in a Day with footage submitted by hundreds of people from around the world. It lead to quite a lively debate on Twitter with my friend Ross Pruden and was referenced on the DocumentaryTech blog and the Chutry Experiment blog.

Ross, Ted and Chuck all brought up great points on what a participant gets out of the crowdsourcing exercise. For the corporations, the motivations seem to be profit potential and an army of unpaid volunteers to take on the work that might otherwise take years and substantial financial investment to accomplish in exchange for a credit in the closing titles. For the volunteers, it is the thrill of knowing they contributed to a film that is getting worldwide attention and, as Chuck says, were part of an ” anthropological ‘project,’ a snapshot of a moment in the history of the world” that serves as part of a legacy to human kind. Even the Youtube channel that houses the trailer for the film offers that “you can be part of cinema history” if you sign up your email for updates. They are also willing to have you remix their trailer for them and a few will be released in theaters to promote the film.

(a side note, I found a couple of screen grabs on Flickr and Picasa of the closing credit roll with the names, but when I tried to repost them here, it wouldn’t let me. So much for being able to share that).

I buy that being part of human legacy and cinema history is a great incentive for wanting to be a part of the film. Too bad the film isn’t going straight to national television (around the world) and/or YouTube so that all could watch it relatively free. If the film is about human life on July 24, 2010, then all of mankind should be able to enjoy it freely. Also, if it were hosted on Youtube, all could pass it around by posting it on personal blogs and publications could host the viewer on their sites. It is that kind of word of mouth aspect that the corporations are asking for when they invite participants to sign up and be part of the marketing team. But it isn’t being hosted in its entirety on Youtube and it isn’t being broadcast worldwide yet. Though the film was on Youtube for the premiere at Sundance, it has been taken down and  only the trailer is available now. So let’s be real, the corporations’ motivation is money not a gift to mankind, or a gift to the volunteers. Money from ticket sales and money that will come from exposure by being attached to the project is their real goal. Oh, and you can help them accomplish this by buying cinema tickets and bringing your friends along to see your name in tiny print as it rolls in the end credits.

Why should it be available for free? Corporations make money right, so why would giving it away for free help them make money?

1)if the film is great, and people know it is because they can see it online for free, then they buy a ticket to the cinema for the communal and cinematic experience. That is the reason every filmmaker gives me for why cinemas will always be the preferred way to see a film so having it online as a “try before you buy” is not going to deter people from going to a theater right? A day and date broadcast on Youtube and every theater in the world with access to the Cinedigm library would have been a better proposition.

2)goodwill. A testament to the wonder of mankind on a typical day (the sentiment behind Thornton Wilder’s Our Town by the way) by having the film available to all would go a long way to attracting even more attention than showing it in select cities for ticket revenue. Attention=money in the long run. Youtube sells advertising on pages that attract tons of views for pete’s sake. They’ll make money from having it available for free online.

3)the ego factor. There is no way those involved will not buy some form of physical merchandise that proves their involvement. DVDs, thumb drives, mugs with all the names of the volunteers, tshirts with the same. A glossy book with stills from the film AND the names in even bigger print would make a great RtB (reason to buy). Make the movie freely available and monetize the other stuff.

Outside of the brag factor, I’m still not seeing a lot of benefit for the volunteers.

Ok so after taking that side road into monetizing free…let’s look at what they could have done to make crowdsourcing mutually beneficial and how independent filmmakers with no corporate support can do it too.

1)A real back and forth. A motivational drive behind this effort was being connected with a high profile effort. Ridley Scott, Kevin MacDonald, Youtube, National Geographic and Sundance were all aboard so it gave the project legitimacy and attention from the start. It also gave the impression that your work would be held up there right alongside theirs. This is very hard for the independent filmmaker to pull this off if she is unknown. Life in a Day wasn’t true collaboration because there was no interaction with the high profile people involved, nor among the other participants, but that is the thing you can offer. There has to be a back and forth and I don’t mean holding contests and polls with 3rd party providers. Holding a dialog isn’t that difficult with the online tools available now. Would it have killed Ridley Scott or Kevin MacDonald to give participants the chance to actually speak to them to give at least a semblance of connection? There are so many online tools now that can facilitate a direct dialog between an individual and a group (Google plus hangouts, Tinychat, Justin.TV, Ustream, Livestream) that I don’t believe these guys can’t take like an hour to live chat (preferably on video for that important face time and proof that you aren’t just speaking with their intern) with those that have donated their time and effort. Giving some personal time just to these participants would be a benefit. A 30 minute session once a month is easily accomplished, people. You can talk about developing the film, the story, individual pieces from the participants that were exceptional, what inspires you, ask questions of the participants. This  is totally doable for free.

