Friday, September 30, 2011

Audiences Speak Out and We Need to Heed the Call as Indie Filmmakers

Take Me Home
Dear Ms. Jane Kelly/Mr. Jaeger,
I don't even remember how I stumbled across this movie online, it's been quite a while now, but at the time it had the promise of coming to the the big screen.  So I bookmarked the page so that I could keep an eye out for it's opening.
During my attempt at deleting my many useless bookmarks this one I cannot delete.  While I was looking at the website again I realized that all these film festivals, i.e., Chicago, Boston, USA, Brooklyn, Nashville, Albuquerque, Napa, etc., just to name a few had the privilege of viewing it-- why not me?!  Will it ever be made available for viewing to the general public?  Why not?  I mean have you seen what's called a movie now on TV, cable, Lifetime (yuck!) & even the Hallmark misses it--meaning that either the acting is poor or the story is weak & predictable or both. 
I confess, I am a "romance" admirer (who isn't) but can't this movie come to fruition & be available to view.  May be I haven't done a good enough search for it there a way to see it legally? 
Hey, thanks for your time reading this ranting woman's plee to view great entertainment when she sees it.  Please take time from your busy schedule & shed light on this mystery for me.  Thank you.
Ann Marie Busacca

I wanted to share this recent email I received and a major call to action for all independent filmmakers. It's not unlike a number of emails we receive pretty regularly about our films. And I figured it was time to share the mutual frustration that exists among independent filmmakers and their audience.

We make films for an incredible audience - a smart audience who wants more than the studios are offering. Our audience wants to see our films. But we have a really hard time getting it to them. Why?

Simple answer: Competition.

The festivals receive thousands of entries and hand-pick only about a hundred per festival, with many having already played most of them. This leaves very few slots for strong films to get their World Premiere at a major film festival. Without a World Premiere at a strong film festival, it's hard to get reviews and the word into the media that your film is worthy of being seen. Without anyone knowing about your film, how can you build an audience?

Next, there's only a handful of sales agents willing to take on independent films. It's hard to sell indie films so sales agents don't have it easy so they are picky. Even if your film is great, you may not even get a sales agent to watch it because you don't have an A-list cast in it. True story.

Then, the studios make it very hard on us. They don't want to pick up your film because it doesn't have A-list actors.

And when you finally get your deal with a distributor who agrees to take a chance on your film, you often get no advance and not a lot of help marketing your film.

So you're already down and to rub salt in your wounds, you find out the studios have a lockdown on the major retailers. For example, we can't get our film Not Since You into Redbox because Redbox has deals to fulfill with the major studios and the minimal slots that are left over are filled quickly with independent films from the mini-majors, usually with A-list actors, and larger DVD manufacturers.

To top it all off, you don't see any revenue for your film until the sales agent, the aggregator and the platform all take their cuts, which can leave you with less than 20% of each sale. Yes, all these middle men/women who complained about taking on your hard-to-sell film are making more off your film than you. Pretty crappy scenario, right?

This system needs to be fixed. I know there is a better way. Thousands of great independent films don't even get distribution and it doesn't have to be this way.

Right now, our film Take Me Home, the one Ann Marie wants to see, is navigating the film festival circuit and seeking the best distribution deals. The film will eventually make its way to Ann Marie so she can see it in her own home legally. Eventually sucks. The odds need to be way better.

We have the power to change the system. New media is giving us this power. And now we have to be smart.

I want tools that allow me to reach my audience direct. And if no one makes them for me, I need to get them made myself. And I will. We all should! We need to demand these tools and then make great content for them. One day, very soon, we will have the ability to compete direct with the studios and networks from our own servers in our own homes and offices. Let's do this!

We need to take control of our industry and make it better. No one will do it for us. Let's get our films to our audience. They are asking and we need to heed the call. Who's with me?


wellywood woman said...

I'm with you! Kyna Morgan at HerFilm & I are especially interested in finding ways to get films made by women to their audiences, who often will be predominantly women too.

Convinced that working imaginatively across borders is the only way to go, we ask “What about women’s film festival tourism?” “Can the much-loved women’s book group concept be extended to film groups and include a significant online component?” “How can we best make alliances across national and cultural borders, and across the commercial/non-profit divide?”

Get in touch if you want to share some brainstorming, any time!

janekk said...

Hi! I love these ideas. We should absolutely discuss how to come together and make this happen.



The 'Smarty Pants' Family said...

So true. I agree. Thank you for your post.