April 2008

Case Study No. 3: "On Broadway"

Actor and producer Lance Greene talks about self-distributing "On Broadway" starring Joey McIntyre


Good Will Redux: Dave McLaughlin's "On Broadway" became a Boston-area must-see

On Broadway, a movie about a working-class Bostonian’s attempt to stage a play in the back of an Irish pub, has received such a good response from film festival audiences around the country that the producers decided to self-release the film in Boston last month.

Case Study No. 2: "Buddy"

Filmmaker Cherry Arnold discusses self-distributing "Buddy," a documentary on Providence mayor Buddy Cianci


Buddy-ing up: Filmmaker Cherry Arnold self-distributed her biography of Providence mayor Buddy Cianci (pictured.)

Cherry Arnold didn’t know what she was in for when she started filming Buddy: The Rise and Fall of America’s Most Notorious Mayor. “If I had known all the work involved…,” Arnold says. “Pure ignorance kept me going. I underestimated by months at a time how long each step would take.”

Case Study No. 1: "The Sensation of Sight"

Filmmaker Buzz McLaughlin was so adept at self distribution, that he eventually caught the eye of a traditional distributor


Self Reliant: Buzz McLaughlin, center, with "Sensation" star David Strathairn and writer Aaron Wiederspahn.

It’s no wonder Buzz McLaughlin feels some pride and relief. His New Hampshire-based film production company, Either/Or Films, just signed a distribution deal for its first movie, The Sensation of Sight, during the last week of March.

Adventures in Self Distribution: Three Case Studies

Three filmmakers talk about their experiences distributing their films themselves


Good Will Redux: Dave McLaughlin's "On Broadway" became a Boston-area must-see

Unless you get your film into the very top festivals like Sundance, Toronto, or Cannes, you'll probably have a hard time attracting interest from an established distributor. So how can you get your film in front of audiences? The makers of three successful indies—The Sensation of Sight, Buddy, and On Broadway (pictured)—chose to self-distribute. As The Independent's Lynn Tryba reports, this grassroots approach is hard work and there's no sure payoff. But self-distribution can work beautifully—turning a small film into a word-of-mouth phenomenon. Part 4 of our special report on distribution.

Long after they wrap their films, independent filmmakers struggle to get their projects seen by as many people as possible. A distribution deal with a mainstream distribution company is, of course, the Holy Grail. And in the quest for a deal, a filmmaker's family ties will often get strained, their bank accounts will dwindle, and their stress level will surge.

The Doc Doctor's Anatomy of a Film: "The Longing"

The deeper she got into shooting, the more emotionally engaged filmmaker Gabriela Böhm became in her subjects' plight. The result is a very different film from the one she set out to make


Shul Politics: "The Longing: The Forgotten Jews of South America" looks at would-be converts like Borys and Maritza Valvarde.

The Independent's Fernanda Rossi interviews Gabriela Böhm about her film The Longing: The Forgotten Jews of South America. Böhm initially intended to make a dispassionate historical documentary complete with reenactments. As she became emotionally attached to her subjects, however, Böhm decided to rethink the tone of her film. The result is a compelling documentary that has been screened at more than 20 festivals worldwide.

About this new column: Many filmmakers ponder in anguish, How do other people—celebrated people—do it? Am I taking too long to make this documentary? Does everybody spend as much money as I am spending, or am I spending too little? And when filmmakers share their lessons learned in interviews in the glossy trade magazines, their tales seem to follow the arc of otherworldy heroes rather than real documentary makers, i.e. human beings like you and me. So each month, the Doc Doctor will go out into the world (this real world) of filmmakers who are successful and find out how they made it. The "Anatomy of a Film Column" is a chance to learn from filmmakers' hits and misses in real life examples. —Fernanda Rossi, story consultant a.k.a. the Documentary Doctor

The Peabody Award Winners: Watch Trailers and Clips

This year's winners include "Taxi to the Dark Side" and "Silence of the Bees"


Legal Eagles: The Peabody Award-winning film "Sisters in Law" looks at sisters who ensure and defend women's rights in Cameroon.

The 67th annual Peabody Award winners were announced on April 2. Among the honorees: Taxi to the Dark Side, Alex Gibney's Oscar-winning look at the torture of alleged terrorists in Afghanistan; Silence of the Bees, a film about colony collapse disorder; Billy Strayhorn: Lush Life, a biography of the composer; Cheney's Law, about the veep's sweeping claims of executive privilege; Nimrod Nation, a rumination on small-town life; Sisters in Law (left), a look at two sisters who defend women's rights in Africa; and To Die in Jerusalem, an intimate take on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. To view clips from these films, click on their names above or go to our "Watch" page.

The full list of 2007 George Foster Peabody Award winners was released on April 2. The winners include films such as Taxi to the Dark Side and To Die in Jerusalem, as well as popular television programs such as Dexter, 30 Rock, and Project Runway.

The Trailer for "The Lost Colony"

Astrid Bussink's film was screened at Hot Docs in Toronto

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Astrid Bussink's film was screened at Hot Docs in Toronto

The Trailer for "Seaview"

Paul Rowley's documentary was shown at Hot Docs in Toronto

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Paul Rowley's documentary was shown at Hot Docs in Toronto

The Trailer for "The English Surgeon"

Geoffrey Smith's documentary was screened at Hot Docs 2008

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Geoffrey Smith's documentary was screened at Hot Docs 2008

The Trailer for "Wild Blue Yonder"

Filmmaker Celia Maysles documents her search to learn more about her father David, the legendary documentarian

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Filmmaker Celia Maysles documents her search to learn more about her father David, the legendary documentarian

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