What would Scott and MacDonald get out of this? Connection to a personal fanbase that they really aren’t in touch with. Increasingly, consumers expect a level of personal interaction with the “brands” they buy. If Scott and MacDonald would like the chance in the future to break free of the corporate bonds that hold them tightly now, this personal interaction will be crucial. Also, god forbid, if they should ever fall out of favor with those corporate entities, they can continue in their careers. See Kevin Smith for pointers.

What would an unknown filmmaker get out of this? The same freedom of having direct interaction with an audience so that you aren’t dependent on being picked by a corporate entity.

What would the fans get out of this? Strong idol worship at play here. The chance to really speak to those they respect, perhaps even become valuable to them which can lead to personal worth. Not just self esteem, though it can be that too, but may lead to real paying work.

2)Build a sustainable and engaged community. As Life in a Day doesn’t seem to have it’s own website (there’s a YouTube channel and a Facebook page), they have taken the typical disposable audience angle that all studio films take. Get audience attention only for this project and then start all over again from the ground on the next one (totally ignoring the business idiom of being cheaper to keep the audience you have than to keep going out finding new ones). Admittedly, it is damn hard work to keep a community going and since there is no real ownership of the project going on here (all involved seem to be participating for different and very finite reasons), there is no clear mandate for any one group to nurture a community. If it isn’t nurtured, it will die quickly.

You, dear filmmakers, cannot afford to keep doing this and now you don’t have to. Part of community building though is to provide a place where like minded individuals can hang out and communicate with each other. You have to build that place and entrust a few people as well as yourself to keep it going. I was heartened to see that director Robert Rodriguez is proposing this on his film Heavy Metal. He wants audience participation in the development of the story, the characters and the world of the film and is going to launch a website where international artists can come together and share their work and ideas. I really hope he will actively communicate with participants and enable them to showcase ALL of the work, not just the ones that make the cut. Please Robert, don’t just use these ideas and cast the participants aside until you need them to market for you!

Make the community as much about them as it is about you and your work. Let the members of your community shine, highlight their businesses, their accomplishments, these are all real people who all have lives just as deserving as yours of some kind of attention. Let them have it. A great example of this can be found on the Grateful Dead site.

3)Make your work a mission. People love being part of a mission especially if you can give small, actionable steps toward accomplishing the mission. This works really well for documentaries. If your participants feel like their efforts will go toward the good of the mission, they are more likely to want to contribute. Life in a Day does have this, the mission of recognizing the beauty and hope in the world that we largely ignore in our every day lives. It celebrates the humanity of us all and in this way the film is meaningful and makes a meaningful statement about those who participated by sending in footage for consideration. It naturally lends itself to sharing by the participants so you don’t really need to get them to sign up for a marketing SWAT team. They will spread the word anyway if the film turns out to be excellent. Also tying proceeds from your work into a charity that helps a larger community than your own perpetuates that mission feel.

4)It wouldn’t kill you to pony up some cash. Life in a Day has some pretty deep pocket companies behind it. Would it have been a hardship to pay a licensing fee to those whose material you ended up using? The amount would be far less than the typical licensing from, say, a music corporation or photo library or archive. Yes, people aren’t always motivated by money, but I think most would gladly take a $100 check for the use of their work in a film you are hoping to make millions from. They are providing you with the bulk of your film’s material after all. Did Ridley and Kevin get paid? Did the editors? Do all the executives who work at these corporations who came up with this idea? I’m thinking yes. So why should this exercise mean those who contribute get no compensation? Providing a mix of financial and non financial incentives would have made this crowdsourcing effort a little less one sided.

