Advice

Of-the-Moment Tips on Funding Indies, Social Media, Genre Films, TV Pitches and More

Katherine Brodsky distills what experts at the BNA Atlas International Film & TV Finance Summit had to say about how to get your indie film made and seen.


Isn't it obvious why docs about cute animals sell? Photo by Tim Ebbs.

"Self-distribution is not for the faint of heart," is just one of the most salient bits of commentary and advice The Independent's Katherine Brodsky overheard at the Annual BNA Atlas International Film & TV Finance Summit. Jodi Piekoff, Josh Braun, Warren Nimchuk, Ira Deutchman, Wilder Knight, Karrine Behr, Vinca Jarrett are mentioned.

The hot topic at this fall’s BNA Atlas International Film & TV Finance Summit, the 11th Annual in New York, was how to master the business side of film in order to even attempt the creative side. Discussions among those present, myself included, ranged from marketing to financing and distribution.

Crowd Funding 101: How to Maximize Your Online Campaign

Brandon Walter Irvine helps filmmakers crack the code of crowd funding.


Michael Cuomo as Staff Sgt Cole Lewis, both star and producer of "Happy New Year." Photo by Nina Berman.

Crowd Sourcing. Crowd Funding. Kickstarter. IndieGoGo. Everyone's either doing it, talking about it, or wishing they knew enough to utilize these new approaches to making a movie from the ground up. Here's your primer on who, what, and how.

The Big Players and What Differentiates Them

Securing Distribution with Netflix

Many filmmakers want to reach Netflix's 16 million subscribers, but submission guidelines and criteria for films without third-party distributors aren't quite clear yet.

This could be your movie. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

Indie filmmakers and DIY distributors are vying for a shot at Netflix distribution. Though Netflix added 300 streaming independent films to their service one year ago, the submission and selection process for indie films is still evolving.

By Michelle L. Martin and Katie O'Connell

Maximizing Film Exhibition Quality at Festivals

Prep work and communication with festival staff can ensure a top notch film debut.


Jump on the chance to have a tech check before a festival screening. Photo by Torley.

Finally, your work screens at a festival. But the sound is off and it looks terrible. Kelly Gallagher asks festival programmers and filmmakers how to increase exhibition quality at festivals. In addition to post-production, improve your audience's experience through preparation and developing rapport with festival staff.

Many filmmakers forget that there are plenty of final touches to be made after the last edit is approved and digital formatting requirements are met for festival submissions. Even after festival acceptances flood your in-box, there are ways to maintain creative control over your film's exhibition.

Film Journal: Navigating the Uncertainty of Post-Production

Valerie Weiss finds that trial and error can be scary when editing, adding animation, and mixing sound, but it can also bring the filmmaker’s vision, finally, to life.


In the edit room with "Losing Control" (photo by Peter Lago).

Filmmaker Valerie Weiss shares her experiences financing, planning, and producing her independent feature film, Losing Control, through a behind-the-scenes series. In this installment, Weiss writes about how she chose and collaborated with her editor, colorist, sound mixer, and others involved with the tricky but rewarding post process.

In my last film journal, I talked about the production of my feature independent film, Losing Control, a quirky, romantic comedy about a female scientist who wants proof that her boyfriend is “the one.” I discussed the trials of production—locations falling through, lack of sleep, and stretching an already

Greater Filmmaker Responsibility in the New Documentary Paradigms

Randi Cecchine challenges the documentary community to pull together, avoid the pratfalls of pleasing too many constituencies, and maintain open dialogue about the reality of getting docs funded and seen.


"Restrepo" was one of the films discussed at IFP. Photo by Tim Hetherington.

In anticipation of this month's Distribution U, hosted by IFP, The Independent's Randi Cecchine continues to investigate the changing landscape of documentary funding and distribution with notes from the field and a call for community.

Anyone who cares about documentary filmmaking wants to know: In the current post-financial crisis, insecure-industry environment, how can filmmakers fund projects and reach audiences when traditional distribution models have crumbled...when even established filmmakers can’t secure the kinds of distribution deals, broadcast partnerships or investment/foundation funders they used to rely on?

The Show Must Go Green

"Going green" might be en vogue—and environmentally responsible, of course—but what does sustainable filmmaking really entail?


Miranda Bailey, director of the eco-documentary, <i>Greenlit</i>.

Prompted by Miranda Bailey's recent documentary, Greenlit, The Independent's Steven Abrams asks two eco-experts for tips on simple, environmentally conscious filmmaking methods.

Miranda Bailey's recent film-within-a-film documentary, Greenlit, portrays the hopes and eventual challenges of making the production of The River Why "green." There's an initial hope that making the Why production eco-friendly is doable, and even money-saving.

Distributor FAQ: FilmBuff

In an interview with FilmBuff's Chris Horton, The Independent asks about the evolving landscape of digital distribution, and whether or not it's an independent filmmaker's new best friend.


A still from "The Patriot Act: A Jeffrey Ross Home Movie."

More and more filmmakers use digital release platforms like iTunes, Netflix Streaming, and Video-on-Demand. Chris Horton, head of acquisitions for FilmBuff, explains the role his company can play in digital distribution.

FilmBuff is a digital distribution service provided by Cinetic Rights Management (CRM). Although FilmBuff is less than three years old, its sister company, Cinetic Media, has been a major player in film sales since 2001.

From Documentary to Fictional Filmmaker: How to Make the Transition

With her recent narrative feature, "Toe to Toe," Emily Abt learned how to move from documentary to fiction filmmaking.


Filmmaker Emily Abt, on-set.
The Independent's Angela Wu gleans five tips from professor and award-winning filmmaker Emily Abt (All of Us, Toe to Toe) on how to make the not-always-easy transition from documentarian to narrative filmmaker.
Award-winning filmmaker Emily Abt started her career as a documentarian. Her first film, Take It From Me, focused on welfare reform and aired on the PBS documentary series POV in 2001.

Doc Doctor's Story Strategies: Don't Worry, We'll Fix it in Post

In her 6th installment of "Story Strategies: Debunking the Myths of Storytelling," Doc Doctor Fernanda Rossi asks: What's smarter, edit in post or plan ahead?


Doc Doctor suggests balancing techno-perfection with believing in the magic of post. (Photo by angusf.)

In her 6th installment of "Story Strategies: Debunking the Myths of Storytelling," Doc Doctor Fernanda Rossi examines production priorities. Should storytelling trump technical perfection? What do you think?

Myth #6

"All technical glitches, or disasters, can be avoided with preparation."

Wait, what about those who say:

"Obsessing over technology is a waste of time I could devote to the story."

The myth in all its glory

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