For the indie, is there a way to profit share? Could these sweat equity investments in your film be repaid in some way? Yes, it will make the paperwork more complicated, but if you are asking people to donate their time, effort and talent to your work, they should have some kind of financial compensation if YOU are going to receive financial compensation. Make it a flat fee to make math easy “when I reach this level of compensation, you receive xx if your work was included in this project” and don’t make it after everyone who had any part in working on your film gets paid in full either. Some may tell you to roll their amount into your next work, some may say they don’t care about compensation. Follow their wishes, but make some form of compensation an option.

These are just a few of the ways I see for the crowd to receive benefit from your crowdsourcing effort. Remember, the crowd isn’t there just to serve you and your goals. It has to be a two way street. Can you think of more? If so, leave them in comments.

Interviewed by John Hoff

July 6, 2011
posted by sheric

There’s a new interview I did floating around the net where I mention a few things many people don’t already know about me and my views on independent film marketing especially in relation to using social media. Check it out and excerpt below:

How has social media changed the independent film industry?

The internet first and then social media have changed the world. Where it used to be that you either were stuck in your local area or had to physically move to meet new people, we now have this virtual way of meeting all kinds of people with any interest you can imagine, globally. It used to be just a few people held power over changing minds, influencing, now anyone is able to do it on their own; anyone can have their views heard, anyone can find kindreds, anyone can influence.

Of course, this has just made it a lot more difficult to rise above the noise and unfortunately people feel like the solution is to just shout louder and louder. My view is to whisper, concentrating only on those who want to hear from you. If you only concentrate first on those few, more and more will seek you out. You don’t need to shout, but you do need to be patient and satisfied that reaching a few very passionate people will be more effective than screaming at the large but uncaring masses.

It has also made it far easier and cheaper to distribute work on a global scale. Those who devote their time to figuring out how to harness this power of free distribution coupled with reasons and ways people will support you will do very well for themselves in a sustainable way. I don’t think large corporations will be the guides to figuring this out. Many monoliths will perish in this time. It will be the tiny guy with little lose and the ability to adapt quickly who will have the huge advantage here. Stop looking for huge success stories, at first there will be very few, but that doesn’t mean small success should be discounted. Change starts small and gains momentum. Stop waiting to only join in when the momentum is a full speed, you’ll only be run over that way.

What’s your favorite movie quote and why?

It is from The Incredibles-Edna Mode says something like “I never look back darling, it detracts from the now.” Many people call me out on not acknowledging what worked in past systems and migrating it into the future. I feel like the whole system needs reinvention, is being reinvented now. To cleave on to the past and try and make it work in the new system doesn’t work and slows everything down. Sometimes to progress, you have to forget everything you knew and start anew. It’s damn frightening though.

I am sure as I get older and more comfortable, I will have to read this and remind myself to keep reinventing. Reinvention never happens when you are comfortable with the way things are.

read more…

TOTBO in Edinburgh and London

June 19, 2011
posted by sheric

photo credit Leilani Holmes

Once again my friend Jon Reiss will be heading to the UK for 2 events. The first is early this week at the Edinburgh Film Festival where he is giving the keynote at Short Sighted on June 22, an event that will educate you on getting your short film distributed. He also will be doing one on one consultations  with filmmakers through Creative Scotland the next day.

He will then bring his 2 day film marketing and distribution workshop to the London Film School June 25-26. The workshop is a live step by step guide into to new world of hybrid distribution and marketing including how to create a release strategy that is unique for your film, the various markets that are available for your film, how and why to engage your audience as early as possible and how to think beyond the feature film to create new forms of content and/or to market and distribute your film. He will be joined by many special guest speakers including:

Terry Stevens from Dogwoof- Using a fresh approach, Dogwoof partners with filmmakers to help themselves giving them direct access to professional film distribution services, while letting them retain the rights to their film, controlling costs, and actually having the chance of seeing revenues and profits. The film experience is changing and they intend to help filmmakers set the new rules.  Terry will speak about a new theatrical initiative that Dogwoof is launching.

Peter Gerard and Andy Green from Distrify- Via Skype: Peter and Andy will discuss DIY digital distribution.  They created Distrify which is a revolutionary toolset for social-media marketing with sales and distribution built in. Share and embed your movie trailer with Distrify. With built-in VOD, downloads, merchandise sales, and audience engagement tools including an affiliate revenue program, Distrify makes every view of your trailer a potential transaction. Sell anything, anywhere.

Chris Jones- Chris Jones is a filmmaker and author of the The Guerilla Film Makers Handbook series and he will talk about the ever confusing world of deliverables that trips up so many filmmakers.

I will skype in to talk about creating your filmmaking brand – and promoting yourself to the world as an artist. If you have no audience around your work, you have no future. I want you to have a sustainable career.

Gregory Bayne- Gregory Bayne is a filmmaker who has run three successful Kickstarter campaigns to fund and distribute his films.  Greg will talk about the dos and don’t for a successful crowdfunding campaign.

When we were there last year, all the participants raved about the quality and quantity of information they received. I am personally in touch with many of these people to this day! It was a very inspiring workshop for me as it was the first time that I really saw people get what I was trying to say and feel excited about it and determined to undertake this work. I think there is still a lot of resistance to having to undertake both the production of film as well as the marketing and distribution of work. I will never tell you that it is easy work or that you will hear the magic piece of advice that will work for every film. Anyone who promises that is a fool. But the days of artists moaning about how there isn’t a level playing field, that studios have all the  power to reach audiences are over. ANYONE can use the tools available to make their work a success. It doesn’t “just happen,” there will be blood, sweat and tears so accept that. But if you are truly looking to take advantage of the tools available to help you and gain the knowledge of how to do it, then you shouldn’t miss this workshop.

To follow all of the workshop speakers on Twitter, here are their handles

@jon_reiss @shericandler @dogwoof @gregorybayne @distrify @livingspiritpix   (Chris Jones)

A Seth Godin-ism that I recently heard on the radioLitopia site in an interview on the new face of publishing. In Seth’s view, this isn’t a bad thing, it just means roles will be redefined, responsibilities will be greater on creators (authors, musicians, filmmakers, artists in general). Nothing you haven’t been hearing me say to you for a while now. You can of course listen to the whole 30 minute interview, or you can just read these highlights I pulled out. Though he is talking about book publishing, there are many parallels with film.

-The internet has expanded the amount of content created and consumed, but it destroyed the industry In his view, we won’t create and consume less, but for the bureaucratic and scarcity driven business models that once dominated the industry, the end is near. He even recounted conversations he has had in boardrooms of publishing houses where management seems content that they will retire long before the new models are figured out. WHAT?? He thinks publishers (and I will add distributors) are woefully unprepared for their new role as connector, curator and partner to creators. Few have invested in the platforms and dialogs with consumers that will drive the new economy.

-Don’t fear price, fear clutter He sees a divide in pricing structures for books and I can see it for films as well. As more and more titles flood the market, the price you can charge becomes directly related to how similar your story is to others and how much of a following you have as an artist. Recent ebook success stories from authors Joe Konrath and Amanda Hocking show the pricing divide. While you may not have heard of either of these authors, they are cranking the $.99 ebook to six figure incomes. Higher paid authors and higher priced books come from only the very tippy top of the traditional publishing world as does comparable filmmakers and studio films. The more similar the films you are making to others already in existence, the more difficulty you will have making money. Are you telling stories anyone could tell? If so, you’d better make them cheaply because the value to the consumer is low, maybe worthless.

-The film is just the center of a conversation He said a book here, but you get what I mean. The fans need a work to be the short hand for a group of like minded people, the “in” people, the cool people. Enable your work to become the entry point to a larger conversation with you and among others. If one hasn’t seen the movie (read the book), one can’t easily join the conversation. In this way, your work spreads.

He also touched on the need for publishers to adopt a whole new way of looking at their client relationships. If an author/creator has built their own audience, created a sense of loyalty, sourced a means of distribution directly and tells one of a kind stories, what do they need a third party (publisher, distributor) for? In order to sustain and remain relevant, publishers/distributors should also be in direct contact with an interest driven audience that can be serviced by partnerships with author/creators rather than staying focused on the retail market relationship. In other words, instead of insisting authors/creators use social media to building audience relationships, they should try doing more of it themselves.